To Infinity and Beyond

TD Jakes – whenever I want to be motivated and kicked in the butt with a challenge, I listen to TD Jakes. He has the innate ability and anointing to express, with great love, the need to look at oneself and change, accepting all my imperfections and failures and KNOW – God is indeed good, very very very good. My quote of the week:

“Don’t write the memoirs of pain and agony, writing from the REAR VIEW window.” TD Jakes

Rear View Mirror SkySo, here it is. One day before we actually do the pack up and move – I feel great. It is not a ‘great’ that is motivated by false assumptions or vain imaginations of what could be based on fear. It is a ‘great’ that is filled with the reality of how good and faithful God is.

I can’t look in the rear view mirror any more. Gazing at the past with some sorrow, great disillusionment, and deep discouragement at times. This woman is moving on. It has been so busy that despite my love of blogging, I found time itself to be at a premium with the move. So, I did not sit down to write BUT I have so much stirring in me that next week, revelation and thoughts and stuff will be coming your way.

It’s time to move past blogging angst – writing of pain, sorrow, disillusionment, etc. I know that may help people at times but what helps more is a revelation of Jesus Christ and the truth in His promises to us. No writing about unanswered questions that still remain unanswered – done. Moving on past blogging about the pain, the anger, and the sorrow. Moving into Christ and the hope that fills me with such expectation that I can hardly breathe at times. Moving with Christ into a future that is promised to me because He is faithful to complete what He started in me. Moving through revelation that helps me walk day by day, one step at a time into adventure and challenge and LIFE, unedited.

Where have I been these past years? Trying to be everything to everybody. I was whooping and hollering along with TD Jakes all the way from Ventura to Valencia last night. Amening and believing it 100% – accepting the reality of my life in Christ.

Rear View MirrorI used to be filled with passion and positivity and great faith. When I found myself talking more about my past, I realized that something in me stalled and died. When I realized that I blogged about the intricacies of introspection, I realized that is not always the way I want to go. As a mother, grandmother and daughter of the King, my job is to love you and to challenge many of you to keep moving. These blogs will not always sound oooshy and gooshy with love, but they will sound forth with love that is solid and believes in the reality of Christ within a person to live in an abundant life, despite any outward circumstances that drag one down.

Like TD says (paraphrasing here) – you can live in the ghetto but you don’t have to think like the ghetto. I have not lived in any ghetto but I lived in a prison in my own mind that limited and restricted me to the opinions of others along with the guilt and condemnation that comes from the past.

When we leave Valencia tomorrow, it’s almost September, the 9th month – a birthing month. For me, spiritual birthing. That could explain why I have been in a bad mood for the past 5 years. I am carrying a baby that is long overdue to be birthed. I found my birthing room in Christ, outside the walls, outside of institutional Christianity, at least for now. There is spiritual significance in the move taking place right now. I will not be looking in the rear view mirror any more. When I do that, I can’t see the future.

Buzz LightyearSometimes when I want to detox from all the crap that comes with being an adult, I watch Disney – Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Madagascar and more. Okay, I do it a lot, not just sometimes.  There’s something that brings you into the beauty of reality when you look through the eyes of a child. This kept coming to mind today. “To infinity and beyond.”  Would you believe the Holy Spirit brought this one to me? God is indeed very very good. My trajectory is changed, catapulting into the great unknown,  infinitely filled with possibilities in Christ. It’s all good. Enjoy the next season of this journey with me.

In Christ,
Debra Westbrook

Walk This Way? Will I Miss It?

Little Guy With PostitsAll of us, at some point, struggle with knowing God’s will for our lives and then walking in the revelation of it. Should this even be a struggle? No. Yet it is to many people. As I drop my religious façade, I realize that knowing the will of God is quite simple and is entailed on the simplicity of walking in relationship with Christ, not some agenda all worked out for us. There is a strong quiet momentum gained in realizing that I live, move and have my being in Him.

It is perhaps religion that has tethered me to thinking that Holy Spirit is like my GPS. (I believe I have even said that before – sorry, grace, grace, grace to me.) I just put in the coordinates and BAM…I arrive at my destination by a series of turns, left, then right, then straight, perhaps back, then left…do you get the picture? It actually doesn’t happen that way. I thought it did but this ‘move’ taught me some profound, deep insights into walking with God. I am in process, still learning. And, perhaps, there may come another shift in the destination of our move within the next month. Perhaps. God is not entirely interested in me ‘getting it’ or apprehending the lesson of the moment as He is in just loving me through the process. As for today, there is perfect peace and rest in Christ.

“There have been many teachers, gurus, religious founders and philosophers in the history of the world. All of them have taught moral words of wisdom, laws, doctrines, in effect, “Go this way.” Jesus Christ, in contrast is unique. The center of His teaching was not “Keep these rules,” or “Go this way,” or “Follow these practices.” Jesus always pointed to Himself and simply said, “Follow Me.” Walking in the Will of God – Steve McVey

This is grace, founded in relationship. There are no religious formulas to finding the will of God. There is no set path where we are guaranteed success every step we take. Relationship with Christ forms the way in Him, and He lights up the path with being the Living Word of life. In relationship, He walks, teaches, shows us, speaks to us…relationship.

What's nextFor months now, each day, I looked to an old paradigm that I learned through years of charismatic indoctrination wondering if I was missing something. How else do I say it? In years past I fasted, prayed, cried out to find that perfect path in which I would be guaranteed to find the Lord’s pleasure in me. The more I did to seek His will, the more I would be assured that at just that right moment, VOILA!!! – revelation would pour down on a suddenly moment.

Revelation will rise up within us BUT it is not because I am trying to prove something to God or performing so that He looks down and rewards my performance with some answer. Here’s the news – He is pleased with me, on all accounts, at all times. I don’t look outside myself as if a drone is going to drop something into my front yard with a document that details the steps I must take. At times, yes, that would be easier but that is not the point here. It is the relationship with the ONE who I love and who loves me. There is great courage in being still and knowing He is God, day by day by day.

This desire to ‘get it right’ caused frustration, lack of peace and a deep restlessness in me to find out where to move, why we were moving there, for what future purpose, etc. It basically came down to the fact that unless I discovered the right way, somehow God would be displeased with me AND….

I will miss it.

What is it? My future. My destiny. Being in the right place at the right time.

In fact, this is so BIG in me that on my recent trip to Calgary something happened. A woman walked up to me and said, “God says to tell you that you won’t miss it.” This fear of missing it is ingrained deep inside of me. God is dealing with that.

What if I flyNow, I truly do believe I should be in the right place at the right time but the onus is NOT on me to get me there. My desire is to focus on Christ, living in Him and He will make my paths straight. AND, if I get into a mess, even well-intentioned and well-meaning if not a bit determined and hard-headed, He will show me how to get into the right rhythm with Him. It’s all about relationship.

The crux of my life is no longer to wake up in the morning hoping I get it right, fearing I will miss it, or even wanting to know that somehow I make an impact on the world around me. The crux of my life is Christ. And I can see the fruit of this in this very day.

When we made the decision to take this apartment, we were at the end of all our own good decisions. Absolutely nothing worked. Each place we tried to be positioned according to where we thought, ended up being discarded or lost to another applicant. Or, I would get home and second-guess myself thinking we could not afford it. Or, I would ask myself if this is where God really wanted us – lost in suburbia never to be found again – somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. Yes, I hate to admit but I am a bit hyper at times………..

Then we walked into this apartment, believing it was not ‘it’. Bells did not go off. A shofar did not blow. An angel did not sing. It simply felt right and within 10 minutes we had an apartment that came with peace, great peace. I may have made this all a whole lot harder than it needs to be. Now, I don’t believe it could have happened sooner because then this lesson would not be learned. It happened this way to show me that Jesus’ love for each of us is so profound, so real that the very light of His life, does indeed form a path beneath our feet as we walk forth each ordinary day.

There’s more to say but that’s all for now. Oh, one more thing. Now, just this morning, Marvin got a call about a job in Texas. What does that mean? Well, actually if this had happened just a few months ago, I would have frantically paced the floors saying over and over, “God, I don’t understand. What’s this? It’s all too confusing.’

But, I am quite happy to say that I did none of that. I simply smiled as God also smiled, I am quite sure, and said, “Here I am God, send me.” We are still headed for Oxnard/Ventura at the end of August. Sometimes, God does want to know if we will turn on a dime if He calls. I will. There is peace in today. That is good enough for me.

In Christ,
Debra Westbrook

Renting in LA – 2014

los_angeles_la_traffic_jam_824823This will be a series of blogs on finding the will of God in this move and all we learned in the process. What happened when we couldn’t see which way to go? Day after day, praying, waiting. I looked to God to speak the way He used to speak. He was not going that way. It’s all about relationship – following Him as we live and move and have our being in Him. But, for today here is a small rant about just a small bit of what we went through. The rest is coming over the next week. Enjoy!

Okay my take on the LA rental market. Renters beware. I will be concise with lots of grace. My qualifying statement is this: If you are called to be here or you are here due to job or family, I get it. That is why we are here. We love it but…..

Here it is on renting…… goes.

Started looking. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Middle Class – are you kidding…..disappearing as quick as can be expected. Investors buy houses -raise rents to an astronomical degree.

6a01156faec925970c017eead49c16970dExample: Went to look at a small house in Ventura along with 24 other people who also wanted to rent this house. Competition was in the air. We took a non-violent approach (haha!) and opted out of the fight, trusting God to provide. After all when the norm is rents from $2300 – $3000 WITH an additional down payment to secure the place of at least $3000-$5000…..well that makes one wonder. What the heck am I doing here?

But we persisted…..Long Beach, Lakewood, San Diego, Thousand Oaks, Encino. Woodland Hills, Ventura, Oxnard…….it’s all the same. Ridiculous and stressful. God help young people that want to live here. They may have to sign away their first born as down payment. We talked to one couple that rented a house in Ventura. Eventually they moved and when they went back to buy a house in that area, prices had risen tremendously. They found themselves in a bidding war with investors that were buying for profit……..oh yeah!

And what about the realtor that told us she had 8 contract going in rentals because they are going so fast………….

Then what about the great townhouse we went into in the San Fernando Valley, wanting to rent it and after we signed the extensive application form along with great credit….they chose someone else. But, we persisted.

This is only the half of it. Call it stressful……..please don’t move here unless you are well aware of what you are going to face. The pictures paint this great picture of hip, trendy LA – beaches, great weather. BUT remember this…………..when you get up on a Saturday morning, thinking, “Hey I love California! Let’s hit the beach today!’

IMG_5859Well………….at that exact moment, or at least within a few hours, perhaps a million other people are thinking, “Hey I love California! Let’s hit the beach today!” Get the picture. Don’t worry, you will, as soon as you hit the 5, or the 101 or the 405 – they will all be there. Haha!

Then the icing on the cake…amidst all the joy of looking each day, for some place to rent,  ravaging Craig’s List and Zillow and other sites……we smiled as we faced bumper to bumper traffic to get to our destination…

Whoosh! That took some time but wow do I feel better? Yes I love Calfornia. It is my home after being here for over 25 years in addition to living overseas. But, the question is – does California love me? I love LA – or I think so……

The good news……..rented a great apartment in Oxnard/Ventura and will give it a few more years……then what? I am not sure. Living for the moment and trusting God.

IMG_1197Breathing now.

In Christ
Debra Westbrook

Moving Day Coming Up!

cropped-548185_514231121950377_1532914516_n.jpgSo many profound statements have now become quite cliché. In the process, we then ignore the depth of their meaning and how they may challenge and change our life. For instance, it is quite easy to find yourself going through life, swept along by the current of popular group think or tailoring your responses to be more tolerable and compliant, or even to just fit in because one may love to be loved. You walk around saying “Let’s all just love each other” or “God is in control” or some such thing which is all true in its essence, but lacks punch when said as a proverbial cliché. You then wake up one day and discover, much to your amazement, that you may not have truly lived for many years of your life. Ouch!

So what do you do then? Guilt doesn’t work. Regret? No way! You may throw caution to the wind, living with a vengeance seeking to define yourself from all the missed years. Of course, that vengeance is contrived and will burn you out. So what to do?

I woke up and decided to be me. Haha! Truly……..that may sound ridiculous but it’s easy to get tossed into the whirlpool of acceptance simply because you don’t want to rock the boat or simply because it’s a scary thing to say what you really feel, even if one does it in wisdom. I feel in the depths of my being, I am created to challenge. I did it wrong for many years. Now it’s time to do it right. Think what you will. I truly feel this way. Too many people flowing along in life not quite knowing anything beyond Twitter one-liners or Facebook likes.

Malibu WavesThere is great love to be expressed through all of us when we realize it is not some nebulous cliché tossed around like the wind. Love is profound, able to bear wrongs, to know what to say despite it being unpopular and to know when to be quiet, to bear wrongs suffered against you when you sense that you have done what is necessary, to be misunderstood. and so much more.

I turned 60 in June…….it definitely has its advantages. Haha! 50 did not bother me. 60 was a bit challenging for a few months when you realize life seems shorter in front of you then behind but today, I woke up refreshed and renewed. God has indeed touched my heart today AND we will be living in the Oxnard/Ventura area. God is so good. Will be writing more about this new move in the days ahead and how the decision transpired.

He really does love us, you know…………I wanted to be near the beach, the ocean – to write, along with great new adventures. Now, I can be at the beaches in Ventura in about 20 minutes, Malibu beaches in about 30 minutes, Santa Barbara in about 45………..something about me and water…….Love it.

In Christ,
Debra Westbrook

What If?

whatifWhat if my next step, in faith, is totally unrelated to anything that has brought me to this exact place in which I now stand? What I mean by that is quit simple. Sometimes I find that we are trained to believe to ‘go forth’ or to ‘step out’ or to ‘breakthrough’ somehow are related to what has gone before us. I tend to look for the same signposts that indicate a change is coming or a breakthrough is near. Kind of like going to the store by the same road you usually follow. You pass by one street, then a familiar park, and then perhaps a certain restaurant and before you know it, sometimes without being engaged in the whole process, you arrive at your destination. It can be methodical, day-by-day, moment-by-moment.

Yet what about those moments when God wants to break into the mundane and take me in a totally new direction? Will I accept the signposts in the road that may look different and lead me out on a new path? What if it all seems totally out of sync in the way that I am used to hearing His voice? What then?

You may want to start this journey with me in some previous blogs to gain some understanding here. Or you can read this one.

That is what I believe I am going through right now. Lease is up August 31. Still no place to live. Again, this may sound strange but there are a variety of variables working against us at times in renting something here in the LA area. They are too numerous to mention here. At the risk of making it all sound like some massive spiritual attack, what if it is God? What if He is behind this resistance because I have neglected to see the signposts in the road that indicates a new way to go?

Haven’t I been the one espousing this quote?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

This is my ‘what if’ blog post? If I did not write it, I may not be writing for some time because I don’t have anything to concretely tell you or show you that suddenly, all the pieces just fell into place. We search day by day for a place to live in this hot hot fast-moving LA rental market and turn up empty-handed most of the time or else we are moved out of position by someone who gets there faster than us.

What if our ‘next step’ is actually coming from left field, out of my focused field of vision? What if? What if there is no point of reference, absolutely none, to connect us to this next step other than Holy Spirit saying ‘This is it” or “Go left” or Go right”. What if?

fbe0c2ade21431a88d45790c2bbabffcHere’s what I think God is doing for many of us in some ways – subtle or more overt – but God all the same. As I am going about my day-to-day, I am keyed into hearing God in ways that I am familiar with hearing God. He is not speaking that way. I can say that for sure. Yet all the while I hear this whisper near my ear at times. Sometimes it’s so quiet and so indistinct that I have to wonder if it is me or it is God.

Then sometimes I have this knowing come over me that in the stillness, greater clarity and light will be brought into our position in the natural. You see along with the whisper I see something. Perhaps not so clear, a bit nebulous but I cannot deny its presence and its subtle influences upon my spiritual vision.

I see a door, a door that is hidden, perhaps a bit small, hidden behind foliage or some obstruction. Yet it is a door. I can make it out but I can’t tell you for sure anything more than that. It is a door, that when opened, will lead into a wide-open place, a new vista. But for now it is a bit unseen at times to me. It is before me at some distance. That is all I know in the spirit.

What if I ignore it and proceed along a better-designed path that provides me some comfort and a lot less stress? What if I do that? But I can’t. I can’t ignore the subtle moving of Holy Spirit, teaching me to flow in the reality of Christ in me.

Christ in me.

Sometimes fear creeps in a bit because I wonder, “What if I miss it? What if I don’t hear? Is your grace able to keep me moving forward even when I am unaware of your presence?”

Will His love and grace and mercy keep me moving despite myself and my need for surety and comfort? When I don’t know it, feel it, sense it, hear it, and when silence surrounds me on all sides, will I simply trust and not jump into what is before me? Will I wait in response to the whisper of His voice and the vision that drifts into and out of my spiritual vision?

Aha……….perhaps this is really being led by Holy Spirit – revealing Christ in me, the hope of glory. You see, in times past, I heard more clearly and saw more clearly. Perhaps it was God’s grace teaching me in the midst of my own growth and immaturity. Jesus is now leading me in fresh intimate ways that are contrary to the incessant noise of the world today.

Psalm 46:10
Be STILL and KNOW that I AM God.

Right now, in our search, I would feel out of sync if I just moved on what I sensed was out there in the natural, just picking some place to live that seemed right but is it really? Trust me in this. I would not choose to go this way at this time – so much is unclear, many variables, many loose ends BUT day by day I continually sense there is something I am not fully seeing, not yet. I only have small pieces of the picture and I cannot make any assumptions as to how it will all turn out. What a journey!

Perhaps I feel a bit like this man.

Mark 8:22-26
A Blind Man Healed at Bethsaida – Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “ Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.”

In Christ,
Debra Westbrook

10511315_794327653940721_886065626280149819_nRivers of Eden is the ministry that God breathed into my life many years ago. Our focus is Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life. We preach His love and grace, moving in His glory wherever God sends us. Holy Spirit flows through us in creative expression – preaching and prophetic flow – seeing people set free to know Him. We go where God leads us, wherever and whenever He wants us to go. Contact us on Facebook or Twitter to minister in your church, home group, or gathering.