the garden

i am actually really surprised that i have not written about this yet. i guess i wanted to keep it a secret. stupid satan. he is always trying to trick us into isolating. anyway. the garden. oh the garden. lets start from the beginning..not that beginning…the beginning of my garden story.

in 2015, in the Catholic Charities food pantry, i was working to stock the pantry and i heard God say “i want you to start a recovery home for young girls” and i said okay!

and then i went to summer camp, and during the Gospel one day, we talked about Mary Magdalene, and how she thought resurrected Jesus was the gardener when she saw Him. and He said,

“I want you to call it The Garden”

and i knew exactly what He meant. so okay, i’ll call it the garden. so after that, i took an interest and liking to things having to do with gardens, because one day i would own one. but i never really told many people about it. i think i felt if i told people, they would steal my idea. classic satan tried to scare me out of talking about my dream by making me fear competition. so this was like my secret promise from the Lord.

and then at the beginning of the year, Kari Jobe released her new album and it was called The Garden. and she talked about the gardens that are talked about in the Bible. and it was a wonderful album. and i love Kari Jobe. and i felt this cool connection to her because we both had these projects about the garden. it also really prompted me to dig back into the scriptures about gardens in the Bible. and i started learning more about the intimacy of God. i was learning about the Father’s original desire for intimacy with us. the Father’s gentle and sweet heart. i was loving it!

so i shared the album with all my friends, and told everyone about it. and everyone loved it. and started talking about the garden. and the garden of eden. and all the sudden, i was not happy about it.

i felt jealous. and protective. and territorial. that was my garden! that was my special place. they needed to stay out of it. and even worse, what if they wanted to call their place the garden now that i had introduced them to this. and just like that, fear, competition, jealousy, pride and inadequacy invaded my garden. i was not happy about it at all. i was standing next to Jesus in my garden, but thinking He was just the gardener. and then He spoke up.

and He reminded me that just because other people liked the garden didn’t take away from my garden with Him. it also didn’t make it any less powerful. and if anything, this was what was so exciting about the garden to me, inviting other people into it. and i did that. that was the whole point!

inviting people into the Father’s original design for intimacy and communion and great love. but what i had originally intended for other people, He used to heal my heart. He met me in the garden, and stayed with me as i figured it all out. His garden is such a place of security, a place were striving is not allowed. a place were mercy flows and streams of living water run throughout. it was always His plan to have us in the Garden.

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the process: part 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

because I said so.

This is literally one of the most annoying reasons my parents have ever given my in the history of my 20 years. I HATE when they say that. It is beyond frustrating. As in, still to this day, I get super irritated when I am met with “because I said so.”

In high school, it was the dreaded phrase. Other reasons and responses I could argue, but “because I said so” put an end to any further discussion on the matter at hand. And that was the point. It was used to shut me up (even though my mother would never admit to that.)

But leave it to God to take something epically annoying and turn it into something sweet and loving.

In a recent worship session/conversation with Him, I found myself reeling and confused by the amount of unconditional love and grace He was pouring out on me. I couldn’t wrap my head or heart around it. “Why God?” “How God?” “I don’t understand God” and then…

“Because I said so”

And that was that. That was the end of the questioning. That was the end of the doubting (for the time being, let’s be real, that is an every day journey). Just as my earthly parents had used that phrase to stop my interrogation, so had my Heavenly Father used it to put an end to my questioning. There is no argument with “because I said so.” That’s just it. And that’s why He used it. However, it has a little different meaning than when my mom or dad used it.

First of all, it was from a place of pure tenderness, gentleness, love and vulnerability. Not that my earthly parents don’t posses those things, but they are human.

Second, when He says something, the wind and waves obey (Matthew 8: 37). He spoke light into existence (Genesis 1:3). So when He says that, He means it. And that is so humbling.

In summary, when God says He loves you, He loves you. Even when you can’t understand why. He loves you. And He died for you. Because you’re worth it. And you’re worth it Because He says so.

be kingdom.

I have never really understood when people talked about the Kingdom of God here on Earth. To me, I have always kept them separate. To me, the Kingdom of God was in Heaven, and we are here on Earth. Black and white. Matter of fact. I mean, I understand that we are called to live God’s will out on Earth, but I didn’t really understand that being the kingdom. For me, the Kingdom of God would come when He came.

I get it now. Or at least, I am starting to get it.

I am starting to understand that we are called to live in the kind of love, forgiveness, mercy, compassion and absolute adoration that is experienced in Heaven, here on Earth. We are called to be a representation of that Kingdom. We are called to go forth and spread that Kingdom to others.

I think it took me understanding true worship to understand this call to Be Kingdom. In experiences of worship, there is nothing else I want to do other than sit at the feet of Jesus and tell Him how wonderful He is. It is in those times, that I am overflowing with His love and peace. But I can’t leave that love and peace in that moment of worship. I have to bring it with me outside of the church. I have to spread that love. So that others might feel the overwhelming presence of Christ.

I am in so inspired to spread God’s kingdom. I am so inspired to activate the Kingdom of God on Earth. And in the same breath, I am so challenged. It has not been easy. It will not be easy. But God gives an uncomprehendable energy. He gives a peace that surpasses understanding. I am being called to live a life of kingdom. To be in sync with the Angels and Saints in Heaven that can do nothing else but sing of God’s great glory. And that’s what I want to do. I want to be such a representation of kingdom, that people want to join in with me. Because it was what our hearts were made to do. Last year, I found a new love and appreciation for worship. God totally broke the mold I had constructed. I want Him to keep breaking it.

I want to Be Kingdom.

multiplied.

original post date 5/15/14

multiplied. multiplied. multiplied.

This is literally all I can think about. It has become an obsession.

Obviously. I have been slacking lately. As in, majorly. I have been seriously lacking. I got overwhelmed. With school. With work. With people. With feelings. It all just took me over. I let everything slide. But the semester is over (FINALLY!!!) and I have moved into my new apartment.

So I finally have some space, emotionally and physically, to think about everything.

I have been so uninspired lately. I could feel it coming over me. Usually, I can hunker down and get through life. This time, I just laid down. I let the sadness and stress and depression in. I gave in. It has been dark. I just have not been able to get up out of the funk. And then…

I heard this song on the radio.

At the end of the semester, I had decided to take on a position with the retreat team through my campus ministry. I had began to think about themes and lessons and discussions; just different things I wanted to work on and develop over the summer. I am excited to share some of those ideas throughout this summer. Anyway, I was still processing everything and trying to come up with a core theme. And then it happened. This song played. And I was done.

Every single word was a direct message to my heart. I have been obsessed with the idea of mercy, lately. It blows my mind that we get to serve SUCH a merciful God. Mercy that we do not deserve.

“God of Mercy, sweet love of mine, I have surrendered to Your design”

He is a God so full of mercy and love, He waits for us to surrender to HIS unimaginable plan for us

“Your love is like radiant diamonds, we cannot contain”

My pray this year has been that I can be a light in this world to others.I want people to see me and know that there is something different about me, and I want that to be the Light of Christ.

“Your love will surely come find us

Even when our lives are dark and scary, our God comes and finds us. That makes my heart ache. I cannot understand that. He searches for us. He meets us where we are.

“These Hallelujahs be multiplied

Multiplied. We are called to multiply. In more ways than one. I think for me, this was an invitation to multiply my love for Christ. On a personal level. Yes, we are called to multiply, with children. We are called to multiply and spread the good news of the Gospel. But this song, at this moment,was telling me to multiply my love.

With everything the past few months have brought, it has been dark. It has been easy to be angry. I have felt every forgotten. I know better, I do. But that does not mean I won’t feel forgotten from time to time. I’ve been angry at God, pissed I think is the correct word.  It has been far to easy for me to forget the blessings God has given me. It has been easy for me to take everything for granted. It has been easy to feel entitled, and let me tell ya, I surreeeee have felt entitled.

I forget God has given me radiant diamonds.

I forgot His design is better than my own.

forgot that He was right there the whole time, He had come to find me.

I forgot to send my hallelujahs. I was not multiplying.

I was not forgotten, I had forgotten. Big difference.

This idea of multiplying has become my theme for the summer. I have to start small. I have to start with me. I have to start multiplying my love for my Merciful God. And then, watch out everyone else!

mercy.

original post date: 1/26/2014

I am continuously blown away by God’s mercy.
The fact that we serve a God who unconditionally showers us with so much mercy is hard for me to wrap my head around. Our society teaches us to get even with others, to seek revenge. We even have a phrase, “Revenge is a ____.” You can fill it in accordingly. But that is not the God we serve. No, not even close. He shows unending mercy in the face of our greatest failings. He is a God who stands with open arms. Arms waiting to embrace you in love, forgiveness, and mercy. The fact that God can see me in my brokenness and still extend His hand in mercy, is truly mind blowing to me. This is a model that is hard for me to mimic. When hurt by others, my first instinct is often to retaliate. Being a girl means this retaliation might not happen right away, it could happen after a long and drawn out plan is formed. A plan that involves getting even at a minimum, but hopefully one-upping if possible. But when I take a step back and look at this through the eyes of Christ, it breaks my heart. This is not of God, obviously. Jesus came to add & multiple. It is the Devil’s plan to subtract & divided. By allowing this long, drawn out plan to take action, I am carrying out the mission of division. Instead, God calls us to live the life of addition, the life of mercy. By showing those in our lives mercy, we are a living testimony to God’s love.