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Tragedy in Kenya

A few years ago we helped five starving tribes (over 100,000 people) in North Pokot each to develop a water and agricultural project to give them life. They had no water and had to travel overnight to the nearest well and bring back water to survive. We drilled wells, provided the infrastructure for people to get water, a trough so the animals could drink, and a field where they could grow their own crops. Each of these has exceeded expectations in the first five years. The generosity of the Lifestream and The God Journey audiences gave over three million dollars to help over 13 years.  It has blessed me beyond measure.

However, three months ago tragedy struck one of these projects. High winds and the debris in them damaged the solar array that drives the well. Since then, they have had no water for themselves, their livestock, and their crops. I found out about this yesterday when they sent me this video. It describes what happened and the impact it is having on this village.  

Fellow Kenyans have donated $1370.00 to help make it operational but that is well short of what it will cost.  They need an additional $12,796.00 US to complete the restoration. Would you please help me provide this for them? It is critically important to the survival of these people. Providing water allows them to grow their own crops and water their cattle so they can continue to live.

If you can help us raise this money, 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 of this need.

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Oops, My Bad!

I completely botched the announcement for the next live, online, He Loves Me conversation. I originally got the date wrong and now Sara and I have had a shift in our schedule that means I now have to move the time up half an hour. I’m so sorry for the confusion and inconvenience this causes.

Here is the corrected information:

Our discussion about chapters eight and nine of He Loves Me will take place
this coming Saturday, December 9 at 12:30 pm,
half an hour earlier than previously announced.
We will be discussing chapters 8 and 9.

If you’d like to join us, you can find the link for this conversation on the Facebook Group Page, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. These conversations are held and recorded on Zoom. We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion, and you’ll find our previous conversations there.

No, I’m not blaming the new puppy; I only chose the picture, hoping the cuteness will make people smile when they read about my mistake!  But Zoey does wonder from time to time why we let this little, yippy, biting furball into the house. Watching them bond is hilarious. Mandy is all in; Zoey has her moments. In time, we know that these are destined to be best buds.

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The Tyranny of the Favor Line

The next gathering of the He Loves Me Book Discussion will take place on Saturday, November 11, at 1 p.m. Pacific Time. You can find the link for this conversation on the Group Page on Facebook, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. These conversations are held and recorded on Zoom. We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion, and you’ll find our previous conversations there.

This week, we will discuss chapters five and six, two pivotal chapters for my journey, and what I see in others who seek to live in God’s affection. If you grew up in a religious environment, you were probably convinced that God’s love, favor, or blessing were things you had to earn. Without referring to it by name, you were taught that God has a Favor Line. If you’re good enough, spiritually active enough, or zealous enough, then you can rest in his love.

So, every thought of being out of sorts with God sends you sifting through your life to think about what more you must do or what sin is causing God to dislike you. If you believe God’s love or favor is something you can earn, you will chase it to frustration the rest of your days. When you realize that affection is something you cannot attain, even on your best day, you’re ready to discover that you already have it.

This excerpt from He Loves Me tells about the day a young Pharisee discovered that truth. He was called Saul on this day, but afterward, he became known as Paul, the apostle:

In that moment, Saul discovered God’s favor when he had done absolutely nothing to earn it. Instead of being punished, he received an invitation to come into the family he had tried so hard to destroy. Instead of the death he’d brought to others, he was offered a life that he never knew existed.

Saul was left with one inescapable fact: he had done nothing to propel himself above the favor line, but found himself there nonetheless. He found that Jesus had loved him even when he had no idea who he was. For Jesus had shattered the favor line to free Saul from its tyranny. It changed him more than all he’d previously learned about God.

This is where relationship with God begins. It may sound impossible especially if you’ve hoped for this in the past and, like the young mother at the beginning of this chapter, you have only been disappointed by how remote he seemed when you needed him the most. All you knew to do was try even harder to be good enough to win his affection.

But such thinking will never lead you closer to him. Instead of teaching you to love him, it only leaves you angry and frustrated that you can’t do enough, or that he isn’t being fair to you. He wants to break this cycle the only way he can—by making his favor a gift instead of something you earn.

I know you’ve heard me say it often: our awareness of the Father’s love is not something we can achieve; it’s something we relax into. And I know how hard that is to believe, especially if you’ve never known or “felt” his love. But his love for us is as sure as the sun rising in the morning and as certain as his Son dying on the cross to rescue us.

You are already loved!

And now a bit from my story in chapter six:

God doesn’t need us to serve him as a means to attain his love or affection. He wants us to serve him out of the love and affection he already holds for us in his heart. If you have never tasted that reality, you cannot imagine the freedom that lies ahead of you. My Father brought me to the place where I realized that even if I never preached another sermon, never counseled another person, nor ever led someone to Christ again, he still delighted in me as his child.

That doesn’t mean he approves of everything I do, but it has freed me to know that he loves me—absolutely and completely. I had served God for thirty-four years always with an undercurrent of trying to earn his favor. It has only been in the last twelve that I’ve learned to live in that favor and I’m never going back.

That’s when it became clear. It is not the fear of losing God’s favor that takes us to the depth of fellowship with him and transforms our lives with his holiness. It is our certainty of knowing his unrelenting love for us, even in the midst of our weakness and failure, that lead us to the fullness of his life.

Fear had never taken me to the depths of his life or his transforming power; discovering his delight has. I now know that the key to God’s favor doesn’t rest on what I give him, but what he already has given to me.

He delights in you, too. Can you see him that way over you, exalting and dancing with joy?

No? Do you think your failures and doubts diminish his love for you? Are you afraid you can’t offer him enough to make him notice you?

He doesn’t delight in you because of your deeds or your gifts. He delights in you simply because you are his.

Even if you don’t know that yet, it doesn’t change the facts. He wants you to know, at the core of your being, how deeply loved by God you are. Talk to him about it. Look for his fingerprints and whispers doing our day. He is best seen in subtle movements and heard best in quiet moments. Ask him to help you relax into that reality and cease the fruitless striving that cannot earn what has already been given.

The reason I write, podcast, and hold these conversations about He Loves Me is so you, too, can know that reality. Join us if you want, or listen to these conversations later. They are real people also learning how to live in the reality of his love

If you’ve missed the previous chapters, you can find them here:

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The Melody in the Wind

Can you hear it?

It is the Song of the Ages, still playing beneath the stresses and strains of this world, fresh from your Father’s heart. Regardless of all that’s going on around you, it invites you into his reality.

It’s not the loudest song in the wind. Fears and anger will scream louder. The rancor of political discord will drown it out, and it can easily be swallowed up by the cacophonous strains of anxiety that dominate these troubled times.

But beneath it all, his song still plays, as certain as the rising sun, more triumphant than the most exquisite symphony.

You won’t find it while groping for certainty in your imagined future. You won’t be able to focus on it while arguing your politics or putting your hope in yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies about a coming revival.

You have no idea what is to come, and neither do all those voices. The honest ones will tell you that. Your certainty now has to be in Jesus and him alone. All others are mere illusions, which may comfort for the moment but, when they fail you, how deep will that pain be? Circumstances, both favorable and unfavorable, will come and go.

The only refuge is to abandon yourself to the amazing love of a gracious Father and see his divine purpose unfolding around you. He will never let you down.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he
has become my salvation.
ISAIAH 12:2 (NIV)”\

Excerpt from July 4 reading in Live Loved Free Full: 365 daily reflections to draw you deeper into the desires Jesus has for you
by Wayne Jacobsen

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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 Experiences (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 its 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 the 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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)

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