It's only You

Jesus, let your perspective be the first thing we run to in the unknown and the very thing we look too when we think we know. Even in our pride and in our humility - it's only You.

It's only You that reveals all the parts of our heart and lays bare the beauty and the parts still to receive their beauty. It's You that speaks in the sweet sweet whisper and in the Aslan-like roar. It's You that breathes flowers of love on the tears we shed as we break open the shards of our souls to be reformed by Your loving touch. It's You that cultivates those tears into gardens of joy and honour, into fields of laughter and deep wells of everlasting water that quench every thirst. It's You that in humility became a man in order that we would have the culture, the DNA of heaven planted inside our spirits.. your own sweet Spirit..

It's You that smiles over us. The Man who's kindness never ceases to amaze our little eyes with wonder and hearts with deep gratitude. It's Your kindness that calls our hearts higher when we run in the midst of transition... and your grace that reminds us that You're the only Source that can truly lead us.

It's You that is imparting your Kingdom DNA into lovers all over the earth, calling her forth from her workplace prisons and cubicles, from her school rooms and uni lecture halls. To love their lives to life again and breathe your sweet honey presence into every place they walk. 

It's You that's calling Your Bride to make herself ready, to write this as her banner across her head and a flag she carries high.. that she is one that loves with a radical abandonment. That recklessly pursues intimacy and desires only her Lover as the true lover of her soul. To obey without counting the cost because her love doesn't have a measure and can't be bought or sold by the world's values. It's You that's calling her to willingly lay down her life as a Bride that loves enough to obey with deep joy coursing through her every vein. It's the yes that says no to letting the mundane steal her of joy, and it's the yes that lets His every thought enter into her every movement. She's bright, she has vision, she's dangerously humble and her surrender makes passes by turn their heads with deep longing.

It's You that's making the student aware of her need to be taught, and it's You that's heating up the story until she has no choice but to only look at You.. You're teaching her to let her sweet sweet honey ooze out of every pore, out of every thought and word spoken. It's You that's calling the broken and needy to have a taste, to see that Your Bride is the sweetest of them all.. and her arms are open.. letting the sweet honey cover every bruise, every sexual assault, every egotistical statement and every single insecurity that the world has thrown. Because she's also Your Bride.. she just doesn't know it yet.

It's You that's bringing in all the types and emotions, all the stragglers and every fringe person that has never had a true friend. It's You that's speaking life over the prostitute and speaking identity over the men that have used her. It's You that's replacing materialism with desire for intimacy and tall poppy syndrome with freedom to enjoy each others victories. It's You that is sending out your honey dripping covered Bride to cover every person she meets with the fragrance of freedom - and they come running in droves and droves, hungry for more, hungry for a longer taste. 

It's You that's toppling earthly kingdoms and using their human pride for your own good, and for the good of your lovers. It's You that's releasing missionaries to reach the farthest reaches of the earth and allowing the pastor to authentically love even when the dynamics get tough. It's You that's branding 'no compromise' on the arm of every leader, every shepherd and every apostle. Letting their yes to you shake away the chaff of the world as they hold their beautiful wound high with the mixture of the pain and joy it carries; screaming that He is enough and he will always be enough. That no pedestal, platform or influence could ever woo their affections even an inch away from their true love.

It's You that's waking and stirring up the sleeping, the ones that aren't even aware they need You. It's You that's planting the lonely in families and giving the orphan a family. It's You that's bringing in the kids from the streets and it's You that's planting dreams of greatness through surrender in their sleep. 

And how? Through your lovers, your sweet Bride.

It's only through You. It's only from rest. And it's only for You.

Susanna AprilComment
The secret place of creativity..

Two years ago I was in a much different place in my creative journey. I wasn’t letting my heart me led by the One who I truly always longed to be lead by, I was finding inspiration in places that weren’t helpful and I was crossing boundaries of being ’too inspired'. Honestly my heart has always been to be authentic and real, that was always my intention.. but somewhere along the way I got bit distracted, by the quick fix of likes and emails and importance. By the need to be on trend, to somehow satisfy the inspirational levels of millions of other creatives who weren’t seeking their creative expression in the place I was called too. I found myself constantly finding it harder and harder to communicate who I was in my creativity, and I knew. I knew that I wasn’t called to business and to impact the secular world.

My lack of true source and drive was strangling me of what creativity I had left inside of me and leaving me dry and barren. I knew it.. and I truly hated it and longed for God, but didn’t know how to make space for Him to speak.

The Father began to whisper over and over again in my spirit.. there’s more.. there’s more.. 

In His kindness he had tuned my heart enough to recognise that it was time. That the season for the painful wrenching out of the weeds had come and that it was time to lay down and let Him.

He led my husband and I into a beautiful season of training, of laying down.. of travelling and seeking and praying and learning to hunger after only His face. It reawakened deep deep things inside my heart.

I willingly and excitedly laid down my business and with it my creativity.. and over the next year and a half God began to take me on a journey of being so okay if I never created again - if only to be completely satisfied in Him and Him alone. I welcomed it. I was hungry for it.. and even in the midst of the painful rooting up of false ideas and false motives, he was so so kind. Sometimes I would try to pick up a brush and create something, it would fail miserably and I honestly would just be so okay with it. Nothing every can replace the joy of only being satisfied in Jesus and His beauty.

A huge part of this for me was truly overcoming insecurities that I really had thought were long gone from my heart - yucky things like comparison and pride began to start popping up over and over again in my heart. And it was ugly. Ugly to deal with, painful and frustrating for my wonderful hubs, and just plain painful for me.

Right in the thick of it we had a speaker that spoke so powerfully on identity.. and it wrecked me. It wrecked me because truly I thought I was at a place where I had overcome many of the identity issues I struggled with in my late teens. Now, I was married, secure in who I was, ‘successful' in creativity and truly trying to give my yes to Jesus in everything.. and again, with His kindness, he began to restructure. I still remember sitting in a very stuffy crude cabin in South Africa and weeping as the Father downloaded the clearest and most beautiful words to be about who I was.

He whispered over and over that my success is found in loving Him, that my creative expression is a reflection of how I love and how He loves - of a beautiful union between a Bride and her maker. That He is my teacher, and that my creativity is only just one expression of so many that he wants to unlock in my heart…

It was all things I’d heard before, over and over, things I’d meditated and prayer about regularly even - but really it was like it was hitting my heart for the first time. He took me deep into Song of Songs and the Psalms and overwhelmed my heart again and again with the beauty and humility of Jesus becoming human.

He began to wipe away any words I would say when I met someone new about what I had done, about my past and my achievements, about the ministries I had served with and the places I had gone. He humbled me and broke my heart for the poor and truly put holy anger in my spirit for injustice… literally I was ready (and always still am!) to lay it all down forever and move to some remote nation to give my life.

So it really came as a bit of a surprise to me when creativity started to come back onto the scene through a precious heart friend I met in Africa.

Honestly, it was like learning to walk again. Everything I created was cheesy and lame and floral and just not cute or minimalist or anything that I actually thought I was. It was literally annoying and I so often ripped page after page out and threw it away. But it was the pruning that my heart needed, the being unknown, the lack of a following, the embarrassment of again creating another floral wreath during class that looked like the same from every other day. 

Even as we came home I still felt like I was in some rut, and didn’t create again for months… almost ignoring that God clearly had something he wanted me to create. Then again, in his kindness he sent another beautiful friend that challenged and championed my originality and my hearts cry for authenticity. 

I’m still on the journey. I haven’t arrived. My creativity still lacks energy often and I still struggle sometimes with comparison and drawing inspiration from the wrong places… But, if there’s one thing that will transform your creative journey - it’s friendship with Jesus. It’s so worth it. He’s the best teacher. It’s so worth it to be wrong if He’s the one that is willing to speak the truth about the wrong. 

Surrender truly is the only place to find the inspiration and authenticity in creativity that you crave - and getting in the secret place is the only way to find true surrender. When we line our hearts up with His, it’s so much easier to begin to discern in our spirits when we’re not flowing creatively the way he really has for us. I quickly realised that I’m not really a minimalist. That mess inspires me. That colour is a beautiful thing. And it took months and months of experimenting and being a little bit frustrated that truly got me to the place I am.. and then I ran out of money to buy paint and now I’m back in ‘business' with a different heart and perspective.

The journey and the process is worth the time and the pain required to get there - not because of a end game or a goal - but because authenticity is worth the fight, and the fight is made a heck of a lot easier when it’s birthed in the secret place of holy discontent and a longing for more of Him first. 

If you’ve gotten to the end of this long long loooong heart revealing and you’re in a journey of creativity, here are a few things that truly were and still are key for me in my creative process:

SecretPlace2 copy.jpg
  • Feed yourself real food. Get in the secret place. Let God cultivate your heart and birth his creative song and process inside you. 

  • Don’t let the worlds standards overwhelm your heart! Don’t scroll instagram for hours and hours and then look at your feed again and again and wonder why you can’t just ‘get it' (trust me, still a struggle). Find where your security lies and don’t forget it! Write it down, yell it out, sing it, paint it, draw it - do anything you can to remind yourself over and over that your success is only found in Him.

  • Taking a break from social media is superrrrr healthy. The secret place is a secret because it examines your motives! Don't let social media steal the beauty of doing something special with him.. share it when it's time :)

  • Comparison will always want to be the thief of the ground you’ve made in God and in your creative journey. Don’t let it! Run! Flee! Get alone with God.

  • It takes time! Don’t be fooled by the instantness of our generation - let Jesus lead you from the overflow of your relationship with Him first, and the overflow will truly be magical in every way.

  • Experiment with everything and and fail a lot! :)

I pray that my little journey speaks life life life to your heart! Be blessed and encouraged to walk out the things on your heart and in your spirit as God leads you.

Susanna April Comments
the beauty in the wilderness

Some times you just kinda flop. The season slows down, the purpose gets a little bit vague, and things don’t line up the way your heart wished. The weird thing is I knew this was coming, I saw from afar this season approaching us, I saw Him preparing my heart, wooing me, speaking gently to my pride and revealing the gold that He wants to shine forth. Truly I almost expected to be plunged into the dark, into testing and trial, but God in his beautiful kindness continues to woo and speak His truth over me even in the midst of transition.It’s weird going from constant change to no change at all. It’s almost like He’s moved my heart to a place of complete peace at the transition, and now that the transition is over (for now) I feel a little lost. A little weepy. A little tired. When we cry out - Jesus take my life and use it for Your glory, I think often we have ideas and perceptions of what we think that will look like, and we push and strive, in the process making the pride of our hearts larger and turning away from the humility he offers us.. yet, God, in his unbelievable mercy and love reaches down and says ‘yes, I will use You for my glory.. just be faithful.” This morning he spoke to me out of Matthew 25, about the virgins and the oil. My heart was challenged and grateful when He said..

"Susanna, will you continue to stoke and fan the flame of love in your heart - even if it looks mundane, lame and boring? Will you fill your lamp with oil even when no one sees, when the ‘ministry’ is far from what you want to be doing, when it looks like going low and doing things you never saw yourself doing? Will you choose to be full of my oil, my spirit, my passion, will you keep your heart postured before me in adoration? Will you still love the one I bring to you with a tenacious love, sacrificing ideas about what ‘ministry’ looks like?"

Sometimes in His perfect love, he draws us lovingly into the wilderness. The wilderness looks like dying, to our self, our ideas, our plans.. it looks like leaning into what the hope of our calling looks like - the riches of what lies in eternity walking with our King (Eph 1:18) - rather than dwelling on the bits and pieces here. Fixing our gaze on Jesus, the author and perfecter of the of our faith (Heb 12:2). The wilderness sometimes looks like no direction, no job, no idea.. yet there’s always an oasis and jumping in the river of His presence has never been such a joy.

So today I’m choosing to seek out the truth about who He says I am, and what He says I was made for. A daughter made for love, adopted into His family, with a calling to walk and talk with Him for all of eternity. Let Him speak to you today about who you are and why you were created - because nothing on this earth really is what our calling really looks like. You were made to be a lover, a voluntary lover, (Eph 1:5) chosen because His Son opened the way for us to be carriers of His glory. That, is a purpose no one can talk you out of.

Hope over you today! Susanna x

Oh how I need You

Switzerland, Feb 2016. Yeshua, this truly has become my hearts cry over the last season. Oh how I need You! Without you I’m Much-Afraid, I’m a mess of thoughts and plans and ideas that really only amount to my own desires. You have begun to transform your desires to be my desires. You have transformed my heart to start to want what you want over anything that I do. You’ve taught me how to die, how to let the seed fall to the ground and become nothing so that you can plant me into your purposes, as a willing vessel. (John 12:24)

I needed You the most when I realised how much bigger your plan and story for the world is than just my little life. You’re weaving a beautiful tapestry of grace and power - so many prophetic passages you are fulfilling in my lifetime, bringing forth the beauty of your Son, the King of all the earth. Honestly I’m so overwhelmed that you would even let us be apart of your story, honoured feels like a cheap word. As we sat in the house of prayer that overlooks Jerusalem and sang out of your goodness, it hit me that we were being apart of the fulfilment of Isaiah 62:6 - that we were literal watchman posted on the walls of your great city. Again, all I can say is that I need you - I can’t even pray without your help, and certainly not intercede for your people. Your plan is so perfect, and we submit to your leadership Jesus.

Today as we sit in a little apartment that overlooks the mountains of Switzerland (which you so graciously gave us!), all I can think about is your faithfulness. The fact that you would make this little short time apart of your plan for us blows me away. A few weeks ago I started reading Hinds feet on high places, the beautiful story of Much-Afraid as she makes the journey to the high places. And here I am, looking out on the high places, the pinnacle of what you’ve taught me the last 12 months. Deep surrender. Deep trust. Forever falling and never in control.. yet completely safe on your path through the waves and the storm. You’ve taken me on a journey of being Much-Afarid, Anxious One, to transforming my name into Grace, into Glory, into Surrendered Trust.

The best part is that your glorious plan is not even a bit complete.. that with one life yielded to you Holy Spirit you can create such a beautiful tapestry of grace and beauty. That even in the in-between seasons, the ones that are not glamorous and don’t call for the attention of the masses.. that you are creating a story of beautiful humility, of complete surrender and trust. That the lower and less seen we are the more able you are to create something far greater with our little yes. Like the Great Shepherd said “the truth is that all the fairest beauties of the human soul, it’s greatest victories and achievements, are always those which no one sees. Every conquest over self love is a new flower on the tree of love.” (Hinds Feet on High Places)

So as we journey home and take our little yes to a familiar place with all of it’s comforts and routine, I continue to say that Yeshua I need you more than ever. Now that you have made me Surrendered Trust I need your help to live in that identity always. That my deepest love for you will outshine even the darkest day of winter. That Yeshua I love you with every part of my being and my desire is only for you. That I’m okay with being weak, being lowly, poor in spirit, that I actually feel more broken and helpless in my ability to do any ministry or do anything for you without You. Help me to never loose that. Because you spoke so clearly to me that it’s only when we are completely un-able in ourselves that you are made able.

With deepest love, Surrendered Trust

will you still trust Me?

This season has been one of un-learning and relearning. My heart feels so stretched to it's limit, of things that He shows me.. the heart for the broken, the heart for the apathetic, the the heart for His chosen people and nation.. some times I just want to wither away under all of the things that He feels for them, yet, he locks eyes with me and says..will you still trust me?

And again when I come to him with all my thoughts and feelings about the future, and place them at His feet.. when I petition Him for more direction, and he remains silent. He whispers to us to trust His plan even though we don’t know it yet. Some days I feel so weak, so human, in my response to Him. How can I trust in so many unknowns? Yet even in my weakness to Him, he still looks to me, and whispers what He thinks about me.. that he has taken the weeds from my heart and transformed them into blossoming flowers. That I am a daughter and a servant that hears His heart and responds, and that my identity is secure in Him. That I am no longer Much-Afraid, but I am Grace and Glory, Peace and Joy, and that I carry His heartbeat. I sit with him and He quietly whispers to me.. though you cannot see and you do not know, will you still trust me?

The times I try to plan, I see him having a little giggle at my frantic panic. Like the time we had no flight to anywhere and I tried so hard to just book a flight home.. I felt his amused smile over how desperate I felt, the anxiety at our lack of direction filling up my spirit. I felt him gently say.. is this really my plan? And even as I clicked the button over and over, and the website crashed again and again, I didn’t get the message. Finally I cried angry tears in frustration, and someone said maybe God had different idea. And he did. So I stopped wrestling with my plans and weakly submitted them into His hands… and he said to me.. even though you have no plan, will you still trust me?

Then came the beauty of how his plan included time to rest in a beautiful location we never could have afforded if it weren’t for Him. And even as I sit here and try to process all the Father has weaved into us in the last 12 months, I get overwhelmed with gratitude. That he would give us time and space to process is truly just a gift of his kindness to us, and I have no words but thank-you Jesus.

And then again comes the future, so many unknowns, so many maybes and could be’s and might haves. Yet, I sit here again with no plan, with no ideas, with no direction.. but to sit at His feet and drink in His desires for this moment and this moment only. He looks at me and smiles.. even though nothing seems to line up, and you feel like you’re taking steps backwards.. will you still trust me?

And so here we are, again, completely in the dark to his beautiful plan, but so in the light of His grace and presence.. and if this is the way He choosing to bring forth love and devotion in my heart, I say yes. I say yes to the unknown and the ups and downs.. I say yes to trusting in His plan that only he has any blueprints for. Without vision people perish, but with His vision, with His eyes, oh the life we have in Jesus! So regardless of what the next season looks like.. I trust you Jesus.

thoughts from mozambique.

Living in Mozambique has been such a beautiful season with the Lord for me… and even as I type my eyes can’t focus from the tears because I am SO overwhelmingly thankful that he would take our little yes, and take us on such a journey of learning to be like Him. It’s all about character. It’s all about Jesus.. and it’s so all about asking him to help us look more like him.

When we packed up everything over a year and a half ago, all we really knew was that God had more for us than what we could see. We had no idea that the greatest lesson he would teach us was through those that would never be known, would never have a facebook profile or would leave their own country. The people here have impacted and changed my heart in a way that nothing else could. Of course the teaching from Harvest School has been amazing, and God has brought such beautiful revelation to my heart.. but the most beautiful revelation he has brought is seeing Jesus in the ones we meet.

This week I found myself sitting down with the sweet little ones are the Iris base gate, and although I got bitten by a fire ant on my bum, I truly saw Jesus in their eyes. I saw him in the eyes of Flora, who had her little sister Cici strung on her back. I saw him through Aurealia, who’s name means beautiful. As I gazed into their eyes, as they asked for water, as I saw the weight of poverty on their shoulders, I saw Jesus. And then there was Susanna - the sweetest one of all because she shares my precious name - a name that means purity, that means a lily - a beautiful rose. As I held her in my arms, her bloated hard stomach pinched my heart. I was so grateful that Jesus would let me feel a little of what he does for her.

As I gave my small offering of biscuits and water, I saw a King born in a manger and the compassion he felt for the hungry multitudes. Jesus showed us that love has to look like something. That words are are so so small unless actions follow. Truly, there is no greater honour than to love the least of these, and my heart aches that my pride has blinded my eyes from truly seeing His favourite ones - whether in Africa, Australia, or anywhere else in the world.

As we washed the feet of our Mozambican brothers - the bible school students that we are share small groups with - I saw Him again. I saw that there is truly no fame in the stage, no fame in being known, in being understood or even listened to - but as Herodias and our friend Callisto washed our feet all I could think about was how famous they are in heaven. Every day this week they have worn the exact same old dirty shirts, but still greeted us with a kind, gentle smile. These men literally give up everything to come and learn about Jesus, most can’t read, and nearly all don’t speak English and have never left their home province before now - but to God, they are mega church pastors that have all the authority of heaven placed in their hands.

Oh the humility of having the layers and layers of red dirt washed from my feet by these men - I’ve never felt so honoured before. Jesus - give me that humilty, that you would teach me little by little what it looks like to lower myself to the level that you did. My heart is beginning to understand the beautiful gift you gave your disciples as you, the King of the entire universe, the firstborn of all creation, the one who breathed earth into exsistense, washed their feet. Thank you Jesus.

A precious one named Susanna.

Today I met another Susanna, from a very different world, who has a very different culture and a very different story than mine. She would have been barely three years old. I didn’t see her smile, I didn’t see her laugh.. surrounded by poverty, she could barely stand on her own. I smiled and laughed as I realised that she had the same name as me, and there were giggles all round as each child repeated my name and pointed to this little one. I picked her up and gave her a cuddle, her eyes were dirty and sad, she barely responded. I wrapped my arms around her only to realise she was incredibly sick, her hard stomach was half the size of her entire body.

It’s so easy to look at all the brokenness and poverty surrounding us and just say it’s all too hard. Say that there’s nothing you can do. Pray for healing, whisper Jesus loves them, and move on. Today my heart ached as I held little Susanna in my arms.. and the phrase Mama Heidi has been speaking over us repeated over and over in my head. Love has to look like something. I went and got some biscuits and extra water bottles, my offering so small and insignificant, and grabbed up so desperately by each child.

At times in my life I’ve been so drained by my over empathetic heart, but today all I could do was thank Abba for such deep emotions for this little one and her family. For letting me feel even just a taste of the brokenness he feels for her. For this little one who’s name means a lily, a rose, purity and wholeness. As I prayed her name over her, sores covering her feet, a terrible cough racking her body, all I could do was ask the Father to let love look like something more than I had to give. To let it look like healing and freedom, to let it be that one day she is able to go to school, that she won’t have stunted growth and won’t suffer anymore.

The truth of the world is that she is just another nameless, faceless poverty stricken child. But the truth of heaven is that she is known by name, Susanna, she is seen and every hair on her head is numbered.

That the Father sees her, as he sees me, that he longs for the same relationship I have with him to be in her. That his thoughts about her matter, and that when the kingdom fully comes she will no longer be unknown, no longer be in pain.. that she will be seated with the princes and kings of heaven as a queen and daughter who knows how she has been rescued and covered with light.

I used to think of Africa and be so daunted by the emotions, the need, the desperation. I used to think that the only thing that would really make a difference in the kingdom was praying for Jesus to return and bring wholeness (which I still pray for every day!). But as I begin to understand how he longs to partner with us to stop for the one, it changes everything. One little one who shares my name, shares the meaning of purity and wholeness. A little one who’s name means a flower, who is the lily of the valley, which only blooms in the lowest of places.

My prayer for her is that she would bloom despite the pain and poverty she is surrounded by. That she would desire to live and not die, that you Jesus, would crown her with glory and honour. That I would see her again and that you would continue to teach me what love looks like to the least of these. That I would never think or feel that my influence is too great to go low and see the ones that your heart beats for - the ones that you yourself saw Jesus.

The painful digging with the wonderful Digger.

Jesus looks at me and holds out a shovel.. "Will you dig with me?" he says, with soft, beautiful eyes.I look at him, knowing that I have a choice to say yes or no. Knowing that regardless of the answer, he’s still going to look at me the same way, with those same loving eyes. I look to the tree beside us. It’s huge. It’s branches stretch out so wide and strong, and it’s trunk is wider than I can wrap my arms around. The only thing is it’s roots - they’re not planted. It looks like it’s been uprooted, and I can see it’s roots have been out of the nutrients of the soil for too long. It’s not dying yet, but I can see that soon, without the richness of the dirt all around it, it could start to wither and die.

I look at Jesus. In one hand he holds a shovel, and in the other he holds one out to me. I know I have a choice.. and I also know that there’s no way I can dig a hole deep enough for this tree on my own. I’m too weak, too frail.. too tired. “This tree is the life I have for you” He says with a gentle smile, looking up to it’s beautiful branches with joy in his eyes. “Will you help me root it in a solid foundation?”

I know that it will be work. I know that it will be tiring. But as I look at him, my body fills with strength, and I whisper a tiny, small and slightly overwhelmed “yes” to him. We start to dig. I can tell by the size of the width of the hole, that this is not going to be a quick process. The roots on the tree have grown really really wide. I look at the tree a little daunted, and he looks back at me.. and with a chuckle says “and you think there’s a lot of roots now? Wait until it’s been planted for a few years.. then you’ll see."

As we begin to dig I feel a great companionship. We laugh, and talk.. but after a while I start to get very weary. My whole body aches. The hole is now over my head, and I look to Jesus as ask him if it’s deep enough yet. He looks back at me with a smile,

“It’s your choice, little one. Do you think it’s deep enough?”

I realise once more that I have a choice. He’s giving me the chance to stop now, rest up, and plant the tree. I look at the size of the root system again, and I just know that if we planted the tree now, it would be quite shallow. Maybe the roots would grow, but if a storm came, there’s a chance it could fall.

Knowingly he looks at me, and keeps on digging. After a while longer, we hit some rock. It’s solid, and I can tell there’s no way I can dig past it. I look at him with a little bit of frustration, and weariness.

He says to me with renewed energy, “It’s okay little one, rest for a while, I’ve got this bit.” I gratefully sink down as he chips away at the rock, piece by piece. “Do you know what this is?” He says to me as he faithfully chips away at each piece. I look at him with confusion and say I don’t know. “It’s all the walls that separate us. You don’t bring them down, we bring them down together.”

After many more hours of digging, until the hole is almost twice his height, he whispers to me that we’re finished. I breathe a sigh of relief as we climb to the top and he pulls the tree with his deep strength, into the hole. “That was REALLY hard.” I say to him, exhausted. “Oh, but it was so so worth it..” he says. “You will see, one day, you will see."

He pulls the tree with it’s massive roots toward the hole, and drops it in. It falls with a thud, and I see that the top with it’s trunk only just peaks through the top of the hole. He begins to fill it. He pulls out a hose and begins to water it. “No storm is gonna get this one.” He says with a grin.

“One day you will look back on this time little one, and the power of this time will no longer be a mystery - rather you will always draw strength from it." I look at him with a smile and deep peace in my heart. Just to spend all this time with him made it worth it.

“What now, Jesus?” I ask him.

He replies with a smile... “Now, we watch as it bears fruit.”

Psalm 1:3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields it's fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers.

Image source:Junyi Wu

surrenderSusanna DobbinComment
552 hours.

So here I am - 8 months down this crazy road that Jesus has been leading us on. How can I even gage how He’s touched and moulded my heart? 552.

The number of hours I’ve spent in the prayer room in the last months. The number of hours I’ve cried, sat, prayed, and vulnerably placed my weak yes before Him asking Him to mould me into a vessel worthy of His plans. Truthfully, the number of hours I’ve sat in total boredom, looking at the clock, wishing that they wouldn’t sing that same song again, and again. They number of hours I’ve chosen to press in and lock my phone away from my wandering eyes. The number of hours I’ve been convicted again and again by my total humanness - when my flesh is screaming out that pressing in won’t do a thing, but my spirit yearns just for a touch from Him.

The number of hours I’ve felt dry and barren, only to be met with the gracious river of His beautiful presence. The presence that gently reveals to me how much closer my roots could be planted to His life giving waters. The number of hours I’ve fought distraction, only to give in and be sadden by the wasted hours I could be spending drinking in all He wants to say. The journals I filled with the same prayers over and over again - "make my yes real Jesus, grow my heart in love for You.” And the beautiful revelation and encounter He lavished on me as He wooed me closer with gentle whispers of love.. that giving it all for love is enough, love is the reward of love.

The countless tear stains on the book of the Song of Solomon as He revealed to me how He see’s me amidst the struggles to lock eyes with His beautiful gaze. That amidst the struggle He sees me as beautiful, worthy, worth everything He had to give on that cross. The beautiful story He is writing over humanity - and the wonderful ending that Jesus has planned to truly bring the church into victorious love as she leans in with everything.

It’s been a roller coaster to say the least, and truthfully it hasn’t been easy to sit, pace, and stand in the same room for so long. But even in all the highs and lows, He truly has been faithful to grow my heart in ways that I can’t even imagine. The deepest delight and highest calling of my life - to learn to love You Jesus.

So where to from here? Above all, we just want to go where he says - and clearly God's not done with this intense training season. So off to Africa & the Middle East we’re going to serve with Iris Global. We’re heading to Mozambique to do their Harvest School of Missions for the next four months - to test and put hands to all Jesus has grown in our hearts this year. To say that He truly is worthy of our utmost lovesick obedience, what a joy to follow a King worth everything we have to give Him.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever create artworks and run a business again, and at the moment - I’m totally okay with that. This space will continue to become a place where I can share the journey with others, and I hope it encourages your heart to say yes to Jesus more and more.

#7 When God is silent

Last year was a hard season, and looking back, I didn’t realise how dry and empty I was until the drought broke. It felt like for months and months, I didn’t hear a single word, single drop, single emotion from God. I would spend hours in the word, time at his feet, crying out for him to speak - but nothing came. It really was a winter season - like a bleak, cold, rainy day that shows no promise of sunshine. After a few months my devotion started to wane, quiet times became a chore.. and although my relationship with Jesus was very real and very much still there, I felt weary and sad that I felt so dry and emotionless. In that season I wondered if it was my fault, if there was sin or distraction taking his voice.. but as He’s led me to reflect on it, it’s quite obvious that it was the opposite. I was so hungry for God, I so desired his voice and his presence.. but He had lifted it from me - as a gift. He wasn’t withholding his presence from me as punishment, but as a gift to draw me closer to him. A gift to reveal the REAL state of my heart. A gift so that when the rain came, when the flood was emptied, my heart and soul would be ready - like a dry desert, to soak up all he wanted to say.

In Psalm 63 David talks about a time of deep hunger. A time where he was in a desert season in his intimacy with the Lord - but yet he praised Him. "Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” He lifted his name high, and gave him the glory, instead of letting the hunger overcome him and doubt God's character.

Hunger is gift because it draws us closer to Jesus - it makes room in our hearts.. In a season of fullness, there is not always room for him. He makes room by hunger. A few weeks ago I heard this quote and it impacted my heart so deeply:

"Only the hungry get Jesus, you don't get him if you're not hungry. You cannot swim in the deep knowledge of God without swimming in the waters of hunger, longing and absence of his presence.” ~ Dana Candler.

Looking back I can see how God was making room. He was positioning my heart in a place to receive, to fill up the dry cracks of my soul with his life giving waters. He was teaching me that regardless of why I don’t feel him, I still have to run after him. Run with my brokenness, with my heart and with my love.. and choose to love him anyway. Sharks follow us everywhere in the waters of hunger, sharks of bitterness and offence.. the shark of ‘why’.. and I can see now that I spent too much time trying to figure out why I was dry and emotionless. Instead of letting the shark overcome my heart, He was continuing to train me to seek Him first, in the midst of the desert.

So today if you’re dry in your relationship with Jesus - continue to lean in. Continue to seek him, chase after all he has for you. Tell him that he’s the one that you love. He’s just growing your spirit for the rain that will surely come.

#6 When prayer hurts

On Friday I was in a prayer meeting for the persecuted church in a little side room of the main prayer room here in KC. To to be honest, I didn’t really want to be there, I had a headache, my mind was full of things I was thinking - really they were incredibly trivial in comparison to the need which we were praying for.One of the guys praying with me started to deeply intercede with such anguish for the horrific things in this world - hundreds of christians in labour camps, in prisons, being raped and abused, killed, dismembered, their dignity stolen from them in ways we can’t even imagine. In ways that are too graphic to even comprehend.

My heart started to cry. For the pain, for the deep deep hurt that millions go through every day just because they love Jesus with a tenacity that won’t be stolen from them. For the children that never experience childhood, for the mothers who have their husbands taken from them.. For the girls and women abducted and sold as sex slaves by ISIS and the Nigerian pastor who flees for his life while he watches his church and his house burn. For the North Korean believers that are holding on by a thread, waiting, praying, believing to be rescued from their horrific circumstances.

My heart hurts for this world, for the sickening things I hear daily about yet another pastor and his family killed. My heart hurts because the western church forgets about the other parts of her body in chains. My heart hurts because although God partners with us in prayer to see circumstances changed, I know it’s not enough until Jesus returns. Until he comes to make all things right on this earth.

Honestly, I’ve never really thought all that much about the return of Jesus. In our little western bubble apathy reigns, we selfishly long for revival in our churches without ever longing for the return of the One who will make all things right. The more I pray for the persecuted church, the more I long for Jesus… not just for intimacy, not just for relationship with the true King of the universe, but to see Him.

I long to see him bring justice to the broken, the hurting.. I long for Him to bring ‘blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ into reality in the natural. I long for the church to take her rightful place as the Bride to usher in the kingdom of Jesus. I long for justice for the widow, for healing for the abused, for the lonely to be placed in families and for the the homeless to find their true home in a Father that never disappoints.

And although I long, and I pray, and I hope.. I don’t know when He will return. I don’t know how much longer the persecution will go on, and my heart sinks knowing that it will only get worse before he returns.. so until that time, I will pray. I will partner with God’s purposes for these precious brothers and sisters in their hidden suffering, and believe that he will sustain and bring them joy in the midst of the pain. Because they are truly blessed for their trials, and great is their reward in heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil about you. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven..” Matt 5:11-12

“So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy..” John 16:22

#5 You'll find me leaning

This is my success: to love you and be loved by you..and with a big yes in my heart and spirit I lift my heart to heaven and embrace the beauty of Jesus a fresh. Only he truly satisfies, in every season, in every circumstance - all of creation finds their identity in his beautiful person. So I lean in, with my weak frame and weak prayers, with my mind full of distractions & dreams. I lean, trusting, hoping, believing, leaning on his kindness, his beauty, his promises.

When my ‘yes’ feels small and insignificant, and when I’m not sure how to respond with my wholehearted belief in his goodness and his plans. When I have a lack of hunger and desire after Jesus face, and when the words don’t seem to come. When he's cutting off dead branches and refining my character, and pruning those to produce more fruit than ever before. When my mind is full of doubt, and when I don't see the big picture of his wonderful plans. There you’ll find me leaning.

When the pleasures of this worlds seem so close, and my mind is tempted to fill my heart and capacity with dry, barren, lifeless things.. when the longing to be with him isn’t there and when my prayer is barely a whisper, 'you’re the one that I love.. Jesus, you’re the one that I love.. I need your help to love you.’ There, you’ll find me leaning.

When the season is painful, and I don’t see any of the fruit, and its a struggle to abide. When my mind feels weak and my heart feels dry. When people call me immature and crazy for my choices to follow God. When I’m accused, stolen from, burnt out, sick, spoken about and when I’m at my lowest and my mind is tempted to regret the yes in my heart… There, you’ll find me leaning.

When the YES in my spirit matches the YES in my actions, and when I feel his kindness, presence and power daily. When the provision comes through at the last minute and I’m left on my knees in adoration and praise for how he works. When my heart is so surrendered that nothing is too big and my faith moves spiritual mountains. When my intercession sees captives set free and the joy of laying down my life is easy. When my heart is tender to his beautiful presence and there's nothing I'd rather do than spend all day with him. There, you’ll find me leaning.

And one day when I see him face to face and experience him in all his humble humanity with deep kindness in his eyes.. as he locks eyes with me with and gives me that beautiful, knowing smile of the history we carry together. When the day comes that I’ll be able to lock eyes with him and say that I KNOW him. I know his purposes, his voice, his motives and the beauty of his humanity. To lock eyes and know that this relationship is beyond any other, is more satisfying, is more life giving, than any other on earth. There, you'll find me leaning.

#3 Dreams from His heart

The other night I had a dream. In my dream I knew I was dreaming, and I knew that God was speaking to me. The exact words aren’t clear - more of an impression of His heart - I knew he was speaking to my spirit. He was speaking encouragement. That even when I can't tell if I'm growing in this season, he's strengthening my spirit and spirit man to be stronger than it’s ever been. He’s growing my capacity to hear him and to operate out of the overflow of his heart rather than the striving of my own.

For the past two days these thoughts from this dream haven’t left my mind.. even though the dream’s pictures have faded, it was a completely new experience to me to hear Jesus speak to my heart so clearly while I was sleeping.

There’s been so many highs and lows over the past two weeks - beautiful times in the prayer room full of intimacy with Jesus, mixed with days of weakness and distraction. Times of prayer where my heart is burdened with the Fathers heart and the words come easy - and other days when my mind can only think of the next snack… or is distracted with the realities of life.

But then He speaks, and in a way he hasn’t before. A dream. An impression of his heart for me - to build my spirit stronger than ever before. That even when I feel weak, and the hours in the prayer room drag, and my mind is everywhere that it shouldn’t be - that he’s still growing my spirit. That even when I can’t feel his presence and my prayers feel empty - that the words of my mouth to build his church are building my spirit.

I felt him clearly say that this season is a strengthening season for what is to come.. that this beautiful history I already carry with the Father is only the beginning of a life of surrender to Him.. and that he wants my heart ready. Really ready.

I hope that my journey of learning his beautiful plan of surrender will strengthen and encourage your own heart today - let him speak to the depths of your heart. He longs to do so.

#2 Thoughts on breakthrough

When He speaks - let your heart hear.. because although you cling to those insecurities, those past habits and ideals like a comforting blanket around you... they can't lead you into your true identity. The Father says let go, He says 'don't look back and instead let me lead you.’ He says that there is no need for you to carry this blanket anymore, even for emergencies.. because you have His embrace. But yet sometimes you still choose to pick it up again and favour comfort of the insecurity over His perfect embrace.He says let it go, and let me lead you…. And when you’re not sure of what the future holds, when you’re feeling anxious about the details of life and where the provision will come from next - let your security rest in who he is. Let your peace lie in His embrace, and let your joy be revealed in the beauty of who Jesus is. Don’t let the details overwhelm you. Look into His eyes. When you’re in worship and your head aches, instead of giving up - let him whisper his beautiful breath of fresh love into your spirit… and when your heart can’t contain the joy of the moment - let the tears fall over. Because he speaks both in the loud, overwhelming praise, as much as the still, quiet voice.

And when the words aren’t coming, when you don’t feel the passion for the prayer your praying - ask for the Fathers beautiful heart. His heart doesn’t stop breaking, and will never stop breaking until heaven comes to earth. Just a tiny touch of his perspective is all you need for your heart to break for what breaks his own. All you need is one touch of his joy to be over filled with joy… all you need is one moment to quiet your spirit and reach into his heart for more. More of his glory, more of his peace, more of his love for others. Just reach in.. all you need is there.

And when the wall of tiredness, apathy or just the wall of life that threatens your ability to engage with Him.. hold on. Breakthrough is coming like the rain, like the beautiful dawn that Jesus breathes his life into. Don’t let the wall determine your perspective of Him.. but instead let your perseverance be made complete in the beautiful history that you have already walked with Him. The rain will come, it always has.. just like the dawn, sure and steady.

The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Psalm 34:10

#1 When God places faith in your hands

Six months ago when we heard first felt from God that we were to trust him for the finances to get us to IHOP, my first response was to worry. To doubt, to conjure up scenario after scenario about how we would fundraise the huge amount we needed. Then the dollar started dropping, and soon the amount we were needing was so much higher than we had originally thought. My heart got anxious… so anxious. Even in the last two months, I’ve been struggling with God about whether the sacrifices we’ve made this past year have even been worth anything. I sometimes sit on my bed in our hot box squishy room at our parents house surrounded by boxes, suitcases and mess - and I cry. I know it’s trivial, I know it’s nothing in comparison to seeking His kingdom.. but sometimes, I just miss my house. I miss being me, in my space. Even less than 7 days out from leaving, I miss it.

And then something suddenly happens. He reminds me softly of who I am, of the plans, of the joy of the wonderful future he has for us. He sends his beautiful messengers to share their hearts, with their wonderful words of encouragement and knowledge - to speak into this next season and remind me how much it’s worth saying YES to Jesus. He speaks through them that we are warriors, servants, and that the Father trusts us and is ready to invest all he has into our identities. They remind me who I am. My heart and spirit jump with excitement, yet my mind is full of scattered thoughts and worries - disconnecting me from the vine, the life source.

And right as I’m feeling the driest and emptiest I’ve felt in a long time, and feeling sad about saying goodbye to all our precious ones.. he sends a beautiful heart who hands me a heavy envelope and whispers ‘I felt Him say you need this...'

I realise that this act of faith alone breaks my own unbelief and reveals the true root of my disconnect from the Father… that when we hold our hands too tightly closed, on our thoughts, ideals, perspectives; it means He can’t place faith into our hands and deposit joy in our hearts.

And so as I sit here and reflect, I realise that no sacrifice can be too great when it comes to saying YES to him. To learning to walk the surrendered, lonely path - the one that is narrow and hard. I don’t want any ‘no’ left in me when it comes to Jesus.. regardless of the cost, regardless of the missed cute homewares, the house we won’t buy and the things we won’t own. It’s worth it. And even if my heart forgets this, and I know it will.. I will continue to trust that my hands will remain open enough for him to deposit FAITH back into them.

"There's no shame in looking like a fool when I give you what I can't keep, and take a hold of You...."

Let this be our constant cry Jesus.

// I’ve got to honour my incredible husband Nick who has a crazy gift of faith and has been backing us in the spirit through this entire process. Thank-you babe, I love you xx

Don't let comparison have a party in your heart

For many years I let the giant of comparison dictate my every move. I let my thoughts, my emotions, how I dressed, what I posted, who I was friends with - you name it, and in some way I can guarantee comparison had niggled it’s way in.

The thing about comparison is that it doesn’t just leave it’s victims feeling insecure and unworthy, it lets fear, shame, and a whole lotta anxiety have one massive party in our hearts and minds. Which I know we’d all agree, isn’t cool and definitely isn’t God’s best for us.

The reason I can say this is that I was one of these victims (and honestly - I still am sometimes). I know the word ‘victim' might be a bit of a strong one - comparison can sometimes also be as much a choice as anything else, and we certainly ALL know what it feels like to choose to compare rather than REST in who we truly are. I say victim because I strongly believe that comparison is one of the enemy’s biggest weapons to kill and destroy who we are (esp. as women!) - especially who we are in Jesus.

The thing about being a victim is that we have a choice to move on, or to become a prisoner.. and I chose to make myself a prisoner to comparison.

2012 was a pretty rough year for me, God really opened up my heart and began to dig out all the things, and lets just say it how it is, all the SINS that were paralyzing my heart from really understanding His love for me. Fear was a big one, almost as big as his little bro comparison. You see fear and comparison really walk hand in hand. They trigger each other, they speak dirty words into your ears like, words like 'you'll never do as incredible things as that person has...'.

Comparison paralyses, it leaves us confused, fearful of the future and insecure about who we truly are.

Thoughts like this were what spiraled me out of control into one big anxious MESS (which is a much bigger story than I have words left for today - so maybe another time!). It could have been a lot worse and my anxiety struggles could have become a long loooongggg journey of overcoming (rather than just a year or so) if it hadn’t of been for how much I cried out to God in that time.

I remember being in group worship time, right at the very front, just balling out my heart, my prayers, my deep fears and my anxiety to God - which by the way, were very much rooted in the ugly sin of comparison.

The beautiful thing about Jesus is that he will never condemn us, but rather meet us where we’re at.

In that worship time that’s what He did. In my spirit I felt him standing in front of me - he told me to reach out my hands into his, and to look into his eyes. Oh those beautiful eyes! I felt I could get lost in them forever.

He said to me ‘keep your eyes on me...'

Those five little words changed my existence.. because when we fix our eyes on Him, all things fade away, and we really do feel like little silly fools for thinking that He wouldn’t create us unique, valuable and with a different story to any other person on earth! In that moment he became my ONLY measuring stick; because he is the only one worthy of our comparison. When we compare ourselves to Jesus, rather than being met with how unworthy we are we’re instead met with his incredible grace to meet us where we ARE.

It’s been a journey for me, learning to truly FIX MY EYES on Him only. I’ve had to learn to let everything go through the lens of His eyes, and although sometimes I forget and begin to compare again, he takes me aside and whispers quietly in my ear ‘keep your eyes on me..’ and my whole world crumbles once again - because I’m wrecked for anything but ALL that he has for me… and it’s become plainly clear that I can never get there when comparison is in my life.

So let His eyes be what guide you - and give comparison the boot. It’s a choice to entertain those thoughts, so instead of letting them making you prisoner, be set free to enjoy the beauty, love and light of the plans he has for you - that are unique to YOU and you alone.


When our eyes wander..

Last week had such beautiful potential for me to be at rest and in complete surrender to Jesus. When we have weeks like this one, it’s the perfect opportunity to stretch us, to use the things He’s teaching us.. but instead, I started to let worry and anxiety trickle back in.

We started looking into flights and all the details for our trip to the US, and I know from the moment I started thinking about it that I had the choice to enter into worry and stress, or to let God handle it.. He is the master craftsman of flying, he could get us there without even hopping on a plane, and yet, there I was, sitting at my computer googling every option under the sun freaking out about how much it was going to cost.

It wasn’t till I sat down to try and sort out my frazzled brain that I realised that this whole week I’ve spent thinking - but not thinking through His eyes. His beautiful, perfect eyes - when I look into them all fear, worry and stress evaporates.. and I remember who I am, and who he has created me to be.

When we think through His eyes, when we filter every thought, every action, through the lens of Jesus.. things start to get shaken up, they start to get a bit radical and look a bit different. They start to look like taking the option that the world says is crazy, and making it your ONLY option and without a back up plan - because you trust in those eyes with such a tenacity and passion, that nothing else looks appealing but to follow where they lead you.

I sat down tonight to write something, anything.. and was profoundly met again by the revelation of combating worry with resting in who he is - the truth of his promises..

We choose to enter into worry and stress, even though we KNOW they don’t help, satisfy, or bring anything good into our lives. We still choose them, even though we know they're not good for us. We choose to worry over the silliest little pathetic things that God could just wipe away in a moment, instead of choosing to fix our eyes on him. The more we worry, the harder it gets to lock eyes with him and the harder it gets to trust. The harder it gets to remember that same passion and tenacity that we had.

When we first felt God was saying to us to trust him for thousands of dollars to get us to the next place he has for us - my first response was worry.. days of worry, doubt, and fear.. followed by this revelation. Once I fixed my eyes firmly again - oh how much easier it got to trust, to listen, and to lean in without holding back! The enemy does everything he can to try and cloud our minds with worry.. he can’t stand looking at Jesus’ face, and so as soon as we choose to lock eyes with Him, we instantly banish the enemy’s power over us to worry.

So today I'm choosing to remember the trust I have in Him - the tenacity, the passion He gives when my eyes are fixed on his only.

I pray that my little journey encourages you today. x

So here it goes..

For a while now I’ve known. That the season is shifting, that things are changing.

A few weeks ago I began to feel that maybe there was something new God had for me to do.. and let’s be honest, I’ve tried and failed about 10 times now to start blogging. I’ve tried wordpress, wix, tumblr, probably used FB wrongly far too many times.. and lately Instagram.. which I’m realising is really not the most ideal place to write paragraph after paragraph of my feelings (yes - big feeler here!).

But here I am, again, starting fresh, but this time with perspective, with purpose. Over the past year God has taken me on a journey of discovering my place in the creative world, of writing beautiful words that speak deeply to the heart.. but lately I’ve been realising that that’s not enough. I post things that stir my heart and spirit, and often feel that it’s only grating the surface of what really needs to be said.

So here I am. About to enter a new season.. both in the spiritual and the natural.

So, comes to my second reason for this blog...

The past couple of months He’s been teaching me what it means to be truly surrendered, yielded, undone, to everything he has for us.

In about four months my husband Nick and I are heading on an exciting adventure, quitting our jobs, packing up everything and heading to the International House of Prayer for a season of training, prayer and worship.

This has been something so huge on my heart for so long, and for both of us it’s not only a huge life change, but also a massive faith step.
It means sacrifice, giving up things we love (like my inks!) and exchanging them for things we want to grow in (like blogging.. blehh). It means being challenged in our spiritual gifts, and it means praying in a way we’ve never prayed before. It means learning to really lean on God for everything, learning to stay surrendered to his beautiful plan, and most of all learning not to take control the moment things get messy.

My biggest hope and prayer is that through this season, through blogging and sharing about what God is teaching me, the challenges and highs and lows, that not only will my heart become more surrendered to His ways, but that yours will also.

Even if no one ever reads this blog.. this place will be a place to write and share my thoughts, my heart, the little things that grow and the big things that REALLY grow. This place will be a place to read back over and see what God has done, and then just be like WOW.. because the journey means that we're never the same. That He is constantly maturing, speaking, leading, correcting and positioning us for the next thing he wants to do.. it's a beautiful circle of His grace and love.

Surrendered hearts & surrendered lives, on a journey of letting the One that knows all, yet loves unconditionally, lead and guide.

It leaves me excited, breathless, hopeful, maybe a little stressed with the process, but oh so glad to continue to rest in who He is. Joy. Peace. Always available, always there. Yes.