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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history

bethel music is doing a conference/worship school for the next two weeks, so i bought a free trial to listen to the worship and keynotes. and it is beautiful. Jesus is so impressive and i am amazed at how He has the power to make us feel like the only one in the room.

it has been a sweet and beautiful morning singing to Him and declaring His promises over my soul and my one bedroom apartment.

during worship, i couldn’t help but laugh at the power and presence these walls hold, and will hold til the end of time. i am excited for the person that lives here after me, because i know God will be here with them. there will be a residue of my prayers and His faithfulness forever in these walls.

anyway, in between the worship and keynote this morning, a few people gave prophetic words for people in the audience. and the very first one brought me to tears. the lady said: “God wants you to know, He sees what you have chosen and He has not forgotten the dreams of your heart. In fact, He sees them very clearly, He sees a plan for them. They will happen. But you can’t skip the in between. Even if you feel like you are in the wilderness. This is the closest. This is the friendship of Jesus.”

tears.

such a sweet encouragement and reminder of who He is and what He is doing. but the part that actually stood out to me the most, was when she said “this is the friendship of Jesus.” that made so much sense to me. yes, yes, yes. this is what Jesus has wanted the whole time. friendship.

and this is what we are doing in this season, we are writing our history. we are building a strong foundation for what He has yet to do. this is where you build a rich history with God. a story that testimony is built on. a story that is shared down the road, after it seems like it might not even be relevant or helpful to others. it is here that we grow in authority. here where we get our footing and challenge the things that threaten to take us down. it is here where we learn about our value and worth and significance and the power of holding on to hope and leaning in for a miracle. it is here where we are called to the altar to surrender all that we have left. even when it feels like it will leave us destitute.

as i look back on the past 2.5 months, i see the Father heart of God breaking off fear, scarcity, anxiety, worldliness, loneliness, jealousy, complacency, and disbelief.

when i watch worship leaders, or christian speakers or pastors talk about their own lives, or lessons they have learned or their relationship with God, i am amazed by their friendship with God, their intimacy with the Trinity, and their authority over darkness. i admire these things and dream of the day i get to carry the same. but as i have been watching more and more of these, i am being taught that these things didnt happen over night. these were things taught in hard and dry seasons. lonely and dark nights. these were battles fought and lost. and tears cried from deep places.

when you ask for a ministry or a platform or a window to share from, you have to get there first. it doesnt show up overnight. and i’m learning to be grateful that it doesnt.

i know in my heart God has called me into the family business of setting people free and bring healing and resurrection life to dry and weary bones. i know He has created my heart to contend for it. but i know He has to train me and teach me to be able to carry that. and that comes from walking through it. it comes from writing and leaning into a rich and deep history with God. one that is sturdy and can weather many hits. because they will fly as He walks me deeper into the calling He has for me.

His promises are good. His ways are kind. His heart can be trusted. He is worthy of our lives.

 

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

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.

free cupcake

last night was very sweet. last night was a good reminder.

when i first moved to Waco, one of the very first things i did was attend the Grace House fundraiser event. i was brand new to Waco and to Grace House. i was literally a “nobody” i walked around talking to actually no one, and awkwardly helped people sign up to volunteer at Grace House. but it was such a sweet night. and it was encouraging and hopeful, because i got a glimpse into what i would be doing for the next year. and i felt God’s fatihfulness in that room, because He had made the impossible happen. He had pioneered a way for me to be in the room. it was a great start to my time in Waco & Grace House.

last night was the Grace House fundraiser, again. and i went and volunteered again. but it was a totally different experience. i knew so many people there. i knew what was going on. i knew Grace House. but mostly, i knew my girls. and it was so good to see them. so fancy and dressed up! and it was a sweet night just getting to celebrate all the hard work we had done together.

particularly, hearing two of my clients share their testimony. wow. i get teary even thinking about it. to have been in the trenches with them. and cried with them. watched them cry and process and work so hard to overcome and reach health. and to hear the fears and doubts. and to hear the promises God was giving them. and watch the healing and restoration happen in front of my eyes. and celebrate with them when they had a good day, and used their voice and set boundaries. and then to see them last night.

watching God’s faithfulness unfold in front of my very eyes. to watch them walk in the promises God gave them. to see them share their stories of hope and breakthrough and healing. it was more than my little heart could handle.

and to hear the small voice, of “you were a part of this” to know that i was able to be a part of that journey. and to walk with them to freedom and health. more than i can express. it was just so sweet. His faithfulness is so moving.

and it was a good reminder that He will be faithful again. He hasn’t stopped. i haven’t used up all His faithfulness. He has more favor to pour out. i just have to receive it. my heart was overwhelmed by His goodness last night. and what He let me be a part of. and also, the sweet free cupcake from magnolia that He gave me. that was a pretty sweet thing, too!

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.

wind

i’m almost done with grad school! all the praise hands!!!! i can’t believe it is almost over. two more projects and a few more weeks to go!! as encouraging as that is, there is also some anxiety that comes in with it. graduating means employment. or unemployment.

all this year, i have been looking and applying for jobs. when i started in january, i clearly heard Jesus say

“why are you doing this? I haven’t asked you to start looking” 

and because I am wiser & smarter than Jesus, I ignored that & continued to look and apply for jobs. only to be rejected. each time. so i then decided to wait until i got a green light from Him to start looking.

a few weeks ago, i got a green light. or so i thought. by this time, the Father had been growing in my heart a desire for something totally new. He had started to speak to me about revival, about evangelization and healing the church and His people.

BIG. EXCITING. NEW. concepts.

so i have started to apply for jobs that would line up with this vision. oh, He also spoke Dallas very clearly. so i’ve been looking for jobs in the Dallas area that match this idea. and not having much luck. and getting really discouraged. and wondering if i heard God wrong.

but i know i didn’t. i know His voice. and i know it was Him. what i don’t know is what it is all going to look like. as i have been applying for strange, and maybe even random jobs, i have felt a sense of striving. of grasping. also a feeling of frustration. like c’mon God. i have spent this year, dedicated to learning and working and growing. and i have all this training, and the student loans to prove it, and i can’t find a job. what the heck. this isn’t fair. i thought it would be easier. i thought it would fall into my lap since i was obedient when i didn’t want to be. wouldn’t my reward be an easy transition?

when i brought this feeling to the Father, He definitely affirmed it. and reminded me i don’t have to live from a place of scarcity. that He is good, and He provides. everytime. He is inviting me into a deeper place of trust.

so here i am today. in a bakery. working on my resume, trying to apply for jobs, trying to check in with the Father if these are trails He wants me to pursue, and listening to spontaneous worship, seeking direction and the voice of God. and I came across this spontaneous video of Amanda Cook. just listening to it. and all the sudden in the middle of singing she starts to speak and says “i feel a pioneering spirit” and she starts to talk about all the diligence and hard work that goes into sailing, but the power of the wind that moves the boat.

and then i started crying in the bakery.

when i moved to waco, one of the first words i received, was that i was a pioneer. someone who walked in uncharted waters. and that has been so true for me. before & during waco. the Father has often led me into new, uncharted places. but then to hear that again, as i am preparing to leave, was such a sweet reminder. a reminder of His provision, and of my identity. reassurance that He was again, leading me to a new place, that I have never been before.

and then she talked about all the diligence and hard work that is required in sailing. for me, all the hard work and dedication i have invested in this season. but then there is the

wind.

that takes a sailboat and moves it. and the release. letting the sails go. and letting the wind move us. to lay down striving, to lay down fear, to lay down scarcity. and let the wind move me. and it is scary, but it is comforting. the pressure is off. i’ve done the hard work of setting up the sailboat. i have paid attention to the details. i’ve been diligent and cautious. but now i have to let the wind move. and the good stuff only happens in the deep. so i’m gonna have to trust the wind to move me deeper.

i’m not sure what it looks like to catch the wind. i’m not sure what i do in the meantime. i mean, Jesus slept on the boat while He waited for wind. so maybe this is a more intentional season of rest. i’m really not sure. but I know i have to wait on the wind.