Until His Love Overwhelms You

All of our attempts to live a Godly life will continue to frustrate and fail us until his love overwhelms us. When you know how deeply loved you are by God you will go on a journey that will continue to open your eyes to the lies you tell yourself and the truths of God we have a hard time believing.

Sara and I just finished reading together The Deepest Well by Dr, Nadine Burke Harris, a great encouragement to the medical profession to take Adverse Childhood Sxperiences (ACE) into account as they assess the health care options available to their patients. A surgeon friend of mine recommended it, as he is now using ACE assessment in his cardiology practice and finding it illuminating.

So, now it was time to select another book and Sara wanted me to read He Loves Me to her. I love this book, and it’s companion devotional Live, Loved, Free Full, This is the most significant message I put into the world, learning to live each day inside the Father’s affection. So, as we work through the book, I might be sharing some of my favorite quotes from time to time. Here is an excerpt I love from thee Introduction to the Third Edition:

What the Father showed us in the gift of his Son is that he was unwilling to settle for the indentured servitude of fearful slaves. He preferred instead the intimate affection of sons and daughters. He knew love would take us deeper into his life than fearful obligation ever would. It would teach us more truth, free us from our selfishness and failures, and make us fruitful in the world.

Since I published this book I’ve heard from hundreds of people who have told me that God used it to transform their own journeys as well. Many told me that I had put into words something they knew deep inside was already true, but they were afraid to believe it. Others have said it completely redefined the life of Christ for them and sent them on an amazing journey mining the depths of that love and affection.

I hope you, too, come to the end of these pages convinced that he loves you with a deep and unrelenting affection. Nothing fulfills his purpose more than when his love overwhelms you, then transforms you, and then leads you through the rest of your life as a reflection of his glory in the earth.

— He Loves Me! Learning to Live in the Father’s Affection by Wayne Jacobsen

I know we can’t control when that “overwhelming” takes place, where the gravity of his affection becomes more believable than the fears and anxieties that constantly assail us. It is Jesus’s job to lead us into our awareness of the Father’s affection and there is nothing more beautiful. All he asks of us is a ready and receptive heart, open to him as he begins to reveal the path he wants to lead us down He is the Way, remember. We cannot do this ourselves only learn to relax into his reality.

He wants nothing more for you. I you don’t know it yet, just keep coming to him and leaning into his heart. That will provide a fertile place for the seeds of his love and the beauty of his wisdom to take root in you. It takes time, sometimes years, so don’t be discouraged if he seems elusive. He never is, but the distractions of this age can make it seem so.

And if you want to connect with me this weekend, I am holding two Zoom opportunities:

Someone asked me this week to consider a Zoom book study through He Loves Me, and I may well do that when we finish the Jake Colsen Book Club. We will hold the next discussion of  So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore on Saturday, February 4, at 1:30 pm. We are going to talk about Chapter 8: Unplayable Lies, where we’ll explore how God wants to lead us out of the hard places some of our choices have put us in and, while doing so, teach us how to trust him and his wisdom. You can email me if you’d like a link for that. Anyone can join in; we only ask that you re-read that chapter so it’s fresh in your mind. You can also listen live (or afterward) as we stream it on my Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook.

And, there’s still some room in our Sunday conversation for those Wrestling with Trauma or those who love someone who is. We will gather on Zoom this Sunday, February 5, at 11:00 am PST. If you’d like to join us this week, please email me for the Zoom link. We’ll be limiting it to the first twelve who request a link, but don’t worry; we will schedule more such times. These are not teaching sessions, nor will they build on each other. Each will be a conversation to serve those who join us and help encourage them to the Way Jesus wants to lead them through the pain of trauma into his increasing freedom. These conversations are not streamed live or recorded. They are for the personal benefit of those who can join us.

Changing a Nation One Life at a Time

The new bedding has arrived.

For those not keeping up with our friendships in Kenya over the last 14 years, the people who listen to The God Journey or read my blogs here at Lifestream have given over three million dollars to rescue an impoverished region of Kenya. We started by supporting a new orphanage that took in children after the post-election violence of 2008. Then, we helped save 120,000 people who were part of nomadic tribes in Pokot, ravaged by drought and disease. Through a five-year project, we were able to drill wells, teach them hygiene, and teach them how to develop sustainable community. Now, those villages are able to clothe, feed, and care for themselves, and all of them were touched by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Lately, we’ve been helping a small school in Forkland, a drug-riddled and poverty-stricken community. Originally, flooding had destroyed their water source with sewage, and we helped them drill a well. That well hit a huge aquifer with water whose purity is off the charts. Now, it not only provides water for the school but also for the community around it. They bottle the overflow and sell it as an enterprise to pay for the school expenses. Tragically, in a few days, five months ago, three hundred children were abandoned at the school. Our friends responded with love and were able to procure land next to the school, build dormitories on it, and continue to educate all the children. Recently, bedbugs infested their old mattresses and tormented the children. They needed new metal bed frames and new mattresses to end the plague and to keep the children there. As you can see, the bedding has just arrived.

This morning, I received this message of thanks and delight from them:

The children are so glad to receive new bedding and they are now having a good sleep during the night. We are also celebrating good performances in the recently announced National Exam. We thank God for giving them good health and for the provision of their daily needs.

We also thank you and the people there for opening your heart and standing with the kids. We could have lost these wonderful and potential leaders of tomorrow, who will now be able to change this nation and the Forkland community. They were living in such a horrible environment but now they have a great future for this generation. We send our gratitude and thanksgiving to the Almighty God, for using you the people there to transform the entire nation and the communities here in Kenya, You have poured out your love towards our people here.
I believe God may be preparing this young team to change the whole community, and the people will learn what it means to live loved. We are hoping that our work of helping these children is not in vain.
Through our additional grain enterprise profit, we have managed to enroll and take our children to different primary and secondary schools. We thank God for the provisions, and we thank the people there for their support. Despite of many challenges, these children faced before they were rescued, six of them have performed very well, four of them are supposed to join university, and two are supposed to go to college. This is so amazing. 
Yours,
Brother Michael and Thomas
Amazing it is! Imagine the opportunity we were given to shape the lives of 300 children who were abandoned and destined for poverty. What that might do, not only for those children, but also for the community and nation in which their lives will bear the fruit of God’s love?
Every moment I think of Kenya, I am overwhelmed by what this audience has done for people they don’t know and have never met. I’ve been there. I know how desperate these people are for lack of resources, and yet they have hearts as big as an ocean to love and care for others more desperate than them. Your generosity has helped them do that, and I am grateful as well that people have continued to give to this incredible need, and the profound impact it is having on this part of Kenya.
In fact, a couple of weeks ago, Sara and I saw an NBC News report on the neighboring county of Turkana, which has identical needs to Pokot. Two weeks later, they patted themselves on the back because viewers had sent close to half a million dollars to help with relief. To think that you have had a much larger impact as part of a much smaller audience, makes it even more astounding. And to do it without publicity or fanfare . . . priceless!

The needs here are ongoing if you’d like to help us, or perhaps you would like to provide a scholarship for one of these former orphans to attend University or College. You can do that through Lifestream, if you wish. As always, every dime you give goes directly to them. We take nothing out for financial transfer fees or administration.

If you would like to help, please see our Donation Page at Lifestream. Just designate “Kenya” in the “note” of your donation, or email us and let us know your gift is for Kenya. You can also Venmo contributions to “@LifestreamMinistries” or mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1  •  Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or, if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.

Thank you for your great generosity to a people in a far-off land.

Trauma Conversations and Book Clubs

Manipulative people detest when they lose their power over someone else. Manipulation is a game constantly played in human relationships. We often get caught in it because we love the people playing, and we don’t want to risk losing their friendship if we don’t keep them happy. Such a life, however, will not lead you to joy but to greater confusion and pain.

It is never easy to bear the brunt of someone else’s brokenness. Their use of anger and false accusations to manipulate others creates an environment where tender, gracious relationships get lost. For many, it’s a religious game. Thinking they know God’s best for you, they will stop at nothing to get you to please them or judge your salvation when you don’t. If they don’t come to see that, they will constantly up the ante until playing their game eventually begins to eat at your soul. You can go along with it for a season, hoping it’s just a temporary blind spot for them, but when they start gossiping about you or gaslighting you, you have to step away. Seeking a relationship of mutual respect and tenderness becomes impossible. That’s when you got to let Jesus lead you out of the game, even if it risks a relationship you hold dear.

We talked about that last week in our Jake Colsen Book Club. Chapter 8 of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore lets Jake see how human relationships get easily twisted. Here are some excerpts from that chapter:

Just remember Jesus is not worried about tomorrow because he has already worked that out. He’s inviting you to live with him in the joy of the moment, responding to what he puts right before you.

The approval you felt then came from the same source as the shame you feel now. That’s why it hurts so much when you hear their rumors or watch old friends reject you. Truth be told, some of those people still really care about you. They just don’t know how to show it now that you no longer play on their team. They’re not bad people, Jake, just brothers and sisters lost in something that is not as godly as they think it is.

Now you know what that’s like from the other side and one of the big things Jesus is doing in you now is to free you from the game, so that you can live deeply in him rather than worrying about what everyone else thinks about you. As long as you need other people to understand you and to approve of what you’re doing, you are owned by anyone willing to lie about you.

Since Sara and I have had to stay a bit closer to home as she recovers from rotator-cuff surgery, we’ve been using Zoom to continue engaging with others worldwide through the Jake book discussions and the Wrestling with Trauma conversations. We will hold another Wrestling with Trauma conversation on Sunday, February 5, at 11:00 am PST. You’ll have to do the math to determine what that might be in your time zone. If you’d like to join us this week, please email me for the Zoom link. We’ll be limiting it to the first twelve who request a link, but don’t worry; we will schedule more such times. These are not teaching sessions, nor will they build on each other. Each will be a conversation to serve those who join us and help encourage them to the Way Jesus wants to lead them through the pain of trauma into his increasing freedom. These conversations are not streamed live or recorded. They are for the personal benefit of those who can join us. You can even join in anonymously if you prefer.

And for those interested in the next Jake Colsen Book Club, we will hold the next discussion of  So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore on Saturday, February 4, at 1:30 pm. We will move on to Chapter 8: Unplayable Lies, where we’ll explore how God wants to lead us out of the hard places some of our choices have put us in and, while doing so, teach us how to trust him and his wisdom. You can email me if you’d like a link for that. Anyone can join in; we only ask that you re-read that chapter so it’s fresh in your mind. You can also listen live (or afterward) as we stream it on my Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook.

If you’d like to listen to the previous conversations, here are the links to these videos:

Chapter 2 – A Walk in the Park
Chapter 5 – Love with a Hook

 

 

What Does God Hold in His Heart?

As I hold the Ukrainian people in my heart these days, I find myself wondering what God must feel as he watches over his children in that part of the world. Last month, I received an email from a friend in Ukraine, and I have held its contents in my heart ever since. It has allowed me to see and feel what they are going through and to hold their pain differently than I would have a year ago.

Here’s the letter I received:

Today is the 290th day of the full-scale bloody unjust war of Russia against Ukraine. I am afraid to even write this because I believed that the Lord would not allow this horror to continue for so long. Unfortunately, it continues (How long, Oh Lord?)

Russia launched three massive missile attacks on our country. This is in addition to the daily shelling of certain regions of Ukraine. People died, and houses and electrical substations were destroyed. Millions of people in Ukraine suffer from the lack of light, heat, water, Internet, and telephone communication. Every day we are without light, heat, water, and communication for 12-17 hours. In other cities, people do not have light and heat for 15-20 hours a day. Authorities say the situation could worsen. Every day in Ukraine is a struggle for life, but this cannot be compared with the terrible conditions our military is in. Every day, the best sons of Ukraine die at the front. It is impossible to accept this. It is impossible to get used to it. We are constantly looking for words of comfort and support for the families of the victims. But in most cases, words cannot console. We just HUG THEM AND CRY WITH THEM.

We recently attended the funeral of two young soldiers. They were both only 21. They died in March, but their bodies could not be delivered until November. All this time, parents were waiting for an opportunity to bury their dead sons. It is hard to even imagine a funeral lasting 8 months. The day before yesterday, not far from the Belarusian border, a married couple died. The car skidded in the snow and blew up on a mine that was hidden on the side of the road. Now 8 children are left without dad and mom. After the children were told about the death of their parents, the boy asked if it was possible to call heaven.

Do we see God’s hand in these terrible days? Yes!!! He is with us in the dark and cold. He is with us when there is no water or telephone connection. He is our warmth and light. He is our water and connection. He is with our hero warriors. He is with Ukraine. Every day, every hour, every moment!!! Thank you for not leaving us alone with the beleaguered enemy. Thank you for your prayers, words of support, and financial help. You are God’s Angels for us, for Ukraine.”

Can you imagine living in all that heartache and pain day after day for almost a year? And all because one bully, Vladimir Putin, decided he was entitled to take a free country for himself, and the West refused to stand up to him because Ukraine was not part of NATO and they feared nuclear reprisal. Fear is always the currency of evil. And, please, my Russian friends, do not take these words as an attack on the Russian people. I’ve no doubt many of them decry this horrible war as well, as they, too, watch their children die for a cause they detest.

But what is God thinking when he surveys a world gone mad, where a few people given to evil can ruin the lives of so many others, whether it’s conquest as in Ukraine, sexual assault in a family, corrupt governments in Central and South America displacing their people, or a bully at school intimidating other students? What of the pain you hold even as you beg God to make it stop?

Many think God can and should stop all their suffering, and the fact that he does not either argues against his existence or his loving concern for humanity. I see it differently, like my brother who wrote the letter above. God is always in our suffering. I’m sure if he could stop all the suffering in the world immediately, he would. The joys of some people who experience abundance and bliss are certainly not, even in God’s eyes, worth the pain that others suffer in so many horrific ways.

Why doesn’t he, then? I wish I could answer that. I am convinced it is not his lack of will or power. I suspect it has something to do with the nature of God’s redemption for the whole of Creation and how that has to play out for reasons I cannot see. I do know this Father loves to his core as much for the people of Ukraine as for Sara and me. So, when I see Jesus weeping at Lazarus’s tomb, or “offering himself to God with loud cries and tears,” I know that God is not indifferent to young men and women dying in Ukraine, a hungry stomach in Kenya’s drought, or a sexually victimized young boy our girl weeping on their bed.

God grieves over the brokenness of humanity and the pain and suffering that results. I’ve no doubt he is doing all he can do to bring the Creation to full redemption and restore what he intended in the beginning. Yes, there is a strain of God’s presence that vibrates with joy and beauty, but there is also a refrain that holds the pain of his beloved children in sorrow and grief. Even though he can see what we cannot—a greater glory yet to come—he is able to hold the pain of everyone whose lives are impacted by the injustice and suffering of a world woefully out of sync with the Creator’s ways.

So, today I can sing and rejoice in all my Father’s goodness. And today, I can also hold the sorrow of those I love who bear the brunt of the world’s fallenness. And I suspect the latter will be more helpful than the former in teaching me how to live with a heart for his redemption and a compassion for my hurting brothers and sisters. As a friend of mine said recently, “Maybe he wants us to be one with the sufferings of the world and, in the same moment, be one with the victory of the Cross.” I have no idea what that means yet, but I’m learning.

Indeed, Jesus carries the heartache of the whole world, and we are invited to share in the “fellowship of his suffering” as well . . .

. . .  until his Glory comes in all its fullness.

You Can’t Murder Hate

Profound words from a man of great wisdom who lived that reality through greater hostility than I can imagine:

Through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence.

Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Come, let us live in the light as he is in the light and put darkness to flight.

 

When Trauma Comes Knocking

Joy in life comes not from trying to control your circumstances but by being ready to respond with God’s heart in whatever happens to you.

When people ask us what we have in mind for 2023, part of me laughs inside. We rarely get to live according to our plans; life is too chaotic for that. Tragedy, relational breakdowns, trauma, or even an unexpected need can kick all your hopes and plans to the curb. Then what do you do? Do you hide in your anger frustrated that life didn’t go your way, or do you lean into Jesus and find the Way he will guide you through the darkness?

When last year started, Sara was already in a desperate fight for her life when a childhood trauma she didn’t even know was exploding to the surface like a re-awakened volcano.  I, completely unaware, was working on a new book as well as traveling again after COVID had subsided. Through a shocking set of circumstances last April, I discovered my wife was in real trouble. At that moment, everything came crashing down around me, and only one thing mattered—seeing how Jesus wanted to rescue my wife and follow his lead in whatever he wanted from me. If Jesus had not been in that mess with me, I don’t know how I would have survived it. His insights and peace in the face of such great despair, rescued us and brought incredible healing to Sara’s heart.

Admittedly, it was a very narrow road filled with pain for both of us. That’s why I was so blindsided a few months later when Sara told me that she wanted to share her trauma story publicly. In her struggle and desperation, hearing other people’s stories had been a lifeline to her and she wanted to be that voice of encouragement to others. And, wow, has that ever happened, not just in the podcasts but in hundreds of conversations during our RV trip around the U.S. and continuing in emails and phone conversations!

I’m still unsure what direction God has for us in years to come, but part of it will be helping people deal with trauma. It’s been so encouraging to see how others have come to recognize the signs of trauma in their own reactions, or in the life of someone they love.

Here is a sample of the overwhelming feedback we’ve had:

I listened with painful tears as the Redeeming Love podcasts began. This is as real as a God journey gets. It will help so many traumatized people by validating their pain and directing them to a loving Father who is in them and will help them walk through it.  (Australia)

I recently went through a situation with someone that was confusing and frustrating for me. However, I took into account that the person’s behavior could be linked to trauma, which turned out to be the case. If you and Sara had never shared your stories, I probably would have gotten angry and gotten into a fight with them. Instead, I tried to give the person space, keep an open mind, and take them seriously. This helped bring healing. I think that a lot of symptoms of trauma came up because I was no longer an obstacle. (unknown)

I really want you to know those podcasts cracked me open, and something landed deeper in my heart toward my parents through your personal story. You helped me grieve with God for what happened to my mom and dad, and to gain a clearer understanding of them as humans doing the absolute best they can. What magnificent love is available to us, through each other, from God, forever and ever amends! Wowza. (Oklahoma)

I was molested by my dad’s best friend starting at age 15. It makes me nauseous to even type that. I have thought I had dealt with it, but only through you two sharing these stories did I realize that I’ve only shoved it down. I’m realizing how much all of this has affected my actions and reactions to things and people, and my relationship with Father. (Texas)

I still meet some old friends who have no idea what happened to us last year. We hadn’t seen them and they hadn’t been following my blog or podcasts. While I don’t expect all my friends to stay up with my personal life, there is no way for them to understand my journey now without appreciating what Jesus walked me through last year. Sara and I learned so much, and it changed us so much that we stand in a very different space than we did a year ago. None of it was in our plans, though all of it is now part of our story.

Sara and I often wondered on our trip whether or not we had retired. It’s a joke since in many ways I retired almost thirty years ago in that I have been free to do the things I love to do—write, podcast, sit with God about the pain in the world, and hang out with people exploring their life in Jesus. That was even more true when we resigned our salary at Lifestream two years ago so we have no obligation there. I’m unsure what I’ll write next, but Kyle and I have already discussed where The God Journey might travel this year. There is so much we want to unpack together about what Jesus doing in our lives and how we can interact with our listeners.  Stay tuned, and if you haven’t been listening for a while you might want to re-engage. I have a feeling this next year is going to take us down some very different roads that will help you learn to live more deeply in Father’s revelation.

Sara has some shoulder surgery scheduled next week so we’ll be laid up here for a bit, but she wanted to continue the conversations about trauma that we had on our trip. We don’t have an agenda, just a desire to interact informally with those who are dealing with trauma in themselves or someone they love. We are going to have some occasional Zoom sessions to see where those conversations might go. They are going to be small, each limited to only twelve people, though we’ll try to have enough of them to eventually include all who would like to join us.  We are not experts at trauma, just a couple who have survived it and have a sense of how Jesus can lead people through it. We do know this:  There is no grief so deep that God cannot share it with you and walk you through it to a greater glory and there is no trauma so entrenched that God cannot root it out and break its hold on you. Join us if want to to ask some questions about what we shared on the Redeeming Love podcasts or to explore your own struggles with trauma. You do not have to listen to the podcasts to join us, but it would certainly be helpful.

Our first Wrestling with Trauma conversation will be held this Saturday, January 14, at 11:00 am PST.  You’ll have to do the math to figure out what that might be in your time zone.  Like the Jake Colsen Book Club, we’ll be moving these around to different times to help accommodate people in different parts of the world. If you’d like to join us this week, please email me for the Zoom link. We’ll be limiting it to the first twelve who request a link, but don’t worry, we will have more. These are not teaching sessions, nor will they build on each other. Each will be a conversation to serve those who join us.

And for those who are interested in the next Jake Colsen Book Club, we will hold the next discussion on my book, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, the following Saturday, January 21 at 1:30 pm. This one will be on chapter 7, When You Dig a Hole For Yourself, You Have to Throw the Dirt on Someone. This chapter deals with how religious performance destroys relationships by making them competitive rather than living inside Jesus’s love for others. You can also email me if you’d like a link for that or you can listen live (or after) as we stream it on my Wayne Jacobsen Author Page

I’m excited about what 2023 might hold, and all the more, because I have no idea what will come my way. I do, however, have a relationship with Jesus that I know is real enough to carry me through the darkest places.

Sara and I want nothing more than to help you find that reality in your own journey.

Insights for Your Journey

Happy New Year, everyone. I know people make plans and resolutions, but you never know what a year might bring. For Sara and me, last year completely took us by surprise—–both in the depth of pain, an incredible process of healing, and the fruit of joy and peace that came from all of it.

On August 22, Sara and I took off on what turned out to be a three-month road trip across the U.S. and back. Our little RV proved to be a wonderful cocoon for us to continue sorting out Sara’s trauma and what our marriage would look like beyond it. Along the way, I recorded a series of short videos (most are about a minute, some a minute and a half) about the things we were thinking about in our life with God and how they might encourage others.

For those who missed them on Instagram or want to relive them, I’m posting them in order below. If you only listen to one of them, try Day 82 – White River, AR.

(For those who subscribe by email, the videos may not play from the email, but you can access this email online, or view them on my blog at Lifestream.org.)

Our last night home – With a sketch of a plan, Sara and I are off to places still unknown.

 

Day 2 from Flagstaff, AZ – God has a path for you, too, and following him is the way to find it.

 

Day 6 from Westcliffe, CO – It’s not what happens to us that defines our life, but what Jesus can do in us.

Day 9 from Denver, CO – Suffering does not have to shake your faith when it opens doors to a greater knowing of God.

Day 11 from Golden, CO – God’s life unfolds where love intersects with truth, and we are able to view our lives and circumstances with God’s eyes.

Day 16 from Torrington, WY – Learning to live loved means we get to give up the illusion of control.

Day 22 from Duluth, MN – What do we do when God doesn’t come through like we think love demands?

Day 23 from Minocqua, WI – “Prayer isn’t giving God information to act upon but giving us intimacy to rest in.”

Day 27: Near Escanaba, MI – Rather than wait for God’s timing it would be best for us to learn to participate in his ways.

Day 30: Mackinaw, MI – Presence is everything. We don’t have to know what’s coming our way; we only have to know Who is with us.

Day 40: Arriving in Ohio – What the enemy sets himself to destroy, Jesus comes to redeem.

Day 43: Buckeye Lake, Ohio – Avoid justifying yourself at God’s expense and you’ll be better positioned to recognize God’s ways unfolding for you.

Day 56: Arriving in Virginia – An update as Wayne and Sara prepare to head home.

Day 59 Waynesboro, VA

Day 62: Appomattox Court House, VA – The lies you believe about God and yourself will detract you from a greater journey.

Day 64: Lynchburg, VA – What does God mean by salvation? Was it to perfect our destiny or to save us from our broken selves?

Day 72: Damascus, VA – When you are attuned to the ways in which God works, then you’ll know how to do your work.

Day 75: Chattanooga, TN – We miss his love when it comes to us because we’re too focused on what we want instead of what is true.

Day 82: White River, AR – How sin can interpret the way God loves us, and instead of feeling comforted by him, we feel threatened and push him away.

Day 92: Dallas, TX – God can bring us light and life even in the midst of other people’s attempts to destroy us.

I learned more in the last year than in any other year of my life, and I am grateful for the great things God has done for us. This year, we hope to continue to encourage others to embrace God’s work in them, even if it means passing through some very difficult places. He is the Redeemer, after all, of all that the enemy and other people have done to try to steal his life in us.

When Christmas Doesn’t Find You Joyful

We hope this finds each of you in a season of great joy and with a growing hope for what he might have in mind for you in 2023.

Sara and I are celebrating a great redemption in our lives as this year comes to an end. Against all odds, God delivered us from certain tragedy and set our feet in a new place that delights our hearts with joy. When last year began, I had no idea in four months’ time, I would confront the worst tragedy of my life, and six months later, I would find myself in more joy than I could contain. I can only imagine what this Christmas would have been like for us if God had not rescued my wife and restored our relationship.

So, our hearts go out to those for whom these days are painful and lonely. For reasons I’ll explain more later, we are discovering that God can seem more present in our sufferings than he does in our delight. What’s more, it is easier to probe his heart and our own in the fellowship of suffering than we can when all is well.

So, if your heart is joyful this season, celebrate with abandon.

If your heart is heavy, lean into a Father and a Savior who know your grief better than anyone. Please don’t repress it, stuff it down in a box, or pretend to make others around you feel more comfortable. Instead, hold your pain with Jesus. Let his presence find you in your grief or anguish. There is no pain or trauma so immense that he cannot hold it with you and be your Way through it.

Remember, the story of Jesus’ birth was not just angels singing to shepherds or wise men bringing expensive gifts; it also included the fears of a young maiden far from home, giving birth in a stable, and the murder of innocent two-year-olds by a paranoid king.

Emmanuel—God with us—means he is with you, especially in the chaos of a broken Creation. He is your light in the darkness, your refuge in times of trouble, and the safest lap in the universe to fall into. He can turn your mourning into joy, but that rarely comes quickly or easily. Unfortunately, Christmas Day doesn’t coincide with our personal seasons of joy.

So if you’re feeling lost and alone this season, embrace this reality: You are deeply loved by the Father who created you, and you are not alone even when you most feel like it. There is a presence in you that he wants to teach you to tap into and find your comfort and courage when things look bleakest.

And please don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend and ask them for the help and encouragement you need. We weren’t meant to bear the dark roads by ourselves.

So wherever this season finds you on your journey, honor what’s going on in your heart and mind. And we pray that Jesus will be born afresh in you, and it will give you hope.

Wayne and Sara

Lessons of a Lifetime

This blog is a copy of our Winter 2023 newsletter that we sent out earlier this morning. You can sign up here if you want to be on that list.

Winter 2023

This past year has been quite a roller coaster for Sara and me, and we are both so grateful for all the love, support, prayers, and words of insight that many of you have shared with us along this stretch of the journey. We have also been richly blessed that our story has encouraged others of you to take a deeper look into your own story or marriage and to lean into the greater grace that allows the life of God to shine even brighter. The community surrounding us has enriched our journey with wisdom and encouragement and has lightened our load, as I hope we have theirs.

That said, I also know that our story has been painful for some people to hear. It can be incredibly challenging for those suffering similar pain or darkness who have not yet found their way through it. One person told me they couldn’t finish Wayne’s Happiest Day Ever because my joy was just too overwhelming for them. I understand how someone who’s stuck could feel that way, and I’m always sorry to hear I’ve added to one’s pain. At the same time, however, I wanted people to know that moments of agony can also be followed by seasons of great joy. Sara and I want nothing more in this season than to encourage those who feel adrift in their journey. Father loves you, too, and has a way forward for you.

Ten days ago, we arrived home in Southern California after traveling 7,693 miles across 23 states, having had hundreds of deeply moving conversations with dear friends as well as making many more new ones. We are now living in an apartment contented with joy and gratitude for all that Father has done. Many are asking us what’s next; honestly, we have no idea.

As we look at the days ahead, all we see is a blank canvas. We’re not sure where we will live or what kind of life Father has for us beyond the continued healing of Sara’s traumatic past and our ever-deepening relationship. We are having fun, reveling in the Father’s work and the newfound freedom Sara is discovering daily. We will continue here as we did on the road—taking one day at a time and seeing what seems good to the Spirit and to us.

One thing that means is for us to be incredibly still in December. Over the next month, you’ll hear very little from me. We’re going to take some time to settle into apartment living, look for the next home we hope Father has for us, and to see where all that leads us. So, these will likely be the last public words I write in 2022. I will also not be recording any new podcasts beyond the one airing on December 2.

Good friends tell me that they don’t always keep up with my podcast, and I don’t blame them. There are almost 900 of them back there, and after listening for a  year or two, they mostly have the gist of the important things I share with the world. But the podcasts of the last two years have many notable exceptions. I have learned more in the past two years than I have discovered during any similar period. I had no idea how much I would need that wisdom to walk with God in the unforeseen situations I have faced. Even before we were confronted with Sara’s unresolved childhood trauma, God shaped so many things in my heart to help me walk through it with my eyes and heart firmly on him.

If you missed our story this year, you could catch up by listening to the seven consecutive podcasts we called Redeeming Love. If you’ve missed the best insights I’ve had over those two years, let me give you some other referrals of what Father was teaching me before the events even happened and what he showed me through them. I had no idea the last two years would be such a crash course in learning to follow Jesus, preparing me for those moments when I would have nothing or no one else to rely on.

In a profound invitation to prayer a couple of years ago, I felt like I was in Gethsemane with Jesus. Every time I prayed, I had a foreboding sense that something devastating was about to happen to me and that I would need to be in a place to respond to God’s heart in a specific moment over my inclinations. I thought that would have something to do with my message to the world, and I had no idea that it would be a challenge far greater and far closer to home. That “Gethsemane prayer” lasted for three months. It was a fantastic season of yielding to him, without which I would have been able to endure the strange and painful circumstances that unfolded in my life over the last two years.

During that time, I also learned to Gaze with God at the circumstances before me rather than only gazing at him as I offered him my prayer requests. Just recognizing that God has a different view of almost everything than I do, shaped my heart in beautiful ways. Now I sit with him, looking at whatever is before me and asking him how he sees it. Sometimes that takes a few minutes, but his perspective often unfolds over days and weeks. When his view settles in my heart, it gives me a different way to respond than I would have in the past. His ways almost always challenge me, and it takes a significant measure of trust to take the road he has for me.

After my Gethsemane season passed and while I waited to see what might come of it, Jesus taught me that the essence of living loved is to be secure in his love, at rest in his power, and enjoying his playfulness. We called it Love, Rest, and Play. Not only has this opened fresh doors in relating to him, but it has also begun to shape my relationships with others, most of all with Sara. Learning to love, being at rest with each other, and being playful is the essence of healthy relationships.

Now, Riding the Wind of his Spirit is less complicated and not as hard to discern. Sensing the movement of God in and around the relationships or challenges of circumstances lets me know my place in them—what I can fix and mostly what I can’t. God moves at a very different pace than I do, which is why I find myself often Running Ahead of Him instead of letting him move first when the time is ripe. When God asked me to slow down to Sara’s pace, I eventually realized that Father’s pace is slower yet. That’s not because he doesn’t care; it’s that he does real stuff, not cosmetic fix-ups. When I live slower, I recognize him more efficiently, and I’m not caught up in the frantic pace of 21st Century life.

It has also shaped my prayer life, showing me how to Hold Space in Prayer over time for a loved one or even for specific groups of people around the world, such as my friends in Kenya, traumatized people, or those in bondage to religious obligation. Instead of throwing a bunch of requests for God to do what I think best, I can sit with them in Father’s presence as his work unfolds. Prayer has become so much more meaningful and effective.

I now appreciate fully what Annie Dillard calls The Scandal of Particularity. God’s work is so intimate that he works quite differently with each of his children and with such particular interventions that there’s no way to mass produce it. Most things that matter cannot be codified into principles or steps others can follow. If we’re going to help people find Jesus’ salvation, we will want to offer them A Caring Heart and a Listening Ear. (That last podcast, with a friend from Oklahoma City, is probably the most powerful conversation I’ve ever had about real ministry and how his kingdom comes into the world.)  This season has also redefined my view of salvation and how we have so cheapened it by making it about heaven and hell instead of Jesus rescuing us from the brokenness of this Creation and the delusions of darkness.

So, here are some resources that might equip you during this month or as the new year begins. Much of this unfolds in the Transforming Love podcasts that will comprise the heart of the new book I’m working on: So, You Really Want to Follow Jesus? We will finish that series in a couple more podcasts early in 2023.

Sara and I want you to know the fullness of his freedom, not just in eternity, but more importantly in the present. That’s what his salvation was meant to do—bind up the brokenhearted and set the oppressed free. And as you learn to live in his love, it will serve you well also to discover how to gaze with God in prayer, how to recognize his nudges that will guide you through the trials and opportunities coming your way, and be equipped to bring his kingdom into the world with a caring heart and a listening ear.

And now, here are a few things that might be of interest:

So, as Sara and I begin this time of reflection and rest, discovering how God wants us to build a life of love in this next season, we pray that you have all the light and courage that you need to continue to follow him, too, and see what glory he has to unfold in your life with each passing day.

A Pathway to Living Loved

Tomorrow, I’ll post my last blog of the year. I’m excited to share that with you, but I woke up this morning with a desire to respond to many of the emails I get about helping people discover just how deeply loved they are by God.

My email box often vacillates between two kinds of emails. Many are grateful for my book, He Loves Me, and tell me how reading that book changed the trajectory of their entire spiritual journey. For the first time, they came to know how much God loved them and began to realize their freedom from the boredom and bondage of religious obligation.

I get many others that are quite the opposite, people pleading for help. “You talk about a love of God I don’t know. Can you help me find him?” Or, “I have never been able to feel the love of God.” It’s these emails I care about most. I realize some of them have read He Loves Me, but most have not. I realize books alone cannot convince you that God loves you. That’s his to do. But I also know that He Loves Me, and the free audio Transition, can help you create the mental environment to dislodge the paralysis of religious thinking enough so that you can recognize God as he is making himself known to you.

Every day, God is surrounding you with his love, knocking on your heart so that you can discover it. However, the way we’ve learned to navigate the world or try to perform to appease God draws our eyes away from his fingerprints and presence just to survive the challenges or distractions of daily life. For those of you who feel lost in discovering how loved you are, please give some time to these two resources. Better yet, find a couple of friends to read or listen with you, so that your conversations can encourage the truth of his love to fill your heart.

Many have also found Live Loved Free Full, a daily devotional I wrote a couple of years ago, to be just the daily encouragement they need to set their heart before God in a way that allows them to be re-centered in his love each day. This book contains a thought a day to invite you into the relational space where you can recognize God’s thoughts in you.

These are also great gifts to give to others if you still haven’t found all the Christmas gifts you need for friends and family.  And, to help, I’ve discounted them both. You can pick up Live Loved Free Full for $14.00, and He Loves Me for $10.00 until Christmas Eve. Better yet, get them both for $24.00.

Find the love he has for you. It will change everything!

And if you already have, share the love so people around you can find that freedom as well.

 

Writing the Final Chapter

Sara and I are currently in Arlington, TX, for a couple of days, and then we’ll begin writing the final chapter of our RV trip around the U.S. And what a trip it has been. The team is still together; the joy continues to grow. If you haven’t listened to Wayne’s Happiest Day Ever, you might want to give it a listen. It sums up better than I ever could here what is transpiring on this journey.

We appreciate all those who have been praying for us, following our journey here, spending time with us at various spots, and most of all, for your encouragement and prayers. We have had some magnificent conversations on this journey, including one I recorded with a friend in Oklahoma about A Caring Heart and a Listening Ear, which you’ll be able to listen to this Friday at The God Journey.

The confirmation of Father’s work continues to come from so many places. One lady sent this to me after an evening in her home with a group that gathered for conversation:

In listening to Sara tell her story over a relatively short amount of time, I noticed from the first podcast to the later ones how much you could tell her story started to make sense just by how she was talking. It was as if the pieces coming together caused her sentences to go from slightly disjointed fragments of thoughts to beautifully cohesive sentences.  It was like a timeline of healing represented in gramma.  “Sara the Brave” is my new forever perception of her. Keep healing, Sara!

Mine too! For her to tell her story so openly and honestly has opened a massive door for others to trust us with their stories and unresolved pain. The Creation has so much brokenness—people wounded by abuse or delusions. This is why Jesus came, not to give people a get-out-of-hell card, but to save them from broken-heartedness, to free them from oppression, and to dispel the lies that drove them into the darkness.

This experience has been a Godsend for us this season and reshaped our hearts for whatever is next. We begin the last leg of our trip this Friday as we depart the Dallas/Fort Worth areas for our apartment in Southern California. We still have some stops on the way home, but our trajectory has changed once again due to the unseasonably cold weather. We’ll be cutting across the bottom of the U.S. with a stop to visit Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and catch up with some dear friends along the way. Our final stop will be near Phoenix, AZ, November 21-22.

As we make our way home, we will complete this chapter and be ready to begin another. What will that look like? We have no idea at this point. We set out on August 22 from our former home in Newbury Park, CA, without a plan or itinerary. We thought we’d be home by October 18, but as it turns out, we won’t get there until November 24.

This entire experience with Sara has deepened our walk with God and each other. I’m hopeful that will continue as this story continues to unfold. We have both discovered so much about ourselves, his life in us, and how to hold people’s pain in an entirely different way. We have learned to live more in the present than trusting our familiar patterns and rely on Jesus’ direction rather than our plans. (If you’re curious about some of that, Kyle and I have been talking about most of it on the podcasts this fall.)

Will I finish the book I started before all of this, or travel as I had been before? Will we settle back in Newbury Park? What will become of Lifestream or The God Journey? All those questions are still in Father’s hands. We may come back to those things, but it will be with very different hearts. And we are also open to an entirely different way of living to accommodate what Father has for us in this next season of our lives.

We are excited to see how that will turn out and probably won’t know for some time. We know this—we will continue to follow Jesus as best we see him and love the people he puts in our path so that they can come to know Jesus the way we have and experience his freedom for them.

There is no greater joy than the adventure of following him and encouraging others as they seek to do so as well.

Just a couple of quick notes before we get back to life on the road—

First, the need for $168,000.00 in Kenya has been met. A dear friend called me to say he’d pick up whatever we lacked for those children. I’m deeply grateful to all who again contributed to this dire need. Two nights ago, Sara and I watched an NBC news story about the horrible drought and starvation occurring in the northern reaches of Kenya. We are grateful to have been a small part of God’s provision in such an impoverished region and thankful to hear that other resources are coming into the area.

Second, as you think of Christmas gifts for family and friends, keep in mind the possibility of sharing some of the books I’ve been involved in. Live Loved Free Full is a daily devotional with inspiring thoughts to invite people into a relational engagement with God each day. He Loves Me continues to touch new hearts every year with the relationship people have wanted to find with God. In Season offers a farmer’s view of John 15 to help people discover what it means to abide in Jesus organically. And, A Man Like No Other is a powerful portrayal of the life of Jesus in art and prose that invites people to see Jesus outside the distortions of religious interpretation and fall in love with the person he is.

Finally, Sara and I want you to know that the joy and freedom we find in Jesus are available to each of you. He is no respecter of persons. His course may be very different for you, but he is the Way for you too, and he can carve a path through the pain, fear, and struggles you endure.  To that end, you have our prayers and support.

 

 

 

Another Emergency in Kenya

[Update on Friday, November 11:  As of this morning, we have received all of the funds needed for this project. Thanks for your incredible generosity toward these incredible children and those who are managing for their care.  Of course, the needs will continue there, so if you want to send extra, I’m sure they will put it to good use in future needs in Kenya. However, I did want you to know that this need has been met.]

Before I get to the Kenya news, here’s an update on our journey home. Sara and I are spending a couple of days alone just for fun, and then we’ll begin the push to get home by Thanksgiving.  This has been the most amazing trip and his light and life continue to unfold along the way. We are so grateful.

On the way, we are set for these stops:

  • An afternoon/evening this Friday between Bentonville and Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • Saturday, November 12 – an afternoon (1:30 – 4:30) in Tulsa, OK
  • Sunday, November 13 – an afternoon (3 pm – 6:00 pm) in Edmond, OK
  • After that, we’ll be heading to Dallas and then on to home through Gilbert, Az.

You can get the details on these conversations here.

And we also bring some sad news on the Kenya front. If you’ve followed this story, 300 children were abandoned on the steps of the Forkland School a few months back because of a deepening drought and drug-addicted parents. Our friends there took them in. To help with their care, we purchased additional land and built dormitories for the children to live in a few months ago.

Recently, local government officials have done an evaluation of this new center and say that it is too congested and violates national guidelines meant to protect children from pop-up orphanages that exist mostly to raise money overseas and provide inadequate care to the children. During theur inspection, they began interacting with the children. The public health officer began to feel sorrowful and wept. He saw they were enjoying good education, medication, and food. Surprisingly he said  in front of others, “I don’t have any words to express for the loving people from America who sacrificed their lives and helped to set up this rescue center.”

He added that he didn’t have any capacity to change the rules of the government and he encouraged the children to believe God more and pray more that God would provide a way. He said God could do exceedingly beyond their thinking, and he gave us five thousand dollars to support the children. The physical planning officer said that he would do all the architectural work free of charge and gave it to us on Monday. They joined the children for a short prayer before they left.

Michael, our contact there, added these words:

The hunger which is taking place in Kenya is a great surprise to us. We have never experienced such a horrible time, which has affected almost everyone. Hunger has affected even the lower villages like Forkland now, and suffering is taking place. We have rescued their lives and if they close us down, we are cutting their hope and life forever. We asked the children’s department not to close us down but to give us a chance to find a way to make things according to their recommendations.

We understand that these children are congested because they have to share a bed. The ministry of children recommends one person, one bed and that is why they have new guidelines since the pandemic affected the world.

All the children were supposed to be 300 but one family took ten and took fifteen. This leaves  275 children still in the home. The architectural plan is meant to avoid the collapse of buildings which has been reported in some parts of Kenya. When the officers came to the Rescue Centre, rumors spread that they are closing the home. A sympathetic neighbor sold us land valued at 2.7 million for $30,000 in order to rescue this Centre.

So we appeal again to our brothers and sisters over there to sacrifice once more so that these children may not lose their education and care. We have not yet slept since we were given this short notice. We need $168,000.00 to fulfill the requirements of the government and continue our care for these children.

I know I’ve come to you many times to help with these needs in Kenya. We are winding down our involvment there given new priorities God is asking of us. But we wanted to see if God would stir your hearts one again and provide this critical resource for them. I’ve been involved with these people for many years. Their hearts are sincere, the need is genuine, and they have always been accountable and honest with every thing we have sent hem.

Please pray for them and consider if you might help us this holiday season of gratitude. This is a great way to give something back if you’ve been touched by Sara and my life this year. As always, every dime you give goes directly to them. We take nothing out for financial transfer fees or administration.

If you can help us raise this $168,000 to keep this center open, please see our Donation Page at Lifestream. Just designate “Kenya” in the “Note” of your donation, or email us and let us know your gift is for Kenya. You can also Venmo contributions to “@LifestreamMinistries” or mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1  •  Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or, if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.

Heading Home

This. Has. Been. So. Much. Fun.

The return to innocence tour has been an absolute delight on a personal level. It has given me extended time with Sara and our dogs, the healing that keeps flowing from Father’s heart, and the fantastic conversations and friendships Jesus keeps letting us explore. We are both so grateful for this trip in this season of our lives and how his glory just keeps unfolding each day. However, it is time to move more deliberately westward and get home before the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s the plan, anyway.

What a joyful trip we had to Atlanta yesterday, through the peak foliage between Chattanooga and Atlanta, topped off with our gathering that afternoon. It was so good to catch up with people caring for the people of Ukraine or taking some children from troubled homes into their own. Rich conversation, great laughs, and wonderful encouragement filled our day.

Now we’re in Chattanooga for two more days before heading to Nashville for November 2-4. If you want to join us there, there’s a Wednesday night gathering, write me for details.

After that, we may head to Paducah, KY, on Saturday, November 5, and then on to Mountain Home, Arkansas, on November 6 and 7.

We’re not clear exactly where we are going from there. We may go to Branson for a night or two, but we’re also sorting out where it might be best to gather in the area where NW Arkansas, NE Oklahoma, SW Kansas, and SE Missouri all converge. We’ve had a lot of contacts from that region. We can’t stay long, so we’re looking for places that others can get to easily since all of this will mostly be during the week of November 7-11. If you have any ideas that can help us sort that out, please write me.

Eight months ago, neither of us would have conceived of this trip or what the last three months have held for us. I guess that’s why he asked us to follow him, not make plans and ask him to bless them. That’s probably been the most recurring lesson of my spiritual journey. I’ve always done lots of planning, hoping and praying God would use it. Learning to live in God’s unfolding plans has been quite a journey.

Somehow I thought that I had the excellent ideas God needed to get his work done in the world, and I’m sure I carelessly walked by some more amazing trails he was inviting me down if I hadn’t been so preoccupied with my planning. Now, we are seeing more of those roads and enjoying them immensely.

Father has already purposed everything he wants to accomplish in Christ in this broken Creation. He just invites us to come alongside him and be part of his fantastic work. Now, I do far less planning, even on this trip, and yet watch the amazing opportunities he unfolds without my needing to have it planned weeks in advance.

It all seems so simple now, perhaps too simple for those of us who wanted to do things for him (as ineffective as they might be) rather than with him.

 

 

The Seven Best Thoughts So Far

A few more days in Virginia—Lynchburg, to be exact—and then we turn westward for the long drive home. We have been traveling through autumn colors since early September in Duluth and have immersed ourselves in its beauty. I want to be like that in the autumn of my life, letting God’s beauty shine through me rather than approaching death angry and bitter.

So, we’ve completed the front nine and are ready to play the holes that take you home. If you have not listened to Wayne’s Happiest Day Ever, you might want to give it a listen. It will tell you much about what God has been doing this season.

And I suspect that the first half of this journey was for Sara and me to process our 46 years of marriage and how the trauma had affected our relationship and embrace the further healing and insight he gave us.

Though that healing will continue for many years to come, the trip home seems to be set up to help us discover new patterns for our life after we return home. I can’t even begin to convey how exciting, fresh, and joyful this stretch of the journey is for both of us.

So here are a few of our notes from the first half of the journey.

  1. There are so many incredible Christ-followers in the world. We’ve had deep fellowship wherever we’ve been and heard some beautiful stories about the ways in which God works. We have been with many of those friends that were instrumental in carrying Sara and me through our days of separation and pain and stood with us as God opened up the fantastic doors of revelation, healing, and more profound love. Jesus’ church in the world is alive and well, a community that spans the whole world with a wealth of wisdom, insight, and compassion.
  2. A return to innocence is possible even beyond trauma. I see it every day in Sara’s growing freedom. The childhood she missed is being recaptured in the present. The loss of shame, the looks of wonder at the world around her, and the spontaneous laughter all attest to this growing freedom, and we want others to know it is there for them too. That’s why Jesus died to restore the innocence of the Garden, from which we can explore a new attunement with God. We know Sara’s transformation has been ridiculously quick, but the foundation was laid for it thirty years ago when we began to learn how to live in the affection of the Father.
  3. Attunement is quickly becoming one of our favorite words, both with Sara and me and with God and us. Attunement is more than good communication with another; it means we are tuning to another’s mind and heart and letting that impact our own. (Colossians 1:9-12) Dr. Dan Siegel defines it this way, “When we attune with others, we allow our own internal state to shift, to come to resonate with the inner world of another. This resonance is at the heart of the important sense of “feeling felt” that emerges in close relationships. Children need attunement to feel secure and to develop well, and throughout our lives, we need attunement to feel close and connected.” Extended time together and really listening to the other is key to strengthening the bonds of attunement. When I live my day attuned to God, I can see his way forward even through great pain.
  4. There is so much unresolved pain in the world. You can be both an incredible Christ-follower and also be journeying through some dark places in your heart—whether that is caused by unreconciled trauma or by painful circumstances of betrayal or family dysfunction. 
  5. Unfortunately, many people try to pray away the symptoms of their pain rather than probe the source of it. Be it fear, anger, loneliness, or shame, those are often responses to believing something about yourself or God that isn’t true. You may have no idea what it is, but he does, and he can be the Way to lead you to his freedom and fullness.
  6.  There is a rhythm of joy flowing from the heart of Jesus every day despite the depth of pain we may carry. Look for him in the beauty around you, the stillness of your heart, and the tears running down your cheeks. He is there, and his heartbeat can show you ways forward you have yet to consider.
  7. Finding the best cinnamon rolls in each state is a worthy and highly satisfying objective. Enough said.

So, where do we go from here? It’s a fluid schedule, but we are considering this route home:

  • Damascus, VA
  • Chattanooga, TN
  • Atlanta day trip from Chattanooga
  • Nashville, TN
  • Arkansas
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Dallas, TX
  • Abilene, TX
  • Lubbock, TX
  • Carlsbad, NM
  • Las Cruces, NM
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Camarillo, CA

It is a flexible routing since we really don’t know where the wind of the Spirit might blow us on this journey home. We expect things to unfold like they did coming out, but we do hope to be home in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.

And, no, we don’t have dates yet or locations where we might be at larger gatherings. But this trip is more about conversations than meetings, so if you’re somewhere along that route and want to connect with us as we move through, please don’t be bashful. Could you write me and let me know? We’ll do what we can but can’t promise to meet all requests.

 

The Decision Is In

We are nearing peak leaf color here in NW Ohio, and it is fabulous. Sitting out in the backyard with a group of people yesterday with a cascade of leaves occasionally spilling out of the trees around us was nearly magical. The conversations were even better as we shared God’s life together, struggled with issues of trauma, legalism, and abuse, and looked for ways to live deeply in Father’s affection. We were also able to renew dear and deep friendships.

However, it is time to move on from here and continue our journey. Where to next has not been an easy decision to make.  Originally, we thought we might turn home from here, but the beauty of fall is too compelling, and though we’ve had lots of invites east of here, it seems good to us and the Holy Spirit to head toward the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge while the leaves are moving toward peak there.

It just isn’t time to go home yet. Sara and I are enjoying this journey with our two dogs (you can see them resting in the conversation yesterday in the above photo), and all that Father is revealing to us and healing in our hearts. So, we’re going to move on a bit further and see where this all leads.

So, today we leave Ohio and push eastward.  First, to West Virginia for one night and then on to The Shenandoah Valley for the rest of the week. This is what our schedule looks like:

•  October 10:  Collinsville, PA

•  October 11-13: Shenandoah Valley, PA (Har

•  October 14-18: Charlottesville, VA

•  October 18-22: Lynchburg, VA

There will likely be open meetings in Harrisonburg, Charlottesville and I hope in Lynchburg, VA. We are keeping meetings to a minimum, but we also want to encourage others as we continue this journey. Details will be announced here when we have them.

From there it looks like we’ll begin to work our way west, perhaps through North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and home.  But all of that is subject to change.

 

Our Readers Are So Amazing

Sara and I arrived in Ohio yesterday in what seems to be an incredibly providential sense of timing. For the last week, Sara has had a new emerging memory about a harrowing childhood incident, and its unfolding climaxed on her birthday last Thursday.   We think this may prove to be a tremendous gift from God. Sshe has never enjoyed celebrating her birthday, but she didn’t know why until this all unfolded.

As the memory was clarifying last Thursday night in which three family members were complicit in her abuse, she suddenly realized it was on the day of her sixth birthday. Also, as we’ve been nearing Ohio, there has been a growing apprehension in her heart about returning to the scene of the crime just by being back in Ohio, where she grew up.

As we shared some of that around a firepit last night with a group God brought together near Indy, several people had the impression that this was God redeeming not just Sara’s life but her story. It appears this recovering memory timed at this point in our journey is his way of restoring her past and her birthday. There is no darkness he cannot redeem, no loss that his love cannot restore.

So, we’ll see what more God does this week, but I swear I am in the middle of the most amazing work of transformation I’ve ever witnessed this close at hand. The revelations, the responsiveness, and the redemption are so incredibly beautiful to behold as Father is inviting Sara into exquisite freedom.

Also, I want to add my thanks to Michael and Thomas below for the money many of you sent to help in Kenya. Within a few days of my posting their request for money to help starving tribes in the north, we had the total amount to send to them. The picture above is the food already being distributed to the people near Turkana. Thank you so much for holding these dear people in your heart and for responding with such kindness and generosity.

I received this from the team there the other day:

Dear brother Wayne and the team, may the Lord bless all of you over there for the quick response.

We have come to this place since we first drilled wells here eight years ago.   Reaching this place actually is extremely hard. We took around eight hours driving through the bad terrains and loose stones – that make our truck o slip.

But we still in this place. Our truck has been completely damaged the engine and gearbox, after the first destination of food donations because we had another hired truck that was able to move on and continue distributing the food.

We shall be here till we complete the feeding program and share the message of Christ. Brother Wayne, we were really surprised to see the people who cannot be able to access medical and school in this region. The people in this area are so far behind, like they are in the 1950s.  We are so grateful to share the message of Christ and food. Thank you so much for stretching your hands towards the needs, so we are making sure that the donation of food is reaching everybody, although it cannot be enough for all people.

If we could get another 200 bags of maize, we can extend to more families which will help them for a while. We also appreciate the government for distributing dozens of bundles of food in far end northern parts of Kenya  

Yours,

Brother Michael and Thomas

The needs continue here, including truck repair and more food. If you are moved to help them, we’d be happy to pass your gift along to them. As always, every dollar you send us gets to the people in Kenya, and all contributions are tax-deductible in the US. We do not take out any administrative or money transfer fees

Please see our Donation Page at Lifestream. Just designate “Kenya” in the “Note” of your donation, or email us and let us know your gift is for Kenya. You can also Venmo contributions to “@LifestreamMinistries” or mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1  •  Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or, if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.

Thank you for your consideration and prayers for the people of Kenya.

One final thing: There is an imposter out there with a Facebook page and Instagram account that mimics mine in graphics and posting. It is labeled “Pastor-Wayne Jacobsen.” I’ve tried to get Facebook to remove it, and they haven’t. He uses this and a Venmo account to try to raise funds from this audience. Please, be aware of this scam. That money is going into his pocket and not the needs you think you’re giving to. The ‘Pastor’ title gives it away. I do not use that title in anything I do, nor ever will.

Finding God’s Rhythm in the Darkness

It’s finally out!

I read this book over a year ago to Sara on one of our driving trips to Denver to be with our son. It’s the second part of the three-part Velieri Uprising, a series of books that take on big themes like identity, spiritual warfare, and human conflict in a fictional setting. Here’s the endorsement I wrote for the book:

Intimate as well as epic. Tessa Van Wade has crafted a compelling adventure of a young woman’s search for her soul while on the run from those who would destroy her to save themselves On the fate of the world hangs in the balance.  Entertaining and eye-opening!

If you haven’t read Part 1, Out of the Shadows, you will want to start there. In it, Tessa sets up this fantastic world where forces of good and evil converge through the perspective of a young woman who finds out her past was much more than she ever thought it was. Is she the Willow she believes she is, or is she Remy, a warrior who was killed battling a savage enemy that a mysterious stranger says she is? Accepting his version will change her forever.

Deep Trace is the second book, and like no other book I’ve read, it unpacks how we “take every thought captive (2 Cor. 11:5)” so that we can focus on the rhythm of God coursing through our veins. I was going through a complicated relationship in my life at the time, and this book described so well what I faced and how to work through it.

Where the first book is a thrilling action read, this one is a psychological struggle to win over the thoughts of darkness preying on her mind and to find that heartbeat of God’s wisdom and direction that would prevail over the lies and pretensions of darkness. Tracing is what the enemy does to draw into his lies and illusions. Deep tracing is how we get underneath those attempts and find God’s peaceful rhythm that allows us to push aside those things that seek to manipulate us.

I’ve called it The Matrix meets The Hunger Games, but with a powerful redemptive theme. It is a fantastic read that will stir your heart and help you be more aware of how it is that God invites us into his ways.

Then, I got this email yesterday from someone who just read Deep Trace. Here’s what they said:

Deep Trace reminded me of the Divergent series, Inception, and the Matrix all in one, but with added spiritual awareness. I find the exploration of trauma timely, given the conversations that have been swirling around The God Jouney (as well as mine and the group of which I’m part) of late! I can tell I will be chewing on this one for awhile, and re-reading it at some point, since I almost swallowed it whole.

There’s a third book coming down the pike to wind this story up, but you won’t be disappointed reading this one and how this story unfolds. She describes a battle we are all engaged in and gives some helpful cues to find our way out of the darkness and discover how to pace ourselves in God’s light.

You can find out more about Tessa from her website.

The Gift of Sight in the Valley of Pain

Two nights ago, I sat among giants.

Five people, each of them, had come face-to-face with a conflict between their consciences and the system of power that held the keys to their salary and advancement. And they each chose to follow their nudging consciences growing deep within them. For three of them, it was a recent experience.

And it cost them—relationships with “friends” and family, reputation, salary, and immediate fulfillment of their ministry aspirations. They were threatened by people they had previously admired, ambushed by those who could easily use deceit as a weapon, and rejected by those who had previously affirmed them.

Their choices led to dark days of pain and agony. Falsely accused and isolated, they second-guessed their consciences and questioned the God who had not intervened on their behalf against those acting in unGodly ways.

But in those long days of darkness, their hearts grew. They began to see the difference between human power and God’s authority. They came to see the full fury of a religious system more obsessed with power than truth and healing, even for their own people.

When they saw through the illusion of power and how far it would take them off course from the passion they held for Jesus and his people, they discovered that grief and disappointment can lead them into a rich vein of God’s wisdom and that enduring the affliction of others would only increase their compassion for the broken and wounded.

Some were still in the throes of that process, but I was touched by each person’s heart and honored to hold their stories and honor their choices. Two were black men who expressed the added pain and exploitation of the racial realities behind the choices of white leaders who had exalted them and then turned on them. One was a woman with little power to resist the manipulations of the men who decided her fate. Their added powerlessness multiplied their pain and negated their attempts to be treated graciously.

And yet, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of their desire to choose authenticity over expedience and truth over comfort.

I heard the exact words reverberating in my mind that Jesus spoke to the disciples one afternoon in Matthew 13, “To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom. . . . ” Others would have to content themselves with parables they didn’t understand because they choose the illusions of reputation and power over the pathway that leads to life.

I’ve been honored to meet many such people throughout the last thirty years of my journey. Each time, I’m reminded of Jesus’s words,

Count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.

I know it doesn’t feel like joy, which I suppose is why he said, “Count yourselves blessed.” At the time, it doesn’t feel like a blessing. However, being lied about, insulted, or excluded by those you love is not the end of your journey; it’s the trailhead into a journey for which your heart has truly hungered.

Follow your conscience beyond the wall of illusion, and you will find the rich, fulfilling reward of a life well-lived that will be worth whatever price you had to pay to get there.

And all of heaven applauds.

Can You Help Us Yet Again?

Sara and I have come vertically through Michigan and landed close to Benton Harbor in the southwest. God has seemingly opened a wide door here with lots of connections I tried to get to a few months ago, before our Unforeseen Circumstances. And new doors open every time I check my email. It’s going to be tough to figure out what we can do here and still have time for our larger mission, which is Sara’s continued joy and freedom.

From here, we’re headed to Indianapolis and then on to Columbus, Ohio, next weekend. The conversations we get to have amidst the incredible journey Sara and I get to share have been deeply touching.  Here’s one look at a group we met with a couple of nights ago. Lovely setting, lovely people, moving conversation.

The real reason for this email is to ask for your help. I don’t ask for myself; I never do. But the email below arrived in my inbox yesterday with the picture at the top. I don’t use these things gratuitously. My heart is deeply pained by the incredible need in the northern reaches of Kenya and the failure of that government or the U.N. to be in this region with resources to help. People are dying by the thousands, and the world is mostly unaware.

We do not even try to meet all of the needs there. But when the friend of a friend is watching people die before his eyes, and we can send some money to help preserve life, we try to do what we can.

Here is what they wrote:

Hi brother Wayne and the team over there. Sorry, we are writing to you the sad report for hunger, so that you may pray and see if there is any ability over there to help a little with this situation. We can’t hold our tears for what is taking place in the Northern parts. We have received this report live from our brother Peter who came all the way from Amakuriat, where we drilled our first borehole.

He told us that he could not bear to watch the people who are dying in front of his eyes, and He said that this water we drilled it has become a life-healing tool to save hundreds of lives in that region. But now the hunger has swept almost five villages around Amakuriat, which are in danger of losing lives. Amakuriat is on the border of Turkana and North Pokot.

More than 400 families with over 5000 people are affected, including children, old aged, and breastfeeding moms. The indigenous fruits have been dried out, and other agencies Peter has connected them to cannot help because of Turkana region is very big, with the same situation everywhere.  They are helping those areas, but cannot help here, so he decided to run personally to see if we can connect to you again to see if you can be able to share with the team for urgent help.

We have the need together:
1.    100 bags of maize for $ 4000
2.    40 bags of beans for $ 4800
3.    Transportation and fuel 700$
Total prayer request $ 9,500

Yours,
Brother Thomas and Michael

Simply, we need your help. As always, every dollar you send us gets to the people in Kenya, and all contributions are tax-deductible in the US. We do not take out any administrative or money transfer feesPlease see our Donation Page at Lifestream. Just designate “Kenya” in the “Note” of your donation, or email us and let us know your gift is for Kenya. You can also Venmo contributions to @LifestreamMinistries or mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1  •  Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or, if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.

Thank you for your consideration and prayers for the people of Kenya.

The Jake Colsen Book Club – Chapter 6

The next meeting of the Jake Colsen Book Club has been set. For those interested, we work through So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore chapter by chapter in a series of Zoom sessions where you can share your insights or ask questions.  You don’t have to have been to a previous one to join this one. 

This Saturday September 24, at 11 am PDT, we will gather with those who want to discuss Chapter 6: Loving Father or Fairy Godmother?  This strikes to the heart of so many people’s expectations of God, especially if they are wanting to explore the depths of his love for them.

Please read or re-read the chapter first if you want to join the conversation.

If you’d like to join me in the Zoom room for the discussion, email me at waynej@lifestream.org in the next few days, and I will send you the link to join us.  For those who just want to watch, I’ll be streaming it from my Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook.

You can also find the five previous conversations of the Book Club if you scroll down that Author Page.

Moving On

This week we will be working our way through Michigan. That’s the team up top on an early morning walk to the Peninsula Lighthouse near Rapid River. It’s been glorious here with the people we’ve spent time with and some new folks we met. Also, Sara and I were the only ones in the RV Park we’ve had for the last two days. In the woods, all by ourselves. It was great!

Today we’ll move to Mackinaw City and the day after to Traverse City. Everything is going well for the RV, for which we are grateful. The problems have been sorted out.

The itinerary we’re looking at now looks something like this:

  • September 21-22: Traverse City
  • September 23-27: We’ll be in southern Michigan and hanging out with folks near Grand Rapids, perhaps Kalamazoo, and on Sunday/Monday be in South Bend, IN with Gil Michel and his fellowship
  • September 28-30:  Indianapolis, Indiana
  • October 1-2ish: Columbus, OH area
  • October 3ish-10: Big Prairie, OH, with Harvey, Monica, & Company

Beyond that, we have no idea yet if we’ll head down the Blue Ridge or turn back toward Kentucky and Tennessee.  We’re learning to live in the spontaneity of every day and see what Father shows us. If you’re interested in connecting with us in some of these areas, please write me and see what we can work out either with our hosts or with a personal opportunity to chat or go for a walk together.

This is really a treat, getting to tour the U. S. with a renewing Sara, to enjoy not only the beauty of the landscape we journey through but also the connections Father is giving us along the way.  We had some amazing conversations with people this weekend, and one of the great things that came out of our time yesterday is helping people normalize their Jesus journey.

So many people have expectations of how God should speak to them or what a quiet time should look like every day that they can easily miss the gentle and subtle ways God invites them into his reality each day or the gifts he is giving to them even through very difficult circumstances.

I love that word, normalize. When we stop looking for things as we think they should be, then we can see God as he is making himself known.  Recognizing that will help you find an easy freedom in him.

As one woman said to me years ago in New Zealand, “I’m beginning to believe that the reason this journey seems so difficult is because it is far simpler than we dare to believe.”

That it is. We make it too complicated, and Jesus is inviting us into a simple, powerful, transformative relationship in our growing confidence that we are deeply loved and that he is closer to us than our very breath.

When Something Horrible Comes Your Way

Over the past sixteen days, we have traveled almost 2908 miles from Thousand Oaks, CA, to Duluth, MN, and we are having a wonderful trip. We’ve moved from 100 degree days in Wyoming and Denver, to waking up to a 40 degree morning.

Sara and I are having the most wonderful conversations with each other and others along the way who are on a journey to find their freedom in Christ. Sara’s continuing journey through trauma has encouraged many people and opened doors for people to discuss their own places of brokenness and how Jesus might want to bring healing to them.

After Duluth, we are headed to Minocqua, WI, Escanaba, MI, Traverse City, MI, and then to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and South Bend, IN. This trip is still unfolding, but it has become a treasured adventure for Sara, me, and our two dogs. We’ve had our share of RV issues but have managed to resolve them all so far and enjoy our tiny home on wheels.

In the aftermath of the Redeeming Love podcast series, I received this email. I’m sure it will touch many others because Sara and I have heard it expressed by many people. Just because something horrible happens to you doesn’t make you horrible, no matter how deep your feelings.

I was reminded of that recently in an email I hope encourages many others who harbor hidden thoughts of being horrible, shameful, or unworthy of love for any reason;

Thank you for sharing so boldly and honestly about what you have been through recently. I have cried with you and rejoiced with you.  My husband and I, who have listened to all seven podcasts together, have nodded in recognition as we recognize the same patterns in our lives. Thank you for your honesty and openness, Sara, in an area I know all too well.  Hearing you makes me understand myself better.

Wayne, you stayed in our home during a visit to Europe a few years ago. I had intended to write to you to tell you about something that changed in me after your visit. However, I couldn’t bring myself to do it until now. I believe it was God’s plan all along. You probably don’t remember it, but I blurted something out during breakfast on Sunday morning.  Something I don’t usually share. I told you that I thought I was evil.

For some reason, you started talking about the processes we go through when we build trust in God. Those spaces we trust him create safe spaces so God can expand those spaces. I remember you made a circle with your hand as you explained. For some reason, this conversation turned something inside of me.

After our conversation, I could no longer believe my thoughts about my being evil. The thought, or the lie, had been a part of me for as long as I could remember.  All my actions acted out of that awareness, so when that thought became absurd and even incomprehensible, it actually caused me some uneasiness.

Although I think it is an enormous freedom, and I see that it has opened me up to let both God and people approach me more vulnerably, I have struggled to understand it.  And since I did not understand, I became anxious that I was in self-denial and in opposition to the truth—that the truth was that I was still evil, but that now I could no longer accept that truth. It made me feel like I had lost control.

Hearing you, Sara, tell that you thought you were a horrible person, and the explanation you got about this, was so good for me to hear as well. It is so liberating to understand that it is the evil deeds that were done to me as a child, that created a thought in me that I was evil and not the other way around.

I just wanted to let you know how meaningful your visit has been to me, Wayne, and how good it is to put into words and understand myself better after listening to Sara, you, and Kyle.

I could write you several pages about things that have been enlightening and good for me, but I hope this little testimony will encourage you as you have encouraged me.

That it did. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and how some comments from me helped shape a new trajectory in your life. Sara and I have had this conversation with many others in the last few months.

Something horrible or evil might have happened to you, but that doesn’t make you horrible or evil. Somehow the brain often defines the people by their trauma, especially in young children. I don’t know if that’s the brain on its own or the enemy gets a hand in there, too, but it’s cruel for the victim of abuse to go away from the incident thinking they are bad. It increases the trauma and smears their future.

I get it. The person abusing them has some delight in it, and especially when children are too young to realize what is going on. They have to think they are the problem, not that something horrible is being done to them.

When trauma surfaces, remind yourself that whatever happened to you is in the past and it’s not happening to you now. Don’t let the brokenness of another person define who you are. This is where a conversation between you and Jesus can be really helpful—a conversation that may last for months or years.

We’re talking a lot about restored innocence on this tour, something foreign to many people. After all, shouldn’t we know better? Haven’t we done things we knew were out-of-bounds to God? How can we be innocent when we struggle and fail with sin or trauma?

That’s the miracle of the cross. We are washed, cleansed, and made new by his work so that each morning we wake up in the innocence he gives us, and we can learn to live in that innocence every day. Thus, we can come to God in confidence that we are deeply loved, that he sees us not as damaged goods or co-conspirators in sin, but beloved children who are harassed and helpless against the chaos of a broken creation.

To the Father, you are his beloved child that he wants to redeem for your freedom and joy. Trauma and sin don’t make you less loveable to him but even more endearing. Don’t believe the lie that exempts you from his love and care. It is Father’s greatest desire to rescue you from whatever calamity has befallen you and establish you before him as an innocent, beloved child.

No matter who tells you otherwise, even yourself, consider his words:

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end-
Because I am GOD, your personal God
I paid a huge price for you .
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
“So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.”
(Isaiah 43:1-5 The Message)

On to the Upper Midwest

Today we finished up in Colorado and are heading up north to Wyoming to spend some time with my podcast co-host Kyle Rice and his family in Torrington, WI.  We’ve had a number of options from there but what has most settled in our hearts is a wide open door in Duluth, MN and then head through the upper Midwest—across Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan—before heading south. I was supposed to be in Traverse City, Grand Rapids, and South Bend earlier this spring so I want to make good on those. From there, we will head east through Indiana and Ohio, to a possible retreat in southern Ohio.

We’d planned on visiting some friends in South Dakota on the way to Duluth but not having heard back from them we are now considering an alternate route through Nebraska and part of Iowa. If you’re along that route and would like to connect, please email me.

We’re not trying to figure it out beyond that. After Ohio we could head into New England for some good friends and fall beauty, turn back through the lower midwest, or even head south through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.  We have lots of invitations no matter which way we go, so we’re holding that in prayer while we see if Jesus has a preference for us.

If you haven’t kept up with Sara’s and my story in recent weeks with the Redeeming Love Podcasts, this may all catch you by surprise. It has brought some real changes to our life that are glorious, but it was through much pain and transformation. Sara and I are now touring the U.S. with our two big dogs in our RV, both for our own personal refreshment and connection as well as to share his light and love where God might invite us.

We are keeping to a very spontaneous protocol for our trip. We don’t want to chase a hard and fast schedule that means we can’t linger in places where Father might lead us. Instead, we are hoping for open doors to have conversations that matter with people who care when we pass through, trusting that those he wants us to be with have a hole in their schedule that will fit a hole in ours.

We’re really open at this point. We don’t want to be a burden on anyone and are taking responsibility for our own expenses, so this isn’t about creating “ministry” opportunities at all, especially for any financial reason. It’s just an opportunity for us to encourage others while exploring the U.S. in the aftermath of Sara’s traumatic discoveries.

We’re also not trying to draw crowds, but to simply celebrate the conversations that help encourage people to Life.  If you have any questions or thoughts, let me know. As always there is NO pressure whatsoever. It’s just an opportunity, should Father put anything on your heart.

And if you want to keep up with us, keep checking this blog or sign up for Travel Notifications and be sure to include your zip code so we know about where you are.  https://www.lifestream.org/content/signup-lifestream-email.

I’m also updating people through my Instagram feed with one-minute videos on reflections from our spiritual journey. You can subscribe at wayneatlifestream.

We’re almost two weeks out and having a wonderful time with each other and the people Father has led us to.  I even got this text after spending time with a young family:

I appreciated your desire to engage with our kids. (One of them said yesterday, “Wayne is so funny who wouldn’t want to hang out with him?” That is high praise from a 14-year-old.

High praise indeed.  I’m so blessed they, too, enjoyed our time together. I certainly did. And I’m looking forward to whatever Jesus has for us in days to come.

Recapturing Innocence

We know that Sara had her innocence stolen at four years old. Instead of growing up with the heart of a playful child, she lived guarded, navigating the terrors of the trauma she didn’t understand. Instead of a carefree childhood, she learned to survive, especially when criticized.

Retreats have not been one of Sara’s favorite environments. There were too many people to engage, too many expectations to manage, and trying to stay hidden when her husband was often the focus wore her out in only a few hours. It was a joy to watch her share her story, hold other people’s stories, and freely participate in meals, conversations, and play without wearing herself out. I sat back and watched the honesty, kindness, and wisdom she displayed just being herself around others who were also navigating their own pain.

God is changing her, and I’ve had a ringside seat to watch it all unfold. As the trauma gives way to Father’s healing, she is recovering the innocence she lost long ago. She laughs more heartily, shares more freely, and can express her curiosity in ways that open doors in the hearts of others.

It all made for a treasured weekend. The people God drew to Westcliffe were just the right ones for the time he wanted us to have together. So many had faced trauma in their lives and still were. I think some doors were opened to help people discover new pathways to their own innocence.

We spent a lot of time on Sunday contemplating how important it is for God to restore our innocence if we are going to learn to play in his reality. How can you recognize his love if you feel unworthy of it? How can you be at rest in his goodness if you are still performing to try to earn it or focused on your weaknesses and failures? What Jesus accomplished on the cross cleanses us so that each day we can become freshly innocent before him. That allows us to hold onto his love and cease our self-effort. Then, we can let him play with us like little children as he invites us into the truth that will liberate us from the lies of darkness and the condemnation of our damaged minds.

I was half-joking when I playfully called this trip Sara and I are taking a Return to Innocence Tour on a recent podcast. But, at least, this first stage has become that. Innocence allows us to participate in God’s grace without guilt or shame, to see who we really are beneath the disappointments and failures that seem to pile up in a broken age. I suspect we’ll be talking about it a lot more in days to come and in conversations across this country.

On a personal note, Sara and I, along with our pups, made it to Golden, CO, yesterday afternoon, where we will hang out for at least this week. We have a son nearby and are enjoying a chance to catch up with him. We also have a septic leak on the RV, so it’s in the shop today getting repaired while we sit outside Panera. This is our second attempt to get it fixed, and we’re hoping this one takes.

We’ve heard from so many people celebrating Sara’s journey with us and letting us know they have some similar needs and experiences to sort out with God. We appreciate every email and invitation to visit and are excited to see where God points us and how we can help others recover their true nature from the lies of darkness.

Even at the retreat, we prayed not just for those who were able to attend but for God’s children across the world. You can join us. Ask God to help you recapture that sense of innocence that will allow you to rise above the harassment of a broken world and catch the wind of the Spirit that will elevate your heart into God’s reality where light always wins over darkness, truth over lies, and healing over brokenness.

That’s why Jesus came 2000 years ago and why he draws toward your heart today so that you can know what it is to live free and full in his goodness.

Glad That’s Over!

What a crazy weekend! We packed up 47 years of married life and had to find a place for those things in an 1100 square foot apartment, a 330 sq ft motor home, and even after we gave loads of stuff away we still needed to rent some storage bays. Thanks to the help of some dear friends, we got it all buttoned up and hit the road in our “Living Loved” RV at 2:30 on Tuesday! (Yes, we were both exhausted when we took that photo minutes ahead of hitting the road.)

It took us a while to get out of LA traffic, navigating around five accidents, but we finally arrived in Barstow. It’s a trip across the desert today to Flagstaff, AZ. We are on our way.

Our hearts are full and our future uncertain. First, we’ve got to get to a retreat this weekend in Colorado, and then our schedule is wide open. We will spend a week or so in the Denver area to see our son, head north to Wyoming to see Jess and Kyle, and then perhaps turn eastward through Iowa and into the Midwest. The reason we are posting our location is so that people in the area can contact us if they want to connect as we go through their area.

I’ve begun sharing short videos of my thoughts and reflections on Reels on my Instagram feed from time to time. If you’re not linked up there, you might want to be at: “wayneatlifestream”. They also cross post to my FB Author Page.

And, yes, we are overwhelmed with email from the Redeeming Love podcasts at The God Journey. We will get them answered, but give me some time. Sara and I have been deeply touched by your love and compassion, as well as supportive comments. It’s not easy to go public with some of the things we’ve been through, and yes some people are already weaponizing this story make judgments against us. It still amazes me that people can hear that story and not have compassio for what Sara went through, regardless of what you may not like about me.

In the last gathering of The Jake Colsen Book Club, we discussed how love and honesty are a threat to those living in the darkness. It’s why so many feel the need to hide their story or lie to family and friends just to maintain their relationships. In the long run, it just isn’t worth it. Any friendship you have to lie to keep isn’t truly a friendship. You can view that conversation here.

Our hearts are overwhelmed with so many of you who have also suffered from traumtizing events that went unrecognized or untreated for far too long. So many have told us how little patience their Christian friends have to hold their story and their healing, growing weary of hearing about pain from “so many years ago.”  “Can’t you just forgive, and forget?” they are often asked. They don’t understand that traumatic abuse—whether it be sexual, emotional, physical or neglect—twists something in the brain that changes the way they see life in the present. Without processing those past events in a safe and secure environment, their brains won’t heal. Having someone walk with them in their darkness is one of the greatest gifts they can be given.

Even if you haven’t suffered trauma, learn about it. There are amazing resources available to help you understand your own trauma, or hold the trauma of your spouse, friends, or even strangers who need a safe place to explore their healing.

Here are some of them:

And if you don’t care enough to learn about trauma, please don’t try to help someone struggling with it and certainly don’t put them off by your impatience. I’ve listeend to Sara process her struggle over and over again, as she gains greater footing in Father’s freedom with each re-telling until it no longer impacts the way she lives today. For those who have no tenderness and only want to make accusations, you have no idea how you how you are working against God’s desire to bring them into healing and freedom. What they need is your love, mercy, and support.

And for those of you struggling with dark places in your past, don’t ever give up finding a path to healing. Father has one for you. Trauma is something that happened to you in the past; it doesn’t have to own your present or your future. Our hearts are wtih you in your struggle that you will find all the healing God has for you and supportive voices to walk with you.

Well, time to move on today. I’m going to miss those “office days” of yore, but for now there are more important things on the front burner.