There is something about family; what flows in your blood.
I had the privilege of being raised in a family that valued blood and history and heritage. All while growing up, from grandparents on both sides of the family, I heard stories and lessons and history; all about those who had come, and gone, before us.
Stroud, Gildersleeve, Noble, McIntyre: these were just a few of the surnames in my heritage that I became familiar with.
But the surname that always stood out to me the most was McIntyre.
But let me back up a bit.
If you were to ask me, of all the people I have known; who has been the single most influential person in my life, I would not hesitate a moment in answering: my Papa. My mom’s dad was the greatest encourager, inspiration, uplifter, and example of truly loving others I have ever witnessed. And that’s just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ of who he was.
He passed away in 2004.
From my earliest memories, I remember him sharing with my siblings and I his passion for and pride in our Scottish heritage (Clan McIntyre).
Every time we went to downtown Sacramento, he would always be sure to take us into the Scottish Clan store to show us again our family tartan, crest and motto. And then he would tell us again, the story of how his grandfather was adopted into an English family – and how his surname (and therefore my mom’s maiden name) was changed from McIntyre, to Noble.
When my Papa passed away, I definitely felt a ‘passing of the baton’, so to speak: I desperately wanted to carry on his legacy. Which, along with the deep desire to love people as he did, comes the passion for all things McIntyre; and, in short, all things Scotland.
I’ve always wanted to visit the land of my heritage, and walk the land where my family once lived, way-back-when. But it was always a distant dream, a ‘maybe someday before I die’ kind of hope.
And yet over the years, this yearning and longing and fire for all things Scotland has only grown and expanded and multiplied to the point of quite overwhelming me.
Granted, I am naturally quite sentimental and romantic, and am a total dreamer; but this rather specific growing surge of emotion seemed to be getting quite out of hand.
You see, I would hear someone simply mention Scotland, and my heart would begin to race.
I would randomly hear a Scottish accent; and all of a sudden want to cry.
Whenever I heard Celtic music, suddenly boiling within me was a mixture of jubilation, brokenness, longing, joy and awe.
Every time any of this happened, I would wonder anew what was going on: and I would have to mentally calm myself down. I’ve always known I was a romantic, but this seemed to be more than that.
But then the moment would pass, and I would forget about it and go back to everyday life.
I moved to San Jose, California in September of 2012 – and have since been on a journey seeking to discover, and respond to, what God has called me to in this season. In moving here, He gave me one creed, if you will: He asked me to commit. And so I have. One step at a time, one decision at a time; committing and surrendering everything I can and know and dream about.
He also told me that my time here in San Jose is a season, and that He has very intentionally and specifically prepared the way for me to walk through a time of sojourning – that I would not readily find understanding from others regarding what He is speaking and doing and requiring of me. But He also told me He had a specific purpose in doing so.
You see I have, for probably my whole life, held other’s opinions as my standard; allowing that to determine my choices and (what I thought were) my convictions: even basing the determination of how well I was doing, off of what I saw in others.
But God showed me that His purpose in this season of sojourning has been to wean me off of my dependence upon others, and to teach me – to really teach me, down to my very depths – how to rely on Him alone for absolutely everything.
This season in the Bay Area has been quite a journey, in every regard: I am still learning and gaining clarification as to what He meant by asking me to commit; and understanding what exactly, specifically, He has asked me to commit TO. I am still in the process of applying and refining and correcting my application of that revelation.
I have given my heart and my life to it – no looking back. I know that truly committing, means committing without a time frame. Without a divided heart. Without running ahead of Him.
But rather, keeping in step. Every step. Every new direction. Everything. Focused and dreaming and living and breathing all for San Jose; for the people in my life here; and for the people I have yet to meet until He leads me on to the next season.
In August 2013 I went to an equipping time in Denver, Colorado. This is a conference, a gathering of people from all over North America, who have relationship with and through a ministry called New Covenant Ministries International (NCMI). It is a time where we come together to be encouraged, comforted, strengthened, challenged and equipped through the testimonies and relationships and stories of those who speak, and the people we meet while there. And a whole heap more than that. But I will move on to the point of my story.
I happened to be the only one from here in San Jose who went to this particular Equip: and it was very much on my heart to go and pour out and be used, and to come back with encouragement and maybe even specific words for my church family in San Jose. That was all, and everything, I was asking God for.
I had no idea just how much He would speak to me, and ultimately change my life.
From when I first arrived in Denver, even before the conference had started; the Lord was using my conversations with people to stir up thoughts about the UK; and even urging me to acknowledge that Scotland is on my heart just as much as other places I’ve always seen as more ‘missional’, the countries I’ve considered to have more of a need for the Gospel. And then in one of the sessions, it was even more blatant: one of the men sharing (about the opportunities God had given him through various ministries) paused in the middle of his testimony to strongly encourage everyone who was there (as we were all originally colonies from Great Britain), to ‘go back to their roots’: “wherever in the UK your family comes from; go visit. Go see it. Just go. You never know what the Lord might have for you, or how He might use you.”
Needless to say I was stunned. Here I had, for as long as I could remember, held this dream in my heart to visit one day – but I had always considered it a ‘pipe dream’: thinking that there were so many other burdens on my heart of far more importance than ‘my heritage’.
After that session was over, I remember remaining in my seat – I did not want to move from where I sat. I needed answers. I pulled out my journal and began to furiously write, crying out to Jesus for understanding, clarification, discernment. I could not ignore the things that had been spoken, nor the awakening that was taking place in my heart. I journaled all I had heard regarding Scotland, in chronological order: recording every thought, every impression, every question, every challenge, every hope: everything. I asked Him to clarify it all for me personally. It was obviously too much to ignore, but I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions, no matter how delightful they sounded or seemed to be.
As I recorded all that I felt He had been speaking to me over the course of the week, He began to speak quite directly to my heart. He told me that there is a reason why my heart has always beat so strongly for Scotland – that He is calling me there, and He has an inheritance for me there.
I was weeping. I could hardly process the fact that, after all these years of trying to squash these rather intense (and yes, emotional) responses and reactions to anything having to do with Scotland, I had finally just received an answer, an understanding for the reason behind it all.
He was calling me there? He was behind all of it??
Okay. So next I asked Him when, and where, and how; and He reminded me of the suggestion I had just heard during the session: Just GO. “See it for yourself. Take a trip, visit, scout the land and see what I have for you.”
I looked up from my journal and there on the projector screen up front was the dates for the UK Equip in 2014: Crawley, England; November 2014 – and I knew He had given me my answer.
So I planned a trip around the UK Equip: my trip would begin in Ireland (Republic of) and Northern Ireland; and then, after the Equip, would conclude in Scotland.
Now I have also been on a journey of learning to seek counsel for the important decisions in my life: and so I met with a friend (who also happens to be my pastor’s wife), someone whom I respect and whose input I value; and she shared some key thoughts and cautions that she and her husband had for me, in regard to timing and guarding my heart and walking in wisdom and such.
They gave me some things to think and pray about. Recognizing that I didn’t know when God would be calling me to move to Scotland, they cautioned me to be careful in my going; to keep my feet rooted in Jesus and be watchful that I not get carried away in the emotion or the romance of finally being there, with my feet on the soil – and to guard my heart from moving on prematurely.
I kept that caution with me: for I am aware of the tendency I have to run ahead of God’s timing; and also because I knew that I was still called to San Jose for a season – and I wanted to finish well.
In praying over my trip before I left, I asked for many things: clarification as to what He was eventually calling me to; for deep relationships to be established; and for answers to the deep questions in my heart. But there came a point, about 5 weeks before my trip, where I very strongly felt God ask me to release all of these requests to Him: and I also sensed His preparation and caution that I might go on my trip, and come home again, and still have received no more clarification on timing or location or even what He is calling me to or has for me there in Scotland.
So I went, with open hands and open heart: surrendering my expectations of grand answers or divine revelation.
I savored every moment, everywhere I went.
Ireland was my vacation, so to speak.
The incredible people I met have become my friends. I was encouraged, and comforted, and strengthened through my interactions. The land was indescribably beautiful; and the people even more so.
And then I got to Crawley, England and on to the Equip. It was a sweet time for me, connecting with those who call Great Britain home: and I was able to hear firsthand, what God was speaking over the UK. And then, on the last day of the conference, at the last meeting, a few hours before I would get on a train that would take me to Edinburgh; one of the attendees had a prophetic word that struck straight and true.
He said that he saw someone on a train (obviously this captured my full attention); “they’re wondering where and when they’re getting off, where they’re going. God is assuring them that they WILL know when and where, in His perfect timing; that they will know He has called them there, and that they will have influence in that place.”
I believed that word was for me. So I held it close, and have been praying it through since.
Then I took the train to Scotland. I visited two cities during my time there: Edinburgh and Aberdeen. I had wanted to see much more of the country, get out to smaller communities and most especially up to the Highlands. But for one reason or another it didn’t work out to do so, and in that realization I felt very strongly that I needed to re-surrender and commit everything: what I was and was not able to do, to God; and entrust all of the details to Him. I was also encouraged in the Spirit, assured and reminded that He is able to make much from nothing – and that He is not limited to where I travel or to only what I see and do. And just because I did not set foot in every place that has been on my heart for so long, He can, and will, move beyond that.
And so I surrendered it all to Him. Every day. Sometime multiple times a day.
I met some amazing people. I experienced everyday life with the people I came to know as friends. I walked, and stood, and looked in awe – not fully believing I was actually, finally, there. I fell in love with the little things. And my heart was knit to the people.
And then I came home. Still no clarification, no revelation, no answers.
But He said it would be in HIS perfect time. Not mine.
And I trust Him.
I also know that I still have more to do and be and see here in San Jose: and there are still promises He gave me about moving down here to the Bay Area, that I am yet waiting on and believing for. And I want to finish strong, however much longer He has me here.
It could be months, it could be years. He may at some point give me a time frame, or He may give me little notice at all before I go. But I know there are things I can do to prepare, so that I might be as ready as possible, should He move quickly or immediately.
Since my return home, my heart has been fully here in San Jose: I have not been ‘pining for Scotland’ or really taking up any time mourning or longing for an immediate return to the land of my blood. I was ready and excited to finish my time here strong and powerful and Spirit-filled. There were a number of things God had put on my heart for this season in San Jose – and yet upon facing each one after returning from my trip, I was suddenly hesitant to move or plan or make decisions. I was afraid to make a commitment to something here long-term, because in the back of my mind I feared possibly being unable to fulfill my commitment, should I move on unexpectedly.
A few weeks ago the Lord opened my eyes to see what I was really doing. I had paused from really truly living and dreaming about what He has for me now. I was afraid to live life to the fullest; failing to trust Him to take care of the details. He revealed it to me for what it was: a lack of trust.
He has stirred anew in me a number of passions and dreams that I have held with an open hand for a very long time: and they are not small dreams. They are big, and scary, and life-altering: dreams for ministry, and film, and more relationships – deep relationship, with people. But as He opened my eyes to see how I had stopped dreaming for the here-and-now and soon-to-come, He released something in me: His favor; and, His blessing upon my seeking out these passions that have lain deep in my heart for so very long. He has released me to pursue my dreams, and to take steps that, in the natural, seem contradictory to His call for me to Scotland.
But He has assured me, and reminded me: nothing is impossible for Him. He can more than handle the details of my life. He can move mountains. He can part the sea. He will make a way where there seems to be no way.
And I must trust Him. I can only trust Him. I want to trust Him.
All that does not make sense to me, makes perfect sense to Him. And I don’t want to hold Him back from having His way in and through my life.
Whatever that means, in the end.
I know this is no grand update of things being set in motion for my relocating to Scotland, but it is a grand update regarding all the Lord is doing in my heart. I know all of this ultimately plays a part in His preparation of my life and my heart; not only for my move, but also for whatever else He might have for me in the future.
For He makes much of what seems so very little. He works in mysterious and wonderful ways. I trust Him. And I want to be obedient in the little things, just as much as the big things.
I don’t know what any of this will look like; from my remaining season in San Jose, to how and when and where He calls me on to Scotland, to everything in between – what doors He will open, or what opportunities and changes may be just around the corner.
But I AM committed to be obedient; even as I stumble along, learning more of what it means to live a life surrendered. He can do the impossible. And I don’t want to hold Him back. Not in my life. Or in anything.
It’s all for Jesus.