Homeless Outreach, Stories from the Street

The Beauty in a Blanket

Humans are beautiful. Every single one. I am overwhelmed by the Love of a Father and how He invites everyone to the table to partake of it.
 
Tonight was an interesting string of events that all led to this one:
 
An older woman who is currently homeless approached me at a Starbucks, and I ended up taking her a few places she needed to go. It was an incredible exercise in listening to Papa’s voice and holding boundaries as I felt I was released to do a and b but not c, etc; I ended up taking her more places than I had planned but felt unexpected grace and desire to do so, and I said no to buying her certain things, even though I could have, based on a gut feeling – the hardest one for me to say no to was a blanket. I really wanted to buy her a blanket but, because my own rent just barely eeked by today and I felt Papa saying no, I let it go and said no. Until recent breaking of old habits and setting of boundaries, that’s when the ol credit card would have come out – I’m growing! YAY! HA!
 
When I brought her to her end destination and said goodbye, a young homeless man walked straight up to her and said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, for not doing this sooner, but I felt Daddy tell me to give this to you last week because I have others, and I just didn’t do it til now.” He tried to hand her a fleece blanket with Christmas decor all over it! She continually refused it, not wanting to inconvenience him or take something he might need, so he gave it to me and walked away, saying, “I assume you’ll have better luck getting her to take it.” Fortunately, I did!
 
LESSONS LEARNED:
 
– Humanity is not doomed, ugly, or beyond hope. Beauty is built into every single person, but not every single person chooses to slow down and see it. “Stop and smell the roses” is not just a frivolous cliche. It’s much more profound than that.
 
– No matter what you have or don’t have, you have more than enough if you have Papa’s love.
– Papa God knows all our needs and our desires, and He is never late in providing. Sometimes, however, it is us who reject His hand out of shame/feeling unworthy or miss it because it’s not how we expected it to happen.
 
– Just because you “can”, doesn’t mean you “should”. Papa wanted that young man to share in the joy that comes of showing His love to others. Had I bought the blanket, I would have been out resources I need (bad self care/boundaries) and I would have denied that young man the ability to be a blessing and obey what God told him to do. Sometimes we need to keep our best intentions out of the way of God’s best.
 
– I also would have denied that woman supernatural provision! It’s so much more meaningful to know Papa set things in motion a week ago, foreknowing her need, than to just get a store-bought something or other. His ways are always better (and much more fun) than ours. He wanted her to know His eye is on her needs and future: He told me to say, “Hey.. I know you don’t want to take his blanket, but he said he has others and you are so worthy of gifts from Papa. He loves you so much that He knew you wouldn’t have money for a blanket tonight and set that young man in motion to give you one…because you are the daughter of a King, which means you’re a princess, and princesses get gifts just because they’re loved. And look! It’s CHRISTMAS! It’s Jesus’ birthday! And I happen to know that Jesus loves to give rather than receive so of course He’d be giving you a present on His birthday. He says He’s trying to shower you in gifts all the time but you keep rejecting them…this one, He really wants you to have because you are loved, and loved ones are provided for.”
 
– I will, no matter how much darkness or pain or horrificness I see, never stop loving people, because He loves them so so much. I will also apparently never stop weeping at even the smallest displays of pure beauty – like a man with nothing being so yielded to Papa’s voice that he’d give sacrificially to one with even less than he. Driving away, replaying that moment in my mind, the feeling hit me that that woman was one of the most beautiful I’d ever seen, and the tears poured forth.
 
What an honor it is to be trusted with moments as precious as these…I pray that you, person who’s read this far, have the privilege of witnessing pure beauty and Papa’s love this week, and that when that time comes, you’ll have crazy awesome discernment to know what is yours to do, what is God’s to do, and what is to be left for someone else. Amen.
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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”?

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Uncategorized

Set the Record Straight and the Women Free

Absolutely everyone needs to hear this.

When I sat through it on Sunday, a little piece of my heart came back to life.

Women in the church are NOT to remain silent, we are instructed to prophesy and teach (yes, IN THE CHURCH..even to men *gasp*), and we were never relegated to children’s ministry. I went to a church in liberal capital of the US, San Francisco, for two years that still taught that women couldn’t be pastors or hold board positions; these beliefs caused great strain on my relationship with my ex-fiancee who genuinely believed I could never be a pastor or that God wasn’t calling me to preach internationally because I was a woman. Now, hear me: I’m not slamming that church – they love Jesus and are doing great things in SF! I’m only saying that doctrine always rubbed me the wrong way, is misguided, and is causing people pain. I continue to pray, as I did then, that they find truth and freedom in this area so they can continue to grow and thrive and change the face of SF forever!

But for right now, it’s time to set the record straight and the women free to be all God intended us to be!

Watch “The Theology of Empowering Women, Pt. 1” by Kris Vallotton (Bethel Church, Redding): HERE!

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Thoughts on God

God Never Subtracts

“Give and Take” by Lindsey Addie, silver gelatin print, 2011

I haven’t been the most diligent person when it comes to sharing the incredible testimonies God’s been giving me in the last few months, but man, it’s been so good. I’ve had everything I’ve needed and been blessed in crazy ways in the last 6 months – I do plan to gather and bring them out soon, but for now I’ll just refer to the one that I did share: the random check in the mail on the day that I was accepted to BSSM. Another significant one happened this weekend when the laptop I needed to sell in order to afford my camera equipment (in order to have what I need to start generating income as a photographer and thriving artist to pay for life and BSSM, etc) sold for exactly the amount I needed on the day I needed it. God is an incredible provider, and He pays the way He’s chosen!

I fully recognize and believe that He provided these blessings and intended them to be purposed for this new season He’s drawn me into…

…which is why I absolutely refuse to be shaken by the following: 1. Tonight, the buyer filed a cancellation on eBay because he changed his mind, 2. Last month, only a day after I got that check, someone texted saying it was theirs and that I legally had to sign it over to her (though I absolutely disagreed but felt that fighting would somehow be “unChristian”), and 3. A few of the other blessings given have been taken back as well.

Or should I say, “Stolen.”

Fact is, could I really, truly say that He is a good Papa who gives good gifts and is all He says He is if I believed that He was the one pulling the rug out from under me right after giving it to me in the first place? No! If I know my Papa, I know that His gifts and His call are irrevocable, His gifts are perfect, and He does not change like shifting shadows. He gives me hope and a future, not harm; and anything that goes against His word, promises, and plan to prosper me cannot be Him. That’s not in His nature.

Yes, He does give AND take away (click HERE for an incredible blog by Paul Ellis on Job 1:21), but not in that way – that verse is often misquoted. If my heart and thoughts are turned completely to Him and something still causes hopelessness, it’s not from my Papa; it’s the enemy who comes to kill, steal, and destroy – Jesus came to give life to the full! And please note: I’m not talking about “prosperity” in that I get all the money I want and life is good… no way! Prosperity for me may look like being broke and homeless but having my complete mind, body, heart, and spirit so lost in intimacy with Him that it doesn’t matter. This isn’t about money or things, though those are the examples I have to work with at the moment – sadly, He has to use the “money or things” because we broken humans are often not motivated by anything else.

I write all of this because I learned something valuable – in the midst of blessing, I started anchoring my faith in His promises to the blessings I was receiving instead of on His words alone. As this pattern of “YAY BLESSING!…(wait for it)… *shoe drops*” played out repeatedly in the last month, my heart started to hurt and my mind began to question if He’d really said what He said or ever blessed me at all – I realized I was like David writing a lamenting Psalm of a blog post last night, and tonight, I was like Job, just about to cross the line, just about to fail in faith that He is good.

But perched on the cusp of my doubt, I heard Him whisper, “My word does not return void.”

A quick google of that phrase produced the verse that rebuked me and restored me: Isaiah 55:11. I’m not sure how anything could have been clearer or more relevant to every little thought or concern I’ve wrestled with this month – it read as if breathed from His lips into my spirit. And funny, God says the same things (in essence) to Job as well, “My ways are higher than your ways, My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

This led to my looking up the end of the story of Job and finding the blog post I mentioned earlier – it was almost verbatim what I was feeling and hearing and starting to write, but he did it better, so I reblogged it instead. Along with being incredibly confirming of the things I was hearing God say to me, the writer introduced a new idea, one that I needed to hear and that (ironically enough) discusses the difference between David and Job:

“Both Job and David were robbed. Both were greatly distressed and surrounded by foolish men who gave bad advice. But unlike Job, David did a very Jesusy-thing and took back what was stolen. Why did David fight back when Job quit? We are told that David “encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (1 Sam 30:6). In his pain David considered God’s goodness and realized that God was not behind his loss. He understood that it was not God’s will for him to suffer and, so strengthened, he fought back and prevailed.

I wish I could go back in time and get to Job before his friends did. I would say, “Job, God didn’t kill your kids! He didn’t steal your livelihood and make you sick. You’ve been robbed! The devil is having a go at you. Don’t sit there in the ashes and cry about it, get up and fight! Are you a warrior or a weakling? Are you a victor or a victim?”

The church will never see victory if we think God is behind our suffering. If we think God is robbing us we won’t even resist. We’ll let the devil waltz in and plunder our families all the while singing “He gives and takes away.” Funny, but I can’t imagine Jesus or David doing that.

For too long we have been incapacitated by uncertainty which is really just another name for unbelief. Don’t look to Job, look to Jesus! Jesus was never confused about who was giving and who was taking.”

Boom.

God does not cause loss.
God does not cause suffering.
And as long as we believe He might, we hand over our victory and dig our own graves.

Oh, and in case you didn’t catch that, Jesus FOUGHT. Therefore, it’s such an incredible lie to believe that He calls us to back down from a fight in the name of peace and love. Sometimes, yes, we are wronged and turn the other cheek. Sometimes, though, passion for justice explodes into righteous anger. Those are the concepts of Christian living we tend to leave out of the Sunday sermons and small group discussions… I’ll leave that alone for now, but I feel a blog coming on.

I do want to say, though, that God really did hit me hard with the passage in Isaiah 55. Not only is it an incredibly powerful and uplifting reminder of our son/daughtership in Him, but it was a resounding confirmation to me personally that He really has called me to leave every safe and comfortable place in my life right now to follow Him into the unknown future awaiting me in Redding and BSSM. And He did it without a financial miracle. The auction for the laptop remains disputed, and I may still sign over the check (because in the end, it’s just money, and He’s proven He has that under control), but His message to me couldn’t have been clearer. In a stunning cyclical way that only He could do, He turned my looking to finances for confirmation into a lesson…
which then brought revelation that I was looking to finances and not His voice…
which was then what He was actually using to confirm my path…
which then will require that He show up in my finances…
which now requires me to have faith that He will provide.

Heck, the whole passage even starts with: “…and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1) But it is what it is – nothing without Him!

So, I guess for tonight I need to find the balance between my Job and my David:

Then [Lindsey] replied to the Lord:
I know that You can do all things;
no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures My plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know…
Therefore, I repent.
You have my ear, here I am;
I’m listening for Your life-giving words.
I accept Your everlasting covenant,
Your faithful love promised to David.
Lord, create in me a clean heart,
One after Your own heart.
And renew a right spirit within me,
One that responds only to Your voice.
Tonight, I choose to heed Your word:
It will not return to You empty,
but will accomplish what You desire
and achieve the purpose for which You sent it.
I will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills of Redding
will burst into song before us,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
W
hat a splendid homecoming You have planned for me:
Me, the sparrow who longs to make her nest in Your dwelling place,
Whose pilgrim heart and flesh cry out for You
And yearn to be home in Your courts.

Amen.

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