For The Angry Daughter…

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The picture above was the only one I could find when I was inspired to write this post. Unfortunately, I do not have many photos with my father, and although this photo was taken over 20 years ago, it still reminds me of the pain I experienced in my journey as a daughter, as a sister, and one who battled the vicious attack of unforgiveness and anger for years. With that, I felt that my story of redemption and restoration needed to be shared, so here it is.

The Birthplace of Pain 

My dad left our family when I was 8 months old, and he never returned. In our past as a family, there was pain so deep inside of all of us that left us feeling wronged, abandoned, and ultimately very angry.  Without blaming the man I have now come to adore, the pain I experienced was shown in these areas of my life; abandonment and anger.

The thoughts that would come to mind everyday for years was that if I was really loved, my dad would have stayed, and as a father he should’ve stayed. I felt that he was such less of a man to leave 4 children and a wife, in poverty and pain. Even as I grew older and understood more, the picture of my father was tainted with pain, and what pained me more was his inability to even want to pursue me.

The Fuel of Anger 

I knew in my mind that being upset with this man who said he was my dad was wrong, and I knew it didn’t feel right in my heart, but it became a wall that kept me safe, and over the years, that wall got higher and stronger with every hit of disappointment.

I came across this wall every time I had to face my father, and it also seemed that it would never go away.Every time I trusted him again, I was let down. For every good day, there were more bad ones. All the times I tried to forgive, I would only be hurt again. By the time I was a teenager I wanted nothing to do with my dad and made a decision in my heart that I would not be hurt again, and so, my dad and I lost communication for a few years. I talked to him occasionally and got to see him on certain days, but in my heart, my own dad was dead to me. I couldn’t understand how someone could have a child and cause them so much pain.

Crushing the Wall of Anger 

At the age of 18, I found Jesus. My life completely changed, and His presence freed me. Through this life with Jesus, and His Word, I knew that forgiveness was necessary, and that in order to be forgiven, I also had to forgive. In my mind, I knew this concept, but my heart couldn’t fully grasp it. Without even trying to let my heart grasp the beauty of forgiveness, I met with my dad one day and told him I forgave him, only to be met later that year with more disappointment. How was I supposed to forgive this man, and yet, have him continue to hurt me? Here are a few of the ways I learned to crush that wall of anger and unforgiveness:

Allow Jesus to heal the wound of your pain

Before going to a dark place of anger when someone hurts you, let the Holy Spirit comfort you. Jesus not only knows your pain, but His love is so deep, that it heals any wound someone can cause.

Let go of your expectations of what YOU want someone to be 

When you impose your expectations on someone, and they don’t meet that expectation, the only person who gets let down is yourself. I expected my dad to be like all of the other dads I had wished I had growing up. I had wished that he would just call me, or that he would somehow express the desire for a relationship with me. When I let go of what I wanted him to be and simply loved him for who he was, I was so much more satisfied.

Release them of their debt to you

Real forgiveness means, that person doesn’t owe you anything. Just like Jesus. The wall of anger would argue and say that since he missed out on my life, he should work even harder now to be in my life. However, now knowing the pain and struggle of  my father now, I must ask, “How can a slave give you a reward when they have never even known a reward themself?” I am not giving an excuse for some of my dad’s past behavior towards me, but if my dad didn’t even know love himself, how could I expect him to love me? JESUS is the source of love, not a person.

Redemption & Restoration 

It has been 6 years since I had that talk with my dad. Although forgiveness looks different for everyone, my battle with forgiveness didn’t happen overnight. I have had to choose to forgive, every day since then. I was once hopeless even after I let go of my unforgiveness towards my dad, that we would never have a real relationship. There were definitely moments of frustration, and moments I was angry, but I didn’t let myself stay there, I chose to forgive, every time. I believe that because of the constant practice of forgiveness, and also the practice of God’s love, I have been able to finally enter into a place of restoration with my dad. Today, I have a relationship with my dad that couldn’t have been possible without allowing God’s love to be cultivated in my heart.

Recently my dad has become very sick to the place that he says he is on “borrowed time”. His body continues to get worst, and the sickness he has attacks his life in so many ways. I NEVER thought I would be going on dates with my dad, having deep convos, or random hugs. The hopelessness of anger and unforgiveness didn’t allow me to see that God had a promise for me, even though my pain had ravished my life. Today, I cherish him, adore him, and I am thankful that my dad, was chosen, just for me. As long as he is here, I will choose to forgive, I will choose to love him, and I will choose to walk in the restoration God has given to us. Though my heart is pained at times with the thought of losing him, I am deeply thankful for the story I share with him; one of redemption and restoration.

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No Place to Call Home

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A little over a month ago I returned “home”. While the transition has been harder than I could’ve imagined, I am so thankful for what God has been teaching me and I’ve decided to share. I hope this blesses your heart, encourages you, or simply gives you some hope for today and wherever you are at in your journey.

As soon as I flew into San Francisco, my heart was so uneasy. I was flooded with the judgements that I expected, including being disgusted with America. For the past three months, I had no privilege but to serve Jesus and seek His face. There was no comfort, there was nothing familiar, and I had been completely stripped of everything I believed I was, and everything I believed God was. My whole theology had been flipped. My heart ripped. My life undone.

Immediately, and even including the weeks following (even now), I have had to constantly have heart and mind checks with Jesus. I’ve had to humble myself under His will and His love in order to not be overcome by frustrations. Although I have failed at this many times, I trust God, and ultimately I know that His end result is better than what my heart is experiencing now.

Besides getting used to hot showers again and double checking toilets before I use them for creepy bugs or animals, the hardest thing for me to get used to is calling the place I am in, “home”. Everyday I was confronted with the reality that I was back and the remarks of, “Welcome Home!”. At the end of everyday I would weep (and still do sometimes) questioning God as to why I had to come back. The biggest issue was that home was no longer home. In fact, I felt and still feel that I have no home. I never want a home unless it is with the one I love the most, Jesus.

A few things that I have been challenged with about home…

1. Home is a place of familiarity, comfort, and something unchanged. 

If we evaluate what home is, I have come to find that I really don’t want one. When we think about something in our circle going through a drastic change or an event happening that makes everything crumble, all of us run. As humans, we want what is safe. We want to be surrounded with what is comfortable. There is nothing like it. But I refuse to center my life around these qualities of home, and certainly refuse to ever let my so called “home” become a god to me.

2. When you have no home, you suffer with loneliness.

It’s true. I don’t know anyone in my circle that saw the things I got to see or experience some of the things that I experienced. However, when I feel alone in the process, my pride of a pity party is challenged with humility. All of humanity is made up of different experiences, revelations, and sufferings. The gift in this unique process is that when we feel lonely, it is an opportunity for us to be honest with each other, to share our being with someone else, and most of all, to love with whatever personal revelations we have had. Your personal hardship becomes someone else’s freedom and breakthrough, especially when you become vulnerable enough to share it.

3. His Presence is Home to me. 

One amazing truth I found in Africa and Nepal was the value in becoming attached to nothing but Jesus. In my journey now back in California, I have felt completely unattached to so many things that felt so important before. Now, everything is simplified, everything is worry-free, and everything has become about Him. I guess the greatest thing that I am understanding now is that, my life is no longer made up of God in a box, work, goals, schedules, time, or works. My life and my home is in Jesus and nothing else has importance but Him. His presence is the answer to everything I need in life, His presence is my life line, my abundance, and my ultimate home.

“For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in Heaven, which is yet to come…”

Hebrews 13:14

“Lower Still”

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“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
1 Corinthians 12:9

Mama Heidi has a saying that is echoed throughout most of her messages; lower still.  I read this phrase in her books, heard her speak about it, and even hear her team repeat it, but no matter how much you study something, you really won’t know until you live it.

I arrived in Pemba 2 weeks ago and while I thought I would be used to no electricity or water, I was in for a complete surprise. The air was hot and sticky, I hadn’t showered in days, had no communication with family or friends for a couple of weeks, and I was packed in a room with 6 other women! I dreaded having no privacy, and having to rearrange what my quiet time looked like. I was just a mess! To top it off, the day I arrived, I was to prepare to go to the bush bush area for outreach.

“Lower still.”  Such a catchy phrase and cool to say, but in a situation where you feel completely done, completely empty, you have nothing else but to hold on to some type of hope.

The bush was amazing. We arrived, staked our tents and set up the Jesus movie. We prayed and laughed. Played and sang. There were salvations and miracles and we saw a village come before Jesus. All the while, as I died, and became weaker, and even lower, Jesus strengthened me.

He must get the glory. His glory is what we live for! We HAVE to go low, we HAVE to become weak! We have to die. It can’t be me anymore because I won’t save people in my strength. I won’t heal people. I won’t love. It will always run out…. but He is able to do it all.

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Every weakness we have, every insult, every hardship, every time we are persecuted, and every difficulty is an opportunity to get closer to Jesus! Sometimes we pray away these things, or we blame darkness. Sometimes we complain to people about what we are going through, and sometimes we just mope around waiting for things to get better. I understand, all of these reactions are normal, but if your are a child if God, your reactions are supposed to be supernatual and if they aren’t, then you must die until your reaction would be like Christ’s reaction.

In order to be filled, we must be emptied. “Lower still”. This is a chance to humble ourselves to God’s sovereign will and completely trust Him with all that we are. When we don’t understand, when He doesn’t answer our questions, and even when we go through extreme pain in our lives, we must allow Him to be God. He never ever designed us to go through any of these things without Him!

The keys for His power to rest on us is to be honest with Him about our weaknesses and delight in Him. These are supernatural reactions to natural events that we face daily.

Be encouraged, and grab a hold onto His free gift for us! Rest today!

Love isn’t a Job

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I am incapable of love yet Jesus commands it. Love becomes a burden when I choose to do it in my own power. My love, human love, will fail, run dry, disappoint, and lack. Yet Jesus still says to love. In His love, there is no fear, no worry, no regret, and no shame. His mercies are new everyday and because of that promise, we can walk into His presence everyday to receive.

Last week I spent a couple days in a village. We had services in a tent and allowed God to move. It was SO hot in the tent! People were so packed inside that we had no more chairs. The trip was long and by the time we made it to the house we were staying at, it was very late. The next day we walked around the village for hours just praying and blessing people. God did miracles and we saw atmospheres transformed. It was beautiful! We still had another service in the evening so we walked to the tent, praying for families on the way. I didn’t know how I would be able to love and be full of joy because I was so tired!

Then, I met this amazing little girl. Even if I wanted to rest or get a breath of air,I couldn’t. This little one clung to me. I knew God would show me something through His precious daughter. I won’t go into details but by the end of the evening, something struck my heart about this little girl’s life and her pain. I had never felt such intense love for someone that I barely knew. It burned inside of me and I was so delighted in her. But it wasn’t me! It was Jesus. His love burned in me for His daughter and it changed something in my heart in the process. I forgot about being sore and tired…. in that moment as I surrendered myself to the King, I was able to be His vessel of love for a little girl who had suffered so much. The pain in her eyes devastated me. My heart shook with a desire to do something, but all I could give her was Jesus… and that’s all she needed.

Her name was too hard for me to learn and we couldn’t even communicate except through dancing and holding hands but that little girl taught me a lifetime of revelation. Love is not a job. It isn’t an obligation. Love doesn’t have to be forced. Jesus is love.

God is a giver and He can’t help Himself to release on those who really seek Him with their whole heart. Those who have pure motive to just know Him. As for me, this love seems impossible.  But HE is love.

I am either full of love or full of myself. He says “Love each other as I have loved you.” So, the standard of how I love is based on how loved I am by God. He loves all of us though right? Without partiality right? Yes! However God promises abundance and calls all who are thirsty to drink the water that He has.

If God compares His love to streams of living water then I know I must be called to the same standard.

Though a stream has a direction, the actual flow of the stream is always different. Think about the way the water splashes, the way it hits against the rocks, or the way the wind blows it. Just like His presence. Everyday, the stream from His presence, His encounters, His words…. Everyday they just flow differently even though the direction points to Him. A love life with Jesus should never get boring!

Loving others just starts with one thing… Jesus. He is love. My human self cannot love people. So if we want to be comfortable in our own circle of life and never grow in our love, it’s probably because our love life with Jesus is dead.

We can’t let anything contaminate our love life with Jesus. Not a job, not a person, not school, not success, not family and not even ministry. Nothing  should ever take His place. He is the Most High God, and deserves the highest priority in our hearts.

So… be loved so you can love. Honestly, it’s just as fulfilling because when He fills you with Himself, you are delighted to pour out His love.

Jesus, I give you permission to the secret places of my heart and ask you to pour your streams of living water throughout every corner and crevice. Teach me how to be loved by you, in truth and in your word so I can simply love others. Jesus, I know that part of pleasing you is loving your children the way you love them, so baptize me with your fiery love!

No More Attachments

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“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, He will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

We were never meant to do anything apart from Jesus. The act of abiding is constant. Jesus wants us to walk hand in hand, heart to heart, and step by step with Him in His love. Think about a life where every breath belongs to Him and every word that proceeds from your mouth is completely surrendered. We would probably save ourselves from a lot of worry, fear, and hurt!

This completely abandoned life only comes from abiding. I have come to find that the thing that attacks my place of abiding the most is actually  attachment. The attachment of my desire to sleep. The attachment of a schedule. The attachment of what others think. The attachment of religion. The attachment of the same expectation of God when He wants to do something different. The attachment ultimately of what feels good to my flesh.

In Africa, the people have no attachments. I got to experience this in going to a church where the pastor had once been dead. Yes, I wrote that right! The church was made of a tin roof on an extremely slanted piece of land that was held up by wooden poles. My feet were covered in dirt because there was no carpet. The songs were simple, but their hearts were on fire! I was overwhelmed as I thought about how sometimes I go to church back home and think, “It’s just hard to get into worship today,” or I just don’t give God my best because of how I’m feeling. “The church is too hot. The church is too cold. The atmosphere is heavy. I’m tired. I’m sick. I messed up.” The list goes on. Attachment after attachment. They sound like excuses but these are attachments at the root- attachments to the world in front of our eyes and not the one above or heads.

See, in my world at home, we have so many attachments we don’t even realize it. When something doesn’t FIT IN our normal flow of living, we get messed up and frazzled so easily. We get offended when someone tells us the truth. We run around like mad men because of our schedules. We think about tomorrow and the week to come. Jesus never wanted this for us! He wants us to depend on Him completely!

Our life is but a breath… a vapor,  while my Father is the beholder of my life and yours too…. forevermore. When we put this in perspective, I think we can agree that it just isn’t worth it to have any kind of attachments. In fact, when we learn to let go of this present world and stare into His fiery eyes, we are overcome with the gift that He is absolutely worth every moment, every thought, and every risk. In this place, there is no room to worry and no room for fear. It’s in the place of abiding where sacrifices are laid at His feet, and where destiny becomes reality.

Currently, I live in a place where miracles happen daily, and testimonies are out of this world (literally). Every week I have heard outrageous stories of God’s wonders. When people pray for the sick, people are healed. When people are in bondage, they are freed. When we go to share the gospel, people are so hungry. Raising the dead is no big deal out here. However, at the end of the day, the only important thing is Jesus. He literally says, “apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

Nothing. 

This makes my heart wonder how many times I have done things in His name, but not actually with Him. How many of us do ministry without Him? How many of us actually ABIDE in Him in everything that we do? From parenting to teaching, leading to working, cleaning to cooking, even going to church. So many people do life without the giver of life!

He wants to be invited in every part of our lives. He wants to dwell in your heart. He wants to be so intertwined with your heart and your mind so you can actually live in abundance and not religion!

So, wherever you are, whoever you are with, right now invite Jesus to become so personal to you!

Jesus, whoever is reading this right now, please just release your goodness, your presence, your love, and your Spirit! Pull them into the place of love and saturate their hearts with truth! Draw their eyes into Your eyes, and show them what abundance really is! Papa, hold them in your hand and protect them from all attachments that would keep them from Your secret place for them. Amen.

A Whole New World

wpid-20141014_180612.jpgTwo weeks ago I layed my Isaac on the altar; those I love the most, my family, my church, personal success, and literally my whole world. As soon as I landed off the plane in South Africa, I was flooded with doubts and impossibilities. I had entered another world and my heart finally caught up to the moment.

I was alone. I was scared. Most of all, I felt weary.

On the outside looking in, people can say it was no big deal or I just sound dramatic (which I know I can be) but people will not know the price of something until they have payed for it themselves. I had given up absolutely everything for one person, one motive, one desire… Jesus.

On my fourth day I wrote in my journal, “This sorrow seems impossible to shake”. I questioned everything. Judged harshly. My heart felt so broken. My flesh and heart hardened for a moment to the will of God and only desired to defend for itself whatever was left inside.

What came next shaped truth in my mind and gripped my soul.

For the past 2 weeks we had the privilege of going into townships to feed the hungry, pray for the sick, and love the forgotten. Seeing children in extreme living conditions of poverty yet still content ultimately shattered my heart. Then Jesus spoke to my heart so tenderly… “This is what you came for.”

I was completely messed up as we left one of the villages. There was a constant image running through my head of a baby crawling in the dirt in front of a bar, fatherless and alone. Garbage was everywhere. Homes that were falling apart. The smell of sewage. I kept thinking of the worst places in America and concluded that nothing compared to what I had seen. Little by little, my heart was so broken that I had to take it to the Father. I needed His heart for His people because my own heart couldn’t handle it.

What happens when you give EVERYTHING? What happens when what your eyes see completely shakes your world? What happens when your heart becomes so broken that you simply don’t know how joy will flood in again?

Look to the One.

We have no other choice but to set or eyes on the burning one. Last week, after wrestling and murmuring to my Father, I finally made a choice. I left everything, to gain the One and I will do whatever it takes to look like Him.

John 14 (literally the whole chapter) has become the fuel that keeps me burning. Through the bucket showers of cold water, no electricity, sleeping in a tent, and simply being away from everything normal to me, I had to cling to the One.

People NEED to see the Father; the vast love that covers sin and makes us alive with fullness. Jesus’ words, ” I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

There has come a point where my hunger for His presence and supernatural wonders are not only motivated by a love for Him but a love for His people. It goes beyond me or you. We must be like Him for His people. His hungry, desperate, fatherless, abandoned, rejected, addicted, people.

To live outside of the place of abiding or to take our eyes off of His is just too costly! There is so much to learn, so much to BE, and too much fullness that has yet to be discovered.

So I am left here, traveling through Africa, seeking the face of my King. While I have nothing or no one, I have found myself completely content in His eyes simply because of a revelation of His heart… and I would do it again and again just to have more of Him.