My Journal

An excerpt from my journal..


October 18, 2018

Today is Brenner and I’s fourth year anniversary! I love him so much. More and more every day. Last night I tossed and turned most of the night. I was so tired, but I couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing. We spoke to ****** yesterday and they were quite discouraging [in regards to our missionary decisions]. Doubt, fear, worry, and anxiety riddled me. Then I finally heard the Lord tell me that He is The Sea Splitter, that He makes a way where there was no way. I saw the sea before us part and the Lord surround us fully. Yesterday I also had a vision of Jesus lifting me up and putting me on His shoulders: Shepherd and lamb. I began a painting of the split sea today.

Exodus 14

The Lord leads them [the Israelites] to a dead end. Though this position may look foolish to peopleGod uses “the foolish things to confound the wise” [1 Corin. 1:27] and from there they [onlookers, enemies] will know that YAH is Lord. Those in bondage will attempt to keep us in bondage. But who the Son sets free is free INDEED [John 8:36]!

When the enemy [oppression] draws near, lift your eyes to YAH. Draw near to Him alone.

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.'” [Exodus 14:13-14]

God’s response to them [the Israelites’ fear]: GO FORWARD. You lift your rod and stretch out your hand to divide the sea before you. You have authority to act, and I will respond with my power.

The Angel of the Lord, Jesus, is before and behind us. We are hemmed in [Psalm 139:5-6]. 

Moses stretched out his hand by faith over the sea and God caused the water to part. He moves when we move.

The Lord fights for us.


I wrote that at daybreak yesterday morning. Later that same day I got into a car wreck that honestly could have been avoided had I been paying closer attention. I turned too sharply on to a road and side swiped another car. I was completely embarrassed by the mistake, but mostly I was convicted. Pay attention. That was more than just advice in the moment from a Father to His daughter’s flooded brain. The Lord wanted me to hear a deeper message in those words. He wants me to be more aware of my surroundings in the spiritual realm as well as the physical. I am constantly “driving” around life, if you will. Constantly making decisions, going here, going there. And the enemy would love nothing more than to distract me. Recently those distractions have looked like fear and worry, and sometimes even seemingly “holy” tasks. This is why aligning ourselves with God is so important. The enemy is looking for an empty house to enter. When we, instead, fill ourselves up with the fulness of God (Philippians 4), there is no room for the author of confusion to spin lies.

The Lord is faithful, and He is good. He reminds me where to look and what I am being called to. Despite the impossible tasks before me, He is able. I will not be afraid. One battle strategy being that I will prayerfully journal my way through this life. Not for God’s sake, but for my own fragile humanity. Because in my intense emotions, I can forget what He said. I can be distracted. But the Word of God never returns void. I am standing on His promises today. And pray that you will to. So suit up, fellow warrior. Let’s not be naive to the warfare going on around us, and let’s also not be afraid. Instead let us boldly chase the lion and conquer it. The victory is ours. And though we may physically feel cornered and surrounded by enemies, this is an illusion. The true reality is that the Great I AM is hemming us in. He is behind us and before us. We can boldly obey the Lord’s command, lifting our hand before the impossible with the authority of Christ, and He will split the sea. Go forward in faith. He is there.

My now

A face smudged with charcoal, and paint streaking the tips of my long blonde hair, that’s how you will find me these days. Who knew I’d become an artist in my twenties? Not me. As I uncovered painful and suppressed moments from my past, beauty was risen out of my ashes. Not a beauty that I could ever conjure up, but one only brought from the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Dying to myself, dying to the old me in ancient heart places I didn’t realize were still set on loop. Bitter roots repeating childhood and adolescent scenes in my soul over and over again, but my conscious mind had no idea. Here in the present I could only the see the surface reactions of these roots, like an anxiety attack from a too tight seat belt or a panicked hopelessness from a minor conflict. Jesus came in those bitter, cold places and did what He does best…He loved me there. So much came from that season of soul restoration, a passion for worshipping God through art was a big one. I spent my summer experimenting with different forms of art and so far have narrowed down to charcoal sketching and oil painting being my preferred avenues. They are both messy and beautiful, just like humans..just like me.

I loved the secret place I dwelled with the Lord this summer so much, that I honestly didn’t really want to leave. However, I felt Him calling me back out into the world to love His people and tell my story of what happened with Jesus and I during the summer. Now I am learning to stay in the secret place with God in my soul even while I walk through all kinds of life places- true rest for your soul. I saw this new season approaching filled with so much busyness, and I felt a bit intimidated. Still, the Lord was telling me to put one foot in front of the other, to keep going slowly. Two words, He said, “Say, ‘yes’.” So here we are. Instead of just being busy, I am being intentional with my time and keeping my head laying upon the Lord’s chest to hear every heart beat guiding me on.

This is the first week of my once daunting but now intentional new year, according to the Biblical calendar. Thus far it has exceeded all of my hopes and prayers and has been jam packed with amazing God encounters. Last month I started a create group with the help of my artist sister, Cate. A group for creators to simply come together in the presence of God and create all types of things from music in worship sessions, writing, journaling, painting, sketching, etc. Tuesday night was our second Elohim Create group and in preparation the Lord led to me to Matthew 14, specifically the section of Jesus walking on water. The Word of the night being ‘trust‘. From there I was led to a few writing prompts for us to journal during our worship session. One of the prompts was, “Some areas I need to put more trust in God…” The day before that group, I kind of thought I would write something like “with my family’s safety” or “providing finances for our future missional endeavors”, but no. In the moment as I was totally immersed in the presence of God with both friends and new group visitors, I wrote something that kind of shocked me. I use the word shock, because it seems like basic knowledge and yet for me it is so profound.

An area I need to put more trust in God in is my now. I finally trust God with my future, but I am realizing that I struggle submitting my present time to Him. Whether it’s checking my e-mail a thousand times a day looking for a response from several different opportunities my family is waiting on, or spending many minutes a day wondering what is to come and how we will get there. I’ve been feeling like we are in an in between place. In that moment, God showed me that I still need to surrender to Him in the process before completion. Surrender to the process. And suddenly, as I type that out, it is all made so clear. I’m not in an in between place. I’m in THE only place. The now. The secret place with God. Can I stay here? Can’t I just take Jesus’s hand and let the dead bury the dead (Luke 9:60)? The answer will always be ‘yes’, I need only choose it.

This revelation from the Lord was also confirmed through a new art project I have been working on. For my recent birthday, my husband gifted me a ton of art supplies. A large travel easel being one of them. I wanted to use it, and so, began my first large piece. Over the few months of my new art journey, each time I have excitedly attempted to create something for others that they would like, it has turned out badly. Not only have I quickly lost interest, but I just haven’t felt it. That sounds bad, but it’s real. What I have done instead is pray about what I’m going to do, and then let the idea fill me. Then it becomes me. Not a job or task for someone else, but a piece of me that I put onto canvas or paper. And of course from there, I can then gift the piece to others or keep it for my own pleasure. That being said, as I sat staring at my large blank canvas wondering what to paint, I saw an image of my son, Lazarus. Then scrolling through my many phone pictures, I found the one I was envisioning. I thought for such a large piece I should try sketching it out first. Once my kids went to bed I spent a good portion of the night sketching the portrait and after all that work I decided I hated the sketch. I prayed and chose to jump into painting it. Examining all of the new paintbrush sets on my desk (courtesy of my sweet husband), my eyes locked in on a small metal palette knife. Let the mess begin. For two days I worked on something that looked like a melted image of Laz, totally despising every little imprint of paint I pressed into the blob I was creating.

I love my son so much and know how handsome he is. The blob I was attempting simply did not look like him. So I prayed. A lot. And God kept saying just put one more tiny streak here, mix a darker color and add a small dot of it over there. He was putting knowledge in my unexperienced brain and literally guiding me step by step. Slowly, Lazarus began to come into view on the canvas.

I have spent this entire week working on the project. If you’re like me, having little knowledge about painting, then it may not sound that challenging..but take my word for it, creating detailed portrait with oil paint AND using only a small palette knife to paint it is seriously challenging! I have no clue what I’m doing, but God is taking me slowly through the process. This is exactly what He is showing me! I can only take little steps, He will help me along the way. All that I have is my today, and I must not lose it due to being lost in my far away promises. The promises stand, I must merely submit to the process of the now.


I am still not finished with my Lazarus project, but I wanted to share the unfinished journey with you!

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sixth night- still working on completion

Here’s where I am with this portrait now. It’s not where I’ll be forever and it isn’t the complete picture, but it’s my today. Just as my life, today, is my only now. Surrender to the process friends, the promise is worth the journey.

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be [b]perfect and complete, lacking nothing. ” (James 1:4 NKJV)

A Wretch Like Me

Failure.

That seems to be the most recent lie fighting to claim the forefront of my mind. Failure as a mom. Failure as a friend. Failure as a human. Failure as a follower of Christ. The standard I have for myself gradually creeps up so high, whether by my own expectations or by the words I have warped from the people around me. Despite the intentions of criticism and advice, it doesn’t always feel constructive. Especially when you are an overcoming shame puppet. I used to feed off my own mental self-destruction prior to surrendering to Jesus. Shortly after true salvation and marrying Brenner, I decided to read and then destroy all of my old journals from middle school to college. The common theme throughout each journal was hopelessness. Yet a small glimmer of the light of Christ still shined through the dark cracks. Back in those times in my life, depression and anxiety ate me alive. After a time I didn’t really want to leave that pit. It became comforting to never hope for anything, to never be let down. But see I was missing one small whisper, one massive truth..my hope was in the wrong things.

In the present, my flesh still constantly fights to place myself on the throne of my life. Though I wouldn’t say this at first glance, when I dig to the root of my shame and fear, the root of feeling hopeless or feeling like a failure is this: I can easily idolize myself and other people. Though I should have no other gods before the One True God, I can easily place other things before Him and sugar coat the sin by calling it a ‘prioritization issue’ . It’s a sin nonetheless, and confession and repentance are needed for real change.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)

Now I’m sure by now you’ve just had several sharp intakes of breath and you’re either relating one hundred percent or your trying not to judge me. That’s okay, I’m just sharing my heart and it is a broken thing. But it’s being made whole by the God who rebuilds the ancient ruins (Isaiah 61:4). He is creating in me a pure heart. I started praying that consistently over myself  two years ago. In the beginning it sounded sweet, it sounded like I would feel pure and righteous as God was doing it, pink skies and fluffy white clouds. I’m sure there was an angel baby floating somewhere playing a harp in that imagination.  But as He has truly began to shine truth and love into my innermost being, I have never felt more dirty. I have never felt more small than as the sheer weight of the glory of God has entered into my hovel of a soul. Not because God’s judgement has pierced me and minimized me due to my sin. No quite the contrary, I recognize my own faultiness, my own finite humanity because it is only in these broken weaknesses that I am seeing the depths of God’s love for me and the extreme heights of His strength. He is creating in me a pure heart. With every speck of dirt removed He is telling me I am loved, that I am worthy of this love. He is reaching the deepest, lonely glaciers of my soul. I see the speck in my own eye, first. This is helping me to love God, myself, my family, my friends, strangers, and my enemies more genuinely. Love is coming out of the destruction, a temple for the living God is being made out of the ancient ruins. Again, I will confess that my mundane mind can not make sense of it. Still His grace is sufficient for even that. Jesus tells me that I’m not a failure, that He has chosen me (Ephesians 1). That He has made me righteous. (Romans 3:22) I can’t be both a failure and also righteous. I chose Jesus.

Every time I let God in a little deeper, every time I release clenched fists over all He’s given me to gain a posture of open palms, every time I surrender myself to His plan, every time I say yes to Him, I am transformed. The journey can feel like a back and forth emotional/physical/spiritual roller coaster. And it is when we look horizontally, as Paul said,

 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15 NIV)

Which is why a few lines down, Romans 8, tells us there is no condemnation for those of us who live in Christ! We must keep our eyes fixed on the vertical, on Jesus. We are dying to our flesh and living by the spirit. That is what this roller coaster is. And God doesn’t just throw us to the wolves, He chips away the dirt and grime over time. He takes away the shame of our sins completely. Like the white shirt I wore in hopes of my toddlers staying tidy, but they’re kids and tidy just isn’t happening realistically yet. Lazarus came up from behind me, jumped up and “Hulk squished” me. That white shirt was soon marred with whatever substance was on his hands. God tells us that even then, He makes us white as snow.

I am becoming more like Jesus. I am learning to trust Him, to love..truly love. He is faithful to complete the good work He has begun. So now I face the chaos with hope, I tell the wind to “Be still.” And when I don’t have the strength to sing the words, when praise takes everything in me to conjure up a note, still there He hears my silent rock of a heart’s cry and He responds with a melody that He sings over me. He is love. He is better than we know, His love, deeper than we realize. It feels intense, because it is.

Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
but now I’m found
was blind
but now I see.

Thank you, Lord, for Your love. It is enough. You are enough. Be my compass today, Be my peace. You are Jehovah Shalom (The Lord my Peace). Make me whole with, Your shalom peace. I pray this in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.


This song “P E A C E” covered by Amanda Cook has been renewing my mind daily over the past week. Check it out!