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 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







Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Special THANKS to my Supporters...

Last night I was thinking about how blessed I am to be here in Kona, Hawaii and grow in my relationship with Jesus. I felt the need to make a shout out to those who are supporting me! Without you, I wouldn't be able to be here right now. It is such a blessing to be here. Beyond words. I am doing what I love and I get to do it in paradise, literally. And every time that I enter into the Presence of God I am reminded of this very thing and I am so thankful for each of you who have given, are giving, have prayed, and are praying for me. I can't thank you enough.

This is what I get to do in preparation for the tough stuff.


The video below is of my new favorite song "I've got the joy, I've got the joy, I've got the joy"




Below is worship from the Prayer Room, which will be my Monday nights from 6:30-8:30pm



I get to enjoy God's beauty


Paradise.



I made some new friends


I love my roommates- here is 4 out of 8 :)



I get to KNOW GOD...



...and MAKE HIM KNOWN




So, to all those who have given to me, who have encouraged me, who have supported me, THANK YOU for everything. It is YOU who enables me to experience God in such a beautiful way this season. It is YOU who enables me to do what I love 24/7 in paradise. It is YOU who has kept me following God's lead and answering the call. Without YOU and your support, I wouldn't be here in Kona today.

I can't express to you enough how amazing it is. Every day I am here I can't help but thank God and reflect on how blessed I am. It is only day 2 of class and day 5 that I've been here and it gets better every single day. I have amazing roommates. A beautiful view. Amazing leaders. Amazing teachers. Everything is overall amazing. And I get to experience it all because of YOU. I love each of you so much.


My new adventure has begun!

My new adventure with Jesus has begun! I made it to Kona, Hawii last Friday afternoon. It is Monday night and it has been an amazing weekend. I can't believe I haven't even been here for one week. It feels like so much longer. I have been blessed beyond belief with amazing roommates, a beautiful view, and lots of refreshing restful time with the Lord.

Check out my updates on my journey in YWAM at www.katieslifeasamissionary.wordpress.com That is the best place to catch my updates on my journey as a Missionary. I created it for those who are supporting me as a Missionary so they don't have to read my long extensive blogs on this site ;)