All throughout my story I remember chapters and chapters of being weighed me down by cares and worries that held me back from enjoying life. So many worries held me back from growing, from cultivating my passions and from loving people well.
Fear is a thief. Worry comes to rob us of our joy in the moment and our hope for the future. Anxiety use to consume me. I was so afraid that the pain of my past would repeat itself that I was missing out on the freedom the Lord had already given me.
I want to encourage you today to breathe deep, face those fears and hand them over to the Jesus. However small or all consuming, He cares so deeply for you and wants your load to be lightened so you can be free to grow into all you are destined to be. Create space in your mind and heart for dreaming, praising, loving and cultivating your passions.
Today freedom from fear and anxiety is fully in reach. I pray that you would feel God’s love washing over you and lifting your burdens even now!
“Cast your cares upon the Lord, for He cares for you!” 1 Peter 5:7 🌱💕
I grew up in between foster care and a dysfunctional home where there was never a plan. The inconsistency and unpredictability of my childhood left me shaken, removed from my family and feeling deeply unwanted and unloved. No plan for relational connection, finances, provision or stability, and their parents hadn't planned or prepared any of that for them either. My childhood felt completely chaotic and painful. When I encountered the hope and love of Jesus through a fiery and loving evangelist, I was undone by the true love and hope I had been introduced to. She confidently told me that “God loves you, babygirl, like a good, good daddy should, and He has a good plan for your life.”
I was taken back by these words. The concepts of a “good daddy” and a “good plan” were so foreign to me that any possibility of hope and truth being attached to them brought me to tears. “God is good and He has a good plan for my life..” echoed in my head and heart, flooding me with relief and hope like I’d never known. After this week’s readings, I was reminded of these first sweet moments of my journey when I began discovering and contemplating the goodness of God and the realness of His plans and purposes for my life, and for all of humanity. To have been given insight that God was indeed in control, working together His perfect master plan, gave me relief and confidence unlike anything my young heart had ever fathomed. Fast-forwarding to my perspective all these years later, seeing in part, the full, beautiful story of God’s love and master plan woven together from Genesis to Revelation leaves me in awe of His bigness, goodness, and sovereignty. “The days of His flesh were but the unfolding in time of the plan of God from the beginning. It was always before His mind. He intended to save out of the world a people for Himself and to build a church of the Spirit which would never perish. No one was excluded from His gracious purpose.” (Winter, 2009) Not even me. An abandoned, unwanted foster child who turned to drugs and a life of darkness to search for love and purpose. When that life left me feeling more unwanted and hopeless than before, I found myself as a 15-year-old teenager on drugs, living in a motel room, where I decided to end my life like my best friend had. This very night is when God sent to me Crystal, that fiery evangelist, just 1 year sober from meth, eager to carry to me the same message of hope that changed her life. He knew how deeply my heart needed to see His power to redeem before my eyes. Her story swept me up in a river of hope that I haven’t ever been able to get away from. His plans for redemption and connection to humanity were extended to me personally and I couldn’t resist being pursued and embraced by Love Himself, revealed on the cross. This unfathomable power and love is the very heart of the gospel the world is waiting to hear from Us, His Church.
Winter, Ralph D., and Steven C. Hawthorne. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. William Carey Library, 2009.
Family looks different for everyone. Getting married has me in a season of preparation, and reflection. Being surrounded by family, as Samuel and I take this next step, doing it God’s way, has just been so beautiful. I am really in awe of God’s goodness and faithfulness along the way..especially as I look back and reflect.
Family use to be confusing, complicated and even painful for me. My beautiful mama wasn’t given a safe home or loving example of family, and the men she had children with chose to bail and leave her to do “family” all on her own, as a single mom with two little ones. We didn’t have “family” support and when times got tough, the state stepped in, and praise God, eventually @safefamilies stepped in as well. 🙌🏼
After many moves, many homes, many twists and turns along our journey, the family (families) I have beside me in this season of preparation and celebration are more than I could have dreamed of. (And more than instagram will allow me to post, hah) —> Although the enemy fought hard to tear my family apart, his fight was in vain, because now all of my families have united as one in the name of Jesus and what God is going to do makes the gates of hell shake with fear. 🌊 What the enemy intended for evil and hurt, God is using for the greatest good. As Samuel and I get married, all of our families collide as one, and the unity in this picture God is painting with our stories is seriously more beautiful than my heart can handle. I am undone by the goodness and love of God being revealed to me through family.
As I reflect and as I look ahead, the family that Samuel and I have, and are building together, is far more beautiful because God’s ability to redeem, restore, heal and breathe life on what the enemy did to tear my family apart through addiction, foster care, and so much disconnection, hurt and darkness. Heyyy, but the sweet truth is God’s light shines the brightest in the darkness, and this family is uniting in love to plunder the pits of hell, and see broken families restored and embraced into God’s family. I’m almost 8 years sober, I get to join the 3% of foster kids who graduate college with a bachelors degree, I’m getting married and going to start a beautiful, healthy, God-loving family, and my life is a miracle because of the love of family.
This past Saturday I was given another opportunity be share at an event for Safe Families, and my heart just burns with passion to see what God is doing through His church to restore families. Foster care doesn’t have to be painful, but can be beautiful and restorative, inviting hurting families into God’s family. My mom, my brother and I have found the love of family in all of God’s people who banned together to love us through our painful times. They say it takes a village. This is my beautiful tribe, and this is only the beginning. ♥️
God’s design for marriage is so purposeful and beautiful. I may be young, but choosing to get married to Samuel, although can feel scary in moments of fear, is really the most deeply comforting gift I’ve ever been given. He looked at me the other day and said, “beloved, I am so grateful I get to be your forever home.” ♥️
I grew up shifting in and out of foster care, feeling the sting of broken relationships and families divided. My own family, and the families of every foster child I rubbed shoulders with. Such deep pain that marks our hearts. If you’ve felt it, you may even feel it now •Marriage is a beautiful gift of intimacy created and purposed to last a lifetime, providing unshakable security and enduring, life-giving love. A forever home. 🏡♥️
Family is suppose to be forever. I can feel the sting of pain that comes from broken families and relationships cut short. After coming to know Jesus, Samuel and I both decided we were going to wait to give the gift of our bodies to anyone but our future husband and future wife. I didn’t know the treasure I was until I realized the high price that was paid for me on the cross. My heart was flooded with hope for my future, and my future family. God designed sex as a beautiful gift that creates this life-long bond, and I am realizing more and more that the precious gift that sex is has been completely devalued down to temporary pleasure.
Samuel and I decided when we first began dating that, even if we had not in the past, we wanted to save the gift of sex for our wedding night. It has been a fight, and temporary pleasure has seemed more accessible and desirable than the future joy of a life-long marriage, but we have stood our ground. For our marriage, for our children, and for the forever home we will have together.
This is a vulnerable post, but I felt it was a really important one. Temporary sexual pleasure, can lead to the deepest pain God never wanted us to endure. His heart grieves when we experience the end of such an intimate relationship. He’s a good father who wants to protect his children and see us experience the fullness of joy that is gifted to us in marriage. A forever home-It’s worth the wait!
What a day, what a dream! ⛅️ Shout out to my Shorecliffs family and shout out to my Jesus for making today so epic! 🎉 The hope that filled the room today was inexpressible and tangible. My love for these students and this campus is overwhelming. Getting to encourage + share my story with these beautiful girls reminds me why I’m alive and why I made it through all I have. I told them today, but I am so proud of them for choosing to overcome their pain and pursue purpose and joy. Their stories would really inspire you. 🌱
When I began sharing on this campus I told these students I’d keep them updated on my journey through a blog + videos or something, and I’ve been far from faithful, but I can’t help but keep my word for these beauties. ♥️
Middle school was the most painful season of my life, losing my step dad to cancer, turning to drugs and broken relationships for comfort, losing my best friend to suicide and watching my mom and life fall apart due to addiction // I journeyed down my own path of addiction and hopelessness until, at the last moment, I encountered a love that resurrected every bit of hope within me, breathing life and purpose into my life. // Getting to share my experiences and life with these students is a dream. When I sat in those seats all those years ago I didn’t even have hope to live past 18 years old. I actually hoped I wouldn’t. Ohhhh what God has done since then! — I live for moments like today, and I am just so proud + thankful to see these girls fight against hopelessness, choosing joy + purpose. 🙌🏼
With all that's going on in our world right now -- hurricanes, fires, riots, threats of war..such despair and fear -- so many people are hurting. The temptation is to give into fear while our faith is shaken by circumstances. I REFUSE to let the turmoil of it all shake my faith and cause me to question the goodness of God.
I encourage you to stand your ground. Don't listen to and get consumed by the unending reports sowing seeds of hopelessness, but look back at the faithfulness of God and remember His track record.
He has never failed me once. Everything the enemy has intended for HARM, God is in the business of recycling for good. He's so faithful and good, you guys.
This isn't about religion, this is about knowing who to trust and where to turn when times are tough, and today I'm fixing my gaze on the goodness of God. Love Himself, revealed in the person of Jesus. Allow yourself to silence all the fear, put your phone away for a few hours, or even a few days, and seek God's heart in the midst of all of this. Pray. Open your heart to Him. He wants to use our prayers and acts of love to advance HIS Kingdom..to be the light of hope in the face of such hopelessness and fear.
He is the answer, friends. The simplicity of the gospel is where my hope is anchored, even in the midst of the most violent and hope-shaking circumstance. My peace is tied to God's unchanging goodness.
I pray that your heart is filled with great hope in this moment, and an urgency to set aside all distractions fueling fear, and instead get anchored in your faith.
7 years today!! 🙈🎉
Seven years sober.
Seven years free.
Seven years surrendered.
Some people think I'm so strong and in such control of my life. My goodness, that is not the case. A beautiful and fiesty woman told me when I was 15, broken, hopeless and on drugs.. "baby, you'll be in and out of NA meetings your whole life if you don't just surrender your whole life to Jesus."
Full surrender. The Bible calls it a few things.. being "born-again" "dying to yourself" -- it was a point of full surrender. A child-like, simple trust I settled into. I've just leaned into His love time and time again. No relapses, no urges to go back. I died. That life is just a story of hope to share of now, because all I am is because of the cross.
The God of the universe stepping off of His throne in Heaven to come to earth and destroy the works of the enemy.. to fight to the death to save me. To save you. He promised He'd always be with us.. and His spirit came in love and power.
The spirit of God is the reason I am alive today. Dead to my sin and alive in Christ. My goodness, the answer isn't programs or success, it isn't fulfillment in relationships or anything tangible. It's the hope I have in the One who died to save me. The One who has never left me.
August 10, 2010 was a day I stood face to face with the love of Jesus, died to all I once knew, all to embrace the unknown adventure ahead, of being LOVED, healed and pursued by God. To discover the depths of His love for me, and You.
In His word.
In His promises.
In His presence.
We were all created to worship something. Fixing our full attention on, pouring out our full affections towards that thing. I started with drugs. Empty relationship. All my attention and affection fixed on those things and people. Leaving me more and more empty. I didn't know that there was so much more.
Since choosing to set my affections upon God for His goodness, I got free. because he's GOOD and worthy of our affection.. the fullness of God was revealed in Jesus. Want to know His heart? Look at jesus. What to know His love toward you? My goodness, look at the life of jesus.
I started to look at this Jesus August 10, 2010. I started to receiving healing from all the trauma and pain. The enemy is the one who caused it. The enemy comes to kill steal and destroy, but Jesus came to give us LIFE and the most abundant, beautiful life we could possibly imagine. I am in need of nothing but His love. I'm not in need of you to like me. I'm not in need of success. I'm not in need of being seen or known by you or anyone, because I am fully fulfilled and at peace in His love for me. This unshakable peace is the sweetest gift no one can take from me.
His love unconditional, unwavering and unchanging, is the gift. It's so flippin simple and beautiful. Not complicated. You've actually got to stop overthinking it all, and become like a sweet, surrendered child to receive it. It doesn't make sense. It's that extravagant. It's what set me free. Once you taste of His goodness you won't want to go back.. everyone began to turn away from jesus when what he said was offensive.. but the disciples KNEW Him. They KNEW His goodness and character. He asked, "Do you want to leave me as well?" And their response? "Lord to whom shall we go? YOU have the words that give eternal life" -- that's my question, Jesus, where the heck would I go?! Haha when tough times hit, that's what I think. My goodness, looking back at my old life, going back to drugs and empty relationships to satisfy me would be like going and drinking from the gutter when I have access a fountain of life.
7 years ago I died. and every moment in His presence, sharing His love and goodness is what I was born to experience and do. Thanks for celebrating 7 years of freedom with me, friends! 🎈🎉 freedoms never felt so good!
There is no place I'd rather be.
Sitting in this cabin tonight, I am overtaken by the presence and love of God. There is nothing more comforting and safe than truly encountering and knowing the Fathers heart.
I am in cabin 12, with the most precious 9-year-old-foster-girls. Each night when the lights go off, I pull out my guitar, worship with them and share bits of my story, and their hearts open more and more to the Love of Father God. The father's in their lives have either been completely absent or very unsafe. The word "dad" or "father" leaves them either close to tears or instantly upset.
Tonight I sat on the concrete floor in this little cabin and sang of the Father's love. I shared of the Father's love in my life, and their hearts opened up like flowers in the sunshine. Questions started sprouting up, wondering about the kindness and love I was sharing .. they seemed captivated by the thought of a good Father, that will never change His mind about them. They were amazed to hear of my faith and God's hand in every season of my life, through every home and in every moment, good or difficult. Last night precious Faith wept uncontrollably in my arms saying, "I want to know God so bad helen. So so much. I want to know Him, not just know His name, but know HIM." She asked me so many questions - the simple ones and the really tough ones, and I just sat patiently with her, sharing of the kindness of Father God. The gates of her heart swung wide open, inviting this Jesus in without fear or hesitation. Her child-like, pure-hearted hunger for God left me completely undone.
Tonight as I sit on my sleeping bag, I am equally as undone and in awe. I did the same tonight, pulling out my guitar and singing over these sweet girls. Answering their questions and sharing as I felt led -- tonight led into my story again - my brother, my mom, my foster families.. their hearts were so thirsty for a story of hope that paralleled theirs. God so sweetly walked into the room, the presence of Love Himself was so tangible, and as I closed in prayer, I heard little sniffles starting to form from sweet Brianna's bed. I stood on a chair, scooped her up in a hug, and heard the Lord direct me, "she just needs you to love her, beloved. Her heart needs my love." I held her as she wept. I played the "After All These Years" album by Brian and Jenn Johnson, filling the room with the kindness of the Father. Brianna's heart opened up and so sweetly began to trust God. I held her and held her, until the Lord released me to begin speaking life over her. Hope to her future. She so sweetly smiled and called upon the name above every name, with her hand on her heart, whispering "thank you jesus" feeling more safe and secure than she has ever in her life.
I sit here, completely undone by these little stories, and the privilege I have in translating the Father's love to them. I'm listening to "For the One" by Brian and Jenn, with tears of joy welling up. Can you believe the kindness of the Father? To save me, heal me, build me up and TRUST me with these little hearts?
There is no place in the world I'd rather be. My heart is so full.
This camp. These people. These children.
This marks my 5th year of serving with this beautiful body of believers and lovers at Royal Family Kids Camp. Every year seems to pass so quickly, either with passion and purpose, or sometmes failures and come-backs, but each summer at this sweet little Ranch near San Diego, I gather with the most beautiful and faithful group of people, eager and willing to partner with God in leaving a lasting and life-changing mark on these foster children's lives.
Foster care. Gosh, each story is so different, but with each you are guaranteed to hear of events, traumas, tragedies and unthinkable pain for lives that are far too young to experience it let alone comprehend it. These children have forever changed my life. Looking into their hope-filled little eyes every year at camp sometimes feels like looking in a mirror. My story so painfully, yet sweetly parallels so many of theirs, and just reminds me of the absolute kindness and love of the Father.
This year I was invited and assigned to lead worship as well as run the painting area, and my heart couldn't be more full. The conversations these little hearts invite me into are constantly challenging me to be more vulnerable, hopeful and open -- I can't even begin to express in words the beauty of the mission at camp.
Royal Family Kids Camp.
These sweet little ones have been, in one way or another, hurt by and separated from their families. Family is the very source of pain and longing for in their lives -- The healing and breakthrough at this camp is so incredible because it's all about the Father's love.
God, our good, good father, has adopted us at the Cross -- and we all gather as His Royal Family, affirming these children of their worth and irreplaceable value. When I share the gospel with them, their eyes light up and they can hardly contain their joy as they think about being adopted into God's Royal Family. Camp hasn't just challenged me to pour my life into the lives of kids who are growing up like I did, but it has affirmed my own value -- every year I leave camp so undone by the Father's love for ME. My moments here, holding and encouraging, singing with and painting with these children -- these moments are so drenched in the Father's love I can't help but stop and say, "do you feel that joy? do you feel that love?" The kids always laugh and say yes -- "that is the presence of God. The very presence of Love Himself that we have access to any moment we call upon Him" -- their faith and hunger for His love calls me into such a child-like place of gratitude for Him.
And it's only Monday!
The stories are starting to come out and open up, the walls are crashing down and God's love and joy is invading every hurting cavern of each little heart -- rebuilding their confidence and giving them permission to dream. To laugh. To have fun and be care-free. It's the most beautiful thing to watch.
and the fishing, tea parties, beauty salon appointments, painted masterpieces and archery competitions have just begun.
The Father's love is invading all the dark and broken places in all of us -- here is a quick glimpse into the beauty of my view this week.
Such sweet updates and testimonies to come 😊💚
This past season of my life has been filled with the highest highs 🏔 and the lowest lows of my journey to date. The depths of love and loss I've experienced have forever changed who I am, given me courage to surrender and grace to keep going when all I've ever dreamed of & expected is nothing I needed or am called to.
Vulnerability has changed me.
Opening the ugliest and most broken parts of my heart to people I don't trust and a God I thought I had already put my trust in, but didn't, has left me completely undone and unraveled at His feet, unsure of how to pick up the pieces of what seemed to be left of me. And at that place of complete brokenness and surrender, I hear, "relax beloved, you have arrived"
"I have ARRIVED? I'm a hot MESS?!" The sweetness of His presence seemed to laugh with me and restore all that was lost and broken, in a moment.
I have no other answers for you but His presence. The presence of Love Himself -- Love in the flesh came and gave it all so we could have access to an ocean of healing and the purest, safest love we were born to long for.
Goodness friend, I'm still undone by it all, but I seem to be understanding more and more it all just trails back to the sweetness and safety of His presence. The secret place.
This is me inviting you into my process, and the reality of it is far from beautiful and filtered like the insta pictures you are scrolling past. It's much more messy than anyone's blog posts will tell you, but if you can hold onto hope at your most painful moment, you'll find it was right at the intersection of your greatest breakthrough. And the answer is just His presence.
Sometimes when in the present moment, going through the day-to-day motions of getting needs met and being faithful in the little things, it can do your heart some good to reflect upon some epic past times and celebrate God’s goodness.
I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. Psalm 143:5
While 2013 & 2014 aren’t exactly “the days of old” but when Facebook reminded me what was going on “on this day” years past, my heart was encouraged and built up by the sweetness of the memories that popped up.
2013 was a year of great difficulty and great victories. My freshman year of high school (2009, 2010) I was high as a kite and struggling to make it through my days. My best friend had just committed suicide and I had no vision or hope for my future. The only reason I was at school was to keep the truancy officers away from my house, but even then I stopped caring. My grade point average was a strong 0.50 and the only thing keeping me alive was getting high.
The summer after my freshman year was when Jesus stepped onto the seen through a beautiful, powerful and fiesty woman named Crystal. The story can definitely fall in the category of “epic past times” and people get a kick out of it. Its on my youtube but long story short, she introduced me to Jesus and my world turned upside down. Hope invaded all the hopeless caverns of my heart and awareness of my value and purpose came to life — so many factors God orchestrated played into this, but when I returned for my sophomore year I was no longer dealing drugs and ditching class, but sharing about the kindness of Jesus to all my pot-head friends — my grade point average shifted to a 3.6 and kept climbing all the way to my senior year.
The pictures that popped up for “on this day in 2013” were from prom! I denied my prom proposals to go with the special needs students, who ultimately became such good friends to me as I discovered their hilarious, pure personalities and boundless love. Also, a picture of my high school best friend, Brittany Hitt, popped up and my heart was just flooded with joy. Her face takes me back to so many hilarious memories in high school and I was instantly overcome with gratitude for her and all the Lord had done to transform and mark my life with redemption after I gave my life to Him.
Those 2014 shots popped up, thanks to Facebook, and on April 29, 2014 I was celebrating my trip to Guatemala. That was a trip that marked a radical turning point in my walk with the Lord. Although I went to Uganda in 2013 — my trip to Guatemala in 2014 was one where I was called to step up into leadership and was activated in so much of who God has called me to be. I was captivated by the lives of the missionaries in Guatemala, especially those living amongst the “treasures” at the dump in Guatemala City @ Potters House. The message they sent to the poor living amongst the trash was, “You are not trash, you are God’s rare treasure” and it actually brought me to tears as if I had heard the gospel and my value for the first time.
I dreamed of returning to Guatemala, fluent in Spanish and equipped to teach young street girls of their value and God’s unending love for them. It was a message I had been transformed by and little did I know, would still be getting transformed by to this day.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his joy, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Matthew 13:44
“Beloved, for the JOY set before me, I endured the cross. You are that joy, you are that treasure.”
There is nothing quite like the voice of the Lord speaking straight to your heart. I was in a coffee shop in Redding CA this past January, and the Lord dropped that love bomb on me. I began to weep without knowing the depth of healing taking place.
I thought, “Jesus.. aren’t YOU that treasure I am to give everything up for to get?”
“There is no striving in my love. You are an irreplaceable, priceless treasure I gave everything up for. I love you.”
* drop the mic *
God marked my heart with value and released me from striving to earn or buy His love. The gospel just blows my mind. Looking back at all the Lord has done gives me such great hope and expectancy as I look ahead in wonder, because I just know that in Him, the best is yet to come.
(fun throwback pictures below)
If you are my Facebook friend, the whole senior year album is just a blast - I invite you to stalk me for more fun pictures haha
God is so sweet, guys. He confirms time and time again the call on our lives and desires of our hearts when we least expect it. Affirming His love for us with every little moment like these.
I didn't expect to be spending so much time with little children in this season, but I'm not complaining! 💛 I teach preschool on weekday mornings and now work with bethel church teaching Sunday school to the "fireflies" and "dragonflies" (Pre-k and kinders) on Sundays!
This morning I was able to teach 3 different groups of 6 kiddos, share the gospel with them, and see almost every little hands eager rise to give their lives to jesus and invite him to make their hearts his home! Below is a quick audio recording of the sweetness of the moment to anyone needing some simple inspiration on sharing the gospel with little ones.
The sweetest moment from today for me was when we all went out on the playground to run wild and a little guy (i had never met) came up to me for a hug and just says, "do you know I have a foster brother?"
My heart sank and the Holy Spirit nudged me with confirmation and affirmation in that moment. I smiled, came down to his level, and shared with this sweet little guy that I too had been in foster care and have had many foster brothers and sisters. His eyes lit up with joy and relief that someone understood his little story and struggles. I was overcome with the father's love for him and began to shared the gospel with him. So excited and soaked up every word and hugged me with such relief and excitement. The moment was unlike any moment I've had in months, and it flooded me with such assurance that God knows better than I do what I was created to do and who I was created love. It was just the sweetest gift from the Lord, friends. I had to share it with you.
I encourage you to believe with radical, reckless faith, that God is good and delights in divinely orchestrating defining moments, great or small, to give us glimpses of his unending love for us and absolute sovereignty in His plans and purposes for our lives. We each have a unique call and irreplaceable spot in the Father's heart and plan on this earth. Wherever we find ourselves, we are invited to partner with God to share the good news of His love in our tiny or great spheres of influence.
Thank you, God, for the sweet moments you set up just to bless us, reveal your love for us and unravel your destiny for our lives before our eyes. You are absolutely amazing, King Jesus.
This morning I am reading my bible waiting for the two little ladies I've been watching for 4 months, wake up. Decided to stop real quick to update you all ❤️ These two little munchkins are the most joyful and pure-hearted 2 1/2 year olds I've encountered. They are in the foster care system and it has been my honor and joy to walk alongside the foster family as they navigate the beauty and pains of fostering children. And I've been most impacted by my mornings with the girls. From my first morning with them to, today, my last, the amount of healing and healthy emotional development I've witnessed, has given me a renewed faith in the power of simply loving. These beautiful foster parents have loved these little girls so well, and I have been able to join in the love fest and saturate the last 4 months of their little lives with simple child-hood joys! Blowing bubbles, dance parties, singing bible songs, long adventures picking flowers, rolling on the floor laughing at the silliest things, watching them learn to ride a tricycle, and introducing them to the joys of Veggie Tales!
It has been the most beautiful chapter and my heart is both sad and celebrating as God turns the page! These little lovelies will be reunited with their mom early next week. Send up some fervent and love-filled prayers for:
- the transition for these precious little ladies
- Their birth mom to be surrounded by a loving community that can equip her and help her rebuild a healthy and stable life for her girls
- Their foster parents. These two have poured and poured and poured so sacrificially and this reunification with their mom has come much earlier than anticipated.
- My heart. I have just grow to love these precious little girls. They have represented a generation of little-ones shifting through the foster care system, and have only stirred within me a burning desire to do all I can to love, impact and inspire more little lives.
But there is such beauty in serving a God who has all my chapters written beautifully before I can dream them up. He has given me such a sweet glimpse into the next season of my journey! Woohoo!
While staying home sick from school yesterday, I was sharing my heart with the Lord, asking Him what He could have in store for me when it comes to work in this next season. My Lord knows how I have always liked my work to be meaningful and in alignment with my calling and passion for impacting children (that's why this job was such a sweet and intentional gift from Him) -- a few hours later after sending up some heart prayers to my King, I check my email and see a woman from the local YMCA I've been teaching a class at, emailed me to offer me a job! Cmonnn jesus! 😅🙌🏼🎉
Heres the story -- I was contacted by a woman who works ta the YMCA oner Facebook! She saw that I had ECE units, a teaching permit and my degree and asked me to considering applying there as there is a need. This stirred my heart with excitement as the emphasis for my degree was after school care and recreation because of how I was impacted at the Y when I was young. I already had a love for the Shasta YMCA because I teach a leadership class there once a week. Before one of the classes I walked into a random office and ended up connecting with the very woman that found me on Facebook! It turns out she also goes to Bethel and our conversation ended up being so life-giving. A divine appointment for sure. I am saying all this BECAUSE somehow I shared my heart for foster children with her..then my story..and she said they have a foster kid camp every summer and have been needing staff that are familiar with and have a heart for foster kids. CMON JESUS?!
Lonnnng story short, after our conversation this woman spoke to her boss who then emailed me and asked me to come in with my resume to see where we can utilize my degree and experience.
-- heres the updated update -- When I went into meet this woman we instantly connected, shared stories and my application was filled out and being processed! BAM! There are multiple programs I will be able to work in and MANY young people I get to reach! Thank you King Jesus!! I also got a part time job working for two special needs teenagers (randomly through care.com) So not only is the Lord providing work, but opening doors for me to cultivate my hearts passions and be used to impact young lives. He is just too good, people.
☔️️ Puddle jumping with the two little ladies that keep my wonder and child-like faith alive. 🌱✨ I have SUCH a sweet and faith-building testimony to share with you.. these two little ladies that I watch are in the foster care system and get picked up every morning I am with them by Mr. Ted. They just love Mr. Ted. 🙈❤️ We weren't going to be able to see him for a few weeks because he needed major heart surgery. Last week I asked Mr. Ted if the girlies and I could pray for him, because he had heart surgery the next day and was very nervous. We wouldn't see him for weeks while he would be in recovery. We prayed and declared peace and healing over his heart..To my surprise and delight, Mr. Ted OPENED THE DOOR to pick up the little ladies THIS MORNING! We all did a happy dance when we saw him and he said "THE DOCTOR SAID I DIDN'T NEED HEART SURGERY ANYMORE! I couldn't believe my ears." Happy tears and happy dances filled our time together and our Lord Jesus was glorified. His love just wrecks me more and more everyday 💞 we can live unafraid and full of child-like faith 🙌🏼
Weaverville. This tiny little mountain town that's birthed some mighty heroes of the faith; reminds a little of Nazareth. John 1:45 "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" -- I am captivated by how God delights in small beginnings. He exalts the humble and those who are truly faithful in the little..those faithful in their small beginning are the ones entrusted with much.
It's hard to describe the feeling I had when visiting Weaverville today. Such a humble little town hidden away upon a mountain. The solitude and peace I tasted of in this little town gave me a greater understanding of the heart position the Lord desires us to be in. What good comes from Weaverville? Just like the God of the universe forever made a name for a little town called Nazareth, by sending the savior of the world to spend most of his life there..forever depositing a lasting legacy upon that city.. I felt that today in Weaverville. Such a sacred and humble peace. A reminder of how God deeply values small beginnings and seasons of preparation. Young David would have not been entrusted the epic mission of taking down Goliath before armies if God had not seen his faithfulness of taking down the lion and the bear when no one was watching. David faithfully served the Lord with excellence and a pure heart right where he was and He was the highlighted son of Jesse anointed to be King.. the youngest and most unlikely. It's about our faithfulness to the Lord, not despising, but treasuring our days of small beginnings; whether in Weaverville; Nazareth, quiet green pastures shepherding sheep, San Clemente, or wherever the Lord is starting out your story, we serve a God who deeply loves every moment of our journeys, and champions us to be fully present in the season of solitude and intimacy with him because these are the very moments of preparation we unknowingly sow into that God delightfully takes note of.
Redding CA. I am humbled and filled with vitality and great expectancy for the future, the more moments I spend here. This place is a city of healing. The miracles I am witnessing, lives being saved, healed and delivered. The stories of faithful and passionate worshippers..children of agod scattered across the nations, gathering in Redding as one family celebrating our joyful salvation and drinking deeply from the fountain of living water.. Revivalists being equipped and sent back out to transform their cities all over the nation and globe .. Redding? Who's ever heard of Redding? What good comes out of Redding? Well God duly noted the deep hunger and passionate pursuit of a handful of revivalists tucked away on a mountain and delighted in using them to shake the nations with revival. The rad thing about Bill Johnson.. Beni, Kris, Cathy, Danny, Eric .. these heros are just as baffled that God would use them to be forerunners of this revival sweeping across the nations. They were just hungry for more of God and were letting the world satisfy that deep craving for intimacy with God and seeing a His Kingdom come. This moves the heart of the Father.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" Matthew 5:6
"His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little, I will put you in charge of many things; share in the joy of your master." Matthew 25:23
The life stories of these powerful leaders in revival are just so simple and full of faithfulness to God along the jounrey. We have been chosen by our Lord Jesus to keep this thing going, he passed the baton to us.
"The reason the Son of God came was to destroy the works of the devil" 1 John 3:8
"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these" John 14:12
"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.." Zechariah 4:10
So mighty warrior in the faith, don't let anyone look down on you for any reason and do not despise the day of small beginnings.. be faithful to the Lord in your heart, hunger and thirst for more of Him and you can only imagine the mighty works He can do through your little, surrendered and available life. ❤️
Ladies, you are so worth being pursued. 💐💕
That deep desire in your heart to be given flowers..that's God-given and beautiful. Don't ever let that desire die. That hope you have to be known and treasured for all you are and all you aren't? There IS a man out there already praying for you and the day he'll meet you. Save yourself for the one who will pursue your heart with passion. Know that regardless of how you've been treated in the past, or even how you've messed up in the past, you are absolutely worth being chosen, loved and treated how you've dreamed since you were a little girl. Wait patiently for the one who will fight for you, and enjoy every moment of pursuing your passions in the mean time.
The good news is, even when that man walks into your life with a bouquet of flowers and all the right, affirming words -- he won't be the one to complete you. You were created for a deeper, eternal love. A love that has pursued you with passion to the point of stepping down off of His throne in heaven & dying for you, fighting the gates of hell to protect you, all to restore close relationship with you. He did it all to be with you. And He is the one who gives life to the flowers on a thousand hills--and delights in growing them for you 🌻 so even when Mr. Handsome comes into your life with the bouquet you've dreamed of, you can let it remind of you Jesus' passionate pursuit of your heart. Remember to always keep Him as your first love.
But rest assured, you are absolutely worth being pursued. Wait patiently for the man who will reflect Jesus' unconditional love for you. ❤️ and enjoy every moment of learning how to love yourself well and receive the healthy love you deserve. Only then can you love others well.
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?!
Today is day six of a completely new season and life for me in Redding, preparing for the school year at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. The weeks leading up to these moments have been filled with great transition, reflection and expectancy for the future. The exciting and adventurous idea of leaving everything behind to pursue God here in Redding at Bethel, sounds a lot more glamorous than the actual reality, act and sum of sometimes painful steps and days of doing so. Getting moved in, connected with my roommates and establishing a new healthy life rhythm in Redding is coming more naturally each day, but it would be a shame to rush ahead into this next season while neglecting to reflect on this past season.
Here is the full post:
San Clemente, my sweet Jerusalem.