Healing, Life Journey

Wedding Shoot Deja Vu

This morning, I sip my coffee and revel at how something as simple as a photoshoot can bring a girl to her knees.
When the photographer for the music video I’m going to be in tonight said, “My vision is…at a winery and you are getting a surprise engagement,” I both felt “Oh that’ll be easy. I got that down” and a sense of dread, all at once. I’ve had a strange complete shut down about it all weekend, not my usual when I’m ramping up for a shoot. Normally, regardless of how prepared I feel, I start feeling a nervous excitement, practicing, making sure wardrobe is on point. This weekend, I’ve been pretending it isn’t happening and have totally numbed out.
And then, as I woke up and thought, “Huh, maybe I should get my nails done,” it hit me…
I felt “I got that down” because I’ve already been there. I don’t have to worry about how to act because this has already happened to me nearly 2 years ago next month: day starting with a nail appointment, makeup/hair/wardrobe, surprise at Napa vineyard, and all! And the total avoidance is for obvious reasons. I’ve been there, done that, and have been unraveling the aftermath ever since.
This leads me to the following musings:
#1. I have amassed over the years enough wedding photoshoots and videos from my modeling career that I never need have an actual wedding. I can just pick my favorites from the shoots, photoshop the lucky guy in, and we can just bypass the whole ordeal. HA!
#2. Our minds and emotions are incredible creations – and pain is the worst. It totally blocks us from living fully alive and aware of ourselves, and we might not even know we aren’t free. I’ve been intentional in my forgiveness and healing process, and I still wasn’t even immediately aware of what was going on inside of me surrounding this shoot. Thank JESUS for His love and dogged determination to see us whole and healed and living life abundant, even when we are a tad daft.
#3. Not everything is a sign from God or some crazy prophetic mystery – sometimes Holy Spirit is highlighting a cycle we need to break. I forget where I read it, but in one of my books (probably either The Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan Allender, Experiencing the Father’s Embrace by Jack Frost, or something by Brennan Manning), the author describes how traumatized people will often unknowingly place themselves in situations similar or identical to their trauma, thus reliving it repeatedly. They are not doing it intentionally, but there is a part of them that is attempting to go back and fix the situation so that they emerge victorious this time. So they regain the upper hand or overcome the trauma. The problem is, it was a trauma for a reason, it inevitably repeats, and the person is left re-devastated and believing this is just a cycle happening to them, unaware they are being attracted back with hopes of overcoming. I believe this is both a physical and spiritual pull, and both need to be addressed in order for a person to step into freedom. So, hmm.. Am I somehow doing this with wedding stuff??
#4. Is Papa just REALLY trying to get my attention with all this wedding symbolism – from getting paid to second shoot a wedding last year on what would have been my actual wedding day for a bride named Lyndsie at a venue with the same name as my art studio, to the only modeling gigs I’ve gotten this year all being wedding-related, to now shooting a music video, for what’s referred to as “The Wedding Song,” including an identical engagement scenario… oh, and it’s going to be featured on a reality tv show called Married at First Sight: The First Year? I’m actually apt to believe this one is a Divine orchestration because I’ve also been receiving words about being in a wedding season, the bride of Christ, Song of Songs, etc.

All I know is that I’m finally ready to listen… I get it, God. We can stop with all the blindingly obvious signs and get on with whatever it is You’re trying to tell me now. I give up. I surrender. Just please make the whole “always the bridesmodel, never the bride” cycle cease. I am finally on board, I’m listening, what would You like to do in me through this experience? Whatever it is, I’m game.

And now I’m off to use this opportunity to relive a past hurt and forgive in real-time.

Photo credit: Jerry Yoon Photography | http://www.jerryyoon.com

Healing, Life Journey, Thoughts on God

Humble Dependency

I have been really mean to myself this week – really down on myself for shortcomings, ugly/raw reactions, messy processing of emotions, etc. And, of course, I have plenty of Bible verses swirling in my head to back up why I should be upset with myself for not doing x, y, or z or for feeling icky feelings:

“So far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone.”
“Turn the other cheek.”
“They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
“Fruits of the Spirit…” are not anger, mourning, frustration, sorrow.

Luckily, I just had a perspective pivot (courtesy my amazing counselor). She said:

“Instead of seeing yourself as a failure or being hard on yourself for not doing things the way you’d like to, how about saying, ‘Papa, I am not You. My ways don’t ever look like Yours, but that’s not because I’m a failure, it’s because I’m not You. I need You because I am not You. I am humbly dependent upon You because, while I am amazing, I’ll never be You, and that’s ok, because I have You.'”

I think that far too often, we unnecessarily brow-beat ourselves and take verses out of context to hold ourselves in contempt. Yes, we are called to forgive and to love and to live in peace. However, we are not called to be doormats or punching bags or enablers of poor behavior. What we don’t learn soon enough is that sometimes love looks like not allowing someone to continue to behave poorly and to ruin their relationships with hurtful behavior. Yes, we will eventually land on love and accept His peace, but we must give ourselves the grace to grieve and process the emotions, just as they are, first.

So here’s one: “Love others as you love yourself.” THAT right there is permission to love yourself well so that you can love others better. You love yourself by honoring your process, with all the ugly, messy emotions that come up, and listening to what you want/need. If you can’t do that for yourself, you won’t be able to do it for others. Keeping your peace and love on look like being really kind to yourself by recognizing that you’re not God and never will be. And that’s ok, because He is God, so you don’t have to be. But you are human, a spectacular one at that, and humans were created to have emotions – even “negative” ones. Celebrate your humanness, knowing that the God spot is already taken by the One who fearfully and wonderfully made you, process and all.

Today, if only for a moment, may you grant yourself the grace Jesus died to give you – He loved you enough to believe the sacrifice was well worth it, so let Him align your mind and heart to His love. Give Him permission to be God and take your glorified place by His side.

Life Journey

Holy Moment

There haven’t been many times I’ve been moved to fall on the ground, weeping…for joy. Sorrow, certainly. This was different.

I was on my way out the door when the long-awaited email came into my inbox containing the link to one of the final versions of the Parallel Bible promotional video: the one that shows the world what is being birthed. I hadn’t seen any of the other versions, so I have been really excited for this.

A Presence came over me so heavily that I literally started weeping, hit the floor, and began thanking God for allowing me to be a part of bringing this amazing gift to life. I’m still in wonder as to how I even found myself on this team, and I can’t believe this is to be my career, especially since I thought I’d never actually have one. I’ve been wandering yet following a golden thread of His choosing for years now, walking through the desert, around mountains, into valleys, and back again. This past year, especially, has been full of blessings, disappointments, and waiting. So much waiting, without really an idea of what He was doing, but fully aware He was doing something very big and very deep. After being unemployed (yet overly employable) for 11 months of last year, He staved off all the lesser opportunities of time-fillers and less-than-heart inspiring proportions so that I would be free to jump when the time came. And it came suddenly, unexpectedly, and it still doesn’t fully make sense to me other than I said “yes” to a series of Divine appointments without knowing where it was all leading. Suddenly, all those seemingly random jobs, skills, dreams, and endeavors, they all make sense as each left me with a piece of the puzzle I’d need to be prepared for this. And now, I can’t imagine any other thing I’d rather be doing with my life than what He’s bringing about through Parallel – I seriously can’t wait to finally be able to show you all what we’ve been up to!

But man! He’s so so good to us, isn’t He? Such a good, good Father. He knows the perfect fit for our hearts, and He won’t relent until His best is brought forth in our lives. Praise Him!!

Birds, Life Journey

On a Wild Goose Chase

“Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit–An Geadh-Glas, or ‘the Wild Goose.’ The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him.”
– Mark Batterson in Wild Goose Chase: Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God

A conversation yesterday with an old friend reminded me of an incredibly impactful discovery I’d made a few years ago involving the Celts and their wild goose. He expressed:

“I wish I had that much faith to go completely give myself over to the will of the Lord. I’m stuck believing that with the right preparation the Lord will give me an opportunity. Which forces me to be safe in the way I live. Always prepared. If I don’t feel prepared, I get anxious. Idk tho. Everytime I have ever traveled alone I have always found myself doing things I never planned to do. Being taken on paths I had never even fathomed and being provided for by strangers and circumstance.”

I got excited, because this is exactly how someone sounds just before the Goose swoops in and completely messes them up! Hang on, bud…it’s going to be an incredible journey.

To this day, I remember the exact moment the Goose found me and my soul recognized a critical piece of itself was being suppressed.

It was during a season of a million questions and inevitable transition but no clear path. I’d met someone, THE one, and was praying about all the different difficult choices I’d have to make in order to be with him. As is my propensity when brewing big ideas, I decided to wander for the afternoon in order for God to have the occasion to surprise me with unplanned lessons or revelatory encounters. While browsing through a Barnes & Noble, a backwards book caught my attention:

“Most of us have no idea where we’re going most of the time. PERFECT.”

I was so overjoyed upon reading the rest of the description that I immediately snapped a photo and sent it to my intended with the comment, “See? I’m not ‘immature’ or ‘irresponsible’! I’m just CELTIC! You can blame your quirks and habits on being Chinese, I can blame my sense of adventure and following Holy Spirit wherever He may lead on being Scotch/Irish. Papa has promised that He’s got me in His hands right now, and I know I’m frustrating you by not having an exact plan, but I know God’s got me 🙂 This proves it.”

Here’s what the rest of the cover said:

“Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit–An Geadh-Glas, or ‘the Wild Goose.’ The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to follow the Spirit through life. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something…Most of us will have no idea where we are going most of the time. And I know that is unsettling. But circumstantial uncertainty also goes by another name: Adventure.” (Wild Goose Chase: Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God by Mark Batterson)

I’m not sure whether my heart leapt higher for the fact that it was a whole book confirming that I wasn’t alone in flowing where God leads me or for the fact that they defined “adventure” as “circumstantial uncertainty.” Either way, it was as if someone came along and finally told the ugly, rejected duckling that she was really a swan – I wasn’t in the wrong, I was just in the wrong nest and needed to find my people.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was not shared by those in that particular nest. The first major fight my ex-fiance and I ever had was over my sending him that book cover that day. He called me, irritated that I would even send him that picture; when I tried to explain my reasoning to him, he told me that I was the least responsible person he’d ever met, that I was lazy for not having even started working on a resume yet, and asked me, “So maybe when you’re done being a free spirit you could grow up and start paying your bills…or are you thinking I’ll be doing that for you while you get to stay home and make art all day with our kids?” Heart. Broken. Was I really being careless, or was God inviting me into a level of intimacy and faith that teaches ruthless trust? I wanted to have a plan and had great anxiety over not feeling in control of the next step, but I knew in my gut what God was whispering and that to ignore His direction would be disastrous.

I’d spend the next two years scorning my “flighty” artistic side, silencing God’s voice lest it ask me to do something seemingly radical and irresponsible, trying to be a productive adult, and ending up utterly miserable. Because, you see… a bird is created to fly: “It would be like this bird, whose nature it is to fly, choosing only to walk and remain grounded. He doesn’t stop being the bird, but it does alter his experience of life significantly” (Wm. Paul Young in The Shack). Lesson learned.

Sometimes (see: “most of the time”) when we begin to answer His call to radical faith and ruthless trust, the opposition heats up quick. It starts as a battle in our own brains – our logical side and the part of us that doesn’t want people to see us as irresponsible or flaky wages war with the burning passion growing within our hearts to explode into whatever wild unknown God may have before us. “Would God REALLY say THAT? Are you sure it’s not just the voice of your own desire? I mean, that doesn’t even make sense…. and what if you fail?” Even if we can contain the inner turmoil, those we love and believe to be our closest friends and family may not understand. They begin to heap on the pressure, in the name of loving concern for your wellbeing, without really knowing that this can sound like rejection, be counterproductive to what God is working, and become soul-deadening. Upon opposition, this can melt into anger or frustration. Regardless of their reaction or motive, great pain can come from being vulnerable and feeling like what you feel in your spirit is rejected or misunderstood – call it a crash-course in deeper intimacy and dependence on Papa. Chasing the Goose is not for the faint of heart.

This is why it is so important for us to seek out our people – Kris Valloton (the pastor under whose tutelage I’m about to submit for the next year at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry) spoke on this quite a bit at the beginning of this year: find your people, find your people, find your people. This journey to find my tribe has taken several years, and I have finally found them here in Redding. But that is not what this blog is about. It’s about the process, the chase, and the off-chance that you’re a fellow goose-chaser in serious need of affirmation, validation, and encouragement to keep running.

My quest to formulate the best, most inspirational response to my friend yielded the following results, rendered here for your pondering pleasure:

“The Celts looked at nature and saw God revealed in all His glory and they understood God best when they took symbols from what they experienced. The Holy Spirit was symbolized by the wild goose. Doves were docile and delicate, but the wild goose was untamable, free, and unpredictable. Instead of a soft coo, the wild goose was noisy and raucous. And it seemed always to be on the move—on a pilgrimage ordained by the Lord Himself…

Jesus said that those Christians who were led by the Spirit were like the wind—you don’t know where it comes from and you don’t know where it’s going. A Christian who follows the wild goose is wild and free themselves. They have lives that are less than predictable. They live life to the full (John 10:10). They are wild and free, untamable either by society that would bind them with lies or by religion that would chain them with duty and obligation.”

From “Flight of the Wild Goose” by Bill Tenny-Brittian


Celic Goose

“And it seemed always to be on the move—on a pilgrimage ordained by the Lord Himself…” Oh, how I love that. It’s spot on. I’ve put more miles on my poor little Beetle in the last 7 months than in the 4 years I’ve had her, all without having a job, a clear idea of what’s next, or any real desire to do anything but passionately come alive in order to follow God’s will wherever it’s leading. “Ministry” is on hold. “Career” is on hold. I’m livin’ on a prayer and rise each day and wonder what’s in store. This season has challenged and stretched my faith more than I could’ve imagined, and it’s only about to get bigger! I have less than a month to raise all my tuition for BSSM, on top of living expenses for this season, and every single job option has been shut down except the arts and photography studio I’m starting (which I have a lot of fear surrounding). God said go, He said seek Me in increasing depth, He said rest and wait and see how I provide, and He wasn’t kidding. I’ve done all I know to do, and as resourceful and crazy adaptable as I am, I’m at the end of myself. And I’m not the only one…there seems to be a whole lot of this going around (or maybe it’s just because I’m rollin’ with Bethel peeps now?). We’ve all said “yes” to the call, “no” to convention, and “bring it on” to whatever wave of crazy adventure God’s bringing our way in this new season.

My life is a wild goose chase, and it’s time to fly.
Who wants to join my “V”?

Healing, Life Journey, Uncategorized

Thus Ends the Dress Saga

“This is the last song that I write
While you’re even on my mind
Cause it’s time to leave
Those feelings behind
Oh, ’cause blue skies are calling
But I know that it’s hard”
Noah & The Whale

For those who’ve been tracking the drama of the wedding dress, I have quite the praise report! I’m happy to announce that I am not only all paid up a whole month early, but the dress made its way to my doorstep on Friday as well. Understandably, this has stirred quite a mix of emotions. The joy of blessing and provision swirled in to deep sadness that the dress will live, unused, in storage. There is no “big day” or occasion. Just a girl and her dress – the most beautiful she’s ever seen.

So, after allowing myself the whole run of emotions this weekend, I’m ready to write. This will be the last spoken about the dress until the day comes to don it. But it’s such a beautiful dress with such a beautiful story for it to pass along into the box without any acknowledgement, so here goes:

In November, when the time came to start the search, I was totally unprepared. As a little girl, I hadn’t really given much thought to a wedding – I guess everyone else had at least some idea of the magic and majesty they’d come to expect, but I was busy worrying about more immediate concerns. My aunt made the first move and set appointments for me to dress shop the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was a good thing, too, because I didn’t even know you had to make them!

I tried to make a Pinterest board for the dress, but I grew increasingly frustrated when internet searches yielded not a single dress I really loved. I pinned bits and pieces from dresses here and there, but I’d yet to see a complete dress that wowed me. To make matters worse, my ex-fiancee saw my board and made negative comments about each part of each dress I actually kinda liked. He’d say he liked everything I didn’t, and my heart hurt a little when he pointed at the coolest remnants I had found and shot them down. Combined with the fact that every other dress search in my life had ended in tears and disappointment when, store after store, I could never find a dress that fit both my body and budget at the same time, I was dreading the day.

Already anticipating failure, I approached the day rather lackadaisically – I knew I wouldn’t find a dress that day, so don’t get hopes up. I threw up a desperate prayer, “Papa God, I know there are so many greater concerns, but could You please help with my dress shopping? I’ve never found a dress easily, and I always get stressed out and cry. Lord, with everything else being so hard to find and plan, could you please just make this the easiest decision about the whole wedding? Please help me find the perfect one quickly and have no doubts about it at all or get stuck between two – let me just know beyond a shadow of a doubt, love it, have complete peace, and be able to afford it.”

I was shocked at the incredible treatment I received that day (at Trudy’s Bridal in Campbell for those who need a fabulous experience). I had my own personal dressing room and helper; no racks to rummage through, just me and my aunt on a bench while our assistant retrieved what she thought I might like based on my Pinterest board and insistence that it be lace. After I tried on a dress at the helper’s request so she could estimate my size and be sure I didn’t want satin, she brought in about 5 lace dresses.

The very first dress I put on, I knew I’d found it.

I did try on several other dresses that day to make sure, but I kept coming back to this one. I couldn’t believe it. I’d found the dress in less than an hour and it was $100 less than our estimated budget.

Or so I thought.

When I got home, I looked at our wedding budget and realized I’d just committed to double what we’d allotted. Slightly panicked, and getting major gruff from my intended, I prayed and the peace returned: I’d asked God for this dress, and He’d hand-delivered it to me down to the last desire of my heart before I could even articulate what they were. He’d provide.

But then my engagement was broken and a call to the bridal shop revealed that I was still on the hook for the full amount. The ironclad no-cancellation policy had me in a chokehold; I was unemployed, in transition, had exhausted all my savings, on my own, and had 4 months to pay off the $1200 balance. Each month, I made the $300 payment, I was not quite sure it would go through – the anxiety of it all brought so much anger and stress and resentment. What had been a blessing and a gift seemed now a burden and reminder of my deeply broken heart.

Then, Papa stepped in. Each month, the payments miraculously cleared until I came to the halfway point. As I made my second-to-last installment, a quick figuring told me that, unless I found a job soon here in Redding, I would not have enough to finish paying the dress, much less drive down and pick it up. I became angry because I’m also trying to save to pay my BSSM tuition, and this was draining resources that could be going to that.

What I learned is that Papa’s resources are endless – they cannot be drained! The day after I made the payment, I got an email from a man I had met in passing one time back home in Indiana, circa 2009. Our interaction couldn’t have lasted more than ten minutes, and I’m honestly not sure how we were Facebook friends. Long story short, he expressed that he would be paying off my dress:

“From your postings it’s evident that you always give so much of yourself to everyone, for so many great causes, and to God. You pour your heart and soul into everything. You leave a lasting impression on everyone you meet. Just wanted to give you something back, just to say thanks Lindsey from everyone.”

And just like that, I realized I had been complaining and totally missing the point God was trying to make. How often do we allow Satan to come steal our victories, kill our hopes, and destroy the miraculous blessings and testimony God’s writing in us? God had given me the dress of my unarticulated dreams, one that was never intended for my ex (he pointed out and expressed distaste for each feature without knowing it), and He’d given me a double-portion since I doubled the cost on accident. And, He’d paved the way to pay for it both through my own finances (completely independent of my ex) and gifts given by a few other people. When the final payment was made by a near stranger, I heard Papa say, “I do not bless to curse. I would never give you this dress if I didn’t intend to give you a reason to wear it. I know there’s a part of you that believes pursuing Me and the call I’ve placed on your life to serve the least of these means silent submission to a life of singleness. I see your pain of M’s broken promises to love, protect, and cherish you. But I have not broken My promise. This is not a reminder of an end – this is a promise of My love, provision, and a beautiful future. Just rest, and let Me continue to provide for your every need and heart’s desire while we work together to restore your spirit.”

As an added lil kiss, the bridal shop offered to ship the dress to me in Redding, free of charge, to spare me the trip. Boom. God even sent my neighbor over to my house, beers in hand, the moment I opened the box and started the mix of sorrowful sobbing and overjoyed “Oh, it’s even more beautiful than I remembered.” Blessings on blessings, glory to glory.

So, thank you to the people who chose to give so generously to help me receive this healing gift. You know who you are, and I know I could never fully express my gratitude. I thank God for you every time I see my dress hanging in the hall.

And praise be to the One who is the Giver of the best gifts, Promiser of great promises, and only One who truly knows my heart. Thank You for reassuring me that blue skies are calling and for holding me close while it’s still hard for me to see. Thank You for the grace & space to grieve what’s been lost and for marking the time to leave all those feelings behind with such a beautiful milestone.

Life Journey, Music

Bethel in T-Minus One Hour

Journaling, trying to make sense of all I was hearing, seeing, feeling...

Journaling, trying to make sense of all I was hearing, seeing, feeling…

In about an hour, I go to my first service as an official Redding Bethelite.

This is kinda a big deal for many reasons, but it really all started 5 years ago in January of 2009. I was in transition and desperately needed to find peace, hope, direction, joy, trust, and Jesus. Fortunately, I stumbled upon the Hem of His Garment Healing conference back in Valparaiso, Indiana – this so impacted and ignited my spirit that my life was jolted onto a new trajectory. I bought Kim Walker’s Here Is My Song, listened on repeat though I didn’t truly FEEL like the lyrics I was singing along to, and began to let Papa change me, radically.

Yesterday, after scouring my possessions last week for that cd and finding zilch, I randomly pulled it out of the side door pocket in my car! I put it in, turned it up, and was totally blown away – God was singing His promises to me even then… 5 years ago, He was singing to my spirit songs of hope and promise if I would just keep following the path He’d laid out. And 5 years later, after restoring my own song (See: HERE), He’s answering the whispered wishes of my heart:

“I have found a peace that plows on through the storm
I have found a joy that jumps over sadness
I have found a love that lights up every room
I have found, I’ve found You
I have found a trust that teaches how to rest
I have found a grace that guides my by the hand
I have found a strength that stands like a mountain
I have found, I’ve found You”

(Kim Walker “I Have Found”)