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.

rest: weary

this season of rest is increasingly hard.

it seems like as the days go on, i am getting more weary. my heart is tired and my hope feels shakey. this is not a feeling i enjoy. this is not where i thought i would be. i feel confused and sad. each day is another lesson. and i feel like i am not learning any of them.

in this season of rest, this sweet invitation, i am still falling back on my old tricks. even though i think i am “resting” and am taking down time, i am painfully aware that i am missing the point.

yes, He has asked me to rest.

yes, rest means physically taking time to recover & sleep & grow.

no, rest does not mean working hard to rest.

no, rest does not mean striving to “rest well.”

as i look back on this time of rest, i am very aware that i have been working so hard and trying even harder to figure out what it means to rest and how i can quantify how much i am resting. this has ranged from going to the park, taking in a troubled dog, spending days in my apartment without leaving, watching Dr.Phil reruns, journaling, reading, watching sermons, spending time with family, calling friends, eating tacos, applying for a billion random jobs, making salads, avoiding cleaning/packing my apartment, the list goes on.

but as i look at this list, i see something missing:

intentional time, face to face, with Jesus. resting in who He is. settling into the promise.

i have been trying to externally rest, in all the ways i could think. but i think i am coming to release something bigger. maybe rest is more about my heart than my nap time. i have been relying on friends and family and preachers and worship leaders to tell me what comes next, to hear from God, to have confirmation for this season. and while all of that is good, and needed and has a place, it is not what was asked of me.

today i got another job rejection. and i really don’t think i am taking them personally, just more out of frustration. a feeling that i missed the mark. but i did really want this job. so upset, i cried/yelled at Jesus and asked Him “WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT? I CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHERE YOU WANT ME!!!!” and so sweetly He responded:

you

that is all He wants. He wants me. and i have been doing everything i can to keep it from Him. i have been hiding from Him. afraid of what it might mean to be seen by Him in this season. afraid for Him to see my weariness. afraid for Him to see my inadequacy. afraid of being let down. afraid that maybe He isn’t as good as i thought He was. afraid that maybe He can’t handle my expectations. i have been putting going to the park, taking in a troubled dog, spending days in my apartment without leaving, watching Dr.Phil reruns, journaling, reading, watching sermons, spending time with family, calling friends, eating tacos, applying for a billion random jobs, making salads, avoiding cleaning/packing my apartment between us. hoping that He will forget and take this lame offering of “resting” as obedience and give me what i want without having to really do the work and be vulnerable.

what the even heck?!

i have spent the last few months working on being seen by God. i have found the immeasurable sweetness that exists only in being known and seen by Him. that has been one of my biggest victories this year. and now, here i am, back to square one. striving to prove to Him that i am resting well, that i am obedient, that i am faithful & faithfilled. and here He is saying all He wants is me. just me. not my striving. not my excellent resting skills. just me. that’s what He came for. that’s what He died for.

i am so tired of resting, because i have been trying to do it on my own. i have been trying to crack the code. i have been afraid to show Him that i am tired of this cat & mouse game because i feel like i should have more faith than to doubt what He is doing. what if that disqualifies me from the promise?

i have been asking, “okay, if i do this, can i get a job then?” like it’s a trade off. i have been trying to distract myself from having to sit still. i have been so focused on the system, the outcome, and the process that i have missed being a part of them. i have missed the Source. and He has missed me. He just wants me back. He wants to spend time with me. and let me rest. and be restored. and be renewed. but like St. Augustine said:

“You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You”

my heart has been restless. i haven’t rested, yet. i’ve spent a month striving to, but i haven’t been able to. i am maybe more tired than when i started. because i have been trying to do this on my own. trying to perform “rest” well enough for God to get the go-ahead for the next season to begin.

this resting thing is rich. it is full of goodness, mercy, compassion, provision, stability, and kindness. He wants to offer me all of those things. but instead, i have been experiencing fear, doubt, uncertainty, confusion, isolation, striving, loneliness and comparison. none of those things were included in the invitation from the Father. but i made room for them at the table. and He let me bring them, because He is generous. and He knew how weary i was. and even more than that, how confused i was. how i thought those were my friends. so He let them come to the table with me because i insisted.

and now He is preparing the table before me, in the presence of my enemies. He is reminding me that He was the one that sent the invitation in the first place. because He could see how tired i was. and He wanted to take care of me. He wants to provide the sweetest rest i could ever imagine. He wants to repair my tired heart. and remind me of His goodness.

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

rest

this might be one of the hardest seasons yet.

i am writing this from a gazebo, with a very anxious puppy under my legs and an empty coffee cup.

but there is a sweet breeze. and i’m surrounded by stunning trees. and i’m reminded of the sweetness and provision of our God.

it has been really hard to rest. even in this invitation to rest, i find myself wanting to make a schedule of things to do, books to read, bible studies to complete, journals to write. but then i actually find myself watching netflix and scared that my new dog is going to bark all day if i leave the house.

last semester, when i was in the middle of school, i remember praying for my next job. i remember saying

“I am so tired of always looking and scavenging for jobs, God, it would be really nice if this next job found me.”

i might have even prayed that a few times. and i remember thinking, “okay, yeah. a job is not going to find me. i’m not that cool or even known” and i kept striving and grasping to apply and find a job in meantime.

well here i am. a week and half post-grad, with no job. instead, i have a sincere and direct invitation from the Lord to rest. and even as i am typing these words, under the gazebo at the park i am asking myself, “but is that really what He said? am i sure I heard Him right? maybe i’m just misinterpreting this whole thing” stupid satan. go-away. i must ask myself these questions about three times a day, minimum. but i know the truth. i know HIs voice, and i know what He said.

one of the many days where i was asking and striving and applying for RANDO jobs, i came to Him exhausted and a little teary telling Him how tired i was, and how i just wanted a job. and He said,

do you remember what you prayed last semester?”

and i knew what He meant. so i said “yes, but i can’t wait on a job to find me. and they aren’t going to find me. thats ridiculous. i need to find one now.” and He said,

“do you remember the first part of that prayer?”

and i said, “yeah, i’m so tired of looking!!!! like i am right now!!!” and He said,

“so I wanted to give you the rest you’ve been looking for.”

so true to who He is. He sees past the request i am making, and into the one i am really making. and that was a request to stop striving. to rest.

and that is what He is giving me. but it’s not as sweet and nice as it sounds. it is really hard to rest. to stop and slow down. but it also doesn’t mean vegging out. and doing nothing. so i am learning to find the balance. spend time asking Him what He wants me to do, and how i can rest more.

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.

identity

i would say that this last year/ten months i have learned a lot about identifying.

identifying mental illnesses, coping skills, theories, techniques, friends, foes, words, feelings, thoughts, prayers, spirits. the list goes on and one. but i would say the most important thing i have learned to identify is myself. cheesy, i know. but true.

this year, i have had to learn about myself to learn how to be a good clinician. i have had to learn my own beliefs, values, thoughts, triggers, strengths & weaknesses. and all of those things feel external. even though they exist within me, they feel like something i can quantify and count. but this year and this process pushed me to go further. it pushed me to integrate those external qualities and find a place for them inside myself. to identify myself with those things as a part of who i am, not a hat i can take on and off.

if you ask me what my strengths are, 10/10 i would say “hard-working” first. i have always identified myself as hard-working. what a good quality to have. i have always worked so hard at everything put in front of me. it is one of the things i am most proud of about myself.

but hard working isn’t a real thing.

i mean it is. it is a great quality to have. and work towards. see-there is that word again, work. but hard-working doesn’t translate. because when you’re hard working, you get all the work. from everywhere. from peers, from family, from friends, from supervisors, but mostly, from yourself. there is never a break. because you’re always hustling. always running to the next thing. if there isn’t something happening right now in front of you, then you have to find something to throw yourself into. because that’s who you are. you are hard-working.

and that is how i measured my value. by my output. by how much work i could take in and how much i could produce. notorious for working more than one job at a time. working more than 60-80 hours in a week. taking 18 hours of course work and being involved in 10 organizations. as soon as one thing ended, i had the next thing lined up. because that’s how you produce and show your worth, what you bring to the table.

when i told my counselor this she said “it’s almost like you’re running from yourself. from the truth of who you are.”

which is a very counselor thing to say, and seems like it would be #3 on the list of generic responses to tell your clients. right below #2 “Mmmm, that makes a lot of sense”  and #1 “You’re safe here. ”  but i let it go in one ear and out the other. because i definitely have some bad habits, but work wasn’t one of them. work is what made me worthy. it gave me identity and purpose.

but graduate school really turned that idea on it’s head. because there is no way, let me repeat, no way you can finish this program on your own. you just can’t do it. you have to have support, and supernatural help. seriously. as the program got harder, i realized i actually could not do this work, and was going to need some help. so i leaned in. and He helped me. there were so many nights at 3am, crying because i knew i couldn’t finish the 12 page paper due at 8am, because i was only on page 5. but leaning into Him, i surprisingly found 7 more pages to write. and presentations that i had no idea how to even put together, but after a few days, they were done. and sessions and conversations that i didn’t know how to respond to or how to start, that happened. there was trauma that i couldn’t imagine, and grace to hold that space. it was incredible to watch Him work through me, because i really had nothing to give.

at first, i thought He was doing all of this because i was a hard worker, and had committed and obeyed and now He would do these favors for me. but as i got to know Him more, and see the magnitude of what He was doing-the healing He was bringing, and the knockout papers He was writing-i began to understand it differently.

He was helping me based on my identity. but not the one i thought i had. not because i was a hard worker. but because,

i was His daughter.

what dad doesn’t want to help his daughter with her homework? what dad doesn’t what to go out of his way to make sure his girl isn’t alone? what dad doesn’t want to be able to stay up late with her as she works on her latest project and presentation?

and how sweet is that. His help wasn’t something i earned. there was nothing i could do to earn His help. it wasn’t contingent on getting an A or the highest participation rate. it was freely given. all i had to do was ask. literally ask, and rest. and watch my Dad ace the work. every time.

it was a sweet lesson to let Him replace my identity, as a hard worker, with His as His daughter.

now, in this new season, He has called me to rest. to not work in the traditional sense. but to spend time with Him. remembering. reconnecting. healing. processing. it is really hard because my tendency is to want to work. to jump into a job. i cannot tell you how many times i have been tempted to look for a small part time job here. even while i wait. but i hear Him say over and over,

“will you not take the rest I have provided for you?”

He is asking me to really seal in this new identity thing. He is asking me learn more about myself and about Him, without the false identity of a hard-worker. breaking levels of pride and thoughts of “what will other’s think or see?” it is not easy. it is actually a daily struggle to keep my eyes on Him. but His grace is sufficient. and His peace is sweeter than honey. and His presence makes us whole. 

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.