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Sanctuary

The Lord has been speaking sanctuary to my heart recently. Ten months with a baby has resulted in a lot of sleepless nights, but I am finding rest in my sanctuary. Many days, this Holy time is found sitting on my couch, sipping coffee, and talking to Papa. He has been reigniting a dream of my heart to create a sanctuary space for others, a place where the weary and burdened may come and find rest with Him. We have this on a small scale with Alabaster Prayer House, but I see the day where this dream grows much bigger.

I long to one day have a home of our own that has a separate space where people may come, spend a month, rest and recover, meet with Papa, and enjoy time in nature with our small farm of animals; a place that can be an escape from the world and a sanctuary to encounter God, a place where we pray over people, sing over them, eat together, laugh together, and do life side by side until they are ready to go in peace.

Honestly, it’s been hard for me to dream lately: fear and anxiety cause my mind to say, “it’s impossible. Good luck with that one. Do you know how much money buying a farm with a guest house will take?” And yet, God has placed that dream in my heart and my husbands heart for a purpose. So, here’s me planting a seed, saying that one day, we will have a guest room/ house that will be a sanctuary for anyone who needs it, and we will see this promise come to pass as Papa leads. This is me saying I will hold loosely to the desires of my heart, allowing my Father to guide them and mold them, but also allowing my heart to dream WITH Papa.

I encourage you to dream with God, for He knows the plans He has for you, and they are good. What is a dream your heart has been waiting for the Lord to fulfill in His time?

Walk in Truth

Her heart sank to the ground as the men grabbed her from the bed and drug her to the door before she even had time to pick up her dress. Wearing nothing but her undergarments, they whipped her out of the house, popping her shoulder as they did so. She yelped in pain, but no one noticed. They were too busy boiling with anger and screaming, “sinner!” at her as they yanked her to the Temple. Tears streamed from her eyes, for she knew the punishment that came with being caught with another man. “Stone her!” a member of the crowd shouted. She began gasping for breath while begging the Pharisees to let her live. They paid her no mind, and threw her on the ground. Dust swirled around her while the voices mocked. One grew louder than the others as he said, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” She flinched as she waited for the slew of violence that was to come. Seconds passed, and she heard him bend down in front of her and scratch the earth around her. He was writing something in the dust. She opened her eyes and saw his sandals: dirty, worn, and broken. His feet were calloused and looked as if they carried the weight of the world. She slowly raised her eyes and stopped on his sturdy hands. There was something so beautiful about them, so gentle, and yet so powerful. She glanced at his face and was quite confused by what she saw. She expected anger like the rest, resentment, bitterness, and hatred, but yet, she was met with a strange mix of sadness and love. He gave her a soft smile before rising to his feet and saying, ““Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Upon saying this, he knelt back down and continued to write in front of her. She stared at him perplexed. Her eyes slowly glanced around the circle, waiting to see what would happen. One by one she watched the men drop their stones and walk away. She could feel the weight of the stones hitting the ground, and her heartbeat finally slowed as she watched them fall. One by one they left, and one by one she breathed deeper. Overwhelmed, she glanced back at the strange Teacher before her. He continued to write in the sand, unphased by what was going on around them. She collapsed in relief. Then, his eyes met hers. 

There is incredible beauty in the power of compassion, and the more I soak in this story, the more overwhelmed I am at the love of our Jesus. He bent down in the dust with the woman before even addressing the crowd. That is the God we serve. He is willing to get in the dirt with us before He picks us up. He is willing to see you all messy before He cleans you up. He says, “come to Me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.” He does not say, “go take a shower and clean yourself up. Then I’ll help ya out.” It makes me laugh just typing that, and yet it is a reality many believe. People refuse to come to Christ because they believe that they must be perfect. You do not need to be perfect to come to Jesus, you just need to be willing to allow Him to transform you. We must come to Him empty, ready to be filled, humble, and teachable. And, to the Church, as the hands and feet of Christ, we must be willing to sit in the awkwardness with people, to lean down and pull them from the dust, not through pointing out their flaws, but through pointing out the love of Jesus and their great need for it.

She stared into the deep wells of compassion, tears streaming down her face in relief. He smiled and asked, “where are they? Who is left to condemn you?” She breathed, “no one, Lord.” He smiled and said, “neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” He turned and walked away, leaving her to sit in the dust as it settled around her. She breathed, relieved, in awe, and overwhelmed. She knew that this man had just saved her life, but now it was her turn to continue walking out in the freedom he had given her. So, she stood, dusted herself off, and took a step into her new life.

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8: 31a-32

Recently, I have noticed an overwhelming amount of Christians who are looking at broken people sitting in the dust and saying, “but just trust God. Just pray harder. Just believe, and your depression, anxiety, mental illness, eating disorders, sins, and temptations will go away because He is greater than all that.” While this is true, and God is greater, to people stuck in the muck of life, overwhelmed by the waves lapping at their throats, and tired from their unseen struggles, this feels like another blow to the chest, an easy answer, a write off, and a defeating cop-out to the character of God. I remember walking through some tough times with Vanessa, our daughter, where her mental illness seemed to rule our household, and no matter how loud I prayed, how many times I said the name of Jesus, how much I spoke in tongues or sang worship over her, it seemed to win every single time. I came to a place of doubting the power of God. When I would share this with Christians around me, many would come back with the answer of, “keep praying. Keep pressing in. He is faithful and will breakthrough.” Deep down I knew He was faithful, and yet my soul was struggling to believe it. I began not sharing my hurt with people because the answers made me feel like a “bad Christian,” and depression and loneliness began to overtake me. We get uncomfortable in the unknown; we feel awkward in the questions, and yet, that is the place we need to go to sit with people in their brokenness. Because yes, God has set them free, but it takes time to learn to walk out that freedom, it takes community to sit beside them until they can get up to their feet, and it takes a helping hand to disciple them into walking in freedom. It took time, but through counselling and changing my mindsets, I began to realize that all that stuff being said to me was true, and God had set me free, but I needed to learn to walk in freedom. For you see, God has set you free for the sake of freedom, and His truth has given you freedom, yet, sometimes your soul does not choose this, and you need to learn to walk in the truth. Abide in it. Soak in it. Spend time with Him, and it will set you free. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth,” 3 John 1:4. There is a great difference in KNOWING truth and WALKING in truth. In that dark season of my soul, I knew truth, so it did not help me when my community would simply share truth with me. What I needed in that time was a group of people to surround me and sit with me while showing me how to walk out the truth I had been given. The Lord gave me these people, and with their help, I was able to walk in freedom, I am able to walk in freedom, and I am able to walk with others towards freedom. No matter what you are struggling with today, Jesus is in that dirt with you. He does not condemn you, so go and walk in the freedom you have been given. If you are not sure where to start with that, email us, and we would love to walk alongside you as you learn to walk in truth. (vanessasvillage@gmail.com)

There Stands Your King

The earth stood still as the final ring of thunder finished echoing off the far hills. The dark clouds loomed overhead, and silence filled the land. She stood, brimming with mourning, but also overflowing in glorious wonder. The universe paused around her while she stared up at her friend’s lifeless body hung high upon the tree. The mocking, “here stands your King,” continued to pinball around her mind. Oh, how her heart hurt for what they did not see. There was something incredible breathtaking about the scene before her, and she couldn’t help but weep for what the world was missing in this Man. She already knew He was true to His word. She knew, but yet she was drawn again and again to this moment in time, when all of creation caught their breath and let forth a roar, for there stood their King. The quivering of the earth shook her back to Calvary. She took another step and found herself at His feet. She hardly noticed the steady dripping of blood making its way down the hill, washing away the impurities of the land. All she could see was His face, mangled and torn past the point of being recognized, and yet what shone through the scars, through the blood, sweat, and tears, was a love so great, a love so selfless, a love so radiant, and a love so pure that the world did not know what to do with it. The tears streamed as she fell to her knees, overwhelmed by His Holiness. For you see, Holiness and Love are so closely interwoven, that to understand the fullness of one, you must be willing to see the depth of the other. She couldn’t help but find this moment of agony and suffering beyond beautiful, and her heart was fluttering with the excitement of what her Holy Savior just did for her. She lifted her eyes to meet the fallen face of her Beloved, and as she did, she couldn’t feel more proud of what He had just done, more in awe of His Greatness, and more in love with His nature. For there stood her King.

I’m blown away constantly by the Holiness of Jesus. Recently, I spent a few hours back and forth voice texting a dear friend. My heart was lifted by her grace and spirit, but more so by her understanding of the greatness of our King. Message after message we both kept saying, “oh my word!! I agree with everything you just said. God is so good,” and then we would go into another long message about what He has been teaching us recently and why we adore Him. I just love good conversations with like minded people, and I love having technology to stay in touch even when life makes it too busy to sit down together some weeks. I was reminded again, through this conversation, just how Holy Jesus is. I found myself telling her how I have been stuck on His Holiness for months now. As it came out of my mouth, I felt the Lord whisper, “I never want you to be “unstuck” on my Holiness.” And man, that hit home. I want to spend all of my days stuck on the cross, stuck on the revelation of His beauty, stuck on His mercy, and stuck on His greatness. I don’t ever want to allow that revelation to pass by without a second glance, without complete understanding of it’s depth. We can say we know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and we can say that He paid our ransom, but man, it is so different to simply say we understand that and to actually bask in the meaning of it. About two years ago, I kept hearing the phrase, “there’s a revelation of the cross you haven’t gotten yet,” over and over again. I was asking God for this revelation, for an understanding of what He was trying to teach me, and now, two years later, I am beyond convinced that I will always have a revelation of the cross I haven’t gotten yet. No matter how much I know and understand, there is always more to grasp. There is always more to understand. Today, I get it to a far greater depth than I did two years back, but praise God I don’t know it all. I will spend my days continuing to see His Holiness in new ways, continuing to understand Calvary in greater depth, and continuously seeing Him with new eyes, “from glory to glory.” I will spend my days getting to know the man on the cross, for there stood my King.

She heard the whispers, felt the murmurs, and tried to ignore the gossip. “Psh. I thought He said He was here to save.” “King of the Jews. Ha! King of nothing.” “He died. How could He save anyone if He couldn’t even save Himself?” They didn’t get it, and yet she didn’t have answers. All she knew was that she loved Him and that she trusted Him. His body now lay in a tomb, set away to be forgotten, and yet she could not bring herself to forget. His words continued to ring through her mind, “I am the way, the truth, and the Life.” She didn’t know much, and she knew she seemed crazy to those around her, but let it be, for she was betting her life on Him, regardless of what the tomb looked like. In a world full of confusion, there had to be some sort of truth to compare the thoughts, the ideas, and the sin to, and she was committed to spend her days getting to know Jesus because she believed Him to be Truth, for she had seen great darkness and now she could not and would not deny the light she felt when the voice of Jesus spoke over her for the first time. She could feel the anticipation in the ground. The birds whispered His name as they zipped across the sky, and the grass sang the songs of Heaven as the wind rushed through it. Something was stirring, and she wanted to be a part of it. She opened the door and stepped out, slowly at first, but quickly picking up speed as she felt the rush of excitement flow through her veins. Something was happening; she just knew it. Her bare feet slapped the rocky soil as she ran across the hills to the tomb where Jesus lay. The clouds seemed to hover above her while the small stream to the right of her babbled out it’s praise. Creation was beginning to roar again, this time in a victorious rumble. Her body began to sing with it, the song bursting from within her. She found herself skipping, almost galloping her way across the field as a song screamed out of her being, “holy, holy, holy is Jesus the King. Victorious is He above every other thing. Death could not keep Him down. Sin has no place in me now. For, there stood my King.”

The willingness to follow Jesus at any cost, to know Him as Truth, and the understanding of His Holiness amidst our humanity is something that the world finds quite strange. But, no matter what it looks like, I will bet my life on the King of kings, and I will spend my days getting to know Him and trying to be like Him. I heard a quote lately that struck home for me. “Would anyone out there honestly say that gentleness is a core value they are trying to develop right now? Yes, it’s a fruit of the Spirit, and, relevance, popularity, charisma, and success are not. We probably don’t need any more books on leadership, but I am dying to meet some loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled humans (Chris Llewellyn- Rend Collective). Man, ain’t that the truth. Nothing wrong with wanting to lead, but are we doing it from a place of humility, constantly trying to be like Jesus in our servant-hood. Cause, let me tell ya, that man hanging on the cross, face mangled, body torn, blood dripping, and breath failing was not the image of leadership and charisma that many of us have. It wasn’t even a face we would consider victorious, and yet, that was the greatest victory this world could ever know because God Himself decided to become like us in order to save us by dying for us so that we may live with Him in victory over sin and death. It was perfection come down. He was truth poured out, love bled out, and grace given out. So, yes. Yes, I will spend my days trying to be like Him, seeing Him for who He truly is, and being faithful to what He has called me to, letting my yes be yes and my no be no. I feel it is so important as Christians who want to grow in maturity and desire more of Jesus to constantly be working on the fruit of the Spirit because the Bible is clear that people will know us by the fruit of our lives. So, are we faithful to our commitments? Do we show up for what we said yes to? Are we listeners, or do we simply listen to people just enough to have a good response because we care more about our thoughts than hearing their heart? Are we love to people? Are we patient and kind to those around us, and are we gentle in how we live our lives and overflowing with goodness? Are we self-controlled when it comes to all areas of life? Are we working on these things daily? I’m not sure about you, but I want to be more like Christ, and I want to continuously work on looking like Him. Jesus is the most perfect picture of love, and yet, He is also perfectly holy. I have been brought to tears multiple times this week by simply thinking about how beautifully holy He is. The greatness of the cross is blowing my mind. That symbol of death, that was reserved for the worst of the worst, was redeemed and became a symbol of love and grace because of Jesus. He took what was dead in us, and made it come to life. He took the ugliness of the cross, just as He does our lives, and made it a beautiful masterpiece simply because He showed up; simply because there stood the King.

Her feet slowed to a stop as she skidded up to the edge of the tomb. Her mouth hung agape as she noted the stone rolled to the side. Delicately and full of caution she stepped forward. It took a minute for her eyes to adjust to the dark cave around her, but as they did, she stood in awe of the sight before her. She saw the bench where His body had laid, and her eyes rested on the grave clothes, folded into a small pile. A small giggle erupted from within her, for she knew her King had just defeated death. Not only did He defeat death, but He did so with ease and even took time to fold the death clothes and lay them to the side. His goodness was evident in that place, and it smelled of new life. She sunk to the ground, smiling, whispering her praise as peace overtook her being. There, in the stillness, His holiness radiated, filling that empty room with hope and love. She knew in that moment that no matter what would come her way, she would never grow tired of speaking of His holiness and basking in His greatness. The cross that was meant for evil, God used for good. She picked herself up, brushed herself off, and with a confident smile prepared to step out into the world, excited to share of His goodness, yet desiring to spend more time getting to know Him. Her heart beat quickened as she stepped over the threshold, and she drew a fast breath as her eyes opened wide to what was happening in front of her. Nothing had prepared her for this moment, and the holiness overtook her. Love began to flow through her veins, and she could hardly utter a word. She was filled to overflowing, and all she could do was whisper, “thank you,” for there in front of her stood her King.

 

Oh, If They Only Knew

“Jesus, Jesus,” her heart cried as the tears welled up in her eyes, readying themselves to pour over the ground below in worship to their King. Her heart was overwhelmed, and all she wanted to do was weep. Her eyes danced around the room, watching those around her. Some were mesmerized by the show, some in awe of the music and props, others bored and tired. “Can they not see?” she thought, “can they not see how beautiful He truly is?” Her heart was screaming out His beauty as her eyes watched the actors portray the story of Christ. “Oh Jesus,” she wept, “you are so beautiful; more than I can ever say.” His holiness radiated around that room as her heart aligned with His. These moments were her favorite, when a simple truth, like the fact that He is holy and beautiful, completely wreaked her world, and she was left wanting to laugh uncontrollably while also wanting to sink to the floor and sob at His goodness. “Oh, Jesus. Jesus,” she uttered as the words fell short compared to what she wanted to say. His Spirit was heavy on that place, and she basked in His wonder for a moment longer. “I leave the ninety nine for the one,” Jesus said. “But Jesus,” the disciples cried out, “he’s unclean! Stay away; Teacher, stay away!” Jesus walked right past them, His hand reaching out for the leper in front of Him. He said, “be healed,” as He fell forward and embraced the man behind the disease. “No!” the disciples screamed, appalled that their Teacher would touch someone who is guaranteed to pass the sickness on to Him. Jesus sank to His knees, embracing the man, holding Him, and letting His hug speak love and life over him. “Be healed,” He echoed, “be healed.” Oh, her heart couldn’t handle it anymore; that He would touch us in our filth, completely blind to the fact that it could taint Him, but rather completely aware of that fact that His Holiness would make us clean. She wanted to melt into the feeling of love and wonder she was experiencing. “Jesus, it’s like falling in love with You all over again. I feel like I am seeing You for the first time. I love you so much, far more than my words could ever say.”

Oh, if they only knew…

I left the Jesus production at Sight and Sound Lancaster full of wonder, feeling like I wanted to weep, and fully conscious of the presence of my King by my side. It’s still been hard to put into words what my heart felt watching that musical, but I feel as though I was reintroduced to the heart of Love again. I teared up so many times during the show, but I couldn’t bring myself to let go and just weep. Yes, there were strangers all around me, but in that moment I was hyper-aware of my husband’s presence next to me. Now, my husband has seen me at my absolute worst. He was seen me at my best. He was seen me weep, laugh until I pee myself, and everything in between. I am not embarrassed to cry in front of him, so why I couldn’t weep because he was next to me was weird for me. The following night I laid thinking about the show and all that happened in my heart. I was questioning God about why I couldn’t have a full let go in front of my husband, and I felt God asking if I would be intimate with my husband in front of someone, or simply if I would have a super lovey-dovey moment with him in front of even my closest girl friends. I understood exactly what He was saying. The moments between just my husband and I are for simply us, moments for us to grow closer together, to get to know each other, and to spend time in each other’s presences. It’s the same with our Heavenly Bridegroom. That moment of weeping before the Lord is for Him and I; it is something that will happen alone in my room, without anyone around, because it is so intimate. It is a King chasing His bride, a Prince winning the heart of His beloved. Even though my husband is my closest earthly companion, He is not my Heavenly Prince, and there must be moments sacredly reserved for Him and I. Jesus worked something in my heart that day, and it is something that is for Him and I, something for us to experience together and to cherish as we grow in intimacy with each other. It brought my world that much closer to the reality of the Kingdom, and opened up a deep ache in my heart for the world to know Him.

Oh, if they only knew…

The following days she continued to be hyper-aware of her King beside her. Her heart was screaming, shouting to the world, “don’t you see?! Can you not see how beautiful He is? Can you not see how much He adores you?” Oh, how she wanted everyone to experience this, and yet, she was internally fighting with the idea of missions and how the Gospel is portrayed to the world around her. Daily, she would see posts on social media of people trying to explain Jesus or using the name of God to insult others and people misrepresenting His love and Holiness. It just felt to her as though something was very wrong with how Christians portrayed God. She adored international missions, and she adored national missions. Many years before, the Lord had called her into the mission field, to never step out again, and to live her life in a way that brought Him glory. She had just left a cafe after meeting with a dear friend, and again, she was reminded of how much God loves the world, enough even to die in it’s place. For you see, her friend and her had spent a great deal of time talking about religions and missions, and she shocked even herself with what had come out of her mouth, but the more she thought it, the more she believed it. “You would do the world a disservice if you were another Christian that brought Christianity to the Nations,” she had said to her friend. “Bring Christ to the Nations. We don’t need more Christianity. We need Jesus. We need the man that would dive to the ground to hug the leper, who would cross oceans for the demon-possessed, who would hang on a tree, broken and bruised, blood pouring from His weak body, unrecognizable, for us. FOR US. For us…” “Oh Jesus. Forgive my unbelief,” she uttered. “Forgive me for all the times I brought Christianity, religion, and rules to the people around me. Forgive me for the times I did not do you justice, for you are so beautiful.”

Oh, if they only knew…

It’s not uncommon for me to hear people talking about grace and the love of Jesus that covers sins, and yet those same people cannot bring themselves to believe the Old Testament because it does not seem like God is one of love in those books. My heart aches with this misconception. We need the Old Testament and the New together to understand the Holy Majesty of God, that in His overwhelming grace and love for humanity, He would step down from His throne, become like us, and die in our place. His Holiness is the reason we have a way to reach Heaven; without it, we would be nothing. His grace led me to repentance, and His majesty leads me to walk in constant renewal and sanctification. There is a crazy beautiful thing that happens when Holiness reaches out to humanity, in our brokenness, and embraces us. That holiness rubs off, and we become clean, instantly. Then as life continues, and the filth gets on our feet again, and the dust covers our legs, we are sanctified only if we are walking next to Holiness, that He would rub off on us again. As I spend my life walking with Him, I become more and more like Him. You become what you behold. Now, I feel as though many people believe God has a set of rules to follow, things to do and not to do in order to be right with Him. When you accept Christ as your Savior, understanding that we were all headed for Hell because we have all sinned and fallen short of Holiness, you understand that Christ, being Holy and Pure, came to earth and paved the way to Heaven, that when we accept Him and allow Him to embrace us, His Holiness covers us. Yet, because He is Holy, He desires us to walk like Him, to be like Him, and to point others to Him. I do not follow His commands because He would be upset if I didn’t. I do not follow His commands to get to Heaven; I’m already there. I follow His commands because I adore Him, and because I have found no love greater, no person stronger, and no one more enticing than my Holy Spirit. Oh, child, if you only knew. If you only knew how wonderful He is. If you only knew how beautiful He is. If you only knew how Holy He is.

Oh, if they only knew…

There she sat, tears welling up again as she simply whispered His Name. Jesus. It felt like a breath of fresh air escaping her dried lips, a spring of new life breaking through the winter frost. “Jesus, help them know. I want them to know. If they only could see you the way I do right now, to feel Your Holiness, to be overwhelmed by Your Majesty, and in awe that we get to be Your children, sitting on the lap of the God of creation, the King of kings, the Name above all names, and whom we get to call, Papa. I get to call You Papa. Oh, Jesus, I’m overwhelmed and so not worthy to call You Papa, and yet, you call me daughter. Before the foundations of the world, You called me daughter, and You knew I would stray from my inheritance, so You had a plan. You had a plan to not only save the sinner in me, but to redeem the daughter in me. You had a plan for me. You HAVE a plan for me, and it is so, so good. I will spend my days bringing Jesus to the “Christians,” to the ones who know religion but do not know You, the ones who know theology but do not understand Holy love and intimacy with God.” Her heart screamed these things to her Papa as she breathed Him in, exhaling the hardships and trial, and inhaling His Holy Mercy. She knew that was her calling: to be Jesus to the religious, to bring Christ to the Christians, and to echo the heart of God, in all of it’s Holiness and in all of it’s Mercy. Just as Jesus wept for Lazarus and the reality of death and the fall of mankind, so would her heart weep for those around her. She knew her heart would always ache for those around her to know, for if they knew… if they only knew.

Relentless Compassion

There she sat, observing, engaging, and contemplating. Her heart hurt for those she saw, and she fought tears as the reality of compassion hit her like a ton of bricks. There, in the middle of that mall food court, the Lord met her and reignited the flame within, the fire to be a voice for the voiceless, a testimony of His goodness, and a heart willing to feel what the Father feels. Her heart sobbed with the depth of what her Papa felt for the woman her eyes rested upon. She was tall, beautiful, full of life, and disabled, by worldly standards. Her mental illness was evident, and yet her life and energy was all the young girl saw. The heart of Papa collapsed, weeping over what the world was missing in this woman. The young girl watched those around her; they did not hide their gazes as the woman made immature sounds and giggles, and their looks of annoyance and disgust were quite evident. It broke the young girls heart to watch this woman’s staff member sit at a different table, away from the woman, and text on her phone, occasionally looking up to make sure her client was okay. Oh, what she was missing. Tears spilled onto the table in front of her as she closed her eyes and listened to the pain that comes with compassion. “I created her with a purpose. I have good plans for her, and I gave her gifts. If only they could see the light and joy I planted in her,” Papa groaned. “I love her. I love her. I died for her. I created her. I adore her. She’s special, no matter what the world sees.” His heart overtook her as she watched this woman laugh at the smallest things. There was something this woman understood that the young girl herself did not. “Do not take life so serious,” He whispered; “I created you to laugh and sing.” Heaviness overtook her as she continued to feel the weight of Jesus’ compassion for the weak. “It hurts Papa,” her heart bellowed. “Let it. Let it sink in. My love is all consuming, and this is what I feel for those I love,” He whispered back. “I have given you my heart. Let it move you to tears. Let it move you to action. Do not shut down your ability to feel Me because it hurts. It is a gift, and with it, you will move mountains, for My love is relentless.”

His compassion is relentless.

It took all I had not to openly sob in that mall food court as I watched the world miss out on the beauty in front of them. In past seasons of my life I have quenched the compassion of Christ within me. It’s embarrassing to cry your eyes out in public on a regular basis, and it is painful to always be moved by what God is moved by. But I have decided that no more will I ignore the weight of compassion because with the depth of compassion comes the tears, from the tears comes the prayer, and through the prayer and action, mountains move. The Lord has gifted His Bride with the ability to KNOW His heart, to know with greater revelation what He is moved by, and let me tell you My Darling, He is moved by you. We serve a God who is moved to tears by His creation. Our God is moved to action by His great love for us. He was so greatly moved that He came and died in our place. My heart is blown away by that revelation again and again, and I will spend my days preaching that one thing alone. Apart from the Gospel, I have nothing. The simple fact that Jesus gave His life for me proves that He is a God of love, willing to go to any lengths for me, and wanting relationship so deeply. I feel we are in a season that God is opening up hearts to KNOW Him. I do not simply mean to understand Him; I mean to truly know the depths of who He is. I love the Spanish words for “to know,” and it greatly applies here. Saber means to know, but it means to understand with our knowledge, to know a fact, to know the answer to a test question. This is not how God desires His Bride know Him. Conocer means to know, to be acquainted with, to be familiar with a person, and to know a place because you have been there and seen it with your own eyes. “Yo conozco mi Papa, y el me conoce.” “I know my God, and He knows me.” I KNOW Him. I am familiar with Him because my heart has seen Him, my ears have heard Him, and I walk with Him. This season is one where people will come to conocer the Lord. We do a good job with saber. We know the facts of God. Many Christians can preach the Gospel well, but they do not conocer it themselves. I do not know about you, but I want to spend my days getting to know the heart of God. I want to walk with Him. I want to be overcome by His compassion in the mall food court. I want to be willing to cry because He does. I also want to be willing to do something about it. Today I was moved by His heart for that woman the world calls disabled. Tomorrow I want to get up and sit with her, to love on her, and share a meal with her. I left that mall food court and instantly knew He wanted me to do something with that compassion stir He gave me, and I didn’t. “Lord, forgive me for falling short.”

His compassion is relentless.

Tears streamed down her face as she walked on the trail, enjoying the sunshine with her daughter. “I am so sorry I didn’t do something today,” she breathed to her Papa. “It’s okay Child,” He whispered back; “I know you will next time, and you did something today whether you feel it or not. You allowed Me to consume you, and you cried for her, you were moved to tears by My heart for the least of these, and you allowed a fire to start in you to do something for the special needs community around you.” She stood by the side of the woods breathing in the stillness, quietly in tune with the move of the Spirit around her. Since she took in her special needs cousin almost three years ago, her fire had died because of the daily grind it takes to raise someone with intellectual special needs, and with her fire had gone her love. Her love for this girl was so low, that it was hard for her to enjoy being around her let alone take care of her. In the past week she had felt the Lord restoring that love, and in the mall food court that morning, a new level of fiery compassion and overwhelming love flooded back. If His heart was moved that much by the woman in the mall, how His heart must be moved by Vanessa, and how her heart could be moved again. Tears poured from her face and her voice broke as she recorded a message for one of her best friends describing what God was doing in her heart and asking for prayer. “There has to be more. There must be more than mediocre group homes and day programs, staff that sit on their phones, and a lack of funding to make real change. There must be more,” she cried out. Her heart was outraged just thinking of how little people saw the least of these and by the lack of  programs available. The dream was reignited in her: a coffee shop, bakery, farm, and gardens that could employ those with special needs; places that would give them purpose and peace; places that were people focus not money centered. Places that were people centered: all people welcome and loved as equal regardless of abilities. The past week had been filled with meetings and research about what Vanessa’s options are post high school. Her heart wasn’t satisfied with any of those options, and her mind longed for resources to dream up better solutions. “One day,” she thought, “one day doors will open.” For now, she would love Vanessa, raise her in her home, and continue to fight for resources and programs to help her thrive. The words of the special needs worker from two years ago still rang through her mind. “I’m sorry. We cannot give the resources for that program. We have what she needs here. We are not here to grow her. We are her to maintain her skills. That is our job.” Oh, how her heart hated these words. No! Our goal as humanity is to raise people, all people regardless of abilities, to thrive. It takes a village, and that is what she vowed to create: a village that would raise the unwanted. Tears stained her shirt as she sat, sobbing, consumed once again by His compassion for those in front of her. 

His compassion is relentless.

Allow yourself to feel Darling; allow yourself to feel the depths of compassion. Do not dare grow hardened to the point that you cannot cry in His presence. I went through a season for the past two years that I could not cry in His presence. I could not feel Him, didn’t want to try, and grew deeply angry because of how hurt I felt. Anger is always a secondary emotion. For me, I was angry because I was actually so sad that if I had allowed myself to feel it, I would have been crushed. A prophet I heard speak went through a similar season of torment and trials, and the words he said still resonate with my being. “We will never ask why.” I asked why for so long, but when I listened to him say we never ask why, I knew why. He went through that trial so that he could grow and see more clearly on the other side. He would not have the authority he currently has had he not walked that season of life. I would not have the fire I have, nor the passion to see people KNOW God had I not struggled so deeply with my identity and the identity of my Father for that season. Darling, rest. This too shall pass. It is a season. Allow yourself to feel the hurt.  Allow the tears to flow, and allow yourself to meet God as a comforter in your place of weakness. He is peace to the brokenhearted. I prayed for breakthrough for those two years, and nothing happened. When that breakthrough came, I had done nothing. God simply showed up. I will be grateful for all eternity for that season because it grew me in ways I cannot express, and God met me in my weakness. I was not happy in that time, but I am so thankful now that I am seeing the fruit of why. As I walked that trail today, tears streaming while I choked through that message for my friend, I stood in awe, soaking up every second, and loving the intimacy that comes with feeling God’s heart for those around me. Oh, how I had missed the depths of feeling His heart for those He created. I will devote my life to His cause. I will devote my life to walking with Him, talking with Him, and being consumed by Him. I always want to feel His compassion and pure, radical passion for those around me, for His compassion is relentless.

His compassion is relentless.

Her eyes were drawn to the setting of the sun, taking in the deep, long rays as they grazed Earth’s surface, casting shadows and filling the world with a sweet glow of orange. Her eyes shone with wonder as she walked, dreaming with her Father about His plans for Vanessa and those like her. “You see Child, the difference with how I think verse how the world thinks is radical. There is no comparison. In that mall food court the public saw that woman as disabled, where I see her as differently-able and differently gifted. There are things I bestowed to her that I have given no one else,” He declared. Her heart understood this, for Vanessa radiated gifts that opened her eyes to His goodness daily. “Differently-abled, fully capable, and worthy of love,” He said, “that is how I have made them. I have great plans for all who walk with Me.” Oh, how she loved walking and talking with her Papa. He was so good to her, and His presence filled her with wonder. “They are all worthy of love,” He whispered, “and, so are you my Darling. So are you. My love for you is relentless. Spend forever with me Beloved, forever,” He proposed. “Yes,” her heart shouted, “yes Jesus, yes!”

The Learning Curve

“You must have a lot of people praying for you,” the caseworker had said to her. Those words continued to run through the young girl’s mind as she sat, in awe, amazed by the power of God over her life. Amazed, again, by His goodness; frustrated, again, by her crippling doubt and consuming worry. Oh how good her Father was, how good He is, and how little she had trusted Him in the process. “You’ve been there all along Papa, and I didn’t believe. I’m so sorry. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” her heart echoed to her best friend. Her lips kissed the soft cheek of her little girl as her Papa breathed back, “I’m the God of the learning curve.”

He’s the God of your learning curve.

That line still runs through my mind, that despite my shortcomings, despite my fear and doubt, God comes through. He meets me where I am at on the learning curve. He walks me through the unknown and teaches me patiently. He never gives up on me even when I stumble, and He shows up again and again, time after time, season after season. No matter where we come from or how much knowledge we have, Holy Spirit comes and teaches us ALL things. This is amazing and huge news. He does not teach only a few things, nor does He leave us in the dark, but rather He teaches us ALL things through His mighty power and infinite wisdom and love nature. God is love: pure, true, beautiful love. Yes there is judgment, and hell exists, and those who don’t believe and follow Jesus will go there, but God’s nature towards His creation, at its core, is love. His nature towards sin is judgment, and that is why Jesus took our sin. Now when we are in Christ Jesus, we are a new creation and God no longer sees our sin since we have been forgiven. He sees the cross and Jesus washing us clean. His nature towards you as a person is love. His nature is to teach you, protect you, and draw you to Himself as you journey through life side by side. This weekend I was in awe again of His nature towards me even when I fell short. He is the God of my learning curve. Despite my shortcomings, He shows up. He shows up.

“You must have a lot of people praying for you.” She still couldn’t believe the words the caseworker had said to her on the phone while she was vacationing in Florida. “You have been accepted for Consolidated Waiver for Vanessa for life.” Her mind swirled with what this meant. Her years of advocating for funding were coming to a close. Her years of worry about Vanessa’s future and what would happen to her were coming to a close. “In all my years as a supports coordinator I haven’t seen this happen since funding became limited a few years back,” the caseworker had told her. God had showed up for her family, just as He had for all those past years. Tears welled up in her eyes as she sat in the beauty of her Papa. She needed Him day in and day out, but was not expecting this blessing to come so soon. They had just been accepted for Personal and Family Waiver, a much lower amount, which in and of itself was a miracle, but to be accepted for Consolidated Waiver was beyond amazing. God has heard us. God has answered us. She had advocated for the funding as well as she knew how, and he came and invaded that learning curve, teaching her all she needed to know, leading her to do her part, and showing up to do His part.

He’s the God of the learning curve.

I want to lay some background here. Vanessa has an intellectual disability and will need help her entire life. The county gives funding to individuals like her to support her for a group home or life-sharing opportunity, job coach or day program, and any needs she may have as life comes her way. Most individuals receive this funding sometime after age 21, when they are done school. When Vanessa’s mother passed away in 2014, she was put on an emergency list for funding to help out whatever family took her in. The emergency list means you are guaranteed funding within six months. Due to not having enough funding in the county, we have been on the emergency list for four years now. Every couple of months we would send another letter, her caseworker would send a notice to county saying we need help, and we would pray. Each month we would hear nothing back. There are three levels of funding. First level- Personal and Family Waiver. This is up to 33,000 dollars a year and covers limited in home help. We were recently accepted for this, and we were able to hire staff three days a week to help Vanessa learn independence and job skills in the community. It has been a blessing but is not enough to carry her when she is older. The second level- Community Living Waiver. This is up to 70,000 a year and covers a group home. It is not enough for round the clock staff or job support and a home. This would not be sufficient for Vanessa for the rest of her life once she lives alone. Third level- Consolidated Waiver. This has no yearly limit. It can cover independent living, family living, life sharing, or group homes. It will also cover a job coach, day program, and respite staff, and it will be for the rest of her life. This funding is only available to the number of people who currently have it. There’s no more open slots. Therefore, in order to receive it, someone in the community who has it must pass away or move out of PA. This funding is what we have been advocating for but have been told we will most likely not get it until well after Vanessa is 21. She wants to move out after she’s done school, at age 21, but without funding that is never possible. I have struggled feeling very stuck, especially when we feel we cannot sufficiently take care of Vanessa without help, and having no funding made me feel hopeless. This is the funding we just received, and this is the story of God’s faithfulness in it.

Friday she received a call from the caseworker saying, “you must have a lot of people praying for you because you just got accepted for Consolidated Waiver.” They chatted for a while before she hung up the phone. Her mind raced with the implications of what this means. No longer was Vanessa’s future a big black cloud of fear and unknowns. No longer would she need to worry about if she could sufficiently take care of Vanessa. No longer was she stuck. The depth of God’s hand in this journey was slowly sinking in, heavier and heavier, as she replayed the words the caseworker had said. Over a month ago she had written a letter and sent it to the caseworker stating why Vanessa needs funding and why she could not live under her roof for the rest of her life, as Vanessa herself did not want to be doing that. The caseworker was to submit the letter to the county. Weeks went by with no word, nothing unusual, and the young girl forgot all about the letter. A month and a half later the caseworker asked if she had typed up that letter, in which she responded, “yes, and I sent it to you.” “Hm that’s weird,” The caseworker exclaimed! “I never got it. Could you send it again?” So she sent it and the caseworker forwarded it on to county. She checked her emails and saw it had previously sent but the caseworker simply didn’t get it. God intercepted it. Consolidated Waiver is only given to someone when another person who has it moves or passes away. In the past week someone passed away, and the waiver was given to the next in line, Vanessa. Had the letter been sent a month or so ago, Vanessa’s case would have been evaluated then, and put in a pile with the rest since no funding was available, but since the letter never sent, and was sent this past week, when the county went to evaluate it, someone had just passed and their funding was available, so it was awarded to Vanessa. God’s hand is in all things. All things.

He’s the God of the learning curve.

I stand in awe of His goodness. This is the end to almost three years of advocating, sitting on my living room floor in tears, begging God to show up big. As I was chatting with Him about the whole situation this past weekend, I felt Him saying, “I’m the God of your learning curve, but you must commit to learn, and I will exponentially teach you.” This has stuck with me. He is faithful to do His part. I must do mine. I needed to advocate, go to meetings, write letters, pray, and intercede on Vanessa’s behalf, and God is faithful to fulfill His part. He will show up for you. He does show up for you. He is faithful dear child.

He’s the God of your learning curve.

History is Waiting

The world stood still as a blanket of white coated the street outside her window. She smiled as she sat in the warmth of her room listening to the bursts of wind that enveloped their quaint home in the center of town. There were perks to being up at four in the morning. Silence is golden, and she basked in the moments of peace with her little girl upon her chest. Her gaze met that of a tiny smiling face as she glanced down. “Well, I guess we aren’t going back to sleep,” she shrugged. She scooped Ellie up and glided quietly down the stairs as her husband and other daughter slept soundly in the rooms above. The front door rattled as a large gust of wind swept through the rows of houses, piling snow and leaves leftover from fall in all the nooks and crannies of her neighborhood. She snuggled herself into the soft couch as she pulled her daughter up to her face and kissed her on the nose. “Boop! You such a pretty baby, you know that right?” She whispered in her daughters tiny ear as she smiled back at her. Oh how her heart delighted in these moments. The hour continued on, and the baby began to fuss as sleep called her name. She stood and bounced her as the lullaby played. They spun and swayed to the lyrics, “the sun rose on the day you were born, and the colors in the sky was like the heaven in your eyes. The earth sang and the stars looked to see another child of God begin a destiny. Oh the places you will go and things you’ll do. History is waiting for you.” Tears streamed from her eyes as her heart echoed those words over her sweet baby girl. “Oh the places you will go and things you’ll do. History is waiting for you. History is waiting for you.” 

History is waiting for you Little One.

There’s nothing in the world that compares to being a mother. I know the first weeks can be a great struggle for some, and I know the adjustment can be very trying. I thank God that He is a God of equipping and being strong in our weakness, and I thank Him that my entrance into having a little one was far more smooth than I could have imagined. My daughter was born a little over two months ago, and what the Lord has worked in me since her birth is still far beyond words. I do not understand the fullness of what has happened, but I am seeing bits and pieces of His goodness in it. It feels as though my entire paradigm has shifted, and I have yet to find words to explain what my heart is screaming. The depression and struggle is dealt with as a result of the years of issues we have been having with our adopted daughter was broken the day Eliana entered this world. The year I spent in torment, panic attacks, questions, doubts, fears, and anger melted away the day she was born. I spent a year mad at God, questioning His goodness due to circumstances that were going on with Vanessa. The core of that struggle was feeling as though God wasn’t there, that He wasn’t seeing or hearing me, and that He had left my side. Clearly, being raised in the Church, I knew these things to be false, and I knew He never left me, but while my head understood, my heart was angry and hurt. As I carried Eliana, I deeply felt she would bring healing. She carries a gift of healing and grace, pouring out God’s mercy and fierce compassion on all she encounters. She confirmed this as her very life shook my world in the best possible way.

History is waiting for you little one.

The tears poured as the voice of her Papa rang through the room, whipping around as the snow swirled outside. “Baby Girl, just as your heart moves at the sight of your little one, so does my heart move at the sight of you Beloved. I have heard you. I have seen you. I hear you now. I see you now. I always will. History is waiting for YOU. I am not finished with you yet. I have been pursing you your entire life.” “Thank you Papa,” her heart screamed. “Thank you for who you are and for my family. Thank you for the most amazing husband who constantly reflects you, and thank you for this little life you have entrusted me with, this child that I get the privilege of raising.” Oh sweet Eliana. Her eyes were drawn to her sleeping baby, content against her chest, full of peace and grace. “Eliana she whispered. Thank you Papa. You were always there, and she is a constant reminder of Your faithfulness.” “Yes she is,” He echoed. “Her name will always be a reminder of that.” Eliana: God has heard me; God has answered me. “History is waiting for you Darling. Run free. Run free.”

History is waiting for you little one. It is waiting for you.

Run free ❤