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.

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rest: i thought i figured it out…LOL

originally written 6/13/17

i have been writing about how difficult this season has been. and it has been difficult. but there has been a shift.

i found rest.

and it is sweet & incredible & everything i wanted it to be & i want to do it forever.

while writing my last post about rest, something started to shift in my heart and i started to get perspective about what rest really is.

it is about resting in who Jesus is. in the Father’s promises. in the Spirit’s presence.

not in what i can do.

and as simple as that sounds, it was monumental for me. as i started to think about those things: identity, promise and presence, things really changed. this wasn’t about me. this wasn’t about resting in my identity, my own promises and my own presence. no wonder i was so stressed and worried. because none of those things would ever add up to much of anything.

but when i looked at God’s identity, promises and presence, my heart started to receive deposits of faith & peace & courage & hope. those were all solid things i could bet on.

as soon as i fixed my eyes on Him, everything else melted away. and i mean really fixed my eyes on Him. not fixing my eyes on what’s next and checking to make sure that He was still in my perifial.

focused. honed in. all attention given. nothing else above or before.

i felt Him downloading so much peace and security into my heart.

and each day it keeps getting better and easier. each day, i remind my heart to stay fixed on Jesus, and to delight in His promises, and His sacrifice. to truly and really delight in Jesus.

when fear arises, i tell it about God’s promises. when worry knocks, i put it in Jesus’ court. when uncertainty comes, i remind my heart of the consistency & companionship of the Spirit.

it sounds simple, and it is. but it is changing everything. the pressure is off. i get to lay down my striving- because it wasn’t doing anything for me anyway- and rest in God’s promise.

what a relief.

UPDATE: 7/10/17 (almost a month later)

it has been SO hard to stay there. i feel like i have two good days, and then i fall down the rabbit hole for a week. but i am fighting for it. i am making an effort to choice lively faith each day and believe for the miracle that comes from His presence.

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.

 

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.

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

i’m almost done with grad school! all the praise hands!!!! i can’t believe it is almost over. two more projects and a few more weeks to go!! as encouraging as that is, there is also some anxiety that comes in with it. graduating means employment. or unemployment.

all this year, i have been looking and applying for jobs. when i started in january, i clearly heard Jesus say

“why are you doing this? I haven’t asked you to start looking” 

and because I am wiser & smarter than Jesus, I ignored that & continued to look and apply for jobs. only to be rejected. each time. so i then decided to wait until i got a green light from Him to start looking.

a few weeks ago, i got a green light. or so i thought. by this time, the Father had been growing in my heart a desire for something totally new. He had started to speak to me about revival, about evangelization and healing the church and His people.

BIG. EXCITING. NEW. concepts.

so i have started to apply for jobs that would line up with this vision. oh, He also spoke Dallas very clearly. so i’ve been looking for jobs in the Dallas area that match this idea. and not having much luck. and getting really discouraged. and wondering if i heard God wrong.

but i know i didn’t. i know His voice. and i know it was Him. what i don’t know is what it is all going to look like. as i have been applying for strange, and maybe even random jobs, i have felt a sense of striving. of grasping. also a feeling of frustration. like c’mon God. i have spent this year, dedicated to learning and working and growing. and i have all this training, and the student loans to prove it, and i can’t find a job. what the heck. this isn’t fair. i thought it would be easier. i thought it would fall into my lap since i was obedient when i didn’t want to be. wouldn’t my reward be an easy transition?

when i brought this feeling to the Father, He definitely affirmed it. and reminded me i don’t have to live from a place of scarcity. that He is good, and He provides. everytime. He is inviting me into a deeper place of trust.

so here i am today. in a bakery. working on my resume, trying to apply for jobs, trying to check in with the Father if these are trails He wants me to pursue, and listening to spontaneous worship, seeking direction and the voice of God. and I came across this spontaneous video of Amanda Cook. just listening to it. and all the sudden in the middle of singing she starts to speak and says “i feel a pioneering spirit” and she starts to talk about all the diligence and hard work that goes into sailing, but the power of the wind that moves the boat.

and then i started crying in the bakery.

when i moved to waco, one of the first words i received, was that i was a pioneer. someone who walked in uncharted waters. and that has been so true for me. before & during waco. the Father has often led me into new, uncharted places. but then to hear that again, as i am preparing to leave, was such a sweet reminder. a reminder of His provision, and of my identity. reassurance that He was again, leading me to a new place, that I have never been before.

and then she talked about all the diligence and hard work that is required in sailing. for me, all the hard work and dedication i have invested in this season. but then there is the

wind.

that takes a sailboat and moves it. and the release. letting the sails go. and letting the wind move us. to lay down striving, to lay down fear, to lay down scarcity. and let the wind move me. and it is scary, but it is comforting. the pressure is off. i’ve done the hard work of setting up the sailboat. i have paid attention to the details. i’ve been diligent and cautious. but now i have to let the wind move. and the good stuff only happens in the deep. so i’m gonna have to trust the wind to move me deeper.

i’m not sure what it looks like to catch the wind. i’m not sure what i do in the meantime. i mean, Jesus slept on the boat while He waited for wind. so maybe this is a more intentional season of rest. i’m really not sure. but I know i have to wait on the wind.

part seven: waiting

mmmm. have I learned about waiting in the past three weeks. geez. the Lord has taught me so much.

I have been trying to settle this internship/apartment situation for the past three weeks and it has been an actual nightmare.

so, what first started out as an apartment hunt soon turned into an internship hunt. plot twist. while looking for an apartment, there is only so much one can do. I looked up several, several, places. several meaning a minimum of fifty apartment complexes. I called all over Austin. I visited at least thirty-five complexes. and applied at two. but in the middle of all of that, there is a lot of waiting involved. waiting for returned calls, available apartments and applications processing.

and then, my life turned into a search for a new internship. which involved even more waiting. waiting on agencies and administrators to get back to me, for paper work to be processed, for an internship to get approved. literally, my life quickly turned into a joke/definition of chaos&uncertainty/the waiting game.

but one thing kept replaying in my head: the Lord is working in my waiting.

and over and over again, in the midst of my panic, fear and actual utter confusion, I could hear “I am working in your waiting,”(Psalm 33:20-22) “I am constant.” constantly reminding me that even though I am in the middle of what feels like an absolute desert, the Lord is constantly at work in my life and the lives of so many others orchestrating something better than my wildest dreams.

waiting can be agonizing. paralyzing. MISERABLE. annoying. frustrating. discouraging. freakin’ the worst. and trusting in God’s promises in the midst of all those emotions..psshhh. yeah, right. easily one of the hardest things  I have had to do in a while.

but there is so much glory.

over the summer, Jesus taught me the power of belief. something so simple, but at times so complex. something super challenging. Jesus reminds Martha to believe and she will experience His glory (John 11:40). when I think about this story, I am reminded of how many times I need to believe (I will definitely dig into this story deeper, because it is so powerful). how in the middle of my waiting, however long it may be-three weeks for an internship/apartment or 21+ years for a husband, it is completely vital that I believe fully in the power and might of our God and His glory. that I press into Him. that I need to believe in His providence and promises.

I have experienced Him working in my waiting through this internship/apartment scandal (HA!). and I pray that I can hold onto the lessons, many lessons, He has shown me over the past three weeks. one of the biggest being: I am working in your waiting.