Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Losing your life to save it //

Affairs. Divorce. Despitefully used. Free will. Forgiveness. No record of wrongs. Freedom through death.
My parents have a past. They did before they were married. They joined their lives and became one flesh agreeing that no man could separate what God had put together. Together they worked and moved, raised four kids and dreamed big dreams. They loved each other. They loved us kids. They loved Jesus. 
Wounds from my Mom’s past weren’t let go of. Lust was fostered by my Dad. He chose infidelity. His justifications for this choice aren’t impressive. He had a couple affairs, wronging all of us, himself, and the other women and their families. He grieved Holy Spirit. 
I had noticed crazy tension between my parents and, having always been close with my Dad, I asked what was going on. He didn’t tell me the truth. I asked my Mom and wouldn’t let her blow me off. I was shocked by the news she shared. Shocked, betrayed, hurt, heart-broken, but my first response was, “Have you forgiven him?” I knew that freedom was precious and for all our hearts to be freed and heal we needed to forgive immediately and completely — to set my Dad free. He had admitted he knew his actions were selfish. He told me he never considered how it would affect us kids. Sin is blindly destructive like that.
The second time around I was far more shocked, believe it or not, and far more heart-broken. It ripped our family apart. It tore another family apart. Many wrongs were suffered. Dad carried himself like nothing had happened and all was as it had been. Destroying your own life and being destructive to the ones you love the most isn’t easy to face. Impossible even.
For months my parents went through the messy, rotten process of divorce. I believed for miraculous reconciliation. I fasted and prayed hoping to see breakthrough and deep repentance from my Dad. I spoke a lot of life and refused to agree with the anger and hurt my mom’s heart expressed. Unfortunately they finalized the divorce days before Luke and my wedding. Id been confused about how to interact with my Dad so I had avoided him. I wanted to walk uprightly but I didn’t really know how to do this thing called: “bless those who curse you, pray for those who despitefully use you.” Having him walk me down the aisle was a redemptive symbol of reconciliation through wonderful grace. 

Let me teach you what Ive learned, and am learning, about how it is done. 
- “Let everything be done in love.” I remember telling a friend that I knew I needed to continue to love my dad but I was finding it hard to because of how “unloveable” he was being. She corrected me with the wonderful truth that no one is unloveable no matter what they do. Even murderers and adulterers and abusers and liars are SO loved by God that He gave Jesus in order to free and cleanse and restore them to Himself because He deeply longs for them to be near Him. If He loves them, they can’t be unloveable. I had loved people who had done terrible things before. The fact that it was my Dad didn’t exclude him from such a grace.
- “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” I recently heard Kris Vallaton say that when you forgive someone you forfeit all right to hold or use that wrong against the person ever again. In fact it wipes the slate completely clean so that you may only operate toward them as though they never even did whatever it was that was wrong. Love doesn’t ever say, “Shame on you!” it only takes shame off of each other.
- “Whoever loses his life will save it.” Anger or fear are forms of self-protection… Being wronged and feeling owed a righting of those wrongs… The entitlement of bitterness or self-pity… Talking about my Dad shamefully instead of honorably… None of these are right, praise worthy, or acceptable. They’re all about trying to save your own life and they all lead, instead, to losing it. You do yourself, the Body, and unbelievers a great disservice by spending any time that way. The greatest realization of my life, daily, is Christ crucified. It frees me from me. The Bible says my real life is hidden with God in Christ Jesus. By believing in Jesus I reconcile myself dead in Christ’s death 2,000 years ago at Calvary. The most freeing truth is that Im not my own, the life I now live I live as dead and alive again in Christ alone. Being free from me means I am free from trying to save my life, self-protect or preserve it, and fight against flesh and blood whenever a wrong is done to me. Im freed from being compelled to deal out the justice of punishment (the glory of the Law) and instead get to deal out the justice of mercy, of living at peace with everyone, and of ministering reconciliation/wholeness (the glory of the Gospel) to others. I dont need God to fight my cause, He already defended me completely by giving me the new life of living laid down — free from me. I don’t need my Dad to be a good Dad or for him to be a good Husband to my Mom in order for me to love and honor him, because my well being and worth is not determined by his life lived, but only by Jesus’ sufficiency.

How to interact with my Dad has been made very free and clear by the glorious, scandalous Good News. How to interact with his girlfriend, another man’s wife, doesn’t need to be any less clear. All I know is Jesus, and what He sees when he looks at her is a daughter He’s longing to have reconciled to Himself through the freeing power of faith — for her to receive death to herself and life in Him, to be freed from all sin and brought close to Him by His blood. In His presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. My Dad and her may not realize it but thats the satisfaction their souls are grasping for. They didn’t find it in their spouses and they won’t find it in each other. They can’t find it in their kids or incomes or possessions. They were made to be one with Jesus and as long as they are living separated from Him they’ll be lost. I get to present the key to their freedom, cleansing, reconciliation, and satisfaction with my life lived. That is my only right in all interactions with them — ’til Kingdom come. I love my parents.

Truly ALL things can be done through Christ whose strength is really shown perfect through our weak spots.

credit: Ryan Lucas

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Following the Servant Leader //

PLOT TWIST: As of one week ago, Luke and I are moving to Minneapolis, MN instead of Brooklyn, NY.
Remember, we havent known much, only that we had to move and that Jesus had that covered. He likes to co-create with us and the fact that we have dreams of living in California and New York someday is as much Him dreaming with us as it is us dreaming with Him. We had enough peace with Brooklyn as our heading to really go for it. We got a lot of detail-rich vision for what lifestyle would look like for us in the coming season and new city. There was also a lot of double and triple checking with each other that this was really what we had peace about doing -- because neither of us had a resounding peace yet. We looked for two-bedroom apartments believing God could make a way for us to afford that (it fit with the vision He had revealed to us). Nothing seemed quite right though. Not that nothing fit our taste or was "too ______" for us, we just had no peace about any place. In fact we didnt have peace about looking for or finding a place out there. Basically Daddy God reminded us not to think that we knew how long we'd be there for and that a lease, even a month-long sublet, may not be His plan. All along we'd been becoming less and less clear on what New York would look like, counting the cost of really going anyway, and welcoming God to totally blow up any plan we thought we had to do what He wanted to do.

Meanwhile we've been learning how to pray. Luke says, "Dont pray a prayer unless youre willing to be the answer to it." The same heart, different words, is: Pray the wild prayers, and be willing to become the answer to them. We've seen the purpose on our friend Blake's life. The man is anointed for business, along with a number of other beautiful and brilliant things. Luke and I have prayed multiple times over and for him regarding an endeavor of his with kombucha. We've been cheerleading for him in it -- but thats just a reflection of Daddy God's advocacy of it. You may see where this is going. (Its not about being able or not able to see it coming, its about walking in perfect peace and perfect timing -- then you know what you need to know when you need to know it.)

credit: Fresh Vision Freelance

Monday morning, 3:30am, Luke and I were on the road. We had a four hour drive and during it Luke began to vision cast something coming to the surface of his heart regarding Minneapolis. This wasnt random. About a week into our heading with Brooklyn I, out of "nowhere" (read: Heaven's divine mysteries revealed), thought of Minneapolis and remember asking Luke, "Could you see us living there?" Sure he could. He had lived there before. His incredible community there had become mine as well. The partnerships and fellowship and discipleship are unparalleled. He didnt push it forward though, he left it sitting with me. In my heart's eye I could see that it would either be New York or Minneapolis. I was open to it. However we already had a heading we were going with and it wasnt being shut down so I had more peace about seeing that through to whatever point Daddy God had. Long story short, we did. And here we are: long car ride, Luke's vision, the seed of Minneapolis instead of NYC planted in me weeks before. Luke and I had a lot of alone time that day, after the drive, and while I was by myself I got a sweet download from Daddy God in my spirit. Bit by bit He wove together all the vision He'd given for our upcoming season with the momentum He had established for us in the Twin Cities. I told Luke about it. He was absolutely in. There was much to it but what I opened with was, "I think we're to be the answer to our prayers for helping hands for Blake." You know, if Holy Spirit wanted to head us toward New York, revealing a depth of surrender and humility and faithfulness in us previously untapped, just so that He could lead us to the hilarious generosity of literally dropping all of that on a dime in order that we might go and lay our lives down for our brother, championing him with Heaven in the fullest way possible -- yay, God!

credit: Ryan Lucas

As the vision manifests and pieces divinely fall into place in the coming weeks it will be shared. What God is doing is always praise-worthy and glorious and edifies the Body. He is a master of details, an amazingly good Father, and whimsically inclined Author. Right now we're all about: Christ alone, enjoying the journey -- of telling a story or starting a business or remodeling a building or being unified in marriage or growing a baby, and deep unity (see John 14-16).

this is just the beginning.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

He is calling >>

This generation in the Body is growing in prophetic maturity. Im part of the generation. Yay!
Daddy God delights to give. Its how He is. Spiritual gifts are meant to be desired by us because He wants to give them to His kids. As obvious as it is in the title we can always stand to be reminded that gifts arent earned theyre just received. We arent entitled to them, or by them. Inheritance goes to the ones who bear the title of kin. By our born-again nature we have been titled His own flesh and are therefore the heirs of all that is His. We have received, not earned that. Gifts are for receiving, they are also for stewarding well.
So, yes. Maturing in the gift of the prophetic. Very biblical. Thank you, Jesus. Moving on.

God speaks things to me through dreams, pictures, words, and visions. Ive been learning for years to be responsible with these, to communicate them accurately, and to interpret them properly. Its been a journey. It continues to be.
A few visions I received and relayed to Luke over the past few weeks were just confirmed and interpreted through becoming tangible and real yesterday. It was really encouraging. The way that experience fed my faith and intimacy with the Lord was unexplainable. Ive been after nearness. Daddy God had given me an agenda in the month of December and it became the word over the whole year of 2016. He said, "BE WITH Me."
At the start of the year Luke and I began to talk. In the blessed unfolding we thereafter fell in love, planned our wedding, he put a ring on my finger, we got married and became one flesh. That was three wonderfully intense months of intimacy, unity, and closeness. Now we are quickly approaching two-months-in of being with each other nearly all day, every day, and learning a new level of nearness with another soul, part of which has been times of us going after God's presence together.
We're co-stewarding each other's gifts. Seeing vision fulfilled yesterday moved us deeply and knit us anew in hidden places. Last night as we went to bed I told Luke the only thing I wanted to hear as we fell asleep was Jesus, and Luke's breathing. We've watched a movie almost every night in bed and Luke had planned to do so last night as well but as soon as I said what I said, Luke scrapped that, grabbed his Bible, soaked in a passage and we turned off the lights. So simple, so powerful in unity. Momentum. Dont grieve Holy Spirit by brushing Him off in these little moments.

This morning I woke with fresh vision on something Holy Spirit had been whispering to my heart for some time and I just hadnt known how to properly speak out or discern. Im thankful for the job I have. Its amazing and its what I deeply enjoy doing. Luke is so ready for a season of working after a year of fully supported missions work and discipleship but because of the short remains of our time in this location he's only pursued odd jobs and temporary work. Its humbling to have our living expenses covered largely by my nannying job. Like my husband, I'm able-bodied and have a lot of ambition and drive. However, Ive felt a few times this month a longing to not be working a job. Remaining faithful at work and, now, my job coming swiftly to an end, Ive still been anticipating getting hired along with Luke in the coming season in our new city because that's logical when you have a lot of debt to pay off. Often times logic and calling dont line up though.
In past weeks a couple of girlfriends, all in different language, have expressed essentially the same thing: a desire not to be working right now. This morning this word was unlocked and I perceived that what is a physical manifestation in each of these four God-fearing and Holy Spirit-loving hearts is coming from a deeper spiritual shift in focus for the Bride, at large, right now.
The Bridegroom is calling His Beloved to come away with Him. To, like Martha and Mary, leave the kitchen behind in pursuit of the better thing that wont be taken from us: just sitting at the feet of the Rabbi (Master). Four hearts have caught it and while not every prophetic word begs a literal walking out, I believe that this one does and that, at least the four of us, if not many others in the Body around the world, will be that example and picture for the rest of the Church to catch this word: He just wants us to BE WITH Him.

My husband is amazing. He loves Jesus and is full of faith, willing to do anything, praying every day for Holy Spirit to possess us and blow up our experience. For however long it is meant to be, he is 100% behind me not having a job and pursuing intimacy alone with Christ. The other ladies I know have taken similar steps in faith even before sharing this word together. All of us have financial obligations or debts but Jesus is King and we arent slaves to fear. When He calls your name to leave your work and come away with Him, go. This is less about everyone in the Church quitting their jobs and more about going after unity and close fellowship with Holy Spirit whatever the cost, not waiting for tomorrow. Because look, we are all here on the earth for a purpose. We are. There is work to do and to be done. Thats a marvelous thing. An honorable thing to be involved with. We have "callings" and theyre legit. Its all about this though: reconciliation to intimacy with our Father, through the blood of His Son, for us and every other person.
He told us to "be fruitful and multiply", to "go and make disciples", but also, "apart from Me you can do nothing." Friends, without my husband I cannot conceive a child. I never became pregnant as a single, virgin woman. It wasnt possible. Without abiding in Christ, being one with Him, we will not bear fruit -- we arent able to apart from Him. So if fruit is the goal, the union must be the focus. But the radical thing is this: the union is the goal, and fruit is just the glorious, life-reproducing byproduct of it. When my husband asks me to come away with him to our bedroom I dont go because it could result in us conceiving a child, I go to BE WITH him (and yes, a child will be a beautiful, wonderful, blessed fruit of our intimacy). Church, Bride of Christ, hear His heart. He just wants you to come away with Him. Let Him wrap you in His love and fill you with Himself, whatever the cost.
“It is when you become immersed in the love of the Father that you truly begin to love like Jesus. He wants to immerse you. He wants to hold you. He wants to take you to a place where you are so far over your head in the river of God that miracles happen all around you. He wants to fill you entirely with His Holy Spirit.” 
― Heidi BakerBirthing the Miraculous: The Power of Personal Encounters with God to Change Your Life and the World

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Spyhouse in Minneapolis, MN //

Luke and I had planned to head straight to the shuttle and get back to Eau Claire this morning. We ended up sleeping in so late though, at our friend Blake's house, that he just brought us along to a meeting he had at Spyhouse coffee in Minneapolis. It turned into a Holy Spirit collaboration party with Luke, Blake, our friend Nate, and I. Wonderful and completely normal Christian life -- flowing with Holy Spirit, catching what Daddy is saying and receiving it. Luke bought a guy's drink and he ended up coming over to say thanks again. We all got to talking with him and he was majorly encouraged in the Lord. So good! To be sure there will be some powerful endeavors unfolding in the future with these guys. #thebestisyettocome #glorytoglory #JesusisKing

Monday, May 2, 2016

Cartel Coffee Lab in Scottsdale, AZ //

Out for a late evening stroll to find dinner we stopped into a sweet Mexican joint. They didnt have a table available right away so we walked around and stumbled upon this fabulous coffee shop called Cartel. It reminded me of Stone Creek Coffee Roasters in Milwaukee but the style was all its own. We liked it so much we ended up going back a couple times in our final days in Scottsdale. Like many others, it became our "personal" work place. #grateful

Original Chopshop in Scottsdale, AZ //

The Chopshop was not what we expected but it was exactly what I was in the mood for. Ive never been to a restaurant like it before but I suppose theyd be considered trendy right now. For fast, hand-assembled food, it was hearty and healthy. We got a protein bowl, superfruit bowl, fresh juice, and a protein smoothie. After a breakfast of pastries and coffee, my body was super happy to have so many fruits and veggies. It was hopping inside, lots of people coming and going. Airy and bright, inside and out -- we opted for in since the breeze was chilly that afternoon.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

BE coffee + food + stuff in Phoenix, AZ //

Luke and I had met a man working at a store in the mall who told us that there was one stretch of road in Phoenix where there were tons of great coffee shops and places to hang out. We went to check it out straight away. With a little Google search Luke found this place: BE coffee, food, stuff. We settled in there for hours. It was part coffee shop, part art gallery, part greenhouse, and part rentable office spaces. Unique and homey and very much our style.

While I was first scouting the place and taking photos, Luke was ordering recommended drinks and amazing menu items for us. He ended up sitting down near a man and striking up a conversation with him about the coffee shop. The man didnt come out and say it right away but it turned out that he owned the building and in the back gallery space he had a display of his work up -- something he hadnt done in a long time. He invited Luke and I to come back and see it before they took it down. We gladly accepted.