Author: Amy

on the 5th day of Christmas

my kitchen turned into a cookie shop.

OK, let me back up to the 1st Day of Christmas. I’ve lately been on a bit of a baking kick. Although my summer resolution to bake a loaf of bread a week has been rejected in favor of more pressing life work, I still have ended up scrolling through bread and cookie recipes, and stocking my cabinet with baking supplies for some future rainy day. Well, that rainy day came Monday, when it dropped to a bizarre 32 degrees (bizarre for Austin), looked overcast and about to snow and I figured that instead of writing, I’d spend the day baking.

This year I’ve decided to make cookie ornaments and gingerbread men, so the first day of Christmas was spent assembling lots of baking stuff. Icing bags, extra eggs, lots of flour and way too many sugar sprinkles.


3rd day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas, the kitchen was a mess…

with pierogies.

And what serendipity, exactly 12 pierogies! I was a bit confused about when the “12 Days of Christmas” actually started. And do you count backwards or forwards? Isn’t today the 10th day before Christmas?


Sohne Mannheims

Derek and I first heard this singer, Xavier Naidoo, in Berlin about 5 years ago. He’s German and most of his songs are in German, but in spite of the language gap there’s something about his music that we really dig. Something spiritual and soulful. It’s hard to find the records here but I imported them all from Amazon. He had one sort of hit here in the U.S. with a song called Ich Kenne Nichts with RZA (Wu-Tang Clan fame). He has a band now called Sohne Mannheim.

Anyhow, check it out–I think it’s worth a listen. It’s classy music (never thought I’d call music “classy” but hey, it works)–some soul, some hip-hop, some pop, some reggae. I think he’s got something to say.

ArtHouse Austin opening for Jen Mickelborough

The last year we’ve been working on a local space for artists to work and show/perform here in Austin. We’ve been so privileged to have some dedicated friends who were willing to come all the way from the UK and New Zealand to help us get the space off the ground, and instigate a creative community.

So we’re really proud to announce our first opening this Friday, of the textile art and paintings of Jen Mickelborough. Many of you who read this blog know Jen–who came here with her husband Fran via New Zealand and are returning this month to the UK. It has been amazing watching her beautiful, vibrant pieces come together over the last 3 months. If you live in Austin, you are welcome to join us!


one new man

Lately I’ve been thinking what it means to become “one new man”, a spiritual concept that is hinted at a lot in the Bible and taught most fully by Paul in Ephesians. I really love Ephesians. It is one of those parts in all of holy literature where there are so many clues to our identity, to who we will be, to where we are going.

Anyhow, the most famous passage about the “new man” is Ephesians 2:14-16:

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

In this whole chapter, the teacher is writing about both cultural and spiritual divisions–the division between Jews and Gentiles, the division between men and God. And he says that we are foreigners–to each other, to him. There is a hostility between these cultures, and between us and the spiritual.

And I look around me and see the signs of this dividing wall. The biggest one is between us and God–the wall that separates our natural beings from his supernatural-ness, his being, his reality.

The second biggest dividing wall is between men and women.

And then between races, which of course the most crucial one is between Jew and Gentile. And if we doubt Scripture, even in world politics the hostility between Jew and Arab should be enough to convince us that this is one of the deepest grooves of human division.

From there, there is hostility between nations and even one nation divides against itself. Nowhere did this become more poignant to me than when I was visiting Berlin a few summers ago, and walked a long day around broken parts of the Berlin wall. When the wall was being expanded during the Cold War, there was a famous historical church called, appropriately, the Church of the Reconciliation, that was torn down to build more room for police to patrol the barrier.

I felt this as such a prophetic symbol–and Germany as a prophetic symbol–a nation which, in the aftermath of its racial humiliation, divided against itself, where the evil one was able to mock and tear down the reconciliation.

And when the Wall was finally torn down decades later, torn down with a frenzy that history has never seen, there was so much glee, so much hope, so much joy. It was the most profound prophecy for not only Germany but the future of the nations: “he tore down the dividing wall… putting to death their hostility”.

And not only that, he will make them one new man. And this is what I have been thinking about–what does it mean to be a new man/woman? He doesn’t eradicate who we are, who our basic identity is, but he does make two into one, even when men and women come together in marriage. There is one new thing that is made that never could have been made otherwise.

Same when two nations reconcile–there is one new person who is birthed. The two identities, distinct in who they are, also recreate something that never would have been expressed otherwise.

I have now seen so many marriages struggling and really in combat with each other, wanting to be free and be supported in their uniqueness and personal dreams, but never really discovering who that one new person is that they are together. This person that they create together–when they become one–will never be replicated by any other marriage, with any other partner, or cannot be made on their own. But it is an expression he wants to make… who is this new man?

How can we possibly know? It is work to cross racial divisions, too, and there is no way that we can do this without his revelation and help and constant forgiveness. To overcome racism and forgive is I think one of the biggest human obstacles and cannot be done without his forgiveness at the core. It cannot be done merely by civil rights, or fighting poverty, or giving people a chunk of land they want for themselves. It will not be overcome by balance, in the same way that you can’t heal the divisions between men and women by giving women more position. He doesn’t just want balance–he doesn’t just want fairness and justice–he wants one new man, who is bound together by love above all.

But the most amazing part is that since he wants to make one new person in a marriage, and one new man between nations, what does it mean for him to tear down the most basic wall between us and Him? He is trying to make, with us, a new person–a new expression, an expression that happens between God and each of us that will never have a chance to be expressed otherwise.

This new person that is made between me and God when we become one–I cannot express her on my own and He cannot express her on his own–it is the circle between us, his life in me, of tearing down the wall between us.

the kingdom or the world

The kingdom of heaven has a distinct personality or culture that is vastly different and most of the time completely the opposite of the ‘rules’ and traditions of earthly cultures, systems and nations. In all of the gospels, Jesus was constantly talking about this personality, this realm, and its ways: ‘the kingdom is like’ this, ‘the kingdom is’ this.

Take for example this teaching, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been advancing forcefully, and forceful men lay hold of it.’ Some translations even say “violently”. What is this realm, that it requires violent action to access it?

The way that I always picture and feel the kingdom is like this: it is another world, different than ours, with its own personality, its own laws, its own reproductive patterns. And because both John the Baptist and Jesus described it as a “kingdom” and not just a “realm” or a “universe” or an “atmosphere”, it’s easy to conclude that it has things that a kingdom has: rulers and authorities, cities, outposts, warriors, nobles, a distinct culture, a king, servants, systems of ownership and domain.

And Jesus was the first person to be living fully from this kingdom, while showing us earth-dwellers what it means to access it and live from it. For Jesus himself as one of the kingdom personalities to enter the atmosphere of the earth and incarnate in human form meant great suffering. Jesus was not violent but his entry into our atmosphere caused not only his own suffering but the suffering of others who followed him.

Because the systems of our own kingdoms are not always receptive to the heavenly kingdom, and because the ways of the heavenly kingdom are so radically different from ours, there is not only suffering but also radical choices to make about which one we will live in.


a parable about provision

I had a dream last night where Jesus was teaching in parables. And I overheard a series of parables about money and provision. In them the sunlight was always the father’s wealth, his abundance, and his limitless resources, and the growing plants were his children. This was one:

The kingdom of heaven is like pots of seedlings. In the beginning, the farmer grows his seed in protected conditions–inside a house or a greenhouse or under shelter– protected from sun, from cold, from increment weather and pests. In this way, the farmer nurtures his seeds safely so that they grow to become sturdy young seedlings. Eventually they must be moved outdoors into the place where they can grow most fully, since plants cannot stay healthy in artificial light. The light of the sun is far richer and far brighter, and few plants produce a bloom or fruit without the rays of the sun, but they must first learn how to receive the sun. So the farmer gradually takes his pots of seedlings into the sunlight and weather for lengthening periods of time each day, until they have adjusted to its total brightness, and ready to be planted into the soil.

In the same way, the Father has begun each of you from the tiniest seed. Some are still being grown so carefully in protected places, but he wants his children to stretch out and live under his abundant provision. Do you want to experience the full capacity of his light? The Father’s light has so much abundance, and this abundance is necessary to live, to grow, to flourish, to produce fruit and flower.

Dear children, trust My Father’s hand as he brings you out into the garden where you may experience His provision toward you. Don’t stretch toward the artificial light; it was there to protect you, to grow you, to keep you safe. He will stretch your land, your arms, your dreams, and multiply you as well.

poor in spirit

Last week I wrote some about money being a symbol and I want to elaborate on that a bit. From what I have observed so far, people have three basic types of relationship toward material resources:

1. self-protection and provision

2. receiving and abundant

3. investment-oriented

And it should be our hope to journey through all of them, so I’ll explain more about each of these relationships. If we back up in history all the way to the garden, we are reading one of the most important narratives about resources. It is a story of abundance, where this entirely beautiful, lavish and reproductive world was created and then offered to Adam and Eve. It was not only theirs for their own provision, but theirs to receive and enjoy just for the purpose of receiving, and theirs to invest in. It was Adam, not God, who named the animals, and I’ve always felt this as such a powerful symbol of the creative power we have to see and know creation as it should be, the power of our naming and our voice in the world, and also the powerful way that creation was made to naturally respond to us.

And then something was clearly broken when Adam was forced to leave the garden. The ground was cursed, the earth was going to respond differently. It would take pain and serious work to feed himself. He wouldn’t be able to work from the ease of the higher place, but instead he now had to ‘work the ground from which he had been taken’ (Genesis 3:23).

Suddenly people were thrust into a world of living where work, and labor, were all for the purpose of self-protection, surviving and just being able to provide. Yet things weren’t meant to stay that way, as the rest of the ‘big story’ goes on to show, and just like the cosmic story, neither were we meant to exist solely on a self-protective level. The ‘curse’ was reversed by a covenant with mankind, that promised not only his mercy but his restoration.

After all, creation was made to produce, and abundantly, at least in its origins, and because God created it, God’s intentions are still in it. And we have barely even tapped into its potent nuclear, physiological potential. I’m not talking about bombs, but about the DNA of the natural world, and its responsiveness to the super-natural. Jesus had command over the natural elements. He was able to walk on water, calm storms, sprout trees from twigs overnight, command things to shrivel, turn water into wine, etc, and make one sandwich into over a thousand. His voice had massive reproductive and transformative power over nature. And it wasn’t just God’s voice, it was the voice of a man, a man who came as the ‘firstborn among many’, meaning we too have an inheritance in being able to speak over the material world from the super-material, or the super-natural.

So what does this have to do with money? Money is a symbol of material resources, of abundance, of provision, of the means through which to have things or to be without. I think as we begin to let him transform our relationship with the material world and with resources from the inside out, our relationship with money will follow.



About a year ago, I started thinking about “investments” and what I’d like to learn in my life about investing, and for me that means far more than money–it is financial and personal. Being a symbolic and prophetic sort of person, I realized that money and finances are symbols. They are real and they are practical, but just as with sex and food and shelter, money is symbolic of something deeper. And as with many other symbols, money has gotten disconnected from its spiritual meaning.

When I was younger, I was more interested in just making it through life financially. Covering my bases, paying my bills. No one had ever taught me how to even balance a checkbook and by the time I was 25 I felt like I would forever be at the poverty line, and this would be my curse as an artist, a writer, or just the way it was going to be for me.

So my life was just about getting by. And money was either a thing that you have or you don’t. It was just ‘stuff’. And I hear this sentiment a lot among Christians. Money is just stuff, but for all kinds of reasons that ‘stuff’, or more importantly the way we view the ‘stuff’, keeps many in chains.

Christians have such a hidden relationship with money. We don’t talk about it very much, and some of that is cultural, but by and large I think it has to do with money not being seen as a ‘spiritual’ thing, so it gets shuffled away into that dualistic face-off between material and spiritual matters.

It isn’t just ‘stuff’. It is real, and people do need it. And more importantly we need it as a symbol. If there were no money, we as human beings would still need a symbol to act out our exchanges, our investments, our needs. What we do with our resources, how we view them, how we share them, how we invest them, symbolize worth in the world–the worth we put in others, the worth we have for ourselves.

Jesus used ‘stuff’ all the time. He talked about money, he talked about investments, he talked about food. He used them, and he tried to put them into spiritual perspective. And when I was younger, I had no spiritual perspective on money. I got out of college and I was in debt. I felt the weight of all my responsibilities, and my inability to even provide for myself. I was constantly selling some of my most precious belongings to get money to pay bills, and I realized years later that there was a key in that for me. I was always so desperate that nothing had any lasting value.

And what it boiled down to, for me, was: did I actually think I personally was valuable? Well, I didn’t. And that was obvious. I was quite proud of myself for not being attached to material things, that I was able to sell everything I had at the drop of a hat and take off, but the truth is, I wasn’t risking anything because I didn’t really have self-respect to begin with. To me, money and stuff was just stuff.

A few years ago I wrote a whole book about my journey with a spirit of poverty, and I’m publishing it this year. I wish that I could have added some more of what I’ve learned between then and now, but it’s a start, and a journey that many people I know have barely begun. This journey is about overcoming poverty inside, so that we can overcome it outside.

I just want to share briefly some of the things God took me through in this area, and probably I’ll post another blog about money, as this topic is really on my brain right now! I’ve had massive breakthroughs both financially and emotionally, and I hope these can help others.

First, I realized that I had not given God my finances. By the time I was 30 I felt so overwhelmed by debt, and in perspective I wasn’t in debt as much as I was in debt in the heart. I know some of you are with me on this, but I felt so overwhelmed by my financial problems, and that it would take me years to ‘get clear’, to ‘get free’ to do what i really wanted. And one day about 6 years ago, God confronted me and said, “You are still acting like this debt belongs to YOU.”

To which of course I responded, “Well, it does.”

And he said, “Will you give it to me?”

“What, to make this YOUR responsibility?”

“Why not? What are you afraid of?”

And then, I had to confront fear. I had massive fear around money and debt! That was undeniable, and I know enough about Him to know that where there is fear there is NO freedom. And where there is fear, there is also a good sign that we are trying to stay in control with our own methods. And the real bottom line I felt that day was: I don’t trust Him, either. I’d never actually known him come through so it was much easier for me to stay in control with my own stress. But let’s face it, we hate our methods. They’ve become habits over a lifetime, so we are slightly programmed to react with our own methods, but we all know how much our own control and worry wrecks us.

I don’t do this often but here is a really simple prayer to declare out over yourself. (Don’t worry if you don’t “feel” it. Faith comes by hearing, which means declaring it is declaring it–from your spirit to your heart and mind, from your spirit to the Spirit!)

Jesus, i confess any area where I’ve been irresponsible or lacked understanding of money in the past. I know that I am faced with some consequences of my choices or of others’. I confess that I’ve tried to manage these consequences on my own. I feel trapped in this area and I feel trapped by the enemy and my own weaknesses. I give you my ‘ownership’ of my debt and finances. You bought me and live in me! I want my debt to be yours now. You are the only one who can shoulder all the debts of the world, and you do this willingly. You paid such a high price for me, and I can’t ever possibly repay my debts to you. I can’t possibly repay all the debts I have to others, emotionally or financially. I admit that I’ve tried! Only you can. My debts now belong to you–here, please take them. I declare that they no longer belong to me. Please teach me how to live with wisdom, teach me how to live with freedom and not be afraid. Now that my debt is yours, please show me how to manage the parts of your debt that you want me to, so that I can learn about your ways with money and material things. I need your grace and revelation on how to manage YOUR finances and YOUR resources and YOUR gifts to me and others, and with joy!

I pray that you, too, would be able to step forward in this season of your life, and that He would release order over your finances. Sometimes the physical debts don’t go away but the mental debt can and will be lifted. Some of us have made contracts with others we find ourselves incapable of fulfilling. The nature of His covenant (i.e., contract with us) is that He offers His payment in the place of where we are unable. This was a binding contract He made with us, and we can lean on it! Declare over yourself from the rules of this law, a spiritual law He wrote in the universe–where we are incapable of giving everything we owe, especially to Him, He offers His payment.

Lift it up to him! I can testify, that as long as you carry that mental burden, you become a lot more confused with your finances. I’d get so overwhelmed sometimes that I lacked discernment about what to pay and when, and I’d just throw a bunch of money at this, or a bunch at that, in order to feel less frantic about things. Although the literal debt didn’t go away at first, I really felt instantly lighter. For the first time in my life, I actually liked sitting down with my checkbook and my budget and even if I only had a small payment to make on things, the numbers didn’t overwhelm me anymore. I kept picturing them as part of HIS pocketbook, and what a privilege it became, for example, to start viewing my education as something expensive and beautiful that He gave me and was willingly paying for (and no, he doesn’t care if I never did anything with it!). Whereas before, I had experienced so much resentment at the cost of my education, and whether or not I made the right choice at 17 years old, and the fact that I had to grovel for money. But He started to turn things around, to show me my story more accurately through His eyes, rather than through the lens of fear.

Now let’s take it further–the roots of debt: Jesus, I give you permission to go deeper, and reconnect my finances with my spiritual life and my creativity. I understand that money is symbolic of deeper issues in my heart and I give you permission to reveal and transform the hidden areas that have caused anxiety or mess with money.

… to be continued!

the advent

This season the “advent” seems more poignant than ever. Not only do many Christians celebrate the historical announcement of his birth but there is another aspect to advent that we have not tapped into, or celebrated: the metaphysical event that his advent prophesied, the advent of a birth that is to come, not what has already happened.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

–from Romans 8

I remember about 7 years ago I started asking Jesus what it meant when He said He was coming back. At that period in my life I was having massive prophetic dreams and visions about His return. I can only say I felt overwhelmed by His presence that that point in my life, in a way I had never felt before.

One of the things that I saw so deeply was how many Christians have lost a living hope in his return because they have been unable to see that HIs return encompasses far more than a date in time. His return is in ‘space’ as much as it is in time. Jesus will not only return physically, with resurrection power, and bring many others with Him, but His return is metaphysical. The Greek work in scripture that was translated ‘coming’ or second coming, is “parousia”, which means “the presence” of God. The presence of God, making himself King, returning as King, is being established on the earth. His presence is being established inside of us.

In one of my dreams, the work of his ‘return in us’ was so important and connected to his physical return. The bride asks Him to come when she is one with the spirit in saying so. He sent the Holy Spirit to pour Himself inside of people, so that He could dwell in man more fully, make us His temple, make us His coming, a new creation, His presence. His advent announces both his birth in us, and the birth of the “new” sons and daughters.

Jesus taught about His coming as a series of birth pangs as a woman is in labor. Paul spoke about creation itself groaning in the pains of childbirth. Creation and people are in labor to birth Jesus. What this means for us is, His return will not be without pain, inside of me or you. It is not something to run away from. It is not just about getting on with life. It is about letting Him be born. It is about letting us be born into His spirit more fully.

A woman experiences pains in birth and so do we as we birth Him. It is painful when He enters us. There are places in all of us that are still living in our “old creation”. There are places, whether because of wounds, or circumstances, or just our plain old sin nature, that shut God out. He once showed me that “purity” means oneness. God is one, so He is pure. No part of Him is divided. But we all have parts that are divided, that he is trying to make one. We have parts that He has transformed, and parts that we are blind, stubborn and closed-off to His voice. When He enters these parts of us, we are unfamiliar with him there, we can’t recognize his voice there because we only recognize lies. It is painful for the purity of who He is to be birthed in a space that is cramped and dark.

This is why Jesus also said, the kingdom suffers violence upon its entry. The purity of His kingdom and His being, suffers atmospheric violence when it enters the thin polluted air of our old man, of the world. It suffers birth contractions to enter us. It hurts when He starts going after roots of our sinfulness and wounds. It’s painful when He starts tilling up this ground. It’s painful to let Him enter.

The contractions are also the body’s attempt to keep things moving, and we have a father who is standing beside us saying, Breathe, breathe. This past year I saw one of the great contractions coming on Christians, on the body of Christ. There will be times of contractions and times of rest, just as in birth, until He has birthed His son fully in His people. Until the whole world can see the light of Him, His personality and His kingdom. It was not a time to ignore this, but to let Him transform each one of us individually.

It would be a painful time. Some people would get off the train because they couldn’t handle how fast and bumpy it was moving, how shaky it was. Some would blame others for their pain. Some would experience the heights of loneliness. Some would try to fix others’ pain as a way of ignoring their own. Some would get overwhelmed by the work. And all of us would need grace. The worse thing to experience right now is self-judgment, perfectionism or inadequacy. And still, I watched the Father’s firm hand tilling the soil for His return, tilling up old weeds and dead seeds, tilling up tangled roots, wounds of anger, rejection, abuse, depression, grief. Tilling them up until they were visible and they could be worked on. We were becoming more inhabitable.

In spite of how painful this is, it is a season to celebrate His advent inside of us! He has announced His birth, His second birth, over and over again, through the prophets. He will birth His presence inside of us. Let’s celebrate His parousia! His return in us!

I pray that we are able to let Him complete His work in us this season, what He is doing inside of me and you, so that more of His light will be shining in our bodies, our minds, our hearts, our spirits. That we would trust His hand and the painful things He brings up, the overwhelming challenges, the and let Him advent Himself!

And I pray that we would keep our eyes on the Father, who loved us so much that He births His only son in us. He is standing beside us, his hands are on our hearts. He is closer than ever, just as a new dad waits with joy in the hospital to see his baby! Can you imagine the day Jesus was born, what the Father felt? I’m sure all of you fathers know…. but He has so much joy!!!! in us, in what he is doing.

Merry Christmas everyone!