Sunday, February 12, 2012

.movement.

.part. of me being obedient and starting to bring people into what God is doing..and has done in me..is me sharing what God did back in October 2011. i'm not one to look back on the past..but this is something that God started back almost five months ago now..but it has meaning to what i feel God doing in me currently.

.deep. breath.

.God. gave me a vision back in October. a vision to be a family to his children who didn't have one..or didn't have a good one. to become a foster parent here in the 'burg. at this point i have only told a small handful of my close friends what God was stirring in me and that i would be making preparations to take that step of obedience. i began praying for my next step..and that God would show me when it was time to move towards it. when he was going to make this vision a reality. at that time in October..and currently..i am living with a close friend and her family. (God story w/ this too!) so i have the ability to save some funds and get my feet back on the ground from a few years of crazy living. i still have that vision deep inside of me. one of me being a "mom" per say to children who have been hurt. who better to understand them?

.i'm. still not 100% clear on what direction God is moving me in..but i do know that God is stirring that vision in me..in such a way that i MUST move. must take a step towards what he opens up. this urgency is something new in me. i have been seeing God move in ways i never thought possible. i have seen him bring people into my life just this past week that expressed exactly what i feel God moving me towards. my new word to describe this past week is "weird". not that what is happening is weird..not that what God is doing in me is weird..it's just that i don't know what else to call it. or label it. it's just weird. and a good weird at that. it's God i know that for sure though.


.one. "weird" story is that i have been prompted to pray for someone i barely know. and when i say barely i mean i've met this person once..said maybe all of five words to each other and that's it. nonetheless i've prayed for this person. i started on monday really pouring out my heart for her. so much so that i was on the elliptical at the Y on friday and i went over my work out time b/c i was so deeply in prayer for her. (usually i'm counting down the seconds til i can get off the evil machine.) then on friday night..well sat. morning actually..i woke up to loud sobbing sounds. it took me a little while to realize the person making those noises was me. i had been crying in my sleep praying for her. in my dream i was praying for her..praying that God would move and work in her life. that she would move towards him in tough areas..and she was..and she was experiencing his freedom..his grace..his love. it brought me to tears. now i do a lot of things in my sleep..but sobbing loudly is NOT on that list..until now.

.God. is moving. he is in this. where he wants me to move from here is not 100% clear..but as i take steps of obedience i would greatly appreciate your prayers and encouragement.

.he. is worthy.

Friday, February 10, 2012

.so.what.

.that's. the question now..

.so.what?...

.so. what do i do with all that God started? What do i take as my next step towards God? towards obedience?

.this. blog was step number one. bringing people in on it. deeply in on it. that meant being able to write more. express more. being willing to share more. so for me that practically meant a new computer. i have been nursing this computer that was gifted to me when i was a senior in college. back in the day..about five years ago. it was a good computer while it lasted..but like any laptop..it is holding on by it's fingernails. for example it tells me every time i turn it on that i have put in a foreign battery and cannot recognize it and will not be able to charge. no use in arguing with my computer..but it's had the same battery since day one.

.with. that said..i started sharing that buying a computer..and a good one..is my next step. to bring others into this God story. to have it be their story too. each one of you who has been reading these past four posts about my trip with God have all been a part of tapping into what God is doing. anyways..tangent..sorry..focus..computer. so..as i was sharing it just so happened that a friend had recently purchased a new computer and was wanting to sell a year old MacBook Pro. can you say "God thing?"!! so this is my first posting with my new computer..and it hasn't shut down or frozen not once. amazing.

.this. is my next clear step for today. to bring you in on what God is doing..has been doing..and will continue to as long as i am obedient to him. i want to bring you along. this is God's story and i am merely sharing it..a vessel if you will.

.coming. home from Nica has been exhausting..confusing..hard..good..exciting..and just all around God. i am seeing God work around me like i never thought i would ever get to see or be a part of. and to think i almost didn't go. i almost said no to God. it makes me think what else have i said no to God and missed out on? what else are the little things that i have shut off. in the big room at Blue Ridge we have been going through a series about the Holy Spirit. talk about timing in my life. i'm sure it has been like that for many that attend the ridge. God is moving in huge ways. i know i don't want to miss out or to skip by on something because i am scared or unsure..or doubting.

.this. morning the leaders of CRASH..a mid-size women's group at the ridge..met to talk about our strongholds..and what Truth we can put up against it. i know mine. i have been on this lies/Truth journey for several months now. where i have been writing down lies i know i believe and live out..my strongholds..and the Truth of God's word that goes against what i am believing. i have seen God move in me through that in major ways. i shared that one of my strongholds is this belief that rolls around my head that "no matter how far i am from my past life..my junk..sin..i will eventually end up back there."

.lies!!!!

.i. know that rationally..but sometimes it seems over powering..and i loose focus of Jesus. and the Truth that sets me free. but this morning when i shared that lie..i realized that it hasn't been a huge issue for me these past few weeks..even month or so..and that is all because of God. his truth sinking down deep into me..like eph. 3:17 says.."then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong."

.isn't. HE good?!

.oh.HE.is.good.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

.forever.changed.part.cuatro.

.day.four.friday.

.last.day at House of Hope.

.a. marathon day to end the week with for sure. two cell group visits..teaching a cooking/baking class at HoH..two more cell group visits (which we missed one..but got to hear stories)..saying goodbye to the girls at HoH..and lunch and dinner squeezed in there at some point. i was glad that the day was busy. wanted to experience everything before we headed out the next day.

.bright. and early we arrived at a small church. balloons and streamers decorated the small building. we piled out of the van and into plastic lawn chair seats. we sat amongst the cell group members. each with their own story that i wish we had time to hear. Shea taught a lesson from Exodus about how God had done amazing things for his people..but some of those people stayed in captivity. God wants full and total freedom for his children. hearing this teaching and then looking back at what God had done in just a few days time made this Truth come alive to me yet again. God wants our freedom. God will move mountains..part waters..bring us to the end of us..for the sake of freedom. "it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.." that verse goes on to say to "stand firm then..do not let yourselves be enslaved by sin again"..that means it's a bit on me and my actions to stay in freedom. kind of like me staying with my walls down.

.we. quickly traveled from the first cell group to the second. *side note* i got the privilege of riding on the back of the motorcycle with Oscar to the second cell group. this was hands down the best way to experience Nica driving! my knees literally hit things while weaving in and out of cars trucks and carts pushed by children selling fruit. for the first time on the trip i didn't feel like some "gringa" in south america..i felt like a Nicaraguan. ok..now back to God stuff..

.we. filled this small court yard filled with young children doing simple exercises. this was our second cell group. the ladies weren't quiet ready for us so we jumped right in doing stretches and push-ups with the kids. so fun to see them laugh at us moaning and groaning about ten push-ups and so forth. no más!

.when. it was time we gathered around under this small lean-to like structure. there were about fifteen or so women there. i had not recognized any of them at this point but i was excited to be a part of another cell group. to see and feel how God has been working and moving among these women. just then, Kellie, nudged me and said, "look! do you see Carla?!" i hadn't..but i quickly scanned the faces..and there in the corner standing leaning on a pole was Carla! this is the same Carla who i had sat with for hours..who was having seizures..who bore the same scars on her arms that i did. Carla. God is so good to us. i gave her a big smile and a little wave to let her know i knew exactly who she was. and boy did i have some questions to ask her about God. my heart was beating so fast..but i had to stay calm because Shea still had to do her lesson.

.Shea. looked at me and motioned for me to come close. i did and she said that she felt like God wanted me to share my story here. i agreed with no holds barred. remember on the first day..i jumped..this was just another one of those moments..but it was easier because i knew the end result was moving closer to God. all of my thoughts of disappointing God or not relaying my story well the last time flew out the window as God spoke his truth so loud and so clear to me. i was able to share clearly and knew that God was speaking through me. it's one of those moments that you hear yourself talk but wonder who is making the words come out..because it sure is not you...yep one of those..goose bump moment. God was near..i could feel him.

.after. i shared Carla immediately came up to Kellie and i. gave us both hugs and started pouring her heart out. sharing about her abuse as a young child. rape. neglect. pain. not much different than my story. she shared how she had no hope and longed for hope..but did not see it for herself. she wanted it for her children. i probed her thinking. questioned her lies she was believing. wanting to share the hope that i found in God..and how i had been so fearful of surrender. so fearful that i would put all my eggs in one basket and would just be let down again. i asked Carla if she wanted to have a relationship with that kind of God. the God who forgiveness. heals. transforms. redeems. gives hope to. binds up. i could go on and on. still she said she wanted it for her children or that she would try..but couldn't promise anything. she wanted to pray at that point. so she did. i still had questions though..she was so close to surrender and i couldn't let her walk away. (or at least not too far away). after she prayed she quickly and rather awkwardly walked away to go stand by herself. i had my eye on her though. God kept saying "let her be for awhile..i've got her". another lady came up to us to ask for prayer for her sickness. we prayed over her..but my mind distracted at Carla standing only ten feet away. shortly after we prayed over the second woman i noticed Carla out of the corner of my eye talking with Shea and Crystal.



.in. a whirlwind of events Carla grabbed me and i joined their little circle. Carla was ready. she was ready to surrender to have a relationship with Jesus! what flowed out of her was the most beautiful prayer of repentance..brokenness..and a glimmer of hope. we got a new sister..and her name is Carla. brought together by scars..held together by Jesus. as i'm writing this i remember how close i was to pulling out of the trip. to saying next time..next time i'll be ready. oh what i would have missed out on. obedience is what pushed me to go..and God did and is moving in me because of that "yes". we didn't have time to stay and chat awhile..but i left knowing that God was all over us as a team.





.at. HoH this day some of us did a cooking/baking lesson. i normally love to cook but i didn't feel like that is where i needed to be. that would have been my safety zone. to do things. to make things. to be busy. not to continue diving into the girl's lives. not to allow them to dive deep into my heart because we were leaving the next day. my normal would have been to play it safe..but i was done with being safe. so outside combing and braiding hair is where i found myself. a few of us sat in a circle working our combs through lice ridden hair. happy to be doing so i might add. wishing we could do more though. loving on each of the girls in this "mom" like way. this is how God would love his little girls..so he did it through us.





.our. third and final cell group landed us at Sarah's home. Sarah was the recipent of one of the mico-grants and she makes pinatas out of her home. this was one of the largest cell groups and the most involved. you could tell just by how the women responded to each other. how they loved one another. you could feel it. they wanted to move each other to know God more. we met up with Patricia who invited us to her home to share her story with us. She shared of her brokenness..her pain..and how God is redeeming it all. you could see Jesus pouring out of her. feel him so present in her life. two amazing women we had the priveledge to meet. Sarah was gracious and shared a portion of her story with us and we got to pray over her. she is a hero for God..and we got to pray over her. to encourage her. keep going. keep going. keep going.

.as. the evening drew near it was time to go back to HoH to say goodbye. we had about an hour to spend some final moments with the women and children. when we arrived it was about 6:00pm..so they were excited to see us. it was late in the day for visitors i'm sure. they were waiting for us as we piled out of the van. each girl calling the name of the person they had bonded to the most that week. for me it was little Lupe. she jumped into my arms as soon as she saw me. hugged me and wasn't letting go..i could already tell. as we walked through the gates of HoH she asked when we were leaving..Kellie let her know we were leaving the next day and that this was our last time at HoH. Lupe immediately began crying in my arms. the rest of the team ran ahead and began playing games and laughing. my sweet tender Lupe crying in my arms. we stayed outside of the main building as to give her and i time to be quiet with our sadness. i was trying desperately to be strong for her..to not cry. that didn't last long as i walked over to Kellie to have her translate what Lupe was saying. Lupe didn't want me to leave. she said that i was like her mom..she wanted me to be her mom and she was going to be so sad to see me leave. oh this broke my heart. knowing that i had to leave. but on the same hand she was able to let me in. was able to love me and allow me to love her. she got to feel God's love through me. i asked her to look at the moon. i told her that it was the same moon that i see in america..and that we would not be far away. i told her i would pray for her and think of her each night when i see the moon. at this point we were sobbing together. tears of sadness. tears of a bond that had been formed. for me though..they were also tears of feeling God so near. of knowing him so much more. so much better. of him allowing me to experience him that much more. i began singing to her. praising God for who he is. for rescuing little Lupe. for loving us THIS much. i got to show her his love and in turn she showed me his love too. she stayed in my arms the entire hour. crying on and off..for both of us.



.at. the end of the hour when she got her icecream and cookie is when i moved a million steps closer to God and his love for us. we were still holding each other. still crying. Lupe took her cookie..broke it in half..and ate one half and gave me the other half. she laid her head back on  my shoulder and started sobbing again. i could feel the dampness of her tears running down  my arm. i was done being strong for her. i sobbed right along with her. after a few minutes she picked her head up..tears streaming down her face..took my head in her hands and began to kiss my tears away. oh Jesus..how you love us! i did the same for her. kissing her tears away..knowing that's how God loves us. Lupe and i embraced one last time and i set her down..told her i loved her and kissed her head. with God's love i love that little girl. with God's love i loved every single one of them. overwhelmed with his love i wept the entire ride to dinner.

.as. we got back to our house i was so weighted by what had just happened. feeling the physical exhaustion right along with the emotional slam me hard. i started reading through isaiah 61 again. weeping at who God is. how he cares for us. oh how i hated God..and didn't want anything to do with him. God was moving mountians and parting seas in my heart. the only thing that felt right at the time was to go outside and get on my face and worship him.

"Jesus..oh you love me so much. forgive me for doubting your love. for running from it in fear. your word says you came to give life..and that is what i am feeling. i feel alive. i feel as though you are awakening me in new ways. i don't even know how to wrap my head around what you are doing..but Jesus keep doing it. keep moving. i am so soft and i know that is you. Jesus i praise you for who you are. you are my King. you are worthy. you are my savior. my redeemer. my everything. Jesus don't let me walk away from what you are doing inside of me. i want to stay in this moment. in this moment of knowing you more. of feeling your heart beat. oh God..my heart feels like it is going to burst with your love. i love you Jesus..."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

.heart.softened.part.tres.

.day.three.thursday.

.this. day started with me being down. discouraged. and just feeling like i should hide. pull away and not get involved..not jump in. this is my normal battle i fight here in the 'burg. not pulling away because i am too vulnerable. i get freaked out sometimes that i have been too open..let someone in too close..and due to fear of getting hurt or fear of them leaving i run. i leave first. i hurt them first. i have been walking through this with Jesus and close friends over the past eight or so months. this is nothing new for me. what was new is that i was in Nica. i wasn't in the 'burg. where i knew my next steps to take. bring people in on how i was feeling my walls come up. push through it. move into my friendships when that is the absolute last thing i want to do. when i push through those thoughts/feelings that's when God shows up big time..ever so faithful to teach me what being a part of his family looks like.



.i. expressed to the team that morning that i had felt discouraged. specifically with my story. that i had not shared enough..or that i did not share what God wanted. all lies. lies meant to keep me quiet..pulled away..withdrawn. my frustration mounted as i realized that my junk was hitting me here too. not here. not now.

"oh God bust through my walls. keep them down. you know i can't lower them..i don't even know how. God push them away like a vapor. Jesus i want your truth to be a mega-phone in my ear so that i can't even hear the lies."

.this. has been a prayer of mine consistently for the past six or so months. wanting God's truth to be ever so loud to drown out the lies. having scripture close is key in this. having it circle my thoughts. God's word is alive and that became ever so clear to me this day.

.today. there were a lot of things to get done. which meant that everyone would need to split off into their designated area. all the mothers in the group went with Shea to sit with the moms at HoH to teach a parenting class. i wasn't involved in this but i heard such amazing stories from this time. the ladies on our team were even saying how they learned a lot about being a parent and that it encouraged them to change or shift the ways in which they approached their children. amazing how we went to teach them and we come back ten-fold of knowledge and encouragement that they gave us. this was humbling to me. that here i was at some points in my thoughts..thinking that i was going to give them love. show them love. share with them what God did. but when it was all said in done it was about me doing and giving. not about God doing in me..through me. death to pride so that Jesus can live in me. some of the other women went with April in order to help organize the store room where they keep the supplies for the jewelry that the women make on Tuesday's.

.so. i was left to go to the dorm to start sketching and painting the mural. i was honestly relieved and glad that i could be alone for some time that morning. be alone with Jesus. this was good timing for me to be able to allow God to speak to my heart. to be louder than my lies. to show me his truth. i walked into the dorm..most of the twenty girls were there excited to see me. i dug out my pencils and started to map out where the main mural and verse would go on the wall. the girls were all so interested and wanted to know what i was doing. i decided to sit with them and sketch out a quick drawing of what i was going to do. they loved it. this sparked a mob of girls to join in on the drawing. there are missing pages in my journal as evidence of budding artists. i handed out pencils and charcoal to each of the girls. thankful that i had brought so many. i began sketching on the wall the mural that would soon be painted for them. the entire time God speaking to my heart about what the mural meant personally to me and what it would mean to them. that they would be able to have freedom in Jesus. again..i was overcome with being in the heartbeat of God. i can't explain it other than using the verse that talks about taking care of the widow and the orphans.

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for the orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." james 1:27

.this. verse was so true to me at this point. here i was painting for rescued girls..orphans..and asking God to keep the lies of the world out of my head. pushing through them just like here in the 'burg..but doing it at a different level. God allowed me to experience himself even more.




.as. i was painting the girls thought it would be a great idea to color in my tattoo. i didn't mind. allowing them to connect with me in this way. they colored in the birds and the flower. as they filled in my tattoo i remembered what that tattoo meant when i got it a few years ago. it was my tattoo of ultimate rebellion. there is a lotus flower and an origami dove coming out of it. four candles that represent the fires of life that make me who i am/was. then the dove transforms into a life like dove as it flies through the fire. this tattoo symbolized me being done with religion..with God. it was my way of saying to the world i am going to be true to myself from this point on. oh how wrong i was. i met Jesus and that all changed. i was done with religion..and still am. i am all about knowing God..and knowing him for who he says he is..not what others tell me. thank you Jesus for redeeming me. for pursuing me. for loving me first. then they started drawing their own designs..and their names all over me. i was a walking wall of graffiti tags. i thought it was great..me painting their wall..them writing/drawing on me. perfect.



.the. mural took most of the day for me to finish up. i was disconnected from most of the team but it was ok. some of them had come by to check up on the progress and lend a hand for a bit. was neat to have everyone on the team take part in some way on the mural. i wanted that. i wanted everyone to have a hand in it. then it hit me. the girls! the girls didn't have a hand it it. they weren't owning it. i didn't want it to be us coming in doing something for them but not caring about them. so as i was talking to God about it he gave me this great idea to have them make butterflies with their hands and paint their name under each one. the butterfly is the HoH's mascot if you will. God is the inventor of creativity. such beauty flowed out of this. chaos. but beautiful chaos. what came out of that dirty pink wall turned white was something only God could do.










.after. a long day with the girls we headed back to where we were staying. this was what Shea called  a marathon night. we had the privilege of hearing other's stories of how God pursued them. it was amazing to hear them and to hear what God did in each of their lives. i am falling more in love with God in how he loves us first. i ended the evening with reading through isaiah. sixty-one.

"1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me,
      for the LORD has anointed me
      to bring good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
      and to proclaim that captives will be released
      and prisoners will be freed.[a]
 2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
      that the time of the LORD’s favor has come,[b]
      and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
 3 To all who mourn in Israel,[c]
      he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
   a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
      festive praise instead of despair.
   In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
      that the LORD has planted for his own glory.
 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
      repairing cities destroyed long ago.
   They will revive them,
      though they have been deserted for many generations.
 5 Foreigners will be your servants.
      They will feed your flocks
   and plow your fields
      and tend your vineyards.
 6 You will be called priests of the LORD,
      ministers of our God.
   You will feed on the treasures of the nations
      and boast in their riches.
 7 Instead of shame and dishonor,
      you will enjoy a double share of honor.
   You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
      and everlasting joy will be yours.
 8 “For I, the LORD, love justice.
      I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
   I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
      and make an everlasting covenant with them.
 9 Their descendants will be recognized
      and honored among the nations.
   Everyone will realize that they are a people
      the LORD has blessed.”
 10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God!
      For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
      and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
   I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit
      or a bride with her jewels.
 11 The Sovereign LORD will show his justice to the nations of the world.
      Everyone will praise him!
   His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
      with plants springing up everywhere.



.this. is our God.

Monday, February 6, 2012

.heart.moved.part.dos.

.day.two.wednesday.

.first. day of the month. ready to go. ready to jump out and hit the ground running. i wasn't expecting to feel this way..was glad i did though. on the agenda for today was to build relationships with the women and the children. to intentionally have conversations with them about their story. their experience or relationship with God. where they were in their journey with or to Jesus. we also were going to paint a mural on one of the walls of the dorm for the girls. i was heading up the "creative team". one of the ladies, Mindy, had shown me an idea she had for the mural and explained what she was thinking. it was a rendering of some thorns and vines twisting all together and then sprouting from them were vines of growth..new and fresh. i loved that idea. we then discussed which verse we could use to go along with God resucing and healing brokenness. i had picked out a few verses that stuck out to me the week before. i read the first three..and on one was really sold on any of them. then i ready Galatians 5:1 "it is for freedom that Christ has set you free. stand frim, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." as soon as i read this verse everyone confirmed this was the verse. it is for freedom that Christ has in fact set us free.



.as. we got all set up to paint the wall in the dorm a few of us were enjoying talking with the girls that had perched themselves on the opposite wall. Christy grabbed a broom and began sweeping the wall off. cleaning it to the best of our ability. we had to adjust many parts of this project in order to accommodate our humble surroundings. problem solving/solution finding should be a spiritual gift. we began painting the dirty walls a wonderfully bright shade of white. the consistency of the paint was best described by Anna.."it's like painting with glue!" ugh. painting with glue-like-paint is not fun. in case you were thinking about trying this at home. don't.

.the. girls loved watching us dance around and sing and just be silly while painting the walls. Christy was signing to them some songs and we eventually got them to sing some songs for us in Spanish. they started one by one signing some beautiful worship songs that they knew. we were able to recognize the tune of them and started signing them in English. i wish i had a picture or video of this. us on one wall..covered in glue-like stinky white paint singing in English. the girls sitting and singing in Spanish "our God is mighty to save".  picture this..fifteen or so of the young girls who lived in the dorm..who have all been rescued from a brothel..or some form of sexual abuse..singing how our God is mighty to save..he can move the mountains..hope of the nations. isn't our God good? yes..yes..yes! tears filled my eyes and i had to face the wall as we all sang along with them. English and Spanish flowed together in the small front room of the dorm..praising God for how amazing he is. for who he is. for rescuing us all from the pit of ourselves..darkness. all of this from just painting one wall white.




.as. the wall was drying we all had lunch. during lunch we were able to hear some stories from the girls and women who live at HoH. it was amazing to look into the faces of one of the women, Angela, who shared her pain and her brokenness..then how God had and is rescuing her. putting a face to the stories we have heard in the Big Room at Blue Ridge. this made it more real for a lot of us on the team that day. brought it home to our hearts. just after lunch we all headed to the main building for a teaching time on healing from sexual abuse. i was scheduled to tell a portion of my story to the women and children. telling of my abuse. the pain it had caused. what affects it had in my life. anger. bitterness. rebellion. self-injury. etc. sharing what that looked like since stepping into a relationship with Jesus. what he was doing through it. in me. what healing and wholeness looked like with him. as i was talking i was looking deep into the eyes of those women. God's children. seeing them connect with me in a way that only God could orchestrate. some of the girls crying while i was sharing. brokenness exposed. after i shared i answered some questions from the ladies. one girl in particular had many questions. tough ones. "have you forgiven your father?"..later to find out this question was from a girl who was abused by her dad. the women had encouraging things to say to me. i was blown away by the love that they gave me. God's love was flowing out of me for them..and he was using them to love me well. oh he is so good to us!



.Shea. then came and wrapped up..giving them a practical question to discuss in their groups. a small box to paint the inside of. God makes us beautiful from the inside out. Shea asked them to share what things they do to "protect" themselves..or release the pain of their past. i later heard stories of the girls opening up like they have not done before. sharing with each other about their past. about their pain. about how they deal with it in negative/destructive ways. cicatrices..we all have them..just not all are on the outside. Kellie made that observation earlier and shared it with me. how she saw that the women and girls were drawn to me because of my scars. they were interested and wanted to know why. and they understood. that because i was wearing my scars of my past on my arm the girls could see that right away. no language barriers. God's restoration in action.


.that. evening we had the honor of dining with Oscar and Velma and their youngest daughter, Emily. dinners with Oscar and Velma were a highlight for everyone. getting to see them and hear their hearts for the girls was amazing. moving. challenging. feeling like we were in the presence of heroes for God. (that's because we were!) Shea had asked if Velma would be willing to some back with us to share her story with us. she agreed and we could hardly wait to get back home to hear her story. we were able to hear her heart. see her tears. see how God is using her ashes for beauty. this is God's heartbeat i'm realizing. up close and personal. ashes become beautiful things in God's hands.

.i. must admit though..i had begun to feel discouraged...or maybe like i had let people or God down with my story. with what i did and didn't share. the next morning i had voiced this to the group. knowing rationally that these thoughts were not of God. lies. still hard to move through. i couldn't explain to the group exactly why i was feeling this way..no truth to base it on. unseen battlefield. allowing the team to fight with me in prayer. this was my prayer to God about feeling discouraged..

"...i feel as though i failed you God. that i missed an opportunity. that i let you down. Jesus speak your TRUTH to me. God that i can see and hear your truth tomorrow. that i can and will feel you close. that i will see you move and work tomorrow. keep me soft God. to be open to you and how you want to change me. i feel my walls coming up. i want to be open. my heart is yours God. this love i am feeling is yours. i want to be in the pulse of your love. i don't want any of my walls. i want to love as you love. ..."

.walls. came up..and God burst through them.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

.heart.changed.part uno.

.this. is a story of how much God loves us and wants us to change for his glory. i just got back from a six day journey into the depths of God's heart. i want to sit down and tell everyone my experience..look into their eyes..help them to understand the changes that God did and is doing in me because of six tiny days. this will be a six part journey. please fasten your seat belts and don't worry you won't need any of the emergency exits.

.day.one. tuesday.

.normally this is a dreaded day for me. it is a "marker" day..associated with abuse and pain. i have never really been a fan of this day. my birthday. i was lovingly woken up..at 5:00am..by Christy leaning over my bed to wish me a happy birthday. then several others throughout the morning showering their love on me..and me allowing them to do so. key word..allowing.

.so. here we are. thirteen american girls..ten of which have never been to Nicaragua, much less the House of Hope. some are chomping at the bit ready to go see and experience God's heart beat. some anxiously expecting..unsure of what is to come. some numb and uncertain of even how to feel. me. i was relieved that we were finally going. you see..my week prior to coming was difficult to say the least. was very close to opting out of this opportunity several times. the unseen battle had hit me hard. unsure of what to expect. what i was going to see or hear. unsure of what my response was going to be. quietly expecting God to move. asking God for change in me. for softness. for movement. for openness. oh God won't you come.

.arrival. we piled out of the van glad to be standing on the grounds of HoH. we all lined up waiting for instructions of what our first step would be from our leader, Shea. one young girl with arms opened wide ran into Shea..she was so happy to see a familiar face who loved her. one by one the little girl hugged each one of us. i was second to last in the line. as she hugged me she noticed my scars. she ran her finger up and down my arm speaking in beautiful Spanish. she then quickly hugged the last person and ran away. a few seconds later i was surrounded by that same little girl and five others. all touching and rubbing my scars. discussing amongst themselves and trying, unsuccessfully, to ask me about them. then they noticed my tattoo on my other arm. i had girls holding both arms touching my scars and tracing the outline of my tattoo. at that moment..with both arms being stretched out i head God saying, "this is it..jump..go..it's safe..i am close..follow me." i obeyed and dove head first into God's love for his children. his little girls. i quickly grabbed one of the translators, Kellie, and asked her how to say "scars" in Spanish. cicatrices..this became my new word..and eventually everyone on the team learned what this word was.



.after. a quick tour and history behind the HoH we walked through the dorm where there are currently twenty girls residing. each girl starving for and wanting love. hugging each of us on the team. so excited and open to having us there. knowing what a broken and painful past they each hold. a story of pain. i felt God's heartbeat in their dorm. looking into their faces i could see Jesus. at one point we were tip-toeing the line of trying to break the thin ice that held us back. Shea whispered to some of the girls that it was my birthday. immediately they all began signing and clapping the most beautiful happy birthday song you've ever heard. one by one they came up to me hugged and kissed me..and wished me a happy birthday. ice officially broken.

.being. that it was tuesday..it was going to be one of the busiest days we were going to have..and our first one. eek! we began to prepare for 400 women who have left or are currently still in a life of prostitution. these women come to worship God..listen to teaching from his word..and work together to make jewelry and cards to sell in order to supplement their income. giving them a way out of selling their bodies for money. sitting there in the back of the main building watching the women worship. some uninterested. some truly worshipping their savior. praying for them..feeling God's love for them pour through me. overwhelmed at feeling God so close so soon. i thought for sure it would take some time for me to really experience God. not the case. as the service went on a women in the front row began having seizures. shortly she was carried out of the building and i followed. feeling as though i should be involved. i could not give any medical advice..but i could talk to my Jesus who is mighty. i felt moved by God to show her love in a tangible way. holding her head as she convulsed and talking to her in what little Spanish i know. asking her questions and wanting to hear her story. her name is Carla.

.as. i sat with Carla and listened to her heart and her fears. holding her close. looking into her eyes. seeing darkness and no hope. at this point, Kellie, one of the translators walked away for a few minutes. i kept asking God to please move my hands, my body, my words as he would. as Carla reached for a water bottle i was handing her i noticed something on her wrists. i took her arm in mine and turned her hand over so that her palms were facing upwards. on her wrists were several scars. much like mine. no differences. no language barrier can stand in the way of Jesus. as i held her wrists she noticed i was looking at her scars. i looked deep into her eyes. i can't even begin to share what i saw in her eyes. the depth of despair and the longing she had for even just a fraction of hope. a yearning in her face. tears filled her eyes as i asked in broken Spanish what they were. although i could not understand what she was saying with her words..i knew exactly what she was saying. Shea was sitting close by and looked at me and said, "do you know what she is telling you?" i looked back and said "yes". not really her words but i understood. Carla had not noticed my arm. had not seen my scars. i slowly moved my arm from around her neck and showed her my scars. she looked at them. then at me. then at my scars again. touched them. felt them. she was feeling and understanding my pain and i was doing the same with her. we understood each other's brokenness. God did this. Kellie had returned and my heart was beating so fast with prompting from God to talk to her about her story and tell a bit about mine. she told a heartbreaking story of her pain and how she had tried to end her life several times. how she had no hope. how she had done so much wrong. she explained that she had not been coming to the HoH for several weeks due to her seizures. i was able to share with her my pain..my darkness..and my hope in Jesus. how he took my pain and is healing me. Carla continued to have seizures during our conversation. asking God to heal her. to give her clarity of mind. to stop the seizures. God brought Carla to HoH this day in his sovereignty. he is a good God. he pursues us. after some time with Carla it was time to work with the rest of the team. we placed Carla in a chair. this seemed like a dull ending to such an amazing conversation and God story..but later we heard that after we left she did not have any further seizures and was able to walk home.



.the. rest of this day was filled with the girls. bonding with the girls who live at HoH who were rescued from brothels. grace. one of the girls had fallen and gotten hurt. Shea had asked if i would like to hold her. i wrapped her up in my arms and sat with her for long time. as i was sitting there i began praying for her. for her heart to be protected. that God would begin and continue to heal her heart. to protect it to not grow bitter or angry. while praying for her tears started streaming down my face. (for those that were on the trip this will be no surprise.) it was as if God opened up my heart and my eyes to see her in the future. to see what God was going to restore for her. i saw myself in her as well. God was allowing me to see her..a young seven year old little girl..as myself. God spoke to me about how much he loved me as a little girl..broken..and hurt at such a young age. i was able to see myself as that child. which for me..does not happen often. this was a huge step in my healing process. then God spoke to me about how he would restore and bind up little Grace. i saw her moving in freedom. in knowing God. in seeking freedom and restoration for others. being a fighter for God to bind up the broken hearted. tear of healing and hope for little Grace pouring down my face. oh how he loves us and knows exactly what we need and how best to teach us about himself. how great is our God!

.drying. my tears i went to join the others to serve the leaders for the small groups at HoH. we put on a luncheon for them. my dear friend, Melissa, shared with the women from God's word. encouraging them to keep going. keep pushing through. keep seeking his face. they opened up and shared their hardships and struggles. encouraging one another and us to keep going because God is so worthy of our obedience.



.the. day ended with us all gathered around sharing about our first day's experience and what we thought. i was overwhelmed with emotion of what role God had allowed me to play. crying and sharing about how i felt that this was going to be a huge week for me. one of life change. of God being close. i had written in my journal some about the day and the depth at what was happening in my heart. i was unsure still at what was happening but knowing that God was doing something..something huge. this is what i wrote about what God was teaching me and allowing me to walk through with him. 

"Jesus shift me..move me. Change me. ... today i held a girl, seven years old. who was sold into prostitution. i cried over her. realizing her age. how small she was. how disconnected  and hurt she is. Jesus this hurts. i hurt for her. i realized how i was at her age with my abuse. her sister, Anna, is five. my first memory with my abuse is at that age. oh Jesus be close in this. in their pain/hurt. thank you for rescuing them. thank you that they can hear of you and see your love now. Jesus protect their hearts. soften them. soften me. Jesus use me. work through my story. it is yours to use. it is your story. i ask for healing. i ask for movement towards your truth in it. i ask for more of you God. Jesus come close. .... one of the other girls, Lupe, asked me to be her God mother. my heart leapt. this is your heart Jesus. your heart for your children. you want us near. desire us to be loved and changed. you ache with their hurt. keep me open God to hear your voice."



.this. was the beginning of change.