intimacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

it is all about intimacy!!!!!!

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

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

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

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

I choose her

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

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

 

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.

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.

 

part eight: preparing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the Father

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

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

answer: terrifying.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

 

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 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.

majestic.

wilderness, part 2.

So let me explain a little more about this Wilderness Retreat. It was the definition of last minute. I had wanted to do a retreat with the team members from the retreat group I work with on campus and had mentioned something to our campus minister. He suggested we go on this Wilderness Retreat that was already being held by Catholic Relief Services and Campus Ministers in the city. In two weeks. So I told the team, and by the literal grace of God was able to get the majority of them to be able to go to this retreat. I was really looking forward to it because we are a retreat team that puts on retreats for others. So this was going to be a chance for us to be retreatants and reflect and grow. Finally.

Great. Cool. Got everything I needed.

Our campus minister asked me if I would mind doing a reflection while at the retreat. Of course I agreed. I love being a part of a retreat, any way I can, even if it is something as small as reading a little reflection.

So we get there. This morning. At the butt-crack of dawn. Coffee in hand, ready to explore the “wilderness,” in our charter bus, mind you. Okay, so we’re there. We are about to get off the bus, and the adult leader goes “Where is Claire?” So I raise my hand, and he says great, he wants to talk to me in a minute. Okay, cool, he is going to tell me about the little reflection I will be reading. Then a sister comes up to me (still on the bus) and says “Oh, you’re Claire, right? They said a Claire was on the team.” That was the first time I heard my name and the words “the team” in the same sentence. But I figured she was just generalizing. No biggie.

We get off the bus, and the adult leader calls the team to gather around him. And I did that weird shuffle where you stand not exactly with the group, but close enough to hear if they need you. Yeah, they needed me. He called out for me again, “Where is Claire?” I’m here. I joined the circle. He then proceeded to saying that I was to be partnered with another team leader and we would be group facilitators. For the whole retreat. And on top of that, the boy facilitator would lead the hike, and I would lead the spiritual reflection and discussion!!!!! PAUSE.

He wanted me to lead the spiritual discussion and reflection for #1 a retreat I was supposed to be attending, not presenting #2 a retreat I have spent ZERO time prepping for or growing with the other team members #3 a retreat where i have spent no time growing in the theme and message #4 a retreat who’s theme is about the environment and taking care of the earth (AKA I DO NOT RECYCLE AND THAT’S BASICALLY ALL I KNOW ABOUT PROTECTING THE EARTH). Resume.

So I am a team leader for a retreat I know nothing about, cool. Got it. Moving on. At least I don’t have to lead the path or trail. Cause, let’s be real, the only path I know is the one to Free People at the mall. We start on our trail, and before you know it, our guy guide, is literally no where to be found. Gone. Soo. There’s that. So now I’m basically alone in my struggle up a mountain with a group of campus ministers that I’ve literally never met and am supposed to lead in spiritual reflection. Thankfully, and I do mean thankfully, there was multiple ways to climb the mountain. So, it wasn’t so do or die. Thankfully, everyone did and no one died. Celebrating the small victories.

When we got up there. When I got up there, (half my group was waiting on me…oops) I was really taken aback. There was so much to take in. Seriously. It was so vast. And I was struck by how majestic is all was. How royal everything was. How this land was His kingdom. How all of the trees, stone, grass, cactus, birds, all of creation, knew HIs name. Being at the top, there was so much wind! There was nothing to block it, I mean, your on top of a huge mountain! But the wind. Even the wind knows His name. And knows His voice. He can calm the wind with a whisper.

Because He is the King.

The King of Kings. The Lord of Lords. And He sees me. He saw me. On the top of the mountain. The mountain He created. That is a part of His endless kingdom. A kingdom He invites me to be a part of. A kingdom He asks me share with everyone I meet. The skies echoed His glory and the mountains stood firm in His majesty.

closer.

wilderness, part 1.

I went on a Wilderness Retreat. I don’t even know why I thought it would be a good idea for me to go, I hate the wilderness, but I went. Joyfully and excitedly, I went to the wilderness. I would like to point out that the last “wilderness retreat” I went on was beyond miserable and I cried the whole time. So again I say, I really don’t know why I went on this retreat.

But I did.

The retreat was hosted at Enchanted Rock, aka, a huge cluster of massive land forms that crazy people climb. The entire week and bus ride leading up to this retreat, I knew it was at Enchanted Rock. I knew what people did at Enchanted Rock.

Hiked.

Somehow, I never really put two and two together…

When we got there, there were some other unexpected surprises that I learned about. But I’ll share those later. Cutting to the chase, or the climb, I should say.

We start out, embarking on this climb up a HUGE hill, I’d venture to call it a mini-mountain, and I am leading the group (I will definitely explain that later). As we start out, it’s pretty easy. It really is. The weather here has been pretty cold and rainy, and today was a gorgeous day. So it was so nice to be outside in the sun, jumping, climbing and running around. Plus, the beginning of the trail was pretty easy. Nothing outrageous. –feeling confident– So we keep going. Some of the boys run ahead, and I let them, I mean, we’re all headed to the same top. I stuck behind and started talking with some of the group who was taking their time. We were enjoying our walk. It was such a beautiful day. As we kept walking, the group kept getting separated, just because everyone was going at different paces. Not to mention, the trail was starting to get steep. But we kept on.

I got to a point where I was kinda by myself, in the middle of the “go-getter” group that had basically reached the top and the “give-me-a-second” group that was catching their breath at one of the mini plateaus. The altitude was really starting to get to me. I felt like I had baby lungs. It was so hard to get a good, deep breath. As I kept walking, I asked God to show me what this meant to Him. I asked Him what He wanted me to see, hear and learn from this. All while slightly gasping for air. I kept asking and kept asking with every step. Mainly to take my mind off the burning pain I was starting to feel in my legs and tight feeling in my chest. Even though everything was hurting, and I would take a break to stop and take a sip of water and catch my breath, I was still so drawn to the top of the mountain. I didn’t want to quit. I didn’t want to call it a day. The top looked so beautiful, and I just wanted to be up there. Even if it was physically, really painful to get there.

It was getting harder and harder to breath, and walk. But I kept asking.

What does this say about Your Heart? What does this say about who You are? What does this say about who I am? What do you want me to learn from this?

“closer”

That was all He said. But I knew what He was saying.

He said closer, and He meant to His heart. He meant to keep coming. To keep coming closer. To not be afraid. To get to know Him more. Even though it hurt, He was going to pull me closer. He was going to draw me in. Just like I was drawn to the top of the mountain, He was going to draw me to His heart. He was showing me how beautiful His heart was. He was showing me the beauty of everything around me on that hike, and it was just a bunch of rock and cactus! He was asking me to imagine how beautiful His heart is, His desires are, His love is.

And as if it wasn’t enough to just show me, He was telling me to come closer. To know it deeper. To know it better.

All Creation knows HIs name, and He knows my name. And He wants me to know His heart. Even closer.

closer