Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Heart of the Giver

Some things I've been learning lately:

A good, good Father gives the best gifts.
He does not give cheap gifts, even the things that seem small carry great value. His gifts are limitless and can't be put in a box. They are not limited to finances nor solely things that can be bought with money. They can come in the form of spiritual gifts, presents for special occasions, and even those little "just because" surprises. The Giver loves to give and the receiver loves to receive. The Giver delights in the delight of the receiver. There is great Joy in the gift exchange. The Giver expects nothing in return. The receiver is not expected to give or do anything but simply accept what's given. It's far more than the gift itself, it's an investment and stewardship of time: listening, caring, interceding, waiting, seeking, and finding. He relentlessly pursues His kids as well as what He chooses to give to them. The process of finding the best gifts is to never be rushed. Often the Giver is silent and may seem distant while He's preparing the gift. There is awe and wonder to be found in the mystery. God is the Creator of creativity, He is extremely detailed in everything He does. There are a ton of gifts out there, the beauty of the Lord is that He doesn't just give away any old gift...He hand picks the gift He has for you that best fits your personality, style, need, desire, and unique design. God does not give hand-me-downs, there are no favorites in the Kingdom. You are His first choice and His most prized possession as His child.

Sometimes His gifts are presented very beautifully, all packaged up and shiny. Other times, it can look like the furthest thing from what we typically perceive as a gift. the word tells us that even various trials are a gift. It may look like making big decisions for ourselves, learning to say no and the best yes to things in order to protect the freedom we have. Boundaries are a precious gift in themselves. It can look like dealing with things of the past that's coming to the surface so you can finally move on and heal. It can be yet another disappointment, let down, or shocking change in events. I can be _______(insert trial and view it as a blessing instead of a curse...) He does everything within the most divine timing. His thoughts are not our thoughts and ways are not our ways, they are higher (Isaiah 55:8-9). Though the revealing of each present may appear in parts, His gifts are always complete and whole. He doesn't do anything half way. All of His gifts are good and for the best.  Each gift is free to us because of that which wasn't free. On the cross, the ultimate price was paid which has made a way for us to fully receive today. Every gift is to reflect His heart and reveal more of His character. He's always after your heart. He outpours His perfect love and affection which can't be contained, causing an overflow. He's a good, good Father Who loves to lavish His gifts upon His sons and daughters.

Above all, He is the inexpressible gift and that's more than enough! He is all that we need both in abundance and lack.

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” -James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭MSG‬‬

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” -2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.” -James‬ ‭1:16-18‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Mother to the Motherless

No matter what category you may fall under concerning this Mother's Day, I think we can all be thankful that the Lord is not only "a father to the fatherless"-Psalm 68:5 but a mother to the motherless as well. Maybe you had a superwoman of a mom. One who always showed up, displayed love, and went through loops and hurdles to make your day brighter. Or maybe you had the mom who worked so many long and hard days trying her best to be present for events but always seemed to be too busy. Perhaps your dad was more like a mom to you packing your lunches, doing the laundry, and rocking the mini van. Maybe you had guardians instead such as an aunt or uncle that took you in as their own. Maybe you were raised in foster care or adopted. Maybe you had a grandmother who was more of a mother figure always letting you eat sweets, cutting off the edges of your grilled cheese sandwich, and exposing you to the daily beauty parlor gossip. Maybe you were your mother's mother setting her alarm clock and clothes out the night before so she could make it to work on time, hiding the bottles when she'd have too much to drink already, and loaning her money every time she's in a bind. Or maybe, just maybe, you had to be your own mother. You were the one who read the bedtime story and tucked yourself in at night. You were the one who taught yourself how to put on your clothes, tie your shoes, and fix your hair. You were the one who made sure you had all the school supplies you needed and had something, anything, to eat each day.

Even the best of moms are human and humans make mistakes. Humans will let each other down. All humans fall short. I think we can all relate to at least one point in time that we've longed for a mother's love in the moment of heartbreak, craved a mother's touch in the moment of despair, and wanted a mother's nurture when not feeling well. Regardless of what the word "mother" means to you, I'm here to tell you today that the Lord is the entire family unit. Have daddy issues? He's a good, good Father. Momma withdraws? He can rock you to sleep. Brother betrayal? He sticks closer than a brother. Sister absence? He is a the best listener.

To all you moms out there: bonus moms, step moms, spiritual moms, cat moms...
Know that the pressure is off. You can't be a mother until you've first been a daughter. Above all, you are His daughter and He is well pleased. Fully discovering your identity will help you see that even on those days when nothing goes right, everything wants to break, and you just can't seem to get your life together...He is still good and nothing you ever do or don't do will change His perfect love for you. 

God is described as a woman in labor (Isaiah 42:14) and as having given birth to His people (Deuteronomy 32:18). He is compared to a nursing mother (Isaiah 49:15), to a comforting mother (Isaiah 66:13; Psalm 131:2), and to a mother teaching her child to walk (Hosea 11:3). God is described as a mother bear whose cubs have been taken away, as a hungry lioness (Hosea 13:8), as a mother eagle caring for her young (Deuteronomy 32:11-12), and as a mother hen (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34). David compared God to a woman (Psalm 123:2-3), and Jesus himself likened God to a woman cleaning her house to find a lost coin (Luke 15:8-10). God provided just enough healthy food for His people (Exodus 16:11-18), and He provides for us as well (Philippians 4:19). He urged His disciples to rest (Mark 6:31). He bandages our wounds (Psalm 147:3) and will wipe away our tears (Isaiah 25:8). He comforts us (Isaiah 51:12) and carries us close to His heart (Isaiah 40:11).

So here's to no longer putting God in a box. Anything you need, He not only gives it...He is it. He is love. He is peace. He is Joy. He always provides and protects. He works everything together for good. He makes all things new. He restores. He heals. He is a minister of reconciliation. Allow Him to show you His heart today whether He's the only mother you've ever truly had or you have a mother figure as an example here on earth. Either way we can celebrate motherhood the way He created it to be, beautiful and radiant.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Sweet Reveal

"Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon, Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved and said to them "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him..." -John 20:1-3

"But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" Who are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be a gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned around and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).  Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"-and that he had said these things to her."-John 20:11-18

"Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, whom He had cast out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it."
 -Mark 16:9-11

Out of the many women I've looked up to in the bible such as Esther, a woman who was as courageous as she was beautiful or Ruth, a woman who's loyalty was stronger than her grief...there's one woman in the bible that, for some reason, God has really put on my mind a lot. Typically, someone who was once demon possessed wouldn't be the first person on the list as a potential role model. What's so special about her? Why do I feel like I can relate to her so much on this day two thousand years later? Many people saw this woman as a crazy lady all of her life. Why was she the first one at the tomb? Did she truly feel in her heart that this couldn't be the end?

Mary was an outcast. She probably had only a few friends, if any. I'm pretty sure she was lonely and depressed a lot. She must have felt as if there was no hope for her and this evil that had taken over her life. She was out of control but longed to have control. Jesus cast out seven demons that possessed her. What a miracle. Jesus became Mary's best friend, probably her only friend at the time. I'm pretty sure she found it very hard to shut up about what He had done in her life. Heck, He's the reason she's alive and free! I can relate to that. She was free from torment and manipulation because of Christ. She did not only know of Christ, she knew Him. She loved Him so much that she was restless after His death. I can't imagine what went through her mind this day 2,000 years ago. All the hope she gained through Christ was probably shaken and questioned. Was she crazy to be at the tomb so early before dark thinking "Is this really it?"

A part of me thinks Mary had a similar feeling. Mary still had faith that this was not the end. She believed that there had to be some reason why she felt led to go to the tomb. Maybe it was due to curiosity...maybe it was due to her still longing to spend time with Jesus. Even though the disciples left after searching the tomb for Jesus, she still felt led to stay. She stood weeping with the thought that someone had taken her Jesus away. She then felt led to look back in the tomb. That's when Jesus revealed Himself to her once again. After His death she still had a sense of hope. He was alive! HE IS ALIVE! I can't help but wonder what I would have done in this situation. I probably, like her, would have been so wrapped up in the fear of having my Jesus taken from me that I wouldn't comprehend the fact that He was right in front of me. What comfort, joy, peace, relief, and hope she must have felt in that moment. She responds "Rabboni!" which means teacher. This is one of the sweetest moments ever in my opinion. Mary loved Jesus so much and cherished her relationship with Him. She truly mourned His death which made seeing that He had resurrected that much sweeter. Both the angels and Jesus said to her "Woman, why are you weeping?" kind of as a way of being like "Woman, rejoice! Open your eyes and see what is happening in front of you." When she sees....oh man does she get it. This is a woman who has been rejected all of her life and thrown to the curb. Jesus saw her and delivered her from the things she could not control in her life. Jesus was her Everything. Because of her faithfulness, she saw Jesus after He rose from the dead! What an encouragement. If I were in this same situation, I honestly feel like I would have had the temptation to keep Jesus all to myself. After all, everyone will think I'm crazy and won't believe me right? Why not just enjoy time with Jesus and not worry about telling the disciples or any others?  I'm pretty sure that's definitely something that Satan wanted to see happen. But Jesus said to her "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." and she did just that. She couldn't keep silent about the miracle she witnessed. Why would you want to stay silent after experiencing such a thing? This moment for her was so sweet and special. But when trying to tell people that Jesus has risen, she was seen as crazy yet again. I'm pretty sure she didn't care what people thought at this point. She had Jesus and the assurance that He is Alive! She wasn't afraid to boldly speak the truth of the things she had seen and experienced.

The awesome thing about this is that unlike movies and story books that have happy endings...this is not a happy ending but more of a happy beginning. Through this Mary is not being the one glorified, but it is all about Jesus. Mary was making Jesus the Big deal. What I am wrestling with concerning this is "Will I live my life as if I'm mourning the fact that Jesus was in the tomb?" or "Will I live my life in such a way that it reflects the same hope and joy that His resurrection brought to Mary?"  Will I reflect it so much that I won't care what anyone thinks or if people will believe me?  I have my Jesus and I know that He is alive. No one can take Him away from me. Though it's easy to want to keep Him all to myself, I know that what He has done in my life can be the same for others. A lot of times it's so easy for me to get so wrapped up and stressed in everything that's going on that Jesus is saying to me "Woman, why are you weeping?" when I should be rejoicing in the fact that He is alive within me. Oh the faith that Mary Magdalene must of had that day. It's a faith I am beginning to pray more for. The faith in knowing that my Jesus is capable of overcoming the grave. He did overcome the grave. My beautiful Jesus overcame death. If my Jesus is Bigger than death, than I know that my Jesus is Bigger than any struggle that I face. I have been delivered from a life of torment and manipulation. He became my friend at a time that I was friendless. God calls me daughter.Because of the cross, I'm adopted into the bloodline of Christ. He cast out the evil that was in my life and the things that I could not control. He saw me as someone who was precious when others saw me as an outcast, a rebel, and one who was crazy. He Reveals Himself to me which calls for the sweetest and most intimate moments that no other relationship can give or ever compare.

"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all Fear is gone."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Never Alone

Thanksgiving has always been a hard day for me, not to mention holidays in general. Some of the most traumatic and painful memories fall on this day. It's also a day that can become very lonely, causing a deep depressive state. Praise God these things are beginning to grow strangely dim the more the light of His presence shines upon me. This is not my first Thanksgiving alone by all means. However, this is the first year that I had nowhere to go for the holidays and my Mammaw is no longer living. When I was her primary care giver I'd always make a point to decorate her house from top to bottom, doing anything and everything to make it a great experience for her. Being able to care for her made these dreadful days more bearable. This time around it's been different. It's hard to shake off the nightmares and flashbacks when the demons come out to play. It's not always fun sitting in a room all day all alone when everyone is busy spending time with family and practically everything is closed. It's easy to feel unworthy and undeserving of a family when the hopes of having one fade away time and time again. It's tempting to listen to the voices of condemnation. It's a choice to control your thoughts or let your thoughts control you. Today has not been the most glamorous of days yet at the same time it hasn't been the darkest either. Being able to serve and love on others is such a beautiful gift. The Lord constantly uses it to redirect my focus and worship Him for all that He is.

A shift has occurred in my life lately more so than ever before. Starting in August I began to really seek not just the things of the Lord, but God Himself. He radically changed everything I ever knew about life and Him. He took off my blindfold of logic and showed me how to have true faith and trust in the unpredictable. He stripped away everything I used to find identity in until it was literally just me and Him. In a lot of ways it's still just me and Him, especially on days like today. What makes today different? The daily renewing of the mind, time in the word, practice of thankfulness, the trust throughout the process, the honoring of the season, the sweet victory of the Cross, real rest, and the intimacy of the Father just to name a few ;) 

Today I could go on and on about what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for Jesus Who sweeps me off my feet, a place to live, community, family through the blood of Christ, a vehicle, the chance to finish school, several jobs, the opportunity to travel once again, cats, tap shoes, boxing gloves, journals, feather pins, music, hands and feet, and all the brilliantly funny videos/memes that exist in the world today. I'm thankful for you for taking the time to read this. I'm thankful for Native Americans. I'm thankful for all people of all nations, every tribe and every tongue. I'm even thankful for the past, no longer in a way that glorifies any situation or circumstance but my Father alone. The Lord truly works everything together for good-Romans 8:28. He's put this girl to much use that has endured terrible abuse. He's turned my mourning into joy. He's brought beauty from pain. He's provided His strength in my weakness. He took a girl who was starving and made her hopeful. He showed a girl who thought she was unworthy that she was a daughter all along. He wipes away every tear and is the well that never runs dry. He brings laughter out of sorrow. He can erase and replace every remembrance of terror with the perfect love that casts out every fear. 

One of the main things I've learned about the character of God during this season is that He makes ALL things new. Lately I've returned to a lot of old things I used to be involved with: Music School, job in the Visual and Performing Arts, and even being called back to Southeast Asia. He has made each of these areas new. I'm thankful that He makes the everyday mundane fresh and exciting. He is constant and never changes yet He can change things. He has changed things. He is changing things. He will change things. So as I sit here by myself, I'm not by myself. All day as I've been alone, I haven't been alone. He is with me. He lives inside of me. He foreknew me. He's goes before me. He never leaves me. He's always for me. He's my Daddy and I'm His little girl. I'm thankful that He is my Father, Mother, sister, and brother all in one and so much more! The world tells me I'm an orphan, my Daddy tells me I'm His. The enemy tells me I'm unwanted, the Lord calls me His precious jewel. 

To all of you who find this day difficult as well, hold on. He holds the universe and most certainly can hold you. Don't be afraid, let His love wash away all the anxiety. Talk to Him and He will listen. Spend time with Him and He will reveal to you His heart for the one, you're the one. It's okay to not be okay, He wants to mend what's broken and just asks that you stay. You don't have to hide from Him, you can hide in Him. He's a hiding place. a safe Haven where you can be vulnerable in the best of ways. Don't give up, give into what He has for you for it is good. He is the light in the darkness of night. The enemy is a liar, not the Prince of Peace. He can make your sleep sweet and restore your identity. He has the power to make this day new. He has the wisdom to know what's best for you. Remember, there may be pain in the night but Joy comes in the morning-Psalm 30:5. Will you trust Him? He's worth it. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,    and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him,    and He will make straight your paths." -Proverbs 3:5-6

"When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." -Proverbs 3:24

"He alone is my rock and salvation, a fortress where I will not be 

shaken." -Psalm 62:2 

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." -1 John 4:18 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Healing is In His Hands

"A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch His robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from Him, so He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched My robe?” His disciples said to Him, “Look at this crowd pressing around You. How can You ask, ‘Who touched Me?" But He kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of Him and told him what she had done. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” -Mark 5:25-34 

This nameless woman had suffered twelve long years of chronic menstrual bleeding. The fact that she had been bleeding for this long suggests that she was most likely infertile as well-- not to mention she was probably severely anemic and weak, especially considering she was living in a society with an iron-poor diet. She was bound to constantly feel tired and lethargic.

To sum it up—her health was not the best.  

According to Leviticus 15:19-28, this woman was also considered to be unclean during the entire time that she bled. In the Mosaic law, women who were unclean weren't allowed to touch anyone for they would then be considered unclean as well. This kept her from participating in any religious services or activities. 

Even if she could bear children, her husband (if she had one), would not come near her due to her status.  In this woman's culture, motherhood was viewed as the supreme female virtue. A woman's security in old age came from her family. For this woman to be childless was a constant glimpse into what would look like a very lonely future.

This woman was DESPERATE and DETERMINED to find Jesus. Not to find another doctor and receive yet another empty promise of a potential cure. Instead, her strongest desire was to find the ultimate Healer. After all, the physicians of her time were unable to relieve her suffering. She "had endured much under many doctors. She had spent everything she had and was not helped at all. On the contrary, she became worse."

Her physical body was unhealthy. Her faith, however, remained firm in the midst of all of her troubles. The odds were not in her favor...instead, all odds were against her. For her to become well again seemed impossible. Yet, she chose to believe that she could be healed. That within itself is HUGE. She heard about a man who could "heal many who had various diseases"(Mark 1: 34)and she didn't doubt in such a power.

So she traveled 30 miles to Capernaum. She quietly came up behind Jesus in the crowd and simply touched His cloak. For she said "If I could just touch His robes, I'll be made well!" By law, this would have made Jesus unclean, but by grace, a miracle unfolded. Immediately her bleeding stopped. Without a single word being spoken to her, she was made whole simply by believing that He could heal her and choosing to act on that belief. Her faith was rewarded and it did not go unnoticed.

Jesus felt power leave Him and asked who had touched Him. The disciples gave a typical answer basically saying that it could've been anyone in the large crowd that surrounded Him. Jesus was determined to find who it was. At this moment, this woman had a choice. She could have stayed silent and or ran away in her fear. Instead she chose to be BOLD and COURAGEOUS and kneeled down before Jesus, despite her fear and trembling. She told Jesus the whole truth and admitted to being the one who touched Him. She, the unclean woman, told Jesus, the spotless lamb, that she touched His cloak. Oh the thoughts that must have raced through her mind during that moment. The same faith that gave her the strength to reach out and touch Jesus was the same faith that empowered her to be the one who stepped forward in the crowd. She risked public humiliation and punishment to confess the faith she had in Jesus. Wow. 

Then, Jesus said one single word that swept away twelve years’ worth of pain and isolation. "Daughter..."

In no other gospel account did  Jesus use this term of endearment and respect, and He chose to say this to the woman who was seen as unclean. He called the untouchable "Daughter". This name meant she belonged to a family. This name meant that she has been restored to her community. This name meant she was loved. This showed the Father's heart through the Son. 

"Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in PEACE and be FREE from your affliction."

She saw first hand the truth of Mark 6:56! Not only was she healed physically, but emotionally too. Isn't that what every woman needs? Healing not just physically, but emotionally? Jesus knows our hearts and just how to comfort them. "There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole" my dear friendsand this woman was able to proclaim just that.

Twelve years ago I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, the same incurable autoimmune disease that studies show this woman in the Bible most likely had. This diagnosis, along with a genetic vitamin D deficiency tends to make life rather difficult. Being told at a young age that you're most likely infertile and may not have kids one day is heartbreaking. So is being told if you ever were able to become pregnant, you are most likely to have a miscarriage or die when giving birth. As I've become older, my condition has become worse. There are some days that I can't get out of bed. It's hard to function normally when you feel so weak that you could pass out at any moment. My immune system often gets attacked, causing me to get sick very easily and often. This kind of sick is harder to fight and get over than the typical sinus infection or flu—it’s on-going and never fully goes away. There are several medications and surgeries that could be performed to help with the disease, but there is no ultimate fix for the problem. It has become so bad lately that doctors have tried to convince me to have a hysterectomy before I'm 30 due to being at such a high risk for ovarian cancer. I never really put a lot of thought into having kids until I was told it might be impossible, but thankfully God has called me to adopt one day no matter what. 

It's easy to want to question God when health issues arise and diseases are diagnosed. It's easy to become numb to everything and deny that anything is wrong. It's easy to allow the awkwardness to cause embarrassment that keeps you from sharing boulders that need to be shared within a safe community. Jesus didn't walk on earth alone, so why should we? He had intimacy with the Father and close relationships with the disciples. Jesus is always the ultimate game changer. He heals wounded hearts and restores health to the unhealthy. He comforts a woman's emotions by making her feel important and noticed. He reminds you that you are a part of a family that will never disown you. Mmmm...isn't Jesus good? So as I continue the on-going battle of illness, I'm comforted in knowing that God is still bigger than all the what-if's and potential outcomes. I choose to expect the unexpected and leave it in God's hands. I continue to spend time in the war room and secret place. I pray that I can have the same faith as this nameless woman. I want to have such a faith that Jesus will look to me and say "Daughter, your Faith has made you well. Go in Peace and be FREE from you affliction."

This is my same challenge to each of you. To have the same faith as our nameless sister who bled for 12 years. Be strong. Be Courageous. Be Bold. Be Determined. Be Faithful. Be HANDS & FEET. Remain fervent in prayer. Rest in the fact that you are a daughter and He is well-pleased. 

There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I See a Generation Rising

During the last week of June and the beginning of July I served as both a bible study teacher and a family group leader for two weeks of Cross Camp. This week was extremely encouraging and uplifting to say the least. So many kids nailed down their faith after having doubts and uncertainty for so long. Due to the bravery of kids that were leaders in their youth groups examining their hearts before God,  a spark was ignited within other students which was amazing to see such a ripple affect occur. During this particular week God chose to use me to encourage and minister to both students and leaders which was very humbling. Leading 8th grade girls Bible study and Family group 12 was incredible in which some of those kids taught me more than I taught them during week one. I had the huge privilege to see students encouraging and ministering to other students at camp which was a beautiful thing to observe. They genuinely cared for each other and worked hard at getting along with everyone in family groups and so on. I saw students come together and rejoice greatly clapping and cheering each time a new salvation, call to ministry, and commitment was announced. This gives me HOPE in this generation. There are youth out there that Love the Lord and have a burning desire to please and serve Him. I was blessed to see that first hand during week one of camp. It was so good for my heart and soul. 

Not only do I feel that God has placed within me such a heavy burden for the youth of today, I also feel like He is choosing to speak through me in order to be a voice for them as well. Though there were many things that I saw from today's youth that were very encouraging...there were also things that discouraged my heart. Many of these kids felt all Alone. They felt as if there was no one they could confide in in their areas...even in their own youth groups and churches. Many kids, like me, had parents who did not go to church. They came with broken hearts that needed mended, wounds that needed healing, and baggage that needed to be dealt with. God did some Amazing things. He changed lives and brought Joy to these youth in ways that only He could. The thing that burdened me however was what are these kids going back to? Many of them truly desired to follow God with everything that they are. It breaks my heart knowing that many of them had to go back home to a place where no one was there to listen to them, disciple them, and show them love.

The youth of today need encouragement as much as, if not more than, generations of the past. They need to be fed spiritually and poured into so that they may pour out. I feel strongly that God has placed it on my heart to ask each of you to get on your knees for this generation. They need it. I've seen so much potential in today's youth to which it completely blows my mind when imagining what God can do in and through them. It breaks my heart to see many of them go home and not receive the Love, encouragement, and affirmation that they so desperately need. LOVE on these youth. PRAY for them. UPLIFT them and let them know that not only should they let anyone look down on them for their youth, but they should also be confident in the things God has called them to. I see God raising up strong warriors to build up and edify His kingdom. Because of this I feel such a strong urge, more than ever, to show love to these kids. It's exciting to see such an incredible young generation rising that is bold, brilliant, passionate, hungry, thirsty, and on fire for God! Please join with me in praying for them and so much more. 

"I see a generation Rising up to take their place with self-less faith. Self-less faith....I see a near revival stirring as we pray and seek. We're on our knees. We're on our knees...Heal my heart and make it clean. Open up my eyes to the things unseen. Show me how to Love like You have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks Yours. Everything I am for Your kingdom's cause."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Free Flying

Have you ever closed your eyes and seen things that are indescribable? Have you seen something so vivid and clear as if you were literally in a whole other place? I certainly have. Heck, all my life I've been able to close my eyes and go to anywhere I'd like when allowing my mind to do so. My Creator, God, has created me to be a very creative individual. While some view A.D.D. to be a curse, I a lot of times see it as a blessing. The way He reveals things to me is hard to put into words sometimes. Luckily, He has not only created me to be a musician but also a writer. Though it may be hard for me to express how I feel vocally, on paper I could write for days.

You see, there is both good and bad that comes with being a very visual person. My photographic memory  is very strong which allows me to memorize music very quickly as well as other subjects. Of course with strengths there are also weaknesses. I feel that because I have this particular strength, it has become the very thing that Satan has used against me for years. Satan chooses to use my past to haunt me both in my sleep and when I awake. Due to being so visual, flashbacks attack my mind and try to take over. It's rare that a day goes by that I don't have to fight hard against this war with the Devil as he attempts to play with my mind.

Not too long ago I watched the movie Batman Begins and recalled one of the main points I've gotten from the movie. Batman's fear crippled him. It was his weakness. Evil used it against him to try and bring him down. It wasn't until he chose to become fear that he was able to conquer this great height. Suddenly, his immense fear of bats became his biggest strength. This fueled him to move beyond the past and terrors that would wake him in the night.

Satan used my fear of being hurt to cripple me for far too long. During the daytime I could find ways to distract myself from some of his tactics but each night, as soon as I would close my eyes, the nightmares would appear and the flashbacks would entice my fear.

During the last weekend of May I attended the LIFT conference for worship leaders held at Passion City Church. So many great things happened to which I am still trying to grasp my mind around. One of the main things was my FREEDOM. Yes, freedom (read this as if you're watching Braveheart). During night one of worship I began to weep. I was in the middle of trying to worship God and just couldn't go to the places I normally could go to when I closed my eyes. It broke my heart. Usually when I'd close my eyes I could see this:


The sunrise on Lake Malawi in Africa

Looking out the window on the way to China

The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

 But this particular night I couldn't see anything while trying to worship. Not only could I not see anything, I couldn't sing the words and truly mean what I was saying. I knew if I continued to sing it'd just be making noise. I felt as if then and there God was moving me to just sit down and allow Him to do a work within me. So, I sat down and oh did He work. I began to close my eyes and just listen to the music that was surrounding me in the room. Immediately a flash of images raced through my mind. Now, all of the things I am fixing to share will sound very crazy most likely....that's because it is crazy. It's like nothing I've ever experienced while worshiping. I began to visualize the first picture above of lake Malawi. It's like I was there all over again hearing the waves crashing and feeling the wind blowing strong. All seemed peaceful. Then it began to storm. The sea was raging and the fear became crippling. As I sat there and saw these images run through my mind I began wishing for it to be dry. I then saw the clouds roll away, the sea disappear, the sun come out, and everything beginning to die around me. Nothing was green, the dust was overwhelming, and everything looked so lifeless and tired. Then I found myself wishing to see water again. I then found my self in the midst of the ocean drowning. The fear returned and everything seemed so hopeless. Then out of the blue was a victorious right hand reaching into the dark and deep ocean with a light around it. I saw myself grabbing the hand and being pulled up. Now, above water, I gasped for air. The very next thing I saw as my eyes were closed during this song that was being played was the shore line with a single chair placed on the sand. All was peaceful and well. I then saw myself sitting down in the chair and another chair appeared by my side. 

I know... I know....Weird right? Crazy. I was as thrown off by it as all who reads this. Like I said, I never had an experience like this before during worship. It was so vivid and clear as if I was truly there. I honestly feel God placed these images in my head for a reason. As I stayed up that night trying to make sense of everything God had placed on my heart and mind....things began to click a little. Five years ago I was delivered from a very destructive upbringing. Since then it has been a rollercoaster of life events for me. From learning what it's like to be bold and share my story with others to dealing with death, heartache, burn out, wandering, and let's been a heck of a journey with God. I've experienced times where all was well and wonderful. However, I'd take it for granted and forget to praise God in the midst of the good times. Then the storms would come into my life again. I've grown used to the storms these days. They've always seemed to come and go for me. It's almost easier for me to Praise God in the midst of those storms. Often times I would beg God for the storms to die. Then I'd get in over my head. I had to learn the hard way to let my "yes be a yes" and my "no be a no".... I did too much in order to make myself feel that I was worthy enough of being used by God. Then came the big burn out. I spent almost a full year chasing shadows that wouldn't satisfy. I was living in a desert land where all was dry and my heart was apathetic. I then ran back to God and things seemed good again. However, I forgot what it was like to be in the water and trust Him. I became overwhelmed with church and the things of God that I began to drown in it. I'd serve Him and do everything I felt I should do without ever going to God Himself to pour into me so that I could pour out. Then....oh boy...then....God reached His hand to me and pulled me up. He rescued me yet again and brought me to the shore. SO, this is where I am now in my life. I am at the shore. Sitting in that chair that has been empty for too long. And I am Not alone. There is a chair beside me and though I may not always see it, I feel it. I feel the power of the Holy Spirit within me. It is stirring up my passion and compassion for others and eternal things. I'm so relieved to be at this place in my life again. A place where I know that I am where I need to be and I am doing what I am called to do. Ultimately I am called to make much of Christ...Not much of myself or others....but much of Christ.

This all occurred during night one of worship at the LIFT conference. By the last night of this conference I began worshiping all out when I realized the song I was worshiping to was the same song I sat down for on night one. I closed my eyes and every single image raced through my mind once again. Then came the overwhelming feeling of FREEDOM. I've never felt so free to worship my King. With no holding back and no distractions, I danced for joy lifting praise to my Father in Heaven! Louie Giglio then said that God had laid something on his heart that he felt led to share. He said "I feel that some of you have been burnt out and holding back for far too long. I know you, because I am you. I've been there and done that. Many of you are like a dove trapped in a cage just waiting to be free. It's time that you stop letting your life situations, the people who have hurt you, and your fears cripple you from breaking free! Let God open that cage door. It's time you start soaring for God again. Lift out yours hands and fly!" Uh......say what!?!? At first I was like "Wow, that is so ironic...." then I was like" God is so good and truly works all things together."

Needless to say that night I broke free and soared. I made the decision to stop letting that fear cripple me any longer. Though this in itself scares the mess out of me most times. I let God open that door to the cage I stayed trapped in for too long. Now I've become fear. Fear to Satan that is. I've caused him to fear that I could be a world changer for God and be unstoppable when chasing after Jesus with everything that I am. Is Satan still fighting back now that he see's me more of a threat? Oh yes, more than ever. However, in the midst of this huge battle...God is still doing what He does best. He is still shinning provision and protection over my life. So now instead of allowing my fears to cripple me, I'm allowing it to fuel my passion and push me even further into the waters.

With all this being share, this is what God has laid on my heart to tell to each of you who have chosen to read this blog entry:

"Stop living trapped in the cage. Let God open the door. You won't regret it. Be the dove that has been released and fly like never before! He's equipped you with armor. He is by your side. BE FREE and always remember to run into His arms."

"Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated...Because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down. He won't leave you." ~Deuteronomy 31:6