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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 ❤

Anticipation

“Give me Jesus. Just give me Jesus. You can have all of this world, but give me Jesus.”

She is awoken to these lyrics floating through the room in the wee hours of the morning. “Just give me Jesus.” As she rises to go to the bathroom for the fourth time that night, she hears her Papa’s still small voice. “Are you as desperate for My arrival as you are for baby girl’s?” He whispers to her soul, “do you long for Me the way you long for her?” She cannot see the power and depth of these questions as exhaustion has overtaken her once again. Her head hits the pillow and she’s out like a light, yet just an hour later she awakes to the same song floating in and out of the room. “You can have all of this world, just give me Jesus.” “Are you as desperate for My return as you are for her arrival?” She lay there, contemplating, thinking, convicted. How often did she think about the fact that her baby was past due, and how often did she voice her frustration that she just wanted the birth to come? And yet, how long has it been since she prayed for His return, since she asked Him to come and fill this place?

It’s been a wild ride anticipating the birth of our daughter. My husband and I find ourselves texting each other every hour or so saying how we want her to be born, long to meet her face to face, and how we cannot wait for her arrival. I have to laugh at how many texts I get on a daily basis from friends and family who are also anxiously awaiting the arrival of the newest Busby member. There is a Village around us that is longing to meet Baby Busby, and I hardly have any patience left, for I too long to meet her with everything I have. The voice of Jesus piercing through the darkness brought such conviction on my heart that night. Do I ever long for Him the way I long for this baby? Do I desire His return the way I desire this baby’s arrival? Physically, I am beyond uncomfortable at this point. I waddle everywhere I go. I feel like I will lose my balance, I don’t sleep well, and I need to pee all the time. My uncomfortableness leads me to beg this child to come. It leads me to follow old wives tales of how to get the baby out: eat pineapple, walk up and down steps, dance, drink red raspberry leaf tea, etc. The Lord opened my eyes to the fact that I should be so uncomfortable in this world, that I beg Him to return, that I invite and help usher in His kingdom, and I do all I can to prepare for His return. How uncomfortable are we Church? And, does our comfort leave us far too content that we say, “this is enough Jesus for me?” Because if it does, I pray he make us far, far more uncomfortable. For He is returning, and I don’t know about you, but I want to pour everything I have into anticipation for that arrival. I want to be a part of the winning team, hugging my Papa as He comes in fullness at the end of time.

“Oh how loved you are little one,” she whispers to the baby within her womb. Not even born yet and already deeply loved, cherished, cared for, adored, and invited. Her mind raced back to the voice of her Papa asking if she was as desperate for Him as she is for her baby. “I am family too,” He whispered to her soul. She stopped and stood in His shoes, hearing the sorrow in His voice. If she were returning to save her children once and for all after giving her life for them, she would desire to feel adored by them, invited, cherished, and long awaited, as she now realized He does. “Oh forgive me Jesus,” she whimpered. “I will long for you. We will throw a party when you return. We want you. Oh forgive us for not wanting you more. You. You. You are so worth it all. Come Lord Jesus, come.”

Learning to Dance

The storm raged on, waves crashing into the bow of the boat as her heart screamed in terror. The bolts of lightning came quick as the grey sky darkened to black around their boat. It seemed as if all of hell was waging war on this one small sea. The pounding thunder intruded what had started as a calm ride full of laughter and glee. “Jesus. Oh Jesus where is He?” her heart cried as her eyes raced around the deck of the boat. “He would know what to do,” she thought. It took her just moments to find him since their boat was rather small. Her mouth dropped in wonder while her eyes beheld the sight before her. Sleeping! He was fast asleep! “How could he sleep through the the tossing of the waves and the crashing of thunder?” She thought to herself. Lost in her wonder, she didn’t feel the slow rock of the boat grow stronger as wave after wave pounded into the side of the wooden boat. The next wave threw her to her knees and sent water crashing into the belly of the boat. The pain and blood running from her knees pulled her out of wonder and back to reality. Fear overtook her on that cold, wet floor. Shaking, she grabbed Jesus and screamed, “Jesus! Jesus, wake up! Where are you? What are you doing? Don’t you see this storm? Don’t you see what it is doing to me? Save me! Save me!”

Oh how many times I have felt like the disciples in the boat as they were overcome by fear while Jesus slept. Storms rage around us on a daily basis, and I find myself reacting like the girl in this retelling, yelling at Jesus, “where are you? Why did you leave? Don’t you see what is happening to me? Why won’t you do something? Why don’t you care?” Thankfully he is so good, faithful all the time, and sovereign to have overcome all the storms we will face. Jesus’ ability to calm the storm is not dependent on how big or small the waves may seem. His ability to calm the storm is dependent on who He is. And He is good. That will never change. He is faithful. That is eternal. He is sovereign. That is set in stone. Not only does he see our storms, he rests during them as a way to show us how we should trust. We have the ability to sleep during great trials because we know who our God is, and we know he will do his will for our good and his glory.

His eyes fluttered open as a small smile crept to his lips. “Darling, why do you fear?” “The storm Jesus! Do you not hear it and see it? How are you sleeping?” She pleaded as her eyes burned with terrified tears. “Peace be still,” he whispered to her heart as he rose from his bed. Her heart stilled while she followed him up the small steps onto the deck of the boat. “Peace be still,” he repeated to the dark clouds and impending doom. “Peace be still.” She caught her breath as instantly she watched the clouds part and light shine through. The waves stilled in a moment, and the rain stopped. There wasn’t a single sign that a storm had come and passed, and part of her wondered if she was dreaming. “Peace be still,” he smiled.

Peace be still.

Sometimes I enjoy reading old journals, reminding myself of the storms that once stood before me. It’s amazing how little of them I remember when Jesus is involved. His grace is sufficient for us today. As I dwelt on this story the past few weeks, Papa reminded me how my heart always longs to have my Beloved still the storm that is raging around me, but he doesn’t always still that storm instantaneously. My mind was drawn to another story with the disciples and a storm. Jesus walking on water is another prime example of how Jesus tackles the hard times we go through. His goodness never changes, and even when I feel it would be best of him to calm the storm with a single word, he is faithful to see what I truly need, and he calls me to walk on water with him.

She stared at the waves before her, wondering, pondering, and confused as she saw the shadowy figure grazing the top of the waters towards her. She was petrified, saying, “who is this? It must be a ghost! Lord save me!” The figure spoke to her, “breathe child, for it is I, Jesus.” Unbelief overtook her. “If it is truly you, call me to walk with you on the waves,” she called back timidly. “Come child,” he responded. “Come.”

How many times have I challenge God this same way. “If it really is you, tell me to come with you. Call me. Show me. Tell me. Confirm it to me.” Yet, he never grows sick of my need for reassurance. I laugh sometimes because I see him as a father and me as the child who asks repetitively, “why is the sky blue? Why are we here? Are we there yet? Why did you pick me? Can I have ice cream? Why not? Why? Why? Why?” My patience to answer Vanessa’s millions of questions each day is so low, and yet our father never grows impatient with us as we ask Him to confirm and reassure us. He loves to answer us and returns our wonderings with perfect patience. He is faithful to meet us where we are at, and our doubt, our need for constant leading does not come as a surprise to him. You, my dear, are not powerful enough to knock the King of kings off his throne. Your issues can never be that big. He will still call you out on the water.

She was stuck now. She had asked him to call her out, and he had. Now she must step onto the waves. Clearly she hadn’t thought this one through! Her mind filled with fear as she contemplated that first step from the boat. “Do not be afraid, My darling,” His gentle voice echoed across the waves, “step out. You are brave. You are my beloved.” One shaking step after the other, and suddenly she found herself walking on the waves, eyes locked with her savior, fully dependent on His nature, fully in love with who He was, is, and will be, and obsessed with this new intimacy with Him. Her pace quickened as her heart filled with glee over the reality she was walking. “Jesus! Jesus look! I’m doing it,” she laughed with wonder, “I’m actually doing it!” Joy filled her being as she proceeded towards him. His smile was contagious and his eyes, gentle. The water lapped at her bare feet as she swayed towards him. Her eyes fell before her to the cold, dark water. As quickly as her joy came about she felt it go. One look at the waves below her and fear came calling. As that fear overtook her, she felt her body go limp with its weight and she began to sink. Fear is a heavy weight to carry, and when holding onto it, one simply cannot walk on water. “Jesus!” She cried, “Lord save me.” And there he was, by her side, lifting her high, dusting her off, and standing her back on her feet. “Why do you fear Dear One? Am I not faithful? Am I not sovereign until the end? Am I not for you, and will I not protect you?”

Will I not protect you?

So often I see waves before me and I beg God to call them to be still, but Jesus in turn calls me out upon those waves, to learn to walk, to learn to trust, and to grow in intimacy with him. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego would have never learned to walk face to face with Jesus had he simply put the furnace out, but instead, he allowed it and entered into it with them, only to pull them out without a single burn. That is the God we serve. He entered into this world to die and rise again so he may pull us out without a burn; so that he may establish his kingdom without flaw, perfect, beautiful, and eternal. Through learning to walk on the waves, and sink in many of them, I have come to find my God to be one that is faithful to pull me up time and time again in love. Never does he judge my stumbling, but in fact he smiles at me, reminds me he is faithful, and allows me to learn to walk all over again. The intimacy found in that place is one that is unbeatable, for he is faithful.

He is faithful.

She timidly smiled at her beloved, wishing she had not sunk in that wave, but grateful he spared her from drowning. He smiled back at her, love spewed all over his face as he drew her into his arms and started to dance. “Trust my lead Little One. Trust me.” Step after step she believed her savior was good. Step after step she believed her savior was faithful, and in that truth, she learned to graze over the waves, up and down with her Beloved. No matter what came their way, they danced. One two three. One two three. One two three. One two three. Her body fell into the rhythms of his abundant grace for her. One two three. One two three.

His grace is sufficient for you.

His grace is sufficient for you.

His grace is sufficient for you.

Fall Newsletter

Fall 2018 Ministry Update

First and foremost we would like to thank each of you for your prayers and partnership in The Village. We could not do what we do without your help. It has been awhile since an update has come out, so we would like to highlight just what the Lord has been doing these past six months, what He has in store in the coming six months, and how you can join the movement.

Who We Are

We have encountered many questions about exactly what the ministry is. Because the name is Vanessa’s Village, many people think it is about Vanessa. This is not the case. Vanessa, our adopted special needs daughter, is the inspiration behind starting the ministry. We realized rather quickly that it takes a village to raise her, and as the universal Church, we strive to partner with others to bring the Kingdom of Heaven here. We are a Village that is raising up people to KNOW their Papa, KNOW their identity, and KNOW their call. We do this through hosting a prayer house, having outdoor community wide worship nights, one on one discipleship, leading international mission trips, and local speaking engagements. We feel called to share our story of learning to love Vanessa and press in for her freedom even when we cannot see it. We speak at local churches and retreats, as well as schools to inspire youth to pursue Jesus with all they have because He’s worth it. We are so excited for the ways that God has been bringing others into the Village.

Ministries

  1. Alabaster Prayer House- Come on out every Tuesday evening from 6:15-8pm for a time of intimate worship with our Father. (330 North Main Street Souderton PA 18964).
  2. International Mission Trips- Vanessa’s Village is open to helping local youth groups coordinate and lead international and national mission trips. Our heart is to see the Nations know the love of Jesus. We also run our own trips with international connections we have.
  3. Discipleship- We offer one on one discipleship for anyone looking to dig into the heart of God.
  4. Counseling- We have connections to a wonderful, Spirit led, Christian counselor who works out of Telford PA. She comes highly recommended. If anyone needs a higher level of discipleship than we can provide, we advise you contact Lauren. She has been a God send for us as we have been able to receive Godly wisdom from her as well. (Lauren Bittner: 215-858-0066).
  5. Kingdom Builders- In the spring, summer, and fall, we host outdoor community wide worship nights. The events start at 5:30pm with dinner, worship, volleyball, and fellowship. Anyone interested in playing paintball may come out at 3pm for a free game. We provide all the equipment. (3327 West Ridge Pike Limerick PA). FINAL EVENT OF 2018 is OCTOBER 20th at 5:30!!

Ways to Partner

We are looking for people willing to join the heart of the ministry.

Current needs:

  1. Worship leaders for Alabaster Prayer House.
  2. People willing to disciple youth.
  3. Prayer warriors. Life in ministry can take a toll on a family, and we would love to have a strong team of people joining us in praying for Vanessa’s freedom, the addition of a new baby in a couple weeks, Sean and Marissa’s marriage, and the ministry as a whole. We value the power of prayer.
  4. Monthly donations/ one time gifts. The ministry is run by the generosity of those around us. Our costs are not high, but we are always looking for donations to cover what our family cannot. Partnering with Vanessa’s Village opens up doors of partnership into the lives of those in the extended Souderton area community. There are some specific areas you can donate towards. Donations can be made online at (www.vanessasvillage.com/donate) or checks may be made out to (Vanessa’s Village) and sent to (330 North Main Street Souderton PA 18964). Please do not feel you need to give. We want to highlight the needs, and first and foremost would love you to pray for those needs. If you feel led to give, we are grateful and know God will bless the funds, but if you are not in a place to give, that is totally fine.

Financial Needs

  • We reach the community through a blog and are in the process of writing a book. Unfortunately our computer is not reliable, and we are looking for people to partner with us in getting a laptop that is capable and trustworthy.
  • We are in need of people to donate to Kingdom Builders and the investment in youth in the area. We love to be able to create a place of worship within the community, but we know as winter comes, we will need some funds to clean up the worship area and get it ready for the spring events.
  • Another area people may donate is towards our January Guatemala trip. We would love to be able to lower the cost for the youth attending the trip. Any donations marked (Guatemala) will be given towards the leaders and students going on the trip.
  • You may always donate simply to Vanessa’s Village. As needs come up, we will make you aware, but our goal is to be able to have some extra donations set aside to help local families with the needs.

Contact Us

You may contact us at 215-353-1611, vanessasvillage@gmail.com, or http://www.vanessasvillage.com.

Thank you for your friendship!

-The Village

Sean speaking at Dock Mennonite Academy and Marissa speaking at a Woman’s Retreat

Alabaster Prayer House information and small group/ one on one discipleship

Guatemala Mission Trip- January 2018. Next trip is January 1-8, 2019. Email us for information.

Baby girl on the way in FOUR weeks!

Thank you for all your support!

Blessings,

The Village