Spring Cleaning

You know how when you start to clean, it all looks way worse than it is?

Bingo. That is my situation right now. I’m going through my clothes, and a lot of my stuff, and being realistic about what I need. It’s Spring Cleaning!

springclean

I got back from the World Race almost a year and a half ago. I remember traveling the world with a backpack and honestly thinking I had too much stuff (mostly because I had to carry it haha). And now I look around my room and realize that the more room you have, the more stuff you get.

It got me thinking about a few of spiritual parallels….

1) When the Lord is doing GOOD WORK and CLEANSING work, it at first feels worse than it did before. But just like cleaning, once everything is swept, organized, it goes back its place, and it is better than before. We can’t panic about the initial mess, but trust that there’s a method to the madness.

God isn’t a God of confusion {1Cor 14:33} and He is working all things for the good {Romans 8:28}.

2) When you make room for more, more shows up. When God does miracles, He makes people ‘make room’ first.

water wineYou see in 2 Kings 4, when Elisha has the widow go and gather jars. God multiplied her oil as she poured into the jars, and the oil only stopped pouring when she ran out of jars.

Same with the baskets God asked the disciples to gather before He multiplied food. Same with the barrels that Jesus requested to be filled with water at the wedding, before He turned them into wine. God has obedience and preparation steps before He does a miracle. He fills to the measure prepared.

Not only so, but the measure you use is measured to you. {Luke 6:38}

3) When you remove the old stuff, new things have room to be stored. When you change habits, you can form new ones. If you were to make a list of 5 things you’d like to do (for fun or for growth), what would they be?

Here are mine:

-reading more

bookhigh

-running (the weather is niiiice)

springfit

-cooking more at home (and also why running more)

lasagna

-writing more notes/cards

notes

-writing in my prophetic journal (aka listening more)

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This meme will never retire in this blog.

Count the cost:

In order to make room for those things, I need to clear out the other options.

All these would still remain goals if I don’t set a time and a goal.
For April, I’d like to run 30 miles, read 3 books (or at least finish 3 haha), and write 30 cards.  With cooking and prophecy, I’m not going to set a number, but only say that I am going to share my progress 🙂

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What do you need to clean out?

What do you want that is new for April?

ASK! Decide it now, and make steps toward it.

Spring is here.
It’s time to clean and make room!

{Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10}

The Big News

It’s finally here… time to announce the big news!

Life is full of opportunities to take big steps. Going on the World Race was a big step for me. Moving to Georgia, yet another.

My friend Jen says that when God wants to take you somewhere new, He calls you to surrender something else. Whether that’s the old way of things, or a comfort, or an old habit… it moves to make room for the new thing.

God is doing a new thing with me!

While I’ve been warring with myself, my schedule, and my heart for wanting to go in a million directions, God’s been constant. Many times, I picked up the phone and called my closest friends, venting that I didn’t quite know what to do with the growth of Phylla House and the transitions coming my way. It was a great answered prayer, blowing up all over my life. Thank You God? =]

I moved to Gainesville, GA in January of 2013, fresh off the World Race, still spinning from jet lag. Unlike most of the CGA apprentices, I came with a very specific dream to bring to earth: women’s ministry to divorced and widows. These women are falling through the cracks of The Church, and we’re ignoring their pain. Not okay with me. Not okay with Jesus. Calling? Check! So I came to Georgia to learn everything I possibly could from Adventures in Missions.

What did I learn?

  • How to manage a website. Had phyllahouse.com up and running within the first month of being in Georgia. Stacy Chew fixed everything I broke, praise the Lamb for her.
  • How to better manage social media. People contact me regularly saying “found Phylla House through twitter/insta/fb” so there you have it, it works.
  • How to do ninja-like stuff with fusion tables, mapping, connecting, spreadsheets, Google Drive, tracking, metrics, I don’t even…. I can’t even. It’s Excel-lent.
  • How to take a vision and simplify it to the bare-bones necessity, and start there. Like this…

    visionbudget

    Nailed it.

  • How to ask for help.
  • How to put worship first.
  • Myers-Briggs, Myers-Briggs, Myers-Briggs
  • Strengths Finder, Strengths Finder, Strengths Finder
  • That I’m an Exhorter and Ruler at the core of who I am.
  • That sometimes having lunch with Karen Barnes can change your whole life, especially when she says the most obvious stuff like “start a Bible study, start there” and makes it all seem so possible… and then it ALL happened from there. Good God.
  • How to star in baller videos, such as…
  • What a sacred circle is, and what it means to guard it. This is a shout-out to my homies, you know who you are.
  • That people willingly let you take their children overseas for a month, to Uganda? And I can never thank them enough, because their ‘kids’ blessed me more than I can explain.
  • That a “short-term trip” can easily build long-term relationships.
  • That God can open doors of mansions, churches, and homes. Much more, God can open hearts.
  • That people who have been on the World Race have a special bond that not many people can understand. Getting to know more and more of these folks has been the biggest blessing.
  • That you have to leave the nest in order to fly!

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So here it is:

I’m leaving the nest of Adventures in Missions

My department wasn’t affected by the recent restructure they’ve done, but it is time to devote myself to the thing I came here to do, and do it well.
Phylla House is real now, seriously thanks to Adventures in Missions.

Don’t worry Gainesville, I’m staying until further notice. I’ll be helping with logistics at both Project Searchlights this summer!

Meanwhile, I’ll be working at the hospital and running a ministry, and enjoying the pollen, the lake, and love!

We’ll see how things go in the fall.
I can assure you, I’ll be living a great story and writing all about it.

You’re Mine

Just a brush past You, King.

It only takes the smallest glimpse, a breeze of heaven passing through to halt my everything. I’m on hold for You.

My full attention, Yours. The divine tension of my soul turning away from the world, my straying eyes now straining toward the Throne Room. Holy.

God, I am listening. Speak! Say the words I need so desperately. I’m starving from not having come to the table. Are You still able to receive me now? Are You with me?

Always. Forever. I AM hereby tethered to you, enamored by you, my bride. My very blood covers you. Will you remain beside me? Will you trust me? How I love you, the very same, if not even more today. I AM your everything, just a brush is all it takes for you to know you’re Mine.

He will have me. He will keep me. He will not give me over to any other. I had thought that I could lose my way until I remembered jealousy keeps me. He keeps me, and I’m a fool to think another could steal what He has called His own. If the Consuming Fire is ravished by my small heart, what man of the earth, what power of heaven or hell, can keep me from Him? -Dana Candler, Deep unto Deep

The Altar Call to the Saved

Come to Jesus for salvation, new life, forgiveness. Check!
After this most important decision, we have Christ.

We have Him. We have access to His righteousness, His power, authority, grace, and favor.
His ear is bent to hear us. His eyes are ever on us.
He is our Defender. He declares us restored and healed.
I see a generation rising up and extending their hands for the next step.

What is next now, Jesus? What do we do with this precious gift? What is next after dying to sin, being raised to walk in the newness of life?

To diffuse the Christian lingo out of my words, what is next?
You’re saved, you have your ticket to heaven, so what do you do?
Go to church once a week? Okay.

What about reading the Bible? You read a little bit here and there. Maybe you’ve arrived at the point where you feel you should read every day. Good. Have you got it? Is that the breakthrough? Is that the fullness of life?

What about opting to listen to Christian music in the car? Family-friendly, deciding against pop and country, even! Is that the pinnacle of holy living?

Oh I know. A Bible study. Surely, that will be the thing that we do that sets us apart? Bring a dish, let us gather around a meal, because that’s unheard of.

Maybe tithing is it. Writing that check for 10%, yes. Generosity. Walking in that. Check. Let me make sure to deduct it from my taxes though, so I see it again. Isn’t it convenient?

Where’s the power of Jesus?
Where’s the authority of Jesus?
Where’s the life of Jesus?
Where’s the fullness He died to secure for us?
Is it waiting only in heaven?

Jesus, we are extending our hands to you, asking You to see this on earth. We want to experience fullness of life!
I am praying for a generation that isn’t simply following that checklist: church, Bible, music, fellowship, giving.

A generation like that is merely sitting on their hands, serving a convenient religion of a God who may as well be dead because His followers don’t acknowledge Him but for 5-10 hours a week.

Anybody can be a ‘Christian’ by those standards. It isn’t at all painful. It’s actually quite pleasant and remarkably convenient. It makes for great barbeques, nice friendships, and it leaves lots of time for doing whatever else you may want to do! You can still do everything you did before. Your schedule never has to change, or your priorities, or your heart, or your mind. You’ll be told constantly that you are loved by God, and you are, just as you are! You’ll sing about loving Him back. He hears those songs, He loves your praises, and He reaches into your heart to break it. He wants to change your life completely! He wants you to drop what you’re doing and follow Him, whatever that looks like! It’s a radical switch that looks nothing like before. What if He wants to send you to another place? What if He needs you to do a different job? What if you’re not asking? What if you’re not listening?

Your spirit responds, “more, Jesus, MORE” but are your actions denying your spirit of the abundance of Christ?

The unfortunate reality of living the way you always have, is that you will continue to have exactly what you have.

Do you want more?
What will it take?
This is an altar call for the saved.

Jesus wants you, and all of you, right now.

 Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans 12:2]

Affirmation Addict

Guilty.

I realized why it’s hard for me to say no.
Why I choose challenges.
Why I find myself fighting this flesh that actually strives to be perfect, just so I can hear that I’m perfect.

The irony is that technically I am perfect, because of what Christ has done.
I’m holy and righteous. I’m awesome by Him. His grace comes to give me relief from my striving, and my flesh still fights it.

I hear Him sometimes raising His voice, envision Him gripping His throne with what I can only imagine to be passion, as He affirms me that I’m plenty good, that I’m wanted, and to stop freaking out.

Truth is that a little part of me is still broken. It hurts. It’s flaring up right now, and I know it’s for a reason. It’s for me to truly yield it and let the Lord heal it.

I feel the need to be affirmed more than the usual.
Then, the affirmation I just received expires rather quickly.

You can imagine how frustrating that can be to my loved ones, when I doubt them or question them, or push them. It’s obnoxious. I annoy myself. I question if I’m loved when I seriously was just told that I was loved. I’m not okay with that, it’s like I’m stuck in a catchy 90’s song. No.

90s

Believe me that I am taking this to the Lord.
The affirmation room in my heart is leaking or something.
It’s not holding well. I should be able to hold it better, to cherish it longer.
To believe it.

It’s not even that I don’t hear it from people or hear it enough.
I’m constantly hearing it. My family, my friends, my love, Phylla House ladies, church folks, strangers, internet people… I hear it. Affirmation is on loop, y’all.

africanlol

Yet I find myself wondering if it has all run out. If everybody has all of a sudden changed their minds about me in a matter of hours, days, weeks. It’s ridiculous. Jesus wants to fix it, which is why it’s being brought to attention.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I knew this would be a good thing to write about, because I bet there are a lot of good girls and guys who wanna hear just one more time that they’re awesome, and wanted, and loved. Just one more time, right? And then again. And again.

asianbaby

Can’t hear this enough, am I right?

Just for you, here’s some truth:

You are loved.
You are loved by the Father above, and the people around you.
Cherished.
Every hair on your head counted and every step for your feet is guided.
Pursued.
You are called, chased, needed. Run after. Sung over.
Beautiful.
Strong enough, fit enough, fair enough. Stunning.

Take it to heart because today and always, you are affirmed. Have your fill. May God’s love rid your heart of any fear and heal your wounds like it’s healing mine. May it give you peace and confidence to love and be loved.

On Trusting People

Newsflash: we live in a world that favors disorder.

Constant change is exhausting, but that’s the setting of this life. We are constantly making plans, and having those plans change. It’s a decision to commit, but then to be flexible. Two people make an agreement, and then that agreement changes. Depending on which end of the deal you’re usually on, I can guarantee there’s some bitterness or shame. It can be so minute. It can be nearly undetectable, or completely wreak havoc, depending on the importance of the agreement.

I’ve had a lot of agreements fall through.
Important things.
Unspoken things.
Coffee grabbing.
Lunch dates.
Staff meetings.
Phylla House-related stuff.
Failures that make people wince and hope for a change of subject.
I get canceled on, stood up, delayed, left waiting, and I am often running late, discouraged, too busy, and too tired. This is “normal” for me. Sometimes it is a normal I am not comfortable with, and parts of it I know are just the process. I am learning how to rest. I am learning how to say no. I am learning how to draw my strength from the Lord and not rely on my own. Yet, in this process, I get tired of people. I get tired of plans. I want to unplug and shut down and hide. I want to stop making plans, responding, receiving.

In the middle of it all, there has to be a continuous process of restoration and reconciliation with the concept of trust.

Disappointment is one of the possible outcomes of trusting.

Depending on how much you trust people, things, stuff, disappointment becomes more and more likely, if not completely unavoidable.

You are trusting imperfect stuff. Imperfect people. Imperfect things.

Let’s be realistic here for a second:: how ridiculous would we be if we expected perfection out of imperfect, flawed stuff? If we expected 100% when that’s actually IMPOSSIBLE.

People fail. Cars fail. Jobs fail. Leaders fail.
The weather, the immune system, the school system, the post office, the Broncos…

peytonmeme

Yet we don’t stop trusting. We don’t stop making plans.
We don’t stop showing up, because disappointment is one outcome of trust, but it’s not the only outcome.

We have to choose to have grace for changes, and to brace ourselves for their possibility.
Every coffee date, every lunch meeting, every staff meeting, every scheduled shift, every deadline, every good intention, every important thing that depends on stuff that fails… it could change, it could cancel, it could be delayed, deferred, or disregarded. It shouldn’t shock you every time.

What do you do with that reality?

Do you allow yourself to be angry with people? Do you judge them as flakes, as unreliable? Do you judge yourself and put shame on yourself when you can’t come through with an agreement? Do you allow resentment and bitterness to creep up?

The tiniest change of plans, stacked with another little change, and another, and another… it can build, and weigh down in your heart. It can change the lens through which you see the world. It can shut you off from the beautiful thing that is to trust.

You have an anchor for your soul in Christ.
He is truth.
He does not lie.
He is good.
He is not into confusion.
He shows up.
He makes unchanging plans.
He sings over you.

Fill up on the unfailing nature of God.
His unfailing love, His perfect peace, His faithfulness.

In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
-Psalm 56:4

Then brace yourself for another go at taking people at their word, making plans, trying your best, and offering a gracious response when agreements fall through. Let them see that you have your trust tank on full, and that the disappointments of this world, whether they are on our part or on theirs, do not take away from the delight that it is to trust, to love, to try. What can this world do to you?

Soon enough, you’ll find yourself loving people through their weaknesses, and seeing them through their illnesses. You realize that the plans you made have been divinely interrupted so you can learn to offer grace to people when they let you down. And isn’t that the promise of God? That we share in Christ’s comfort as well as His suffering? That we grow in compassion, patience, and courage?

We are becoming more and more like Jesus when we choose to keep no record of wrongs, when we choose to bravely trust, fully aware that disappointment is a likely outcome. Jesus was disappointed a lot. I’m sure He was more disappointed than any of us. He understands how it feels, and He set a good example. He didn’t give up on people.

We embrace the likeliness of disappointment for the sake of growing in grace.

We choose to reconcile our hearts to the God-glorifying risk that is to love and to trust, knowing He is the only Unfailing, knowing He will hold us, anchor us when others let us down or when we ourselves fall short of our word.

My First Sermon in America

Having preached in 9 other countries, you’d think America wouldn’t be so intimidating.

Ha.

I prepared for my sermon for hours and hours, way earlier on in the week. I recorded about 2 hours of me just rambling through thoughts, going off into prayer language tangents, coming back to English, points, scriptures, words to look up, passages to break down back to Hebrew… I listened to all that and took notes. Then I did it again. Nearly 2 hours of rambling, this time on track. Telling stories. Making jokes. Revising. Editing. Cutting back. Deciding what was appropriate. Choosing my transitions.

Then I listened to that. And from this, I had my rough draft sermon notes.

Three drafts later, I had my final notes.

I woke up the morning of the sermon, and in my brain, it sounded like my thoughts were in fast forward. It was like I was speaking in my head, but so fast, so so fast. I couldn’t even grasp one sentence. It was like an auction.

“Oh no. No no no no. No. Jesus, help a girl.”

I started getting ready for church, and the brain jumble went away. As I got ready and checked my phone, I was delighted by the messages. “I’m praying for you today and speak peace over you.” “Just wanted to tell you good luck this morning even though I know you don’t need it… Love you.” “Praying for you this morning! I pray his peace is over you and that it is not your words that are spoken but His 🙂 You’re gonna rock it, Helena!” “You’re gonna do so awesome!!” And it went on and on… that’s not even getting into all the sweet Snapchats haha.

Had I not been so focused, I know I would have probably cried over the sweetness and timeliness of that wave of encouragement. I am not alone in this. There’s an army around me.

When I got to the church, I felt confident. Not in myself, or my message, or my eloquence, but confident that the Lord was going to be faithful. He wasn’t going to waste the opportunity, the sacrifice, or the time.

The slides with all the scripture verses were ready. Of course, there were tons of them, and mostly OT. Duh. Hello, fiber. Love it. I wish I could make everyone fall in love with the OT, dry and all. It’s so rich and wild and funny and raw.

My friends started showing up. People who never come to this church, people who came for the first time to try it out, just to see me. In total, we had 91 people in attendance.

So now the picture is painted for you. The music began, the pastor’s video announcement cued me in, and I found myself with a live microphone attached to my cardigan, in front of an American congregation.

As I prayed, I said to the Lord that if He doesn’t move this morning, it would be just like any other morning. If He doesn’t speak through me, I’d just be a girl with a microphone, wasting my breath. But if He chooses to move, and if He speaks, then lives and families could change from here on out.

I gave the message. I didn’t get lost. My transitions, I was told, made sense. In the response in the end, many hands were raised, people vouching that parts of their legacy would end with them, and that new beginnings would start with them. Afterwards, I was approached by a LOT of people. I can’t even tell you how many, because I honestly don’t know. I got hugs and handshakes, and a man put a wad of cash in my hand (he tried to make it all hidden but my reaction ruined it haha), and I held a few hands while tears welled up in the eyes of people saying “that meant a lot to me” and “God showed me something I need to work on, thank you.”

That’s more reward than anything I could ever ask for. To know that the Lord moved, and brought some clarity to new layers of healing that need to take place. We are always healing. We are always being sanctified, purified, refined, and sharpened. Praise the Lord when He can bring to light a new construction zone of the heart. As for a recording, there should be one up soon. When I have the link, I’ll post it. 😉

I had a really sweet woman of God approach me and ask me if I’d be interested in being a resource to adoptive parents, teaching more on legacy and family. She said it really helped her to hear the message, and that other parents going through the process would benefit from that. I was floored, and humbled, and so so excited. I have a huge heart for adoption, and it’d be so amazing to learn more and be more involved with that community. This morning had that divine appointment for me! A new door opened.

doorNow that it’s over, that it’s behind me as a sweet memory, I know that this was training ground. It seemed like the biggest test, the biggest hurdle. Now I see that it was practice. Faith practice. Obedience practice. Am I willing to step in front of a congregation and not explain myself away, not shy away, not hesitate, not talk about ME, but completely yield to what God wants to do? Am I willing to set aside my capabilities, my limitations, my reasoning, and my qualifications, in order to make room for the Lord to push beyond my strength?

I got to practice that this morning. I had to shut off my thoughts and let Him continue to speak. It’s not about me. It’s not about my past, or the people in it. None of that matters. Whatever brokenness I walked through was simply so that a demolition could take place, and a rebuilding could begin. It’s the Lord’s work. I’m His girl. I’ll keep saying yes. I do. I will. He keeps putting speaking engagements in front of me, y’all. I accept. I receive. I don’t want recognition or fame or a spotlight. I just want to tell you what my God has done. I just want to honor my King.

A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

He tells me to rise and shine.