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Prayer and Praise

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; in the city of our God, His holy mountain.” -Psalm 48:1

Wow, I hope each and every one of you had a blessed and beautiful holiday season, spent with those you love. I don’t know about anybody else, but Christmas really snuck up on me this year!! It came so fast, and when it did, I didn’t slow down again until after New Years! It was absolutely wonderful though; and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I spent precious time with family, got some much-needed rest, and made tons of memories in this new place I call home. I also got to support one of my greatest friends in her wedding down in Florida! The whole day was magical; I’m honored I got to be there, and I had a blast!!

For new news, HAPPY 2018!! This year is off to a running start already, and so much has happened. For starters, our class began the year of school by going into a 21-day fast together. We got to choose what each of us was going to be fasting for the month, and along with giving up all social media; a majority of us actually decided to do a partial or complete Daniel fast. To those of you who are unfamiliar with this, it is a fast based out of the story of Daniel and his men in the Bible- when they were prisoners of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. They didn’t want to eat the king’s food, but instead asked that they would be given only vegetables and water in order to stay holy before their God. (This story can be found in Daniel chapter 1) After this, and because of their obedience, the Lord blessed Daniel and his friends with “knowledge and understanding of all kinds… and Daniel could understand visions and dreams.” (v. 17) I would love to have greater anointing like this in my life- who wouldn’t!? Most Daniel fasts today include all vegetables, all fruits, and also many grains that grow straight from the ground and are unprocessed. So for 3 weeks, we’re eating nothing but salads, smoothies, and a little bit of rice. Haha, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but still. This is my first time doing a full Daniel fast, and it definitely hasn’t been easy. Not only have do I have to do extra cooking, but I also have to go shopping more often and spend way more money. And when we aren’t home, finding places to accommodate for a worse-than-vegan diet are no easy task, either. But, we are now one week in and I am confident that dying to my flesh in this way is going to be extremely effective for this year- and beyond. The start of the second week hasn’t been much better: I’m starting to lose an appetite for vegetables and today ended up being almost a complete fast because I just couldn’t find anything that looked good enough to eat. I think my stomach is shrinking and I may be losing weight… It’s a struggle. But that’s how I know this is effective. It reminds me to pray and worship and seek the Lord in a way I wouldn’t normally do; and that’s the important part.

Last Thursday, I actually hosted a dinner at our house for any of the students to come to; and everyone brought Daniel-approved dishes that we ate together. Surprisingly, we had a lot of fun and even got full! (Praise the Lamb) With so many options and different foods, it made fasting so much easier- and with everyone supporting each other, we were reminded why we are doing this and could encourage each other through it. One guy made tofu but in an Asian rice dish with teriyaki sauce and vegetables that actually tasted good! Another girl brought chocolate granola (coco powder and honey) that satisfied the sweet craving we all had. And I made some homemade guacamole that went perfectly in a quinoa veggie bowl. Community really does make everything better, and that’s what we’re made for!

Through this I have really been praying into some things, and I’m going to share some of them with you so that you can intercede for me as well! Mainly, I’m asking God to provide housing up here. As some of you know, me and Leigh Anne are actually planning on staying in Pennsylvania for awhile! Right now we live with our grandparents which has been such a blessing, but soon we will be done with school and are hoping to have our own place! We are praying for something in a good area at an affordable price. A few options have come up and I’m just continuing to seek the Lord in finding which one would be best for us. Also for continued guidance in what I should do after this year of school. I know God has called me to several things in the future and I want to start preparing now for all that He has planned. This week, He has even laid other people on my heart to pray over; friends and family that have sickness, depression, struggles, anxiety, and financial pain that I believe God is really wanting to touch. I’m so excited to see breakthrough not just in my own life but in others as well!!!

Another exciting opportunity arose last Saturday when I got the chance to go with Gateway, our prayer house, down to Washington D.C. We took a team to run a set in David’s Tent for the day! This is a 24/7 prayer house located in the National Mall. About 20 of us all went together with a common goal: to worship Jesus and bring honor to His name. We were in charge of the tent for the whole time we were there; so from 10 am to 6 pm, we ran the set. We had several worship leaders in our group that had a few songs planned, and the rest of us were going for support and general tent maintenance. As soon as we got there- this guy named Scott was about to play his set, and I had just casually mentioned that if anyone needed an extra vocalist I could jump on wherever. Well, Scott said that he actually did need someone, because all he had was his acoustic guitar and a drummer. So, I ended up hopping onto a 3-hour worship set with this guy I had just met. No practices, no warm-up, and no set list in mind. And let me tell you, that was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had in worship. We just went from song to song, flowing in spontaneous worship and choruses of praise. So many times I just laughed from the platform; because the joy of the Lord was so evident in the band and all throughout the room. After a while, I got to lead a couple songs as well, and the whole team was having so much fun worshipping with us! That whole trip was just so anointed. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. By the end- I was exhausted, cold, hungry, and without a voice, but I would do it all over again. Worshipping in a tent all day with 20-degree windy weather that chilled us to the bone; was one of the best days of my life! I’m so thankful I got to go! It hit me so hard at one point that I was sitting in our nation’s CAPITOL, with the ability to stand out in public and declare the name of God; inviting others to come in too. The freedom in this nation is truly incredible. Also, every week this year, one state takes responsibility of the tent: From Sunday at midnight to Sunday at midnight- each of the 50 states provide teams to do live worship and nonstop prayer. People are coming from all over the country to take part in this. I love this idea, and seeing the support that David’s Tent has gotten from all over the nation. I never would have even found out about this if I hadn’t moved up here; and now I got the opportunity to sing praises from the capital of our country!! I love living only 2 hours away from some of the most important cities in the nation, possibly even the world. Gosh, God works in some mysterious ways.

I am working on another blog that I will post soon with more exciting news about what we have coming up! I’m so blessed by each one of you, and love to have people following me on this journey. I can’t even believe all that has happened in my short time here! Eager to see what more is to come as God continues to work.

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Daughter, Come Sit with Me

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” -Romans 8:31

Most of the time I write, I intend for it to be a short blog. And we know how that works out…. I’ll do my best to keep this one more concise (:

So, last Thursday in our small groups, my friend Peter asked each of us what lies we were struggling to overcome in our lives- and how God was working to bring truth. I mentioned how I had believed the lie of rejection for much of my life and how I am really beginning to find freedom from it! But knowing the truth is different than walking in it. Even though I had a realization of who I am in Christ; I’m still learning what it looks like to live from a place of acceptance. Not just with people, but with God also. We talked about how sometimes we would do or say things just to try to gain acceptance- even though we already have it! And this also applied to my faith. Often during worship or corporate intercession I would act as if I had to sing the loudest, or pray the fastest, or give the deepest prophetic word in order to be accepted. Like I had to work my way to God’s favor. Even though I knew in my head this was completely ridiculous, I still found myself living as though I wasn’t accepted. Why? Because when you have lived a lifestyle for so long- it doesn’t change with a head decision. This was no longer something I believed about myself, but a terrible lifestyle habit I had to overcome through the grace of God.

So we prayed about this as a group; and I came into worship this week feeling the same as usual. But EVERYTHING was different. I had just come out of one of the best weekends ever.. I had a fabulous birthday and so many people just loved on me and celebrated me. It was such a blessing! And Monday morning started out just being so full. Full of love and gratefulness to God for giving me such great people and memories to start this 22nd year of life! And as I entered into His presence that morning; I heard Him say to me, “I don’t want you to sing to me. I just want you to sit. I want to be with you, and enjoy you.” What? But God, I want to praise you and thank you for all the ways you blessed me this week! “But you don’t have to sing to me. You bless me just by who you are.” Guys, this hit me so hard. Here I was, subconsciously trying to be more accepted by God through offering all of my thanks and praises that I thought He wanted. Yes, He wants them. But more than that, He wants me. I’ve already been accepted. He blessed me so much because He is blessed by me. And I don’t have to earn it. I don’t have to pay Him back. It’s free. I’m accepted, I’m loved, and God just wants to lavish blessings upon me. He didn’t even need me to thank Him. He was content to sit and be with me. So that whole worship time consisted of me just sitting with God. Just being. Because I could. I didn’t have to worship my way into His love. Didn’t have to dance my way into His grace. All that the Lord wanted from me was my presence. And He brought His. And that was one of the most glorious moments. The moment when I stopped living from a place of rejection and accepted my acceptance from the Father. This is still a process, but I’m so excited to continue to walk it out.

After class, I told Peter what happened and we both laughed and shouted and celebrated. It’s such a good feeling to have people walk out your victories with you, and to cheer you on as you step further into freedom. I’m so thankful for the encouragement He (and so many others) has given me through this! It is a beautiful thing to start walking out truth after a long time of living in lies.

Then on top of all this; we had a speaker named Dave Hess come in this week to talk all about the Father’s Heart. Y’all, God is so good in the way He works. Dave’s main emphasis, at least for me, was resting in the idea that your Father loves you. And He loves you just as you are. You were accepted before you were born! And this resonated even more what I had been hearing God’s voice say to me earlier! These past 2 days (really the past week) have been key in my life! And I couldn’t be any more content than I am right now to rest in the love of the Father: fully known, fully loved, and fully ACCEPTED. Also, this is the most I have ever found myself calling God ‘Father’ and seeing myself as His ‘Daughter’. It is just incredible. I keep listening for His voice because it just keeps on affirming me.

Lastly, (yes, there’s more) today during my Gateway set I was just reading the Word. I couldn’t stop breathing in every word on the pages: each verse spoke so much to me! I started in Corinthians and jumped all around, finding so much goodness everywhere I turned. The last thing I read in Psalms sums up all that has been spoken over me this week as a daughter of Christ. It is from chapter 45, verses 10-15. This is my paraphrase. Please look it up and read the whole thing as well. But this is how God refers to us- Specifically His Daughters.

 

“Daughter, the King is enthralled by your beauty.

All glorious is the Princess, her gown is interwoven with Gold.

She is led to the King; with Joy and Gladness she enters the palace.”

 

As Daughters, we are so accepted by our Heavenly Father, the King. It’s nothing about what we do, and it’s all about who we are. Mainly, who He made us to be. Let’s start living like Royalty, shall we?

Also, tomorrow I get on a plane to go to FLORIDA for one of my best friend’s weddings!! Pictures to follow- I am so excited to love on her and celebrate this beautiful moment by her side! Life is full of adventures, and I take each one as they come.

You Could Be This Good

Psalm 23:6- “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

You know those moments when God just reminds you of something you said to Him awhile back? Or better yet, the times when He reminds you of something He said to you in the not too distant past?

Yeah. Well both of those things happened to me this week. Here’s the first story.

Remember the first blog I posted when I moved here? (If you haven’t read it; you can go back- it’s called Have It All.) Yeah, me too. Remember how I said that I told the Lord He could have it all? And that I was surrendering everything in my life to Him? Haha. Yeah. I had forgotten about that. I forgot about how I had given my whole world to God- knowing I could trust Him with EVERYTHING in my life, because He had proven Himself faithful and good. Well, He reminded me of that this week. I had been starting to doubt His goodness simply because it didn’t FEEL good at the time, and because I didn’t understand what He was doing. Isn’t it crazy how we can forget God’s goodness to us when we enter the trying times?

I had told God that He could have it all; everything in my life- yet I became angry and upset when my life began to look different as God started to take things away. As He changed things. As He changed me. As He brought me closer to His will. Why had I become angry that my life didn’t look the same anymore? If we ask for God to perfect us; we can’t expect Him to keep our lives the same!! And if we give Him permission to come and move and change, we can’t pray that He won’t.

Last week I was so discouraged because my life didn’t look the same as it did when I first left home. I loved the life I had, and I didn’t want anything to change. But as God continued to draw me closer to Him in this season; that also included pulling me further away from some things. Good things. But things that He needed to change in order to bring me forward on the path He has destined for my life. I was so hurt. So upset. Why did things have to look different? Why did I have to be so far from the people and the places that I loved? And the Lord said; “Do you remember when you told me to Have It All?  That’s what I’m doing. You gave me permission to work in your life- Trust that I’ll bring it all together for your good.”

How had I forgotten what I asked God to do in me this year? Why is it that as soon as things got hard, I wanted to take back my request for the Lord to work in my life? Giving your life away to an unknown outcome is never going to be easy. Why had I expected it to be? When we give God permission to take everything, we have to understand that it won’t be a pain-free journey to our destiny. God’s work is often a lot less like pulling out a small splinter, and a lot more like cleaning out a deep wound. It is painful and long. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be completely restored in the end. In fact, often the final outcome is SO MUCH BETTER than the original situation ever was. The hard part is just getting there.

When God reminded me of this; I was both embarrassed and relieved. Embarrassed because I was questioning His goodness to me when He had been working all along. And relieved because I knew that even if the enemy had been behind anything that was going on; God had control of every part of my life- so I didn’t have to worry about it! This was one of the greatest reminders God had given me. That even when my life looked like it was falling apart and out of control; it was part of the Lord’s plan all along. He was just waiting for me to give Him permission to act in it!!

The other encouraging reminder God showed me this week was something He promised to me this summer before I moved. He told me that “What I am walking into will be far greater than what I leave behind.” And that there would be moments here that would be so beautiful and complete and joyful- that I would truly know that there is nowhere else I would rather be than exactly where He has placed me. And Friday night I had one of those defining moments.

We had been serving all week at the HarvestNET International Summit; a gathering for pastors and leaders from all over the country that are a part of our network of churches here! It was an INCREDIBLE time. Serving was both humbling and completely satisfying. It was such a blessing and an honor to be able to help alongside such great people, leaders, and speakers. On the second day of the conference I got a prophetic word and prayer from one of Randy Clark’s leaders- named William Wood, that spoke right to my heart. And I just sat on the floor and cried while it ministered to my soul. It was so incredible and so timely, just an encouragement. Then on the final night; we were part of the ministry team that got to lay hands and pray over people during the altar call at the end of the service. It had been a LONG week. We were TIRED. And as full as I was, I was ready to go home. I had a great time of ministry and was just feeling so satisfied with all that the Lord had done in each person at the conference. Just as the final worship song was coming to a close, everyone was beginning to leave, and we were wrapping up a great week; me and two of my classmates, Danicka and Wendy, all sat down to just soak in some more worship and the Lord’s presence. Through a series of small events (that’s a story in itself) the power of the Lord hit all 3 of us so forcefully- we nearly fell off our chairs! And when we came back up, we looked at each other and immediately entered into a roar of laughter! We had been touched by the Spirit, and each of us had received a heavy dosage of His JOY!! From there we had other students and teachers come up and pray over us, speaking words over us and asking the Lord for more and more. We laughed till our abs hurt and our heads were about to explode. I thought that I was going to pass out at one point; and I remember yelling “Yes, Lord!” at the same time that my soul was crying for Him to stop, because I couldn’t handle anymore. Yet, I loved it.  Not only did we each encounter the goodness of God so deeply, but we also grew closer to each other through the bonding of our spirits in Holy Laughter. I can’t remember everything- and I’m sure there was a LOT that happened; but I know we were probably on the ground for at least 30 minutes, and it took another half an hour for me to be sober enough to stand up and begin to walk around. My hands were numb and tingly for another 20 minutes following, and every person that I touched or got close to began to catch waves of laughter as well.  The Spirit was SO TANGIBLE and SO STRONG, no one could fight it. And we didn’t want to. Combined with our physical exhaustion and our hunger for the Lord, everything that happened was magnified on a large scale. And it was nothing short of miraculous. Completely incredible. A moment I will never forget.

It was in that moment; drunk in the Lord and just so overwhelmed I could hardly stand- it was then that the Lord reminded me of HIS promise. “You will be so full of joy and absolute satisfaction, there is nowhere else you would rather be.” And that couldn’t have been more true. There is nowhere else in the world I would have rather been this week. And no one else I would have rather been with. And nothing else I would have rather done than just to have been with the Lord. I wouldn’t trade that night or those memories or those people for the world; and the Lord was so good to me in that. He has been so faithful to fulfill His promises to me, and I am deeply grateful. This week itself was proof of just how dang good God is. And how we can’t even begin to understand it.

Another blessing that God gave me is a special connection here. I ran into my second cousin at a church the other week; and I hadn’t seen or talked to her in years! We were able to get breakfast together a couple days ago. It was so so good!!! God-given conversations, timely words and encouragement, and the blessing of being in almost the exact same stage of life; we could relate to each other so deeply. We also have been keeping in touch through prayer and encouragement about how God is working in each of us. It was just an unexpected surprise and such a perfect Godsend for each of us.

Guys, WOW!!! Ugh. I have never shed more tears or had more laughter than I had this week; and I wouldn’t want it any other way. God’s doing some DEEP DEEP healing in me, and no matter how painful or stretching it is I couldn’t be more excited about it.

This reminds me of a song by Kristene DiMarco from Bethel: Could You Be This Good? (Please do yourself a favor and check out her album!!!) Yes, the answer is yes. I have found myself asking God so many times lately- How could He be this good to me? Is it really true? And yes. Yes it is. Praise the Lord for His ultimate sovereignty and complete goodness.

 

I love the perfection in Your presence
The redemption on Your face
Your heart’s forever for me
Even if I look away
You still call my name
You call my name

Could You be this good?
Could You be this good?
The way that You forgive me
The way that You hold on to me
Could You be, could You be this good?

 

 

Goodness and Grace

Jude 1:2- “Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.”

I know there really hasn’t been much of a rhyme or reason with posting these blogs and I’m sorry. To say that I am busy with a full schedule here is a massive understatement. It is a good kind of busy, though; and I am blessed.

I just realized I haven’t written since the first week of school… that’s like 5 weeks! Wow. SO DANG MUCH HAS HAPPENED HERE.  I’m not sure where to begin or where to end so I’ll probably just kind of list things as they come into my head.

First of all; Jesus is good. I have begun to learn how to see and feel and know His goodness in completely new ways. So many good conversations, revelations, experiences, and visions that all point me more and more to His goodness! I couldn’t begin to describe all of this if I tried. Every day we are given a new “topic” per say, so information overload is a real thing.

Last week we attended a local conference up here called Voice of the Apostles- and got to sit under the teaching of some of the most well-known speakers in the country, also the world. People like Bill Johnson, Leif Hetland (from Atlanta!), Randy Clark, Che Ahn, and Deena Van’t Hul; along with SO MANY OTHERS. Also, Bethel led worship each night- so Cory Asbury and Steffany herself were there in person!!!!!! Being in just that atmosphere of worship was so so good to my soul. My favorite part of the week, though, was actually completely unplanned and unexpected. Me and 3 other girls went to lunch in the city downtown one day during a break; and as we were leaving, a group of people approached us to talk. We knew they were from the conference but didn’t think anything of it- until one of them introduced herself to us as a BSSM student. We had unintentionally met a whole group of Bethel students!! While trying to keep my cool but screaming on the inside, we had a good conversation with them about how our week was going and what we were receiving at the conference; and also that we were a part of a ministry school as well. At the end of our conversation, they asked if they could just pray a blessing and speak prophetic words over us. And it was the COOLEST EXPERIENCE EVER!!! These students weren’t much older than us, had only been going to Bethel for 2 or 3 years, but wanted the same things from life that we did. And their prayers were so anointed!!! We walked away from that encounter just feeling so full and so thankful. And all throughout the rest of the week we ran into them so many more times- each time getting more encouragement and love and hugs. I was in awe of God and just the fact that He would see it fit to bless and minister to us like this.  So much happened there such as healings, (over 400 people in just one night, and more on other nights as well) impartations of the Spirit, and fresh revelations. And as I got home and began to process; I realized that God had even done so much personally in my heart and spirit that I hadn’t yet seen! First of all, I began to see the smiling face of God in everything I did. Like, everywhere. God was showing me that He is so so so so pleased with me. And He smiles down on me. Always. Then, when I went to do my Bible reading homework last night; I was hit with such a new power of the spirit- It’s like everything just came alive to me! Everything I was reading became fresh and alive. I would read over old stories and scriptures and just get so many new things every time! I already loved the Word but was filled with a NEW hunger and a NEW understanding and it has been so cool!!

There has been a lot more that happened these last couple weeks- but I am just going to talk about the most recent things. We had a speaker come in this week to talk about Deliverance. It may sound like a scary subject to some, but deliverance is necessary even for Christians– to rid us of any evil presences or spirits that the enemy has used to try to distract us from God. I realized that a lie of REJECTION had taken a firm root in my life for awhile and I wasn’t even aware of it. But it had saturated into all my relationships and friendships in one way or another and was controlling my outlook on life. I got prayed over, and when I was made aware of this, I was ministered to by the staff; and I felt just a flag of peace wave over me; and a physical weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was INCREDIBLE! I’m still processing through living this life of freedom, but it has been such a release and so so good for my soul to experience healing from this lie I have been living under. Then today, the lead pastor of Ephrata Community Church here came to speak to us about Confusion, and how the devil uses this to distract us from our God-given purpose. He prayed over us to experience freedom, and how it would look to not walk out our lives under the influence of an unclear spirit. We always quote the verse from 1 Corinthians 14, verse 33 which says, “For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.” But do we actually live out a life that is free from uncertainty and filled with clarity? God was so soft speaking to me about this and we had such an incredible small group discussion regarding it! This ended up being the perfect topic to again solidify all that God had been showing me in these weeks.

There are so many more stories to tell, but literally so much has happened and I haven’t even found all the highlights yet! I got to go to a fall party with my cousins and good friends last weekend, which was so much fun! My work hours are starting to slow down as our tourist season closes- but even though that isn’t exactly good news; it has allowed me to do more fun things like play with some pigs at a friend’s farm the other day! And I have had a couple nights to rest/relax while also getting caught up on homework from last week when we had off. Please be praying for me though, that even working less hours I would still make enough money to sustain my bills/food and also to be prepared for the holidays! I’m confident He will provide, and am believing for EXACTLY the amount I need.

Not gonna lie, writing is kind of difficult; especially since I read and write all day long. I just have so much knowledge coming at me right now that can be hard to process it all. I still enjoy blogging, it has just been a season of just so much filling up it is hard to choose what to talk about and even to motivate myself to write. Please bear with me as I continue to process everything we are being taught and exposed to! I will do my best to keep the updates as regular as possible.

Sending big love everyone’s way!!!

 

Have It All

“In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.” -Luke 14:33

Wow. Where do I begin? Only had two weeks of school and I feel as if I have been studying here for months already. I have never been so loved. Never been so full. So hungry for more. I am surrounded by some of the greatest community here at this school and am continually blessed with some of the most loving, encouraging, and spirit-filled staff members, teachers, and mentors. I could never have imagined this. I definitely didn’t ask for it. But God, in his goodness, provides. Not just what we want, but what we need. What we really need; not just what we think we need.

I could go on and on about what we do here and what I’ve learned so far- but honestly I’m not even sure where to begin. We are instructed by what I believe are some of the wisest and loving humans on the planet. We are brought into the presence of God on a DAILY basis. We are prayed over more than we can even comprehend. And from the moment class begins to the second it ends; I am overwhelmed by the presence and the love and the goodness of God. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Each morning we start with worship and intercession at 8am. We go into the 24/7 house of prayer and meet with God face to face. After an hour in there (which is never long enough) we go into the classroom to have lessons; which are taught by different leaders each day. We also have assigned “small groups” of about 6-8 people that we break into for discussion, encouragement, and prayer; and “mentor groups” (or small, small groups) of 1-2 students and a leader that we go to for deeper accountability and growth. Then one day a week is community day; or team building. It’s all of the year one and year two students together that play games, do bonding activities, and team challenges. I feel like I have already been friends with some of these students for most of my life. We have memorized scripture together, ran around in the rain, and had family meals. I still can’t believe I get to do life this next year with some of the greatest people around; a few of them have moved across the world to be here! We have five international students, and half of our leaders are from Bethel!!! We went to a conference together last week and have already planned two more for this fall. Everyday is an overload of information and spiritual encounter; I haven’t even had time to process it yet. On top of work and a good supply of scripture-based homework; I hit the bed exhausted every night- but oh so full.

On the day before school started; I was journaling about all my emotions and excitement about this upcoming year. The very last line I wrote was “Lord, Have It All.” And that has since become my theme for school. One of my teachers even made me a painting saying just that. I am going into this year just so so open-handed; ready to receive any and everything that He has for me. The song Have It All by Bethel has really come back into mind during this time; and their whole album has been on repeat for me these past few days. (It’s a couple years old now but so dang good!)

Literally in the 2.5 days it has taken me to write this; even more incredible things have happened. I guarantee if I tried to describe every day of school I would have to write 3 blogs for each one. Last night I was even under spiritual attack because of it. We have been going so deep with God and so far into His presence in an experience of Freedom and Joy; We all danced around the room with flags during worship yesterday morning while singing out praises to Him. I have been just in a place of such deep intimacy and it has been INCREDIBLE. But once I got home yesterday and went into work- I just felt this heaviness and darkness and sadness overcome me. I didn’t have a cause for it and I couldn’t shake it. It followed me the whole night; and even as I went to bed I was praying against it. This morning I still felt heavy- and I went into worship just needing to receive. I realized that this was an attack of the enemy and I needed to continue to battle it. As I came in, I knew this spirit could not last in the presence of the Lord, and I was anticipating for the freedom of it to come! My friend Olivia approached me when I came in and asked if I would lead worship with her. At first I wanted to say no, because I knew that I needed to just soak in His presence as I continued this spiritual warfare. But the Lord promised me that this would be good for me; and that even from the stage I could receive His joy and fullness. So I obeyed. Halfway into worship I felt myself take a deep breath of fresh air; as if I was breathing for the first time. I inhaled the Spirit, so deeply, breathing in with it a new level of life. I felt the heaviness, sadness, exhaustion, and darkness fall off me as I continued to praise the giver of life and love. It was the most incredible feeling- I literally inhaled freedom as I shook off these attacks of the enemy, and could worship so much more freely as a result. We even had prayer afterwards and I had two of the greatest girls praying over me as I told them what I had been facing. We also prayed over the class as a whole; because wherever the Lord is working, the devil is attacking as well; and I wasn’t the only one who battled spiritual warfare this week. But I am encouraged by this because I know GOD IS VICTORIOUS and He is doing big things here at HSSM. And we’re just getting started!!!!! Upsetting the devil is the biggest sign that something good is happening.

Since I have been here I have led worship at two churches already! I have never been in a place of so much opportunity and so much growth. I am challenged every day, and surrounded by a loving community most everywhere I turn. I sure miss home a heck of a lot; but God is faithful everywhere He sends us.

This is a picture of all of us after going ziplining (Yes, we did that!) today. These people are my new family and my heart is so dang full.

School

Girls

Sending all of my love back home. I love y’all so so big!!! Missing everyone a little extra, and my heart’s biggest desire is that you could all experience something like this one day. My eyes are being opened to so many sides of God that I’ve never seen before- and THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING! Thanks so much for all of the phone calls, texts, and FaceTime calls! They mean the world. Come visit me sometime so I can show you all of this in person!

The Mundane Matters

John 14:1, 4- “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me… And you know the way to where I am going.”

I’m sure many of you, especially those back in the WR area are wondering; “How’s PA?” And honestly, it’s taken me such a long time to even write this blog because I felt like there wasn’t anything going on here to tell people about. I almost felt embarrassed by that- Like, “I moved all the way up here and nothing has really happened…?” And although it does seem very uneventful and boring most of the time, I still felt it appropriate to post an update.

Life here is… well… different. Culture shock is real and it is happening. Even without leaving the country there are places that just have such unique atmosphere, climate, population, and density that it can be alarming. Thankfully I knew what I was getting into, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Most of my mornings have been fairly typical; sleeping in, watching some Netflix, reading… I’ve been doing a little extra cooking when it comes to meals which has been both exciting and annoying.

I got a job up here, which I started a couple weeks ago and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m an evening waitress at a little Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant called Bird-In-Hand. Although I have to dress almost COMPLETELY Mennonite, it’s an enjoyable place to work with really good hours. Not to mention the money is great! I get along with all of my coworkers, most of them are actually quite a bit older than me. It was one guys’ birthday last week so we all went out after work to celebrate and it was so nice just getting to know everyone better and doing something outside of the restaurant. Honestly, this job is such a blessing! I never would have seen myself here but God provided and it’s exactly what I needed.

My community is starting to come together as well. Slowly, but surely- God is putting people in my path who I can be intentional and make memories with. I got coffee (actually chai tea) with a girl last week, and today after church I went to lunch with my friend Jana at the cutest little restaurant tucked inside the middle of a college campus. I even got to take care of the worlds’ most adorable dog this Saturday. I am so thankful that the Lord knows my desire for relationship and continues to fill it with exactly what I need.

But the best part of living here has got to be the area. First of all, everything is BEAUTIFUL. I can’t fully describe in words the magnificence of this place. The whole county is tucked between the mountains; filled with rolling hills. Even the 10-minute ride to church quickly transforms to a scenic country drive. Fields, hills, and a view of the mountains follows me just about everywhere I go; and I’m not at all upset about it. Combine that with some worship music in the car and there’s the perfect setting for a praise session. (Believe me, I’ve had plenty of them). But God really displays His love for me in this weather we’ve been experiencing here. Since the first week I came; I’ve woken up to nice, cool mornings, a warm (but not hot or humid) day, and then a breezy, comfortable evening. I’ve been having so so many devotions outside in the mornings because this weather is just too perfect not to enjoy. There has been some rain the past couple days, but that doesn’t diminish this perfect fall climate. Not sure if I have ever experienced temperatures like this on a consistent basis, and I couldn’t be more thankful. My mother even came up to visit for a family wedding and we would put on sweatshirts and walk through the park on some of the most beautiful mornings I have yet to see. I can’t even step outside without smiling because I know God is just pouring out blessing upon blessing to me. Fall has always been my favorite season and this is the first year I will get to experience it in this breathtaking place.

Yes, I am homesick. I miss people often and have probably already gotten on some friends’ nerves with how much I still contact them. Even as I’m writing this, Grace Midtown livestream is playing and almost making me cry. These two weeks have almost felt like two months in some ways just because I feel as if I’m not doing much, and life is very mundane at times. But even in it, I find His goodness. Even sitting and watching tv, I see Him moving. Even in trying to make friends, I am made more aware of His friendship. In missing home, I am reminded that my home is wherever He is; and He is everywhere. And in my loneliness and boredom, I’m comforted with His perfect peace. Each time I feel the fall breeze, or drive on the winding roads through the cornfields, or greet a new table at work, I’m reminded that He called me here. That there is a greater plan in store. That this is home. And when I stop to count my blessings, I realize there are a lot more of them than I may see at first glance.

Also, I’ve finally learned how to get around mostly without a GPS! Any of y’all that know me know how much of a struggle it is for me to find my way around. It took me about 7 days to finally learn the way to work, which is about 20 minutes of nothing but backroads. Slowly starting to feel less like a stranger here, so Praise God for that!

All the Feels

Psalm 39:7- “And now, Oh Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”

This is gonna be really raw. Below is an entry that I wrote today in my journal: August 13, 2017.

“I’m overwhelmed with emotion today. Last night some of my good friends threw me a going away party and it was so good.. So great just feeling loved by beautiful people. But today I woke up heavy; because with deep love comes deep emotion. Especially when you have to say goodbye. And I don’t know how long it will be till I am here again.

It is more and more obvious that our lives are all on different paths right now. Even the thought of being so far away from my younger sisters makes me want to just cry. Sob. All of it. These people are mine; and as I step away I don’t know if they will come with me. Or at least in the way that I want them to.

I have no idea what I’m walking into- all I can see is what I am stepping out of. I have a loss of appetite, loss of excitement, loss of confidence. I have no desire to see people because I know it will hurt too much to pull away.

Yet in all of this I have an increased desire to run to You. A greater love of your presence. A need, a longing to spend time with you. And in the midst of my hurting and uncertainty; I’m grateful for that. Thankful that missing people makes me crave You more. And that You will always be there. You take this journey with me. In fact, You lead the way: and I just follow You up. Because You are there, I will go also. What it all comes down to is that I want to be closer to You, and that’s what You have called me to. So I am ready. Full embrace.”

And last Sunday I had a similar reaction:

“I’m diving headfirst into the unknown.

It is far. It is deep. It’s scary as heck.

But gosh how freeing.

How refreshing. How exciting

to jump with Jesus into a greater love for Him.

A flood of emotions as I swim.

I might walk, I might sink.

But I’m never letting go of His hand.

I’m ready, Lord. Steady my fall.

Hold my heart. I’m all in.”

August 6

Even when I begin to experience grief and sadness, I rest assured because I know that God works greatest in my weakness. And I am always drawn closer into His arms when I am hurting the most. The journey is exciting; but the transition is difficult. But what must I worry for? My hope is in Him. Always. Not in my friends here, but my future there. Not in my family but in my Father. Not in what I leave behind, but in His consistency wherever I am.

In reading a book the other day I was given some very powerful advice.

“Don’t get so focused on the messy reality that you miss the miracle in the midst of it.”

-Right now my reality is messy.. at least it seems that way. I feel stressed, overwhelmed at times, uncertain of what lies ahead, and saddened about leaving all I’ve ever known. But I am reminded that it was moments like this in the Bible that Jesus came in and did some of his greatest miracles. When everything was out of place- Jesus brought peace and restoration. So even in this time I can be expectant for Him to move. Because Jesus always shows up in our mess to bring His miraculous grace.

There is a song I have always loved called Holy Spirit. The bridge contains the line:

“Let us become more aware of your presence. Let us experience the glory of your goodness.”

I am always always convicted when singing this. My prayer is that God will constantly open my eyes to His presence moving in my life and in the lives of others. He is constantly present and active whether we sense it or not. But I pray that my eyes will be open to what He is doing and how He is working. That is when the miracles happen; right smack dab in the middle of our day to day lives.

“Don’t set into motion what needs to remain still.”

-This one is so good for me. Sometimes I see God’s hand leading me, or feel the promises He has given and I try to jump up and take control. I forget that He is still in control and I don’t have to worry about it. There are times when He tells me to move and to go and do. But other times He shows me the outcome, yet still asks that I wait for His fulfillment. I hope I can continue to trust and obey when I think I know where the road should lead. I don’t want to do anything on my own or outside of His plans. It is easy to sometimes get things moving when in reality God wants us to let them be left alone.

Thank you for letting me be raw and real. Up to this point I have been flooded with so many emotions, but it is important that I embrace all of them. To allow myself to feel both joy and sadness; excitement and grief. Ultimately He is good and He is God; so my soul rests in that. To anyone I have not been able to say goodbye to: I will see you again. Thanks for keeping me in your hearts and prayers. Love you all so big.