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 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.

 

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.