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 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.