dreams & the sun.

i am sitting at the magnolia silos this morning. well afternoon now. i decided to come at noon. and i have been sitting in the sun. and it is glorious. but hot. i’ll get back to that.

i needed to be reminded of some of my dreams and plan them out. dream them up and write down the things the Holy Spirit has put on my heart. and what better place in waco than the silos.

i love the silos for a couple of reasons.

i love that it is a dream. a dream in the heart of one woman. who with the support and encouragement of her husband became the dream of a family. and soon the dream of the city. and now the dream of a nation. and even the globe!

but it was always God’s dream.

sitting on this lawn feels powerful and momentous. i feel the potential and kinetic energy that runs through this place. and it is sweet.

i love that this was dreamed and created by a couple. a family. it wasn’t a massive corporation. it was a dream in a heart that God opened doors for. when i sit here, i know i am sitting in a dream. a dream come true. that i am sure this couple thought at one time was impossible.

it reminds me that God is trustworthy. He is good. He has good plans.

when i sit out here on a summer afternoon, not only am i sweating bullets, but i see so many families playing! my biggest dream of all! and i wonder if when the couple started, they new how powerful this would be for families. and for dreamers.

and i wonder the same thing about myself. do i realize how impactful my dreams will be for families? for dreamers? for my own family? for my own dreams?

i would imagine that this couple could never have imagined all that this is today when they started. even when they bought the land. it was old and abandoned and basically left for dead.

but maybe the ground help onto hope. that something better could come from it one day.

and it only took one person, the right person, to see the vision and potential that was still hidden in its bones.

as i sit here in the hot hot sun. i am reminded of something i said the other day leaving mass. as i walked out of the church, the sun was shining and it was so sweet and warm. and i said, without thinking

“mmm. the warmth of the sun is healing me heart”

instantly, i felt the prophetic weight of that statement. i felt a call to spend more time in the sun. and the Son. letting the warmth heal my heart.

to be in the sun requires you to be seen. to be exposed. to come out of hiding.

how prophetic is that!!!! it is incredible. and it is true.

being out here. sitting in the sun. sweating. it is kinda painful because it is so hot. but it is so sweet. and i feel the healing and the mending. this is something i couldn’t have in my dark apartment.

sometimes being seen by the Son can be painful. when we have grown so accustomed to the dark and being hidden. stepping out into the light can hurt.

but man. being here is worth it. i was missing so much in the dark.

there are special vitamins in the sun. nourishment.

there are special vitamins in the Son. nourishment.

i have previously been someone who did not like to be outside. i was afraid of the mess. the dirt. the performance that might be required with a sport or activity. out of fear of messing up or missing the mark, i stayed on the side lines. or even worse, stayed inside.

but as i am growing in the Father, i am finding so much joy in being outside. i am finding life and perspective and lessons and warmth and healing and growth.

and i am beginning to understand why the devil tried to convince me to stay inside.

there is a special blessing and peace that comes with being outside and being close to things that God himself breathed life in. and still commands.

i am seeing family, i am seeing providence. i am seeing joy. i am seeing love. i am seeing community. i am seeing the wind. i am seeing life.

which is what the devil has been trying to steal from me all these years. he has been after my life. and so he cut off anything that resembled life. and offered fear to my heart as an exchange for the possibility of finding life. what a shitty trade.

i am so grateful to have found life in Jesus. i am so grateful to have been found  by Jesus. i am grateful to pursue life. i am grateful to be alive. and I’m grateful to be outside.

UPDATE: i wrote this this morning at the silos, (there was no wifi to publish) and while i was there, i looked up on the roof and i saw some people up there, but i couldn’t make out their faces. but i knew they were important. because not everyone can go up there. and we stared at each other for a bit, ya know when you can tell someone is looking at you?

anywayyy! come to find out! it was some of the members from the band Housefires and Bethel! some of my favorites!

but we wouldn’t have seen each other if i was hiding. if i wasn’t out in the sun, we wouldn’t have see each other.

and i could really feel a sweet lesson in this:

when you take a step out, and trust, and allow yourself to be seen, you are seen by some prettyy important people. whether you realize it or not. because they are out in the sun, too. they can’t see you from your apartment.

fear will tell you to stay in, because what are the odds that they will be there? and even if they are there, they might not be space for you?

but faith says, try it out! if it doesn’t work, let’s do something different. if they aren’t there, so what!

i am very grateful that i gave it a try. it was sweet & healing.

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.

 

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!

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.

part eight.two: preparation update

what a perfect title for the season i walked into.

yes. yes. yes. and yes.

the past few months have been every bit of preparation.

i have been learning so much. i have been learning about who i am. i have been learning about my fears. i have been learning to take them to the Father. and to ask Him to point them out when i can’t figure them out myself. i have been learning that i can’t expect what i am not willing to give. i have been learning how to cook. how to maintain a tiny little apartment. i have been learning how to be steadfast in prayer. i have been learning to fight for what i want. i have been learning to pursue health. i have been learning the importance of looking presentable, not for compliments, but for self-respect. i have been learning what it means to have a real routine. i have been learning (major learning still) how to wake up in the morning. i have been learning to accept the realities of who i am, my personality and my likes and dislikes. for instance, i hate taking out the trash, i hate doing dishes, i hate unloading/cleaning my car, i love organizing drawers, i love to paint, i love writing emails, i only wear like three of my fifty pairs of shoes, i hate to make others wait on me, i am pretty flexible with others and their timing, i am not a morning person.

i have been stretched and pulled. it has been really hard. but really good. i have experienced so much providence and grace in the last few months, it’s been crazy. i have been broken to be remade (still in process). i have seen new wounds. i have seen huge areas for growth. one of the biggest things i wanted this summer, and into this fall was a

one of the biggest things i wanted this summer, and into this fall was a husband. lols. this fall i have been seeing and understanding why it is important that i don’t right now. i have been able to follow God’s will without restraint. i have been able to go where He has led. i know that is still possible with a spouse, but it has been easier for me without one. i have so much growing up to do. i just wanted someone to come in and clean me up. that is not how it works. i have to do that cleaning with the Father. and that is a painstaking process. one of the verses i received at the beginning of this season was isaiah 54.

I am about to rebuild you wth stones of turquoise, lay your foundation with sapphires, construct your towers with rubies and your gates with jewels. 

54:11-12

i love that it says about. He is preparing. i am preparing. i feel something big brewing. i feel like i am on the edge of newness and excitement. i am leaning into the preparation and rebuilding.

 

the process: part two

my head and my heart are either racing, or completely silent. there is no middle ground. i am trying to wrap my brain around what God is walking me through in this season. here are a few things i knew coming into this new season in Waco:

  • Jesus wanted to heal my heart
  • Jesus wanted to transform me
  • Jesus wanted to teach me new things
  • Jesus was calling me, His bride, into the wilderness
  • this was going to be an influential time of formation, faith, promises, fulfillment, and newness

what I didn’t know was the following:

  • Jesus wanted to heal my heart, but first He had to let me feel the weight of it’s brokenness
  • Jesus wanted to transform me, but more than transform-He wanted to rebuild me
  • Jesus wanted to teach me new things about Him, about what faithfulness looks like, who He is, who His Father is, how He loves me and how He is calling me to love 
  • God was calling me, His daughter, His beloved, into the wilderness, where it would be cold, lonely, scary, dark, dry, and overwhelming
  • to reap the benefits of newness, I was going to have to do things I had never done before
  • God is so jealous for me, and is pursuing me unapologetically 
  • this was gonna hurt, bad

i feel like the past few weeks have been so raw, tough, trying, overwhelming, painful and heavy. i have been reading through Hosea, one of my favorites. as i began the study, i knew how much i loved the story on the pages of God’s unrelenting love, His pursuit of His people, and His willingness to stop at nothing to get them back. such a sweet story to read. but i had no idea God was ready to walk through Hosea so personally with me. half way through, i broke.

after one of the most intense encounters with Mercy and Truth on night in a confessional, chapel and HEB parking lot, i was shaken. to my core. i felt a fraction of the weight of my sin, brokenness, and helplessness. overwhelming is a understatement. it felt like a wave crashing over me breaking every part of my body. it felt like having light shined in your eyes after years in a dark room. it felt like a band-aid ripped off too soon. rejected, raw, vulnerable and weak.

He needed me to realize i was helpless. there was nothing i could do to earn my forgiveness. nothing i could give to Him other than my sheer brokenness. i have never felt more like Mary Magdalene at the feet of Jesus. pouring out the depths of my heart at His feet begging for forgiveness and offering every ounce of love my body could hold.

i knew this was part of the process. God knows me, and He knows what i need. i need more than to just know about my sin, i need realness I can relate to. and He delivered. after sobs and snot, i was finally able to calm down enough to ask Him where to go from here. He kept speaking Isaiah 54:11-12 over me.

“Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
    I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,[a]
    your foundations with lapis lazuli.
12 I will make your battlements of rubies,
    your gates of sparkling jewels,
    and all your walls of precious stones.”

SO UNDESERVING. here i am: broken, sinful, weak, ashamed, rejected and in such need of the Divine Healer, and He says He wants to rebuild me! not just build an add on, rebuild. start over. knock down the old, and start fresh. He didn’t just want to make some renovations to the old model to make it livable and up to code, He wanted to do a new thing (Isaiah 43:19) and make it better than I could have ever dreamed. and on top of that, He wants to build with precious stones. ok….

when God speaks, He has such simplicity & depth in what He says. it may be a phrase but has a thousand meanings. in this image of rebuilding, i could hear Him speaking to the amount of time it would take. precious stones don’t just happen overnight. neither do beautiful buildings and structures. i could hear Him say if i wanted the fullness of His rebuild, i was going to have to do the work, let Him build and be patience with my heart as He reconstructed it.

so i’m trying. this breakdown was pretty perfectly tied into the Hosea study. experiencing the real discipline the Lord gives to us & the real healing He offers was paralleled so well in Israel’s journey. i am learning that God is jealous for me, and will stop at nothing to get me back. He holds nothing back.