God’s Plan

The past few mornings, I’ve been going out for walks. I’m a huge morning person and with the hot weather, mornings are just so lovely. I also have the privilege of living in a lake-front city so it’s a 10 minute drive to beautiful parks and walkways along the lake’s edge. Typically I get up early and head for my chair, my bible and my journal. I love studying God’s word but lately, I’ve felt an invitation to experience God in a different way. More with my heart and less with my head. So, I plug in praise music, walk for a little bit and then sit on a dock and just bask in God’s glory. I pray. I praise. I cry. I allow the Holy Spirit to reach into dark places where I’ve held myself underground for too long.

Since hearing God ask me to let Him hold my dream of moving to New York for a little bit longer, I’ve been feeling a little lost. When you let go of one dream, you either scramble to fill your hands with something else or you stand there, hands at your side feeling a little dumbfounded. I was the latter, feeling a bit like a failure. Actually, feeling ALOT like a failure. Why would God ask for this dream back unless He knew I wasn’t ready and what’s wrong with me that I’m not ready. I follow God as well as I am able, is this a punishment?

As I’ve been processing my life and journey with God over the past several days, searching for my failure. Where did I go wrong so that God felt like I wasn’t able to handle the dream He’s given me? Where was my mistake? I must have done, or not done, something really important and I have some type of penance to pay. It’s amazing how the negative words spoken over us in our past plant little seeds that sprout up when we least expect them to and we get a bit sucked into lies. Or at least that happens to me. I can recite all of the good things said about me and discount each and every one because I give more power to the negative. Even when the negative is a flat out lie, I still weight it too heavily. I know I’m not alone in this dilemma of self worth.

This morning, I was praying and asking God for just a glimpse of His plan so that I could know I wasn’t to blame for the present situation. My God…My God…boy did He show up!! Within seconds as I stared out over the water, I could see the timeline of the past several years and how God has commissioned me to love people who are hurting and neglected and I didn’t see it at the time. This present situation isn’t punishment, it’s calling. It’s holy. It’s sacred. Most of all, it’s His plan for me! So let me show you what God showed me.

* 2014 God invited me to take a huge leap of faith and leave a very successful and well payed corporate job for nothing. No new job, just life and ministry. If I hadn’t followed this invitation, I wouldn’t have found my call as a pastor and shepherd of people who feel marginalized by society.

* 2015 God invited me deeper into ministry with and for the homeless community around my home. From sitting on the Board of a tent city to handing out thousands of cans of tuna fish on the streets of Seattle, I fell completely in love with people who are “the least of these”. If hadn’t done this ministry, I wouldn’t have fully accepted my calling to love people.

*2016 God invited me to set the homeless ministry aside for a little bit and go back to a corporate job. Much less pay and much less influence. More dependence on God and more focus on building relationships. Through my time in that job, a little over 2 years, I got to walk with people who lost parents and spouses and needed permission to grieve; people who struggled to feel valued in life and needed someone to say “I see you, tell me your dreams; people who struggled with anxiety and addiction and needed to know they are not alone. It wasn’t just a job, it was a daily ministry and I fell in love with the people who worked for me. If I hadn’t taken this job, I wouldn’t have gotten hands on practice pastoring people.

*2017 God invited me to apply for a ministry training program in New York City. Through this application process, God broke chains of fear. Fear of my past. Fear of elevators. Fear of flying. Fear of not being good enough. He also spoke a promise over me that there is a day coming when all of the decades of loving NYC will mean I live there and love those people. If I hadn’t applied for this training, I wouldn’t have known how much I love NYC and I would still live in fear. God broke more chains during this process than I can type out.

And now, now God is inviting me to go back to the people I love and minister to them with greater strength in Christ. Greater faith in my Redeemer. Greater love for all people. Greater desire to lead and love. At this point, I have a contract job that pays less than we need and affords me the ability to work from home. It’s only for a few more weeks and I don’t know what comes next. And, based on all that God is showing me, all I need to know is that God will make a way when I choose to accept His invitation to life and freedom.

My life’s call is Isaiah 61:1-3: brining good news to the poor, binding up the broken-hearted, proclaiming freedom to all who feel captive, comfort the mourning and declare through all of it that the Lord is good and lovely. All I want to do is follow God well, just follow Jesus. It’s a glorious adventure and I have people to love for heaven.

If you feel off track, pray. You may find you are exactly ON track and you just couldn’t see it.




Help Me in my Unbelief

This day is a raw day for me. I fully believed we would be adapting to our new lives in New York City today and instead, I’m sitting in my apartment across the country from where I long to be, trying to find my way. The gap between what I know to be true and how my truth today feels is a gaping hole right now and while I do fully believe God is doing something new, I’m just going to be honest, I’m hurting.

I know God is faithful and that He has never and will never fail me. I know His promises are Rock solid. I know He has all of my needs met before I even know I have the need. I know He loves me. I also know He has invited me to a path that not everyone walks on and right now, it’s jagged and hurting my feet and legs. I’m tired and I’m building faith that I know doesn’t make any earthly sense and yet, I don’t see any other way to live.

I’m feeling a little bit like Job who said, “Yet though He slay me, I will trust in Him.” (Job 13:15) God planted a seed, started to sprout that seed and then asked me to give the sprouting seed back to Him. So I did, tearfully hearing Him say “I have something better for you, trust me.”

Here’s the deal though, that triggers my story and the truth of that is…I don’t want to process this pain right now. I didn’t get to have the parents married longer than I’ve been alive. I didn’t get to have the financially stable childhood. I didn’t get to have “no abuse” as a label. I didn’t get to have “never had a drink, touch a cigarette or taken a drug” as a banner. I could go on and on and now, I’m battling with feeling like it’s all a punishment. Like I’m not worthy of a good and pretty story. The enemy is desperate for me to give up my faith and though right this moment I am hanging on by my fingernails, I’m still hanging on. I refuse to accept I’m being punished. I refuse to accept that I never get a beautiful story. I refuse to allow the Dark father of lies any more peace than I’ve already given up today.

Today is a new day in a new season. Today is that 16th day in my year of Jubilee and I would rather be slayed by Jesus than give up my faith in His redemption and grace in my life. So yes, I’m struggling right now but guess what, it won’t last. My Father will continue to tell me “well done. Beloved. I am always with you.” And I will strain to say to Satan, “Get behind me.”

It’s time to just be honest, this day is hard. I’m praying for shalom over you and over me. I’m praying that we will start declaring what we know to be true even when it doesn’t feel like it’s true. God is for us and no one and no weapon will take us down unless we abdicate our place and our faith. I may be in tears now but I will still sing joy and praise for my Redeemer who has me.



Fully Convinced

Do you ever feel like you have no idea what God has promised for you or what exactly He’s calling you to do? Boy, I sure hope I’m not alone!

When I cross paths with someone who is locked into their calling and heart’s greatest desire, I have to admit I get a little jealous. You know the person I’m talking about, the one who played pretend firefighter when they were 3 years old and now, at age 30, they are living out that dream and life just seems perfectly in place! I love for them that their dream came true, but it gives me a little twinge of pain because I’ve somehow decided that I’m not as good as they are because that isn’t my story. Do you ever feel that way?

Or I look at people like Abraham and Sarah. Their heart’s desire was to have children, it didn’t look like it would ever happen yet God steps in and say “Yes” over their lives and the dream is fulfilled. The longing in their hearts to have children was their dream and clearly was their calling and, they stayed believing that though it seemed impossible, it would happen. And actually, Sarah doubted it would happen for a time and it still happened! That’s God! And when I read this story, my heart feels a little down because I can relate to the challenge of waiting. I’m elated the dream came true, I just don’t fully understand the timing and I’m once again being asked to wait and trust.

I feel a bit like a simpleton this morning because I didn’t dream of being anything particular as a kid and I don’t have large dreams. My dream life is just following Jesus and loving as many people as I can along the way. I dream of living in New York City, writing books, painting, building community and speaking at churches now and then. I dream of reaching out to the disenfranchised, the homeless, the single parent, the addicted, and just simply loving them. And as I sit hear with tears in my eyes, I just feel like it’s a lame dream life and I should want something grander. And the simple truth is, I want simple.

I’ve asked God for a grander call for years and He always, always goes back to “just follow me”. So, as I start a new season of different work today, nearly begging God for some insight into what to pursue, He again invites me to just follow Him. He knows what He’s bringing my way, I just need to be paying attention. He’s got all of the bases covered and needs met, I just need to stay focused on Him. I also need to stop judging myself. Just because I don’t dream of being a pastor of a megachurch, or a famous author, doesn’t mean my dream holds less value. We all have our own unique calling and it is very personal.

I don’t know what dreams, callings or plans you feel God has for you, but today I feel the invitation for us all to stay fully convinced that God is able to bring it all to pass in His perfect timing. If you aren’t sure what God is calling you to, ask for clarity and wisdom. Look at your dreams and I bet you’ll find a clue.



Being Known

I sometimes struggle with feeling like I hold no true value to anyone. Actually, the truth is I feel like that much more often than I really want to admit. I have a list of reasons why I believe I feel unremarkable and unworthy and all of them have to with other people who have spoken some word to me that planted a dark seed. All of the comments over the course of mostly childhood, but sometimes my adulthood, have come from people who don’t know me well and don’t make much effort to know me.

I can tell myself all day long that it’s their issue, not mine. And, at the end of the day that doesn’t help me much, even though it is the truth. I can try not to “own” their emotions in their words and not take on more of their darkness. I’ve spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars learning really solid skills to help me, and they do, but I actually want healing.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse lots of people quote. This morning it has new meaning for me. God can only know the plans He has for me if He actually knows me! God is not about cookie cutters, just look around the next time you’re at the mall. He is clearly all about individuality and character and physical traits that make us different from each other. So wouldn’t it stand to reason that a God who created such rich diversity in our outward appearances would also create rich diversity inward in His plans for us? And further, wouldn’t He need to actually know us personally to know what plans make sense for us? Of course!!

I need to feel known. My story holds so much power to me and for me that I share it whenever possible. I do that for a couple primary reasons: for you to know me and for you to know who God is to me. If I feel known, I inherently feel heard and seen. This may not be true for you. You may value being seen or heard most. In the end, we all have a gap in our hearts and souls that I believe only God can fill. He is the one who hears our dreams and cries, prayers and pains that we don’t dare share with anyone else. He is the one who sees us balled up in bed crying or standing in the sun smiling. He is the one who is always with us, always paying attention and always seeking us out. He is the one who truly knows me and I need to find my ultimate value and worth in that truth. God has been in the dark places with me and, He has never left me alone. He and I have secrets I will likely never tell another soul and I trust Him implicitly because He knows me and I know Him.

You hold so much value. If you don’t feel like it, will you please let me know so that I can pray for you and ask God to show you your value. You don’t have to give me any details, just simply post “pray” in the comments and I’ll pray. Your emptiness does get smaller as God fills it up with His love, grace, peace and mercy.



Giving My Dream to God

“Set me like a seal on your heart,” Song of Songs 8:6.

Over the past few months, God has moved mountains in my life and broken strongholds that I never believed would be gone. With each new step He has asked me to trust Him more, even when I didn’t understand and didn’t think I could. Holy Spirit has empowered me to believe more. God has confirmed dreams and rekindled love for the marginalized that I had let die down. I would like to say it’s been an easy journey, except that would be a lie. I’ve pushed myself more, prayed more, struggled to find my footing more and cried more and in the end, God’s grace has always been more. He has never failed me. I have truly set Him like a seal on my heart and He will not let me fall.

Yesterday morning, with the cool lake wind blowing gently on my face as I sat the lake’s edge, God asked me to give Him my dream of moving to New York this year. He asked me to believe that He has a better plan, a plan I can’t even see yet. He asked me to trust Him with this dream knowing completely that He will take me to the city that He has placed so much love in my heart for…just not now. Again, I would like to say this was easy, but that would be a lie.

Then God reminded me of Abraham and Sarah. God promised them a legacy of generations so vast they outnumbered the sand on the beach and they doubted. They doubted because they were old and outside of the norm for bearing children. They didn’t really believe God was able, so they took matters into their own hands instead of waiting on God. Abraham’s first born son was from another woman, not Sarah, and to this day there are issues between the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son from Sarah. God was faithful even when Abraham and Sarah couldn’t believe. I don’t want that to be more story.

I am confident that I could have figured out how to move to New York this year. I am also confident that God would have blessed us and allowed us to prosper. I am more confident, however, that I wouldn’t have chosen His best for me, I would have settled and in that, I would have had increased stress and anxiety. My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth (Ps 121:2) and I want to follow Him as closely as possible. In that moment by the lake, I asked for another way that didn’t involve giving Him this dream right now and I knew, absolutely knew, that there was no other way for me to go. So, through tears, I handed this dream over to the Author of the dream itself. I set Jesus as the seal on my heart a little tighter and I believed that there is more for me in the waiting.

Here’s the deal, God is all about free will. I had the option to hold on to the dream with no fear of repercussions because God is about love for His children. He will let you go and, when He needs to, He will rescue you. My heart doesn’t want to be rescued anymore, it just wants to follow His path the first time. I won’t be perfect, I don’t even strive for that, but I do strive for obedience. God has a plan and I want to follow that plan always. Even when it means I go back to people and say “thanks for the support but I’m not going now”. Not “now” as in never going, just not at this time. I have more things to do here where I am and more to learn before I go on to the next big step. God trusts me to follow Him and I have shown myself deserving of the trust. I hear Him well and when I can’t, I seek Him out until I do.

Set God like the seal on your heart. Give everything you have to God and when you think you have nothing left, ask Him if there is more to give. He is faithful and if He is your focus, you will never go wrong. You may not understand what He’s doing in the moment, but you will never go wrong.



When Following Jesus Gets Hard

“Follow me”. Two little words. Less than 10 letters in total. Short sentence. How is it that these two little words are bringing me to tears right now!?

Several years ago, I asked Jesus what He wanted me to do for the kingdom and for Him. He spoke two words, “follow me”. In my heart I rolled my eyes a bit and replied with, “Of course I’m going to follow you. But what do I DO?” Again Jesus spoke and said “follow me”. I sat there for a moment and felt my emotions bubble a little. I was trying to figure out why Jesus wasn’t understanding my question. “Yes, gotcha, follow You, check. But what should I DO?!?!” At this point, I picture Jesus taking a deep breath, turning to His Father and saying, “Can you believe this kid?” (LOL) Instead, He lovingly says one more time “follow me”. At that point I got it, sunk my head down, slumped my shoulders forward and say, “ok, I’ll just follow you”. I felt like that was so lame and so easy. I was SO wrong!

Fast forward almost seven years and I find myself back at the feet of Jesus asking what I should do and I hear Him saying again, “follow me”. Only this time, I only need to hear it once. I burst into tears and I almost beg for release from this call of following without knowing. You see, I follow Jesus just like the Amplified Bible describes in Mark 1:17: accepting Him as my Master and Teacher, walking the way He did. He walked fully given over and in complete submission to His Father. He went where God told Him, ate what God provided and loved all who God brought His way. He had moments of sadness when friends died. He had moments of anger when the religious people of the day wanted to twist His words. He had compassion on people stuck in a life that was destroying them and others around them. He begged God for another way. In all of it, He remained faithful, and so will I.

Tonight, I feel like God is inviting me to trust Him more and I’ll just be honest, I’m struggling. I’m afraid He won’t make dreams come true, even though He has promised He will. I’m afraid the financial needs of my day-to-day life won’t be met, even though He has promised He will. I’m afraid I’m following Him wrong, even though I follow Him with a pure and honest heart only seeking to live more like Him in every way. I’m afraid I’m not enough, not seen, not heard and not known. Insignificant. Unremarkable.

Ah, I see you, my nemesis, and your name is Unremarkable. You have haunted me my entire life. You make following Jesus hard because you make me doubt that He loves me regardless of what I do. Even worse, you make me feel unloveable unless I am doing something I have decided is important. So, once again I say to you, Jesus finds me remarkable and while you served to protect me years ago, I don’t need you now. I bless you and I release you.

Following Jesus is hard, folks, let’s just be honest. We all come to the Cross, if we come to the Cross, with our own stories of trauma and pain. Your nemesis may not be called Unremarkable, but yours does have a name. Jesus is inviting you to follow Him completely. Live like He lived. Love like He loved. Sacrifice your life like He sacrificed His. Look your nemesis in the eyes, bless it and release it. Engage your story, dear friends, so that you are more able to “just follow me” when Jesus calls you. Cry, yell, journal, process, and then follow. Jesus is worth the risk.



The Crisis

Faith is tricky. Being sure of what you hope for and certain if what you don’t see (Heb 11:1) can get daunting. Especially when you don’t know the Master’s plan. Many times, I believe God asks us to step out in faith and we, being human, decide we know exactly the outcome and then, God changes it all up and we can feel tossed about and bruised.

I’m beginning to believe that faith is a path that you either choose to walk on into the darkness and bring light to as you go, or you choose to require more light before you go. Neither is a higher call, they are just different. Many years ago, I chose the path that I cannot see clearly but I know Maker of the path so I’m secure in Him.

When God introduced me to the International Project (IP) in New York City (NYC) several years ago, it started a path. When He invited me to apply last fall to be a student in their cross-cultural training program, I hesitated for a moment and then kept walking. When He took us to NYC for the interview process with IP in April, it confirmed for me that He has planted a deep love for this city in my heart and it is my home. A truly beautiful experience that I will never forget. When they offered me a job there, I was ecstatic and I fully believed God would provide everything we needed in order to get there by July 23rd. My faith, being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see, has wavered but never faltered.

So here I sit on 7/5, no ability to move to NYC this weekend has initially planned, and my faith meets its largest crisis.

Did I hear God wrong?

Did I doubt more than I think I did and now I don’t get to go?

Did I not do enough?

Basically, I’m wondering if I am being punished and removed from what I believe God called me to because I’m not enough? My story of never feeling like I was good enough is triggered and I was finding it hard to see beyond this crisis and this pain. This place is exactly where my enemy wants me. You see, the enemy wants us to move our focus off of the cross and onto the crisis. That’s always his plan, to get us to shift our faith off of Jesus and onto ourselves. In those moments, Jesus invites us to remain in His presence and receive the gift of peace.

God is not a mean old man sitting on His porch just waiting for us to step in his yard so that He can tell at us to get off! God is good. God is love. God is faithful. I have no idea what God is doing other than leading me in love to become the person He created me to be. Over the past two months, I’ve experienced more freedom than at any other time in my life. I’ve confirmed for myself that Jesus is my everything and, like Job, if He decides to slay me I will still trust (Job 13:15). This journey, this life, is not mine. Yes, I have choices and options, but in the end all I really have is Jesus.

So, I keep moving forward and asking God for clarity. His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) for every area in my life. My mind is firmly set on the spirit (Romans 8:5) and while I do not fully understand what God is doing, or going to do externally, internally He is growing me more and more every minute of the day. The transformation process is never easy and to many, my life may look like a series of mistakes. And I’m ok with that because God has me and He will never leave me or forsake me.