Can You See Him

journal entry April 25, 2018

My six year old daughter asked me, “Mom have you ever seen God?”

I straightened myself in the driver’s seat and looked at her through the rear view mirror. Memories of my life back in California jogged through my mind.

I was at a place where I was begging for healing for my husband and for a radical change in both our lives. I felt change was coming but I couldn’t see it. I knew Jason was slowly healing but was I sure? Or was I just being too hopeful?

“When I think back when we lived in California ... no baby, I never saw God.” I started.

It wasn’t until I moved here, miles and miles away from all that I knew where I needed to feel alone. I needed to feel helpless and small. I had no crutch. I was broken of my pride and most of my earthly possessions were no longer able to block my view and hide me in their deep. It’s here where I threw myself into God’s strong and sovereign arms. I was able to learn to walk with him instead of being carried. Once I surrendered my all, my hands were empty, my schedule empty and my view cleared. I see his goodness and his grace and mercies everyday as he peels back layer and layer of what the world hardened me into.

“How come we can’t see him?” Penelope cut through my thoughts.

“I see God now, He is everywhere!” I rejoiced, “When we lived in California I didn’t know how to see God, I didn’t know where to look. God wants us to believe he is there without seeing. Just like the wind. We can feel it, we can see it’s power, and we can even hear it.”

I looked again through the rear view mirror at her. Her light green eyes were looking out her window. I wondered if she even heard me or if her mind had wondered off. Maybe she was looking at all the green pastures that we drove past. Maybe she was looking for God.

Break My Fallow Heart

journal entry April 22, 2018

It was Saturday night, our quiet home was tidy, all the dishes were washed and put away. Penelope was asleep and Jason was plugging away at his latest YouTube upload on the computer. I went into the bedroom to do some reading and then my usual Saturday evening prayer time.

I have been reading one of Charles Finney’s writings, on his lectures in revival.

He was preaching about Hosea 10:12; "Break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you"

Fallow ground is ground that was once tilled, but has since gotten hard and unusable. Before it can receive seed, it needs to be broken up and made soft again. To break up the fallow ground of our heart we need to examine our motives, actions and state of mind very carefully.

Many people never seem to think about doing this. They pay no attention to their own hearts, and never know whether they are doing well in their walk with the Lord or not - whether they are bearing fruit or are really barren. - Charles Finney

Finney goes on to say that the reason why there are some fruitless Christians in the world is because their hearts have hardened and one way to soften it is by confessing sins that you may have not yet repented of.

I started this Saturday evening prayer routine a while ago when I started re-attending church in my adulthood. What I’m about to confess is an embarrassing sin; almost every Saturday night I pray that I would be able to focus my attention during Sunday morning service toward worshiping, listening and allowing the Holy Spirit to move. I prayed Saturday evening for my heart just like I have been doing for the past couple of years that I would not be distracted by the machine of it all.

Then the next morning it was Sunday. I walked into church, sat in the pew with Jason and it hit me. One of my unconfessed sin was my heart for the church. I really dislike church! My heart was fallow! It had hardened over after God worked so hard to do his work in me four years ago when Jason had gotten sick.

I grew up going to church. We were always there. If there was a service, we went. My parents were very involved in various ministries in the church I grew up in. Sometime around high school I saw the “machinery” behind the church. The business side of the house of the Lord  really turned things off for me. It was kind of like when you were a kid seeing an amazing puppet show, you believed that they were real and could talk and walk all by themselves and then shockingly only to discover that the puppets weren’t really alive but thrown in a box and the puppeteers counted the profits, cursed and the same show was done over and over again to different children different towns. The magic was gone for me. I realize now as an adult that church needs consistency and I mistook that as conformity, to be run effectively and professionally as possible in order for it to last longer than just a magical gathering of wows and smiles. There is no magic in church. I pray that Penelope never believes that, but will see the Holy Spirit and his awesome power alone.

While I was praying that I would stay focused during church service and not let me be distracted by what I know or think what was really going on “behind the curtains” that I didn’t realize that I never addressed my feelings for the staff, the building, the members and the way things are run. My 18 year old self, wearing black fishnet stockings, rebel creeper shoes, a vintage dress and Amy Winehouse style black eyeliner crept up on me and I grumbled in my pew. I left the church when in college because I felt that “they” didn’t get me. (I’m laughing as I type this) but believe it or not here I am twenty years later and I and still dealing with this unconfessed sin.

As I’ve been going through this burning desire to bring others to Christ, I thought about inviting some of my homesteading, homosexual, witch-y friends to church. “Ugh! Church just doesn’t get us misfits! Don’t fall for the machine.” I mumbled under my breath. That’s when I heard myself. Oh no! I’ve been carrying around this sin for 20 years and it’s hardening the soil of my heart. I can’t bear any fruit until God breaks me. Come break my heart O, God! 

I immediately prayed that God would forgive me and teach me to love the church, the building, the staff (who I so terribly disliked), and all of the precious members the way He loves them. I am so wretched it’s a wonder God even allows me to even step foot into his house of worship.

God is so full of redeeming grace.

Portion Control; What nobody wants to hear

Journal entry April 8,2018

After my last post about my battle with temptation and self seeking identity, I was given another verse about the word "portion". I quickly looked up that word and it's biblical meaning because it's not a common word in today's vocabulary. It means to have an inheritance from the Lord. My portion or inheritance should be a reminder to me that whatever happens in this world, I have this possession that surpasses all trials, tragedy, and difficult seasons in my life.

Psalm 73:26My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever

I constantly write here about giving it all away, surrendering myself to God and my possessions should be few and minimal. I am so willing ... but this world (my temptations) tell me that I would lose my identity, I would lose popularity and I would not be prosperous.

I fear a lot about what others think of me. When I look into a mirror a reflected self looks back in grey hair and flawed skin. I hesitate to invite people over and when I do, I constantly apologize for our old, crooked mobile home and joke about my out of fashion rumpled clothes.

I think we as Americans are afraid to look poor.

When we first moved into our mobile home, I was afraid that people would realize we were poor. Why is being poor something that nobody wants to be? Its not popular to purposely choose a life of "going without" or out of our comforts.

But what if this is a place where God wants me to be? This is where he placed me for this season of my life. "No way!" You say, "God promises to bless us."

We all want what we see on the media arts and what others boast about as being "#blessed". But what if that's not the type of blessings God is talking about? What if it's the kind of blessing that is unseen and He really does want us to live a life of sacrifice and selflessness?

I read this quote from Leonard Ravenhill, “The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.”

I know my life is very "#blessed."  My persecutions are nothing compared to the early church and I've never been to prison. What is it that my nonbeliever friends are seeing me as on my social media, when they come to my house or meet me in person? Do they see all my #blessed life possessions? Do they see that I love my self image and my easy life?

I have been guilty of exploiting my gifts. What does it look like to be content with the Lord as my portion?

What if others saw my love for Christ and my love for others? What if they saw that my Christ, my God whom I worship was worthy of losing myself to and happily sacrificing my comforts to worship Him and glorify His kingdom?

Our Heavenly Father gives to us good gifts just like any good father loves to give his children gifts. But I cannot hold onto those good delicious dried fruits (referencing "Night Parables part 1”) and keep them all to myself. They were always meant to be shared.

Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Night Parables part 2

Journal entry April 5, 2018

"Not me, Lord! I could never deny you," I prayed, sounding a little like Peter before the rooster crowed.

I surrendered that idol a long time ago. Or at least I thought I did. It was something that brought me comfort during difficult times. But God wants me to seek only Him when I need comfort. When I am tempted and my past idols dance around my mind like expensive Givenchy dresses on the runway, would I be strong enough to look the other way and not give in to sin?

I poured over the scriptures these last few weeks and story of Peter and the night of Jesus's death kept repeating itself to me.

All in the same day, Jesus told Peter that he was to deny Him that night. (Jesus gave Peter a heads up!) Peter didn't believe him. That night, the Bible specifically tells us that Jesus took Peter into the garden with him to pray. He asked Peter to stay awake and pray with him for one hour so that he doesn't fall into temptation. (Jesus provided a way out 1 Corinthians 10:13)

Peter didn't listen. Later that night Peter denies Christ.

I feel like the dreams were my "heads up." Even though I felt no temptation at the time, I trusted and dared not follow in Peter's footsteps to make the same mistake he did.

I have spent the last few weeks in long prayer and pouring into scripture, and during this last week, they came. They came like winds, unexpected, unseen, but strongly felt. Like the winds, they were capable of destruction. Never in my life have I felt such strong temptations from my past idols calling me back to my old ways.

The thing about temptations is it's never greater as when one has made a public declaration of their faith.

Jesus was just baptized (His public declaration) and then was lead into the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by the devil. Jesus used scripture to fight off the devil's jabs in the wilderness.

I tried to imagine going from baptism to being in the wilderness. Jesus was just about to start his ministry. I'm sure for the average person, stopping to be tempted in the wilderness is not quite what one would have on his mind before heading out, on fire, to do the Lord's work.

Elizabeth Elliot writes in her book, Secure in the Everlasting Arms;

"All of us, I suppose, have at times felt strangely displaced, wondering how on earth we landed in a situation so far removed from that of our choosing."

I stopped, closed the book and made my eyes blink a tightly squinted blink. "So far removed from that of our choosing." Yes. This is exactly where I am.

What tempts me are the things and thoughts of comforts of being secure. Secure in who I am, my identity, and physical appearances. These things could easily turn me away from the path God wants me to be on.

The verse that God gave me to fight this battle is oh so humbling and so fit for this fight;
Psalm 16:5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.

When I battle with my insecurities I must remember to be content and at peace with the Lord, and that! That is security!

O Lord, whose way is perfect, help us, I pray Thee, always to trust in Thy goodness: that walking with Thee and following Thee in all simplicity, we may possess quiet and contented minds; and may cast all our care on Thee, for Thou carest for us. Amen.

- Christina Rosetti

Night Parables part 1

Journal entry April 4, 2018

My dreams bother me. They burden and overwhelm me. Even if I try to forget them, they haunt me weeks and even months later. I've come to a point where I've been asking God to interpret my dreams for me because I'm convinced that He is speaking to me through my dream.

Now before you start to think that I am overly charismatic or weird, I must share that it is not uncommon for my dreams to actually happen in real life. It has happened plenty of times. So as this happens occasionally to me, you can see the need for me to understand these "night parables".

As I've been going through this amazing growth in my spiritual life, at the same time, within the last year I have been having vivid dreams at night. There was one about a wolf in sheep's clothing that stole a little lamb away from the line to get into heaven. (Spoiler alert the lamb got away) There was another dream about my dad giving me delicious dried fruit to eat. Then all the constant dreaming about me being at airports.

It's just my brain categorizing information you say? Maybe so. But I cannot stop wondering if God is trying to tell me something.

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33.

He is the revealer of all things secret and he also grants wisdom to all those who seek it. Daniel 2:21-23. I asked God to interpret the dreams to me. Here is what he showed me;

The lamb waiting in line to get into heaven was me. The wolf disguised in sheep's clothing was trying to tear me away from God or sanctification.

Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.

"Who is the wolf Lord?" I asked, ready to X out all the people in my life. We will get to that.

In the dream where my dad gave me dried fruit, I was boarding an airplane. There where bridges to cross to get onto the plane. There have been many other airport and airplane dreams this year, but Let's pause there. Although airplanes were not invented when the Bible was written, the Bible does talk about travel and here is what I felt that God was telling me;

Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

And the bridges? John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This explains my recent strong desires to tell others about my Heavenly Father.

But what about the dried fruit?

I had to look around for dried fruit in the Bible as I was not familiar with any scriptures about that. I came across Hosea 3:1 And the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 

I have learned that sometimes the people in my dream are symbolic and not literal. My dad was giving to me delicious dried fruit, just as our Heavenly Father gives to us good gifts.

The trickery of idolatry is the turning of a good thing, a gift, into a god thing.

We are worshipers, we were made to worship. Our Heavenly Father  redeems us through the perfect atonement of Jesus (the bridge) from the fruitless worship of idols to the divine worship of his immeasurable  self.

The ravenous wolf in my first dream was one of my idols from my past that I have not yet surrendered trying to steal me away.

To be continued...

The Thorny Seed That Led Me To Grace

Journal entry March 18, 2018


The weeks leading up to the final doctors visit, I felt overwhelmed by my thoughts and worried. Whenever I feel this way I start to need comforting things. I listened to vintage Amy Grant and Keith Green albums that reminded me of hearing them when I was a child and dancing around the living room while my mom cleaned the house. I miss my family. Especially in difficult seasons like this.

It was the night before the doctors appointment and I was lying in bed and I came across a YouTube video of a Keith Green documentary. I urged Jason to watch it with me. He had never heard of Keith Green but he decided to watch it anyway. I half expected him to fall asleep.

It was this film that put a fire in my heart to start loving others like Jesus. I had no idea that Keith and his wife, Melody started a ministry out of their own home! I was in awe that they opened up their doors to so many people. They loved like they had no fear. That shocked me. That moved me. That convicted me.

All this time spent waiting in doctors offices and the flow of new emotions led to and allowed for deep conversation about some of the things that Jason and I had stirring in our hearts.

It challenged me to look at how I spend my time.  What am I doing with all of the gifts that God has bestowed upon me? Am I hoarding them? Am I using them to bless others or am I selfishly keeping them all to myself?

I am a selfish Christian.

Jason and I talked about what it would look like for us to love others the way that our God loves us. Sadly, I realized I had a lot of barriers up against "those people over there" and me. I am praying that God would tear down those barriers.

What are barriers?Barriers are fears; fears of being inconvenienced, being hurt, being laughed at, Not having enough, Being taken advantage of,Not knowing what to say,Of commitment, And a fear of giving it all away.

My hearts desire is to give it all away; my time, my love, my food, my brain space dedicated to praying for others and earnestly pressing into people's lives for Christ's sake. But I hold back fearing that if I give then I will have nothing left for myself. Oh Lorraine! what is it that I NEED left in this world?

The late Keith Green sang in one of his songs that "Nothing lasts, except the grace of God."

If nothing lasts, so why not give it all away? Don't hold back. Recklessly love the way God loves me.

We're Just Here To Learn To Love Him

 Journal entry March 11, 2018

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This is the scene that I sat in and stared at for what seemed like an eternity. My husband and I sat on a green sofa, in the office of a breast cancer doctor. There we waited. And waited. I stared at all of the framed awards and diplomas hanging behind his desk. And they stared back at me as if to warn me not to question this man's diagnosis.


While waiting, my thoughts circled 'round and took me to that stubborn place in my brain that I could not smooth over all week; if this turned out to be cancer...


I write all the time here that I am surrendering my all to God. My possessions. My comforts. My time. Why not take what's left of the years of my life as well?


Why should I be so surprised or angry? After all this is not my forever home. After all this life is not mine. Why do I hold on to all I have left after surrendering my worldly possessions so tightly that my greedy fists of will have exhausted me into sorrow and anger?


Could I give it to Him if He asked for it?


Every morning in our homeschool, Penelope and I start each school day by singing hymns. This month we started each day with O Love That Will Not Let Me Go;

O Love that will not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in thee;

I give thee back the life I owe,

That in thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.


God gave us life. God gives us free will. The freedom to spend our lives how we choose. The freedom to choose how we spend each hour of our gift of life.


How does one come to that point of willingness of surrender? It's a point of love. It's that moment when we realize that we fully and completely love Christ so much that we voluntarily give to Him anything that he should ask of us.


I closed my eyes in that doctors office, ready to give Him what is so, so hard to give, but instead God blessed me with his grace and good health.


I am truly thankful for another day and thankful to spend them in His service. Let my love for Christ be known to every person I meet and why I love Him so.

 

(Title of this post taken from lyrics "In a little while" by Amy Grant) 

The Whole World In His Hands

Journal entry March 2, 2018

Today is exactly one month before my 38th birthday. Today was also my first mammogram. For many weeks now I've been checking and rechecking to see if that hard lump was still there, and much to my annoyance, there it stood, like a thorny seed embedded into my breast.


Before entering into the radiation room, I took a deep breath, I knew that after this there was no turning back. Once you know, you know. Many women pass through this room daily. Many return home with terrible news. News that would change their lives. While waiting for the technician to call me in, I thought back on a passage I read earlier this week from Elisabeth Elliot:


"The real question we need to face is exactly what a Christian is supposed to do when terrible things happen. There are two choices, and only two: We can trust God or we can defy Him. We believe that God is God, He's still got the whole world in His hands and knows exactly what He's doing, or we must believe that He is not God and we are at the mercy of mere chance."


Would I walk out today with trust that my God knows exactly what he is doing with my life? Or would I curse and ask why is this happening to me? It's easy to say what my response would be without yet being face to face with terrible news.


I didn't leave that office today with terrible news. In fact I didn't leave with any news. I am forced to wait a few more days until a doctor reviews the images.


I am left with the comfort of my faith that God still has the whole world in his hands. 


"Faith is a decision. It is not a deduction from the facts around us. Faith is not an instinct. It is certainly not a feeling - feelings don't help much when you're in a lion's den or hanging on a wooden cross. Faith is not inferred from the happy way things always work. It is an act of the will, a choice, based on the unbreakable Word of God who cannot lie, and who showed us what love and obedience and sacrifice mean, in the person of Jesus Christ."

- Elisabeth Elliot

 

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Faith Doesn't Grow on Normal Street

Journal entry January 9, 2018

What if I were to tell you that the most beautiful experiences I have ever felt were after I let go of things that I thought that I needed.

What if I were to also tell you that the most difficult and painful challenges I have ever faced were during these beautiful experiences.

My life before I left California was normal (besides the times when my husband was sick). I had a great career, then left my career to have a baby. I lived near my parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts and childhood friends and colleagues. I had no need to make new friends or to introduce myself to a passerby. We owned a 3 bedroom house, stuffed with earthly treasures, and 2 cars to drive wherever and whenever we wanted. My husband sat in his comfortable, 9-5 office job that gave generous bonuses around Christmastime and a handsome benefits package.

This was normal. This was comfortable.

We find ourselves 2 years later here, 3,000 far miles away from all those that I know and love, a simple mobile home roof covers over our heads from tonight's rain that pours down and will later turn to snow, the constant but simple working of our hands to support our family for each day.

It sounds romantic in pictures and on paper: a simple life, a simple home, all the promises of a fresh new start and the keepings of only the things you need to start over.

This uncharted territory was what we signed up for right? Can I tell you, IT IS HARD. It is hard to start over from scratch. There are days when I wake up and look around and I want to shout, "Life was so easy before I took up your cross, save me from this!" I shutter at my own wretched thoughts.

I read this quote from John Henry Newman, "To take up the cross of Christ is no great action done once for all; it consists in the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us."

On those days when I am overcome with grief and the pain from missing my family translates into physical outward cries, when I am frustrated because we only have one vehicle, when the house is cold and won't heat up past 60 degrees, and when our hands become tired from daily toil, I am encouraged by 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18,

Therefore we do not lose heart.Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I didn't leave California to go on this awesome adventure, (although sometimes I do refer to it as that.) I didn't leave California to be recognized as noble. I didn't leave California to live out this romantic idea of throwing caution to the wind.

I prayed that God would lead my husband to lead our family. I prayed that God would pursue our hearts to love Him more. I promised to take up the cross and follow Christ. No matter where He lead me. 

I asked God to change my heart and this is what it looks like. This is the unseen that 2 Corinthians was talking about!

I couldn't grow on normal street. God knows that I need to be pinched and pressed daily by these hard circumstances to expose the every drop of my inward sinful self. Through this pressing, he draws me closer to himself and gives me a deeper understanding of his will for me.

God wants me to be more intentional with my time. He desires me to read his word daily. It pleases the Lord when I have emptied myself and begin to fill my life, my time, my thoughts of Him.

THIS is what he brought us 3,000 miles away to do.

It's hard to grow faith inside your comfort zone.

Take What I Cannot Give

Journal entry, December 5, 2017

This is a follow-up post to The Farmer and His Seeds.

Two years ago, my husband and I sold most of our belongings and moved across the country to live a life more simply and more intentional. For me, it was a spiritual journey of emptying myself of things that kept me from growing closer and having a deeper relationship with my God. I purged the things that gave me comfort, and the things that I felt made me who I worked so hard to become, and things that defined me.

Feeling not quite sure of who I really was anymore and with nothing else to cling onto besides this God, whom I trusted my husband to lead, arrived to this open slate.

Well we're here. We're doing it. What happens after you've given up your possessions and started to follow Christ? What next? This was a question my husband and I kept asking ourselves the first year after arriving to our new home. We seemed to be wallowing around in shallow waters after the high thrill and adrenaline rush of embarking on our new adventure. Life was slow and we were not accustomed to living a life so unplanned and unstructured. I wrote more about this in my journal entry titled Learning to Love.

I am not so satisfied with "that's it". I am not so satisfied with wallowing around in shallow waters. I am beginning to think maybe I haven't given my all? This isn't the end.

I read the most beautiful book and was convicted of these words that I read,
He asks, and He has a right to ask, for all you have and all you are. And if you shrink from what is involved in such a surrender, you should fly to Him at once and never rest till He has conquered this secret disinclination to give to Him as freely and as fully as He has given to you.
Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Take what I cannot give - my heart, body, thoughts, time, abilities, money, health, strength, nights, days, youth, age - and spend them in Thy service, O my crucified master, redeemer, God. Oh, let not these be mere words!

- Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward

Just when I thought I had surrendered every material possession I owned that made me conceited, that made me proud of my own achievements, just when I thought I had nothing else, I realized that I was not fully undone. What is it that I was shrinking away from? My layers are thick and come off stubbornly. I have not given freely the things I so selfishly hold onto that I claim are mine, the things unseen.

While reading a book by Elizabeth Elliot, I came across this prayer she shared;

Oh mighty God, we bless and praise thee that have wakened to the light of another earthly day; and now we will think of what a day should be.

Our days are thine, let them be spent for thee. Our days are a few, let them be spent with care. There are dark days behind us, forgive their sinfulness; there may be dark days before us, strengthen us for their trials. We pray thee to shine on this day - the day which we may call our own.

Lord, we go to our daily work help us to take pleasure therein. Show us clearly what our duty is; help us to be faithful in doing it. Let all we do be well done, fit for thine Eye to see. Give us strength to do, patience to bear; let our courage never fail. When we cannot love our work, let us think of it as Thy task and by our true love to thee, make unlovely things shine in the light of thy great love. Amen.-George Dawson

Learning to surrender my thoughts and my time on these earthly days, that are only given to me to be used for doing His work, is going to be a whole new daring adventure. I'm not sure what it's going to look like quite yet but I am determined to see it for myself.

So in answer to our question, no, we have not arrived. No, this is not it. We have not given it all away. We will never be fully emptied of ourselves. There's is always more work to be done. And I will think of it as my true love's task. The job of making unlovely things shine because of God's great love.

Welcome 2018.

Learning To Love

I wrote this down in my journal during the first year we moved here into our homestead and things were "rougher" than I was accustomed to back in my California lifestyle

 

Journal entry, September 1, 2016

"If you really want to love, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love."

One minute you find yourself sitting in a church pew and silently praying, "fill me with compassion for those people in need."

Then the next morning you have a very awaking conversation with your husband about finances and how you just don't have enough to make it through. You find yourself waiting with other people to receive government assistance to help your family. You stop and think of your scholarly degrees. All those years spent at a prestigious university, all those years spent earning experience and climbing the corporate ladder.
You are reminded of that time two years ago when you spent handing out groceries at a food bank with your church group. Brows lowered at the lady loading the free food into her expensive Mercedes car. Scoffs made at the man with the Bluetooth attached to his ear and his smart tablet in hand as he accepted the free hand outs.

You look down at your own Nike shoes and check your text message on your iPhone. You are one of them. The scorned. The sneered at. The undeserved of these free gifts.

You cry out to God "what happened? Yesterday I was on top of the mountain with you? And now I'm in the depths of need! Life was so easy in California. Save me from this rough place!"

Its safe and comfortable in the church pews just praying for "those in need" without having to dip my hands in their mess.

Art DeMoss says, "Many of us in our Christian lives have been wallowing around in shallow waters, assuming it to be safer there. No need for miracles. But one of the divine paradoxes that I've learned over the years is that, contrary to normal expectations, it can be much riskier, much costlier to stay in the shallow water, rather than to trust the Lord and launch out into the deep."

We came here not knowing why or our purpose but in an act of obedience and open to the sacrifices ahead. Could it be that God is taking us by the hand and taking us down to where he needs us to be his hands and feet? To be in ground zero of those in need. We can't be there without compassion. 

Compassion doesn't just mean to feel sorry for. Compassion literally means “to suffer together.”

He makes us one of them. We suffer. He teaches us unforgettable love.

Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

A few years ago I sacrificed my time and money by giving to those in need but I didn't understand mercy.

I love the way Lori Manry explains the two:

"To sacrifice, is the act of giving up something that is mine.

Mercy is entering into the brokenness of another, joining them in the darkness of their sin. In the pain of their insecurity. In the loneliness of their selfishness. In the weariness of their anxiety. In the shame of their anger."

What I saw in the faces of the people were all those things. I saw it. I felt what they felt. I felt shame. I felt need. I entered into it and my heart became heavy with God's love because I understood.

Both Jason and I have met so many beautiful people through this journey, we have had some moments to even share the gospel with others. I am saddened to think that had we never experienced this season of being humbled, we would have never made such wonderful friendships.

I am reminded about Jesus in his years of ministry, and how he fed the multitude, but didn't stop to ask them how much they made first or asked if they deserved his hand out. He gave and he gave and he gave. He loved and he loved and he loved.

Matthew 25 

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." 

And the King will answer and say to them, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sister of mine, you did for me.'

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they deserve it.

Waiting For Sunday Sermon

Journal entry May 24, 2017

"Our course heavenward is like the plan of the zealous pilgrim of old, who for every three steps forward, took one backward." - Elizabeth Prentiss

I understand now why my spiritual faith loops up and down and why I cannot grow in one continuous trudge up hill towards being in union with my God everyday.

I want more! I love when I'm in constant communication with Him. When I'm all in. When I'm knee deep, immersed in words of truth leading me deeper in my faith.

Why can't I have this all the time?Why do I fall?

It seems to me that every couple of months I fall out of habit. I stop reading, when I stop reading I stop praying . I stop studying his word. Why do I stop?

I look at my time. Have I gotten busier? No.

Why can't I be continuous in my studies?

I sound like a failing college student struggling to keep up with her homework.

Why is it that I break the habit? I began to think about this question for months. Study my own habits. Look at the use of my time. Draw charts. I  look at the pattern of spiritual closeness with God and my gaps of emptiness. I look at what I'm studying. Books written by godly people, books on prayer, books on humility, books on joy. I look at all the Bible studies I've ever been in; topical studies on "how to".

All wonderful and well meaning. All have brought me closer to Christ, all have made me stronger in my faith. I realize that the gaps occurred when I finished each book and when I finished each Bible study, it is then that I spiral downward, backward into my own self seeking ways of sin.The one step forward and two step back dance has left me feeling like a failure and inadequate.

So what to do once a bible study ends or I complete a good devotional book? Should I dive immediately into another before my brain can process the last? What if I cannot find another bible study or if I cannot find another spirituality uplifting book?

**That's my problem right there.**

I'm waiting. And in the mean time I'm failing.

I'm waiting for someone to take my hand and lead me. My mentors, my group, my books. When they aren't there I can't continue the journey on my own. I fail.

Why can't I be strong enough to walk this "in between Sunday sermon days" on my own? Need I be so dependent? Is this what God has intended for each of his followers? So infant like and in need for someone else to feed us in a Sunday sermon or small group setting?

Instead of small groups, bible studies and sermons that pick topical books written by people standing on soapboxes telling THEIR stories of faith, sharing THEIR inspiration why can't we go back to the basics of learning how to study the Bible? Teach me. I want to learn how to pick apart the Bible. Teach me. I want to learn how to read it for myself and understand what I'm reading. There is enough in there to read and never have gaps in between. Show me how to read and research each author and learn about his life. Some of us have never been taught how to do this and we shouldn't have to go to bible college for this.

What if I finished a book of the Bible, and found strength to continue on to the next? What if I had the tools to make my own daily bible studies out of what I read daily right out of each book of the Bible.

I'm not talking about reading random bible verses of the day. I'm talking about studying each book of the Bible and holding it in my heart because I learned, I understood and I believed that this was a part of real history and that God was speaking to me personally in my own journey.


Stop feeding me supplements when I need growth and depth from spiritual meat.

The Farmer and His Seeds

Journal entry March 14, 2016 

After I graduated college, I got married and began my career in the fashion industry working for a high end, Los Angeles based fashion designer. My lifestyle was, at that point, all about consuming. Work was competitive and stressful, days were long and I remember feeling empty, constantly hungry and eager. Eager for something that I didn't possess.

Outside of work, I collected vintage furniture, vintage and designer clothing, and stuff that fulfilled hobbies. I would attempt to ditch the stress by attending hot yoga classes but that just added one more task to my long schedule and brought me home later and less time with my husband. I grew bitter about not having enough time.

The days of going to church with my family seemed like an impossible to tradition to carry on and too late to start with my husband because we were already set in our ways and well, our schedules were already full. I believed in God. Wasn't that enough?

In 2009, when Jason was diagnosed with a lymphoma cancer we prayed together for the first time. But when Jason became in remission, we returned back to our busy lives as normal.

Then in 2014, Jason came down with another serious illness, an unexplained full body rash and night sweats. (Those are the same symptoms as lymphoma)

Maybe because it seemed like yesterday but I am always thinking about what we just went through and how he was so sick and how I just kept begging God to heal him...

and He didn't. For 7 long months he didn't.

I prayed for healing everyday. It just seemed that Jason was getting worse. I started praying so much that every breath was a prayer. Every foot step was a prayer.

At first I was angry with God. How could a God of love allow this to happen to Jason? How could he ignore my cries out to him?

So one day I just started praying differently about my trust and strength to get through this....

It was such a difficult and dark time. There were nights when I had to help him with his clothes but they didn't want to come off, so I had to peel the dried blood stained clothes off of his raw rashy skin. There were days when I hoped our daughter didn't hear his screams of anguish or of his cries wishing to end it all.

It was such a difficult and dark time. When I had to hush a toddler's happy squeals into a whisper because "daddy's sleeping" and keep her entertained when all my brain wanted to do was "fix" daddy even though there was nothing seven different medical professionals could do. Nothing.

It was such a difficult and dark time. Sometimes I heard him cry at night when he thought that I had already fallen asleep. I couldn't imagine the pain that he was going through. I just wanted to lay my head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat. But I couldn't. I couldn't even touch him. Then I would lay in bed at night and cry too, but not because I was tired, not because I was scared, even though I was all those things, I cried for him. I missed his funny ways. I missed him and the times we had together. Not the stuff I was surrounded with. I wondered if life would always be like this for us; if this was the new normal. I prayed and asked God if he wasn't answering my prayers of healing because he was going to take him from me. I begged him not to.

It was such a difficult and dark time. Lots of tears and crying from both of us. But I couldn't even hug him when he cried because his purple skin was peeling and bleeding all over. So sometimes I just hugged his head. And I prayed out loud over him, for healing and for strength to get through this.

It was such a difficult and dark time. I felt alone, as a wife and as a mother. There were family members offering help but I still felt like a single mom taking care of two infants in need. I couldn't see past the illness. It was bigger and darker than my eyes could see. How long had he been sick? Days? Months? It felt like years.

What I couldn't see was that we were changing. We were breaking. Our soils were being prepared. Like the way a farmer first breaks the ground, rips out the weeds, clears out a path and turns the hard ground into soft soil. Because you see the old dirt wouldn't have been ready to receive what was to be planted.

It was during these difficult and dark times was when I learned I was weak in my faith. I had doubted God and his plans for us.
It was during these difficult and dark times was when I felt the comfort and closeness of God in my heart because I allowed God to meet me in my darkness, because I was reading scripture, praying throughout the day, and earnestly seeking Him.

It was during such difficult and dark times was when I learned how to pray. I stopped praying for what I wanted, which was immediate healing. I started praying that God would give us strength to endure this painful and dark season. I started praying for the grace to benefit from it, and the willingness to let God use it however he sees fit in order to bring glory to HIS perfect kingdom. And the courage to tell others how God worked in our lives.

Jason still isn't completely healed, But he is alive. And we are changed because of our journey. I left my career in the fashion industry shortly after Jason went through cancer, chemo, then remission. Little did I know that just within a short time, this prideful girl would willingly strip down to nothing and surrender my belongings; my career, my car, my big beautiful home, my designer clothes, my time and my heart to have a real relationship with Christ.

Since this illness, Jason and I have sold most of all of our belongings and are in the middle of moving across the country to find land and build a homestead and live with less and live simply.

This isn't a story of how we became farmers but how God has worked in our lives. How our faith has been made stronger. Our hearts have been prepared, seeds planted and now as a married couple its up to us to keep our roots in Jesus and bare fruit for others to see God in our lives. It's up to us to use our story of how we grew our faith to share with others.