rest: okay, maybe i am closer to figuring it out

every time i think i have this rest thing figured out, i am quickly reminded, i have not.

last sunday i was at mass, and i was praying before, telling God that this was the week it was gonna happen. this was the week it would shift, something would break. this is the week i would get a job, i was going to to email everyone i could think of the next day. and you know it is always a good idea when you tell God the plan.

so shortly after that, the Gospel was as followed:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

and He said,

“mmmm, nope. you aren’t released from this season yet. you need more rest”

upset, but feeling very covered, i went back to the drawing board. ready to embrace rest this week.

well bethel has been doing their worship school, and you can stream their worship set and keynotes in the morning. so monday i started watching….

un.done.

i was so moved in worship, and was reminded of what it means to make that connection to the Father’s heart. and to praise in the waiting. and to trust Him and choose Him. and the delight He takes in the process. and i was worshiping, i was reminded of His heart for me. which is the place where we really find rest. it was so good, and so much more of what i needed. He is a good Father.

so after that, i watched some of the other past videos that were online, and several Steffany Gretzinger videos. and i was really encouraged by the stories she shared. first of all, she had a very similar season to what i am walking through right now. and that was encouraging. but she was talking about the process, and about the learning. and as i could hear someone else talk about it, i could see so much more clearly how that “down” season was a breeding ground for training and learning and growing and developing. how she would not be able to walk in the fullness of what she has now, without that season. and that was powerful. it helped alot of things click together for me.

this is the promise. this is the season. this is the unexpected. this is where i am supposed to be. this isn’t an in between. there are no in betweens for God, He is always working in everything. He isn’t linear, He hasn’t subscribed to the “american dream” and He isn’t measuring me up to it. He is thrilled with where we are. He died for us to be where we are. this is a season of rest, but more importantly, this is the season He called me into. and i will joyfully be here the whole time. He hasn’t placed more value on the next season. there are important lessons and precious encounters to be had right here, right now.

this seems obvious. but it really flipped me upside down. i am “waiting” for a job, sure. but i am not. i am actively involved in what God is doing in my life, today. this is growing the friendship and the history between us. and i am so thankful for it, because this is actually the answer to so many prayers. even though it doesn’t look like what i expected. it is everything i needed, and more.

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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.

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.

 

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

rest

this might be one of the hardest seasons yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

do you remember what you prayed last semester?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

dreams

i

L O V E

dreams.

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

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

we are His dream come true.

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

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

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

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

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

identity

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

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

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

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

but hard working isn’t a real thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

i was His daughter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

reminder

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

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

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

but it hasn’t.

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

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

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

the lessons of the msw

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

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