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!