Desert Times

It is currently 11:30pm on a Friday night and I cannot sleep. I went to bed about 2 hours ago. I know you are probably asking Jenny, why are you going to bed so early on a Friday night. Well my friend, let me tell you- Fridays have become a night of rest, a night that I look forward to because it means a break from my day to day life is coming and I need rest for such a thing.

That was NOT the reason for this post… After laying in bed scrolling through various social medias (i.e. TikTok, Facebook, Instagram) I finally put the phone down to try to sleep. I tossed to one side, nothing. Tossed to another side, still nothing. Even after taking my de-stress supplements from the chiropractor, I am still wide awake.

My mind continued to go back to various situations and stressors that have occurred over the past week. It reminded me of when I was in middle school and played softball- after every game I would lay awake in bed replaying each play in my head trying to figure out what to do differently. Eventually, I realized that I should probably do something else to get me to sleep.

So I did something that helped me sleep the first week of living in my new home all by myself. I turned out The International House of Prayer 24/7 prayer room. When I first moved into my own house, I was legit scared. I would hear creaking noises and just fear that something was upstairs. I even slept with the light on! The prayer room would play from my phone all night long and I slept so peacefully. Oh how I dream of such sleep now!

Now I sit in my dark living room, listening to the deep cries of the heart’s of our Father’s children over my neighbor’s A/C unit without a lick of fear. Praise God for that! Before I jumped out of my cozy bed and began writing this, I had such an inspirational moment to even push me to do it.

For some time now I feel I have been in a spiritual desert, a dry and weary land where this is no water. Similar to the Psalmists experience in Psalm 63.1. This is something unusual for me. I am a very emotionally sensitive person and can typically hear the voice of the Lord very well. I am sensitive to the Holy Spirit in what He is wanting me to experience in each moment.

Unfortunately, that has not been the case recently and I have truly felt it. A few Sundays ago I poured my heart out to a dear friend of mine sharing my struggle in just wanting to know that God is content with my service, to know that God is content with my career, my living situation, my lifestyle. And that I so deeply felt abandoned and forsaken by God- something SO contrary to HIS being.

This dear friend of mine, just as many times before, pulled me close and just prayed over me. When we pulled away from our hug, she told me that in these moments when we feel so far away from God, or in the desert, it usually means God is preparing us for something bigger and wanting to take us to a deeper level. This was later confirmed in almost the same exact words in a sermon I was listening to by John Mark Comer called “Seeking Jesus.”

This is a concept I always knew to be true and even studied the depth of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert. But I never considered that it would be something God would call me to. Now, let me give you a little glimpse of what my life looks like right now, as it has been quite some time since I have blogged.

About two months after getting settled into my new home, I became bored with my job. Well, maybe bored isn’t the right word- maybe complacent, or even burnt out would be better. So I sought the Lord, I submitted some applications, had a few interviews, and ended up torn with two job offers. This is the last time I can distinctly remember hearing from the Lord.

I was stressed because my dream job was offered to me (being a counselor at a Christian counseling agency) but so was another really appealing job. As I asked the Lord which He wanted for me, I had such a peace in knowing that no matter what I choose, He had something for me and would honor my decision, but there was one that would bring growth, new life, healing, and joy. And that was the position at the Christian counseling agency.

Fast forward to about to months into the new job with the Christian agency and now I see why the Lord told me there would be growth! I was not expecting to get through the first two weeks and then feel the Holy Spirit was giving me the silent treatment! On top of that, my second day at my new job my dear grandmother passed away and I was learning how to experience new life and death all at the same time.

As I struggled with a wondering mind this evening, I decided I no longer wanted to stay in this desert. I no longer wanted to feel held captive by worries of finances and future dreams. And as soon as I turned on the prayer room, the Holy Spirit awakened a soft part of my heart. The team began singing a song that I grew a liking to during my own prayer room life in college.

The prayer room in college is where my dreams were birthed. It is where the Lord gave life to my desire to help people, see the nations move, and know I have a place in the world to add to the Great Commission. It was such a healing moment for me to be brought back to that place. I continued to reflect about dreams and goals that the Lord had fulfilled.

One of those is working at the agency I work for now. Another is buying a house. I never thought I would ever buy my own house, especially before marriage! I always assumed I would be living on the mission field somewhere. But Jesus had other plans and opened such beautiful doors for me to buy my own home, with my own income.

As I bought my home, I bought it with the intention of wanting a bigger space for fellowship. And as this lovely song rang through the memories, I thought to myself, well why can’t I bring that back? Why can’t I use my home for the purpose I intended to? So, I began to plan about monthly worship and prayer nights, that might turn into weekly worship and prayer nights.

My friends, there is something SO beautiful about gathering in such a safe place as a living room to worship our Beloved Jesus. There is something SO deep, healing, and restoring about doing this with our brothers and sisters in Christ. What a beautiful fragrance that is lifted to Jesus in those intimate moments.

There was another song that I learned when I was on my first missions trip in Nepal. The words go, “Lord I don’t want you to be a familiar stranger to me, I want the fullness of knowing you in intimacy.” This is it. This is what my soul longs for. This is what my heart desires as I begin to walk out of the desert season. And even as I write this in this moment, the Holy Spirit is welling up inside of me, a slight tear in the corner of my eye.

I don’t write this to just ramble. I write this because I simply cannot be the only one who has gone through this. I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to blog about this because He wants to remind someone that your dreams are not broken. Nothing is wasted in the eyes of the Lord. He sees you in your efforts, He knows your heart, and He has not forsaken you.

My friend, He wants a deeper relationship with you. He wants to take you to a level you never thought was possible. My question to you is, are you willing to let Him? I had prayed, and even wallowed a bit in anger towards Jesus these past few weeks asking why He has abandoned me. And what He spoke to me tonight was that He has not forsaken me, but that I have not allowed Him to do a work in me. I have been trying to be in control of my own life and Jesus is offended by that.

Open that door, my friend, let Jesus in. You will not be disappointed.

Evident Growth

Hey there. I know it’s been a very long time since I’ve blogged. Honestly, it’s just not something I have been very passionate about lately. But ya know what, I think the Lord might be stirring it up in my heart again. We shall see!

How has life been for you through COVID-19? At times I feel like we are riding a roller coaster, or as my dearest Gramma says, a “rolly coaster.” At least this is how I have felt. Just when I think I am making progress, everything comes crashing right back down again.

It’s funny because somewhere built into our human ways of thinking we have adopted this belief that progress MUST be linear. Maybe the whole finding a slope thing in algebra did this to us. Remember? y=mx + b? Between that and mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell I’d say high school taught me the essentials for life.

Something that has been extremely evident for me lately is that progress is not linear. And progress does not always look the way we expect it to. I’m not sure if I’ve ever blogged about this, but since I returned from India I have had intense stomach pains. There have been times that it has been so so so bad that I wouldn’t be able to move.

I remember one Saturday morning Bible Study last September we were sitting in the park diving into the Proverb of the day and I could not even move on the bench I was sitting on. And I did not finish my coffee (you know something is wrong when that happens!). I was so sad because I had plans to go for a hike and couldn’t because of the pain.

In January I finally decided to get this checked out because my family has a pretty intense history of stomach problems. So, I went to the same GI doctor that sees my mom and my dad. He did not seem too concerned and told me it was IBS related.

Relieved that we were heading in some direction I started taking the as needed meds he prescribed and hoped for healing. Nothing happened. If anything, the pain got much worse. I went back and he told me to do a few other things. So I did them. Nothing changed.

Now at this point, it was mid-July. I was working out, eating clean, doing all the things I have done before to lose a few pounds. But the scale kept going up. I was fatigued and had no motivation to do anything. Finally, one of my friends suggested I see her chiropractor. I was like hmm sounds weird but sure. At this point I was willing to try anything.

I made an appointment and was nervous as all get out when I went to that first appointment. I felt absurd telling a “back” doctor that I was having stomach issues. But lo and behold she ran a few allergy tests, performed an adjustment, and poked a few organs and we had answers!

Essentially I had an aluminum sensitivity (most likely from vaccines from going to India) which lowered my immune system causing me to be susceptible to a bacterial infection in my small intestine called Helicobacter Pylori and was severely allergic to dairy. Now, this is something the GI doctor would have found way back in January if he would have scoped me.

So, she gave me some supplements and rescheduled for two weeks out for a follow up. The supplements worked amazing for the first week. Then, about 10 days in, my symptoms came back. I spent the week freaking out because I thought there was no hope. I was so sick of trying and not seeing results. I had “regressed,” was my main thought.

When I went in for my follow up, I told her what I was experiencing and she told me she was not surprised because essentially we were creating a “war zone” (yes these were her words, no COD reference but I did get a kick out of it) in my gut and there may be more symptoms as I continued on this healing journey.

All of this is to say my healing was not linear. My progress is not linear. Just because every time I can put a nice chunk of change away to buy a house and have to spend it on care repairs does not mean I’m not making progress. Progress has to be measured in different way.

I have had to work rigorously to change my perspective regarding this concept, but man I’m sure glad I did. Lately, I have been measuring progress based on the fruit the action, behavior, event, etc. yields. And sometimes it’s not always what we expect.

I just paid $700 to get my car fixed. 2 years ago I would have been upset and over the top frustrated with trying to come up with the money, feeling financially secure to pay for it, and overall just bitter about buying a car with a salvage title.

But ya know what, yes I was frustrated that I spent my day off at the dealership getting it fixed, but I was more grateful for the fact that I already had the day off to do it. I was thanking God that for once in my life I could pay this upfront and have extra in my account for other daily living expenses.

It was annoying that I had to take the money out of my savings. But if the Lord wants me to buy a house, He will provided the finances to do so in His perfect timing. For those of you that don’t know, having a broken down car is the number one way Satan tries to attack me. Ever since I started driving I have never had luck with cars.

The Lord used that to bring me closer to relying on God for things. I feel more tough and can handle these stressful times. I have built this zero tolerance with Satan because he is not going to rain on my parade any longer. And even when he tries, I will dance in it singing praises to the Lord.

And this is how I know I have made progress. Because my perspective has changed.

My friend, are you struggling with fear of lack of progress? Take a moment and submit these fears to the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a new set of eyes and new perspective. Remember, progress isn’t linear.

The Blessing

I know I said in the last post I would be more diligent about blogging this year, but as you all are aware of, 2020 is not what we expected it to be. In fact, so far, 2020 has thrown some pretty interesting curve balls my way.

At the beginning of the year, I made it a point to make sure that I found a church home. I prayed and asked God to lead me to the right one. I felt there was one specific church, the very first church I visit when I moved here over a year ago, that God wanted me to go to. Eventually I got up the courage to step out of my comfort zone (side note: this is coming from a girl that quit her job and moved across the globe alone).

I went. I knew this was where God wanted me after the first worship set, based on the presence of the Lord. After about three weeks of going I started to introduce myself to a few people and try to plug-in. Friends, God made this incredibly easy for me to do.

I remember one Sunday morning sitting in one of the back pews alone and two girls around my age introduced themselves to me and invited me to sit with them. I did. And after I had this secret plan that I wouldn’t sit with them again, not because I didn’t like them, but I was afraid to make such close friends. I was afraid of letting my guard down. Can you say trust issues? I can.

Well, long story short, throughout that week I connected more with the young adults that had invited me to sit with them. And, I ended up sitting with them again. Little anxiety filled me continued to build relationships with these new people.

Something was so different about these people. They felt safe. They felt welcoming and compassionate. I started gaming with them, joined the worship team with them, Bible studies, movie nights, etc. These “new people” have become some of the most important people in my life.

I am trying so hard to think of how I am going to write about this. How do I even begin to describe the connection I have with this group of people? I’m not sure what the words are, but here’s what I’ve got…

The Lord, my God, my Jesus, my King of Kings, and dearly beloved saw my need for a home away from home. He saw my desire for community, connection, relationships, and fun. And He brought me to the place where not only would I continue to fall deeper in love with Him, but I would meet an amazing group of people that do things like go for bike rides, make me watch Star Wars for the first time, go on Starbucks runs, offer to mount my new TV, buy couches with, etc.

The most important thing about entering into this new community is that every single one of them love Jesus and have a deep desire to live for Him. Readers, I am in tears right now when I tell you how big of a blessing these new relationships have been to me.

Last Saturday, a few of us got together and made breakfast together and one of my new friends asked me when we sat down to eat, “Jenny, in January did you think this is where you would be right now?” And with holding back tears, I said “nope, not in the least bit.” That question hit me deep.

It reminded me that when Jesus sees we have a need and desire, He works things together for our good. He fulfills it according to His good and perfect will. And it is such a beautiful thing. Remember my last post about restoration? This is all apart of that. That was just revealed to me in this very moment. Jesus is restoring to me my deep desire for being in community with like-minded hearts. Jesus is bringing restoration on my social life after a year of my closest friends being my cousins that live 45 minutes away.

This is part of the healing journey the Lord has me on and I have never had so much peace.

It is healing to know that I have finally found my people. People that accept me for who I am, inside and out. People who are not bothered by my weirdness, like making sound effects in the car. People that want to be around me. I have never experienced such an overwhelming feeling of acceptance and love.

If you know me, you know that this is something I have been looking for (very passively I might add) since graduating college. You know that I am very much a people person that longs for fellowship and community. And I finally have that again. The Lord is incredible when He pours His blessings out upon His children.

If you too have this longing and desire, I ask you to seek God wholeheartedly for it. Lay it on the alter and trust Jesus will bring it to you. He will guide you and lead you to where He wants you. Until then, allow Him to continue to mold you and shape you into the person other’s need you to be. They will be just as blessed by you as you are by them.

Check out this new song by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes: The Blessing