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, October 7, 2013

My journey with God

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 19, 2013

From the Heart: Week 2

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

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

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

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

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



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


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


 


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

And that my friends, sums up week two.






\

Friday, July 5, 2013

From the Heart: Week 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Elevating God

I was going to title this blog "I Need a Miracle" but then God brought something to my attention. The title of the blog is what the focus of the blog is about. I don't want this post to be all about my need for a miracle. I want it to be about elevating God so that we receive the miracles He has for us! Sure, I need a miracle, in fact, quite a BIG one or many little ones, but God operates in miracles and signs and wonders, so why should I be worried that He will not meet my need?!? God is a God of miracles. He did so many things that are literally impossible as recorded in the Bible, and that is the God I believe in. So, why should I think He cannot meet my miraculous needs just as He did back in the days when the Bible was written? All that being said, He told me that Elevating God is going to be a key to my success in receiving the miraculous needs I have because it is by believing (faith) that we receive.

I'm sure you've heard the saying before "don't tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big your God is". Well, the Lord reminded me of this when I was feeling overwhelmed by the extreme amount of financial provision I need in the short amount of time I have, not including my need for a job in a small city where many other students will be in the same boat as me. Although sayings like the one above can be "clichĂ©", they are true. It can be so easy to get overwhelmed by our problems, circumstances, and/or needs and forget how BIG our God is. It's so easy to become discouraged because what we need is impossible. But as believers, we must remember that NOTHING is IMPOSSIBLE ... WITH GOD. Therefore, when we connect with Him, He is able to do incredible things! Even the impossible! I've seen God do incredible things in my life and I've seen Him provide financially in miraculous ways before, but that doesn't  mean I'm an expert at trusting in His provision. It just means I know HE is ABLE and "If it's God's will, He will pay the bill". It means I know His character is faithful and He will provide. But even with this knowledge, I can still lack faith sometimes. When calculating my finances, I discovered I am truly facing the impossible again. And this is when God urged me to write about His faithfulness with financial provision in the past. I believe He will use this time of looking back to remind me of how big He is and shift my focus from the "problem" , "mountain", or "impossibility", and onto trusting in His ability to provide. I don't think He wants me to live my life worrying about how I will meet these needs. I think He wants me to live my life excited to see how He will meet my needs, because that is His job, not mine. And I believe He wants the same for you, too!

In 2010, I decided to take my first missions trip to Africa. It cost $3,650.00 for the entire trip. I cannot remember how long I needed to raise that money, but God provided it all. In fact, He actually provided more than I needed. In each person's suitcase, we brought with us Audio Bibles "Talking Bibles" that were in the native language of the land we were traveling to, and God put it on my heart to raise the money for every single Talking Bible that I carried in my suitcase. And, guess what? He did. In fact, I accidently took more than the given amount of Bibles, which was 50, and had 52 or 53 because my roommate and I got ours mixed up. And, every single Bible in my suitcase was paid for before my trip. Praise God!! At $50.00 each, that is around $2,650.00 that He provided. Altogether that makes $6,300.00 ! And all of this money was raised simply by fundraising, therefore I relied fully on others to meet this need. Of course ultimately God provided, but it was through others. The scripture God gave me to meditate on in the process of all of this for this trip was: "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" Ephesians 3:20

In 2011, I decided to return Africa for another missions trip. I remember the team leader saying to me "If money is your only reason for not going to Ghana, you should definitely go. God will provide." I had no job, no money, and was in college full-time. I knew I was supposed to step out in faith, again, though, and guess what?!? Yup, God provided yet again ALL of the finances I needed for this trip. It cost a total of $3,650.00. Although He didn't put it on my heart to pay for the Audio Bibles this time, He did put it on my heart to stay in Ghana longer than my team and live at the Orphanage we would be spending some time with. That meant I needed more money because it cost money to stay there as well as additional expenses such as food and changing my flight home so that I didn't return at the same time as my team. I am not sure how much that all was in total, but I'd guess it ended up being around $1,500.00 , making a total of $5,150.00 that He provided. The scripture God gave me for this trip was: "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

In 2012, I decided to attend a Missionary Training school called YWAM (Youth With A Mission). The school I attended was called "Fire & Fragrance" and it focused on Missions, Prayer, and Worship. It was located in Kona, Hawaii and my outreach was to England and Germany. I spent three months in Hawaii and two months in Europe. I'm not sure the exact amount of funds I needed to raise for this all, but I estimated it is somewhere around $10,000.00 in five months. That includes the school itself, travels, and extra expenses such eating out and getting coffee with friends. Again, God provided it all. And it came through others. I cannot recall a specific Bible verse that God gave me for this season.

In 2013, I decided to go to back to Africa again. This time, Tanzania. I needed to raise around $3,000.00 . I had a job at the time so was able to contribute personally in addition to fundraising. Also, this isn't a financial need, but it was a desire I had and God met it. I always saw myself in Africa wearing long skirts, colored V-neck shirts, and accessories. I always wanted to go back to Africa and look cute while I was there. (It must be the girly side of me) And, God provided enough money for me to be able to meet this desire of my heart and purchase some long-skirts. Also, God provided all that I needed for this trip financially.


In 2013, I decided to apply for another Training school and I got accepted! I will begin in September of 2013 and finish in May of 2014. In the middle of the school year, I plan to take a missions trip to which the location is unknown at this time. The tuition for this school is $4,400.00 and it is not something I can fundraise for. In addition to that, I need a job that will give me 30 hours/week where I can budget for $850/month! It is a ministry training school and I am responsible for paying for my own tuition. However, I will fundraise for the missions trip because that will be an additional cost. Although I am currently working as a nanny, I also have monthly bills to pay. With my budget and hours as of now, it is unrealistic that I will be able to save enough money for tuition by the due date. (It is due September 9th at Registration or November 8th on a payment plan) When you look at how much money I am making and how much money I need, it is literally impossible. Now this is a completely different step of faith for me! However, I am believing and trusting that God will provide for all of my needs. I mean, He told me He has Bethel covered for me! But, to be quite honest, when calculating in depth my financial need before and during school, along with a job with thirty hours each week that I have not received yet, it was overwhelming! I was beginning to think I am crazy for even thinking it will all come together. But then God reminded me that in order to receive the miracle I need, I must Elevate God. Therefore, I cannot allow my mind to dwell on how great my financial need is and instead I need to dwell on how great my God! That being said, I am believing for God's financial  provision regarding this new step of faith. I trust Him to show me how to be wise with my finances and look forward to seeing how He will meet all of my needs, because I know He will. The scriptures I believe God is giving me for this is "Everything is possible for one who believes" Mark 9:23 and "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief." Mark 9:24

If you have a need, not just financial, remember that Elevating God is key to receiving your miracles!

*I will update when I get to Bethel regarding how the Lord provides everything I need!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

This is who I am.

A friend and I were recently talking and the topic of identity came up. We came up with this conclusion through our conversation: The qualities about ourselves that we are the most critical of and/or dislike the most about ourselves are actually the ones that those around us are most blessed by. They are the things they love the most about us. After coming to this conclusion, I began to re-evaluate what qualities I like and dislike about myself and talk to God about it. Here is what I discovered: The two greatest things that I dislike the most about myself are that I am vulnerable and talk too much. I have had people tell me that my vulnerability has enabled them to be more vulnerable, that it actually brought them breakthrough. I constantly feel like I'm posting too many things on Facebook, but people continually tell me that they love everything that I post and enjoy reading it all. I often feel like I talk too much and always feel bad when I get off the phone with a friend, or finish a coffee date with someone, and realize that I talked the entire time and didn't walk away knowing too much about how they are doing. However, I am learning to embrace these qualities about myself rather than be frustrated with them. The truth is this is who I am. This is how God created me. He loves it when I am vulnerable, when I post revelations and encouraging quotes or words on Facebook, and He loves hearing me talk. It's pretty hard for me to imagine all of this, but it is true! After all "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous- how well I know it. Psalm 139:14"  I am certainly learning how to talk less and listen more, but I need to not be hard on myself for talking more than listening, because this is who I am. This is how He created me to be. And when I am free to be me, it blesses those around me. Another thing I am learning about myself is that I am a processor. And, often times I process things out loud as I am talking with a friend. Therefore, I get encouraged and strengthened as I am talking with a friend about a situation or what God is teaching me, and they do as well. Those friends of mine who know me REALLY well expect nothing less of me than to talk a majority of the time when I am around them. (Thank you, friends, for receiving me as I am and always being a listening ear!!) And almost always these same friends affirm me in my chatterbox-ness.

Another thing I am learning is not to apologize for who I am. So often I feel the need to say "sorry" for little things and for being myself. There's something wrong with that picture. Truth is, God made me to be considerate of others and sensitive, but that doesn't mean I need to apologize every single moment, even for unnecessary things. Tonight I heard someone say something along these lines at a ministry meeting "When we are who we are individually to the fullest, without apologies, the kingdom of God can be freely released." That totally makes sense! I know that when I am free to be who God made me to be to the fullest, those around me are getting blessed by me simply being instead of doing. Another way of saying it is this: The best gift you to can be to those around you is to be completely yourself. We spend too much time comparing ourselves to others. We spend too much time looking at those around us and wanting to be more like them. But why? This only leads to envy, which does not bring about good fruit in our lives. God knows each of us so well because He created each one of us. He knows what we can and can't handle. He knows what we will face before we face it. He knows what is to come for us. He believes in us. He knows what we each need the most. Therefore, I believe He distinctly placed each of us where we are today to be who we are. I think it's time we start embracing those qualities about ourselves that we tend to dislike. It's time we stop looking at everyone else and start seeing ourselves as God sees us.

I also want to acknowledge that my life isn't perfect. From an outsider's perspective, it could appear that way. But, the truth is, it's not. Although I've had the privilege to travel to many places as a missionary and receiving equipping for ministry, my life isn't perfect. I am actually a "home body" and enjoy the mixture of weather that San Diego has. I never saw myself moving anywhere else. However, God turned my world upside down in 2010 and as soon as I said "yes" to Him in going anywhere, He hasn't kept me still. Even though some of my trips have only been a couple of weeks, it has still required me to raise funds (asking people for money is never fun or easy) and leave the comforts of my own friends, family, and privileges that come with living in a first world country. As a missionary, I never fully feel settled when I am living at home because I feel like I don't fit in. I am learning how to adapt better and adjust as I come and go, but my life is definitely not the same as most 25-year old girls. A majority of my closest friends are married and have children. I received my teaching credential, but I hardly use it. I substitute teach on occasion during the times that I am home and school is in session, but I cannot imagine myself being a full-time teacher at this point in my life. Sometimes, it is difficult for me to accept even still that my life has totally transformed and I am not living by the standards of this world because my hunger for God and His will for my life far outweighs doing what "I'm supposed to be doing". All that being said, although my challenges and trials in life may not seem like much in comparison to yours, they have been difficult for me personally. And I'm not sharing full detail of what I'm currently facing because it is too personal. .Despite all of the above though, don't get me wrong. I do believe the scripture that says "Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." Hebrews 11:6 I believe my ability to travel and the blessings in my life are due to the fact that I have sincerely sought the Lord for quite some time now, and he is rewarding me. God really is so good to us and that is His heart.

I want to conclude with one last thing...

This is who I am...

I am beautiful. With and without make-up. No matter how I feel. No matter how much I weigh. No matter what I believe. I am beautiful simply because He says I am beautiful.

This picture was taken at the end of the day, after I took off my make-up, because my beauty is not defined by whether or not I am wearing make-up, but it is defined by what God says about me. My identity is not in the make-up or clothes I wear (and trust me, I love 'getting pretty" and being girly). My identity is in who He says I am. And this is what He says: "You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way." Song of Songs 4:7


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bethel



Bethel is the name of a church located in Redding, CA. This church has several different schools and one of the schools is called Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). I am super excited to share that I will be attending BSSM as a first-year student this fall. The school year runs from September-May. 10. Here are some more details about the school's foundations and what it entails: (directly from the website)

The Mission: Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) is committed to the truth that God loves people, gave Himself for them and has given His Church supernatural power to bring individuals and nations into wholeness. Inaugurated in 1998 with 36 students, the school emphasizes that believers need to return to the ministry of signs and wonders—to minister in love, truth and the power of God. The mission of BSSM is to equip and deploy revivalists who passionately pursue worldwide transformation in their God-given spheres of influence. In the 2012/2013 school year, more than 1800 students were trained to continue in the ministry style of Jesus: to enjoy the presence of God, say what He is saying, and do what He is doing.

The Atmosphere: BSSM is a Holy Spirit driven ministry school where students learn how to live in the Kingdom of God and extend its borders through a supernatural lifestyle. The school emphasizes hands on training and experience along with academic understanding. This creates a "do and teach" culture where all of the students are expected to take risks to stretch their faith and grow in their understanding of God. BSSM believes that each verse of the Bible is an invitation into an experience with the Lord and students are challenged to live the New Testament. This produces a class environment where disciples practice the things they are being taught while instructors coach the process and all this takes place in a setting of passionate worship.

As the year progresses and the students begin to gain confidence and experience within the safety of the classroom, they are sent on outreaches into the community. These exploits include ministry to neighborhoods, after-school programs, city outreach and serving our city. Boldness, passion and risk are center stage in Bethel’s school. These values define our atmosphere and are manifest in worship, ministry and in relationships with each other.

Student Life: The school is designed to equip students to live a supernatural lifestyle, not just minister in the gifts of the Spirit. They are encouraged to be naturally supernatural by bringing heaven to earth wherever they go. Class sessions run from 12:30-5:30pm Monday-Thursday. Although this doesn't seem like much, the school is considered to be full time. The other hours consist of learning through homework, chosen authors or from the Holy Spirit as the students read the Word, attend services, serve on ministry teams, soaking & prayer times of personal devotion, living the supernatural lifestyle in an honorable way at work, and more.

Academic Overview: The academic instruction at BSSM is unique because it is taught by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers - not by professors or theologians. This gives the teaching a kind of living perspective with five-fold distinctions. BSSM has many powerful guest speakers throughout the year but the primary teaching is accomplished through our staff members.

The students receive a great deal of instruction on evangelical Bible interpretation but they are also immersed in a revelatory culture where the Holy Spirit becomes the chief instructor and tour guide. He causes His Kingdom to come alive through the pages of the Bible. BSSM students learn how to read, understand, and “do” the Bible – how to practice His presence, to witness, heal the sick, prophesy, preach, pray, cast out demons and much more.

The BSSM students learn in large group sessions (1200 students), revival groups of 60-70 people, small groups of 5, and on their own. There are also classes entitled Advance Ministry Training. Here, students choose the subjects they are passionate about and called to train in. These AMT's deepen their understanding and experience in a much more focused way in areas such as leading worship, children’s ministry, preaching, prophecy, intercession, intimacy with God, youth, business and career ministry. Reading on your own time is expected and is a large part of our curriculum. There are approximately 2400 pages of mandatory reading throughout the year. That works out to 10 pages of reading everyday of the 240 days from beginning to graduation. That’s on top of 2 chapters of the Word daily. So plan on reading 30 – 60 minutes a day minimum. That may be brand new for many of you and it is a big commitment, but it is all amazing, transforming content.

BSSM Structure: First Year School of Ministry focuses on assimilating the core values of the Kingdom into the heart of the Believer and establishing God’s Royal identity in the mind of each student. The first year students receive the gifts of the Spirit and learn how to walk in the power of God.

For more details regarding Bethel, visit www.ibethel.org

Now that you know where I am headed and a little bit about what it will look like, I want to share about my journey in deciding to go there. The first time I heard about Bethel church and school was through a friend who was going as a first-year student in 2011. I didn't know much about it but only heard great things. Soon after, I was introduced to Kim Walker and Jesus Culture worship music, which were birthed out of Bethel. Next thing I know, they are my favorite worship artists. I kept hearing about Bethel and wanting to visit, but it never worked out for me to go up there, until last December. I was off work for one week and was determined to visit my friend who was now a second-year student at BSSM. It was quite an adventure as I flew to the Sacramento airport, rented my first car all by myself, and drove a few hours from Sacramento to Redding. I was pretty darn excited and felt like such a grown-up! Especially because I turned 25 in October and you had to be 25 to rent a car legally. When planning my trip to Bethel, I somehow managed to find an inexpensive flight, and a great deal on a rental car for the entire week. Everything fell into place and happened so easily and naturally.

I arrived safely in Redding and had the opportunity to spend the entire week with my friend Kristina. I met Kristina just before I traveled to Africa the second time, because she was on my team to Ghana. I knew we'd become great friends when we spent four hours on the first flight getting to know one another while the rest of the people on the plane were asleep. While I was in Redding, I went to classes with her, attended her revival group, and joined her at small group. We spent lots of time in fellowship with her friends and also got plenty of time together hanging out. I even managed to fit in my quality time with Jesus and the prayer chapel. It was a wonderful trip, but while I was there I honestly thought of it simply as a vacation. People would ask me, "do you think you'll come to Bethel?" and my response was, "No, I am enjoying it and I love being here, but I don't feel called to come here. God would have to make it really clear to me if He wanted me to come" At the time, I didn't feel called to go because Africa was on my heart with Tanzania in February. God had also given me many prophetic words about Africa, so I figured I'd be moving there before anywhere else. 
 
Now I can see that God changes the desires of our hearts for each season that we are in.  All that being said, I continued on my journey with God and traveled to Tanzania in February for two weeks, where I discovered that I don't want to be a long-term missionary (yet). Since returning from Tanzania, I have been trusting that as I seek God, He will guide me. And, the desire and hunger in my heart for Jesus is never-ending. I felt the exact same way last year before I went to YWAM. Next thing I know, God dropped in my heart a desire to apply for BSSM as a first-year student. I wanted confirmation, of course, that it was His will, even though it was so out of the blue, which often time means it's from God. I asked for confirmation, though...and He gave it to me. A friend mentioned that I should go there without me even saying anything to her! And when I told her I was praying about it, she highly encouraged me to apply. I asked my pastor if he'd be my reference and he was honored. I had two close friends complete the reference forms and the application process was completed! Jus like that. Then I had a phone interview and one week later I was accepted as a first-year student! It all happened so fast but I firmly believe it is God's will and I am very excited to move and be a part of the community and what God is doing up in Redding at Bethel. 
 
There seems to be a trend in my life that God is training me and sending me out so frequently. I often say "God can't keep me still" because it certainly feels that way. Once I begin to have any sort of feeling settled, He picks me up and moves me. I suppose that's because I am a missionary! :) Sometimes, it never gets any easier, though. It's a hard thing to keep coming and going, but it is an honor to be able to receive the equipping and training I have had thus far and will continue to get, as well as be sent out as a missionary to the places I have traveled. Although my journey has had it's challenges since I said yes to God, I wouldn't trade it for anything!
 
Some things I hope to awaken and cultivate while I am at Bethel: worship, writing, intercession, creativity, boldness, freedom
 
In addition to the spiritual growth I am expecting, I also anticipate great personal growth in my adult responsibilities. This will be the first time in my life where I will be in school and working at the same time. This will be the first time I will be paying my own rent. This will be the first time I will most likely be working in retail. Therefore I will be living on a small budget and also teaching myself how to cook. All of these things I never experienced because I have always been dependent on my parents. They had a college fund for me which covered the cost of school, housing, and groceries. I am excited to take on these responsibilities.
 
As of now, my plan is to move up to Redding the last weekend in August and begin job hunting the week before school begins. I will drive my car so that I can have transportation while I am up there. School registration is on September 9, and school begins on September 10. This will definitely be a new leap of faith for me as I will be moving without a job (possibly) with many other students who will be in the same position as me. Finding a job could be difficult. I'm trusting the Lord for provision. And I asked some people I know who lived up there for many years if they have any connections for me, so they may be able to find me a job prior to my moving. I cannot move up there any sooner because I need to be home this summer and keep working as a nanny. I will be paying for my school, which is $4,400.00 due by November. Therefore, the nanny job I have now is much needed. Plus, I love it and am not ready to move yet anyways.  
 
 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tanzania Highlights.

I want to start by giving God all the glory for opening the door for me to travel to Tanzania with such an amazing family and work alongside such an amazing ministry out there. I also thank God for everything He revealed to me while I was in Tanzania and how He used me to shine His light and love to the people there. It is always a gift to be able to be the one being sent and experience what God is doing around the world. I also want to say THANK-YOU for supporting me as a missionary and contributing prayerfully and financially. I would not have been able to go without you!

I've tried to break things down to make it simple for you by separating my trip into categories where I will write a descrption about it and share a couple photos in each category. Enjoy!  *For more photos, click on the link at the bottom of the blog



1. The Rider Family




The Rider family consists of Paul, Crystal, and Levi. Paul and Crystal are married and Levi is their son. They were missionaries to Mozambique, Africa for many years and founded the organization I went to Africa with on my previous trips. They are a wonderful family and great people to be around and learn from. We certainly had lots of fun together! Paul is a great teacher and always bringing about laughter and fun. Crystal is such a sweet woman and never once withheld an encouraging word and continually spoke life over everyone God placed before her. Levi is so personable and sensitive to those around him. He always makes sure everyone is doing well and truly honors and loves people.




2. Kevin Basconi of King of Glories Ministries International.

Kevin is the founder of this ministry and you can find out more information about him at http://www.kingofglory ministries.org/index.php His ministry supports Living Waters, which is a ministry in Tanzania we helped with during our stay. We partnered with Kevin while we were there. He led the school children in devotionals and teachings throughout the week. He also put together a "Love Feast" and Baptism at the nearby hotel, where the children were given the opportunity to swim in the pool, then get dressed up and enjoy lots of food. It was a FUN day for everyone. We got to spend the entire day with the children who live at the Children's Home and are supported by his ministry. He also brought us to visit some of the children that his ministry supports who live in homes with extedned family members. That was also an incredible experience. In one of the homes, we saw money literally multiply as he was handing it to someone. This kind of stuff happens all the time with him. He truly believes nothing is impossible with God and it is evident in his life.
 
3. Carolyn Phillipot of Living Waters Ministry
 

Carolyn Phillipot is 74 years old and one of the most amazing women of God I have ever met. She has an incredible testimony and the gift of faith. She is dedicated and committed to serving the Lord wholeheartedly no matter what He asks of her. She trusts Him to provide and expects miracles, and she always gives God the glory for everything. I spent five days living in her home. The highlight of staying with her was and my favorite part was praying together in her living room before we went to bed. She is so loving and truly cares for the children in Tanzania. It is her home as God has called her there and she serves Him so faithfully each and every day. Crystal always said "Carolyn does things with excellence" and that is so true! It was such a blessing to serve alongside such a strong and powerful woman of God out there!


4. Living Waters Education Center

Living Waters Education Center is a school that educates almost 400 children in Mwanza, Tanzania! Carolyn Philipott is the founder. It is Bible-based and the children are highly encouraged to attend devotionals during the week and church on the weekend. Although it is a Christian school, everyone is welcome and there are quite a percentage of muslim children who attend. The teachers are phenomenal and the school is beautiful. There is a play ground with a seasaw and monkey bars, as well as rope connecting to surrounding trees that the children can climb. They are given porridge at break time. I can only speak highly of such a wonderful school. All the glory goes to God as Carolyn says because He provided the location and everything that followed. He honored her vision. He meets every need. The children that attend the shcool are very happy to be there and enjoy learning. The respect the teachers. None of the teachers physically abuse the children. I only mention this because I saw this happen when I was at a school in Ghana and it is not unheard of in Africa in general.
 
5. The Village
One of the first days we were in Tanzania, Carolyn brought us to a nearby village. Some of the children in this village had never seen a white person "Mzungu" before, so they were unsure about us at first. Once they warmed up to us, it was super fun interacting with and loving on them. Paul gave a lesson about Jesus and then taught them a song. We entertained and played with the village children while Carolyn talked with the adults about the potential of purchasing a building for a school for these children. Currently, there is a school in this village that meets under a giant tree. The day we went to the village, we delivered a large chalkboard that Carolyn had and didn't need. God provided her with it and she knew it was to be given to the school in the village.
 
 
 
6. Homes
 
At the end of our trip, we were given the opportunity to visit some of the homes of children that we and our church sponsored. There was a number of children who were living in an oprhanage for a length of time until something happened and that was no longer an option. Due to that, the children are currently living with an extended family member or widowed mother. (It can be complicated to understand the living situations in Africa, but this is what we got to be involved with during our time there, and it was an honor) When we went to visit the children in their homes, we interviewed and prayed over the children and family members. The African culture is so welcoming and hospitable and it was so lovely to be welcomed into each home we visited. As you can see, they don't have much and the living arrangements aren't the best conditions.
 
 
7. Baptism
King of Glories Ministry hosted a pool day and baptism for the children who live at the Childrens Home and those in the community supported by their ministry. The children were able to go swimming in the pool at the local hotel and they had so much fun! We played with beach balls, enjoyed a soda, and just swam around. At the end of the pool party, some of the children (those pictured to the side) chose to get baptized, so we bapitzed them in the pool as they committed their lives to Christ. It was such a great experience baptizing those I had built relationships with during the short time I had been in this community. As you can see, God has given them all great joy and we had a very fun day!
 
 
 
 
8. Love Feast
 

Kevin put together a love feast for the people that were invited for the baptism and pool day. It was hosted at the hotel. There was plenty of food for everyone. It entailed dinner, a soda, and dessert. It was buffet style. Kevin shared some encouraging words and love to those that his ministry supports, and he gave Carolyn flowers. Crystal honored Carolyn for all that she does for their community as she is the long-term missionary living there and taking care of not only the children but has invested her heart in the entire city of Mwanza in which they live.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
9. African Culture
I've noticed that I take less pictures when I travel to Africa because I like to soak in everything rather than view it through the lens of a camera. However, I know that those of you who support me and/or have never been to Africa before enjoy seeing pictures of what the African culture is like, so I did my best to take some photos of the scenery. I'm thankful that Crystal is a great photographer and she took many pictures as well, so you can find more on the link at the bottom of this blog, where I have posted all of my pictures from Tanzania.









10. Safari in the Serengeti
 


At the end of our trip, we had made arrangements to go on a Safari in the Serengeti National Park for a few days. It was such an incredible experience. We got to see elephants, zebra, giraffe, monkeys, impala, lions, and more. We stayed at hotels within the park. A few unforgettable moments: 1. We got upgraded to the presidential suite one night because there was a lion walking within close proximity to the pathway to our room after dinner. (We had to sleep in what clothes we had on because all of our stuff was still in our room, but it was so much fun) 2. We saw two elephants playing/fighting.3. We saw an entire pack of lions and watched them for quite some time. They were hungry and on the hunt for zebras, and we ended up seeing one lion try to catch and eat a zebra. The zebra managed to prance away, though. 4. An elephant came up to Crystal and my window at another hotel in the middle of the night, literally facing our window only.


For more photos, click on the following links:

(Tanzania)

http://www5.snapfish.com/snapfish/thumbnailshare/AlbumID=8605214027/a=6736930027_6736930027/otsc=SHR/otsi=SALBlink/COBRAND_NAME=snapfish/

(Tanzania Safari)

http://www5.snapfish.com/snapfish/thumbnailshare/AlbumID=8670778027/a=6736930027_6736930027/otsc=SHR/otsi=SALBlink/COBRAND_NAME=snapfish/