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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the process: part 1

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.”

hosea 2:14

it has been a while. things have been busy. after a lot of crying, wrestling with the Lord, unexplainable grace & unfathomable providence, i have moved to good ol’ wacky Waco, Texas to continue my Masters program at Baylor University. this was a really hard decision for me because i was in love with my job in Houston. i loved working with those ladies. Jesus taught me so much in the six months i was there. so many lessons learned. as much as i wanted to stay there for another six months, invest in the company and the ladies, i felt God calling me somewhere else…to grad school. i didn’t want to go. 1) i could not afford it 2) i wasn’t even sure that i needed a masters after spending time in ministry 3) i felt like i was learning so much more in the real world, real field, real mission 4) i could not afford it. but after a lot of prayer, lots of intercessions from my sweet friends and family, and lots of tears, I decided to accept my acceptance letter and beginning a new journey.

i started classes in July-one semester down! praise the Risen Lamb. but just moved to Waco this week. as i spent the little bit of summer i had before classes got rolling preparing for this new chapter, a few really important things emerged.

backtrack: as i was praying about what to do-school or stay working-there were a few things i really heard the Lord speak over me, 1) hosea 2:14 2) “You have learned alot, let Me help you unpack it, let Me be your teacher now.” so this idea of the wilderness emerged. and this idea of the Lord drawing me out into a new place-pretty much alone-and speaking to me really became clear. so as i was discerning what step to take next, I just really felt like whatever I did, would be a wilderness, whatever that meant.  

back to the story. so as i was preparing for this next season, i felt this theme of the wilderness, of letting the Lord teach me and then some new things came up. the idea of healing. the idea of restoration. the idea of preparation. the idea of transformation. all of these words kept coming up in prayer and conversation with others and books i was reading. and i began to feel the Lord explain more about what this new season would be about. yes, it would be about continuing my education. but this degree is for him. it is not mine. it is not for me. it is for His children that He has desired from the beginning of time would receive healing. so yeah, this season is about education. but even more than that, this season was about me and Him.

there was one day i came up to Waco before classes started to go start getting things squared away. i went to adoration with one of my dear, dear friends who lives here already (yay community-that’s a whole ‘nother story). so as we were sitting in our holy hour, i just told Jesus that i wanted this season/year to be just a time for me & Him. i didn’t want to focus on anything else. i just wanted this to be a sweet season of us.

well flash forward to now. and here we are. in a season of just me and Him. He is faithful. I asked for it. before i got here, He was shaking up my heart, getting ready to do some heavy lifting and dirty work. i could feel Him starting to loosen things that had a hold on me. i could feel Him calling me into a season of healing, transformation, restoration, heart work, and process. i have no idea how all of this will unfold. but i know that at the end of this year, i will be a different person. there is no way i can enter into this season with the Lord whole heartedly and stay the same. His love is so powerful it is transforming. i am so ready to be washed in this love. to learn what it means to work on restoration. to begin the process-as messy and dirty and hands on as it will be. He is not scared by my mess. I was listening to a teaching by Steffany Gretzinger and she was talking about that. that God has called us, knowing full well our mess and crap. He didn’t forget about that one thing, and He isn’t worried about it. it doesn’t scare Him. He doesn’t change His mind. in fact, He called us to dive into that very mess WITH us. not to sit there and say “hey, go work on that over there and come back to me and tell me how it went when you’re done.” nope, not Him. instead He says “thanks for coming, I have been waiting for you, let’s sort through these pains, hurts, debris, rumble, wounds, and fears together, one by one.” so patient. so kind. He has been waiting to sit with us and sort through the mess since before time began.

but it is a process. and not an easy one at that. i am entering into the process. and as i do, i am learning that i don’t really know how to “process.” ironically, because about 89% of my job is to help people “process” through what they are walking through in their life. oh Jesus, so funny that one. so i am starting this new chapter, journey, voyage-whatever. but more importantly, i am beginning a new process with the one who made my heart.

sweet Jesus, continue to walk with me, sit with me, cry with me and sort with me as we embark on this process together. i have no idea how to do any of this, but i am asking your Holy Spirit to teach me. i am asking to know your heart better and receive healing in mine. thank you for all that you are and all that you do. you’re so good. 

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.

plans

one day at camp I was talking with a friend and the Holy Spirit spoke a truth through me that we both needed to hear in our lives. we were talking about wanting to do what God wants with our lives. about not “missing” what God had planned for us.

wisdom pt. 1 “He has multiple plans for us”

more than one. plans. plural. not just one grand plan. not just one on ramp for a single plan that we might miss if we don’t have perfect timing. plans. I have been thinking about this as I come to new chapter of my life. I am on the brink of starting an internship and finishing my final semester of college. however, things aren’t exactly going peachy. I’m in a predicament. and I’m desperately trying to figure out what to do. I thought the Lord was calling me to go somewhere. I got an internship and everything. and surely, the Lord would not let that happen if He wasn’t the one calling me to do this. but I had a really hard time finding an apartment to live in during the internship time. I found one. but honestly, the whole situation is more than I can handle. the cost, the lease term, the hours. all of it. I could make it work. it could happen. it wouldn’t be the worst thing that has ever happened. but for some reason, this morning I woke up with such unrest and the total opposite of peace about this move. and instead, I have a super strong urge/desire to stay in my hometown. I don’t even know all that that means. I don’t know if that is stay here with an internship. I don’t know if that means stay here and defer a semester and get a job. I literally do not know. but I’m scared.

but as I’m scared, completely unsure and confused, I am reminded of these words, “multiple plans.” I am reminded that God has several plans for me. while I might have one, straight plan for myself, He has multiple. and He will walk with me through all of them. as I am reminded of this, I am reminded that whatever and wherever I am lead this upcoming semester, God will be with me. I am not missing what He has in store. it’s my job to be open to it.

wisdom pt.2 “we can’t ruin His plans”

we can’t. we cannot ruin God’s plans. how prideful it is for me to think I can ruin the plans of the Almighty God of the Universe’s plans. that is so self-centered and selfish. I might not always pick His ways or paths, but I can’t ruin what He has. I can only be saved by what He is offering. in all aspects of the word. and I am trying really hard to let myself be saved.

I just went to the store and was picking out a card for dad’s birthday, and I opened a random card to find this bible verse:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,

 so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit” – Romans 15:13

of course. that is totally God sending me that verse. so. I am praying for joy and peace as I am continuing to believe in Him and His promises.

come, Holy Spirit, come

part six: come

at camp we spend so much time in prayer. so much time. it was beautiful. constantly taking everything to prayer, living in the word of God, going to mass daily, seriously so good. during this time, something really stood out to me. there is something consistent and special in the way Jesus talks, and the words He uses in the Gospel.

He uses the word “come.

When He calls the men to be fishers of men, “Come after me,” (Matthew 4:19)

When He brings Lazarus back to life, “Lazarus, come out,” (John 11:43)

When He calls Peter to walk on the water, “Come,” (Matthew 14:29)

I’m sure these are only a few examples. but these were the examples that stood out to me during camp.

I am really overwhelmed by how simple and direct He is. there aren’t a lot of other instructions given. it’s so simple. just “come.” it makes me think about how often I overcomplicate things, even things the Lord tells or shows me. it is such a sweet, simple invitation. that is all I have to do. come. and as I come, He will change my heart. He will supply me with what I need. He will carry me through the storms. He is so inviting.

but in that invitation, we can also call on HIm. we can also call Him to “come” and He always does. He can’t not come. in His nature, by who He is, He has to come every single time we call Him. how powerful is that?! the hard part for us to trust that. believing the truth of that. holding onto the truth of His promises. and that is definitely hard.

and that is where I’m at. learning to trust in His promise and providence. learning how to “come.” and as usual, I am making it more complicated than it needs to be. I am overthinking it. I am trying to find the simplicity in coming after Jesus. in pursuing His most Sacred Heart. the best part is, I don’t have to do it alone. `He sends us His Holy Spirit to guide us and help us come closer. as I am continuing to figure out how to come after Jesus more fully and completely, I am calling upon His Holy Spirit to get me there.

God wants to be HGTV.

So, I mentioned earlier that this was the Year of Restoration. I believe this will be a year of restoration for myself in many aspects of my life. In keeping with this idea, the homily at Mass yesterday was prettttyy on pointe.

The priest suggested that we live from either two houses: a House of Fear, or a House of Love. He suggested that a House of Fear is run by our ego that constantly tells us we are not enough.  When we live in this place of fear, we are subject to immorality. Immorality becomes the “anesthesia” for our pain and struggle. We quickly find things that are harmful to us to distract ourselves from the defeat and hurt that we are constantly feeling. Before long, we are addicted to something.

Literally, as the priest shared this idea he had, I was taken aback. I had decided at the beginning of this year, it was going to be a year of restoration (last year was a year of positivity). But this year, I was going to focus of restoration. Last year, some things definitely threw me off track, I got distracted and sidelined. A lot. But this year, I have decided to focus on and seek restoration. So when the priest started explaining this concept, it really struck me. There have been so many things I have done to “distract” myself from the insecurities or fears I have held onto. If I want to seek restoration, I am going to have to move into the House of Love.

And that’s where God comes in. He is a “flipper”. Ya know, on HGTV, when those people buy those run down houses (a house of fear) and put all this work and effort into it to turn it into a beaut (a house of love)? That’s what God is willing and wanting to do for us. He wants to turn our current house of fear, into His House of Love. He wants to be a Flipper. He wants to be HGTV.

But it’s not always that easy. It can definitely be hard to let go and let Him start remodeling. That is the real challenge. That is what I am facing today. I am embarking on a season of change. I am trying to let go. I am trying to let God in. So He can flip my house of fear, into a house of love. And bring restoration. The restoration only He can bring.

part five.

so my theme is come after me.

and I feel like God keeps teaching me new things about what that means.

In the readings this week, people where seeking Jesus. They were seeking a teacher. They were seeking. And Jesus asked them what they were looking for. And when they told Him, He said Come and you will see.” 

He told them to follow Him. And He told them He would show them. But He told them to come.

I love the promise of “you will see.” He doesn’t make empty promises. He doesn’t say, “come and I might show you” or “come and if you prove worthy enough, I’ll let you see.” He simply says,

“Come and you will see.” 

That is so powerful. I feel like God is teaching me to still follow. To keep seeking. He is not leaving. He didn’t say, “wait here and I’ll be back to show you.” He invited them to come with Him.

As I start this new year, I want to remember these words that He spoke. He is promising to show me what He has in store in for me.

I love that Jesus asks “ What are you looking for?” He wants to know what our plans are. He wants to know what our desires are. Obviously, He already knows what they are. But He doesn’t miss that opportunity to have a conversation. To enter into a dialogue. He wants to hear from us. That is so powerful. That is a place of honesty and realness.

I am humbled by Jesus’ desire to know my heart more. I am humbled by His invitation to follow Him. I am humbled by His love for ministry. I am humbled by His love.

Now that the Christmas season has passed, I think it is so important to remember that He came for us. He never asks us to do something He hasn’t already done. He came. For us. First. And now He is asking us to come for Him. To come after Him. To follow. To learn. To grow. To be challenged. To see.

He goes before us. In this passage, Jesus walked by first. He was leading the way. He was walking before the disciples and then invited them on His walk. That is an invitation He is extending to us. To join His walk. His walk through our lives and into His kingdom.

In this new year, I am reminded to come after Him.

in-ten-tion-al-i-ty:

done with intention or on purpose; intended

designed

planned

deliberate

this word has become my prayer. I want everything I do to come from intentionality. I want to be able to say everything I did had an intention behind it. It was planned. It was deliberate. It was designed to bring glory to God. There was purpose behind it.

It is so easy to go along with whatever everyone else is saying, doing, being, seeing, [fillintheblank]-ing. There is so little intention behind falling in step with everyone else. Really, the only intention we can point to is wanting to fit in, be liked, accepted, even succeed.

It takes courage, boldness, and bravery to step up and step out in intentionality.

But God has promised so much good to those who take that step.

“For I know well the plansI have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me. I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me.”                                        Jeremiah 29:11-13

Plans, He has plans for you! If that’s not intentional, I don’t know what is. More than that, those plans are for a future of hope! And then, He promises to be there when we need Him. When we are having trouble stepping out and being intentional, He said He will listen. He will be there. We will find Him. He is intentionally making Himself available for us.

I pray that all my actions are intentional. I pray that the God of courage, boldness and bravery speaks to my heart and works through my hands. I pray that when I struggle with this, I run to the God of intentionality.