broken wide Holy Spirit

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”5551″ img_size=”600 x 900″ alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5555″ img_size=”600 x 900″ alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5547″ img_size=”600 x 900″ alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”BROKEN WIDE HOLY SPIRIT” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:35|text_align:left”][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style” size=”100″ background_color=”#ffffff” text_color=”#000000″]I[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1509546249769{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]t is in the dark that I hear him. A voice confident. Robust. Jocular even. He fills the room, his response to my simple question so immediate, it is without question He was there all along.

I leave off the lights so there is nothing else I see. I want my heart to see. I want my heart to hear. There it is–my spirit inviting my soul to wake: Wake up! Wake up!

I love that sound. A declaration of a soul awaking.  A warrior call to live, to not stay sleeping. It is my favorite sound.

My heart unfolds now. It stretches, expands. I know this voice, this beckoning. But this is different. It is not my Father speaking now. It is the Spirit laughing, celebrating.

This. This day.

This is the best day, like all the days. For we—you and I—are separate from the throng. Children who rise. Daughters shielded, protected, fearless in our confidence of who we are.

Do you hear Him say it? His delight at the reminder?

I am yours. You are mine.

In darkness I see us clearly. The sun arising. The light breaking forth, a blanket of white and gold spread out, a banner of welcome, a herald call of Home.

Here is home.

His voice breaks open my senses. I am no longer in the room but in my truest place, the daughter who runs with the horses. Who can stand the strength of the wind.

I am on the field of battle. A million horses. More.

Before the mountains we stand. Armed. Ready. I carry my weapon. It is solid, familiar in my hands.

Stand now, daughters. Stand now, sons. It is up these mountains we climb.

A sea of energy, of hope made new. A band of brothers and sisters more terribly beautiful and powerful, in His name, than any heart can understand.

I know this. I know I see what I cannot yet understand. But I want to see it still. I want to live there, still. For this is the awakening, the call of heaven to move, to arise, to stand up and put on the armor of God here, now. For the time when heavens breaks open and our fullness is realized and our new bodies hold the weight of glory. Finally owned. Finally realized.

Feel it now. Own it now.

Our Father knows how we will most readily recognize His voice. For me, it is the call to stand with Him, the call to rise, the desire to not remain asleep.

While I love to be at his feet, scooped up in his embrace, it is the Spirit’s movement in me that resounds. I want it more. I want the parts of me that resist Him to be thrown into the fire.

Come, God, You’ve done it Jesus. Spirit, I am your dwelling, free.

Yes, you set me free.

Let us not live this day with passivity, asleep to the Spirit’s laughter, the Spirit’s counsel, the Spirit’s energy and love mobilizing our heart to awake, awake, awake!

No more shall we live self-absorbed, afraid, asleep.

No more.

Break us wide open, God. Help us follow You, Jesus. Let us run harder, faster, our hearts still and hope-filled and confident.

We know who we are. The mountain climbers. The ones who dance and sing at God’s feet.

How do you invite in Holy Spirit? What happens (and what do you hope happens) when you do?

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how to keep going when anxiety reels you in

I sit at the bedroom window watching wind whip branches of redwood.

It is a flurry of wild green against gray, the clouds low and heavy. No, the air is anything but still.

I don’t grab my bag and rush out into this day. The day doesn’t shout, go! Rather, it whispers, wait.  And I hear it speak to me so quietly, quietly. Stay. Stay.

Yes, this day can speak. Yes, our hearts can speak. Do you hear the sound? The soul whispering with gentle insistence: ignore the list, lay down that burden, give up the fear.

These souls of ours ache for connection with the Father. They are depleted without sustenance. They are weak without the strength of a love that equips and builds and gives and sustains.

So I sit at the window. I keep my laptop closed. I delay my plans for the day. This is where I need to be. Even if it doesn’t make sense, sitting in my bedroom, about to head out the door. I can’t move. I see the waving of majesty out of the window. Holy. I put everything else on hold to watch creation groan and twist and burst. Yes, that’s it, holy beauty bursting with an energy I crave. An energy I have within me too, if I choose it.

anxiety

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anxiety

how to keep going when anxiety reels you in

When we look for peace, for contentment, for joy, sometimes it matters how hard it is we look. Sometimes it matters if we listen to the very whisper of our own soul.

For in the twisting and turmoil of our current climate–the anger and the confusion, the fear and the distrust–we must do our part in letting God take care of our hearts. Our souls are desperate for letting God care for us. Our souls are desperate for us to choose His rest, his truth, His sword, His joy.

[clickToTweet tweet=”We are desperate for God to care for our hearts. And we need to do our part.” quote=”We are desperate for God to care for our hearts. And we need to do our part.”]

If we don’t? The distractions of this world destroy our hope. We so easily become convinced that hope is not here, hope is not for us. Rather, we believe we had better dig in a little harder, worry a little more. But what if what we really need to do is surrender our hearts more fully–open up these hands of ours and release?

For in the giving up ourselves–our fears, our worries, our anxieties–we give room for the true peace of the Savior. We need Jesus to settle on our hearts. We need Jesus to come in and remind us how He has us. We need Him to remind us how He has our future–the future of this crazy American election, the future of this world. He has the most amazing, beautiful plan.

Let us not miss the plan. Let us not miss the beautiful part Jesus has for each of us to play.

And it starts with letting our souls be cared for by the Father who created us.

Let us stay close to Him. Let us listen for His voice. Let us surrender the fear, push into the hard thing of being kind and generous and loving. For there we will find Him. And then His strength and peace will equip us to keep going.

Will you sit with me, this day?

What is one thing you are doing this week to intentionally choose to listen to your soul and respond to what it needs? 

what happens on wide-open shore

We grasp hands and lean back, digging our toes as deep as we can into wet sand.

We are sure to topple over, I think. And I dig my toes in deeper, lock my knees, stabilize my legs. My daughter clings to me with the silliness and joy that gives her her nickname, “Golden Light.” And the waves crash against our legs and the sea water splashes into our open, smiling mouths. We stand side by side, heads back, delighted by our ability to not fall despite the surf’s resolute heaving of itself onto shore.

wide-open shoreThis is the best. I don’t want to miss it.

So I don’t take many photos, just a few. And then I put the camera and the phone away, tucking them into my running shoes near the sand castle we built higher up the beach.

To look and to see, to listen and to hear, I have to fight against every distraction, every obstacle threatening my awareness of love, joy, beauty. I struggle with the tension of wanting to remember moments like this–the moments I am aware of as holy, filled with love and God’s presence and glory.  And it is my heart that needs to remember, needs to see, hear, be.

A phone, an Instagram feed, a Facebook post, a journal description–none of this can adequately capture what it is God is doing in us, this moment. This moment.

Wake up.

wide-open shore

There are so many things trying to get in the way of the truth that Jesus, in our hearts, shines bright and good and new. I stand now, both battling and surrendering–my eyes and heart open, choosing to enter into the purity of moments like this one right now.

Me. My daughter. Standing barefoot with waves crashing. October sun bright and hot on our tangled hair, our bare skin.

I am practicing deeper awareness, for I am hungry to experience Life. I am weary from following rules and chasing approval. (I confess I have been doing that all summer. And before that too. And all my life.) There is something that is born in us–and killed in us–when we recognize that there is something we are probably worshipping more than Jesus. For me, it was other people’s approval. And my own approval, too.

Striving toward anything but Jesus is wasted time.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Striving toward anything but Jesus is wasted time.” quote=”Striving toward anything but Jesus is wasted time.” theme=”style1″]

Anything good we do must have Him at the center. Otherwise our own heart, born in Him, is crushed with the weight of our own attempts at earning and chasing and pleasing. Oh, girl. You are so loved, I tell this truth to myself.

Jesus, keep reminding me. Yes, tell me again. Again. Again.

We run to the beach this morning with no plan, no agenda. I want to open my hands, my time, my heart, my life to more freedom, more joy, more life. I want Life without my own made-up rules that have nothing to do with God and everything to do with me not believing Jesus came and wiped the slate clean. It is our brand-newness that is the realization of His dream.

[clickToTweet tweet=”It is our brand-newness that is the realization of God’s dream.” quote=”It is our brand-newness that is the realization of God’s dream.”]

Jesus, you shine bright and good and new on this wide-open shore.

Yes, we are in the midst of God dreaming, God smiling, God running and laughing and jumping and pursuing and chasing and fighting for our hearts until we finally, finally let Him break us wide-open once more.

We, beautiful and alive and full of glory, daughters standing holding the hands of their Father on wide-open shore.

How do you need God to break you wide-open this day? For what are you hungry? What can you lay down? What new Life is He offering you this moment, right now?

Pursuing Wholeness in Silicon Valley, or Wherever You Live

Silicon Valley collage

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]”H[/su_dropcap]ow are you doing? How is your heart?”

“I’m good. Not awesome.”

“Yeah. Me too.”

We text, me and the friend who moved to California from Colorado and moved back again. The friend who wants the best for me, who goes on walks in the rain and lets water splash full in her face.

I am in a coffee shop–Justin, donning his black beanie, by my side–watching rain drive sideways in sheets. The pavement is shiny black, and my boots are damp. People in raincoats, or no coats at all, jump out of cars pulled up to the curb, running in through the coffeeshop door, heads ducked down. It is glorious, the rain falling down.

A few days ago, Justin and I skyped with our mentors–an awesome husband and wife team. My friend connected us with this couple after she left. Through their words, their example, we feel God rescue us again. God uses people who are free. People who are able to offer wisdom because they not only know they are loved, but they know the battles we face in this world are not against flesh and blood.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

People who are free give true counsel. They offer us, the distracted and busy, a new way to see.

Silicon Valley Hanna Hous, Palo Alto

“How are you doing?”

“We are good. Tired. Thankful to be talking with you. Thinking a lot about what you said last time.”

We share with them how they encouraged us during our last meeting, how we have been pursuing wholeness, rest, restoration in God. When Justin quit his job in venture capital and we began working together–he full-time and me part-time–it was the answer to a dream we didn’t know we had. But wholeness in God–choosing rest and restoration in the midst of the land of hustle and bustle, the land of Teslas and self-driving Google cars, of property taxes through the roof and Ivy-league MBAs–is a pursuit that takes everything we have.

We live in the place where things look shiny and slick and good. Calendars, schedules, lists are filled. People work hard to look like they have it all together, except they probably don’t.

Silicon Valley coffee shop, downtown Palo Alto

Justin and I have learned this the hard way: Education, achievement, and monetary success are tantalizing but meaningless overall, unless they are used for the glory of God. And you don’t have to run a Christian non-profit to pursue wholeness, live in your identity, live a life surrendered to God. But we are learning that you do need to know who you are in Christ, how you are uniquely made by God, and how you are designed to live a life worshipping, with the Holy Spirit in you, the Creator who has an amazing plan for your life.

This is the beginning of pursuing wholeness, of pursuing restoration. Justin and I need to consecrate what God has given us in order to live a life free and joy-filled, a life where we own our participation in the battle in which we live, this ongoing spiritual battle for our hearts.

And our personal battle ground happens to feel and sound and look like Silicon Valley, the place where we live.

This place, where we spend most of our time, gives our personal spiritual battles color, texture and shape. This place of busyness, achievement, technology, start-ups, innovation, start and fail mentality is the culture that flavors how we see and hear and respond to God. It inspires us to write, to listen to God’s voice, to seek wholeness in God in the midst of a culture that says you are what you achieve, you are what you do and what you own.

We battle, using the pursuit of wholeness in God equipping us, to try to reject that truth. We try to team up with God, in our particular battle field, to engage in the fight for our hearts.

God thinks each of us–me and you–are worth fighting for, you know.

Silicon Valley downtown Palo Alto construction

Only when we are using the gifts we are given, when we surrender our lives fully to Christ, when we let our pride, our old self, die and we take up our own cross and walk with our King each day, working with Him to be the person He has created us to be, are we free, are we full, are we restored in God, are we whole.

When Justin and I are with people who live in freedom–joy-filled and alive in Christ–we yearn to be free, too.

But here’s the truth: we do not have our act together; we are not okay; we are not living the lives we are meant to live; we are not free, if we are not pursuing wholeness in God.

If our lives are filled with things and people and to-dos and degrees and dreams, but not full of the life Jesus invites us into, a life where we are restored and whole with our God, we are not our full selves. We are not the whole selves God intends for us to be. We are not living the full lives our God intends us to live.

Silicon Valley- University Avenue, Palo Alto

Justin and I are thankful we are here, in Silicon Valley, this pocket of peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose–a place that can, in many ways, feel like Crazy Town. We like it here. We love our friends and family who live here. But our mentors remind us, as we fight with our God for our whole heart, how the place where we live influences and gives color to our particular and personal battle. This battle we each face is personal, but it is a universal battle too.

We need to keep our eyes, our ears, our hearts open to how where we live influences and shapes the spiritual battles we face–a culture saying being “filled”–being busy and accomplished–is more important than living the “full” life Jesus describes in John 10:10.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (NIV).

John 10 10

It’s for the life Jesus describes that I want to fight. What about you?

Soon, I’ll be sharing particular ways, in the midst of this battle ground, I pursue wholeness with God. I’d love to hear from you. Where do you live? What place do you call home? What is the setting that influences your pursuit of God? How are you teaming up with God, in your particular battle field, to engage in the fight for your heart?

Lessons from a Photographer: Heaven & How To See

We got our family photos taken Saturday, the first time in nine years that we’ve smiled for a professional photographer. The kids had some funny idea that a photo session means wearing stiff clothes and going into a hall in the church and sitting in front of a green screen while people you’ve never seen before make you stand super close to your siblings and put your arms in your lap and sit up straight and do your best to smile.

I guess the kids expected some family version of picture day at school.

Lessons from a Photographer on Heaven and how to seeSo, when we were on the dirt and pavement in East Palo Alto, a city with grit, and leaning against an old machine shop across from a food truck and a barking dog chained to a camper, Ollie says under his breath, “I didn’t expect this,” and I ask him later what he meant.

He tells me about the last time we got our family photos taken – for the church directory – and he and Jackson wore matching plaid shirts. We went into a little back room with lots of curtains and screens and smiled stiffly at people we didn’t know. This time around we’re in jeans and boots and invited by our beautiful friend Nicole, the photographer, to be ourselves, a family. Yeah, this photo shoot is a whole different thing.

While it will be a couple of weeks until we see the photos from the shoot, the photos are secondary to the experience we had of being with Nicole in that late afternoon as that golden sun started to think about going down.

When you see someone doing something they love, you know it. You can feel it. What we’ll remember most is the experience of seeing Nicole see.

Lessons from a Photographer on Heaven and How to SeeWe won’t remember the bits of gravel on the sidewalk, or the kindness of the food truck drivers as we leaned against their counter. Not the excitement of the dog straining against its chain, or the orange pylons covering the mysterious metal door in the middle of the sidewalk. Not the warm sunlight as it shone on the dirt and the weeds, or the horns honking from the queue for the food truck on a Saturday night.

We’ll remember this: Nicole’s smile. Nicole’s voice. Nicole’s joy in being in the presence of her Father as she created beauty with Him.

As she took photographs, one thing became clear: Nicole was participating in the more that comes in doing what we are made to do with the Creator who made us.

When you glimpse a daughter of God hanging out with her Father, you never forget it.

It will always leave you breathless. It will always make you long for more of what He has. It will always make you think about what it is that you, uniquely, love to do.

What you love to do with God is how you worship, how you experience joy, how you feel God’s presence in you. And it will always remind you one thing for certain: being with God is always good.

Lessons from a Photographer on Heaven and how to see“Oh, guys, you don’t even know!” Nicole said when she looked down at the viewfinder on her camera – a smile from ear to ear and brown eyes sparkling. We were captivated. She was seeing something we couldn’t see. But we believed her, and we want to see like that, too.

Witnessing her joy in being with the Father, we did see; we got to see pieces of heaven, too.

Nicole, in flip-flops and denim shorts, brown hair blowing as she stood in the breeze and the warm light of sundown shown on her face, we could imagine what she saw and where she was. She was here and not here.

She was in sacred space, wide-open space, where heaven meets earth, walking on holy ground.

She was with her Father in a garden all their own. What she saw was beauty deeper than what we can see with our eyes, and it was a beauty you can feel and hear and taste. It was a beauty she was in. And she got to do it with her God.

I need this in my life. I need people around me who see God. I need people around me who see Him by choosing to do things with their Father. I need people around me who desire intimacy with Him, want to experience beauty with Him, want to not just hear about the wide-open space that is God but live in it, inhabit it. I need people around me who have tasted heaven and who show me what it looks like to be in the presence of God in the normal, regular, surprising beauty of a Saturday night on a sidewalk as the sun is going down.

We can do this, you know.

Lessons from a photographer: on heaven and how to seeWe can taste this heaven here, now, in the sons and daughters who choose to say yes to a life doing the thing they are made to do with Him – using their talents to love people in the unique way in which God has made them to love.

We are desperate for heaven. We are desperate to eat of it and drink of it. We are filled up when we are in the presence of people who inhabit that holy ground.

Come, Father, show us, in the regular moment of this ordinary day your miracle of your beauty. Let us be people who see more than what is right in front of us. Let us be people who live knowing there is more to beauty than what we can see with our eyes; true beauty we experience with our hearts. Let us grab your hand and go further in.

Surround us with people who show us your face. Let  your light shine upon us. Let us shine that light right on back, with you.

Who, in your life, helps you taste heaven, helps you be in the presence of God?

P.S. Tomorrow (Thursday) is the last day to enter the giveaway for Jonah Werner’s album, Run. Enter here.

Race into Wide-Open Space

Race to wide-open space by Jennifer J. CampI am coming up for air and looking at wide-open space. That’s how it is when we run so hard and fast a race. Sometimes, we have to pause to see where we’ve ended up. And the journey there can make us feel a bit out of breath. So, I’m pausing, and listening, so I can keep running.

I’ve been blogging—mainly, at You Are My Girls, for four years. Some of you know the story of how I stumbled into blogging unintentionally, when I was leading a group called My Girls, in my home. It was a group with only a few unspoken rules that I tried to follow, as a leader:

  1. Open the door on Monday morning for whomever God brings and wants to stay. Trust that He will bring the women who are supposed to be there that day. Trust that He will create the safe space for women to be real and open and vulnerable with their hearts—with God, and with each other.
  2. Get out out of the Holy Spirit’s way: invite Him in; expect Him to show up; trust that He will lead.
  3. And then follow.
  4. Love. Be present. Listen. Trust my heart and how God wants to use me.

The women God gathered together at My Girls were people God was calling me to love. And leading these women week after week, year after year, was the best.

For when God calls us to love people, isn’t He calling us to love them through what we know, through who we are, through the way we know how?

Doing that thing—loving people in the unique way God has made us to love—is how, really, we see and hear God. And I got to do that.

Then leading My Girls grew into something new. As I spent time thinking about these women, my love for them grew. And when I thought of them, I was thinking about God. And when I thought about God, I wanted to write to figure out what I was thinking about what He said.

One day Justin surprised me by setting up a blog for me—without me asking—and it looked so pretty. So, I started to write there, to these women, and I called it You Are My Girls, the name God whispered to me when He talked to me about His daughters.

I focused on our need, as God’s daughters, to remember who we are—our need for surrender and community and faith. Through my writing there, I was discovering who God was, and how He loves me, and how He loves you.

Now this fun race with God is changing course a bit.

The Coach is whispering me to come close, to come on over here. He says he has a new training schedule for me, a new strategy to help me with my running.

Keep writing. Keep loving people through what you write. Keep listening to my voice in you. Keep looking to Me to lead while you follow. But focus on this right now . . . over here. . .

And this is what I want to tell you: I’m going to be spending my writing time working on a longer project, for a while. This means I’m going to be spending little time, if any, for a season, writing on the blog.

I see this wide-open-space before me, God and me and you, and I hear the whisper in my heart to keep writing. But I need to veer to the left a bit to experience it . . . and not miss it.

I know lots of people begin and conquer and do awesome, amazing things all at once, all at the same time. (At least that is what the whisper that is not from God tells me). But, I know I wouldn’t do a good job at that. I know I would do only  a mediocre job in both places if I try to do everything, if I try to post on the blog and do this other project well.

It’s hard to change course, but I don’t want to just choose the good-enough things. I want to live a life full of choosing best things.

And for me, right now, the best thing is letting my whole creative self be pouring into creating a longer work of beauty and art with my God.

This new writing I want to be sacred. I want it to be holy. I want it to be a project, just me and God, for you. So for right now, in this season, my blogging needs to be put on hold.

I’m not sure for how long. It might be for months or a year. . . or much shorter—particularly if there is a message on my heart I feel needs to be posted here. But here is what you need to know: the writing that is on my heart to do is for you.

What I write is still for you—for the daughters of God who crave Him, who desire Him, who want more of Him, who want to live fully surrendered, fully alive, fully free.

You will see me on Gather’s Facebook page weekly. (You can “like” it here.) And you’ll see me on Instagram and Twitter. And I will be jumping in here, in the next month or so, telling you about the new audio book for Loop coming out soon (for which I am super-excited). But the deeper processing of thoughts and dreams and listening? I want to take this to a quieter space, for a while.

But I’d love to still be in touch. So, if you want to stay connected (in addition to finding me on social media), and you’d like a behind-the-scenes look at what I’m working on, what I’m thinking about while I write, how, in general things are going . . . if you want some candid letters from me every once and a while slipping into your inbox, so you know how the project is going . . . (I would so love that), just sign up right here:

Gather Ministries newsletter: the wide-open space.

I want to subscribe to Wide-Open Space


 

Sign up for The Wide-Open Space, Jennifer’s behind-the-scenes monthly-ish letter on writing, listening, and trusting God in the wide-open spaces of our hearts. This is exclusive content only for subscribers to The Wide-Open Space newsletter.

 If you want to get insight into Jennifer’s writing process–including how she listens for God–her discoveries along the way as she endeavors to move with God in faith, and her adventure with God in wide-open-space as she creates this project with Him, you’ll need to sign up for the Wide-Open-Space newsletter.

Signing up will also give you insight into what this project is! You want to know, right? I hope you do. I’m going to have a lot to share with you soon.

So thankful you’re here.

With much love,

Gather Ministries women blog post on listening to God