Come Away with Me
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing this post, then erased every last dang word.
There’s just so much to say and it feels impossible to put into words what happened in this little house in northwest Arkansas.
But, I will try.
About 8 months ago, I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to a time of retreat. A time of rest. I didn’t have a name for it at the time, but I had the strongest urge to pack my Bible, my journals, as few clothes and makeup as possible and find a place to hide. To hear His voice, reconnect with the Father, and rest.
A few months later, I booked a 5-day solo trip to the desert in Sedona, Arizona and counted down the days until my trip.
And a few weeks ago, it came. I had the opportunity to push pause on life for a few days and go away with Jesus.
But, my plans were changed drastically due to bad weather a few days leading up to the trip, as I explain in the video at the bottom of this post, but I know it was all for the best. There were so many special moments in this trip that wouldn’t have been possible if I’d gone anywhere else.
As usual, I could barely sleep the night before the trip. I loaded up the car around 6:30 AM and headed to the very last minute Airbnb I booked in Arkansas.
Besides the song the Holy Spirit wrote through me, my new tattoo and this shirt from Tacos 4 Life were probably my favorite souvenirs from the trip!
The drive was perfectly uneventful and I arrived at the house right on time for check-in. My sweet host greeted me with a complimentary bag of coffee (which was super sweet, even though I don’t drink coffee.) I unloaded the car, then went to Walmart for groceries. I wanted to make sure I had enough food to last the trip so I wouldn’t have to leave the house unless I really needed to.
After putting groceries away, I sat down and honestly, I felt…awkward.
THIS was the moment I’d waited 8 months for.
This silence. The lack of an agenda or expectations.
And yet, I felt awkward, uncomfortable, and out of place.
The reality of sitting in some stranger’s house in a different state set in and fear started to overtake me. I closed all of the windows in the house, took a few deep breaths, and decided I needed a do-over.
I was not going to allow the enemy to grip me in fear and anxiety. I was NOT going to allow him to steal my joy on this trip.
So, I went to the Word.
I’d recently read 2 Samuel 12 in my BSF class, so I decided to follow David’s lead. After fasting and praying, and then losing his firstborn son, David did 5 things when he was finished mourning:
He anointed himself.
He changed his clothes.
Showering really was the best first step. It symbolized putting off the things I’d walked into the house carrying - worry, stress, discomfort.
After showering, I covered my face with rose stem oil, as I always do, but thought it was ironic that that was the next step David did, too. I changed clothes, and then…
I w o r s h i p p e d.
For a long time.
Not having an agenda and worshipping alone for hours was one of the most precious memories I’m taking away from this trip.
And then, I ate. A big bowl of pasta. Cause worship will work up an appetite!
The Airbnb was so peaceful and simply stunning. It was the perfect place to rest, read, and pray.
Most of my time was spent on that blue couch with the view of this beautifully intricate cedar-plank ceiling, the light streaming in through those tall windows.
It was surreal, really.
I slept in each day, then I’d spend hours in prayer, worship, and the Word. When I wasn’t in the middle of worship or listening to a sermon or a truth podcast, this playlist was on repeat on my little bluetooth speaker. (Feel free to listen on Apple Music if you’d like!)
Beyond worship, prayer, and reading the Word, I also got a 90-minute massage, a tattoo, dinner for one at Table Mesa in Bentonville (delicious churro dessert pictured below), and 100% sleep quality ratings on my sleep app each night.
This may not sound like a big deal, but it is, friends.
Oh, it is.
You may or may not know that sleep is my number one favorite thing in the world, but my body is really bad at it. Like insomnia-level-bad. An 80% sleep quality night feels amazing, so I felt like a new person with these 100% ratings! And that included taking two naps a day.
Thank you, Jesus!
I watched as most of my friends came out of the gate the second 2019 began with “their word” the Father had given them to focus on for the year.
Me? Not so much.
I wasn’t in a hurry to choose a word. Mainly because I wanted to hear it straight from Him.
And 52 days into the new year, He gave it to me.
a b i d e.
Beginning as early as the first night of this trip, in several ways, the Holy Spirit kept leading me back to reading John 15. I couldn’t get enough of it. I just kept reading it over and over, finding new insights each time I read through it.
I used to read this passage and shudder. My faith would be shaken because I wondered if I was in the “fruitful” category or the “thrown into the trash and burned” category. I mean, there’s kind of a big difference.
I’d also wonder if I’d done enough, been good enough, borne enough fruit to be considered in the coveted “fruitful” category.
And that night, the Holy Spirit did what He always does.
He teaches us the truth of everything Jesus said in the most loving, gracious, revelatory way.
He revealed to me that this passage isn’t saying the fruitless branches are thrown away, but instead, they are lifted up!
Because this is how vines grow.
They must be propped up on a trellis. They must be pruned, lifted up, tended to. And this is the Father’s job, not mine! The Word says that the Father is the gardener - He is tending to the vine and the vine IS JESUS!
We are just the branches.
Do we expect one branch to hold up the weight of the whole tree? Of course not!
The Father lifts us up, pruning and tending to every part of our lives. He wants all of it. Nothing is off-limits or out of His reach.
My fruitfulness multiplies where it’s already healthy and the less-healthy parts of me are delicately tended to, lifted up, to encourage more growth in that area.
But, none of this happens if I’m disconnected from the vine. This is why Jesus pleads with his 12 best friends on the last night He was alive to abide in Him. And the fruit produced by their abiding is genuine LOVE for one another.
Above all, Jesus wanted his guys to be known for how well they loved one another and His people.
Through my study on vines, I learned some fascinating truths that apply to the Kingdom, too!
Grapevines only produce fruit on shoots that came from buds that were developed during the previous growing season!
Maybe some of you are super smart and you already knew this, but I was completely fascinated when I learned this! We may not see the fruits of our labor today, for years, or possibly ever! Does that mean we give up when we are uncomfortable or when we aren’t praised for our self-perceived hard work? Absolutely not! This could not be further from what the world preaches to us, but here’s the Kingdom truth: We aren’t called to produce fruit for our benefit. The Holy Spirit bears the fruit through us as the Father lifts up our branches. Love is produced. Faith and hope naturally pour out of us as we abide in our vine, Jesus! Lives are changed, hearts submitted to Jesus and to the Father’s will!
Vines take 3 years to produce fruit (5 years for high quality grapes, and 10-20 years for excellent wine!) The vine is busy building deep roots and wide branches in preparation for the fruit that is to come.
Just as we wouldn’t eat an entire week of meals in one sitting, we must understand that abiding in Jesus takes time. As our branch is infused into the vine, it should be nurtured daily and cared for. How could we expect to grow healthy branches, capable of yielding the sweetest fruit, if we aren’t connected to the source? Friends, His Word is our life source! We literally cannot survive in this world without consuming it each day. Then, one day we will turn around and see that all of the time we invested into abiding in Jesus, learning about the Father’s heart, allowing the Spirit to teach us eternal truths through the Word produced abundant fruit - love, grace, tenderness, mercy. Will we surrender to the Holy Spirit each day and allow Him to lay the foundation of strong, healthy roots, so we’re standing on solid ground when our faith is shaken?
Some vines will grow as low shrubs when support isn’t available, but they have the potential to grow tall when they have support.
We are prone to such laziness and mediocrity, just like vines! Vines will actually use rocks, other plants, or support systems as they grow in order to invest as little energy as they have to in order to reach sunlight. Who is in your support system? Are you relying on people who are connected to the VINE to draw you closer to the Father? One type of vine, the liana, forms bridges amongst the canopy - making a way for animals to pass through the forest and protecting weaker trees from strong winds. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to be the liana for one another and for unbelievers. We are the bridge leading those we love to draw closer to Jesus, and as we grow in our faith, we disciple and speak the truth in love to those younger in their faith, protecting them from the lies the enemy so badly wants them to believe.
Make yourself at home in Me.
Make yourself at home, love.
Make yourself at home in Me.
Come close, child, abide in Me.
If you wonder if you’re more than loved,
If you question if you’re worthy of
My love was poured out freely on that cross
While you still hated Me.
Let Me love you,
Let Me love you, child
Let Me love you,
Abide in me.
On the last night of my trip, I felt the strongest urge to record the song the Holy Spirit wrote through me. I also wanted to record what took place while the thoughts were fresh on my mind. I’m so grateful that I have this video to go back to when my faith is shaken and I need to be reminded of how tangible the Father’s love was for me that weekend. When I need the reminder of how He met me where I was at.
On my way home, I called my mom and the first thing she said was, “You wrote a song.” I honestly couldn’t answer for a few seconds because I was so thrown off. How did she know?? I told her that I had in fact written a song. She casually replied, “Yeah, God told me you were going to write a song. I almost called you the other day to see if you were finished with it yet.”
Thank you, Jesus. You’re so, so good.
If you’re still reading this, thank you. I know this is a long post. I don’t think I’d still be reading it if I were you! I can honestly say this was an extremely humbling experience and one that I plan to make time for at least once a year. Can I encourage you to go away with Jesus, too? He has something so incredible to teach you. Even if you aren’t able to take a week off of work, can you give him a few minutes of your day? I promise you will fall in love with Him and with His word as you learn to abide in Him each day.
Maybe you can start here - in John 15. He has something for you, friend.
John 15 - abide in me
Spoken by Jesus - The Passion Translation
“I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father. He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest. The words I have spoken over you have already cleansed you. So you must remain in life-union with me, for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine.
I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my words live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done. When your lives bear abundant fruit, you demonstrate that you are my mature disciples who glorify my Father!
I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts. If you keep my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands, for I continually live nourished and empowered by his love. My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness! So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you. For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.
You show that you are my intimate friends when you obey all that I command you. I have never called you ‘servants,’ because a master doesn’t confide in his servants, and servants don’t always understand what the master is doing. But I call you my most intimate friends, for I reveal to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father. You didn’t choose me, but I’ve chosen and commissioned you to go into the world to bear fruit. And your fruit will last, because whatever you ask of my Father, for my sake, he will give it to you! So this is my parting command: Love one another deeply!
Just remember, when the unbelieving world hates you, they first hated me. If you were to give your allegiance to the world, they would love and welcome you as one of their own. But because you won’t align yourself with the values of this world, they will hate you. I have chosen you and taken you out of the world to be mine. So remember what I taught you, that a servant isn’t superior to his master. And since they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. And if they obey my teachings, they will also obey yours. They will treat you this way because you are mine, and they don’t know the One who sent me.
If I had not come and revealed myself to the unbelieving world, they would not feel the guilt of their sin, but now their sin is left uncovered. If anyone hates me, they hate my Father also. If I had not performed miracles in their presence like no one else has done, they would not feel the guilt of their sins. But now, they have seen and hated both me and my Father. And all of this has happened to fulfill what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me for no reason.’
And I will send you the (Holy Spirit) from the very presence of my Father. He will come to you, the Spirit of Truth, emanating from the Father, and he will speak to you about me. And you will tell everyone the truth about me, for you have walked with me from the start.”