Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2014

Jesus, gracious Son of God, thank you for your sweet, sweet gift.  You have taken upon yourself the cup of our sins (Matthew 26:39) and replaced it with an overflowing cup of blessings (Psalm 16:5). You alone are enough.  I need not anymore.

“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).

May we come to you with a heart of thanksgiving! Thank you, Jesus, for all you have done, for how You teach us, for Your shepherding, and Your companionship. 

whitedove

I want to take this opportunity to inform you that I have been granted admissions to begin my Seminary studies in January.  I will continue to trust in God as Provider in finding a house, roommate, selecting classes, finding work, driving cross-country, and all the other seemingly necessities that come with starting anew, amongst different peoples and surroundings.

I’m walking in peace.  For “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:14).

It is a beautiful thing, to be pleased by the day’s purpose and still excited for what is to come.  I cannot fully live for tomorrow for each day these next few months has meaning and a mission, but I cannot forget the calling placed on my life either.

A balance, only God can lead me to understand.

Thank you, for peace of mind and for peace of heart.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Previously, I mentioned a prophetic artist whom I met during my first hours in Charlotte.  Here is a photograph of the hand-painted card I selected as a gift for a dear friend.

IMG_3935-1 For that friend, the painting is suiting.  It is a wonderful display of her understanding the balance of worshiping God even when our bodies are frail.

However, I include it here as a parallel to a painting I witnessed Sunday evening.  As I stood beside a sister in the Lord on a beach-clean-up prayer-walk, we found ourselves still at once, captivated by the illustration before our eyes.  In bright colors it was depicted: a bonfire of orange and pink flames with a bold face, a man’s face outlined by a beard.  With his hands high in the sky praising God we began to praise.  Then the shapes shifted, now we saw his profile and his hands were no longer raised up, but rather to his sides.  A demonstration of a salvation stance.  Before our very own cross.  On the other side of the sun was a dragon.  The dragon had thunder clouds, or what seemed to be the darkest, gloomiest grey clouds in sight.  No matter how dark, these clouds could not touch the man praising God!

Satan wants to snatch us, he desires our attention and praises to be directed inward to the self.  The more we are consumed by our desires, we no longer focus on God’s mighty purpose for our lives. But this dragon was not able to open its’ jaw.  He was hindered by the grace of God present in those worshiping His very presence.

Is Satan trying to deceive you of something?

If so, I’d like to share these words with you.  Words that God brought to my heart in praying over another sister in Christ.  Before the dawn today, they solidified:

As you are waving around the shield of faith destroying every effort of Satan’s attack, blocking the fiery arrows, PENETRATE his mere existence for his presence is small and cannot grip you! Penetrate the devil for he no longer will be near! Speak the Truth against that cunning thief! He cannot and will not steal our beloved sisters and brothers!  God is protecting us and HAS equipped us for this battle! Our days are numbered and this very one is purposed in His Book of life, a day of penetrating the supposed kingdom the enemy has attempted to claim his own.  No longer! No longer! Penetrate!  He has not prevailed! Our God is Mighty! And He has claimed refuge in your heart as He invites you to seek refuge in Him.  So in that place of security, penetrate and make Satan no more! (Ephesians 6, Psalm 39).

“The LORD shall preserve you from evil; He shall preserve your soul.”  – Psalm 121:7

The day then ended with this reflection:

The world sees a home destroyed, but God sees a broken and contrite heart.  He feels His children desperately clinging to Him for protection, for guidance.  Lean on Him and you will not stumble.  His foundation can not be quaked.  God is a Solid Rock, a resting place for our souls.  A warm embrace.  A disciplining Father to keep us right with Him.  Be encouraged. For God is near and He has no intention of letting you go.

So dance, dear brothers and sisters.  May we continue to praise God despite the darkness.  For only God is given authority over our everything.  Satan deceives, but God leads us by Truth with compassion, grace, mercy, and love.   He is a promise-keeping God! He is and will always be victorious!

Read Full Post »

Sometimes God does answer prayers and we don’t notice…

At the beginning of September I found myself constantly asking God which degree program He desired me to pursue.  See, if I went straight for the PsyD at Fuller, I’d need to study the GRE–grammar, math, sentence structure, vocabulary–and if I continued to advance towards the dual-master’s degrees I’d have to study as if I were taking the PsyGRE–an overview of all the psychology information I studied in undergrad.  Or so I thought.

I didn’t hear an answer as to which direction to focus.  So I continued to serve the LORD through my work and volunteer positions.  I chose to study His book rather than the academic study books.  I never felt that this was a selfish pursuit, but rather one that led to great peace and stillness in preparation for the next move.

After a few weeks without an answer, I continued to sit with the LORD about the day’s ministry opportunities.  Since the direction was not designated, I gave it a week.  I called the Psychology Board of California, multiple retreat-like clinics in California, schools, etc.  No responses.

Okay God, I have a direction.

My self-determined deadline was Tuesday night, the next morning I called Gordon-Conwell and set up the interview, booked a flight, hotel, and rental car.

All the while, God may have been snickering.  Not because He fooled me, but because I was following, as I had hoped, but without recognizing His silence was because I never asked the appropriate question.

“You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior” (Psalm 65:5).

Just yesterday I learned that I had misheard.  I wasn’t being administered the test of my knowledge of psychology, I was given three psychological assessments.  These assessments will later be used in my courses at Gordon-Conwell.  How cool, right?

__________________________

Update, 10/22/2014:

I should also mention, this misunderstanding served as my rationale for deferring my fall application. However, I was at peace with it then and continue to walk in peace. For I know truly that I committed to a year of stillness, serving in my immediate community.   And the Good Book tells us it would be foolish to make a promise to the Lord you cannot keep. I did stretch myself, but I kept it, and honored the Lord through the commitment.

“When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5).

To be quite frank, it was me rushing a healing.  I was still quite sick during that part of this season.  I wanted things in my timing, and God knew better.

I was blessed to sit, to study, and to meditate with Jesus as my Good Teacher. In that period, although grateful, I continued to yearn for an academic environment—one that challenges students to use God’s Word as the lens through any school of thought, where teachers “dispense life as well as information,”* and discussion draws participants deeper in understanding, admiration, and intimacy with God.

“God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the who scope of God’s work from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

It just took me a little longer than He to know when it was time to stay still and time to move on, but truly, “for everything there is a season”(Ecclesiastes 3:1).

* Foster, Richard. Celebration of Discipline (1989).

_____________________________________________

Thank God, for teaching me despite my lack of listening.  I wanted a “Yes” or “No,” a  “GRE” or “PsyGRE,” but instead He remained patient as He kindly pulled my attention to His right path.

Praise God that I did indeed arrive.  I thank Him for also revealing this through the day’s progression.  It truly was a day full of seeing how God uses each of us in such unique ways, even if our ministry is given the same title.  And might you too, as Paul sent word to Archippus,

 “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.”

– Colossians 4:17

 

Read Full Post »

I found my sanctuary.

Freedom Park. It was a name that drew my attention on Friday while glancing at a city map.  It then was a recommendation from my Jazzercise instructor on Saturday.  And Sunday, it was a calming celebration of nature seen through a pure lens.

Freedom. Through Christ we have all been made free from sin and made slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18).  We’re set free.  How grateful I am, how joyous an occasion to know that I will sit in stillness, walk in peace, study in the shadows, eat in the warmth of the sun at a place with such an identity.

Beauties found throughout Freedom Park

Since my camera battery decided to empty itself, I do not have any pictorial proof as of current, but at this park were also several willow trees.  Willow trees have meant wisdom in my life ever since I first understood the wise words offered to Pocahontas.  But through my walk with the LORD and His display of a ministry calling set before my eyes, a willow is so much more.

Once again, confirmation.

A tree of life.  Tree of wisdom.  Flower of delicate, pure-like attributes.  Branches of bright yellow flowers, my favorite color, perfectly lit by the sun setting.  Pods of treasure-like, gleaming fruits.

So much more was seen during this time.  So much more was cherished through spending the time with my dear friend.  So much will be challenged, strengthened, deepened, pursued, and tried in my walk with the LORD through my meditation in this setting.

I thank God for answering prayers.  For knowing how to answer best.  For allowing His answers to be joyously received in ways I had not quite anticipated.

God did listen!
    He paid attention to my prayer.
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
    or withdraw his unfailing love from me.

– Psalm 66:19-20

Read Full Post »

Bliss.

Waking up, rested, ready to enter into community with a dear friend is blissful. On our way out of the hotel, I saw that I had not gathered my prayer journal and Bible, ran back up to the room and on the way down had another confirmation encounter. As the elevator bell rang, I went to enter the open doors to realize it appeared full. As I signaled the occupying ladies to go on, they invited me in and added, “We’ll just hang you right on here” referring to their garment rack full of beautiful items of clothing, jewelry, bags, etc. My response, “I will take that as a compliment, with all of your beautiful things.” The two ladies seemingly in their seventies, both wearing similar shades of red lipstick to Griffin and I today, looked over and saw what I was carrying, “With your devotional in hand, how precious.” As we left each other with blessings, I walked knowing that God had planned this in advance. That I am here, in this moment, praising His name, seeking His lead, accompanied for a short time by a dear sister in faith. As these ladies embarked on a trip together, so are we. As they respect and seek God’s presence, so are we. I love too that in that encounter, beauty was magnified by the awareness of God’s Spirit mutually among each of us.

My forgetfulness did cause us to be on the road a bit later than anticipated. God knew what He was doing.

As we approached the church both of us were immediately in favor of the architectural structure. Running late, the doors were opened by a young gentleman who showed us to the stairs. We found our way to wooden, fold-up chairs dated from 1925. As the church lifted songs of praise to the LORD, we stood embarking on a sequence of prayer, praise, lesson, prayer, communion, praise, prayer, and benediction. The liturgy was led by a visiting pastor from Czech Republic, associate pastors, the lead pastor, gifted worship leaders, and elders. When offering came, a young boy carried the basket from row to row in the balcony.

The most precious moment was seeing the call for children to leave the sanctuary and head to kid’s church. More often than not, I saw fathers escorting their children. How amazing it truly is to see so prevalent the father’s role in leading a family to worship. In front of us was a family of three, the father sitting between his wife and middle-school aged son. Both man and boy were writing, drawing, in their sermon notes. Actively aware of what was going on and intimate as a family unit among a church family. A beautiful depiction.

During communion, the age of the building was quite audible. I thought for a moment, this is quite distracting from the music and setting of a call to be still before the offering of Jesus. Then quickly began praising God for the creaking. For I recognized that the creaking was the sound of sheep scampering to be one with Him in gratefully accepting His gift of life made new, made whole, made compatible with Abba Father. The sound of creaking, the many feet that have walked these aisles are all drawing near in His presence, such a sweet aroma that is pleasing to God.

After service, Griffin and I chose to stay later to fellowship, but also to photograph the church in a respectable manner. Uptown Church

We met the family who sat in front of us, then headed down into the main sanctuary to turn in my information card and prayer request for Tuesday’s interview and pursuit for a roommate who also seeks to have a house of praise and worship in the city.   There I met April.  April is near 70, and was deeply impacted, as was her dear husband, Peter by the sermon on Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Yes, let us make our days count.  Let us seek the day’s meaning and allow each day to go by without missing the opportunity to serve God joyfully, enthusiastically.  Assign meaning to each numbered day as reinforced by Psalm 139: 16, Ephesians 5:15-17, and Romans 14:5.

I found myself touring the church and ran into Anne and Peter three times more. Each time, they asked deeper questions, remembering my name as they introduced me to pastors, church members, and the mentor of their daughter during her younger years.  As I met Teresa, Anne spoke such words of prestige in the introductions that the conversation was easy and once again, I was told to connect when I return in January.  To make my presence known and draw deep in the fellowship.  On my last run-in with Anne and Peter, we spoke of prayer requests.  Please include Peter’s health in your prayers.  We spoke of joyous youth in the LORD’s presence, in which they both feel young in Spirit.  We spoke of the gratefulness for Heavenly bodies.   And we spoke of my desire for a roommate to minister with in hospitality, hosting nights of worship and prayer.  Immediately Anne committed it to prayer and seeking this out.

Confirmation.  Encouragement.  Wise counsel.  Community.  As they, with great compassion requested my coming back, I too felt the longing to return.  To engage, to truly grow in ministry through this ministry.  No church hopping needed,  God has prevailed and drawn my heart towards His in a true House of Prayer.

As associate pastor, Reverend Dave Kulp led the congregation into communion I leave you with this, “Our days are numbered and our days are good as we are connected with Christ.”

Read Full Post »

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

– Proverbs 11:25

The day started by a surprised reaction to the time: 11:53.  Surely, I was rested.  Secondly, I read a message from my dear friend who would be on her way to visit with me.  Four hours later and she did indeed arrive.

While awaiting her arrival, however, I did have the opportunity to explore what I thought was a farmer’s market but found a fall festival family event instead.  Felt energized and refreshed from my second workout since sensing a near-full healing from my digestive sickness this year.  And received membership to the Jazzercise studio, as well as, a natural grocers.

I feel..comfortable.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to hear of what is happening in Charlotte in term’s of God’s work,  ministries, cultures, social settings, etc.  Today, I had the opportunity to see what Charlotte for me might appear–from the most superficial sense anyhow.

The grocery store has my olive oil; my protein-packed, gluten-free pasta; my dietary supplements; my probiotic drinks; my breakfast beverage; fresh herbs and avocados; and so much more I consume regularly.  In addition, there is Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

I have prayerfully considered the physical adjustment that would occur in moving to a place that may not carry the foods I have grown accustomed to during this battle with illness.  I thank God that He has provided in this way.

Griffin and I went back to the spice shop.  We reminisced a little about our travels and pallets.  Then, finally, enjoyed an Ethiopian meal together.  As we tore the injera (bread-like substance that the food is served on and used instead of utensils for eating purposes), we ping-ponged from topic to topic with such ease.  Griffin mentioned, “I imagined it would be a full 36 hours of this.  And I am quite frankly fine with that.”  It has been nice.  We’ve had opportunity to speak about the Gospel, about grief in the old testament, about weddings and celebration of life, about family, and every other direction the LORD has led us.

Primarily, today has shown me that ministry here, for me, pours out from a heart of generosity.  He has set aside a number.  I asked if the additional services would be deducted from that number, His response, a simple “no.”  Fine by me, for I truly know that the LORD provides, and if He so desires to provide for another through the provisions He has presently blessed me with, I joyfully will give.  And joyously it has been today.

Before Griffin’s arrival, I had the opportunity to speak with a 14-year-old boy who was selling pumpkin pies on the street corner, wearing a full suit.  Kyvon is trying to help out his family, “to keep me and my brothers out of trouble.”  Such vulnerability, something to be admired and supported. Please pray that he and his family members are strengthened during what seem to be hard times and that they have the discipline to stay on God’s right path, believing in His provision.

Also pray for the immigrants in our country.  The owner of the Ethiopian restaurant was also open when hearing of our great appreciation of her services.  She shared how the products are shipped from home to Washington and from there are distributed.  Her voice quenched as she admitted she does not visit home, because it is far and expensive.  But truly she does miss it.  She identifies with Ethiopia, and now has opportunity to bring her background to others and hopefully allow them, us the chance to grow in respect and knowledge of the culture she still so righteously attributes as her own.

In this way, may we share of our home in Christ.  Wanting everyone to sample, to desire seconds, to eagerly pursue claiming Him as their identity.  May we share of our life in Him and bring it where He calls us, as she has left her home and shares with America, perhaps God is bringing your home somewhere else.  Listen to the call.

I do want to add an insight onto tithe.  Perhaps tithing may feel a duty that goes unnoticed, or perhaps something you feel disconnected from.  I want to admit here, tonight, that my tithe is unconventional.  The LORD asked me to sponsor a girl in Haiti 8 years ago.  While I had income on a sporadic-babysitting-gig-dependent basis through much of college, my tithe sometimes required my entire paycheck to sponsor her.  With volunteer counseling on Saturdays in LA, God has now, in addition, requested the cost of gas to travel to this place of service.  But most of all, I enjoy giving in acts of service towards dear friends.  Treating friends to dinner, offering them the item from my collection that they have been seeking for or saving for, compiling wardrobes to give, or today, purchasing a gift for Griffin’s husband as a thank you for all they’ve shared as an example before my eyes, to my ears–a long-distance friendship at most times.  These are all acts of generosity, all services that honor God and uses of His provisions in ways that are glorifying to Him.  May you too find the way God requests the use of your finances.

That’s it for today.  Blessings be to you as you find rest in Him, opportunity to give graciously, and share obediently.

Read Full Post »

After approximately 30 hours in the same clothes, all I wanted to do was to get to my hotel, shower, and sleep.  The concierge was kind and allotted me a 5 hour early check-in, still leaving me with 1 1/2 hours to kill.

I hadn’t eaten in 12 hours.  Made sense to find one of the health food stores I wanted to test out.  Emptied lot.  Closed down. On my third attempt, I found a center with 3 separate places I had bookmarked during one of my layovers.  Perfect, so I thought.  But truly, God planned it perfectly.

At Savory Spice Shop, I was encouraged to know there are vineyards approximately 1 hour north of Charlotte. We discussed the flavors of ethnic foods from the Middle East, to Europe, to South America.  Thirty minutes passed by and I felt enriched with knowledge of culture and opportunities to explore the culinary and beverage industry in Charlotte. In moderation, of course.

Still 45 minutes to kill.

I walked over and found a marketplace, only really it was a small, odd assortment of booths: some cheese, paintings, soaps, pickles, etc.  I found myself looking at photos, hoping to find a setting in the wilderness I could seek out as a place of solitude and refuge.  No luck.  The amateur artist ended up also being the painter of the next booth.

As I scanned through the work, I found myself reading over, meditating, standing still, and re-reading John 15:1-10 depicted in calligraphy surrounded by water-colored grape vines.  ABIDE. I responded, “Yes LORD, I shall.”

In this instance, the painter looked over, and said, “If you like this one, look at this selection.” Over twenty minutes of showing me each of her biblical-inspired paintings and then, I found it.  A gift for a dear friend.  A painting of two girls dancing–one holding a tambourine–while triumphing over the flames beneath their feet.

The conversation began to deepen.  Nearly 2 hours later and she was wishing me blessing for my interview, exchanging contact information, and had offered an invitation to celebrate the Shabbat feast with her family upon my moving to Charlotte.  I mentioned I planned to purchase a gift.  Well, her ministry poured out.  She then gifted me with 2 paintings for myself.  Hand-selecting a piece on solitude, as she gauged my heart.  A prophetic painter encouraging my spirit led me into a state of rest.

Dinner at Whole Foods served as a comfort for my future here.

To finish the day, I had previously RSVP’d to an event.  I found out about it via an event calendar on one of the dozens of church websites I had investigated last month. The event: Gordon-Conwell’s Alumni Forum 2, “Reach, Respect, Respond: A Conversation on the Church’s Mission and The LGBTQ Community.”

The LORD makes His way known.  My freshman year of college incorporated the ministry to those identifying in the LGBTQ Community, and now my soon-to-be first year of  graduate studies, and it is the first academic presentation I hear.  Quite the parallel.

After the event, I was asked by a representative for admissions of Gordon-Conwell how I found the program and found myself in greater detail than I planned on sharing.  As I gleefully stood on my toes with a grin from ear to ear, I expressed the wonders God has done in getting me right there in that very moment.  I had the opportunity to meet there, informally, the head of admissions and spoke once more with joy and ease.

Let’s just say, my car was indeed a House of Praise for the drive back to the hotel.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »