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Build Your Own Table

Updated: Mar 23

In my previous blog I talked about the job offer—and more importantly, the invitation from Jesus—that sent us into a bit of a whirlwind and back to San Antonio. So we made the 1,894 mile trek back to San Antonio in 2016, just before Thanksgiving.

And before there was beauty, there was a period of sadness. I grieved the previous season. It was odd to be back “home” when I wasn’t the same person who’d left. We lived with family for about six weeks before finding a house. They were very gracious hosts, but not having our own space was tough, as expected. Mostly because it accentuated the real struggle for me:

Where did I belong now?

One treasure that my time in Redding gave me was the conviction that I needed to create my own inner circle. A group where I wasn’t the only leader, there would be mutual accountability to rise to our fullness, and a mutual exchange of life. It would be a space for genuine connection based on courage and authenticity. So I prayed about who to invite and launched a weekly gathering within a couple of months of our arrival. That group became my lifeline as I navigated our new life.

my lifeline group

Sammy now had a part time job that entailed introducing a Freedom Prayer ministry to the church he grew up in as well as supporting people in hard times as a care and counseling pastor. This type of ministry was always more my passion than his, and we’d always been partners in ministry. But this time it was evident that the role was his adventure, not mine. So what was there for me? For what had I left my happy life? I knew that it wasn’t for me to continue in the housewife life. There was a call for me in San Antonio. I was stirred to minister. But not in the same way as before. Now it would be from identity, not for it. I had a lot to give… but to whom? 

After a couple of months in limbo, some good counsel came from one of my mentors. Pat Banks is a no-nonsense type mama. She wouldn’t let me feel sorry for myself and she certainly wasn’t going to let me underestimate myself. What she said freed me:

"You know who you are and what you carry. Find the people who want what you’ve got. They’re out there!”

After a few other similar conversations, I realized that all of my life experience had more than equipped me to launch a spiritual life coaching practice. Instead of offering one or two deep healing sessions and then sending people on their way, I wanted to walk with women through seasons. I would empower them to connect with the divine voice within, to heal, get more free, and unearth identity. I would champion them as they stepped out of their comfort zones to find abundant life and live in alignment with the truth of thier being. 

Our new home provided a lovely office space where I could offer ministry sessions. I would homeschool three days a week and then tag Sammy in on his off days. So I created a website, wrote an email inviting people to start coaching with me… and held my breath as I pressed send.

To my surprise, within a week three people had signed up for a nine month program. Wow, I thought, three people want to sit with me for nine sessions! So we jumped in, and I was awed as I witnessed God doing his thing with three people who were all in. 

There was so much fruit that they all signed up for another nine months—multiple times. Seven years later, they are all still working with me in one capacity or another. They are each healers, spiritual mothers, and workers of miracles in their own right.

Over time, more and more women signed on. As I worked with incredible ladies, many of them expressed a desire for deeper community. They wanted to connect with women like them who were pursuing God on the level that they were. So I launched coaching groups. It was amazing to see how the ladies poured into and championed each other. There was an acceleration of growth and breakthrough in those who joined.

After about a year of this, I began to dream about a way to get all of my amazing ladies to engage with each other. I had always wanted to host a women’s retreat, but never quite felt that I could pull it off. 

Then my “lifeline group” attended an Imagine conference in Los Angeles with Shawn Bolz, Graham Cooke, and Paul Young. I can’t pinpoint it, but something happened there in the Angelus Temple. The courage to flesh out what I envisioned was sparked in me—I wanted to create a powerful day of encountering the incarnation of Jesus in community and creativity. I couldn’t do it alone, though. I actually didn’t do life that way anymore. 

Meeting Paul Young, author of The Shack

So at the very next meeting with my lifeline friends I shared my vision for a retreat. They weren’t just supportive—they were all in! The three of them jumped in without hesitation, offering their gifts to make the God dream a reality. Within two months, we hosted our first Inspire retreat. This event sprouted and grew out of the fertile soil of my lifeline group.

Just like when I launched the coaching, I didn’t know if anyone would actually want to come to a day retreat. I remember creating the event page and my letting heart speak without filtering myself or overthinking it. That felt good. It felt like sending out a clarion call. Those who would respond would be hungry for what I had to offer. This day would be an expression of my fullness, no holding back. It was fun to imagine spending an unhindered day in God’s presence with his daughters. With butterflies in my stomach, I hit “publish” and posted the event on FaceBook. 

I remember crying as the registrations poured in—the retreat sold out within 24 hours! I even decided to open it up to more people. A total of forty women shared in something sacred at our first Inspire retreat. women connected with the voice of life and with one another. They connected with their own hearts, too. It was magic.

Within six months we hosted a weekend retreat: Inspired to Be. This is where our glory emerged.

Inspired to Be Retreat: Where beauty was unveiled.

I caught my first glimpse during worship on the second night. It started with a feeling like my heart was breaking. I could feel the heaviness that was on some of the ladies. I knew they loved God, but they’d taken such massive hits—affairs, cancer, manic depression—real trauma. They just did not have it in them to lift their hands or voices in worship. I shared this word of knowledge with the group and I invited the heavy hearted ones to sit in some chairs in the center of the room so that we could worship over them. It had never occurred to me before that one can worship on behalf of another who can’t find the strength within themselves. But intercession is the father’s heart, so why not? Four or five brave women stepped forward and took a seat.

I’ll never forget what happened next: women who had been worshipping—albeit somewhat reservedly—rose up to surround the seated ones. They proceeded to worship with all their might. They put loving hands on the women in the seats, singing over them—singing as them. Some ladies raised the hands of a dear friend who was fighting cancer. They held up her arms while she cried. (Her tumor was gone when they went in to operate on it a few months later.)

The rhythm of our worship turned tribal as we sang, “This is how I fight my battles… it may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.” We surrounded them and we stomped our feet, trampling the enemy who dared go after our sisters. We warred for our sisters that night. They rested while we lifted their burdens up to Jesus as one. God’s encircling can happen through his people. Sometimes that’s exactly what our hearts need to be revived.

Incredible breakthrough resulted in the lives of those seated. What’s more, we witnessed the beauty of genuine community. I watched women rise up—way out of their comfort zone—to war and worship on behalf of people they barely knew.

A unified mother’s heart arose saying, You don’t have the strength to worship? I’ll bring it all to fight for you! The beauty and holiness of it still moves me to tears.

This community continued to grow through multiple retreats and small groups. I even published a bible study, which they beta tested for me. My heart burned to teach women how to encounter God in tangible ways on their own. It was published by our fourth retreat. (Beholding the Beloved is on Amazon, if you’re interested.)

As a community, we’ve learned to find God together and individually; both are crucial. We’ve practiced being his voice to others, we’ve learned who we are together and apart, and we’ve trained to be healers. What’s emerged is a tribe of spiritual mothers who are also healers—they shift atmospheres, bringing Heaven to Earth wherever they go. (That has been recognized and called out in us each time we’ve gone to Bethel in Redding together.) The women in this tribe are bringing themselves as a gift to their spheres of influence. They are each a divine encounter waiting to happen. They are seeing miracles in their churches and businesses.

We are mobilizing this year as a community that I have lovingly named Freedom House Network. Each home is a house of freedom, the father’s house. We are connected by a net of spiritual bonds that make the same greater than the parts. Soon, we will bring more daughters in. We are praying them home to the Father’s house. We are preparing the hearth for them.

I cannot wait for more opportunities to unleash this tribe on God’s kids! They are full of love and power. They are safe and strong and tender and miracles follow wherever they go. They encircle one another in prayer and prophetic encouragement. They are the kind of spiritual mamas that I longed for all my life. 

It’s time for us to be the mothers we never had to a generation who's crying out for love, acceptance, and identity. They don’t know it fully, but they are looking around asking: Is there anyone out there who will see me and fight for me--without any agenda? Where are the mothers? Where are the fathers?

God has a lot of lost kids. They’re just like the girls in my books; they need a safe home to return to. We’ve got our marching orders—we are building Freedom House for them. This is all in the works already.

I once heard someone say, "If you can't find a sat at the table, build a new one." I see now that this is what we did. There are stellar women seated all around it. They’re the kind of woman that I'm proud to have in my corner. Now it’s time to build a house.

So I’m birthing again. This time it’s twins! Jesus made it very clear to me toward the end of 2023 that along with Freedom House, it’s time to get my book out there. The one that he gave me in 2016. (Hear more about it my previous blogs: Marked by Heaven, When God said, “What do you want?”, and You Get to Choose)

The story of those girls needs to be told. They’re the stories of this fatherless generation. They're mine. They’re yours. They’re God’s stories. He’s saved all their tears in a jar and he will trade them for laughter. He’ll take their pain and trade it for pearls, wounds will become weapons. That’s how he gets his vengeance!

So I’ve set my face like flint to build builders and mothers, to plan outreaches and facilitate intercession for the daughters, and to finish this book that will speak to their hearts and call them back to themselves and home to the open arms of an outrageously good father!

Confession time: Last fall, I was at church with some of my tribe. The speaker asked the missionaries to stand up. Heart pounding, I felt an urging to stand—but I stayed glued to my seat. After all, I’m not a traditional missionary like my grandparents were, like my mom is. A friend even nudged me because she knew I was meant to stand. But I still didn’t -- and the moment passed. I was immediately convicted. 

Later, I felt God speak to my heart: Beautiful are the feet that bring the gospel. I have called you to this nation, to nations within this nation. Your family is on my mission.

Our family heading out in 2022

It’s in our blood! I am a third generation missionary—fourth generation traveling minister—right here in the United States. And boy, do we need the kingdom of light to come here! While traveling, our family is healing the land, interceding, and ministering to people wherever he sends us. So it’s time to call it like it is. My family is living mission-ally more than ever now, and I am convicted that I haven’t asked for prayer or financial support until recently—we have suffered because of it.

I can’t do this alone. I say it all the time: “We are a body.” “We are better together.” Still, I need to repent of my pride in not making our own needs known sooner and for thinking that somehow we could do it all by ourselves. That’s not how the body works, is it?

So I am asking for prayer support. For real, because we’ve taken some hits. The more I lean in, the stronger the resistance. But God wins and I’m not giving up! Quite the contrary, I am resolved. I share more about that next time. Let me know if you want to join my intercessory team, and I’ll add you to that group. But please, only if you’re inspired to pray for us regularly.

I am also asking for financial partnership. Would you ask Jesus if he’s inviting you to support our family as missionaries to the US? I will be sharing more in blogs to come. I do have an overview here on our new Mission Work page.

Intercession at Mount Shasta, CA

I am also stepping back from work that brings in income that supports my family in order to sow into finishing the book and growing a spiritual community and opening it up to others at no cost to them. Sammy is doing the same for a men’s community. 

Here are some of our current needs.

  • One Time Gifts. These will enable me to pay the fabulous editor that Andy Reese connected me to and get my book out there. It will share the scandalous grace of the gospel in an unfiltered, tangible way. (Editing marketing cover art represent a cost of 6.5K). I wholeheartedly believe that this is an investment into bringing the next generation to the father’s embrace. (Your contributions are tax deductible.) 

It’s time to let freedom ring! Let’s call the kids home! It’s like a dinner bell! Come on home, kids! There’s a warm fire going and dinner’s on the table. There’s a wildly good community of Three waiting with arms wide open!

(One time gifts can be sent here: Cash App: $LenayVale; Venmo:@Lenay-Vale or checks mailed to 5915 Brenda Ln SA,TX 78240)

  • Monthly Donations: Your monthly gifts will help sustain us as we sow and build. If you would like to invest in our kingdom work monthly, just email/text me the amount you’d like to give. I will send you a personalized link where you can set that up in two minutes flat.

  • Birthing Chambers: Well not really, but I need a little place to get away and write for a time span this spring. Getting away would allow me to focus solely on birthing this book. If you have hotel points you’d like to share or a little casita to offer me where I can escape into solitude and write for a few or several days at a time, that would be an immense gift!

  • An RV site in the SA area where we can stay for the fall. When we travel, we stay within a system of parks in which we are members. Staying in that system is currently the only way to make traveling RV life sustainable for us. But they don’t have any parks in SA. We are grateful that God moved a friend to set up a site for us to stay on her land for a few months this spring. This is a big answer to prayer! However, we may need to stay a bit longer. Staying local would be helpful as we establish our new outreach ministries and get a side job. Our friend’s creative generosity got me thinking that someone else may already have a space that we could use for the later in the year, if we need to stay in SA bit longer.

  • A borrowed vehicle for our time in SA. With both Sammy and I hosting events, Tori doing theatre in New Braunfels (this is her mission field), and Sammy working a job, having a second car to use will enable us to get it all done!

I love you for reading this all the way through. This was a vulnerable post. I appreciate you staying in it with me. We’ve been doing this long enough to know that God will always make a way for his gospel. My heart is to invite you to partner with this if you are called to be part of this kingdom work.

Thank you for your love and prayers! I’ll share more about our most recent outreach and some upcoming ones in my next blog.

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