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

grace

if i had to sum up this whole year into one word, it would be

grace.

before this year, i would have defined grace more as a quality someone has when they were elegant and the opposite of clumsy. which i would say is still true. but i did not really see grace from a spiritual perspective. i think in church i learned more about the word “mercy” than “grace.” not a bad thing, i just wasn’t familiar with the word. but this year, i learned.

today, i would define grace as “ a space being made for you, without you doing any of the work.” kind of weird. but let me explain. in my head, i see grace like this:

me, standing at the edge of a forest, a dense, thick, dark forest, that i can’t see through. but i know i have to walk through. and then, i imagine grace to be a soft, sweet buffer, that comes in, and makes a path for me through the forest. not a straight line path, but a path that grows as i walk. never getting too far ahead of me. but sweet, and gentle.

maybe that is a really weird description. and maybe it only makes sense in my head. but it makes so much sense.

when i think about this past year of school, all i see is grace. i see how Jesus went before me, right before me, and cleared a path for me. He made a space for me. and i see how i didn’t do any of the path-clearing work. i was just obedient. and responded. i stopped when the forest was thick, and waited on Grace to make the way. and He did everytime.

i once read a book that said to think of grace as a person, and that person is Jesus. and i really liked that explanation. it made a lot of sense to me. Jesus came and made a way for us back to Heaven. He came and made a space for us, without us doing any of the saving work. by grace, we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-9). by Jesus.

i experienced this grace time and time again through school work, co-workers and clients. they made a space for me, when i didn’t do the work to earn it or deserve it. they gave it anyway. grace is humbling. and inspires you to want to pass it on.

i have learned to apply the grace i learned to my own life. this grace mandates that you give yourself space. to miss the mark sometimes. to be late every now and then. to wear the same outfit twice in one month. to not know the answer. to give the wrong answer.

this grace has changed everything. it has been the sweetest balm to the wound of striving and achieving. it has given perspective and purpose and identity. it is life giving. and life saving.

the lessons of the msw

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

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

wind: update

i turned 23.

i graduated from graduate school.

i got a puppy.

i am unemployed.

its been an eventful few weeks. but i wanted to give an update about the wind.

my birthday was in the beginning of may, the day after i finished my big, final presentation for my degree. (how sweet is Jesus to wrap up a season on the last day of 22). and for my birthday/graduation gift, i just wanted to have some time to rest & relax. i asked for this gift before i really knew about this idea for God to call me into more rest. but regardless. i asked if i could go to a hotel at the beach town close to home, with my mama, lay by the pool & get some pampering to unwind from all the hard work. so we did. and He did.

and He did.

it was definitely one of those experiences where you didn’t realize how stressed, tired, overworked, high-strung, sleep-deprived and anxious you have been, until you take a second to stop. and boy, was i was exhausted. so tired. it was a sweet change to not have to check my email for edits, or my grades & feedback comments for adjustments. it was sweet to spend time with my mama, who is full of wisdom and grace. but mostly, it was sweet to reconnect with the Father. i didn’t think we were that disconnected, until i got to reconnect with Him during those few days.

one of the days there, we went and layed out by the pool. on a thursday. in the middle of the morning. like 10am. it was even kind of cold. very windy and cool so early in the day. hardly anyone else was out there, and we just layed out soaking up the sun. close to the shore. and i put my headphones in and played the latest Bethel album, Starlight. i am convinced one of my spiritual gifts is to be able to hear worship songs as Jesus singing over or to me. so i was laying there, soaking in the Son. and being reminded of His love, His relentlessness. remembering what it felt like to be connected to Him. literally letting myself notice and feel what it felt like to let go of stress and tension. but after a while, i was getting pretty cold. how weird. i was laying there, trying to get a tan in May, in Texas, but i was cold. so i decided to check the temperature, and i said to myself “gosh, it is so windy today.” and as soon as i thought it, i heard him say,

“see, when you rest, you will always catch my wind.” 

and completely caught me off guard. i had forgotten about the need to rest, and even the need to catch the wind. truly, when i was delighting in the sun, and the Son, and who He says i am, and who He is, i was able to find a real rest. and in that rest, i found Him. and His wind.

the wind was 23 mph.

just Him showing off. that He doesn’t miss a thing. and the wind kept blowing, and washing over me. and i could feel things in my heart shifting. i could feel the significance of His wind, his heart-shifting wind, changing my circumstances, and my vision and perspective. but mostly, healing my heart. and bringing me into deeper rest. and man, what love exists in the rest. its actually disarming.

this experience at the beach was powerful, and moving. those moments where you feel so seen & known by God mark your heart. and it has. it was a solid invitation to move into more rest. i felt a shift in my heart over those few days.

on my way to this mini vacation, i was stressing out about the next steps, job searching, bills, loans, licensure-all that was coming down the pipe at me pretty quickly. as i was rattling these things off to Him, as if He had forgotten that they were coming, i remember Him saying

“won’t you take this rest I am trying to provide for you?”

and I remember thinking, “hmm, okay, thanks, that’s sweet. but i really don’t have time for that Jesus.”

but He is sweet and patient and still pursues when we are weary and don’t catch on the first, or fiftith time. since those few days at the beach, i have been very tempted and challenged to reach, and strive for what’s “next.” and i have definitely caved some days. but i am trying to lean into this season of rest He is providing. i am trying to remember His sweet voice, and the deposit of faith, that i found in the rest.

part eight.two: preparation update

what a perfect title for the season i walked into.

yes. yes. yes. and yes.

the past few months have been every bit of preparation.

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

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

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

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

54:11-12

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

 

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.

 

 

“i want to leave”

*originally posted in showngreatlove.wordpress.com*

that is the name of the form the girls fill out when they want to leave. a girl finds a staff member, says “I want to leave” and we give her the form to complete saying she wants to leave our needs assessment center.

I have said goodbye to three girls in four days.

not happy goodbyes as they go to another program or shelter. heartbreaking goodbyes as they go back to the very people and situations that pushed them to their rock bottom not even a week ago. they are going back to the lion’s den, but it is the lion’s den they know, and there is comfort in that. as dark, scary, unpredictable and evil as is can be, it is what they know, and that familiarity is what beckons them back.

what is extra crazy, is that these girls were on the brink of greatness. each on of them was doing so good! they were just starting to dig in, and see what a new life would look like. they were doing the work. and then just like that, almost out of nowhere, “I want to leave.” and they were gone. back to their “comfort zone”, their default. it’s like autopilot. as soon as they can see the beginnings of “new”, and they feel sobriety, and they start seeing that it is possible and attainable for them, they run. the control of their trafficker can still pull them back, even without having any contact with them.

I understand the research. I know the effects of trauma.I have studied abuse. I know about the cycle, manipulation, and the pull & control the trafficker has over these girls. but knowing all of this doesn’t make it any easier to watch her leave. it doesn’t feel right letting her go. everything in me wants to run after her, wrap my arms around her and let her know that things will get better. that things are hard now, but worth it. that she is worth it. to stick it out. but instead, I have to let her walk out-as she takes a piece of my heart with her.

my heart is so broken, so hurt. and as I watch these ladies leave, I hear Jesus say

“it hurts Me more, even in the little ways.”

and just like that, it is about me & the ways I turn away from the Lord. the ways I run from  His goodness. the ways I trade His safety, security and abundance for my own sinful ways. He offers me so much, and when faced with the idea of leaving my comfort zone for what He is promising, I run. even in the little ways that I turn my back on Him and choose to do things my way, on my terms. how many times do I say to Him “I want to leave” and He just lets me go? He can see the bigger picture, He can see what is around the corner, but He lets me go every time. what suffering.

my heart breaks every. single. time. a lady leaves. but even in that, it is just a fraction of the heartbreak Jesus experiences when she leaves. or when I leave. even though we aren’t running back to the same story, situation or life, we are both running. we both want to leave. and that I can understand.

So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually on your God.

hosea 12:6