Monday, December 9, 2013

Hardest year of my life

Things I’m learning in the hardest year of my life:

1. Open Hands

This one alone has been quite the journey!

2. He does not lead me to the dessert to die/He is faithful

 This song sums it up. 

3. He keeps his promises, I hear his voice. 

4. God is a Good Father

5. I am Beloved

6. Love and family are worth the risk

7. I am good enough and I belong

8. I am his Friend

9. Rest

10. Living with the Trinity

11. Traveling 2 hours for community is worth it.

12. What I don’t want to do as a career.

13. Quiet is okay

14. I’m stronger than I thought I was

15. I am not the same person I was last year.

16. It's okay to not be okay.

17. Shame and fear are not my inheritance

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I didn't have a blog planned to post this weekend, so I guess I will just ramble on for a little bit. This week was Holy Spirit and Peace Week. My small group had kitchen clean up and set up. Our surprises this week were the art museum and the John Mark McMillan concert. John Mark anD Sarah come play every year. They do it totally for free. It's a night that us students are just loved and lavished with good things. After a lovely dinner, we had to stay up at the farm house until they called us down. Once we were summoned, we walked down to the most beautiful set up (besides illuminary night). We had cheesecake for dessert under the beautiful lights and of course, coffee! John Mark did a beautiful job of ushering us into the presence of God. It was wonderful, but I had a really rough night. I spiraled for a while, and finally went to Melissa and asked her to pray with me. Ella (my small group leader) came over and rubbed my back and prayed for me too. I talked with Ella for like an hour after. Little Haven (Peach) came over and sat in my lap for a while because she was sleepy. She's probably my favorite 7 year old. She comes up to me every time she sees me and hugs me and says "Hey Joy!" Melts my heart every time!!!!
The Art museum was so stinking wonderful! I love Art museums so much! I wish we could have spent 4 more hours there! We had sketching permits, so that was super fun! I left feeling so full and inspired!
Today we are shopping and just hanging out! Again, I'm the only American!!!!! I'm with 4 other nations today- Costa Rica, Switzerland, Finland, and New Zealand. Full heart! :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My date with the Trinity

I decided that I would share a little snippet from my journal entry from Tuesday. :) Enjoy! 

June 11
I just came back from the first date that didn't end in shame or rejection. A date with the Trinity. I told Him I didn't want to leave that moment and He told me the most beautiful thing. That I can come back there anytime!!! I have open access to His heart. To His time. I can commune with Him any time! It doesn't have to be big and dramatic. He wants to meet with my heart every moment!!! I have zero resistance to you Trinity. Any moment. I say yes. Any thing. I say yes.
Every relationship requires trust. Without trust, there is no relationship. Tonight, I chose the path of trust. I chose the way of trust. That path led to the most beautiful beginnings of relationship. I put on the blindfold. I was led, lovingly, gently. The eyes in my head could not see, but the eyes of my heart were opened wide. I was led to a gate. When I took off the blindfold, in front of me was the gate lined with tea candles, and behind that gate stood staff and interns, family. They slowly opened the gate and made a path for us to walk into the field where we lined up to receive a huge piece of a loaf of bread and a big wine glass full of juice. We then walked out into the field filled with illuminaries all over. I've never seen so many candle lumineers in my life. They appeared to stretch for ever over and down the hill. Scattered throughout the lumineers in the field were white chairs. I found a white chair and I sat down for my date with the Trinity. We were told we had an hour. Time flew. It was the shortest hour of my life. I sat and communed with the Trinity. The Father and I had a long moment, the Spirit and I had a moment, and Jesus and I had a moment. At first, all I could say is "I'm so unworthy. I don't deserve this." But the Father wrapped His arms around me, Jesus looked me in the eyes and said, You were worth every bit, you are the joy that was set before me.
I saw this picture in my mind of Jesus walking towards me, step by step, eyes locked on mine. With each step he took he said I love you. I want you. You are Beloved. It was the most gorgeous proposal ever. He affirmed my identity. He filled my very body. And he began to strip away all the layers of hurt and fear and distrust. The last time I was blindfolded, I could trust no one. I was told to trust the person in front of me. But I wasn't safe. I was made to wander through parking lots and fields, aimlessly, with leaders poking branches in my face and in front of my feet to make me trip and to scare me. But this time, I was held on to. Ella's hand tight around mine, her arm, secure around my back. She whispered "your safe, you're doing great, I've got you" over and over. She told me where to step. She told me exactly what my feet needed to do. Every step of the way. Trust. Found in the Father, Formed in the Family. 


Thursday night, June 6th, I had the first dream since I’ve been here. It was odd that I went nearly a week without dreaming because I dream vividly pretty much every night. Thursday night I had a very strange dream. When I woke up, it was kind of difficult to escape from the dream. It felt so real. The dream was very odd. I realized more and more how odd it was as I tried to tell my roommates about it. I tried to write it off as just a weird dream. Maybe it was just all the caffeine that I had consumed before falling to sleep… But here I am, 3 days later, June 9th, and I was talking with Grace about the weird dreams I’ve had lately (the next night I had 2 strange dreams again.) I briefly shared the first dream with her, but I kind of just shrugged it off. Another conversation started between Hope and Lindsey, but Grace looked at me and asked me about my dream some more. So I told her more details.

In my dream I was in a film class. It was the last day of class and we had a final due. My professor loved my project so she set up an appointment for me to bring it to present to a filmmaker who was in town. [Odd detail: My film professor also had assigned us a running assignment, We had to run 3.1 miles every day, and had to turn in our log that day as well.] As I was on my way to bring my project to the filmmaker, my ex-husband saw me. (Just to clarify cause I threw a couple of my roommates off- I do NOT have an ex-husband… I’ve never been married) My ex-husband was very upset with me and wanted to hurt me because I had left Him. He thought I had cheated on him and I had emotionally hurt him badly. He began to chase me. (Thankfully, I had been running every day!!!! Haha!) He chased me through so many obstacles; I was climbing walls and jumping over park benches. Eventually He caught me. Just before he began to hurt me, he saw that I was still wearing the ring.  I explained to him that I still loved him and I didn’t want to leave him, but I had to.
Then I had the same dream a second time. Only this time it was a little different. He saw me and began to chase me and I started to run. I got to the filmmakers house and I began to show him the film. My ex-husband was chasing me, but he couldn’t get to me. The principal stepped in. She blocked his way and put her hand on his chest so he couldn’t go any further. She told him that it wasn’t my fault and that I didn’t deserve to be treated the way he was treating me. She said that our marriage was over and that he needed to go away. I continued to show the filmmaker my project and my hearts pace began to slow. I felt a little sad as I saw the look on his face outside the window, but I felt so free at the same time.

Then I woke up.

Grace helped me see that my dream could be more than just weird coffee. She mentioned running from old mindsets and fearing discipline and immediately I realized why the dream stuck with me so much and resonated so loudly. The Father began to show me some specific things in the dreams.

My ex-husband definitely represents old mindsets that I have had for years and years. Striving to be good enough, fear of man, fear of failure, self condemnation, trying to please people, building walls to protect my heart, not letting people in, not letting people know me. In the first dream, I didn’t make it to the filmmaker’s house (My heart bing seen and known) because those old mindsets caught me. Mindsets of “You’ll never be good enough”, “Discipline is harsh”, “You will not be accepted”, “It’s your fault, you deserve to be punished”, “You deserve to be hurt”. “You must build walls and not let people in to protect your heart”, “You’re not safe”- mindsets that I divorced were chasing me. They shouted loudly at me. I didn’t know how to let them go. Because I have been hurt so deeply, I didn’t want to hurt my ex-husband, so I let him stick around. I believed what he told me; the filmmaker would reject me, I wasn’t good enough. I stopped running.
The second dream was different though. Rather than being caught by those old mindsets, I kept running to the filmmaker’s house. I chose to believe that my heart was safe. As I shared my project (my heart, who I am) with the filmmaker, another stepped in and told my ex-husband that it was over, that I left him and it was finished. They told him that there was a restraining order and he couldn’t control me anymore.

The father began to speak to me about these old mindsets and self-protection strategies I had been married to. I married him during a time when my heart was broken from rejection. I needed protection. I needed to protect my heart from the abuse that I was receiving from a variety of places- friends, relationships, and church leadership. Those walls and methods of protecting myself were coping mechanisms that were necessary for me to survive. But I no longer need them. Now, they are poison to me. I have divorced them. I don’t need them. My heart can be known. I can be known. I am accepted. I am a daughter. My Father is WELL Pleased with me. Who I am is good. I am enough. I don’t deserve to be hurt. I am worth loving. I am worth extravagant love. I am worth real friendships. I deserve it.
Worthlessness, I am not your wife. Self hate, I am not married to you. Lovelessness, you have no control over me. Not Enough, you are not my husband. Fear, you are not my leader.

Father, Spirit, Son, take me in to the depths of your heart. You are my husband. You are committed to me. You call me Enough. You call me Beloved. You call me Daughter. You are well pleased with  me. I am secure. I am loved. I am worth loving. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Week One: Father week

I don't know where to start. I don't know how to put into words what this week has been for me. I don't know that I will ever be able to fully explain it all.
The first night, we had this beautiful dinner with out small groups. It was absolutely amazing. After dinner, all the staff and interns gathered around us and prayed for us. I have never felt that much love and that wanted in my life (I will say that many times because everyday I am loved more and my heart comes more alive). I sobbed. David grabbed me as I walked by and pulled me into the tightest hug I've had in a long time and just encouraged me and told me how he's been praying for me and what he heard the Father speaking over me.
Every staff and intern here knows all of our names, ages, and where we are from already. They knew who I was when I drove up in my car. They all had pictures of us and have been praying for us specifically for months. Wow. Seriously, So loved!!!!
This week was Father week. We got to know God as Father. Our fruit of the Spirit of the week was Love. I have never known the Father in this way. He is so good. He is so close. He is so full of love. He wants me more than I want him to want me.

Something that we talked about this week is the wrong beliefs that we have about God. At the root of every sin is a wrong belief. Behind every action is a feeling and a thought and behind every thought and feeling is a belief about God of about ourself. Wether that belief is who I am is not good enough or God cannot be trusted or God is trying to keep me from being satisfied or find pleasure. Behind every sin action is a wrong belief that needs to have the truth shined on it. Repentance should be a joy filled expression of the truth of God. Prostitutes and Tax collectors dance their way to heaven ahead of the pharisees and religious people. God is so good and loving. The only sorrow that I should feel over repentance is in the realization that I have been living in lovelessness, apart from His love. Repentance is returning to the place where we are thinking and seeing with God again. Repentance isn't an "I did this wrong." It's an "I believed this about You."

We live out the image of God that we see, so if we see God as angry, controlling, and unfair, then we will live that image. 

Since being here, I have heard from the Father in some pretty beautiful ways! He has shown me pictures and told me stories that have rocked my world. 

"We distort what we hear to fit what we feel." the things that we are fearful of, "I will be rejected" cause us to receive messages that fulfill that fear. We distort what we hear to fit what we feel- leading to our fear being fulfilled. (This is seen a lot in text messages- you interpret the other person's tone by what you believe about yourself.)
Our struggle with passages in the Bible most frequently are a result of a wrong belief about the nature of God. My belief about God is the only thing that determines everything. 

Father week has been phenomenal. So healing. There are pages and pages and pages in my journal about all that the Father is doing in me and all that He has spoken to me, I can't even begin to scratch the surface of all that's going on in this blog entry. 
In fact, I don't even think I totally know it all yet. Much processing to be done. 

Saturday is our wifi day. We have all committed to drawing away from the business of life and are committed to intentional community with the people around us. So that's why I have been absent. I will try to post every saturday. I can't even guarantee that will happen though. I love it here so much. I do miss friends and family though. But I am learning to rest and to just BE. It is beautiful.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Things to come

June 1st I walk into community in Sophia, NC. I have no idea what I am walking into. At all. Ha. But I know that is likely going to be the most incredibly life changing, breakthrough-packed summer of my life, because these last few months have been some of the most difficult I have ever walked through.
If I were to be totally honest, I would have to admit that there have been several times when I have wanted to throw my heart against a wall and curse God and quit. There have been a couple times when I know that I was being hung on to by a thread. (note: I was not hanging on... I had let go. He was hanging on to me.) I know that the only reason that I made it is because of His grace. I had several people who prayed intently for me during these past couple months, and I know full well that their prayers changed the direction that I was set on going. [Side note: I do NOT have it all together now. I am still greatly struggling, but He is Faithful to me.]
Back to the NC thing. I am doing a program called the 18inchjourney this summer. I am greatly excited about it. I know that it is going to be intensely challenging and wonderful. I get more excited everyday! I know that I will be stretched so much. I know that I will encounter Papa in a way like I have never encountered Him before. I am anxious and excited and overwhelmed all at the same time. 
Papa, I don't know what you are doing. But You are good. So do it big in me.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Wedding Bells and Beautiful Dreams

I am a blog reader, through and through. I can spend hours in the evenings just reading blogs written by people that I don't know from Adam. It's in these blogs that I am able to momentarily see into the vulnerable heart of the blogger, and in seeing their heart, I see into mine. 

I have read many blogs women have written over the past few years that sound kind of like this:

For years I clung to the idea that my life would follow the pretty timeline of events I had planned out in my mind. In middle school I dreamed of going to get my learner's permit the day I turned 15. In high school I dreamed of graduation and moving out of my parents' house to go away to college. When I was 19 I had it all planned out. I would be in a serious relationship by 23, married by 25, and I would have my first kid by 26. Then I woke up on my 25th birthday and realized that life hadn't gone the way I planned. All my dreams were shattered, and I sat on the floor in my room (in my parents' garage) and yelled at God. I told God how unfair He was and decided that if He didn't care enough about me to get me a husband while I waited on Him so patiently for all those years, then I would just take matters into my own hands and find a husband myself. 

Usually, these blogs end up having some kind of cool revelation and the woman realizes that God was waiting for her to surrender her dream of marriage over to Him the whole time. This usually comes about by her heart being shattered into a billion pieces and several bottles of wine and boxes of chocolate being downed to drown her emotions.

I decided tonight that 3 years from now, I don't want to be that woman. I don't want to wake up and realize that the dream I have been clinging to isn't going to happen in the timeline that I want it to, and end up shipwrecked on some island of loneliness and depression for 6-9 months before I wake up and realize that God writes the best love stories.
How do I practically ensure that doesn't happen?
I have no earthly idea.
I think a place that I can start is to daily choose to let Him write my story.
Friends, you can't get much more single than I am right now. But friends, this is the perfect place to be to best let God write my story.
Will I be married at 25?
I don't know.
Will I ever get married?
Well, it's definitely a desire of my heart, and the Word says to delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. I am trying my best to live life as a woman who delights herself in the Lord. So, yes, I think that one day I will marry.
Even if I don't.
Even if I die as an old wrinkly, single cat lady... (And I don't like cats)
God. Is. Still. Good.
He is my beloved.
I will die the bride of Christ.
And that my friends is the best kind of bride to be.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Open Hands

A couple weeks ago, Jesus began to really speak to me about the concept of living with open hands.
When He first mentioned it I thought it was cool, but I didn’t really understand it. I didn’t really know what it meant to have open hands before the Lord. I know that I still don’t understand it fully. I feel that it is a concept that is going to take time and struggle to really grasp and mature in.

When Jesus first told me that he wanted to teach me how to live life with open hands I was excited. I was very much ready to be taught. I was eager to live with open hands. I felt like open hands went so well with my “Yes” lifestyle. I thought I could totally do it. I committed to living with open hands.

Fast-forward a week.

I arrive in LA. Tabitha is at school and I am at her house resting. Tabitha’s house mate, Miriam, and I begin to chat. What started out as very normal “get to know you” conversation turns into her “reading my mail” so to speak and speaking over my life. At the end of our beautiful, encouraging, challenging conversation she asked to pray with me. Of course I said yes! Who doesn’t love prayer!? Little did I know, my entire understanding of living with open hands was about to be wrecked.
"God, give her grace to live with open hands..."

WHAT? You just prayed about something that Jesus has been speaking to me about when I have told no one. And you prayed that I would have grace to do it... 
I can't explain why that little sentence wrecked my mindset, but it did. 

Do me a favor please.

While you read the rest of this post, please clinch one of your fists. Hold your hand closed as tightly as you can. I know that this is a long read, but I think it will help to prove my point.

What does it mean to live with open hands?

When I looked up this word I was blown away with the definition. HUGE. The word is defined in many different ways and in many different uses of the word. They all so beautifully demonstrate what this concept looks like though. I couldn’t bear to leave them out! It’s a lot though, I know.  


1. Allowing access, passage, not closed or blocked up, not fastened or sealed. With the outer edges or sides drawn away from each other; unfolded. (of a book or file) with the covers parted or the contents in view, allowing it to be read.

If I am going to live a life with open hands, I must allow access to every area of my heart. I must give God total access to my life. My heart, areas of my life, cannot be blocked off or sealed shut. I have sisters and mentors in my life who have total access to my life. They know who they are and they drive me to live a life of vulnerability and transparency. (They do their job well!!! HA!) To live with open hands means that God can have access to every part of my life. He can go where ever He wants to go. Nothing is off limits. My sisters and mentors know that they can ask me any question and I will answer completely and honestly. They know that they can point out any area of my life that is out of order. They challenge me and push me to maturity.

Jesus, you have total access to my life. You may go wherever you want to go. My life, heart, finances, and desires are closed or blocked off from you. My heart is not sealed off from you. You have total access.

2. Exposed to the air or to view; not covered. (Of a team member in a game) unguarded and therefore able to receive a pass. (Of a goal or other object of attack in a game) unprotected; vulnerable. (Open to) likely to suffer from or be affected by; vulnerable or subject to. (Of a town or city) officially declared to be undefended, and so immune under international law from bombardment. (Of a question, case, or decision) not finally settled; still admitting of debate. (Of a person) frank and communicative; not given to deception or concealment. Involving no concealment, restraint, or deception; welcoming discussion, criticism, and inquiry, (of a question, case, or decision) not finally settled; still admitting of debate. (Of the mind) accessible to new ideas; unprejudiced (open to) receptive to. Come into view; spread out before someone

To be open is scary sometimes because it means being exposed. If I am going to live with open hands it means that I cannot cover anything in my life. I cannot try to hide from Jesus. I cannot hide from being accountable with people in my life. I am vulnerable with sisters in my life. This vulnerability seems scary at the time that it is taking place, but it brings so much security an safety in the long run. Being known is a beautiful thing. I do not try to defend myself when I am living with open hands. Open hands cannot hold a weapon or a shield. I must trust that Jesus is my defender when I live with open hands. I must trust that He is guarding me. He is the one protecting me when I feel vulnerable. Openness means that I realize that until I get to heaven I will not have it all together. I will always need someone there to ask me the hard questions. I will always need the Holy Spirit to convict me and change me.

 3. (Of a hand) not clenched into a fist. (Of a bank account) available for transactions. (Of a telephone line) ready to take calls. (Of a choice, offer, or opportunity) still available; such that people can take advantage of it

I don’t hold on to anything. There is nothing in my life that I cling to besides Jesus. My hands are always open. I am constantly ready for transactions, God pouring into me and me pouring out into others, me pouring my worship out on him. I am always open for Him to take things out of my life that don’t belong there. Open hands means me saying, “God, anything that is not bringing you glory, take it out of my life.” I don’t cling to my time or sleep or wants. I am available for people. I am available to be used by God.

When we have open hands, God can take things with out having to pry our fingers off of them. He can also give us things. We are ready to surrender and receive at any moment.

Consequences of not living with open hands:

1. God cannot use you to accomplish all that He wants to because you are not making yourself available.
2. You cannot receive all that He has for you.
3. It is a long painful process when the Holy Spirit wants to remove something from your life.
4. Secrecy that leads to fear and in some cases sin/bondage.

Clinging to anything, whether it is a secret in you heart, a habit, addiction, fear, sin, dream, desire, goal, whatever it is, is dangerous for you and sometimes for those around you as well. It is an injustice to yourself for sure. I am sure that by this point, your hand is pretty tired of being clinched. I’m sure it is starting to hurt a little. The blood isn’t flowing correctly. Your fingernails may be digging into your palm. That’s what happens to you spiritually when you live with areas of your life closed off. When you don’t have open hands before the Lord, the life giving blood of His Spirit cannot flow through you in the areas that you are clinging to.
In a moment you can open your fist, but before you do, think about the areas of your life that are closed tight. Think about the things in your life that you have been clinging to. When you let go of your fist, imagine yourself letting go of all of that. Just release it. See how it feels.
Go ahead, let go of your fist. Let go of the things you are clinging to. Let go. Choose to have open hands.

Openness with others has always been something that I have struggled with. In the last year though the Lord has really changed that in me. Being known by people is so freeing. We think that if someone really knew who we are __________ (Something negative) will happen. However, it is the opposite. I have found such freedom and healing in being real with sisters in my life.

Maybe you need to talk to someone. You may need to share a secret. You may need to just tell someone what you have been clinging to. You may need to be vulnerable for the first time. Do it. Find someone. Share. Open your hands and open your life. I challenge you. Live open. It’s freeing.

When you first let go of your fist, you hand may have started to tingle. The blood began to rush back to your fingers. It may have been painful. How does your hand feel now? Free? Relaxed? Openness is always scary at first. Sometimes it is painful. Sometimes it makes you feel as if your insides are all fighting to explode out of you. But once you jump off that cliff and you choose to be open, blood starts to flow again. Oxygen starts to fill those cells again. Healing happens. It’s freeing.

This year, I want to live with open hands. I want to be able to look back a year from now and say that there was no area of my heart or life that was off limits to God. I want to be able to say that I surrendered everything to Him. I did not cling to anything. Even things that He has given me are not to be held on to. I want to look back and be able to say that I received everything from Him that He wanted to give me- the good, easy, fun blessings, as well as the opportunities to learn how to suffer well.  He gives and He takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

God, give me grace to live with open hands. Give me grace to surrender and to receive. There is nothing that I hold on to. You have total access to my life. I will follow you wherever you go. Jesus, I will follow you into the depths of my heart, into every corner and closet in my life. I let go of all that I have held on to. I repent for clinging to anything that you have given to me. I repent for thinking that I am strong enough to hold on to anything in my life. Dreams, secrets, blessings, regrets… I’m not strong enough to hold on to them. I give it all to you God. I repent for the pride that caused me to think I could cling to anything in my life. Give me grace to live with open hands. I will follow you wherever you go.

Will you join me?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Widow's mite

I feel like in the last few weeks there have been many things that I have wanted to sit down and blog about, but I have done none of them. As I reflect back on some of it now I don't know where to start. I don't even know if I really feel like walking back through the last month of my life and putting words to it. I don't feel like being vulnerable. I don't feel like sharing where I have journeyed through. There is so much on my heart that I feel like I should have some sort of outline to follow before I start trying to type this; otherwise I think that I may just aimlessly ramble on and on.
That is probably what this is going to be.
Sorting through all the things that I should have taken the time to sort through as they happened rather than waiting for three weeks later to put words to.

In the past 4 months I have come to a place where it has felt like everything I have ever known has been ripped out from under me time and time again. I can't even begin to count the number of times that I have looked up at the sky and screamed "God, you have already taken everything away from me, what more do you want?!" Each time that I feel like I have given every last penny that I have to God, I turn around and sigh with relief... only to realize that I have one more coin to put in the box.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

In the past few weeks, I have found my self very much able to relate to this woman. Maybe I haven't given the last cent that I have to my name to God, but definitely emotionally I have. I have sat on the floor of my room, behind the wheel of my car, and in the corner of the nursery day after day sobbing, telling God I don't know how I am going to make it. I have given you everything God, and this is terrifying. And then He asks for everything again. I drop the coin in the box. I turn and walk away, trusting that he has me... and then I look down and see another coin. I turn back again and place it in the box. I turn and walk away again. Again, I look down and realize there's another coin. 
This cycle has gone on for weeks. It's a daily surrender. It's a daily letting go of everything that I have known. It's a daily trust that He's got me. I don't have much to offer him, but what I do have is His. No matter how terrifying. I know He's got me. 

There is so much more that I can write. So much more that I can say. So much that I will say. Just not at this moment. Not in this post.