This month was beautiful and confusing. As I navigated interviewing for different jobs, I joked with a close friend about the sensation of being excited about the possibility of one role one day and feeling like I was disillusioned and excited about something else the next day. “Is this what indecision feels like?“, I asked her. She laughed because indecision is her daily bread. As someone who has always been pretty self-aware and motivated, I knew what it was to become irritated with double-mindedness, to slow down and be patient with people who need more time, but not to legitimately lack this degree of clarity for myself. The process of being completely unsure and being led gradually in the right direction was an eye-opener.
February in a Nutshell
Once again, I’m summarizing the highlights of February based on the goals the Lord gave me in November.
- Quality of Life:
- Conserving energy at home and elsewhere, more boundaries training. People grace (to relate to people with a high degree of favor/influence) and boundaries growing at the same time (proportionate pace).
- During this Reformation season, more compassion to see people as Jesus’ house, Jesus’ pet projects. More freedom to empathize but stay out of the work, blessing the process but unwilling to get involved.
- Focusing on nutrition and the body. Lots of imagery of God nourishing me in dreams, lots of deliberate time in the kitchen and exercise at work.
- Conserving energy at home and elsewhere, more boundaries training. People grace (to relate to people with a high degree of favor/influence) and boundaries growing at the same time (proportionate pace).
- Going on a retreat to Whidbey Island with my Church’s Outreach (Homeless Ministry) Team
- More time and joy with roommates and friends
- Expanding Skill Sets
- Starting to learn Italian! Wooed by the movie “Luca”, dreams, the rhythm of the language, and the similarity to Portuguese. We’ll find out if it’s just a language to learn for my personal interest or one of the 12 languages that will be part of my shared ministry. It’s a little daunting to start something new, knowing that there have been times when I start a new skill only to have God telling me that it’s not the season or that I need to stop because I’m overextending myself and he’s content with what skills I already have. Either way, I have a good feeling about this, and the pronunciation feels natural.
- In general, learning about resources related to supporting low-income people, myself included. In slowing down and owning my own needs, more grace to relate to average people’s experiences, which has meant a deeper sense of community and greater range.
- Holding Salt/Developing Resources:
- As a Prophet:
- Receiving from Sarah Wren’s Healthy Prophetic Level 3 course
- Being encouraged by my South African Prophet Friends
- Scribing, Synthesizing, and Sharing our words and declarations over nations. Helping our leader develop pure guidelines for the national prophecies that come out of our workgroup
- Very gradually getting back to a place of extravagant curiosity (my default setting) now that I no longer feel like I’m treading water
- Inner Healing:
- Increase in Extreme Inner Healing Encounters in Atmospheres of Worship
- Feeling liquid pressure inside my chest as a sign that Holy Spirit has internal work to do
- Allowing extreme visitation, deeper yielding → Trusting God that it won’t be more than I can handle, and letting nearby friends know so they can help me come out of it well
- Example: The physical sensation of God knitting back together pieces of my insides. The sensation of different pieces of my heart being sucked together by a vacuum tube at the center of my chest.
- Increase in Extreme Inner Healing Encounters in Atmospheres of Worship
- The best part of this inner healing season hasn’t been any ministry appointments, but having healthy leaders at my local church and a longer period of modeling, receiving
- Reminding Myself: My portion in this season is joy, safe pasture, ridiculous favor with people, recompense in time + honor + finances + holistic wellbeing (physical + Spiritual, not just mental + emotional), God generously filling in missing pieces in experience/skill sets that I will need
- Greater signs following me into work, to the point where my new boss noticed (Mark 16:17-18). Spiritual sensitivity and people grace increasing with intensifying accuracy (“feeler” gift, emotions is growing in layered depth). Church friends increasingly asking me for input to help them parse their extreme encounters.
- Involuntary Sleep Training is back (my prophetic “normal” of dreams, semi-conscious encounters, and Watchman middle-of-night wakeups). Specific themes related to being instructed to call in the promise, reassurance, the vibrance of God’s life (Gen 1:20), and more.
- As a Prophet:
- Out of the acclimation stage and into what feels like a stability period of being in Seattle. The timing of how long this period will last is unclear, but I’m definitely no longer just adjusting. Shifting into strategy mode, figuring out how to use my skill set most effectively. Will be following up on leads related to supporting teen ministry and “Praying for the Nations” prayer group at my local church.
- As a Doctoral Student:
- Exploring strategies for writing books and theses
A Beautiful New Workspace
This month, I finished getting furniture for my apartment. I finally have a dedicated place I can study, pray, worship, and prophesy. I spend about as much time communing with God and writing in my hammock as standing at my desk. I’m thrilled that it can be disassembled and thrown into a case for outdoor adventures and when guests need a place to sleep.
Who Jesus has Been to me in the Storm
Earlier this month, I was delighting in finally falling into stable rhythms, excited about my new job at a bubble tea shop down the road. And yet, just as I was finishing setting up my workspace upstairs, I was notified that because of a renovation being delayed at the store’s new location, they would not be able to afford to keep me. I would need to start looking all over again.
*Cue exhaustion tidal wave*
After the obstacle course of the last 12 months and needing to bring in rent money, I had no energy left to start over. Around this moment, Jesus and I officially entered into an Ezekiel 47:5 “waters have risen above my head” experience.
5 Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. 6 And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?”Ezekiel 47:5
On the one hand, I knew this day was coming. It felt like a natural step in the progression of growing greater trust in God. It was also timed at the moment when I would need the most help, and was fully out of my own strength (which admittedly, took a while, because “survival mode” has been a default setting in my life). I’d already experienced these overpassing waters in other areas of my life, but due to the amount of change in such a short time period, I was just hoping to catch my breath. God wasn’t unaware of my exhaustion, but he used this opportunity to show off just how well he loves me.
When my strength failed, I was not alone. A friend swept in with overflowing joy, helping drive me around to 3 separate neighborhoods to drop off resumes, visit the library, and have fun exploring. We didn’t just take care of business, we got gelato and told stories and jokes. And as the Lord had reassured me of his intimate concern for my needs, he dismantled my fear of lack to such a degree that I am just not afraid anymore about how he wants to work things out in my future, across the board. Seeing God so fiercely show up to advocate for me is changing me. It’s not immediate, but it goes deep.
He has already provided a new job. I already have a paycheck coming in in the next week, and I only have to work 4 afternoon/evening shifts a week to make enough money so that I can focus on what I love most in the mornings: prophecy, my doctorate, and developing ministry work with youth. Ironically, he’s worked it out so that my living expenses are very low, and I will be able to save more money a month doing less stressful work than I was able to save in my last 18 months of teaching. Bigger than that, my tolerance for disruption is growing. Just like in June, God is still showing me kindness in unexpected places and showering me with desserts.
Moments of his Goodness
This last round of insanity reminded me of significant moments in the last year where how Jesus responded to my circumstances through dreams was perfect. I get the sense that this February was a month of heart health for me and a lot of people. For that reason, I wish everyone could know that this is really what God is like.
- In May, Jesus stood in the gap in maturity, honoring my sacrifices. He was a mature man who honored me, with the heart posture of someone who would wash my feet.
- In August, he told me to keep my chin up and let me feel how proud Heaven was of my courage. He declared that he would repay me for long-term dishonor against myself and the women in my family, with the imagery of various significant people from earlier life lined up to apologize.
- In January, he gave me dreams about deep healing, saying that his finished work would be worth it, like chocolate. He healed my eyes and gave me lots of help.
- In February, he was excited like a child. He told me to just watch how he will call back in the promises he has for me. He gave my spirit an opportunity to sense his excitement for the finished work, and egged me on, asking me if still wanted the blessing.
Sacrifice, Insisting on the Right Amount of Time to Build Properly, and Holy Passion
As I have been job searching, I have intentionally chosen to pass up other opportunities so that I have the time to heal and build towards ministry with youth properly. Honestly, my decision to sacrifice for the right reasons has baffled my family. They know that at my best, I have a lot of capacity. And they don’t always understand why I would choose an uncertain future in faith rather than just pick a job that would earn me as much money as possible.
But I don’t want to just be paid in money. I want to be repaid in time: time to grow, time to receive, and time to be a human being before these dreams of ministry become a reality. The decision to invest in ministry sacrificially is tied to my greatest dreams and my identity. I’m driven by holy passion to invest in what I love most. As someone who uses time as a love language, I’m spending the best of me, my most productive morning hours, to see these things established. I’m working afternoons and evenings so I can afford to give away the best of me.
At work, at Church, and in other places, Lord has surrounded me with communities of people who invest in me and treat me right. It’s redeeming a standard of ministry in me so that I will only be able to reproduce that same kind of wholeness. Building quickly or under pressure will not have the effect of giving my children the same kind of abundant life as if I let the Lord build it (Psalm 127). Besides, he has promised to come to collect me at the right time, when it’s his expansion timing. Even though other people have tried to rush me prematurely out of the desert, I will wait until he calls me out. I think of what I want for my children and how protective I am of giving them the right time to grow and develop, to emerge into the men and women God would have them become. I must imitate that.
This May, when God gave me a choice between the head and the heart for my birthday. Choosing the heart and internal wellness is what brought me to Seattle. While I couldn’t know that at the time, I’m glad it did. So many leaders and organizations miss this crucial piece, full of the excellence of Jesus, spiritually overflowing with signs and wonders, but out of touch with God’s heart. They are limited in their capacity to reveal his heart to others. I want my [future ministry and bio] children to have the wholeness of Deuteronomy 6:5, and I want them to have such grace with people that people run to them to know God. This sense of holy passion for youth (0-18s) to have greater access to Jesus keeps me sacrificing towards the goal of developing a holistically healthy, spirit-led youth ministry that overflows with the life of Christ.
Lately, I’ve been getting to do what I love most in being a friend to youngish, 20-something believers in my local church. They are learning the gift of prophecy, having intensifying dreams, and learning to love Jesus not for the signs but for intimacy and the depth of his character. I love being with them. I love getting to be the person they ask questions, being the backup person to text when they have extreme encounters and need help because it was scary, or want help with interpretation. I’m teaching them that there is no contradiction in Jesus’ humanity and his divinity. I’m reminding them that the closer they come to God, the God of Perfect Wholeness, the healthier they will be, and the more tangible their humanity will be to others.
I love being an approachable Prophet. I believe that leaders should be the safest people in the room. They should be able to say to the people, “Practice on me, prophesy to me” when they are afraid to take risks and have such relational credit built up that people come out of their comfort zones to meet them. In love, they should be able to cover, support, and encourage. Good leaders can point people back in the direction they should go, calling them back into their right minds. There is no shame in admitting that you need help or are vulnerable. This kind of love also restores people who have been damaged by the Prophetic. It reminds me of times I’ve doubted the Prophetic because of how people have harmed me, but then spend some time with prophetic friends who are also full of the love and life of Jesus. Every time I walk away thinking, “Surely, Jesus must be real” (Rev 19:10).
Whatever God establishes is healthy, safe, and good. It’s full of freedom, love, deep intuitive oneness, resonance, and understanding. We are never too big that he can’t cover us, and we are never too broken that he can’t put us back together again. Out of God’s love, there is an absence of fear, control, and misunderstanding because people press in to see how Jesus sees themselves and others.
Jesus, you have my yes. For whatever crazy things you want for me.
Digging Deep: Strategy of Reflecting on What I Want for My Children
There have been various times this month when I have been at a loss for words. I have not known how to answer complex situations or make sense of external pressure, especially when there are power imbalances. It has reminded me of David facing Goliath: feeling so comparatively small, yet knowing that God is with me.
I have discovered that when I don’t know how to speak, there is a simple way to find clarity and direction, based on how God made me. When I don’t know how to react, I just reflect on the love that I have for the children that God will give me in ministry. I think about what response would be in their best interest. It instantly matures and clarifies me. It instantly gets my eyes off my own feelings and allows my experiences to be transformed into something greater. This love is the place of my greatest wisdom, humility, and favor with God and man. It reminds me of how Jesus set his joy before him before and during the cross, and how in his story, God is making every wrong thing right. It makes me realize that Jesus’ capacity to overcome sin and answer in perfect purity must have been because of the immeasurable depth of his love. He was unwilling to do anything that would have caused his people damage. And he carried out his mission to the end. I am grateful that I have a purpose to wake up for every morning and feel a little sorry for people who aren’t living from that place of purpose. In my life, God will see generations of children in the nations established.
Maturity: Being More Honest about Sin
This month, I felt God prompting me towards greater honesty when it comes to a healthy understanding of leadership, especially when it comes to how we address the faults of those we love.
When we are young, it’s easy to believe that everything we see on someone that isn’t from God is from the enemy. And in a strictly logical sense, that is true: the enemy is the one who provides the material for every wrong and evil thing. But there are also times when what is not good on a person isn’t just the enemy…it’s them. The things they’ve partnered with, the things they have deliberately chosen. When I was younger in my walk with the Lord, I used to think that every Watchman dream I had about what people were struggling with meant that they were being harassed…only to later realize that sometimes those dreams were about what they’d chosen. And I’ve struggled to know how to respond when people aren’t just victims of evil, but active and willing participants. To my great horror, there are moments where I’ve seen God’s best plans for people alongside Satan’s best plans for their lives, almost like two diverging stories.
Once maturity comes, I think there is room to be a bit more honest about the partnership between human beings and the demonic. In Jesus Christ, there is room to admit where we have been corrupted by evil. It takes a degree of taking responsibility for sin that many people fear, because of anxiety about rejection and exposure. Still, God is good and like David, he restores those who repent earnestly and from the heart. When you look at a person’s life and the fruit that comes out of it, you can sense when there has been genuine repentance. This is the reason Jesus died: not just for the people who sin unaware, but also for the times when all of us have sinned on purpose. God can rescue anyone and restore many things, and when there is true maturity, there is accountability, confession, ownership and comprehensive turning from sin, acceptance of consequences, internalized wisdom from failure, and transformation that leads to the fullness of God’s life.
When I think about what it means to learn from failure, I think of my dad. Within our family, he initiated a running joke that he has failed at everything he ever did. If I’m going to be completely honest, it’s not terribly far from the truth. When I was younger, I saw the negative way that he and my other parents lived (parents + step-parents), ran in the opposite direction on purpose, and ended up finding Jesus. But just like the Book of Ecclesiastes, my dad’s many failures have softened him and allowed him to walk away with wisdom. Though our relationship was strained when I was younger, because of the way God has transformed his heart, we can now talk and laugh about just about anything. His willingness to be honest about where he has struggled in his life formed me as a young adult to be unafraid of failure. He’s always encouraged me to never sell myself short, and I think that in addition to what I’ve inherited from him as an adventurer, a writer, and a scholar, his encouragement has been the basis for a lot of my courage. He is sacrificially honest and wants more for me than he has had for himself. In spite of his failures with women, he redeems himself by encouraging me to know my worth and advocate for it.
When I encounter people who are still afraid of making mistakes, I always wish I could send them to talk to my dad for a little while. In wisdom, he’s become a good counselor because he can relate so well to people who are struggling with the weight of sin and condemnation. His life reminds me of times when instead of condemnation, I needed nurture and people who would be patient with me in the long process. It makes me think of how sometimes the Lord gives us glimpses of where we’re going in advance to measure us, so we’ll know what internal work to do and have a vision for the outworking. He allows us to fail, measuring us and letting us know our faults in advance so that we have a chance to do the work. He does that because he loves us and doesn’t want us to fail when the real thing comes. Still, just like my dad has needed to genuinely change in order to grow, we all have to choose to sacrificially lay down our lives to develop the grit and wholeness for leadership.
If I’m being honest, there are still circumstances in my life with seemingly impossible solutions. However, I’m confident that when every person does their part to grow into maturity, God finds ways of showing up.
Holy Passion: Stewarding the Responsibility of God’s Emotions
Just a little earlier in this post, I shared about how having a sense of purpose that is related to my calling and identity has motivated me to continue sacrificing towards the goal of developing a holistically healthy, spirit-led youth ministry that overflows with the life of Christ. However, I don’t think that having that sense of clear identity, calling, and purpose is something that God reserves for specific people. I believe that God wants to use people’s emotions to teach them how to commune with his heart for specific communities he’s called them to invest in.
In the West, the idea of fellowshipping with God’s emotions can strike some people as intimidating, especially when they have come from cultures where numbing emotions or emotional detachment is common. While Western churches are right to focus on the mind of Christ (excellence and strategy), while they do well to focus on God’s power (intensity and reformation), they tend to miss God’s power through emotions. People who are afraid of exposure or seeming unhinged can be skeptical that humans can even fellowship with God’s emotions at all. Western Christians have at times failed to understand how God purifies our emotions, overfocusing on emotions as a negative path to temptation rather than a holistic aspect of Jesus’ life.
Other people fear the cost of engagement, rightly recognizing that sharing Jesus’ burden for different communities will require a deep level of commitment. Instead of viewing fellowship with God’s emotions as a blessing, a gift, and a prophetic responsibility, Christians arrange ministry into a series of disconnected appointments and duties.
Whether we like it or not, Christ’s ministry was emotional. He laid down his life for his friends, not for abstract responsibility (John 15:13). God’s invitation to Israelite captives in Babylon was emotional because their hearts had become disconnected from his purpose.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”Jeremiah 29:13
There is a much greater danger in dismissing your emotions or seeing emotion as primarily negative. Realistically, Satan understands that humans have emotions, just as God does. When we fail to surrender our emotions to God and allow God to purify them, instead of being led by holy passion and godly fire, Satan uses our emotional detachment to corrupt us by other lesser loves. Realistically, it’s holy passion that keeps you from apathy and sin when it would be much easier to compromise. When it comes to our hearts, neutrality is an illusion: holy fire is the only thing that prevents decay.
In supporting Christians and Apostolic/Prophetic people, we must be leaders who pray for God to impart his emotional burdens for people groups into their lives. We as students must ask God to align our emotions to his: in the heights and in the depths (Psalm 36). We must strive to holistically desire God and allow him to use our emotions for his good (Psalm 63).
As Westerners embody Christ’s emotions, they will be better equipped to relate to Latin American, but also Middle Eastern and African spirituality.
In training and supporting generations of Prophets and Apostles:
- What would it look like to teach people the process of how to receive God’s emotional burdens well? What opportunities exist for communal prayer and investigating holy discontentment? What clues about calling and purpose exist in what grieves, irritates, surprises, or energizes us? In the West, what ministry opportunities could exist for altar calls, laying on hands, abiding in God, and pursuing his heart?
- What would it look like to teach people to steward the burden of God’s emotions well? To give them examples not just of biblical prophets but modern leaders who were motivated by holy emotion, and the progression of how they sought God over their lifetimes? How can we support young and emerging leaders to make sense of their life stories, their identities, and their callings? How can we support them to take strategic steps to investigate their purpose well? How can we support them in the embodiment of Jesus, to become the best “living stories” possible (Psalm 139:16)?
Favorite February Movies
This month, one of my favorite movies was El Sueño de Ayer, a movie focused on the history of Mambo music and based on Latin American Magic Realism (my favorite genre, alongside sci-fi). In the movie, Dámaso Pérez Prado, a Cuban Mambo mastermind, comes back to life in the metro of Mexico’s capital city and starts to look for a woman whom he had lost many years before. The movie isn’t exactly PG, but the soundtrack is fabulous and it’s a story of redemption.
Here’s Mambo No 5, one of Pérez Prado’s most popular compositions, in case you’re curious:
Favorite Quotes from February Books
Like January, I’m pulling the best quotes from these books and unpacking them so it’s clear why they were special!
The Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations, and Books by Eviatar Zerubavel
Have you ever read a book and thought to yourself, “This is exactly how I think?” In reading Eviatar Zerubavel’s Clockwork Muse as a student this month, I felt so understood by Zerubavel’s focus on time as a concept and abstract imagery. As someone who is highly wired to think about time and speaks in abstract visual metaphors a lot, he speaks my language. I’m reading this book in preparation for writing my doctoral thesis, and later on, other books. I’ve been writing regularly since I was about 9-11 years old and have plenty of journals from over the years, but I feel like it’s finally the season of life where these ideas about book composition are accessible and not terrifying. I’m going to use this thesis process as a time to figure out my rhythms and explore what strategies will work well for me in the future.
Given how much I’ve been talking to the Lord about reformation lately, I love how Zerubavel compares book composition to house structure. I love how these quotes all have a subtle bent toward redemption and how God redeems mistakes.
On the Importance of Not Rushing the Process
Although you may very well end up producing acceptable, and sometimes even good, manuscripts in only one draft, you may never et to find out how much deeper, more sophisticated, and more polished those pieces might have been had you revised that first draft two or three times. As anyone who has ever painted a room knows, althought we eventually get to see only the last coat that has been applied to a wall, it is actually the extra coat underneath it that usually gives the final product its somewhat richer texture.pg 47-48
On the Connection between Writing Multiple Drafts and Finding the Gold in People
As Mario Vargas Llosa puts it, “the first version is written in a real state of anxiety. Then once I’ve finished that draft …everything changes. I know then that the story is there, buried in what I call my ‘magma’. It’s absolute chaos but the novel is in there, lost in a mass of dead elements, superfluous scenes that will disappear…It’s very chaotic and makes sense only to me. But the story is born under there.”
Speaking My Language in Sensory Visual Metaphors
By producing several drafts from start to finish, you will also maximize the quality of what you produce. If you distribute your creative “highs” and “lows” across drafts that are written months or even years apart, you can acheive the kind of smooth, high-quality consistency once usually tries to achieve when spreading butter or jelly on a slice of bread.pg 52
Chasing the Dragon by Jackie Pullinger
This month, I read Jackie Pullinger’s Chasing the Dragon. I found that her level of commitment to the people of Hong Kong was effective because it mirrored Jesus’ emotions. I also loved her sense of humor, and willingness to talk about her awkward moments in early life, formation, and ministry. The way that she describes English, Hong Kongese, and Americans in the 1960s/1970s is particularly hilarious to imagine since I know background information about each of those communities and the specific time period. It’s like being told a story about interactions between your mutual friends. I also found that her experiences in helping Hong Kong’s citizens get off heroin is very similar to what my church’s Outreach Team (Homeless Ministry) is experiencing in supporting Seattle to come off fentanyl, which is so inexpensive that it has quickly outpaced the region’s use of meth, heroin, and cocaine.
Steal like an Artist: Things Nobody Told you about Being Creative by Austin Kleon
People probably start reading this book because it’s accessible, but stay because Kleon packages his simple ideas with such remarkable integrity. This book should be read at least once by everyone who considers themselves creative, and at least twice by everyone who is too intimidated to give themselves that label. I imagined Jeremiah having a glass of wine when Kleon encouraged his readers to enjoy captivity.
“All you need is a little space and a little time–a place to work, and some time to do it; a little self-imposed solitude and temporary captivity. If your living situation doesn’t allow for that, sometimes you can find solitude and captivity in the wild.”
Worship this Month
This month, I’m labeling the worship songs that cycled through my spirit and mind during the day and night with the names of God that I attributed to him in each one. I’m sharing these little details because it adds a layer of complexity that invites other people to seek and find him in music.
“God, the Incomparable”
“God who Makes Every Wrong Thing Right”
“God Whose Promises are Better than We Expected”
Finding God in Secular Music
“God, who Alone Knows the Future”
I chose this song with a sense of humor because of the title, but it kept me because of the rhythm and Luis Enrique’s good looks (lol). For those who don’t speak Spanish, the lyrics are all about uncertainty related to the long-term trajectories of our lives. While the context of the song is about romance, the lyrics introduce uncertainty as a much larger theme, with our lives as stories.
“God, who helps me become the Person I’m Supposed to be”
Growing up, I heard a lot of Neil Young, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and other folk music taking short and long rides in the car with my dad. After a long chat with my dad this month, I stumbled upon this song and felt it summarized what God was doing more broadly in his people during February, as a month of heart healing and reformation. It hit me with a wave of nostalgia, one foot in the past and one foot trying to imagine/re-imagine the future. This song reminds me of growing up, learning from our mistakes, and doing the best we can to be the leaders our children need us to be. God, would you give us the grace to be the men and women of your dreams.
- Grace to be in alignment with God, navigating the burden well
- Clarity, sharpness, proportionate action, and proportionate rest
- Wisdom, favor, and revelation for thesis preparation