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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tanzania Here I come!

 
 
 
 
As most of you know, God completely transformed my life over the past two years and I discovered that He has called me to be a Missionary in Africa. On this journey, I have traveled to South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, and Ghana! Next year, I get to add a new country of that nation to my list as I will be on my way to Tanzania for 2 weeks in February. Here are some brief details about the trip: Tanzania is in East Africa. I am traveling with a family from my church. We are working with King of Glories International Ministry and Living Waters Ministry during our time there. We will be building relationships, making connections, and serving however we can help with a school and orphanage that is under these ministries. I will be gone February 13-March 1.
 
In exactly 10 weeks I will return to Africa!!! I am SO excited. I can't even describe the burning desire in my heart to return, the deep love I have for the people, and the amount of space my heart holds for this nation. This time I will be traveling with a family from my church, the Rider's. (See picture above) The Rider family were missionaries in Mozambique for many years and started the non-profit Cross-Connections Outreach, which I went to Africa with the first two times I traveled there. They are amazing and I am so privileged and blessed to be traveling with them on this trip.
 
I would like to share with you how this trip came about for me. Keep in mind, I did not plan to go anywhere for 1 year because I felt I was supposed to be home and work, build relationships, and focus on my family. However, God had different plans.
 
Shortly after I got home from YWAM, I went walking with Crystal Rider and we talked about my experiences in YWAM. I shared with her the good and bad, growth that God did within me, and the dreams I have on my heart that He confirmed time and time again over the 5 months that I was gone. As I spoke about Africa, she shared with me how she might have an opportunity to travel to Tanzania, Africa in January or February and she asked that I join her in prayer and ask God if that is something He might have me be a part of or not. I was ecstatic because I thought I wouldn't be able to go to Africa for at least one year, since I had committed to working as a nanny for that amount of time. As I prayed, I felt God's peace about going. I knew in my heart I wanted to go because I have not been back to Africa since this burning passion in my heart has increased and my faith has been strengthened. But, I wanted to be sure this was God's will and not mine, so I continued to pray and ask for confirmation from the Lord that He truly was saying yes to this. When I was driving to meet Crystal for our walk, I noticed there was one single cloud in the sky and closely observed the shape of it, thinking it must be significant. After meeting with her, I googled a picture of Tanzania, and sure enough, it was the same shape as that single cloud I saw on my way to meet her. Wow. It only continued. I was looking for decor to add to my room since I'd be living at home longer now, and one day I felt the Holy Spirit direct me to go into this particular Ross. And, as I was looking at the decor, I literally stopped in my tracks as I realized there was a canvas that I was passing with Tanzania on it (the one pictured above). I was blown away and in awe. I knew it was divine because I didn't even find what I was looking for in there but I felt so strongly that I was supposed to look in that particular location. Another time, I sat down at a local Starbucks. Most Starbucks coffee places have African coffee so they have pictures of different countries in their locations, and being a regular Starbucks drinker, I figured I wouldn't take that as a confirmation. However, this time was different. I sat down in a comfy chair as it was the only spot open. I wanted to use my computer, so I was hoping a table would open up. Well, sure enough, shortly after I sat down, the only table available was underneath the Tanzania canvas, to which I noticed after I sat down. God really has a sense of humor.
 
Crystal planned to talk to the man affiliated with the ministry we'd be connecting with in Tanzania on my birthday, October 22nd. She called me and shared the exciting news that he gave her permission to bring me and then she told me that her husband, Paul, and her son, Levi would also be joining us! (see picture above. I traveled with their family to Israel last March on a tour with a group from my church) There was one twist, though. She needed to know by Thursday whether or not I could go and it was a Monday night that she informed me of this. I knew that was really soon and I was concerned about how I was going to talk to my bosses and if they would give me time off, because I committed to 1 year and they were already giving me vacation time when they were taking a vacation. But I knew I needed to ask and I had so many confirmations, so if my bosses said yes, this would be the last and final confirmation that me traveling to Tanzania in February was fully His perfect will for me. And, sure enough, my bosses said yes!! In the morning I asked the father and he said to talk to his wife when she got home, but that he didn't think it would be a problem because it would only be a couple of weeks and it is far enough away that they can work something out. So, I mentioned it to his wife and she literally said "just plan on going and we will work it out"! WHAT?!?!? I couldn't believe it. Haha. I literally was like, really God, it was that easy?!? wow.
 
As this is the giving season, I want to give you an opportunity to give.  And, what better way to give this season than to give to something that is lasting?
 
And so, here I am, just 10 weeks away from journeying to a new part of Africa, one step closer to reaching my dreams. I really want to stress the importance that this is not just "another missions trip" for me. I know confidently that I am called to be a long-term missionary in Africa and I am in the process of discovering where that will be and when that will happen. Therefore, your gift to me this season will be long-lasting because it enables me to continue in this process of going where God takes me, in hopeful expectation of being planted somewhere long-term in the near future.

Please know that there is a possibility that Tanzania could be a door for a long-term position for me. Please consider partnering with me in spying out the land! While I am physically in the land, I will be seeking to hear from God if this is where He will have me plant my seed. God has put it on my heart to raise $5,000 for this trip. This is the first time God has given me a desire and a specific amount to bring with me and give away while I am there. Therefore, my personal costs will be $4,000 mostly for travels and living expenses, but I intend to give away $1,000. And I am excited to see God provide everything I need by the time that I leave, exactly 10 weeks from today! :) That's only $500/week!


If you are interested in partnering with me and giving anytime before February 13, you can do so in two ways:

1. Tax-Deduction: Write checks to HHFCM (His Hands and Feet Christian Ministry) which is a non-profit organization that supports and cheers me on as a missionary. 100% of your funds will go directly to my trip. *Be sure to write Katie Elder in the memo. Mail checks to Andria Haubruge 811 Crestview Ct. San Marcos, CA 92078

2. No tax-deduction: Write checks to Katie Elder and mail to P.O. Box 501908 San Diego, CA 92150

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask. You can email me at katiemarie.elder@gmail.com or call me at (858) 229- 4730. And please email me your prayer requests as I would love to be praying for YOU on a consistent basis.
 
Love you all!
 
 

 
 

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Change of Heart

This post is not about God changing my heart for anything big. It is something about plans I had for this weekend and how God changed the desires of my heart to different plans and taught me a lot through it. I hope it brings encouragement to you in some way, as I'm trying to only write blogs that are inspired by God and lessons that He teaches me as I pursue Him.

So, I bought tickets a couple of weeks ago to go to a chirstian conference this weekend. The conference is Thursday night, Friday 9am-10pm, and Saturday 9am-10pm. When I saw the pamplet for the conference in my church bulletin, I immediately wanted to go based on the title "Open Heavens." My desire is to go deeper with God and Heaven has been on my mind a lot for quite some time. I checked my calendar and I was off work during the scheduled conference. Perfect, I thought! It must be meant to be. (My hours vary with work often so I figured because I was off work during those days, God must have wanted me to go because I was available to go) So, I quickly registered online. I honestly don't even remember if I asked God i fthis is something I should be doing.

Before I even go further, let me explain how crazy to you this week has been. If you didn't know, I am a nanny for an adorable one-year old girl and her parents are a firefighter and police officer, so I work long shifts and my hours are unique. This was the last week her mom was on the night shift, so I had to watch the little girl overnight twice. I worked Monday 6am-Tuesday 11am. Then again on Wednesday from 545am-Thursday 1:00p.m. Then the conference is Thursday night-Saturday night. And I'm going to Knotts Berry Farm with family friends on Sunday. Work a 12 hour day on Monday and Tuesday a half day. So, I don't really get a break until Tuesday afternoon. Are you overwhelmed yet by my crazy, busy schedule? I was stressed before the week even began, as you can imagine. I may be 25 and single, but somehow my schedule gets filled up so quickly and busyness gets in the way of my relationship with God. This brings me to why I am currently sharing this with you and not at the conference that I paid for to be at this weekend...

I actually went last night for the first session and it was good. Worship, teaching, and a personal encounter with God. However, as I was on my way home, I had a desire not to return to the conference this weekend. I wondered where this came from and why my desires were beginning to change. As I got home at midnight, I knew I didn't want to get up early to be at the conference when the next session started at 9am in Santee. I needed sleep and I wanted personal time with Jesus. So, I went to bed with the intention of returning to the conference at 1:30pm today for session # 3. Little did I know I would continue to have a change of heart overnight. Literally.

This morning I woke up, had some personal time with God, went for a run (I'm training for a 5K) and then got ready. The clock kept ticking and soon I realized that I wasn't going to make it in time for the 1:30pm session today. I honestly had no desire to go but I kept questioning myself. *Sometimes, we don't feel like going to something and that is a signal that we really need to be there because God has something great for us and Satan is trying to do all he can to keep us from receiving that (this is an example of spirutal warfare because we are in a spiritual battle as christians). I don't believe this is what I was experiencing though, because I believe God would be revealing that to me by speaking to me saying GO. *Other times, God changes the desires of your heart because He has something else He wants us to be a part of. I believe this is what I was experiencing as I have continued to seek the Lord and hear His voice regarding what to do about this conference. Here are a couple of important things I want you to take note of:

(1) God began telling me after last night's session that I don't need to go to this conference to go deeper with Him. In fact, He can "open Heavens" for me if I seek Him for it.
(2) God was reminding me of how often I become too busy and don't take time to stop and listen to His voice or process things He speaks to me or pray into things He's revealed to me regarding my future
(3) After registering for this conference, I discovered that there are 3 things I will be missing out on because of it- A Night of Surrender (worship night) with Henry Haney, a benefit concert for Zimbabwe that Pastor Gayelee is speaking at, and His Hands and Feet Christian Ministry, which is one of my main communities and fellowships that I participate in and is only twice a month.

After hearing all these things from God, the battle in my heart and mind continued. I didn't want to go to the conference but I did pay for it and again questioned if I heard God previously tell me to go or not when I registered. I wondered if I'm going to miss out on something if I don't go that God might have for me there. Then I remembered the Night of Surrender is tonight and would be good for me. I was torn and didn't know what to do. This is where I'd like to use a lifeline and call a friend. :) I thought to myself, who can I talk to about my dilema that will help me get to the root of it and make a decision? I knew exactly who to call, and she had just the amount of time I needed and words to share to encourage me! (thank you! You know who you are) This woman knows me so well and she's always able to get right to the root of my messiness and speak bluntly (but it's always truth and motivated in love) which is why I knew she'd be perfect! Her response was this Katie, no matter what decision you make, it's going to be good. Both options are good. I think you are overanalyzing it way too much. Stop that and take a deep breath and be still for a moment. Ask God which one is better for you and if He tells you, great! If He doesn't tell you, then do what you want. You can't make a bad choice. Either place you go will have a good outcome for you."  And then we got off the phone and I cried for a short amount of time. I thought to myself Wow, I'm really worked up about something so small? This is so silly. God. I'm sorry. Thank you for speaking to me and using my friend to help get my attention.

After this I decided that I'm not going to go to the conference today and I am going to go to the Night of Surrender and that is my final answer! Haha. Why? Because that is the desire of my heart, which changed overnight. And, because I want to. *You see, God delights in giving us the desires of our hearts. But I still felt a struggle with this decision. (Really, even after all this? YES! The enemy never stops working, but God is always there and all we have to do is get into His Presence to receive His persepective) I couldn't believe that I literally posted on facebook "sad to be missing A Night of Surrender and HHFCM but I know God has something amazing planned for me at the conference" *Maybe God's big thing was teaching me this lesson that will be helpful in the future when it comes to other things that come up in my life and decision making. How could it change so quickly? I also found I was mostly concerned with what other people would think of me (this is a weakness of mine). The Lord reminded me that I'll never see the people at the conference again so I don't have to worry about that. And really, the truth is, God doesn't make sense. So, if I, or anyone is trying to be logical about this change of heart I've had overnight, I/they won't understand or agree with it. I'm still learning (as it clearly took time today to discover all this and make a decision) how to let go of what's logical and live in what's supernatural. But, I'm so thankful that GOd is teaching me all of this. I want me life to be led by the Holy Spirit and not logic. Here are some lessons I learned from all of this. I hope it brings you encouragement, too.

(1) Listen and obey God's voice, no matter if it's logical or not. (it won't be logical) haha I guess no matter what
(2) Ask God if you should do something before you do it
(3) God will use whatever goes on in your life for good even if you go against His will (I know last night had a purpose and today I gained so much from this experience)
(4) Don't get caught up in the busyness of life. Take time to stop, breathe, be still, listen, and process with God.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Stepping out in Faith

Yesterday I went to Starbucks on my break at work. I sat down next to a woman and man chatting about polictics. I had my head phones in listening to worship music, but could still hear them. A little while later, the man leaves and the woman moves to where he was sitting, which happened to be right beside me. It was on one of those bench things that have two tables next to each other. I looked up and tried to make eye contact because I really sensed the Lord wanting to do something and I felt His heart for this woman. (Earlier in her conversation with the man she mentioned being anti-religious and the man did as well and of course that is what caught my attention)

This may surprise some of you, but I'm also anti-religious. I do consider myself a christian; however I prefer to be called a follower of Jesus Christ. After all, christians do believe in the Bible and the main person in the Bible whom we study is Jesus himself. And we do base our faith on Him dying and raising from the dead. I want to acknowledge this because it is important in the motive of my heart in stepping out in faith and representing Jesus and His love for people. Although I've been a christian my entire life, and was born-again 4 years ago, in the last couple of years my life has been transformed by the love of God and I've come to a greater understanding that it's not all about the "spiritual stuff" on the to-do list, but it's about loving Jesus and loving others. Afterall, that is the first and second greatest commandments in the Bible. "And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these" Mark 12:30-31

Anyways, so I didn't even have to do anything because this woman quickly felt comfortable talking my ear off. :) Having my headphones in wasn't going to stop her! hehe She began sharing how she knows you can hear all conversations at coffee shops even if you try not to, and she shared how she always talks politics with that guy and so forth. Then somehow she began to share her life story with me. It was incredible. She's 39. She used to be way up in the executive world as business woman. She broke up with her ex-boyfriend 6 years ago and never really dealt with it because of so much stuff and quick transitions. She had a stroke 5 years ago. And that followed by a minimum of 5 blood clots. The doctors told her she is the second patient who has survived such a stroke in the 27 years he has been a doctor. She is literally a walking miracle. She had to re-learn how to use both arms and fine motor skills. She had to learn how to walk again. She had to basically start over due to such tragic health issues, which came about so suddenly and unexpectedly. She shared what she gained from it- a new perspective on life, to not take even one moment for granted, to have a good attitude and be thankful. Then I asked her what her biggest challenge was from this whole thing as well as her biggest current challenge. She said the hardest thing for her was she felt like she lost a big sense of her identity. She used to exercise very often and be in great shape. She can't even get on a tredmill because her core is "messed up" as she described how she can't walk more than 50 feet because her left knee is in such horrible pain. That was her biggest challenge as of now. (Can you imagine going through all of this?!? Or listening to it. I felt God's heart for this woman and also felt He saved her so He must have a big plan for her life) And this is when the opportunity arose for me to step out in faith...

 I told her that I heard them talking anti-religion and although I am a christian I am also anti-religious. I simply told her that the last couple years I came to understand more about Jesus His heart only love. I said, I believe that God is able to heal her knee and asked if she would be willing to let me pray for her. I shared how I prayed for a blind man in Africa, whose sight was restored, and I've seen people with different lengths of legs grow out to be the same length simply through a prayer. She was in awe and said sure. Then I asked if I could place my hands on her knee that has had the pain and she said yes. So, I began to pray and ask that Jesus touch her and heal her knee and I commanded all the pain to go in the name of Jesus. (It's really that simple!) I also thanked God for letting me meet her and for her joy and great attitude. After praying, I asked her how she felt and she said a little better. I then asked her if she felt anything while I was praying for her and she said "I actually felt it tingling while your hand was on it". I was so excited because this is a sign of the Holy Spirit which meant that God was doing something in her knee while I was praying. She kept saying, "that was so bizzare". haha Then I asked her how she will know if the pain is completely gone and she said when she leaves and walks on it. She didn't do that before I left but I walked away believing her knee was completely healed. I thanked her for letting me pray for her and said that I just love Jesus and want people to see His love through me and she said "I can totally see it in you". I asked if I could give her a hug and she said "yes, of course, you're so sweet" and then I went back to work.

The neat thing is that I haven't stepped out in faith like this on my own without being part of a ministry (like His Hands and Feet Christian Ministry) or out on the mission field when we are required to step out in faith and offer prayer for people. I knew that my stepping out in faith was not limited to a "missions trip" and I also knew that God's desire is for people in America just as it is for people in Africa to know His love. And I know that I carry His love. So I can walk in confidence that God's love will shine through me like it did yesterday towards this woman. And, the biggest thing that was hindering me from stepping out in faith previously like this had been fear of man. I was worried that God would not meet me when I asked for healing for someone and they wouldn't get healed. With that fear came something even deeper. I was concerned that if I stepped out in faith and prayed for someone, they didn't get healed, now they would perceive God the opposite of what I was intending to perceive Him as. They might question why God didn't heal them. They might be more closed off to God. But then God reminded me that it is not my responsibility how people respond to their situation and healing towards God. I am only responsible for stepping out in faith and obedience, trusting God to meet me where I'm at. And, shining His love through that because everything must be driven from love. And, that day, the Lord was faithful to meet me and show up. And this woman did receive a glimpse of His love through my willingness to step out in faith. Praise the Lord!!!

I share this story not to make myself look great. I share it to make God look great. "If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord." 2 Corinthians 10: 17 I want to show you that God so much bigger than we make Him out to be and His desire is to heal people today and He is able to do that! He is moving in power!! "for the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God's power" 1 Corinthians 4:20  I've seen Him do it and it is so exciting and real. I hope this encourages you to step out in faith as God directs you to share His love to someone, however that may be for you.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Do not worry.

WORRY does you no good!!!


We are instructed not to worry from Jesus himself in Matthew 6:25-34. This morning God led me to this part of my Bible and I felt so encouraged as I sat and soaked it all in. Sometimes I think we can know a passage like this in our minds but not in our hearts, which is why there isn't true transformation. Although we might have the scripture memorized, we don't actually live according to it. Recently I heard a song by Sanctus Real titled "Promises" that reminds us to hold on to the promises of God. (see youtube video below to listen to it) When we truly hold on to the promises that God gives us through His Word, our hearts, minds, and lives will change. God didn't give us His Word to simply check it off the to-do list, but to help us, strengthen us, encourage us, and build us up. Join me in holding on to the promise of not worrying. I will share a couple of scriptures and words from my Study Bible that have encouraged me and I hope they do the same for you.

Before I go any further though, I have to confess: I am a worry wort. I try not to be, but to be completely honest, I often worry about many things. Even though I've had many opportunities to trust God and learn how trustworthy He is so there is no need to worry, I still choose to worry sometimes. But since turning 25, I really feel like something shifted. I am a new me! haha I do not want to affiliate with "the old Katie" anymore. Therefore, I'm professing that I am not going to be a worry wort any longer. I am going to trust God because He works all things together for my good and He is trustworthy.

"Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." Matthew 6:33

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:34

"Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Below are the notes from my Study Bible regarding worry:

7 Reasons NOT to worry:

1. The same God who created life can be trusted with the details of your life.
2. Worrying about the future hampers your efforts for today
3. Worrying is more harmful than helpful
4. God does not ignore those who depend on him
5. Worrying shows a lack o faith in and understanding of God
6. Worrying keeps us from real challenges God wants us to pursue
7. Living one day at a time keeps us from being consumed with worry

*Because of the ill effects of worry, Jesus tells us not to worry about those needs that God promises to supply. Worry may (1) damage your health (2) disrupt your productivity (3) negatively affect the way you treat others, and (4) reduce your ability to trust in God

*Here is the difference between worry and genuine concern- worry immobilizes, but concern moves you to action.

*To "seek first the kingdom of God above all else" in your life means to put your thoughts with his desires, to take his character for your pattern, and to serve and obey him in everything. What is really important to you? People, objects, goals, and other desires all compete for priority. Any of these can quickly become most important to you if you don't actively choose to give God first place in every area of your life.

*Planning for tomorrow is time well spent; worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference. Careful planning is thinking ahead about goals, steps, and schedules, and trusting in God's guidance. When done well, planning can help alleviate worry. Worriers, by contrast, are consumed by fear and find it difficult to trust God. They let their plans interfere with their relationship with God. Don't let worries about tomorrow affect your relationship with God today.

I want to conclude with something I've heard many times and I'm not sure who to quote, so don't give me credit. It gets me every time and reminds me how worry really does us no good!

"We often worry about things that don't even end up happening"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Philippians 4:1-9

This evening I went to a Bible Study at a local Anglican church in the neighborhood where I am currently living in England. We studied Philippians 4:1-9 and it was really good for me to stop and truly reflect on nine verses. I have read this passage many times but tonight I received more revelation and felt compelled to share it with you all. I hope you find it encouraging.

The passage states this:

"Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

Here are some of the notes I took from the study:

-You can't have peace if you aren't at peace with God.
-Peace comes when we: rejoice, give thanks, and pray. (verses 4-7) It also comes when we think positive things. (verses 8-9)
-Remember God's faithfulness in the past because it helps us to "rejoice in the Lord always" when we trust in the Lord because of His character, not our circumstances. We build this trust as we get to know Him (intimacy) and He gives us opportunities to put our trust in Him. As we spend time in prayer (communing with Him) and reading His Word, we get to know who He is (His character) and the more time we spend in His Word and with Him, the more we are able to see that He is actually trustworthy and faithful.
-Always begin praying with rejoicing and giving thanks for we can always find something to be thankful for
-When a conflict arises (as the two women were in conflict with their beliefs according to the second verse needing to come into agreement), we must handle it with the following: gentleness, rejoicing, not being anxious about anything, praying about everything, making our requests known to God, and peace will follow. As we follow this process, our hearts and attitudes will change and we will end with peace in our minds and hearts that surpasses knowledge.

I'm sure you may have read this passage before and have been encouraged by it as I have. Another thing we acknowledged tonight is that anxiety comes daily and we have to choose to go through this process in order to receive God's peace. I have to admit that sometimes I read the same verses over and over again and even to the point of memorizing them, but don't actually put them into practice in my life. That has happened with this verse for me. I know it very well, but still experience anxiety and don't go typically choose the process in this scripture in order to receive God's peace. What about you? How do you handle conflict or anxiety? I encourage you to memorize this scripture and ask God for it to go from a revelation in your head to a revelation in your heart. I am going to begin memorizing this even more to the point where I do not lose it because the Word also says "I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you." in Psalm 119. Therefore, it is important that we meditate on this scripture and let it sink in our hearts before we are given the opportunity to activate it in our lives. Let's not just go through the motions of reading it but make it a lifestyle to do what the Word of God says.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Outward Focused

Yesterday was a day where I was outward focused. I woke up with the intention of going to the prayer room at 5:00 a.m. and ended up going back to sleep. I woke up again around 5:45 a.m. and decided to get up and go to Crossfit, a workout program that someone teaches on campus. It was challenging, but I am so glad that I did it. By the time I finished working out, it was 6:45 a.m. and I ate breakfast, showered, and got ready for the day. By the time I was able to have "quiet time", it was already 7:45 a.m. and worship and class began at 8:00 a.m. I am not just throwing these times out there so you have an idea of what time I wake up and what my schedule looks like. I am informing you that this left me with only 15 minutes of designated "quiet time" with God and it made me feel anxious. I prefer elongated quiet times with God where I can read my Bible, journal, pray, and listen to worship music. God is growing me in this area and teaching me that even if I don't get a long amount of quiet time, He is still with me throughout the day and isn't displeased with me. It is so important for me to stay in tune with the Holy Spirit and not let lack of a designated quiet time or the length of my quiet time with God discourage me. After all, God is not limited to my quiet time anyways and it is a privilege to even have it. I think I ended up resting in God's presence as I prepared for the day and listened to one worship song while laying in my bed. So often I want to do something and God wants me to do nothing. :) I am learning how to be still and cease striving.

This week is corporate week in YWAM which means all the dts's meet in Ohana Court for daily worship and teaching. This week we are sitting with our outreach teams getting inspired and empowered for our journey to make God known in 2 1/2 weeks throughout Europe. I enjoyed worship but wasn't "feeling engaged" as much today. (Yup, believe it or not, that actually does happen to me. lol) I was alert and ready to hear from the speaker, though. Today he talked about Hearing the Voice of God and the Prophetic Ministry. It's amazing to me how many times I've heard lots of teaching on this subject from different people, yet I am still learning so much. We activated the teaching by praying within our teams. We did the "4 R's", which are 1. Repent of sin 2. Receive God's forgiveness 3. Rebuke the enemy 4. Respond with truth The focus of our prayers was our Identity in Christ. It was so freeing to declare who we are in Christ and believe what we were saying that God says about us. After this we prayed in pairs and asked God to give us His heart and words for our partner. We then shared any encouragement, words, and pictures God gave us for the person we prayed for. *Note: Every time we do this, we step out in faith and overcome fear. It never gets easier. It requires faith and trust in God. The words and picture God gave me for my friend resonated with her. Praise the Lord! Then she did the same thing for me and everything she said and prayed over was right on target with how I was feeling and what I needed to hear from God to encourage me.

Our speaker challenged us to do this for somebody that we didn't know. During the prayer room time from 1-3pm today, I was standing upstairs looking down on the crowd of people. I asked God to highlight someone for me and give me a word for them. I wanted to activate the gift of faith He's given me and test my faith. I looked around for a bit and one girl stood out to me. I asked God what He wanted to say to her and He simply said to tell her that He is well pleased with her. That's it. Nothing more. It sounded too simple to me, but it is all I heard God say. (Sometimes we don't step out because we don't think what God is speaking to us for that person is enough or extravagant) The prayer room was extra crowded today because another dts was in there that normally isn't and the Fire & Fragrance January Quarter had returned from Outreach. And, of course, the girl God highlighted to me, was at the very front of the room. So, I literally had to make my way to the front through a maze of people, simply to be obedient to God. *Obedience requires us to take risks. To be honest, I was tempted not to give her the word God gave me for her because of the obstacle it took in reaching her. But, I went for it, and God honored that. I told her basically what I stated above, asked her for her name and if I could pray for her and she greatly accepted the offer. Afterwards, she said thank you and affirmed to me that the words and prayers I spoke over her were accurate. She felt encouraged and that I covered everything. Basically, I took a risk of faith and it was successful. Praise God! That doesn't always happen, which is why I think we don't always choose to take a risk or be obedient to what God is asking us to do. (This is another example of how I was outward focused today) Because I invited God to speak to me on behalf of someone else, and I was willing, He blessed me by giving me His heart for her and faith to step out in obedience.

After this, I felt prompted by the Spirit to pray for one of my roommates and good friend. I found her and asked if I could pray for her. I knew that God wanted to use me to call out her identity in Christ. I did this and prayed over her as well and she expressed that she felt lighter after I prayed. Praise God! (Again, I chose to be outward focused.) And in blessing others with prayers and words from God, I was blessed in return. It is more blessed to give than to receive.  Before I went to the prayer room at the designated time of 1:00 p.m. , I felt that I needed to go sooner. So, I had a quick snack bar as my lunch and headed to the prayer room. I spent time writing down my identity in Christ in my journal. Then I spent time with God, writing down what He says about me (my identity). Today I needed to go early and write down the words I had been given earlier in the morning. *You see, when we are outward focused, we still need to be sensitive to the Spirit's promptings and we also need time to "refuel" or "fill back up". Today I knew going to the prayer room before our designated time was essential for me because it was all I could think about and I felt as though I needed to process everything I had just learned. This was inward focused, but it kept me connected to the vine and brought me refreshment.

As the night went on, I was sort of restless and unsure about what to do with my time in the evening. Tuesdays are our free nights, so I was hoping to spend some time catching up on our Weekly Bible Readings and start a new book I've been wanting to read for a while. But, that wasn't what God had planned for me. I could have chosen to spend the evening with God, but I didn't. Instead, I chose to take a shower and get ready to get mud pie with my roommates. This plan failed as some of our roommates couldn't go and decided not to. So, instead three of us went to get frozen yogurt. The most expensive and largest amount of frozen yogurt I've ever had in my life. But it was fun and I laughed a lot :) Before frozen yogurt, a friend of mine asked if we could have skype date. I knew this friend was going through some difficult times and she has been there fore me countless times. It was my turn to return the favor. So, I chose to give up time with Jesus yet again and be outward focused. And, as a result, I was blessed yet again. Because God is good and He loves us so much. *The Lord knows that I value quality and quantity (let's be honest, I like a lot of Jesus time) time with Him, so He gives it to me daily. (Quality time must be my love language) Last night it was at the end of the night. I went to the prayer room from about 9-11pm and normally I am getting ready to go to bed or asleep at that time. Anyways, friends are very important to me, so I chose to be outward focused and use my time to skype and be there for a friend. I was able to listen to her, encourage her, and pray for her. And again, I felt filled because I was able to bless her.

I encourage you live a life that is outward focused. Look for opportunities to encourage and bless those around you. You won't be disappointed. You will be blessed.

But remember, it is essential to stay sensitive to God's voice and promptings so that you also remain inward focused to refuel whenever you need it. Often times I pray or read my Bible in the morning so that I am filled before the day begins with others, but this doesn't always happen as it didn't yesterday. I have to admit, at 11pm, I was very tired and felt overwhelmed that I was unable to accomplish what I wanted to do with God in the prayer room. So, I woke up early this morning and spent more time with God. This is something I'm growing in through- understanding that there is always a list of things I can be doing and they are all good things, but it is impossible to accomplish all of them in one day and it can be overwhelming when I feel as though I am not doing any of them. God is showing me His grace and that I don't need to strive or worry, but be outward focused and remain connected to the vine and He will give me the time I desire to do these things I enjoy and desire to do. *Also note: God doesn't care how much time I spend with Him. He values our time with Him and loves it, but He doesn't love us any less or more depending on how muc "quality time" we spend with Him. He is omnipresent and always with us. So, ultimately He wants to be a part of our every day lives even in the smallest things. As a believer though, in order to get to know God and become His friend as I would any other friend, it requires time. I am just learning that this time might be and look different daily. And regardless of it, God is still always with me and speaking to me. My job is to lissten and be obedient.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

6 weeks down in YWAM!


It is so hard to believe, but I have been living in Kona for 6 weeks already! Time is really flying by so fast. I am officially done with half of the Lecture Phase of DTS. That means, I only have 6 weeks left in Hawaii and then I’m off to Europe for Outreach! (Outreach is the Missions part of YWAM and I will be going to London in July and Berlin in August. I will return to Hawaii the first week of September and back to California on September 8th. *I need $3500.00 for the rest of my Outreach Fees, which is due June 1st, so please ask God how you can support me- through prayer and/or finances) I’m not sure where to begin about summarizing what has happened in the last 6 weeks and what God has been teaching me, but I will do the best I can and then expand on each week more in depth as time permits and I’m able to catch up on blogging.



When I first arrived in Kona, I was very excited. I knew that I was supposed to be here and I was ready for the change. God prepared my heart to come here, but I wasn’t prepared for all the heart surgery that was to come during the last six weeks. Pride told me that this was only going to be a season of refreshing and equipping without any challenges. Little did I know there were plenty of things in my heart that I didn’t even realize needed to change and things regarding my identity in Christ that weren’t grounded and have come to the surface since I arrived. God has been especially teaching me the following things: I am a striver, and always do do do. He wants me to break that and trust Him to guide me with my time and teach me to hear His voice and obey that so that I am not overwhelmed by all the things I want to do. God has shown me that I depend on others so much and I need to depend on Him. He’s convicting me when I’m using my cell phone or updating facebook too often and has been helping me communicate less with people so that I can focus on the present, which is being in YWAM, building relationships with those in my dts, and especially investing in my relationship with Him. God is teaching me that I need to make Him my top priority. God is teaching me that each day is different and won’t look the same, so I can’t plan out my days or expect the following day to be the same as the previous day. He’s teaching me to lay down my expectations of how my days will go and stay connected to Him so that I can be attentive to His voice and act on it. He’s teaching me how valuable the Word of God is and imprinting a desire like never before to memorize scripture so that it is planted in my heart. He’s teaching me how to fight in a spiritual battle by no longer being passive. He’s teaching me to pick up the only offensive weapon, which is the Word of God (the sword of the Spirit) and also use my shield of faith which is able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the enemy. He’s teaching me to put on the armor or God daily so I can stand in the battle. (See Ephesians 6) He’s teaching me that life isn’t easy and won’t always be, but He is always with me and by my side, helping me through the challenges. He’s teaching me to renew my mind and speak truth over the lies. He’s teaching me to memorize scripture and believe it in my heart, not just memorize it. He’s teaching me that all I need is Him, nothing else is sufficient. Nobody and nothing can meet my needs in the way that Jesus can. I’m learning to turn to Him and not others or things that might temporarily bring satisfaction. I’m learning to focus on today and today alone. I’m learning that God is able to do big things and He has incredibly big plans for me in the future, but that doesn’t make me any different than anyone else. I need to be humble and recognize pride when it creeps in and seek forgiveness. I’m learning that I need to enjoy the process of being refined into who God created me to be to the best of my ability. I’m learning to be content where I’m at and enjoy where God has me right now. I’m learning to be present in every single moment and not miss out by focusing on something else or doing something else. I’m learning to give my burdens to God and literally leave them in His hands. I’m learning to pray more because that is all I have and can do in certain moments. I’m learning to trust God. I’m learning more about God’s character.  I’m learning how to live with seven other girls. I’m learning to make sure I get myself right with God daily so that I can be a blessing to those around me. I’m learning to be disciplined with my quiet time every morning. I’m learning that I need a lot of quiet time with Jesus. I’m learning to be disciplined to be active and go jogging a few days a week. I’m learning to love people where they are at and not expect them to be where I want them to be or do what I want them to do.



Week 1 we had Andy Byrd speak to us. He is the founder of my dts, Fire & Fragrance and he has such a radical passion and fire for Jesus. He empowered us to rise up. His theme was a radical pursuit of Jesus through a revelation of His love which leads to a revival of the heart, reformation of life, and reformation of the church. Week 2, Rhonda Barker was our guest speaker. Her husband is my school leader, Aaron Barker. She is a first grade teacher on campus at the Learning Center and super sweet. She taught us how to hear God’s voice and the prophetic. She shared with us ways that God speaks to us, steps to prepare our hearts to hear from God, purposes of the prophetic, ways we can protect from deception and error with the prophetic, and etiquette when hearing from God and praying for others. Aaron spoke to us on the last day of class regarding Intercession by defining intercession and sharing with us the qualities of an effective intercessor as well as the ten steps of intercession by Joy Dawson. Week 3 was Corporate week so we had class in Ohana Court and heard from various speakers but mostly the founders of YWAM, Loren and Darlene Cunningham. The main theme of the week was empowering us to pursue our dreams and believe God for the more that He has for us. They shared many testimonies about God’s faithfulness in their lives to do many supernatural things throughout as they pursued God and His plan for their lives. Week 4 was Pure Heart week. Tom and Donna Cole who wrote the book Pure Heart- Restoration of the Heart through the Beatitudes were our guest speakers. They encouraged us not to take notes, so I did my best not to, but from what I can recall, each day we focused on something different. Each day we covered something different but the themes were Mother Wound, Father Wound, Feminity and Masculinity (healing from past relationships), and Forgiveness. Week 5 was Holy Spirit Week with Amy Sollars. Amy is a prophet and highly anointed in the prophetic, but prefers to be called a lover of Jesus and people. She shared her testimony and then taught on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the prophetic, and how to use these gifts in an appropriate and effective manner. Each day we had time for ministry where we worshipped and she prayed over us and on the last day she spent the afternoon teaching the women about envy and comparison. During week 6 and our guest speaker was Scotty Kessler and the main theme was studying the Bible. He gave us many tools to add to our toolbox for evangelism, ways/plans in which we can study the Bible, and how to have a well-rounded prayer life. The most important thing that I learned through Scotty’s teaching was the stand on the promises of God (the Word of God) and how valuable the Bible truly is. I learned the importance of memorizing scripture and planting it in your heart so that you can use it as an offensive weapon against spiritual attack as well as to defend your faith and what you believe.

Although this experience thus far has been different than I ever imagined, I am so thankful for all that God is teaching me and how much I am growing through it all. I know that it has had its ups and downs and I’ve experienced daily battles, I am being strengthened through it and I am grateful. I don’t want to go home the same person that I was when I came out here. I want to be changed. I want to be transformed. I want to be stronger. I want to be confident. I want to be bold. I want to be courageous. But I also know I can’t be perfect. So I’m praying that I am able to learn everything God is teaching me and bring it home with me and out into the mission field in the future. I know that this season is intended to be a season of intimacy with me and Jesus and I want to make the most of it. I want to enjoy this season with Him and embrace every moment that is before me. My prayer is that I can continue to be thankful for the things God is teaching me despite the challenges and painful they might be. I know that life is not going to be easy and to be honest; my life hasn’t been that hard. I have been so blessed growing up in a loving home with parents who have been married for 31 years and not any financial struggles. I am thankful for this blessing but now I am learning how to work through challenges in life by leaning on my true comforter and rock, Jesus Christ. This is the best lesson I can learn and I know it will totally benefit me in the long run.



Thank you to all my supporters. I am able to be here and grow in God and learn all of the above because of YOU. Praying the Lord blesses you for your obedience to Him and support to me.




Monday, May 7, 2012

A Gentle Giant and a Sweet Lion



The Lord has spoken to me recently about being a gentle giant and a sweet lion. It sounds strange, I know, but it will make sense if you continue to read this.

During worship or prayer at some point in time during my dts thus far, I remember seeing a picture in my mind of a lion laying down. The lion was at rest and looked sweet. Then the lion got up slowly and gave a loud and fierce roar. I believe the Lord was speaking to me about being a sweet lion. I felt as though He was telling me that I am a sweet lion, who can be sweet yet fierce. I can rest in His presence and be sweet yet when needed I can stand up and be fierce. I can defeat the enemy with my "loud roar" that comes out of nowhere because I am most often resting sweetly. I believe God is going to give me wisdom and an ability to know when I need to be that fierce lion and attack the enemy or go fiercely after something that is not of God, whether it be in prayer for someone or simply a tactic to resist the enemy. *I have noticed this in myself recently. I'm not a loud person, but a few times when I've prayed for people, I have felt an authority and fierceness in my tone and manner of praying for them and it's the lion coming out in me. I'm angry that the enemy is attacking them or myself and I speak with authority in my voice instructing anything not of God to flee. It's righteous anger, like Jesus had in the Bible. It's different than a gentle tender prayer but it's not a yelling or screaming prayer.

Today my small group was praying for me. During this time, a woman said that she felt the Lord was telling her that I am a gentle giant. I immediately thought of David in the Bible, who has been close to my heart, too. David and I are similar (hence the blog a girl after God's own heart...just like David was a man after God's own heart) I am gentle but I have a giant heart. This heart is full of compassion for others and out of it love overflows. That's right on target if you know me. Another person said that I am a safe place for people to come and tell me anything. I'm trustworthy and people are drawn to me because God has given me an ability to be a safety net for people. As I was receieving these prayers and listening, God gave me a further reminder and revelation of something He's spoken to me about before that might be of encouragement to those of you who have a heart similar to mine that loves to give and pour out onto others any chance you get.

In order to pour out onto others, I need to be filled first with Jesus. He needs to be my top priority. This might mean waking up earlier than everyone else and refueling in the evenings. It may mean listening to worship music in the middle of the day. It may mean I'm praying often. Whatever it looks like, it means that I make time at the start of my day, preferably, to fill up on Jesus. I need to get in the Word, pray, and listen to worship music to be filled up. What you need might look different, but as long as you keep Jesus as number one you will be filled. This attitude enables us to have a heart that is blessed so that we can be a blessing. It gives us the ability to be interrupted by people throughout the day and willingness to listen and be engaged in whatever you discuss with them. It gives us the opportunity to pray for others. It is the others oriented attitude and focus. This is so important for those of us who consider ourselves followers of Jesus Christ because if we are not filled we cannot pour out onto others. We cannot give away what we do not have.

For me, this past week and maybe even longer, I have been dwelling on my sin, my struggles, what I want to accomplish and what I want to do with my time here in Kona. Me, me, me. I've been texting people to pray for me. I've been focused on my circumstances and challenges that are going on in my life. I have been discouraged and down. I've felt crappy. I've focused on my sin and struggles which causes me to feel like a failure. And last night, I was so sick of it! I told God I'm tired on dwelling on all of the discouragement. He didn't bring me out here to Kona to go through YWAM and be discouraged. He brought me out to teach me how to turn to Him in the midst of my struggles and challenges and be an overcomer. He's teaching me how to depend on Him and Him alone. So, I realized that I am the only one who can change this cycle of sin dwelling on my discouragements. I am responsible for my thoughts and what I focus on. I am responsible for how I respond to difficult circumstances. I am responsible for making Jesus a priority. Nobody else can pray for me to change, nobody else can do anything to make me change. It has to be me. So, I sat down with God and said I'm tired of failing and feeling like a failure. I asked Him to help me set goals that I can achieve for the week. I asked Him to help me be others oriented and take the focus off of myself. I committed to being others focused not me focused this week! I am going to be looking for opportunities to bless people around me, whether it be encouraging words, prophecy, buying them a coffee, praying for them, or letting them have my time that I would rather use to read or something. In doing so, I know that God will multiply my time by giving me time to accomplish the things I desire, after I bless others. I need to trust Him to meet all of my needs. And I've seen Him do that. Today has been a successful day. I've been able to bless others with words, prayers, and encouragement. I've been filled with imeasureable joy. I woke up early and filled up on Jesus and I had the energy I needed throughout the day to be present in every moment. I have fixed my eyes and thoughts on Jesus and rebuked Satan. I've renewed my mind. I've been obedient to His voice and feel confident that I've made the most of my time. And because of all of the above, those around me were able to be blessed who might have missed out on that encouragement or prayer they needed had I been focused on myself.

My prayer is that I can keep this up every day and make it my lifestyle. It takes discipline to wake up early and fill up on Jesus. It is a daily decision to put others before myself. It is a daily battle for me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and not my problems, but I'm trusting that I can do all things through Christ. I'm taking it one day at a time as God teaches me how to live a life attentive to His voice and following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I'm believing that every day can be like it has been today because God is good and He desires that I have a good attitude and His heart is to encourage and bless others. Keep your focus in the right place so that you can be a blessing to those around you. :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Israel- The Jordan River

Last Thursday night, I came to the Prayer Room on campus and there was a group of people worshipping who felt the Lord lead them to designate their set to intercession for Israel. Having recently traveled there, I don't think it is ironic that I was there at this exact time but I believe it was God stirring a passion in my heart for Israel and the people of Israel and a desire to intercede for them. After talking with one of the girls in the group, she informed me that they strongly felt God wanted them to intercede for Israel and asked that He bring people who have a heart for Israel and/or those who would receive a desire to have a heart for Israel into the prayer room at this time every week. So, here I am, ready to Intercede (yes, as I am on my laptop writing this blog) and reflect back on my time there in March. Women can multi-task, right? :)

This week our Bible reading for class is Joshua. I found myself reading about when God miraculously parted the Jordan River for the Israelites as they were crossing it. This story is found in Joshua 3.

"So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing it's banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying te Ark touched the water at the river's edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho. Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the LORD's Covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by. They waited there until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan on dry ground." Joshua 3:14-17


My study notes further discuss this story of Jesus parting the Jordan River for the Israelites in this way: The Israelites were eager to enter the Promised Land, conquer nations, and live peacefully. But first they had to cross the flood-level waters of the Jordan River. God gave them specific instructions: In order to cross, the priests had to step into the water. What if these priests had been afraid to take the first step? Often God provides no solution to our problems until we trust Him and move ahead with what we know we should do. What are your rivers, or obstacles, in your life? In obedience to God, take that first step. God parted the waters of the Red Sea to let people out of Egypt (Exodus 14) and here he parted the Jordan River to let them enter Canaan. These miracles showed Israel that God keeps his promises. God's presence among his people and his faithfulness to them made the entire journey from Egypt to the Promised Land possible. He was with them at the end of their wanderings just as he was with them in the beginning. This Israelites crossed the Jordan River in the spring, when it was overflowing its banks. God chose the time when the river was at its highest to demonstrate his power- parting the waters so that the entire nation could cross on dry ground. Some say that God used a natural occurrence (such as a landslide) to stop the waters of the Jordan; others say he did it by a direct act. In either case, God showed his great power by working a miracle of timing and location to allow his people to cross the river on dry ground. This testimony of God's supernatural power served to build the Israelite's hope in God and to give them a great reputation with their enemies, who greatly outnumbered them.

We made it to the site where Jesus was baptized by John!

Thankful I'm not getting baptized in this water

yuck!

Amy and I...my roomie :)

Amy and I standing in the Jordan River!!!

I love her...can you tell? :)

My pastor and his wife :) Love and respect them so much. They are amazing!

Dirty feet...apparently the Jordan River is muddy

 
The story of the baptism of Jesus can be found in Matthew 3:13-7, Mark 1:9-11, and Luke 3:21-22) This is the story where Jesus came and was baptized by John. We didn't spend very much time at this location, but I heard through another friend that there is a different site for tourists to visit the Jordan River that is not muddy.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A challenging week...but God is SO good.

Last week was the most challenging week since I've been here in Kona doing YWAM. But through it all, I've learned that God is SO good. God was speaking to me about some stuff that I struggle with and I wasn't thrilled to hear about it. I mean, we all like to think we're perfect and we have no problems, right? :) I honestly thought my time here in Kona would be a breeze, like a honeymoon with Jesus. Don't get me wrong, it is and it has been wonderful, but it won't be that way the entire time. It is such a beautiful place to be and I am seriously so thankful and blessed beyond belief. It's been 3 weeks and it still feels surreal to me. I have no doubt in my mind that I am where I am supposed to be right now. And I have so much peace. (That is a good sign that you're right where you should be or you made a good decision about something) However, I didn't expect it to be challenging. I've heard dts (discipleship training school) is life changing and truly transforms you, but I thought for me it would simply be a retreat with God. I thought I already went through the "bandage ripping off" stuff last year. What I mean by that is a painful process in which God breaks you down and removes the "baggage" in your life so that you can be restored and rebuilt and strengthened in Him. Last year was the most challenging year for me spiritually so I felt as though I already went through that process with God and wouldn't need to experience it again in dts. I may be right about this, but I didn't realize that God had another process in which I'd be strengthened in Him. I like to call it "heart surgery". There are so many things in my heart that need to change or maybe even some things that I never dealt with and are still there. I need to be refined and renewed in my identity in Jesus. And wen God began revealing this stuff to me last week it was painful because I didn't realize how many struggles I still had or that I had any at all.

Even though I began to recognize these things and "fight" with God or ignore and avoid them, He patiently waited for me to be ready to respond. And even when I heard Him speak to me and I was disobedient, He didn't respond in anger. "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love." Psalm 103:8 When I was ready to talk with God about this "heart surgery" and accepted it in my heart that it is essential for me to have it in order to build and strengthen my identity in Him, I went to the prayer room with my journal and Bible. And to my amazement, I somehow opened up to scriptures that were so relevant to what I was going through. I'm not even sure how it happened, but like I said...God is SO good. I keep thinking about this: God is so faithful to provide everything we need at just the right time I shouldn't be amazed because God is always so good. The Bible is so big, yet He led me directly to the scriptures I needed to read at just the right time. The main scripture that stuck out to me in regards to "heart surgery" is this: "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed." Hebrews 12:11-12

After this, I began to reflect on how essential the Word of God is and how important it is that I spend quality time with God and reading His Word. As believers, I don't think we truly understand the value of God's word or we would treat it differently. God's word is such a gift to us, yet we barely act that way. It's our instructions for life. It's what we believe in. It is for us, yet we barely use it. I wonder why that is. I should be speaking for myself, but I know I'm not the only one who battles with reading the Bible as a discipline and not because we want to. It becomes something on our to-do list that we simply check off only when we desperately need it or feel bad that we aren't reading it. Sometimes it feels like a chore and we dread reading it. We think we need to read the Bible to be a "good Christian". We stare at it sitting on our shelf and in our hearts desire to read it yet we can't seem to pick it up and open it. Sometimes it's overwhelming because it is so big and we don't even know where to begin. When we do actually read it, we feel good that we were able to check it off our list and when we don't read it we feel bad until we do it. Truth: "but there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1 This isn't how God intended the Bible to be for believers. Instead of dreading it or reading it because we're supposed to, we should delight in it and look forward to reading it daily. It should be like a treasure hunt, wondering where God will lead  us to read each day and what He's going to speak to us through it. This is when it displays a relationship with God, not a religion. We desire to get to know God for who He is and we enjoy spending time with Him, as we would in any other relationship. God has really been pressing this on my heart as I have fallen into this trap of the enemy time and time again. Satan doesn't want us to read our Bibles so he is going to do all in his power to keep us in that place of religion and making us feel bad when we don't read our Bibles. So, then, the question is, How do we shift from reading the Bible being a mundane task a passionate pursuit of Jesus? How do we get to a place where reading our Bibles isn't just an obligation and something we should do to becoming something we want to do and enjoy doing? I'm not sure I have the best answer, but I can share what I think based on personal experience.

I found that my desire and hunger for God shifted when I focused more on getting to know God and who He is. I began to fall in love with Him and His character as I spent more time in His presence (listening to worship music, reading the Bible, praying/talking with Him about everything). When you fall in love with someone, you naturally want to spend time with them. The same is true with God. My hunger to spend time with Him increased as I became more intimate with Him. Another thing I found helpful is asking God for a desire to be in His Word and get to know Him. He knows our hearts and He will honor us because He loves us and our motives are pure. Matthew 7:7-8 says "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." I know it seems simple to ask, but sometimes we don't even think to do that. What I love about this scripture is that it says to keep on asking. This way, if you feel you don't have the desire or aren't eager to read the Bible, keep on asking until you do. The last thing that I believe shifted in me (keep in mind, I still fall short and I'm not perfect in this area either) was getting baptized in the Holy Spirit. You read about it in Luke 3:16 and Acts 1:8. I said a prayer at church with my congregation as the pastor led us and I believe that is when I got baptized in the Holy Spirit. It wasn't anything crazy and radical that happened. It was something I declared out loud and believe in my heart happened. You can do the same thing and simply pray and ask God to baptize you in the Holy Spirit and by faith believe it is done.

After getting filled with the Word of God, something else was thrown my way. It's something personal with a friend of mine out here so I'm not going to share much information about it. But, basically, she's going through something very difficult and similar to something that I saw someone else close to me at home go through. I spent the day by her and her mom's side on Friday knowing that is exactly what God wanted me to do. This situation caused emotions to rise in me because it was like a flashback of what I've been through with someone before. Back home, the situation got better before I moved to Kona and I was so thankful because it wasn't easy for me and here I am going through it again with a new friend. But, as most of you know, God has given me a compassionate, tender, gentle, and comforting heart. So, I know He chose me to be there with her and her mom through this difficult time in their lives. Even though it has been hard for me, God is SO good. He gave me the strength and energy I needed for the day I spent with them and I was going on 4 1/2 hours of sleep. And, at the end of the day, He gave me time to talk with some people on staff in my dts. Talking with the staff was something I needed. It was like immediate encouragement and support to me at just the right time.

God continued to show His goodness to me when I woke up the following morning and I received a text message from a woman who attends my church back home. I told her it was perfect timing and expressed my need for prayer. Then she sent me some scriptures and wrote out a prayer for me. In this case, I didn't even reach out for prayer and encouragement. God gave it to me anyways. He put me on her heart at just the right time and it blessed me so much. Not only does God always know what we need and when we need it, He also gives us what we need even if we don't realize we need it. The rest of the day I went on a date with Jesus. I brought my journal and Bible with me to a local coffee shop in downtown Kona and enjoyed a large chai tea latte. Then I came back to campus and had lunch. After that I went back downtown and enjoyed some frozen yogurt. I should date Jesus more often :)

Even though last week was very challenging for me, God still remained faithful to who He is. My difficult circumstances didn't change the character of God. He is still so good. And when we step away from our circumstances or even press through them, we reach a place where we are able to see that. A friend/pastor/amazing woman of God/mighty warrior always says this You can't change your circumstances, but YOU can change in the midst of them. Another thing God brought to mind is a saying that I'm not sure where I've heard it before so I can't take the credit: You can't choose the cards you are dealt, but you can choose how you play them. That being said, my response is te following: I chose to come to Kona and partake in YWAM, however I did not choose the circumstances I've been in. I would have never thought I'd be in Hawaii dealing with the same thing that happened to someone close to me at home. I didn't think dts would be a challenge for me and I was wrong. But God is so good. When I stepped back from all of my mixed emotions and actually listened to God and read the Bible, He showed me the good in each situation. I know I am here to support my friend who is going through this difficult time. I know I spent that whole day with them to bring comfort and support. I know I'm going to go through "heart surgery" because God wants to restore and refine those places in my heart that need it. I know I am experiencing spiritual warfare daily because Satan doesn't want me to be here since I'm getting incredible training and preparation for the front lines of the mission field. But, I choose to reflect on the fact that God is SO good. And I know that He is always with me and will help me through the challenging times.

My encouragement to you is this: The Christian walk with God is not easy. He never said it would be. It is often times very challenging. But it is so worth it. Even one second in His Presence changes everything. And in life, Jesus even said we'd face troubles. That's no different than a non-believer. The only difference is that we have God by our sides through it all helping us to overcome the difficulties we face in life. So, don't be discouraged if you are facing tough circumstances because God is so good. Turn to Him and press on. Read His Word for there is so much in it. We can stand on the Word of God knowing that when we cry out to Him, he hears us and answers us, He is helping us, and He is so good. And take time to step aside to hear from Him and let Him show you the good in the midst of your challenges.

As I said above, God's timing is perfect. I'm going to end with the devotional I had for the morning that God was giving me all of this revelation. It's from Sarah Young's Take My Heart Oh God.

FROM OUT OF NOWHERE

"God can do everything, that's true, but if nothing bad happened in our lives, we might get the idea that we didn't need him...He lets life happen, and sometimes what we think is a burden is really a blessing." -Lori Copeland

We don't plan for trouble. It comes on its own, out of nowhere. A company downsizes and renders us jobless. An accident limits our activities. Grief or sorrow overwhelms us. So often our first response to trouble is to ask, "Why, God?" We explain to God all the reasons why this specific trouble isn't fair. We want God to make life easier. But if life were easy, perfect, with no problems, we would not be driven to our knees, bringing to him our dilemmas that only he can solve. He says, "My child, I am with you, aware of your trouble. I care about you. This trouble may have seemed to come from nowhere, but I've got it all under control." Never forget how much you need him. Only he can turn what you think is a burden into a blessing. Read Hebrews 10:22-23






Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Blooming Flower






Ever since I returned from Ghana in August 2011, God has been speaking to me about being a blooming flower. It all started when He gave a word to someone at His Hands and Feet Christian Ministry for me. *Note: When I say God gave me a word, it means that someone asked God “What do you have to say to/about Katie and how can I encourage her?” They are written as if it is God speaking directly to you. Some of you have received a word from me. If you haven’t, hopefully you will sometime. I am expecting to grow in this prophetic gift during my time in YWAM. A word can be prophetic in that it is foretelling something that will happen, or it can simply be a piece of encouragement in the present. Anyways, in this case, the person didn’t ask for a word for me specifically but God knew I needed encouragement and so he chose to reveal to them that I needed a word and bless me by speaking through this person. The following is the word I received on 8/27/12.


Katie, you are a blooming flower & my sun & son shines upon your face. Keep looking to me for all the answers you seek. I see your heart, it is so tender and malleable. My hands are molding it & shaping it into what I want. Don’t let the cares of the world harden your heart. Your heart is always in my hands & I am always shaping it & molding it. Let the rain of my Holy Spirit drench you & fill you up. I want to fill you up with my love. You have your whole life to live before me. You will make plans but I will set the course of your life. Your roots go deep & long & they represent the people you will touch in your life. Masses of people will be touched by the beauty of your heart & love. Your life is an open book & I am writing the words in it. The words I write about you are so beautiful. Your smile is a glimpse of my light. Keep smiling & showing this light of mine to the world.  

The person who gave me this word from the Lord said that she particularly saw a daisy. After that, I purchased a personal size Bible with a daisy on it because it was so special to me and reminded me of this blooming flower. Since God said I was a blooming flower, I knew that I was growing at this time. After this I received a picture from a friend as a gift for my birthday. At this time, this friend and I barely knew each other. God has given her the gift of prophetic art. (She asks God for a picture for someone and then asks Him what it means) The picture she gave me is below.


When my friend gave me this prophetic art, she explained to me the process by which God gave her this picture and the word behind it. She began by saying that I am blooming flower. Then she said that she was going back and forth between whether she was going to make the flower yellow or red. She wanted to color it yellow, but God kept telling her to color it red. She said she believes that I see myself as a yellow flower. I see myself as bright, joyful, happy, etc. But God sees me as a red flower, filled with love. *This is important to remember when you read further!


And so, I began noticing flowers more often and looking at them completely differently than ever before. I noticed how they are connected to the vine and planted in the ground. I thought about how their roots are planted below and invisible to the eye. I noticed the beauty in flowers like never before. In a garden, some flowers are taller than others and some contain many flowers while others have very little. I also observed that some flowers are dead. I thought about how flowers need water and sunlight to survive. All this helped me connect the physical realm of flowers to the spiritual realm of how God sees me as a blooming flower. Here are some photos I took as I was walking the dogs one day.



After receiving all of the above, I continued to “bloom” spiritually. I asked God further about the words and pictures He had given me. He continued to speak to me about this over the last 8 months, however I do not have all of my journals in front of me J When I was at a Prophetic Teaching in Irvine, we did a prophetic exercise at our table and I was given more words. One friend saw an orange flower that was growing very fast. Fast forward to preparation for Israel trip at a team meeting. My friend who is prophetic artist encouraged each of us to ask God for a picture and to draw it. She left out drawing paper and colored pencils. God gave me a picture and I decided to attempt to draw what I saw when I got home. As I was walking home the kids from school that I was babysitting, I noticed a beautiful orange flower that looked similar to the picture God gave me so I also took a photo of that.



As I began to draw what I saw and ask God about it, he showed me His interpretation of my picture. The soil was brown with many roots. It was strong, firm, had a solid foundation, and deep roots. The stem was very long and tall. On the stem I wrote growing. The flower petals were orange and the center of the flower was black. (I think this is similar to a California Poppy) Then I saw the flower getting watered, but it wasn’t from the rain. That was part of it, but the main thing that stood out to me was a watering can above the flower. On the watering can I wrote my responsibility. And at the very top of my picture was the sun on the right and the clouds on the left. I believe God told me that I am a tall, bright orange flower that is still growing. My roots are strong, firm, secure, and deep. I am planted on a solid foundation of soil. It is my responsibility to water my flower. I know this seems strange, that I am the flower and also the watering can, but it makes sense. Spiritually speaking, I am responsible for the amount of growth that happens in my life. I am responsible for balancing the amount of sun (Word of God) and water (God’s presence) that pours onto me. I will grow more and at a faster pace when I am pouring both the Word of God and His Presence on me daily. If I choose not to be in God’s Word or Presence, I am the only one who can take the blame for feeling “dry” or letting the flower die or stop growing. I need an equal amount of God’s Word and His Presence or one will overpower the other. It is important to have both in order to grow. In the same way, a flower cannot have too much water or too much sun or it won’t be able to keep growing.

 And now for the grand finale…My trip to Israel and the big deal about the red and yellow flowers. J My friend who is the prophetic artist and gave me the picture for my birthday was also my roommate on this trip. She and I prayed together on the first night in our hotel. She received a picture of two flowers- one yellow and one red. She saw tulips. Then she saw a beaming light coming up from me straight to God. I was amazed at how much light was shining from me to God. After she saw the red and yellow flower, she saw a field of red and yellow flowers. It reminded me of the prophetic art she gave me back in October. No joke, when she finished praying and sharing this with me, I thought to myself “How cool would it be if we saw fields of red and yellow flowers everywhere in Israel on this trip?” I had no idea if we would see any…and then we were driving and she saw a pasture of yellow flowers with some red flowers in it as we were getting on a freeway. We thought I missed my exciting chance to see them, but we were wrong! They were everywhere! J I was so excited.



 For some reason, I’ve always wanted pictures laying in a field of flowers. And how cool that God gave me the opportunity to do so in Israel?!? So, here are some photos from our first day at Mount Carmel. The reason this was so special to me is because to me, it represented God’s love for me. I asked God about it and believe that the picture my friend had of me was God saying that He knows my heart and loves me no matter what. He loves me even when I mess up. He loves my heart. And, I also believe He was telling me that I’ve bloomed. And, now I get to enter into the season of spring which is symbolic of blessing. Not just blessing, but abundant blessing, hence the abundance of red and yellow flowers. I continued to see at least one red and yellow flower everyday throughout the rest of my time in Israel.


 

 After sharing this story with my team on the bus, one of them noted that the colors inside of our bus were red and yellow. One night we celebrated Chabot at a Jewish family’s house and on the table setting was candy in a little bag. One of the candy’s was a heart that was half red and half yellow. At the end of the night, I was collecting them from various team members and some were giving theirs to me. The next day, two sweet guys on my team, left me a container full of red and yellow candy hearts on my seat on the bus. Another time, a woman picked a red rose for me and gave it to me. God was just constantly showing me how much He loves me on this trip.

 
*Red and yellow tulips were located where the Garden Tomb was.

  









Since I’ve arrived in Hawaii for YWAM, the Lord has continued to show me the colors red and yellow, more specifically in the flowers. 


Island Breezers dancing with red and yellow props
A postcard!

A bracelet I bought myself to wear daily in honor of God's love for me. It through Threads of Hope