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"You get to choose."

Within a few months of the spunky angel’s in-my-face-blessing (full story here), I was at the Alabaster Prayer House just soaking in the love of Jesus. (This was one of my favorite places to go for some "me time" when we lived in Redding.) Suddenly, I found myself in a vision: a young girl was running frantically through bushes and trees. The area was manicured so I surmised that it was an expansive backyard. I watched as her lovely white nightgown got stuck on a branch. She was so frantic that she didn’t notice, and as she ran forward, it tore. Her arms and legs were scratched up from running through the brush, but that also escaped her notice.

A much greater torment captured her attention. As I watched her mad escape, I knew things about her story. I understood her fear; I felt her pain. For starters, no one was chasing her. She was trying to outrun her past--but she didn’t know that yet. I pulled out my journal and furiously scribbled the scene as it played out. 

I had just met Sarah, one of my main characters. Then over the course of a year, I meet three more girls and bore witness to their encounters with three mysterious figures. I dutifully recorded everything. These interactions would usually appear to me in visions while I was resting in God’s presence at the prayer house or in worship at church. Sometimes they would interrupt my daily routines. I made notes and then wrote them out as soon as I was able.

The stories that unfolded intertwined with my own healing journey in many ways even though they were very distinct circumstances, many of which I had not experienced. I may have counseled women through similar woundings in my years of inner healing, but all of the stories were absolutely original. They played out before my eyes and often surprised me in the direction they took. I witnessed intense interactions with the Trinity that revealed the girls' trauma and loss in ways that made me weep. I cheered at moments of redemption as God flipped the script on the girls by bringing in light to dark places, and my heart soared with hope for the world. I fell in love with what my girls represented and also with Immanuel, the God who is faithful to meet us in the middle of the mess. I marveled at God’s goodness and wisdom, man’s potential for light, and his capacity for darkness. 

Thus my book was conceived in 2015—but it wasn’t nearly finished yet. I now know that I had more to discover and experience so that I could become the person who could finish the story.

My writing process was also interrupted by an unexpected and big change. Sammy was unexpectedly offered a job as a pastor at the church he grew up in. I truly didn’t think we’d consider it. We’d turned down a handful of offers like that one before, and besides, I was ready to plant myself in the new life we had created. 

The time there had stripped down the need to be busy or to be known as a minister or as anything at all for that matter. I felt I’d be content to just be a wife and mom, a faithful, and a creative. My new life there was comprised of slowing way down, overhauling our health, serving (and seeing miracles on the regular) at the Bethel Healing Rooms, and being a full time mommy to my three (young) kids. I felt like enough for me. But Sammy was so drawn to answer the call to return his childhood church and bring Freedom Prayer there that I realized it may be my turn to make space for him to pursue his heart’s desire.

So I asked God about it—well, it was more like pleading. Couldn’t we just stay where Heaven touched Earth so tangibly? Couldn’t I remain hidden and just write, bake, homeschool my three babies, and keep nurturing the incredible community that was just beginning to truly thrive? I no longer wanted the demands of ministry nor leadership. I was returning to myself, getting physically healthy, writing poetry, and seeing beauty in the little things again. The kids had gotten their fun mommy back. I was truly content. I feared losing that. 

But I had once had a heart and vision for San Antonio, so I had to know if there was still a purpose for me there. So I asked, “Jesus, are you calling us to take this job?”

His response came quickly and clearly. It both shocked and enticed me. He said, “You get to choose. But if you do go back to San Antonio, you will experience a beauty in my kingdom that you will not find here.”

I was free to choose? I had to let that one sink in… I felt peace: a knowing that he’d bless us either way. I couldn’t shake the promise of undiscovered beauty, which felt like an invitation for our family. Plus, there were my husband's desires to consider. So I handed over my precious season. I was ready to surrender it to Jesus and see what new things he had in store for us in returning to Texas.

As a healer I know that releasing a something to God opens up a space for him to fill with something better. I was thinking about that when in my mind’s eye I saw an image of the hardest thing for me to leave behind—my Redding community. We called ourselves the Fellowship of Burning Hearts, and we had committed to meet weekly and to show up authentically. These women that had been like sisters to me in a time where I had been unraveled and then unfurled. God forged a spiritual bond among us that was precious to me.

In the vision, they wore flowing white garments and had lovely flower garlands set upon their brows. Hand in hand, we formed a ring together. Some their eyes glistened with tears, but they all smiled knowingly as they looked me. One of them gave me a wink. Then I was floating away. I knew that they were releasing me to better things. As I glanced back, I saw a translucent version of myself still in the ring. I took this to mean that in spirit, I wasn’t really leaving them. 

Then facing forward, I saw him… my groom. He was reaching out to me with a tender smile spread across his face as I drew closer. My friends were releasing me to my destiny, my ultimate calling—the One who loves me. Of course that’s what I wanted. He’s my one thing. He is always what I want. I will lay it all down in pursuit of all that he is. It was settled: time to go. 

We took the job, which gave us about a month pick up our lives and get back to San Antonio. I did miss my San Antonio friends and family, but the season in Redding was so singular that I could not imagine a better life than the one we had created there. But God is a giver by nature. I knew that you cannot out-give him. So I was hopeful.

As a parting gift, my group of sisters gave me a necklace with a charm that said “Imagine” on it. It was a sweet reminder to dream with God about the life that we would create together. Right then my future was a daunting blank slate, but he was inviting me to imagine with him about what it could be. While he invites us to partner with him to create our world, he has a way of exceeding our wildest imaginations.

Which is exactly what he did. So, what was the beauty that I found in San Antonio? And what about that book? Stay tuned!

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