So I should come right out the gate and say that I didn’t grow up in church. But the bulk of my faith was formed inside the tiny walls of our little house in The-middle-of-nowhere, Texas. I was surrounded by farmland, red dirt, and blue skies. Caliche roads paved every memory of my childhood. I’ll always remember the shag carpet. And the crack in the wall in the kitchen from the time that Aaron, my oldest brother, was pestering my mom, and in the playful scuffle, fell into it.
I remember pizza and movies every Friday. I remember meals when my mother would serve dinner intentionally without silverware, making us eat without our hands and only our faces. I remember huge rains filling up our “bar ditches” and all of us swimming in them while it rained. I remember using the water hose to plug any hole in the ground that I saw around the house, knowing the water would make any critter come out so that I could see them. I’ll always remember my mom sitting back, encouraging our activities, and enjoying the sight of us getting dirty, learning, and being creative. The sound of my brothers and sister riding bikes, fighting over toys, and B.B. guns were as familiar as the wind.
We were close. We laughed. We cried. We loved. We got mad. We fought. We wondered. But we always had each other.
My mom did not give us perfection. She was not a typical American Christian Mom. She was herself, craving depth with God, and loving Him so much.
I saw the beauty in being human, what it’s like to fully embrace yourself and your process while opening your arms up to God.
She gave me the foundation I needed to understand intimacy with God. That is the third and greatest gift. Intimacy with my Father.
It’s been the gift that continually builds and grows through every season of my life. And It remains the most powerful gift that I believe I can give to my own children.
It started with our family. And I think that family has such a powerful influence on how we view and interpret God. So many accusations against God are formed inside the wounds of family. And the wounds of a father and mother are the hardest to reconcile. They seem to bleed the most, and leave the most intense scars. Our family experience seems to inform so many of our beliefs about God. And my mom was intentional to create a different culture than the one she experienced.
My mom cultivated intimacy in our family. There was friendship. There was closeness. There was trust. There were hard questions and tender answers. She pursued our hearts especially when she sensed some discord. She always knew. Her sensors always prevented us from hiding. Most often those inklings landed us in a one-on-one, doing heart checks to see what was up. Drawing us closer instead of punishing and withdrawing.
She showed me part of God’s heart through those moments. How relational He is. How much He actually cares to hear about the details of our lives. How much He really enjoys humanity. How much He pursues us. How He would guide us in very practical ways by listening to the small nudges while we lived our lives. I learned how to trust Him and ALWAYS honor that nudge when I didn’t have peace about a situation.
When the Holy Spirit gave her heart a check, she always asked us to pray and spend some time with God on a decision. Empowering us to connect to Him, and process a little bit further. And sometimes our answers were different, but she had the wisdom to let us walk some things out.
It wasn’t weird when the Holy Spirit would wake my mom up from a dead sleep to pray for us. She was an intercessor. If we saw her the next morning, red eyed and somber, saying she was up last night praying for a few hours...we knew we are about to do some soul searching in a little while. I always wanted to know what she prayed, but never had the courage to ask. But I knew if The Lord was waking my mom up, then it was important and this is a moment in life to pivot. Or that God was about to define some things. I knew the clash of worlds would soon be reconciled, and she would call us into deeper places with God while pursuing our hearts.
She taught me to pray. And she taught me to press in with Him. She taught me to listen. And that it’s important to listen to Him.
ALL of creation was defined by HIS voice. And to pay attention because I would be defined by His voice too.
She laid the foundation for me to walk with God. She taught me that the bulk of my walk with Him would be without formality. It would be in the quiet places of my heart. That most of my encounters with God would be in my car, the grocery store, the kitchen, laying down to sleep, or some random place experiencing this beautiful world. And when I have a relationship with God, I actually bring Him everywhere with me. She taught me that there are also big moments with God. And that I needed to be open to them. These moments that call us forward as sons and daughters. Moments that commission us. Moments that show us what we are called to. Moments that will change our lives. Moments that position us to step into something bigger.
Tucked inside the safety of intimacy, I learned the most beautiful parts of God’s heart. I learned that His voice is powerful, and the intimacy of knowing His heart will give me a perspective that changes lives. I learned that experiencing His love and connection will change my whole life. That so many rivers flow from that well. These truths have carried me my whole life. And I think a lot of my walk with God has been a process of understanding what it means to be His daughter. In every hard process, His goodness has been a pillar because I have been pressed so close to His chest that I know the beat of His heart. I’m so certain about who He is. I’m certain about how He loves. I’m certain about His desire to be a father to His children because He adores us. And I’m so certain that His story is love.
I learned that intimacy with God doesn’t just define love but it creates love. It expands our hearts to hold so much more than we ever thought possible. And that love is the most important priority in this world. God’s heart has always carried a love story. From the beginning of creation. To His son. To fellowship with the Holy Spirit. And I would challenge you to look at the whole of your life...find your love story and connect to it.