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.

N O T | A F R A I D

I cannot stress enough how much I enjoy sitting in Starbucks. Whether it is reading, meeting up with an old friend, blogging, or cranking out some school work, this girl is OBSESSED with the atmosphere.

Yes, I have tried other coffee shops. Occasionally I will entertain the thought of a local coffee shop and support the small business, and don’t get me wrong, supporting small businesses is what I’m all about…

But they are always crowded with the same hipster crowd and there are never enough tables next to outlets forcing me to leave after my laptop dies and interrupting a state of productivity that once I am distracted from I will most definitely not ever get back until I have driven around the whole city twelve times, got something to eat, and walked into three different stores for small purchases like cinnamon or a novel that most definitely could have waited until after my paper was written.

action-asphalt-auto-6147Or sometimes these local coffee shops are in locations that are not accessible to someone with social anxiety. I mean, I’m a country girl, parking on the street ain’t no small thing for me. So, I spend my allotted coffee shop hours hermiting in many different Starbucks locations.

No, the baristas do not know my name and order by heart, just want you to know that I don’t go that often. I just don’t want to spoil the experience. It’s like that time when I went to school five minutes from Chipotle and ate it so much I got tired of it. Yeah, that horrific season of my life ended, but c’mon I can’t live without my coffee!!

Today as I sit here and blabber on and on about my deep affection for the world’s largest coffee shop that many would not even classify as a coffee shop, I am so intrigued by the population dwelling here with me.

You have the creeper dude in the corner (yes I just made eye contact with him) that I have seen at other Starbucks locations too. There is the important business man speaking through his apple headphones on a business call, but because he is using his apple headphones and not Air Pods, I am guessing that his business is a startup.

There’s the diligent college students/hipsters/young adult population doing whatever 1527186071.grees_gollum_vodo_mensithey do to occupy their time, more businessmen meeting to discuss a proposal that will score a raise from the big man back at the office, and what I like to call “the passer-buyers”- they come in and get their coffee for some odd reason because the drive thru is not promising enough that they will get their precious coffee (I’m picturing Gollum from the Lord of The Rings here). 

I got up to use the latrine because that’s what coffee does to poor souls like mine and there was a really sweet lady waiting in front of me that complimented me on my hair. We got to talking and from just a small conversation, she learned that I am a traveler and have large ambitions. Little did she know that I haven’t talked about traveling in a really long time (maybe a few months or so).

This is because I have accepted a position, a big-girl job, and know that I will not be doing any long-term traveling for quite some time. But ya know what I noticed in that conversation? I was not afraid to talk to her about my past experiences and future hopes and goals of traveling anymore. I was ready to have the conversation, use my voice, and I allowed myself to dream again.

Recently I have been limiting my goals and dreams because of the fear of not having enough money, not being successful, not being used in a manor according to the skills I have gotten from my education, and the list goes on and on and on.

adventure-blur-close-up-346885I didn’t just put my desire to travel on hold, I completely removed the potential and vision from my life. I narrow-minded my thinking and basically put God in a box. But in this conversation with this lovely woman, I learned that this desire is still quite strong in me. And just like I believe I have the desire to be married and be a social worker because God has put that there, I also believe that He has put the desire in me to travel and see His glorious creation.

When God turns our path a different direction from what we expected (or even what we have planned), that doesn’t necessarily mean He is saying we can’t experience those certain things on that path, it just means God has a beautiful plan in allowing us to have those experiences.

And we can trust that even if we don’t get that desire, then it was not truly aligned with the Lord. The very fact we followed God down the less desirable path that wasn’t part of our plans, and from our viewpoint looks like we will never be able to receive the things we desire proves to God He can trust us.

Luke 16.10 states, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

Can God trust you with the little right now?

My friend, if you are feeling the same way… maybe you are waiting of that special someone to come into your life, maybe you want to change careers, have a child, make a big move, write a book, etc. -whatever it is you feel like God is keeping from you, even though you believe God has placed that desire in you, God is preparing you for that very thing, or in some cases, He is preparing you for something better!

I’m going to use the example of a recent breakup. I remember crying and being so angry about it and my mom, good ole’ faithful Mommy (no Mom I am not saying you are old), sat on my bed and reminded me that it just means God has someone better for me. Yes, it is cheesy, but whether it’s Cheddar or Swiss, that cheesy quote is good! (or should I say Gouda!)

Sometimes God has more teaching and things for us to learn before we can be handed the great desire in us. Bu ya know what, that doesn’t mean we need to fear that we will never ever in a million years receive that desire. Friend, scripture tells us that there is no fear in love and that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4.18).

Jesus is not withholding this one thing from you because He is bitter, angry, or punishing you, for these things are contrary to who Jesus is, but He is doing it out of love! Embrace that! Soak it in! Live in that love! Why? Because that alone will remove your fears!

We can stand confidently in the will that God has for us, knowing that He will not leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13.5), that He has a plan to prosper us and not harm us (Jeremiah 29.11-13), and He does not withhold any good thing from us (Psalm 84.11).

Paul reminds us that Jesus wants us not let ourselves be troubled and anxious but to submit our requests to Him with thanksgiving (Philippians 4.6-7). We are called to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” (1 Corinthians 15.58).

Friends, we are more vulnerable to the enemy when we begin to think Jesus is withholding something from us because of punishment or anger. That allows the enemy to attempt to put a foothold in our life.

And ya know what, over and over and over in scripture we can see how God worked His promises (personal and communal) to come to be in many lives! Sarah wanted a child, but had to wait, the Israelites wanted out of the wilderness, Job wanted the pain and suffering to be removed from him, Jonah wanted out of the whale, Ruth wanted a husband, Paul wanted a thorn removed from his flesh.

And while these things did not happen right away, the Lord orchestrated events with perfection to give them what they desired. So whether you are waiting on the news that the cancer is gone, or that you are going to be a parent, you can trust God and not be afraid that He has forgotten about you.

This song came up on my Pandora playlist while I was sitting here in Starbucks and it was the most amazing reminder that God is in control and we do not need to be afraid anymore because HE has won the battle. He is leading and guiding us! Take some time to get with God today and thank Him for this current season of growing and waiting!

Love Sundays

Recently, as in like three weeks ago, I moved out of my parent’s house and into my first apartment (or duplex/triplex if you will). I have a housemate that I share the place with, but other than that, I am completely out on my own!

I moved about an hour south from my little hometown because I got a new job. Basically my dream job to be exact. The Lord was gracious to me to open the doors to working for an agency called Rahab Ministries that seeks to provide safe housing and pour truth and love into survivors of human trafficking.

Since the move I have been enduring the rigorous training hours until we jump into our shift rotations. I am quite excited. However, moving an hour away and on my own for the first time has been quite the transition.

I am learning things like cooking for one person, how to budget to make sure I can still get my weekly Starbucks, and taking care of my home (like taking out the trash and cleaning the toilet). I love it.

Sundays have been my dedicated grocery shopping and usually whipping something up in the kitchen day with a little side of herbal tea and good old Netflix.

Unfortunately though, any grocery store you go to on a Sunday is surely going to be packed and loaded with everyone and their mother. Like today, I could barely find a single parking spot at Aldi!

And let me tell ya, sometimes it’s hard to have patience for the people who just stand directly in front of the freezer doors deciding what kind of veggie burger they want for the week. Okay, so that was me today. BUT it was my first time buying it! And I left my cart out of the way. I was quick.

There were a few other people who staggered and I had to sneak past them (yep, the midwesterner ‘sneak’) to get some frozen brussel sprouts, but hey what are ya gonna do. And sometimes, Aldi doesn’t always have exactly what I need. So I am stuck going to Walmart or Giant Eagle to get fresh basil or to buy individual lemons, instead of a three pound pack.

Today was one of those days. Aldi was so crowded I thought I was going to lose my mind. I also needed a cookie sheet and of course they had everything but that. So I proceeded to head to good old Wally World to finish my shopping. I fear this place because there is always the chance of me buying something I don’t need. Today it was a new wooden spoon. But hey, it was only $2.

I guess it was my lucky trip to Walmart because despite my inner groanings at the people who wouldn’t get out of way may so I could get a package of basil leaves and rude remarks inside my car at the people who wouldn’t drive on their side of the lane, I didn’t have to wait in line at the self-checkout.

I definitely thought I was in a grumpy mood. However, I was able to contain that grumpiness to myself. At this particular Walmart they scan your receipt and then an item in your bag to make sure you truly paid for them. I walked up to the guy who had the scan gun in his hand and showed him my receipt.

I simply said, “do you need to see this or scan it?” and he just kind of looked at me like I was kind of crazy. Then he said, “wow, I’m sorry I didn’t know how to take that because it was the most polite thing I heard all day.”

First, I guess I can see how asking people to double-check their receipts to make sure they didn’t steal anything can kind of step on your pride a bit. Second, I didn’t even realize that I was being that polite, which is super sad if the man was THAT surprised.

It reminded me that people are always watching us. Sure, that guy had no idea of knowing that I am a Christian, but still, people are watching our actions and deciding if we are a good egg, bad egg, or somewhere in between with the first attitude we present them with.

It is so important for us to be on our guard and paying attention to how we carry ourselves. As followers of Christ, we are called to a higher standard. We are called to love everyone who is put in our path, whether they stole our parking spot or served our burger with tomato when we asked them not to.

This is something I struggle with a lot. Somehow I have this preconceived notion that I deserve everything to be perfect and my way. It’s like the whole “customer is always right” mentality applies to every aspect of my life.

I hope that even in the second of my grumpiness where I mustered up a polite question I was able to make that Walmart worker’s day.

Let’s all try to work a little harder at paying attention to how we react to people. If we ever want to draw unbelievers to the Kingdom of God, paying attention to our attitudes and actions is one of the most important things we can do.