My transition from San Clemente to Redding was an exciting adventure that turned into a much more difficult time of change than I anticipated. It was almost a culture shock. Growing up in the busyness of my beautiful Orange County beach town, there were many ways of life that were engrained in who I was, that once I was removed from my comfort zone, they began to be exposed.
Sitting quietly. So foreign to me. I am a list person. 📝 I am just beginning to realize how I've relied on structure and productivity (aka insane busyness) to pacify my anxiety and give me the counterfeit feeling of purpose and accomplishment. But hey, to everyone around me, I appeared to be successful, moving forward in life and "put together" right? So the non-stop busyness was justified, right?
Wrong. My first few weeks in school at BSSM were torture for me. I was out of a schedule, adapting to a new city and rhythm of life knowing nearly no one and having no familiar activities to run to that kept me productive and that kept my anxiety pacified. No weekly ministry, no job, no familiar friendships to run to, no stability as I've known it .. I began to feel everything that's been suppressed. As so much began to resurface, it's safe to say I was a hot mess.
But I have Jesus! Why am I such an emotional mess? Why is sitting quietly so painful for me? The fear. The insecurity. The crippling desire to be liked and accepted. The destructive words that have been spoken over me. The deep wounds on my heart. I could feel it all. I didn't have all the activities and families "coping skills" to rely upon anymore -- literally all I had was time, and was Jesus. I began to go into PLANNING MODE. Frantically applying for jobs, making lists..weekly schedules..appointments..people to call..youth at home to encourage with texts and written letters..presents to make..trips to plan..budgets to control..homework planning lists..a healthy meal prep..exercise schedule..I began to give myself so much TO DO in the midst of feeling such deep emotions, so I could RUN from them and continue pacifying my anxiety with productivity. There was nothing wrong with the tasks above I was trying to accomplish, but there was everything wrong with running from God to these things to find comfort and relief.
Everything I attempted to do began failing. I was applying for jobs that I was way overqualified for, and being turned away. I got a GREAT 25+ hour a week job at a flower shop, and God refused to give me the peace and joy to accept it. I kept applying until I had peace. All the tasks I was running to intensified the deep emotions I was beginning to face and I heard the sweet and still voice of the Lord nudge me, "you didn't come up to Redding and BSSM to do the same things you did at home. Be present"
So I thought, "maybe I should stop trying to get busy, and start trying to talk to God about all this ugly stuff resurfacing in my heart?" 💡 and whatayya know! He started responding! I opened His word and was led to specific verses that comforted and cleaned out my heart. I began to cry. Much needed heart surgery began. I gave myself permission to feel..to feel deeply. To feel anger. To feel grief. To feel joy. His presence came and I was still enough to recognize the sweetness and power of His Holy Spirit in the room with me. His radical comfort came and began to heal my heart. I began to encounter His love in these moments of stillness. I began to process pains and memories I'd buried for yeeaars. And from this quiet place, I began being directed by Him and given heavenly wisdom as to what to do next. One task at a time.
Now I had applied to 30+ jobs on care.com over the course of 2 months..I only got 5 responses denying my application? I have 6+ years experience, a teaching credential and a degree in child development. What the heck? So I gave up. It was in my quiet place with the Lord that I felt his nudge.. "check care.com right now" I felt like peter who had been fishing all night long, only to catch NOTHING.
"Whatever you say boss"
Not an hour before a woman had posted about her need for part time child care in Redding. "This is my husband & my first time fostering children. We would love someone with a heart for foster kids and experience with young children"
"Is this for real Lord..?!"
I didn't want to get my hopes up, but I eagerly applied with a heart of child-like faith and excitement!
A day later I actually got a response! She wanted to meet with me for coffee! JESUS!!!
My time with the beautiful mother grounded me. And my moments witnessing the faithful service of her and her husband have inspired me beyond words. They hired me and essentially, welcomed me into their journey of fostering these beloved little ladies. Their unshakable faith in Jesus and radical, unconditional love for these little girls began to pierce my heart. I saw the gentle, stable and tangible love of Jesus they were giving to these tiny girls. It is sacrificial. They are falling in love with these girls and giving them everything a good good father would delight in giving their children..and they are risking the deep pain they may feel if / when they little ladies get reunited with their birth parents.
I've been humbled and inspired every time I share moments with this married couple. I am dreaming of a stable, godly and healthy marriage glued together by love for and faithful service to their Lord Jesus. Every day I am thanking God for their example, His provision and my priceless and life giving moments of loving these precious little girls.
So that brings me to Friday taco dates with Jesus. Around the corner from their house is an authentic and delicious Mexican food restaurant. God has invited me to find comfort in moments like this, where I can look forward to time connecting with Him, enjoying the good things in life and intentionally protecting my connection with Him instead of missing precious moments like this by running back to my rhythm of unhealthy busyness.
This tiny, loud and delicious Mexican food restaurant and these weekly taco dates with Jesus have been some of the most reflective, enjoyable and healing moments since getting settled into my new life in Redding. Deep pain and memories continue to resurface, but I'm no longer afraid of facing them. I have found the one in who my soul loves. Song of Songs 3:4
No human or activity could ever bring comfort, healing,
purpose and life-giving joy to my moments like Jesus has. And whether I am accomplishing much, or doing nothing, I am content as long as I am connected to my life-source.
Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
Philippians 4:11-12 MSG
Slowing down and surrendering all I've relied on to strengthen me..becoming weak and broken, coming into God's safe presence, giving myself permission to feel every deep pain resurfacing from my heart.:has brought me close to the heart of Jesus. I have become so weak and broken only to be made strong, stable and healthy in my quiet moments in the presence of my Lord. His Holy Spirit comes and rebuilds the ancient ruins long devastated, binds of the broken heart and has set this captive free.
Who wouldna known you could experience such joy and healing over tacos 🌮 I pray this same healing, comfort and joy for you. ❤️
He doesn't have to come encounter us with His love,
but he always does.
My whole life growing up I knew there was a lot of secrets and pain hidden behind my mom's struggling attempts to raise us and survive. Little glimpses of the unimaginable abuse my mom and her brother endured left me uncomfortable and curious at the same time. So much I didn't know.. there was so much my mom wouldn't tell me behind the deep hurt and anger that welled up in her eyes when I asked. I learned to stop asking.
All these years later, my heart longs to know the truth.
But I've come to realize that the details of my mom's childhood is not the truth I've longed to know after all.. Sure it might help me make sense of the difficulties I faced as a child, but I know enough to say that no child should have to go through the trauma, abuse and neglect my mom and her brother endured as little ones. My heart burns with anger for justice, but is comforted by timeless truth of the gospel I have come to know.
Today I watched a video of about my Uncle Matt that deeply grieved my heart. I watched this news report of the struggled he is enduring after being released from 22 years in prison as a convicted sex offender. I watched it with tears in my eyes knowing thousands of people cringed with judgment and disgust against my uncle.. who they know nothing about expect the bold title across the screen "Convicted Sex Offender" -- I don't know my uncle personally and hope one day to meet him and thank him in person for the seeds of hope he sown into my life as a little child. He wrote me from prison, sending my jewelry he hand-made and a watercolors phrase that said, "Jesus in Me Loves You."
This phrase was a mystery to me for years.. In His letter he shared with me how he was transformed by God's love into a new man. He was in prison since 1994, the year I was born, and wrote me this letter when I was about 9.
There are thousands of people hastily ready to heap judgments against my uncle.
But to him who is without sin, go ahead and throw the first stone.
After watching this video of my uncle:
And spending time talking with God about it,
I was prompted to send him this email, and felt led to share it with you:
Hi Uncle Matt!
Its Helen Rose, Amy’s daughter.
I just watched the news report about your transition back into life after prison.
I want you to know God really spoke to me and revealed to me that all your suffering and pain is not in vain.
Everything the enemy intends for evil and destruction God delights in recycling for His glory and YOUR greatest good.
Your story is going to give hope to so many people. God already revealed that to me.
I’m sure you know Romans 8:28, but I just wanted to affirm you with this truth today.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Your love for our Lord Jesus is clear and evident. His transforming power has done a mighty work within you that is a powerful testimony to everyone who watched that news report.
And you are most definitely hand-chosen and CALLED by God.
When I was a young little girl, so traumatized by the darkness of the life handed to me, finally living with my mom and brother after shifting through many different homes in and out of foster care, I remember receiving a letter and some jewelry from an Uncle Matt I never met or knew anything about. I treasured those earrings and still have them to this day. The letter you sent me had a colorful watercolored paper in it that said, “Jesus in Me loves You.”
This phrase was a mystery to me, but brought so much comfort to my hurting little heart.
I taped it up on my wall where it remained for years.
I looked at it from time to time, thought about you, thought about who Jesus might be and why the heck He would love me.. and I turned away from it again and again.
But it planted a seed in my heart that had finally taken root August 10, 2010 when I met Jesus through a woman when my brother and I were living in a motel.
The love of mom’s life, Neil, had died of pancreatic cancer. I started doing drugs, and watched the fullness of evil and darkness in that world take the lives of so many people I loved. My very best friend, Chance, took his own life. My best friend was dead and all I had was the hope of getting high to survive another day.
We got evicted. Mom got arrested.
Alex and I, me at age 15, Alex at age 11, ended up in a sketchy, run-down motel.
The enemy met me there and I made up my mind.. I was going to take my own life just like Chance had.
That very night, an ex-meth addict came up to me and stopped me. She scooped me up, held me as I cried, and shared with me the gospel.
I finally came to understand what that little watercolored phrase on my wall could have meant..
August 10th, 2010 I woke up with no desires to use drugs anymore and instead I had a deep hunger to know this Jesus I had been told about.
I gave up the life I had known and cried out to God giving it to Him.
A few days later mom got a call from a Christian sponsored foster care program called Safe Families.
Christian families in churches answered the call on their lives to open their homes to children in need, with the goal of reuniting them with their families.
We met with the program director on a friday, the family on a saturday and moved in on a sunday.
Alex and I were given a second chance in a stable, loving home.
Mom felt the pressure and continued her battle with deep pain and drug addiction.
Uncle Matt.. I only had vague ideas of the difficulties you and my mom went through when you were young, but I know it was unbelievably awful.
I am so sorry you and my mom had to endure such abuse and neglect.
I don’t blame my mom or you for one moment. I recognize the enemies finger prints all over it.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
After coming to know my Lord Jesus and reading the life-giving truth in His word, all the burning anger and hatred I had towards my mom for all the abuse and neglect my brother and I endured was rightfully redirected toward the enemy. I now realized why the gospel is so important. It is the reason we are still alive, breathing and living with a purpose.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. 1 John 3:8
That is our commission too, Uncle Matt! We can’t afford to let bitterness take root in our hearts, but instead use the power of our testimonies to destroy the works of darkness!
I believe God had great plans of redemption for you and your family, but beyond that.. to use your story to set many many many people free, and to lead them into an encounter with our Lord Jesus.
I believe that the rest of the days of your life are numbered and God has every moment filled with increasing purpose that will leave a timeless legacy.
Share your story, Uncle Matt. Make sure the gospel is at the core of it, and so many lives are going to be deeply impacted and transformed.
I am going to ministry school and am committing to be praying, interceding hard, for you. The redemption of relationships with your kids. The sanctification and growth in your relationships with Jesus. And for the launching of the ministry God has created you for. Write your story. Give God the glory, and theres going to be an unending ocean of lives forever changed.
So proud to call you my Uncle.
I will never be able to thank you enough for sending me that little watercolored phrase, “Jesus in Me Loves You.”
I am devoting every day of the rest of my life to partnering with our Lord Jesus in destroying the works of the devil, and advancing His kingdom.
I am going to bethel school of supernatural ministry this year, in Redding CA.
—> http://bssm.net <—
I can’t wait to see the fruit of my prayers as you begin walking in the fullness of you destiny.
Love you Uncle Matt!
The best is yet to come!
God is for you. Who can be against you?!