My Life Verse

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

My story.

Believe it or not, I was very shy growing up. I had my first official "boyfriend" in 8th grade. We'd hug each other after class and at the end of the day he'd walk me to the steps where I'd walk home. Oddly enough, when we were no longer in a relationship, we remained friends and he set me up with his neighbor. I think I was now a sophomore in High School. He wanted us to go out because we both were shy. Who knew two shy people could end up staying in a relationship for 5 1/2 years? Yup, I was in one relationship from age 15-20. As I started growing closer to God, I realized we were not on the same page. As hard as it was, I broke up with him. I remember going to my favorite spot with God and writing him a letter about what was on my heart and why I needed to move on. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. After this, I re-dedicated my life to God and was able to continue pursuing God in the way that my heart desired in all it's fullness with no holding back. I knew I wanted to marry a man who loved God and enjoyed going to church and doing life with the Lord. I wanted someone I could relate to in this way, as it was actually the most important part of me but had been pushed aside. As you can imagine, we did not know who we were at such a young age, and were two very different people. 

After ending this relationship, I longed for a Godly man. I dated a man who was a worship leader and in my small group. Though I enjoyed dating him, I never felt fully myself around him. Things started fizzling out, and he ended up dating and is now married to a new friend of mine who I had confided in with about him. Yup, crazy how it felt so fresh and difficult at the time, but looking back you can see God's hand in it all. My life would be so different if I stayed with him, and now he is happily married and I am happy for him and his wife.

The rest of my story isn't necessarily about guys I dated, but more so guys I was interested in dating and let myself get emotionally attached to, that didn't feel the same way about me. I know I am not alone on this journey, as many girls also have this struggle. The struggle is real!

People often say you'll meet your husband when you least expect. Well, I thought that was the case when I met the next guy I liked. He showed up at a ministry night of this ministry I was attending consistently. There were hardly ever any young, single guys that attended these meetings. He came out of the blue, and caught my attention! My friend made sure we were introduced, and it didn't take long before I was intrigued. We ended up hanging out and getting to know each other as "friends" over the course of a month or two. The more time we spent together, the more I liked him. I was getting ready to leave for YWAM, and we had a conversation about this. He reiterated that he communicated we had been only friends from the beginning and was under the impression that I understood this as well. Most likely that was the case, but we girls like to hold onto any ounce of hope possible. I held on, and walked away from our conversation very sad at the reality that we would be nothing more than friends. (A special shoutout to friends who walked through this or any of these with me, in my process, as it seemed to be the only and utmost important thing in my life to discuss at every opportunity). When I came back from YWAM, this guy was getting ready to do a school for missionaries in Africa. I couldn't believe that, as I too, had a heart for Africa. The thing is, we could talk for hours as if no time had passed. I continued to walk through the process as he was gone and returned, only to discover only friends we shall be. Little did I know, we'd both end up moving to Redding a couple years later, during the same year, for different purposes. I could have thought it was "fate", but the Lord had revealed to me this guy was not the man He had for me, and I was able to remain friends with him. We were able to have a great friendship that first year I was in Redding because of this. What I learned from it all, is that you can be attracted to someone, have chemistry, and be able to talk to them for hours, but that does not mean this person is the one you're supposed to marry. Even though he came out of the blue, he was meant to be a friend all along. And, I am happy to say we are still friends and actually hung out last night. We don't see each other often or stay in touch too much, but I am grateful for the time we do get together and love looking back on the growth that has happened in each of our lives since we met.

I began to see how quality time was definitely a top love language for me as the more I spent time with guys, the more I liked them. The next guy was significantly younger than me, but that didn't bother me. I was vocal about it to close friends, but not others. It amazes me how we can change the way we see our lives to imagine it matching with someone else's when we so badly want a relationship and are around someone that's potential for marriage. By potential for marriage I mean someone that we could see ourselves marrying. I had been friends with this guy and his family, but hadn't seen him in this way until I went on a missions trip with him. It was just he and I, and his parents. As you can imagine, we spent two weeks straight together, and it was on the mission field, doing what I felt called to do. I longed for a companion to do life with and wondered if he could be it. Fast forward to reality when I continued to grow and realize that again, my quality time and deep desire for relationship was getting the best of me. One of the things I have learned in all of these experiences is that I am drawn to something different in each guy. With this guy, I was drawn to him by how his parents treated each other, and how he treated women. That, and a call to missions were both important to me.

Sure enough, next guy is again someone I went on a missions trip with who was also younger than me. I think the thing I was drawn to in these younger guys was their spiritual maturity. I do not have a problem with age, but I was also seeing what I wanted to see. Again, I began to imagine what my life could look like or would be like with him if I changed things around a bit to align with his passions and put mine aside. After six months or so of allowing my thoughts to wander about this guy, I began to see yet again that he was not the man God had for me. One thing I was drawn to about him was how he treated me and the words of affirmation he gave me. He saw who I was, and he saw my potential. That was something I hadn't experienced before. Oh, and he called it out continually.

I continued to see different things in different guys that I liked over the years. I began stepping out in boldness because I thought to myself, why not? I asked a guy who was an intern for a teacher at our school if he wanted to get pizza one time, and he was up for it. We spent time getting to know one another and had good conversation, but didn't go out again. Then I met a guy at the airport on New Years Eve, literally at midnight. H was visiting Redding, and I gave him my contact info. because he did not know anyone. We ended up spending a fair amount of time together (there's that time thing again!) and sure enough my heart grew fonder of him. And yet again, I wondered, could this be the man God has for me? He left, only to communicate via group update emails and it became apparent that he was not interested in me in the way I saw him. The summer before I began teaching, I met a tall and handsome teacher at the Teacher's Conference. I felt supernatural boldness and asked him if he was going to be in town for longer than the conference. I asked if he wanted to connect and grab coffee or something ,and he said sure. We ended up getting a bite to eat, to which he paid for. It was good, and we stayed connected while he was in town, but it was mostly initiated by me. (I have never had a problem with this, but God told me "let the guy pursue you" before I even knew I was hearing from God. We hung out again at a group gathering, but that was it. We had a mutual friend, who asked him about our time when she saw him. Come to find out, he had no romantic interest in me. Ouch! It was painful to hear, but again, I took the risk and had walked through this before so I knew I could move forward despite the outcome. Then there was a time where I was into a guy for about six months. This time, he was much older than me and was literally what I envisioned physically of a man I was going to marry. We ended up in the same circle of people, and I began to see more about him that I liked. Over the course of six months, my heart grew fond of him but it was not appearing to be a mutual thing. It was kind of confusing because it seemed like he sent mixed signals. Sometimes he was flirtatious and communicating often via text, and other times he was talking with lots of other girls and short with me in text. There are a lot more details but I'm not going to get into them, except that I went on the journey of surrendering him and then holding onto hope. I kept thinking eventually he'll see me and choose me. This is the thing, I think some of these guys "see me" but the protection of the Lord does not allow them to choose me. It's not a personal thing, but it's because of His goodness. I finally received clarity from the Lord and the door closed. It was so important and necessary for me to move on. I get so caught up and invested in these "non-relationship relationships".

There wasn't any more guys in my life that I saw as "potential" for a while at this point. I held onto hope, but sometimes struggled to keep it alive. Then I met another guy. Out of the blue. I met him through some mutual friends, and asked to find out if he was single. I was caught off guard by his handsomeness and that he literally fit the description of what I wrote in my journal to God about the physical features of a man that I like. (God challenged me to be specific in my journal). We became friends, but all along I was interested in more. Eventually we had a conversation. He wanted to be sure we were on the same page. I was hoping he was going to sit down and tell me how great I am, and that he wants to date me. But that didn't happen. I shared where I was at, and he shared where he was at. I walked away understanding he's not dating anyone right now and has lots of friends who are girls, but does not see them beyond that. I did not understand how that was possible, but I was grateful for this conversation. He left communication open, and let me know that I had permission to text him when I wanted or needed to about anything, and especially if I wanted affirmation to encourage me. I felt good in our conversation, but chose to ask him how he had experience me thus far, and was blown away by his response. I felt very encouraged and affirmed in who I was, and hoped we could continue to be friends. A little while later I discovered that the door was actually closed, and God helped me understand that it was possible for him to not view friends in such a way. I discovered that we are not on the same page in regards to looking for a relationship, and that is okay. As I continued to move forward, and we continued to communicate openly, I was able to see so much more beyond this. The reason I was drawn to him was because he was an incredible listener. He not only listened to me talk for long periods of time and encouraged me, but he heard my heart. This is something that is very important to me, and I hadn't experienced before from a man. I also hadn't experienced a man bold enough to communicate and initiate communication, even if it was a not fun conversation. As I began to see this and stay in tune with what God was saying, I was able to move forward. My heart has always been to stay friends with people no matter the outcome. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do this, but it was reassurance from the Lord that empowered me to. This guy has been such a gift to me. We have become even better friends, and he has helped me grow in many ways I wouldn't have had I not chosen to remain friends and continue communicating in a healthy way. Recently I told him that he does not need to worry about me having thoughts about him in a way that's more than friends because I'm not going down that path again. As a woman, you can only imagine the challenge that is. But he's actually the one who brought to my attention once about the power of taking ownership of your thoughts and not allowing them to go in the way they shouldn't. I am able to have a healthy, solid, incredible, and handsome guy friend in my life. I am able to enjoy him for who he is and I am free to be fully me and life in the safety and security of our friendship. He is championing me and believing with me for my husband. He sees me. But he doesn't see me in the way that a man ought to see his wife. He sees me in the way Jesus sees his children. And because of this, I can receive from him and be blessed by the beautiful friendship God has given us in this season. It has truly brought me security in a way I haven't experienced and assurance that my husband is on his way.

I have always been passionate about relationships and family. Now more than ever I have wanted it for myself. Well, I may not have met my husband yet, but God has provided me with an incredible family that I get to do life with in this season and glean from. They are truly a gift, and I am not sure how I lived without them before. I am so grateful to continue to learn and grow as God prepares me for the relationship, marriage, and family he has for me.

And there you have it. My current state of being is expectant. Hopeful. Anticipating. Looking forward to watching the rest of my story unfold.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Fruit of Breakthrough

The fruit of my breakthrough: Peace and rest in knowing God's going to bring me my husband at the right time in the right place, and I will be pursued.

Recently I was talking with someone about this tangible hope and security in God's ability to bring me my husband. I am confident it is just a matter of being in the right place, at the right time, and that he's just around the corner. When reflecting upon why I feel so at rest regarding this topic that has resulted in great insecurity in the past, I discovered it's likely the fruit of breakthrough.

If you've known me for any length of time, especially int he last couple of years, you know I am not afraid to ask a guy out or somehow communicate my interest in him. I've often been the initiator and the one to keep the connection going when I meet a guy, which stems from insecurity. However I've noticed a pressure in the Christian culture, when it comes to dating. Guys feel pressure to ask girls out, but don't always take the risk due to fear that the girl will think he wants to marry her rather than simply get to know her. It's just coffee, not a proposal! One of my passions is to see this shift. As a catalyst, I believe that I am a core part of this shift, therefore I took steps towards breakthrough not only for myself but for an entire culture, and the body of Christ. Keep reading to hear about the practical steps I took in establishing breakthrough in my life regarding relationships with guys. It requires an intentional pursuit and courage, but if I can do it, so can you!

As you continue to read this post, keep in mind that the fruit of my breakthrough was seen after sowing into it for some time. Don't underestimate the power of your breakthrough! So often we think what we are doing in the spirit, or our stepping out and taking risks aren't doing anything because we can't see an immediate change in our lives, but the greater truth is breakthrough is happening and the fruit of your breakthrough will come! Nothing you do will ever go to waste.

Someone recently asked me if I was dating anyone and when I replied that I wasn't, she was shocked and said, "I could totally see you as the girl all the guys want to go out with.". It made me laugh because the opposite is actually what my reality has been. While that could have created great insecurity, and has at some points in my life, the reality is God has been protecting me from relationships that aren't meant to develop, heartache that could come from being led on, and anything else that comes from a relationship or elongated dating process that wasn't His intention for me. 

Without going into too much detail, I've asked a few guys out in the last year, but tried to keep it casual. My heart behind it was to simply get to know them. The first guy I met at a teaching conference, and literally felt supernatural courage to go up to him and ask if he was staying in town or heading home, because I wanted to get to know him a bit. He came out of no where, and everyone always says "you'll meet your husband when you least expect it or you're not looking for him." Of course with every guy we meet when we're en route to marriage, we think about whether or not we could see ourselves with them. Let's be real! Anyways, we spent some time together and my heart grew fond of him, but I soon discovered his intentions were not romantic. It was hard to hear, but felt easier to move forward because of the truth that God knows exactly who is best for me even more than I do. Shortly after I met a guy who I kept seeing in passing. Again, I asked if he wanted to grab a bite to eat, and he said yes. I made it as casual as possible. I had a gift card somewhere, I communicated my intentions, and let it be. Conversation was good, and seemed natural. Though my intentions were to get to know him, I still hoped that desire would continue on his end. While he appreciated our time together, the desire wasn't mutual after hanging out. This had nothing to do with my character, but simply where he was at and what he desired at the time. He affirmed me and encouraged me to keep taking risks, and we're still able to be friends. Then I met another guy out of the blue, and it was clearly a divine appointment in so many ways. I'd never met a guy like him. Conversation was natural and flowed well, and we both wanted to spend time together. He was a pleasant surprise and tangible hope of what could come. However, reality hit when he left town and didn't personally stay connected. It was then that God affirmed in me more than ever that if a guy is interested in a woman, he will do whatever it takes to pursue connection with her, and I am worthy of that pursuit even though I have never experienced it before. With each and every guy I asked out, it felt and looked like it was doing nothing for me at the time. However, each time it became easier to move forward and trust the Lord with my husband. 

Not only did taking these risks contribute to the fruit of my breakthrough, but a good friend holding me accountable to not keep connection with the last guy brought the most fruit. It was so hard for me not to initiate communication to protect that connection with him, however my friend was looking out for me in the long haul, and cared more about me breaking a cycle in my life than meeting a need to feel secure by staying connected with a guy. You see, every relationship or guy I asked out in the past or liked, I kept connection with in some way to make me feel secure and hold onto hope that there could be someone out there fore me, and maybe it was him. Letting go felt so hard, but that was because I didn't trust God because of my personal history with relationships. It was hard for me to believe that I am worthy to be pursued and someone would pursue me, because I had never experienced it. The good news is our past experience doesn't define who we are, or what our future looks like! God always has great things in store for us! I've heard someone say, He's not holding things from us, he's holding things for us. This amazing friend of mine held me accountable to keeping my connection minimal with this guy, and only respond when he reached out to me. Let me just tell you how powerful that has been for me, as it has brought me so much security. The truth is that I am worthy to be pursued, and if a guy is interested in you, you will know because he will do whatever it takes to get to know you. It's one thing to hear people say these things to you, but another to believe them. I believe that my belief came into alignment with the truth when this accountability produced the fruit of security in who I am. Also, each time I was "rejected" by the guys I asked out when they didn't want to continue getting to know me one-on-one, it actually catapulted me into this belief and confidence in knowing that God has someone absolutely incredible for me and he is coming soon! And the amazing part about it all, is I can remain friends with every single one of those guys and see them as my brothers in Christ. God shifts our perspective of people when He reveals to us that they aren't the person He has for us, and enables us to break that emotional attachment we created so that we are free and they are free. Another piece to the puzzle that produced this fruit in me is that I know I was fully myself in each interaction with each of these guys. If I'm presenting myself to them, then I know that I have no reason to be insecure if they don't choose me. That who I am is not defined by whether or not a guy wants to get to know me, date me, or pursue me, but who I am is defined by who God says I am. 

So that's my encouragement to you! Step out. Don't be afraid to ask someone out. Don't hold back for fear of rejection. Walk in courage, because no matter the outcome, you will experience the fruit of your breakthrough. Every time something didn't work out with someone,  I always reminded myself that I am one step closer to something working out. It's a paradigm shift in our mind that empowers us to believe for a greater reality than our past experiences and history with relationships. And you never know,  maybe stepping out and asking a guy out will lead you to your husband, maybe not. Regardless though, you will experience breakthrough. And your breakthrough will produce fruit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Just go for it!

I'm 28 and single, surrounded by a community that encourages dating and seems to be the perfect place to find your match! I've been in this community for just over two years now, and no takers. I know that's not a depiction of who I am, but I've also noticed there's an unspoken pressure that comes in dating in the Church in general. We feel like it has to look a certain way, and the guy has to be the one who asks the girl out. So, the girls wait around and live hopeful, only to feel disappointed when nobody asks you out. Insecurity tries to creep in and make you feel like there must be something wrong with you. Guys are afraid to ask a girl out because they think she's going to think he wants to marry her, so they hold back. As a result, some people are dating and others are not. Well, I recently realized a few things. 1. I'm a catalyst for breakthrough, which means I pave the way for others to step into something. 2. God told me let the guy pursue you, but asking a guy out to get to know him is not pursuing him or not letting him pursue you. It's simply saying you want to get to know him like you would a friend. 3. If I'm 28, want to be married, and am just waiting around for a guy to pursue me, it's not really helping me move towards that dream. If I see a guy that catches my eye for some reason or another, and I want to get to know him, I'm just going to go for it! 

After doing this once over the summer with a guy who was in town for 5 days, spending time with him and enjoying it, only to say goodbye as he went back home, my heart was hurting. I felt like God gave me a gift and took it away five days later. I found out about a month later that he did not have any romantic intentions and just wanted to be friends. Keep in mind, I was the one who asked him if he wanted to hang out while he was in town, and kept that connection going. He said yes and wanted to, but his intentions were different than mine. In processing it all, I discovered it was so painful because I finally had what felt like something I've been wanting for so long in my life, in my "realm", by my side. Even though we weren't dating, I was hanging out with him and sitting with him at a conference. I felt like I pursued him, and was trying to help God out with finding me a man. Since then, I stepped back and told myself, I will not do that again because of the way it made my heart feel and I do not want to go against God's word in my life. Until...

Next thing I know, I see another guy that catches my attention and my only interaction with him is in passing on a weekly basis. I start thinking about him and wonder if he's single, and what I should do. I find out he is, and decide that I'm going go just go for it. I'm going to ask him out. After reflecting on those few things above, I realized that if I communicate my intentions of simply wanting to get to know him, and not have the pressure of it being a date, then it's harmless. It's definitely a risk you have to take, because he could say no and you might feel rejected, but to me, the risk was worth it this time. I realized that I was able to move forward faster after the last situation happened, and I learned and grew so much from it. Not only that, but I gained another guy friend. The guy I met in the summer and I still stay in touch, and we'll hang out again when he's back in Redding. And so, I just went for it, I took the risk...

I was going to ask this guy in person, but didn't see him and didn't want it to be last minute because it was the following day that I wanted to hang out, so I sent him a message on Facebook. I wrote him a long message explaining where I was coming from, and let it be. I was a bit insecure initially, thinking I could have just been short and to the point, but then I realized I was simply me, and that's the most important part. He responded and said he'd like to hang out. So, we got a bite to eat last night, and it was great! A friend of mine who is a newlywed said to me that if she could go back and date her husband again, she'd not worry so much about the "Is he the one? I like this, but I'm not sure about that.." stuff that we often focus on in dating, and simply get to know him. I took her advice and decided that is what I wanted to do with this person. And, out of it I got the opportunity to get to know this guy that my heart and eyes were drawn to for some reason. And, it was fun! Now, I can let it be, and stand on the truth that it will be natural and mutual for anything to happen in developing a friendship and getting to know someone. If it's the right person, it will just happen. For the first time in this area of my life, I actually have supernatural peace in it and trust the Lord with it. There's no insecurity, only joy. Joy in taking a risk and experiencing the reward of God honoring that risk. The joy in getting to know someone for the first time. The joy in making a new friend. The joy in the uncertainty of what's next. The joy in being fully myself. The joy in the mystery. All that being said, this is my charge to all you single ladies, take the risk and just go for it! You've got nothing to lose! Don't let fear and insecurity control you. Just go for it!

Monday, October 7, 2013

My journey with God

Tonight I intended to write about my journey with God since arriving to Redding and starting BSSM, but God had a different plan. Here is what He inspired me to share regarding my journey with Him over the last few years. It's crazy to look back on, but I wouldn't trade it for anything! And I cannot imagine how many more incredible and exciting things He has in store for the next three years of my life!

My journey with God continued with another transition a little over one month ago as I packed up my entire car, and headed northbound. It was time for another adventure with God. New things were ahead of me. You see, I've been on this faith journey or adventure with God as I like to call it, for quite some time now. I've been a Christian all my life, but in 2008, I was born-again, got baptized, and I re-dedicated my life to God. It was then that I understood the purpose of reading the Bible and praying. It was then that I began to discover my heart for missions as I had just returned from my first missions trip to Costa Rica. It was then that I began discovering who I was as a person, when my 5 1/2 year relationship just ended. Little did I know the incredible things God had in store for me! From that point forward, I began pursuing God with my whole heart, and I said "yes" to going wherever He called me to go and doing whatever He wanted me to do.

I graduated from college in May 2010, went to Africa (Mozambique) for the first time in September 2010, and my life was forever changed. I didn't know it at the time, though. I never thought I'd go back to Africa when I got home. Following this trip I did Student Teaching during the spring of 2011, which completed my Teaching Credential by that summer. I could officially be an Elementary School teacher, but that was no longer the desire of my heart. Although I always wanted to teach Kindergarten, God began stirring up a passion in my heart for the nations. I still loved children and being in the classroom, but it just wasn't the same anymore. Something was shifting. Little by little God was turning my world upside down. In July of 2011, I returned to Africa, this time to Ghana. I ended up staying in Ghana for three weeks longer than my team because I knew that I loved children and we would be working alongside an Orphanage there. After coming home from this trip, again I thought I would never return to Africa. At this time my passion grew for Jesus and all I wanted to do was spend time with God all day. God provided me with a nanny job and I enjoyed that, but on my days off you could find me reading the Bible and hanging out with God. A friend of mine had recently moved to Kona, HI to staff for Youth With A Mission (YWAM). During our phone conversation once, I discovered how much my heart longed to be where she was at. I didn't understand it completely, but as soon as we hung up the phone, I found myself online looking at the Discipleship Training Schools (DTS) that were starting the following quarter. Next thing I know, I'm praying about it and applying to go to the Fire and Fragrance DTS, which is geared towards Missions, Worship, and Prayer. I got accepted and moved to Kona the weekend before Easter in April of 2011. It all happened so fast! I spent three months in Kona for the lecture phase of the DTS, and then headed to England (London) for five weeks, and Germany (Berlin) for three weeks to complete the outreach portion of the school. I graduated the first weekend in September and visited friends in Livermore on my way home for a few days.

Before I even got home, I got a job as a full-time nanny for a little girl in a city I love on the coast. It was such a blessing and I committed to working for them for one year. I knew in my heart that I would be home for around one year regardless of this commitment, though. I really wanted to show my family that although missions is important to me and I love God, they just as important to me. I was that child who was the "social butterfly" as my mom calls it, always on the go and barely home. During that year I made a very conscious effort to spend more time with my family, and actually cut-out church and ministry things for this purpose. It ended up being a very challenging year as my family because we went through some difficult things, but in the midst of it all, I discovered hope. I always had hope, but I never truly owned it. And I didn't really understand what it meant to have hope, until I felt hopeless and learned to put my hope in God. In December, I took a vacation to Redding, CA and finally visited Bethel Church. I had heard so much about it, and a friend of mine was in the second-year of the School of Supernatural Ministry. I had an entire week off work, so I took advantage of it! I flew into Sacramento Airport and rented my first car ever as a twenty-five year old. I was really excited! I loved my time with her and enjoyed sitting in during her classes, but I didn't intend on returning as a student at the school. People would ask me if I planned to apply to BSSM and I would respond with things like "It's great what God is doing here and I love it, but it's just not for me" and "God would have to make it really clear to me if He wanted me to come here". At the time, my heart was focused on Africa, as I was preparing to return for my third trip in just a few months.

The opportunity arose for me to go to Tanzania in February 2013 and God gave me confirmation and provision as soon as I prayed about it. It was a two week trip filled with fun and love. Prior to going on this trip, my heart longed to live in Africa full time and be a missionary there. I truly thought this trip would confirm my heart's desire, but actually the opposite happened. I ended up discovering that I enjoy being a short-term missionary and I am not ready to move to Africa yet to be a full-time missionary. And honestly, I have no idea what God has in store for me in the future, but I know that I do have a heart for Africa. That was difficult for me to process, but I am grateful God revealed it to me. When I got home, the same passion in my heart that I had before doing YWAM began to stir in my heart again. I found myself longing to hang out with God whenever I had free time. Then God said to me "You should apply for Bethel". I laughed and questioned Him and asked for confirmation. Shortly after someone suggested that I go to Bethel (the school) and encouraged me to pray about it and apply, both of which I did. It didn't take long before I had my phone interview and received my acceptance email. Then it was time to tell my parents, friends, and boss. It shouldn't have come to my surprise that I was going to be moving yet again, but somehow this process never gets easier. I am such a relational person, so I enjoy investing in the relationships that I have and it is hard to do that when you constantly come and go as a missionary. However, God has been very gracious to me and my friends and family as I have been learning to handle this over the past few years. Although it was hard, I felt so much better once I shared where God was leading me with those around me. Deep down I was eager and ready for "the next thing" that God had for me. But sometimes part of me wishes I could just have a "normal life". That wish doesn't come often, though,  because I do love what I do and I am happy and confident to take on the identity of a missionary now. Although I have stepped out in faith and moved places and traveled on missions trips to various places, and seen God provide countless times for my financial needs, this time was very different. I was about to move my entire life without having a job set in stone, without having a back-up plan, without knowing what was ahead except for the school itself. However, one thing always remains true throughout my pursuit of God and adventures with Him, and that is I am blessed. I even remember in the midst of hardship, a pastor friend of mine said to me, "Katie, you are blessed", and I thought to myself, that is so true! No matter what I am facing, no matter where I am, and no matter what I am doing, I am blessed because I have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

I had no idea I'd be where I am today if you met me five years ago. In fact, I always thought I'd be the girl who graduated college, got married, and was the first to have a child. Now, I'm graduated, not teaching, and the last one out of my friends to get married and have a child. But although that's what I always wanted and thought it would make me happy, I was wrong. I love my life and I am so grateful for the places God has taken me and the things He has taught me. Every day I think about the man God has for me and my desire to get married never goes away, but I trust that in God's perfect timing, He will pursue me and it will all work out as God knows best. And until then, I am completely content pursuing God with my whole heart as a single woman traveling the world and loving on people. God knows the desires of our hearts more than we do and He truly knows what's best. He created us. I am very pleased with how my journey with God has ended up and I look forward to seeing what's ahead. Since arriving in Redding, I don't have a job and God is still meeting my financial needs. Part of my desire to go to BSSM was because I wanted the supernatural to be a natural lifestyle for me. I wanted to see the impossible happen on a regular basis. It's times like these that remind me of how you have to be careful with what you pray for, because when it comes in a different way than you expect, your faith is tested. No matter what though, not one day goes by that I am here in Redding and I don't feel thankful. No matter how I feel or whether it's a good day or a bad day, it is such a blessing to be here. I feel like I am living in a dream because I get to do what I love and grow closer and stronger in my relationship with God. I am excited for what God has in store for me this year as I get more grounded in my faith and identity in Christ, so that I can go out into the world and share the gospel and not be shaken!

Friday, July 19, 2013

From the Heart: Week 2

The second week I decided to write From the Heart was pretty crazy. It started out with a very busy weekend.

On Friday night I worked overnight, watching Charlee so that her parents could go to a concert and stay in a hotel. I ended up working later than I planned the next day. However, it worked out really well. Charlee went down early and when her parents arrived, I had her photo book, flowers, a bottle of wine, and a card for them on the kitchen counter as a housewarming gift. I couldn't wait to give them the photo book! It was such a special moment that God had given me with Charlee's parents. When you spend 10 1/2 hour days with someone, they feel like they are your own. I've worked for many different families before and cared for many different children, but Charlee is the first one who I have really felt like a mom for. It's not like I'm raising her, though. Her parents do spend just as much time with her when they aren't working. They just have difficult schedules with their jobs. Sometimes I spend time talking with her parents when they get home from work and so I have also grown to love them and feel like they are family as well. When I was leaving, reality set in that I only have so many weeks left working for them as her nanny and I got a little sad. I know God is going to provide them with another amazing nanny, though! He always takes care of the families that I leave behind when I follow His lead. But, that doesn't rid you of the attachment to the family. Saying goodbye to Charlee and her parents will probably be the hardest thing about moving to Redding. Thankfully there is facetime so we can stay in touch when I move. I am really believing we will and I hope to spend time with them when I come home for Christmas.

Immediately after leaving her house, I met with a good friend of mine, Katie. We usually catch up every few months or so. You know she's a good friend when she tells her husband when he asks how long she will be as she heads out the door and her response is "I don't know, I'm hanging out with Katie Elder, she likes to talk a lot." haha It's true! 2 1/2 hours later...we parted and I headed home. I love spending time with friends, and it was really great to hear how she is doing and be free to be myself. I literally walked out of Panera feeling like my head was spinning from hearing myself talk so much! I joked with her and said I hope she gets to go home and simply sit and do nothing. I'm really thankful for the friends of mine who know I am a chatterbox and are willing to listen when I get going and can't seem to stop. I really do want to be a better listener and talk less, but sometimes I can't help it! (the same goes for writing) Something that stood out to me in our conversation, okay, in my rambling, was how much I value my friends and how sad I am that I can't be friends with everyone to the same depth, in every season. I would be insane if I did! And, with the friends I do have, I'm working on creating boundaries so not everyone knows my business. Certainly, vulnerability is a quality that God put in me, but not everyone needs to know what is going on in my life. And sure, God has surrounded me with many friends from all different walks of life, but in reality, I cannot be friends with everyone to the same depth even if my heart desires to. Each season is different and although I come and go, and can't spend as much time with every single friend as I'd like, friends always remain. I need to know that all of the above is okay and I cannot allow myself to be discouraged by this. He's made me a "social butterfly" as my family calls me, and I continue to make new friends everywhere He takes me (YWAM and soon Bethel) So, if you're a friend of mine, know that I value you, love you, and appreciate you. Even though I don't get to spend time with you like I did at some point in time probably, I still think about you and pray for you when you come to mind.

Saturday night I decided to head to the Movement church. Little did I know my friend Monette's husband was going to be giving the sermon. It was really awesome to hear him preach! Something caught my eye that night and it was a sign and table for Financial Peace University. I had been wanting to do a biblical financial class like this for quite some time now and it was starting up that week. I wasn't sure if it was the right time, so I prayed about it. I wanted to be sure it was a "God thing" and not just a "good thing". God gave me permission to take the course, as it was confirmed as I discovered it is a 9 week class, and you're allowed to miss one week. For me, that will be the very last week because I move to Redding after 8 weeks. Come to find out, my mom had all of the resources I needed, so I did not have to pay for the class at all. It all worked out in my favor! God always takes care of me.

Sunday morning I woke up and had some quiet time with God. The theme seemed to be "enough is enough" because I had enough of myself. I recall having a serious chat with God about the things I was sick of in my life that I had the ability to change. Something in my spirit really shifted that morning and I believe having that conversation with God was pivotal. Side note: Even though I still went to three church services that weekend, I still woke up and had some time with the Lord Sunday morning. I am acknowledging this because it is evident that my relationship with God is not dependent on going to church. I'm not saying that to make myself look good or better than anyone by any means, just recognizing that a revelation of God's goodness truly brings you to a place of wanting to spend time with Him. It's no longer a chore or item on your to-do list. It's something you enjoy doing. It's something you want to do. And your motivation to spend time with God flows from your love for Him. After that, I went to service at Vista Assembly of God. Following the service, I met with my friend Drea. I hadn't seen her in a while, and she was running late. I felt the Lord wanted me to sit and be still, enjoying the beautiful day. Too often I'm doing something or keeping myself busy. God wants me to slow down, stop doing, and just be. So, I practiced that. And it was glorious. When she arrived and was ordering her coffee, I asked God how I could encourage her and listened. I knew that I didn't want to focus on myself anymore like I had been so I ensured that the conversation was mostly directed towards her and how she's doing, to which I shared the encouragement God had given me. One of those things I thought about "enough is enough" is how I just "go through the motions" of life. I hate that! God has given me the gift of encouragement, so I shall be using it at every opportunity. I know that I hear from Him, so I ought to ask what He wants to say to those around me like I did with Drea more often. I'm tired of just showing up to coffee dates and / or being so focused on myself that I need to talk about my struggles the entire time and hope that my friend will encourage me. It's not about me!!!

After my coffee date, I went home and had a quick bite to eat. Then I headed to Life Mission Church in Escondido. I had been wanting to stop by for some time now, and really felt the Spirit leading me to go that night. The funny part about it was that none of my friends who normally attend this church were going, or they were serving. And, the title of the sermon was "Being Led by the Spirit". As I was driving there, I sensed God wanted me to take out my blank note card from inside the glove box and bring it in to write the pastor and his wife and encouraging card during the service. As I listened to the pastor preach, I also listened to what God wanted to say to encourage them. I also finished a few other cards for people who I knew would be there that the Lord had put on my heart. It was a great service and I felt I accomplished what the Lord wanted me to do. I was exhausted by Sunday night. Monday through Wednesday I worked full days, from 6am430, 6am-330, and 4am-4pm. Monday night was the first night of Financial Peace University and it went great! I was really excited about the class, but also a bit overwhelmed and not sure exactly where to start with my budget since I had been used to doing something with it already. It was also difficult because I get paid weekly, and my hours tend to shift each week even from when I'm scheduled. Tuesday night I spent time with my family and played cards. Wednesday after work I met up with my friend Kristina for coffee. She's the one who went to Bethel for two years, went to Ghana with me, and got me the job as Charlee's nanny because she was watching her last summer. It was very nice to catch up with her. Then I went to youth group at Vista Assmebly, to hear Morgan Reynolds teach. Morgan was on my Ghana team, also, and she is such an inspiration. I know that teaching and theatre is what she is made for, and I believe in her and what God has called her to do, so I wanted to go and support her. It was such a blessing and I felt very encouraged by her and proud of her! (Above is Morgan on the left and Kristina on the right)

On Thursday I intended to stay in my pajamas and rest all day, but God had a different plan. I spontaneously went on a bike ride with Crystal Rider to the beach. We met at her house and parked somewhere in Oceanside and rode our bikes to Oceanside Harbor. As we were almost there, I asked her about how far we were biking. Come to find out, it was 16 miles round-trip!!! That's crazy. I had no idea. Haha. I was just along for the ride, literally. When you're in good company, the distance doesn't matter because the time passes quickly. We just chatted and laughed away as we rode to and from the harbor, 8 miles each way. When we got there, we had lunch at Beach Break Café, where I had a delicious salad. Then we went to see her family, who was at the harbor for her nieces surf competition. We sat and talked for a bit, and then headed back. I love spending time with Crystal. She is a spiritual mama to me, a dear friend, and like family. She never ceases to encourage me, believe in me, compliment me, and bring out the best in me. She also brings out the child-like spirit in me, which is always followed by joy. We have fun together! I traveled to Tanzania in February with her and her husband and son. You really get to know people when you travel with them, and they are certainly some great people! Even though it took up my entire "restful" day off, I wouldn't have traded it. I always walk away from spending time with her feeling joyful and refreshed.


On Friday I had a busy day planned. I woke up bright and early to go walking with my friend Andria. She has been my mentor, and dear friend for quite some time now. I was really excited because we were walking to Better Buzz, a coffee place I had not been to yet that she raved about. I was saving the special occasion to go with just her. And it was so special. So lovely to spend time with her and hear how she's doing. In the past, it has always been about me. She'd always listen, encourage, and give wisdom. Often times about the same things. (That's a true friend!) She has contributed greatly to my spiritual growth and I am so thankful for her. I admire so many things about her and who she is, and I have learned so much simply by her example as I watch her do things with excellence and humility. And, she was right, the "Best Drink Ever" at Better Buzz was certainly exactly that. After my coffee date and walk with Andria, I headed to get a smog check for my car. I utilized the time in the waiting room to read the Word and finish my coffee, because I knew I had a busy day. Afterwards, I met Charlee and her mom at the Vista Library to hear this little band she likes. It was fun to spend time with her and her mom. Following that, I met my friend Erin for coffee. Erin is a missionary in YWAM that I have supported over the last year. I met her on a missions trip to Mexico when I was attending the Movement church and we have been friends ever since. She inspired and encouraged me to do YWAM. She was home for a few weeks and so I got to catch up with her in person before I head off to Redding. I ended my day by spending time with my friend Robyn and her twins. One of them is a "Mama's boy", so I always hang out with the other one the entire time. I could hold him for hours. He started smiling and it was super cute!!!

And that my friends, sums up week two.


Friday, July 5, 2013

From the Heart: Week 1

God inspired me to share what He has been teaching me each week. I want to share with you the spiritual insight I receive, but these posts will not be limited to that. I will share whatever He puts on my heart as I look back on each week and discover what I've learned. I will be sharing from the heart because being vulnerable is part of who I am. There are some things that I may not be so specific about because they are personal, but I will definitely share from the heart. I hope to set aside time each week to post this blog and I hope that it encourages, blesses, and inspires you through what God is doing in and through my life!

I'm going to start with last Saturday. It had been a long week of working more hours than normal, and long days. I was exhausted. I got off around 2pm and went to my "happy place" of Starbucks and prayed for my usual favorite spot, the cozy chairs outside watching the airplanes land at Palomar Airport. Shortly after sitting down and trying to find rest in the Lord by simply being still, I saw something on facebook that caused me to cry. (It's too personal to share) But, I quickly began to dwell on it and recognize the severity of the circumstances regarding that situation. I was sad. There's this thing in my life, that has really challenged my faith. It's causing me to trust in God and believe even when I do not see any change. Even when I do not know when the change will come or how long it will take. But, isn't that what FAITH is?? 2 Corinthians 5:7 says "For we live by believing and not by seeing." God brought this scripture to mind in the midst of this moment when I felt so down and discouraged. He said, Katie, this is where you live by faith. And again I realized how my faith had been tested yet again. Was I going to continue to believe God is able to take care of this situation, no matter what the physical circumstances dictate? Or was I going to give up, stop believing, and have no faith? I'll be honest. The second sounded easier. And, choosing the first took some time. But, I know in my heart and my spirit I have made a decision that I will agree with 1 Corinthians 13:7 that says "Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." And so, although I felt discouraged by the circumstances, I chose to press-on and pray. I also sent a few texts to friends who know the situation and asked for prayer. It wouldn't be like me to not do that. God also reminded me that it doesn't matter what I see in the physical because there is stuff happening in the spiritual working for this situation that I am unable to see. God is for us, not against us!
A friend reminded me, as God has spoken to me before, that it is my responsibility how I respond to my circumstances. I need to not let things like that effect me in a negative way. It is important to acknowledge what happened, and it's okay to be sad, but it isn't okay for me to give the enemy a foothold by allowing myself to become so wrapped up in it that it brings discouragement, doubt, fear, and worry. All of those things are not from God and they are signs that I am not trusting God.

After working so much the week before, my bosses decided to give me Sunday off. (They were moving into a new home and so both of them were off anyways) It was just what I needed! God is so good to give us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. He knows each of us so well. I went to church in the morning and then spent the rest of the day at the beach in Del Mar. There is a place that I like to go and hang out with God. It's a place that I always go to when I need to set all else aside and sit with Him and listen. It's a place where I leave my phone in the car, and I journal. It's like my oasis. I stopped by coffee bean and got my favorite tea latte and managed to find a parking spot in the craziness of Del Mar with the fairgrounds going on right now. I parallel parked for the first time! That was exciting :) I had plenty of space, but still. I spent most of the time reflecting on relationships I had been in the past, as that day marked 5 1/2 years since I broke up with my high school boyfriend, who I had been with for 5 1/2 years. I dated him from age 15-20. I may post more in depth about that sometime, but in short, ending our relationship was the best thing that ever happened to me. It actually brought me back to God (I was raised in a Christian home, but stopped going to church in high school). Quickly after, I went on my first missions trip and then got baptized, re-dedicating my life to Christ. It was then (September 2008) that I recall actually coming to understand what it truly means to have a relationship with God. I actually picked up my Bible and developed my prayer life after this. I also reflected on relationships I have been in since then, and where my heart was at emotionally. For some reason, I have no problem getting attached to guys emotionally. This is not a good thing and hasn't ever worked in my favor. However, with each relationship I was in, or not in but emotionally invested my heart in, I learned something from it. I have truly discovered that no guy can truly satisfy me except Jesus. Although I've gained this perspective, it hasn't always been an easy journey believing it. I have moments, seasons, and days where I feel totally free, in love with Jesus and trusting Him to bring me the man of my dreams. And then I have moments, seasons, and days where I completely lack trust, and fear being alone and never entering into the relationship I've always hoped for. God has also been working on my heart in preparing me for marriage in many ways regarding sacrificial love and knowing that when that time does come, I won't have the freedom and time that I have with Jesus right now. Someone recently told me she loves my child-like faith to trust in God regarding relationships. I laughed and began to share from the heart that this area is actually one of the biggest struggles for me. Some people would never know it, but those close to me know it very well. It has been a battle for so long and I'm really learning to trust God and hold onto the promises. He told me in 2010, "Let the guy pursue you. And, you won't have to do anything but be yourself and he will love you for you. Just keep pursuing Me and he will pursue you." You'd think that'd  be a simple thing to do, but I like to be in control and even though it hasn't ever worked for me, I still struggle. I'm so thankful that God does know who's best for me and He knows the best timing. And, He will work it all out. I do believe it will be effortless. Like falling in love with Jesus is effortless. I believe it will be orchestrated like God orchestrated many other things in my life. It will fall into place, without my efforts. Because like Jesus said, all I need to do is keep pursuing Him, and he will pursue me. That makes my part easy! So you'd think. Anyways, I walked away from reflecting on relationships thanking God for protecting my heart from each relationship that didn't work out because He truly did. My heart was emotionally invested in every single relationship and I realize now how emotions and feelings really can get in the way. And, I can pray, "Not my will, but Yours be done" since I haven't been successful in my pickings in the past. I also know that my story regarding relationships is a testimony and will be used for His glory to encourage and inspire young women one day. And I am also thankful for that.

Whenever I go to the Palomar Airport Road Starbucks, I look up at the airplanes as they land. There is something about airplanes that cause me to think about trusting God. Throughout my travels, I always get on a plane thinking about how I fully trust the pilot to get me from where I am to where I am going. I have no way of understanding it. I simply trust the pilot knows what they are doing and where they are going. I trust that they have learned to fly the plane and will get me there safely. Even though I don't know them personally, I trust them. I have no control over the plane and it getting me to where I need to be. It causes me to think about my relationship with God. In some areas, I am really good at trusting Him to be my pilot. In others, I am not. I need to trust God and not doubt His ability to get me from where I am, to where I am going, safely. To travel without worry. And to be okay with being out of control.

Something that God has been teaching me over the last year is that He is always speaking, it's just a matter of if we are listening or not. He speaks even in the midst of the most chaotic situation. We just have to listen. Sometimes it takes stepping outside of the chaotic environment if that is possible, and quieting yourself to be still so you can hear Him. Sometimes it helps to be at a peaceful place. Other times He speaks even when you least expect it. Something He is growing me in is abiding in Him all the time, staying connected to Him throughout the day, and knowing that He is always with me. He is there to listen and there to help. It doesn't matter to Him if I've read the Bible or had an extensive time in prayer, He just wants to do life with me. He just wants to walk with me. I'm learning how to walk with Him, no matter what my day brings. But I'm also learning that I do need set aside time with Him at least every couple of days to process in my journal what He's teaching me and speaking to me.

At one point in time, I woke up every morning with instantaneous JOY and I was eager to get the day started. This past season has been much different. It is very hard for me to wake up. I'm a slow mover in the mornings and don't want to talk to anyone until I've had some coffee and I'm a bit more awake. I prefer to lay in bed a little longer, if I can. Some days, I don't even want to get up and face whatever the day has for me, but I know that's not an option. And sometimes, once I am up and moving, I still am not in the best mood. This last week I decided that I am going to set my mind to praising God every morning. Even if it's in the quietness of my heart, I am going to praise Him. For who He is, for what He's doing in me, for what the day has in store, for the blessings around me, for where He's taking me, for whatever He puts on my heart. I want to praise God at all times, just as Psalm 34:1 says "I will praise the LORD at all times, I will constantly speak his praises." I do not want my praising God to be dictated by my circumstances or location. I want to praise Him at all times, and I know that I am learning that is a choice I have to make daily.

God desires to pour out His love on us daily. Have you ever heard people ask "Is it easier for you to give away love or receive love?" I know for me it's easier to give it away than receive it. And, as I was saying above about relationships, God has been showing me that He is trying to show me that He loves me no matter what I do, say, how I feel. His love is unconditional and never-ending, not based on my actions. He loves me simply because He loves me! And the same is true for you. I've been recognizing that God shows me He loves me in various ways, but I'm often quick to thank Him and then brush it aside and move on with life. I am not receiving the love in the way I want to receive it (through a relationship) and so I don't even recognize the love He is pouring out on me because I'm so caught up in how I am not receiving love the way I want it. Wow. So, on July 1st, He brought it to my attention. I had recently read the scripture "But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me." Psalm 42:8 and thought I'd do something fun for the month of July. I am on the hunt for love. I am on a the hunt to see how God pours out His unfailing love upon me each day. I know it's His desire, and I know He does it in various ways. So, I've opened up my eyes to see and my hands and heart to receive. And it's been fun to see how He shows me that He loves me thus far and I'm not even one week into it. I want to spend more time focusing on God and His love for me rather than the things I don't have and want.

Recently I discovered that I have been learning the hard way regarding some things. One in particular is this phrase "Just because it's a good thing doesn't mean it's a God thing." You can read more about this in my previous post below.

Another thing that I have been recognizing in this season is that everything is out of my control and I have a great need for God to come through or I'm not really sure what is going to happen. I'm not going to go into great detail on this because it is more personal, but what I will share is a scripture that came to mind as I was thinking about this : "The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him." Lamentations 3:25 Therefore, God promises to be good to me when I'm in this place where everything is out of my hands and I am forced to depend on Him. One thing I will share is something I have shared before. My financial needs are great with Bethel coming up. I do not have a job (yet) and have financial needs to take care of before I move to Redding, as well as tuition for the school I will be attending, and monthly rent. It is a scary place to not have a job, but plan to move anyways. I don't have a plan B. It's a new place of trusting Him. But, God reminded me the other day when I was reflecting on this that He is fully capable of meeting all of my needs. He brought the following scriptures to mind. "...your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." Matthew 6:32-33 "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." Ephesians 3:20  Now that I have these truths written down and planted in my heart, I can believe God to move on my behalf and meet all of my needs, just as He promises in the above scriptures. I am excited to see how He works everything out. And, I am expecting and believing for a job and all my financial needs to be met. The other things that are out of my control, I am doing my best to remember that it is better they are out of my hands and in God's. That God can and will work out every situation and I can walk resting in that truth, without carrying the burdens because He has it all in His hands. And, it doesn't matter what I see happening or don't see happening, He is still working on those situations and there is nothing I can do to change them, except partner in agreement with Him through prayer.

I've been thinking about Love Languages a lot lately and while reading "Keep Your Love On" by Danny Silk, he touched briefly on them. If you haven't heard of the love languages before, there are 5- Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Touch, Gifts, and Acts of Service. Often times we give away the love language we need the most, to my understanding. There is a book called "The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman and it expands more on it if you're interested. I discovered my top two love languages are Words of Affirmation and Quality Time. Here are some notes I took from the Danny Silk book about them: Quality Time: "A Quality Time person feels love and connection when you find them interesting- with the evidence of this interest being that you want to spend time with them...For a Quality Time person, pain enters the relationship when you don't listen or pay attention to them. When you don't make time to fully engage with your Quality Time person, you send them the ugly message that you are not interested in them, or worse that they are not important to you." Words of Affirmation: "Words of Affirmation people feel most enjoyed and appreciated when your words and body language include a positive tone of voice, facial expressions, and word choice. They notice the "spirit" or intent of words exchanged, and that aspect impacts them powerfully. For the Words of Affirmation person, anxiety rises and falls with the way words are used in conversation. A simple word of encouragement goes a long way toward creating safety and connection. Love flows into them with every positive word, and they relax as they experience someone verbally expressing their enjoyment in them." To be honest, I was a bit hesitant in buying the book on my Kindle due to tight finances, but it was only $8.00 and I knew it would be a beneficial read for me right now. I am so thankful that I did because reading the above things about my love languages was really helpful and put together the pieces for certain situations.

Life as a nanny is so much fun! I am learning more and more each day about myself, how to parent, and God often speaks to me through my time with Charlee. Last week I still worked a lot, but it was later in the day and into the evening rather than early mornings. It was nice to be able to get more sleep and have some solid time in with the Lord before work. The other day, I told Charlee not to go in the tennis courts because we went to the park to play. She listened, but the next thing I know she was walking through some trees through a back gate to the tennis courts! Again, I told her we are not playing in there and redirected her to the park. Then it dawned on me! Even though I told her no, she found another way around it to get her way. And I thought about how often I do that. I tend to think God needs my help with something, so even if He says no or it's not time yet, like Charlee, I try to find another way around it. Another time we went to this place she loves playing at called Kidsville. We arrived too early for open play and had to go spend some time else where so I took her to the coffee shop across the street. She got really upset because we were leaving Kidsville after we already went inside. She didn't understand or wasn't listening when I was telling her that we would return shortly, because she was so caught up in how we were headed to the car, which means we were leaving. She cried the entire way to the coffee shop, which wasn't far at all, and as soon as we got there, guess what? She was fine! She was totally content sitting in the chair having a snack and drinking some water. She actually enjoyed it and didn't want to leave when we could go back to Kidsville. In relation to God speaking to me about this, sometimes I want to stay at Kidsville where I know it is fun and I feel happy. But, God takes me from Kidsville to the coffee shop because it is not time yet for Kidsville. (This may be making no sense to you, and that's ok. If it does make sense, awesome! If not, just disregard it. lol) And, He's teaching me to be content in the coffee shop because I will get to return to Kidsville when the time is right. And, He showed me that just as Charlee found contentment and didn't want to leave the coffee shop, so can I.

Well, that's everything I learned this week. Hopefully next week will be shorter! Lol Definitely not a short summary at all. Oh well, I hope it inspires and encourages you !

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Just because it is a "good thing" doesn't mean it's a "God thing"

It dawned on me tonight that just because it's a "good thing" doesn't mean it's a "God thing". I've heard this phrase before but it came more alive to me tonight as I began putting the pieces together of how I've learned this lesson the hard way over the last year, at least a few times. Here's what I can recall.

1. I joined my "girls group" for a Bible Study when I returned from YWAM back in September. These girls are my core group of friends and as I've come and gone over the last three years as a missionary, they have always welcomed me back into whatever study they are doing. This time around, after getting input from everyone, we chose to do a Beth Moore Study on the life of David. God had spoken to me very specifically about David in the past, and I had never done a Beth Moore Study before, so it seemed like it must have been a "God thing". That's what I thought until halfway through the study I wasn't seeming to feel like that anymore. I didn't fully understand it at the time though. All I could recognize was the difficulty of disciplining myself to do the study and my desire to be in fellowship with the girls more so than watching the dvd of a teaching and filling in the blanks in our study books. Looking back, I can now see that it was a"good thing" but not a "God thing" that I participate in my girls group Bible Study. *Side note: The thing about a "good thing" vs. a "God thing" is that it doesn't always make sense to everyone. I mean, there was no reason why I couldn't do the study with them. It's like I was choosing not to when I was fully capable. But truthfully, my heart wasn't fully invested in it. I notice this to be a signal often times when something is a "good thing" that I thought was a "God thing" and turned out to be the opposite. And, because of that when it came time to communicate that to my friends, I beat around the bush and nervously gave excuse after excuse when I could have simply said "I know this doesn't make sense probably, and you may not understand it, but I don't believe I'm supposed to keep doing this study right now." Instead, I rambled and made no sense at all because I was so concerned about their responses and giving them a reason as to why I was not going to complete the study with them. (Thank you girls for your grace!!!)

2. I'm connected with a ministry called His Hands and Feet Christian Ministry. (HHFCM) It is a ministry that equips you to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and teaches you how to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading and hear the voice of God. My amazing friend Andria started it with her husband. She mentored me for a season and both her and her husband have contributed greatly to my spiritual growth over the years. Their ministry has supported me as a missionary both prayerfully and financially. After returning from YWAM, I found myself on the leadership team of this ministry. I loved being on leadership, but wasn't really sure my role as a leader except being a missionary. I knew Andria was looking for someone to help with and oversee the children's ministry, so we talked about the potential of me doing that. After "sorta" praying about it, I made the decision to take on the "children's pastor" role. I used whatever resources I had and tried to be creative with it. The first time was so overwhelming for me, but I didn't want to give up. Time after time, things kept coming up, and I couldn't be there to teach. Most of the time, I was scheduled to work as a nanny and forgot to mark my calendar for HHF. I still managed to come up with a "sub plan", however that whole process was so stressful. I even thought to myself, maybe it is spiritual warfare because the enemy doesn't want me to be doing it. Wrong! I took on something that I wasn't supposed to.  Despite my efforts to make it work, something just didn't sit right in my spirit. It wasn't until Andria said something to me along these lines that got me thinking "if you don't want to oversee the children's ministry, you don't have to. Just let me know soon what you decide so we can work it all out. And you know you don't owe us anything, right? I don't want you to feel like you have to be doing this because you owe it back to us." As soon as she said that, an immense weight lifted off my shoulders. And so I was, stuck in that place again, wondering what was going on in my heart and why I wasn't fully committed to overseeing the children's ministry for HHF. God must have been up to something! You see, I was trying to find my place, and it only made sense that I became the teacher for the children at this ministry. I went to college and have a degree for teaching, so shouldn't I be teaching in some manner? Not necessarily. Little did I know in the midst of all this, serving as the children's pastor for this ministry was a "good thing" but not a "God thing", which is why I felt the way I did. I still kept trying to find my place on leadership at HHF and after much prayer and searching, I discovered the best option for me was to step down from leadership. At this point I had applied and got accepted to Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry and is planning on leaving in September, so it made sense that my heart was unsettled because I was soon to be moving. It was a hard thing for me to do, but just because it was a 'good thing" doesn't mean it was a "God thing." I felt much more at peace after making this decision and becoming okay with it. Therefore, I had to eliminate another "good thing" from my life because it was not a "God thing". And just because I stepped down from leadership doesn't mean I can't attend the HHF meetings or keep in relationship with the people on leadership. It simply means even though being on leadership was a "good thing" it wasn't a "God thing".

3. Today I discovered another example of something that is a "good thing" but not a "God thing". I was supposed to meet with a friend and discuss a book we have been reading together. It seems more often than not that I end up cancelling our plans. I found myself in that place tonight and I was torn.. Then my friend said to me "you still coming tonight?" and it opened up the door for me to really seek God for wisdom about this situation. I knew I had committed to reading through this book with her and discussing the chapters on a weekly basis, but I felt I should cancel yet again. I found myself back in that place- what do I do, God? Asking God for wisdom in the midst of it, after the commitment. And as a result, I heard God say "Katie, I never told you to commit to this. You thought it was a "good thing" so it must be a "God thing" , but remember that just because it's good doesn't mean it's part of my plan for you right now." I looked back on my decision to go through the book with her and I recall recognizing that we both had the same book, and were struggling with the same topic as the book. It made sense that we read this book together and discuss it because it would bring encouragement to us both. However, sometimes, when we'd get together, we'd end up chatting about life and praying more than discussing the questions from the book . I was able to share this with my friend and hope she'd understand and be gracious with me. I felt instant relief from this.

All that being said, learn from me and don't learn the hard way. Just because it's a "good thing" doesn't mean it's a "God thing". Always ask God for wisdom before you make any decisions and commitments.