When God’s grace is working in our everyday lives, we can expect to experience his goodness. When the Holy Spirit is working in and through us, we are in a position subject to God’s sovereignty. A place where we are ready for God to work mightily.
I am on a path where I just feel, so deeply in my heart, to tell God “God I love you, not for stuff you’ve been giving me or doing for me but because you love me.” Because of God’s powerful love, that I have seen and felt. I can testify that even when I don’t see it or feel it, I know God is still working. Working in our lives, in our houses, our families, our relationships.
Yes, we all know how the entire world is in a shocking state right now with COVID. But guess what? If you allow God, he will use any situation to teach us. To grow our faith, our ability to help others, to love like he does, and to remind us of why we are here.
Now I want to ask you one question:
If Jesus came today and was standing right in front of you, would you be ready?
I want to encourage you to continue to work for God. Continue to pursue him in spirit and truth. Don’t let satan put lies in your life, like you won’t be anything or you’re not good enough. Remember God’s grace is enough for you! Let God be your guidance, let him be your provider. God sees you and wants to spend time with you. So make time to be with God. God is good and he has a huge plan for you. If you continue to work in his will, he will show you the way. Keep seeking the Lord and remember, his grace is enough for you!
What does it mean to be yourself? I feel that oftentimes we try to define how much of ourselves we are being at any given moment. Phrases like “I’m so not me today!” and “I just don’t feel comfortable in my skin right now.” are strewn about like fallen leaves.
I too feel these sentiments in my life and in my walk. In this space in time where I prepare to embark to Haiti once more, I can’t help but look around and see that many of my friends have returned to college, but me? I am all alone, or that’s what I feel like sometimes. In this aloneness can come a sense of uncomfortableness and that resonant “who am I?” Now that my comrades are gone I don’t feel like myself. So it seems I’ve been defining myself by who I hang around and spend all my time with. And let me tell you if you do this, you will never have a solid Identity.
Whether you are surrounded by God loving friends or completely alone, if you base your identity on your circumstances and the people around you, you are as turbulent as the wind. You’ve built your house on sand castles and this is what I’ve been doing. The kind of identity we all have immediate access to is not one comprised of worldly things and momentary surroundings, it is a sense of self anchored so much in glorifying God that the way we see ourselves is automatically a cute little footnote. Where we are so obsessed and engulfed in the story that God is writing and has written that our self worth doesn’t matter.
Moses seemed to think he couldn’t be used but God had a different plan. One where Moses’s worth did not matter and it was all about forgetting himself and getting lost in the gravity and grace of God and his goodness. It’s hard to care how much you feel like yourself when you’re standing in the middle of raging waters threatening to collapse on you yet knowing that your Good God won’t let that happen. So right now I’m urging you and I’m urging myself to be so swept up in the marvelous privilege that is worshipping The One True King, that we could care less how we look and feel.
Let’s read our Bibles, and love those around us and care for those with less, not to feel more like ourselves, or to feel good inside, but to praise the One who made all of this possible. In doing so we will be wise men and women building our house upon the what? The Rock.
A little over a year ago after my mom passed away, God highlighted Romans 8:28 out to me. It says:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Since then, I have repeatedly gotten to see God work through every situation life has thrown my way. There have been many ups and downs, twists and turns, this past season. Many unexpected, some really hard and challenging, as well as wonderful and exciting things. Nevertheless, throughout each and every one of them God has shown to be faithful. He has allowed me to see just how powerfully he can take any situation and make it into something beautifully and good. Sometimes when I see God do things like this I just cannot help but stand completely wordless and in awe of our great God. I mean how crazy is it that when I am sitting in the midst of something, God is always working it out for my good. Even if I am complaining about it to God in prayer, he never gives up on me. He rather so graciously encourages me and fights for me bringing good out of every situation. He is always with us, going behind and before. As we go through the refining fire, God is there working. As we weather the waves of the storm, God is there working. As we reach joyous mountain top views, God is there working.
I just do not even know how to put my words of amazement of God on paper. How is it that I have been chosen to be part of God’s family. I am such a broken person, yet God still chooses to love and work in every situation in my life, as long as I let him. I cannot even begin to comprehend the love the Father has for myself and every person on this earth. It is so extravagant that it can mend anything into a beautiful whole, no matter how broken. I am nobody special, so I want to encourage you too. If you don’t know the love the Lord has for you, I am telling you God is waiting for you to allow him to pour it out on you in abundance. And start the refining and mending process in your life.
Now that was the longest intro of my life, but I think necessary for the next part of this writing. Like I mentioned earlier, the scripture of Romans 8:28 is a promise I have recently gotten to see God fulfill repeatedly. I feel that during this crazy time in the world that it has been especially true, in a rapid fire way. Some of you may know that I had planned to be moved over to Haiti this past May. Though, COVID came and tossed things up a bit. However, GOD IS STILL MOVING!! For me, God took the situation that COVID brought, and used it to open some pretty crazy doors. Here is a story of one of them.
I just recently returned home from an English Teachers certification program called TESOL. This was a 5 week program held at YWAM Discovery Bay in Port Townsend. How God opened this door is a crazy story that I will save for another time. Though, I will tell you this was no easy school, to be honest at the difficulty I will let you know it was actually five, three credit, university courses held in a five week period. It was so challenging. But, God provided everything I needed all the way from the financial cost (which in itself is a crazy story), to the new friends that God knew I would need. I will be honest, I did not know what God was walking me into with this school. I thought I was just going to learn some English Teaching things that I could use in Haiti. I did not realize that I was walking into, well, as my friend would call it “a refining fire”. I not only got to learn all those english things, but I got to have God work in my heart in a lot of ways. As well as see God give me keys to the next doors to open. You may be wondering, “if this school was so hard then why are you speaking so much of the good God can bring from situations?” To that I will answer that not all situations feel good and the time your in them. But if you stick through it walking hand in hand with Jesus you will have a crazy amazing mountain top view at the end. Which is what I am seeing now as I am reflecting back at the work of God’s hands. And again, I am left wordless and in awe at the greatness of the love of our Savior.
Lord thank you for crazy adventures with you! Thank you for holding the keys to the opening of new doors. Thank you for the promise of Romans 8:28 and that you work all things out for the good of those who love you. Lord thank you even though I am so broken and so undeserving you keep walking with me and making my heart to become more like yours. Jesus I love you and am so ever grateful to be part of your family. Amen.
Over the past few months, I have faced a rollercoaster of health issues after discovering a tumor growing deep in my abdomen, close to my spine. The tumor, when discovered, was thought to be a hematoma from a childhood injury, and the doctors said not to worry about it. After taking another image, the doctors said it may not be a hematoma after all; it might be cancerous. After further imaging, the doctor said it may be coming off of a lymph node and lymphoma cancer became a concern, especially with my mom having died of lymphoma six months earlier.
After more studies, they discovered the tumor was not coming from a lymph node, but was instead coming from a nerve root, which meant the odds were the tumor was benign, as most nerve tumors tend to be. They did further imaging and discovered the tumor was moving into my spine, which was concerning. But two weeks later the final images revealed the tumor was no longer moving into the spine, but was isolated in the main mass. Throughout this process people would attempt to comfort and encourage me, and for that I am grateful. However, one of the comments I would hear as people sought to comfort me, was that God wouldn’t take me home and allow my life to end because He desperately needed me here. Nothing, my friends, could be further from the truth.
Let me be clear, God does not need me, and God does not need you. In our culture today, with the COVID-19 scenario, we are learning about essential and non-essential workers, which will help make this point. In the kingdom of God, there is one essential worker and one essential position: God, and He will hold that position forever. Outside God, there are no essential positions available; everyone else is non-essential. Don’t for a moment think the Creator of the universe, the one who spoke and a hundred trillion stars appeared, needs us. God lacks absolutely nothing, and God can build His kingdom with or without us. Harsh, isn’t it? People are trying to be nice when they say God needs me, but He doesn’t…not one bit. He is perfectly content and capable in His omniscient, omnipotent, triune nature.
Actually, this is quite a blessing. If God needed you and me, it would imply God does stuff for us because He needs us for His work. If God needs us, maybe He just shows love because He’s using us when He can’t get something done Himself. But such a belief is absurd! The limitless, infinitely powerful God does not need you or me, but He does want us, and that’s much better.
God loves you and desires to use you in His kingdom work, but not because He needs you, because He loves you and wants you. When Elijah told God he was the only one left who hadn’t bowed the knee to idols, God quickly informed him of thousands of others, unknown to Elijah, who were still following God. There is no one in the kingdom of God who is irreplaceable except God Himself. Don’t ever, ever look at ministry work or service to God as you meeting a need that God wouldn’t be able to otherwise meet. Ministry is not about you doing God a favor and helping Him accomplish His plans as though without you He would be hopeless. Ministry is about God allowing mankind to take part in His master plan and be part of the fulfilling, purpose-giving work of the Kingdom. I am not essential in God’s kingdom, but I am wanted. May my mindset never be that God needs me, but instead that God has given me an opportunity to serve Him and be part of His divine plan, and may all glory go to Him.
What does Frozen 2 and the past year have in common?
Well... If you are super analytical, a lot. But personally, I'm referring to this:
ok, ok. It's a bit dramatic. But in some ways...fitting
So the past year has been…. trying.
My husband and I began directing our first Discipleship Training School Last September. We had carefully planned for it for over a year, teachers, students, staff, all the things. Then, 2 weeks into the school, the political unrest that Haiti has been in since 2018 reared its ugly head and we had to change many many plans. Most of the teachers couldn’t come, we had to re arrange the whole schedule, and we had to stay on campus for weeks on end.
Fast forward to outreach. It wasn’t what we wanted for our students. Most of the outreach was close to home, we never got the chance to leave Haiti.
Then, In March we were optimistic. After an emotional few months, our family came to the US for a much needed break and to get paperwork in order for the future Port of Peace campus. A week after arriving in the US, most of the country went into quarantine. And then Haiti closed its borders. And then our daughter’s passport renewal got help up. And then, and then, and then.
Seriously, it was like that book series “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
So what does this have to do with that song from Frozen, you ask? I’m almost there, promise.
During this whole time, I’m not going to lie. I was an emotional mess. Stress, anxiety, frustration, anger, sadness… you name it, I had it. But, I’m only human. With human emotions.
But with each unfortunate event, God gave me the strength have all the emotions, stop and talk to Him, then just do the right next thing. Was it easy? No. Did I probably sit in my emotions a bit longer than I should have? Sometimes. Could I have done it on my own? Oh heck no. The only way I was able to find that next right thing was to seek God and find confirmation in what that “right thing was” And guess what? He completely blessed even single event.
Our DTS was amazing. We were able to love, disciple, and become family with our 12 students. Being in such circumstances brought us closer and helped us to be vulnerable with each other, and God moved powerfully in their lives. Some of the students decided during the school to become our first four staff members!
Yeah, we were hoping to build Homes in both Haiti and Jamaica, but we were able to serve and impact our own home town in profound ways during a difficult time, and show those we impacted the love of God in real tangible ways. We were able to visit Port de Paix in the new year and worked on what would be the template for our future ministry in the town, and made connections that will be so important later on.
When we came to the US, we didn’t exactly realize how much the previous months had tired us out, and we were VERY burnt out. But during the past few months we hav had time to pause, reflect, regroup and were able to start having virtual meetings with our staff. Plus our staff were able to use the time to build skills that will helpful when we return to Haiti. ALSO, during our stay we discovered that my sister was expecting her second baby, and we had the opportunity to welcome our little niece into the world yesterday.
So, even though the circumstances were rough over and over again, being faithful to God and asking Him what that Next Right Thing is allowed the blessing of this looooonnngg season of things being changed and different than we expected, He blessed every moment.
So, maybe next time you feel like you a living out a Series of Unfortunate Events book…
Have the emotions, be human. (Its ok!)
Then pause, talk to God
And do the Next Right Thing
During the beginning of quarantine, I was trying to figure out what I should do. My plans had been thrown out of the window like most people. After a short time though, I saw a post about an online SOW seminar (School of Worship) that YWAM Montana was hosting. I felt lead to join the seminar, so I did! So today, I would like to share with you what I've learned from the SOW!
Before I filled out the application, I thought that I was just going to learn more about worship and how I can be a better worshiper. But during the second week, I heard a phrase that impacted me deeply:
''YOU CAN NOT PRAISE SOMEONE THAT YOU DON'T KNOW"
There is a difference between PRAISE and WORSHIP. PRAISE is to say (or sing) good things like: "God you are awesome! God, you are great! You are all powerful, God" and WORSHIP is to submit your life or bow down before God. When you truly know who God is and the works that He does, you can truly praise Him!
During the seminar, the teacher asked us to write a song. After writing it we were asked to take that song and make it even better. The process was difficult for me, because I was frustrated that I had never written a song before. To make matters worse, the teacher said that he was going to pick someone to sing their song for the class!
I was so terrified of singing my song in front of the class that I actually had the thought of skipping that class so that I couldn't be chosen! I've always been afraid of singing in front of others. Instead of skipping though, I chose to pray the night before and I had peace to attend class the next day. I wasn't chosen, but the teacher had another plan for us! Instead of just one person singing their song we all got together in groups and would each contribute a line to a song. We sang our part when we got to it in the song. I was a little confused at first, but as soon as I heard the beauty of everyone's lyrics complementing each other I fell in love with it.
In the past, singing out loud in front of other people would fill me with so much fear. I see now that we do not have to be afraid to use our talents for God's glory. It's a lie of Satan to keep us paralyzed with fear. I'm so happy I had the chance to attend this SOW, because I feel like I am ready now to sing for the Lord and praise him anywhere I go. Also, I'm so happy that I know how to write a song now!
God is awesome!
Lately i’ve been learning a lot about God’s providence and why He has us where he has us. A lot of times I feel like we can see times as “in between”. The time in between jobs, or the time in between school years, but all of it has immense purpose. Recently I’ve been viewing this period where I wait for my return to Haiti as such, and in doing so I’m devaluing God’s use for it. I’ve been working at an outdoor retail store, hanging with friends and family, and raising money, but it can feel mundane. Last night when worshipping in my car with my best friend, we drove to this park, and I got out and felt led to get on my hands and knees in prayer. I didn’t want to as I had just showered and the asphalt wasn’t exactly clean, but I did anyway. While in this position of submission a divine realization washed over me and I remembered conversations I’ve had while at home about God and His Goodness. He was highlighting the fact that I have been doing something to bring God glory even if I tell myself it’s not enough. May we be so aware of God’s purpose that all we can do is bring Him glory whatever that may look like.
While You Wait
There were a few different ideas I had running through my mind for this writing. Though, when I took it to God, I felt like he wanted me to share what you are about to read right now. That God cares more about your heart and focus than your circumstances. Now don’t take what I am writing out of context, I am not saying God does not care about your circumstances because he does and probably more than you can ever know. Though I do now wholeheartedly believe that your heart and focus in the midst of anything that is going on is what God truly cares about.
Back when I did my DTS, I wrote out a prayer to the Lord. It was during worship week that I prayed this prayer. Worship week was a time where my fellow students and I were diving deep into learning what it meant to be a true worshiper of the living King. This was not a week where we learned how to praise through songs and music but started the process of understanding how to live a life of worship. Now, I can say I am receiving the blessing of that prayer being answered. I will let you know that this was not a prayer for something tangible, a miracle, or a provision. This was a prayer for how I wanted God to work in my heart and life. If you have ever prayed something like this I am sure you have seen God stretch your heart in extremely uncomfortable and challenging ways. However, through the process I have seen that our God can turn things like ashes into gold.
“ It is weird to think that you live in me. And that you created me to be a home for your spirit to dwell. This changes my thinking. I am a house for God, so I want to be a light. A light people can see. I want to be a light like a lighthouse. I want to be a hospital house for you. Welcoming all that you have to dwell in and out of me. I want to be one who sees and hears all that you are doing in all the other homes you have and the homes you have set out to live inside in the future. I want eyes like yours to see others the way you see them. Overall God, I want you to reign over me. Become the one and only leader of this house.God take every part of me into your control and do with me as you please. God make the house you have built in me to bring unending glory into your kingdom.”
The above paragraph is the prayer I prayed. And I can honestly say that putting this out into the public is not super easy for me. In fact if I did not feel God so strongly leading me to do it, I 100% would not. But I am learning to have a heart of obedience.
How God has started to answer this prayer has not been a warm and fuzzy experience. I would more describe it as being smashed open and then being put back together with a higher quality glue. HAHA! Now here is where we are getting into the heart and focus of it all.
I returned home from my DTS in February of this year, with the plan set to return as a YWAM staff member after a short 2 months at home. It has now been double that time and I am still back at home. One would say my plans have been completely turned upside down…. Well that is what I initially thought, until now. As I look back at the past few months I see just how greatly God has worked on my heart one month, one week, and one day at a time. And on top of all that, he has blessed me by opening new doors in my life that I did not expect at all. And I mean like huge, crazy, amazing blessings that I do not at all deserve. Say what!?!?! God is crazy! I am so blessed to be his daughter. Anyhow, back to my heart wrecking and focus changing. The hard part of the past few months was the things God brought conviction to in my life. He showed me some areas in my life that needed some deep heart checking. Two of those being how I often fuss and worry about the future and how I have lost track of my heart of prayer and seeking. Tying into those convictions, I felt God so often ask me “Where is your focus?”.
I have learned that it is so easy to look at what is going on around you and forget where you should really be looking. Circumstances can seem huge and take all of your focus. It can become easy to look at them, take COVID for example, and see what is annoying, not going right, or frustrating about them. But God taught me one thing that I want to never lose. And that is to stop, and instead of looking at what is going on, look at God. Genuinely asking him how he is already moving, what he is trying to teach me, and if there is any heart checking I need to do. This is not an easy thing, but I have learned it is a must. God is training my eyes and heart to look at the picture differently. Letting the foreground of the world blur and become mute, allowing me to start looking upward toward the eternal kingdom.
Lord thank you for convictions, grace, and forgiveness. Thank You that you faithfully answer prayers. Father God thank you that I get to be a lighthouse for your spirit to dwell in. That is an insanely crazy gift! Lord continue to teach, convict, and grow me. I am the house but you Father are the Keeper.