Christmas is finally over... phew. I feel like this week has been a whirlwind of business and family. I can't lie and say I didn't enjoy every second of it though. I love being around my family and we definitely know how to party.
There has been a lot going through my head recently... not necessarily about one thing. Mainly about life in general. It's been ridiculously easy to begin to start thinking that this whole life is about me. I mean, that's what we pretty much hear all day long from the media and our friends. But I think the biggest thing I have been really experiencing this holiday season is that... the more I try to think about others, the more love I receive back. And the more love I receive, the more I can give and that makes this whole season a LOT easier to live through.
I used to go through the seasons trying to find something that would fill my time. Whether that's a relationship or a job... nothing would satisfy me. It's embarrassing looking back and seeing how much damage I have caused on other people and on my own heart. I can honestly say that in these last 6 months God totally has reshaped my heart. I no longer want to live my life based on my emotions... because my emotions have lead me to nowhere good. I am having to do a lot of "cleaning up" in my life because of the way I acted. Right now it's hard because its the holidays and I would love to be all lovey dovey but when it really comes down to it... it's not about me. I have honestly had to tell myself to get over myself and enjoy the day. If only someone could be a fly on the wall hahaha, you would definitely get a kick out of my pep talks.
This last year is going to be nearly impossible to beat. But I don't doubt God anymore and His abilities to take me out of the most mundane life and give me the biggest adventure I could only dream of. I had written so many journal entries about how I was bored and needed something else in my life. I would complain to God all the time about my life and how I knew I needed to be doing something "bigger." So of course God heard me and totally took me out of my comfort zone, out of my "world" and put me on the other side of the world. Not even that, He went above and beyond and let me learn how to surf in the number one surfing spot in the world. He KNEW that I have always loved the surfing culture. So not only was I surfing for the first time in my life... I was being taught in the most desired place in the world. God is a good good God.
The fact that He sent part of his OWN self to live in a world that is in attack by Satan. To come in like a infant, completely naked and vulnerable. To live a life with the same temptation and darkness ONLY to die in the end.
Luckily, those who believe know that isn't the end. I believe that He is alive and because of that I can now live a life that is free of debt. The fact that Jesus loves us SO much He would die so we could live with grace... it's something that is so hard to get your head around. Thankfully by the grace of God I have room to make mistakes and learn how to walk with Him.
Christmas is all about remembering how Jesus came... and how loved we are because He came.
I don't have a degree to get a job that has benefits so I can live
I am absolutely terrified about this worship internship
I hope that God keeps me in this place of dependency
I hope I never begin to believe I can "handle" my life
I want to constantly put myself in places that push me
What I hope for is what I also resist constantly. The funny thing is... I feel like God is telling me to stay here in Cincinnati and for most people, staying somewhere is the easy part. The hardest thing for me to do is to be okay having plans to go nowhere. I need to learn how to be okay with where I am at. That's so hard to do though when where you are at seems so insignificant. I have to constantly remind myself that that isn't what life is about. It's not about me. I know, surprise surprise! I'm pretty terrible at letting go of my own wants and needs. This was all apparent to me while over seas but it's been hitting me in the face quite a few times since I've been back. I want to learn to serve people better and not have to think twice about it.
even this blog is so self consumed.
I hope that when people read this blog, they realize how much I do NOT have it all together. I'm pretty good at this point coming up with answers for questions that I get asked all the time. So since I've been back I've been really trying my hardest to answer the question in a way that I remember the trip on that particular day. That way the answer is never the same and each person gets a different learning experience and its genuine because that is the wisdom I am most likely trying to apply at the time.
Sometimes I over think when I talk to people which then makes the conversation awkward because I am so consumed with trying to think of what to say rather than just listening. I really do have good intentions though... I want people to know that I really am interested in them.
One thing was made extremely clear (once again) to me about Nashville.
It is not my home.
It's a great city for sure with lots of cool places and fun people. But this past weekend made it completely clear that Cincinnati is where my heart truly is at. The friends I have showed me what genuine love and friendship looks like. I'm also learning that there are some people that I will never really keep in touch with ever again. Most of those people live in Nashville and that's ok! There is nothing wrong with finally accepting that I will never call this or that person ever again. But there are a few people that have really put effort into staying in touch even when I was on the other side of the world. Those are quality people that I hold close to my heart and will forever be in my life.
I quickly remembered why I stayed in Nashville for so long. It's really easy to get stuck there... People like to stay young, that's what America is all about right? Well, Nashville is a town full of young and rising talents who are eager to work their way to the top. I feel like sometimes people forget though that there is life outside of that town and their circles. I almost want to just kidnap some of the people and put them on a plane to some third world country and tell them to not come back till the understand that life isn't about them.
I'm slightly ranting...
I know people are doing cool things all around that town. Lisa proves that to me over and over again and that's why it's great to have a friend like her :).
Plus, can I just throw this out there... You don't have to be homeless to help the homeless. Ok, I'm done.
I do love Nashville and will always be close to my heart. I don't know the next time I will see it because it's time to REALLY make Cincinnati my home. No more picking up and leaving for me. That's almost scarier that traveling across the entire world...
Man, I can't believe I've been home for a week now. I seriously miss Australia... but being home is stretching me in so many different ways. It's hard for me to step back and see how many opportunities I have been given to use what I learned and continue to grow. It's a hard type of growing pain but I can already see that I'll come out stronger afterward.
I can feel the change that happened in my heart. Makes me feel uncomfortable in certain places that used to be so normal. I don't know how I feel about that... I obviously like that God has changed my heart but I'm going to have to make some adjustments to how I used to live. That's exactly what I asked for though, so now begins the journey of dying to myself daily.
I'm back in Cincinnati now and I can't even begin to describe what my life has been like the past 5 months. I feel like this video sums it up. We were told the first week, right before outreach, and the last week to write letters. The last week we wrote letters we basically wrote out every promise God had fulfilled in our lives during this time. So, I'm going to share my letter with you because it basically sums up the whole trip:
To my Father whom I love,
I fly home in 4 days and I can't believe this is over. Reading over those past letters, I'm blown away by the changes you made in my heart. Outreach was definitely a hard time to stay focused. I realized that I'm really going to need to push myself even harder when I get home to continue this relationship with you. I can become so easily distracted. You are so incredibly faithful and I never did anything to deserve it.
Thank you for the convictions and challenges during this whole DTS. I see how you put random people in my life to teach me random lessons. You continuously taught me how to love people that weren't anything like me. You used prostitutes in Thailand to show me that I'm no better than them in your eyes and yet you love us just the same. It was no longer "them" and "me," it became "us" and we are all family.
Through books you taught me to see Jesus through new eyes. I'm now even more confused but you ignited a curiosity in my heart to seek after the truth even more. To no longer go off of what people have told me and to see for myself. You showed me what authority in Christ looks like. What walking through the streets filled with prostitutes, praying that you bring justice and hope to every single person that walks on it. I realized the importance/real-ness of spiritual warfare. That putting on the armor of God isn't just a kids demonstration and there really is a war going on.
You continued to put music back into my life. Dropped a few ideas of what could possibly be next. You also showed me how to love/see the kids of Indonesia like you do. You showed me some of the most beautiful places in the world and some of the most beautiful people. You took me on the biggest adventure of my life and showed me what an adventure life is. You made me appreciate home even more and my family and how important they are. You also showed me that you are also the only one who sustains and provides. Family can only do so much but you are the ultimate provider and healer. You can not only heal the outer wounds, you can heal the wound to the heart.
I have learned how to constantly die to myself and I still struggle with that. I don't think that will ever end on this earth. I'm still trying to grasp the supernatural side to you and waiting on the revelations I know you'll give me in time. I know one day I will understand the Holy Spirit more. Right now I just need to work on living like Jesus and learning to love like he did. If love conquers fear, then when I learn to love I will no longer fear man and will be more open to receiving the Holy Spirit in my life. I already have the Holy Spirit in me, but I want more.
I wont ever be able to be perfect but you are and my life depends on you. Thank you for giving me life so I can try to be more like Jesus everyday and have a second chance. Thank you for these past five months and the opportunity to continue to grow closer to you. You are my lover, Father and provider forever.
Thailand has been absolutely beautiful. What a blessing to be here and see everything that we have seen. But really, that isn't at all what is important anymore. My eyes have been opened to a whole new world...
We are working with this ministry down here to basically give girls that work at the bars (prostitutes) a way out and tell them there are other jobs they can have. They work at these bars every night and don't get paid a cent unless a man walks by that they can get to buy them out of the bar for the night and sleep with them. There are thousands and thousands of girls on just a few streets down here and we just so happened to come the week the Navy sailed in. So that means 9000 navy guys roaming the streets, looking to have "fun." The girls at each bar just look so hopeless and lonely. It's seriously so sad to see and words can't describe when you are walking down a street and each girl is grabbing at your arm trying to get you to come into her bar and buy a drink. Most of these girls are mid 20's to 30's and it's just disgusting when you see two of them holding the hands of an old man who could be my grandpa's age and he is taking them back to his place. It's just sickening.
Every girl we talk to we ask her if she likes doing this and she some of them say they love their job and some of them are honest and say they don't like it. But this job pays way more than others and they have to send money back to their families (who by the way don't know they are doing this) and be the provider. I asked one of them why she doesn't have a boyfriend and she told me she wasn't pretty enough for one. They have been told lies all their lives and Satan has such a hold on their minds.
Believing in God is most definitely NOT just a religion. It's NOT something to fall back on when times are tough. Those who use it for just those reasons do not know who God is. It is a battle that needs to be fought. I am so incredibly weak... I can't speak their language, we are typically tired cause we go out at night, my allergies are bad and I don't feel like I have as much wisdom as I should to do this kind of ministry. But thank GOD He is so much bigger than me and my weakness. I have realized that all I need is a willing heart, which is hard for me to grasp because I love being prepared. I like knowing what I am doing and I don't want to embarrass myself... but when God just says to me, Katie just be willing and go out- don't worry about the rest. It's hard to hear that.
This week has definitely opened my eyes to a whole new spiritual side to life. Growing up in America where we don't really look at the spirit side of things very often. We like to be real and "normal"... don't do anything that could freak people out because that isn't normal. But you go anywhere else in the world and there is a spirit in every single thing possible. Every time we drive up to the top of this mountain to get to where the city is everyone honks their horn. They are honking to the spirit of the mountain... weird right? Nope. That is what they know... and who are we to say that we are "normal" here in America? We need to recognize there is a spiritual world out there. Now, don't get me wrong... there definitely isn't a "mountain spirit" but there is a God who is real. There are demons and Satan is using them as much as he possibly can. There is darkness and we are called as Christ followers to go into those places and bring hope and light. It may seem impossible but when you have the creator on your side... there is no competition.
I know this blog has a lot in it. Probably a bad idea to write about this on here but maybe someone needed to hear it. It's the truth and that's all I ever want to talk about now. America has sugar coated religion and now people have no idea what it really means to be a Christian. We never GAVE ourselves that name, Christian. We were called Christians... we were called that because of the way we acted. Being a Christian isn't easy and it definitely doesn't make all the bad things in life go away. If anything it makes life harder because then you realize you have a duty to tell other people that there is a God that wants to give us REAL life that is full of excitement and hope.
Alright, I could talk about this for days.
Basically, I'm learning a lot... and it's hard.
Please pray for my team and that we continue to walk in unity. Satan is trying reallll hard to keep us out of those streets and we wont back down.
Sorry I haven't updated in a while... kind of has been insane. Which is really no surprise.
Basically I leave in two weeks to go to Thailand and then to Indonesia. We spend two weeks in Thailand and then 6 weeks in Indo... then we fly back to Australia for only one week then I come home! Time is seriously flying by and it's hard to even explain half the things I have learned. I've been taking heaps of notes and reading a ton. By the time I go on outreach I will have read the whole New Testament, which for me is HUGE. I had no idea how impacting even that would be. I can't wait to meet Paul in Heaven and ask him lots and lots of questions. It inspires me to have a faith as unshakable as him... it CAN be done.
Thailand is going to be such a stretching time for me. If talking to the muslim girls about Jesus and seeing how hopeless love looks like in their eyes was heartbreaking... I can't imagine how I am going to feel when I am talking to a prostitute in Thailand who is in major spiritual bondage. What I didn't ever think about is... Satan knows how to blind people. These girls are completely blind and they don't see that what they are doing is completely wrong. The BEST part about God is that we can pray against that before we even go. We can already begin fighting in the war before we head out to physically put ourselves there.
Last week we learned about spiritual warfare and our jewish roots. I never knew half the stuff about our Jewish friends. They really are the root of the Christian faith. Without jews, our faith would be so different. They are the reason we have salvation... Romans 11:11-12.
The jews never crusified Jesus... you and I did. It was for all OUR sins... not just the sins of the jews. If that was the case then we would not be reviecing Gods mercy and grace right now. Because we would be left to just the law and the law by itself leads to death. God has always used the weaker persons...
1) Abraham = Old man 2) Isaac = Only son of Abraham (through the spirit) 3) Jacob = youngest
Jacob's name is then Israel and are you catching onto the pattern here?
Jacob had the 12 tribes and then Joseph came along and then BAM Egypt and Gentiles.
I honestly don't know where I was going with that... besides the fact that we are all gentiles and are under Gods grace rather than the law that the jews feel like they are under. But they only feel that way because they don't understand the new covenant that was brought with Jesus.
It's so incredible that everything that happens in the old testament leads up the the new covenant. All history proves how faithful God is. He isn't a mean God that is extremely distant... WE the people have been the ones to get greedy and screw things up. Which makes us need grace all the more.
I'm slowly grasping this concept that I truly need grace. I have heard that so much growing up that I think I became numb to how HUGE that really is. I didn't know the history behind it as well so that kind of helps me see why.
Anyways, this week is going to be reallll good. We are talking about the Kingdom of God and how we fit into this equation. During the lecture yesterday I had a few thoughts drop into my head of how I could start living out my ministry in Cincinnati and I think God was behind all those thoughts. Its such a simple concept... a minsitry doesn't have to be in a building. It can be doing what I have always done... I just change the way I think. Going to places with a prayerful conscience. I love it... its so easy and anyone can do it.
Anyways, sorry this is so scrambled. I have been given a TON of information and history and revelations have just been all over the place. Its hard to sum up two weeks and how I feel in my heart because there is just SO much going on.
All of this to say: I keep falling more and more in love with my Father. Each day no matter how I feel I choose to start new and pursue Him. No matter how bad I screwed up the day before... it doesn't matter because by his GRACE I have today.
God is merciful enough that He gave me another day to live...
This week was definitely an unexpected one. I know quite a few people that would say, "Oh yeah, Katie... relationships week is definitely something you need to be present in!" Hah, so glad I can laugh about that actually.
This week God changed my heart.
There is no "I think" or "I feel like..." or any statement that represents uncertainty. I know that God gave me a revelation of freedom that I just can't deny. This week started out slow for me and it honestly took till Thursday to make a huge impact on the way I thought about relationships. The first few days were talking about relationships with other people, ourselves and God. But it wasn't till Thursday when we talked about romantic relationships. Yeah, I know there are things I need to work on when it comes to loving my neighbor... but that wasn't the home run topic of this week.
It wasn't till the end of the speakers talk on Thursday when she did an example that seemed so cliche but that is where God came in and spoke ever so softly to my heart. I'm not going into detail because I have to also protect this new revelation in my heart, if I know you personally I will totally talk to you about it because I want to be able to give God all the glory in this story. But I also wanted to update and tell you all that God is a merciful God that is so much bigger than satan.
I will say that satan isn't a creator... he can only use what God has created. So therefore the temptations I fall into is handed over to satan to use against me. God is a just God and has to allow satan to use it because we gave him that foothold. But I now know that I can't try to forget my past or the sin I have allowed satan to have because then, how will I ever be released from it?! I have to accept that I am so incredibly fallen and that without Jesus... I would be damned to hell because I have SUCH weak flesh.
Praise Jesus that his Father would have such mercy on me that He would send His own son to die in order to force satan to release my sin from his grasp and hand me back over to my Heavenly Father!
I then have to admit that I have sinned, terribly. Especially when it comes to representing true love and all the sacrifices that come with it. And then allow God's healing to start taking over my character and heart. I can't count how many time my soul cried out for help while I deliberately chose to hurt my Father.
Thursday I defeated satan. He no longer has any foothold on a certain part of my life. It was all so subtle and very un-climatic on the outside but on the inside I became completely free! I'm never going back to how I used to be... it's just not possible because my Dad has allowed me to walk in freedom and I can make that choice. Faith is definitely a choice. I wish someone had told me that before... I'm sure they did but not in the way I am hearing it now.
I can choose to not think those thoughts, love an annoying friend, die to my own will, give glory to God in all circumstances, believe in healing, love myself even though I screw up big time.
I can choose that God is with me always and to walk in strength and not fear.
In 2 Corinthians 4:10 Paul says, "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." It then goes on to say in 4:17, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
Basically, if I learn to contemplate openly and pray unceasingly to the Lord... I can understand what freedom is and what it means to feel his glory because I have the spirit inside of me.
I have began my journey of learning to seek God first, in my thoughts and heart before I think about anything else. When I do this... I can walk in freedom. Freedom from the bondage that past relationships have brought into my life... and I know whole heartedly that my future husband will be free from my bondage as well because satan has been defeated... since Thursday!
I love it. I love Jesus. I love my Father who sent Jesus. <3
Romans is officially my new favorite book in the bible. I just got done reading it today and I would have to say that God really pressed into me during that time.
There is so much I wish I had known earlier... and I know I can't regret anything so I'm definitely soaking it all in now for the future. I called myself a christian all my life but I feel like I'm JUST now understanding what it means to be a follower of Christ. I'm having daily revelations of concepts that I have heard all my life. I used to think that I "got it" but when I look back, just these past 6 weeks I have learned more than I have my entire life.
I tried to base most of my relationship with God off emotions. But I failed to remember that I am in a covenant with God and it doesn't matter how I am feeling... I should have unceasing prayer and press into Him daily. I can't count how many times I heard how much I should do a daily devotional but honestly... that makes it sound so watered down. I'd rather say I'm having a daily conversation with my Father who loves me so much that not even the angels or demons can separate His love for me [Romans 8:37-39].
Having a stable relationship with God gives me more hope than having scattered "God highs" that only lasts for a day or weekend. Although I'm sure those are nice, I am happy with where I am in my relationship with Him because it explains in Romans how Abraham did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God. Instead he was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Basically it shows he was human and wanted to doubt the power of God but didn't and through that God was able to be glorified through him. How great of a honor is that?!
I hope that one day God will trust me enough to give me an opportunity like that. I know right now I am still a baby and can barely be trusted with the little nudges He gives me. But hopefully I will be persistent with learning to walk in His truth and live a life full of faith that overcomes fear of man.
I made a beautiful illustration of something that stuck out to me that one of the speakers talked about:
:: We are the guy in the middle :: :: Walking on a log (life) high above the rocky ground (death) ::
I am trying to use this illustration in my everyday thinking. Basically when we try to walk in our faith with Jesus Christ we have to be looking towards the truth... constantly. If we are looking anywhere else we lose our balance and fall off the log. So if I keep looking back at my emotions and worrying about them... of course I'm going to fall off the log because I wont be able to keep my balance. If we live off of trying feel all these emotions, our relationship with God will be a crazy roller coaster ride. Eventually we will just give up and that's when a spiritual death happens. But when I walk in faith and seek truth daily my emotions will always be following behind me and they wont be able to drive me anymore.
This is SO key, I believe. It makes for a more stable relationship with God and people will see the change in you because it's not so back and forth on your ideas. I wish I had known this before because I'm sure I have confused a lot of non-believers through my search for a constant "God high." I asked God for forgiveness and can't dwell on how bad I probably screwed how people viewed Christians. But I can say that I will never be the same after this whole experience.
I can already feel God starting to transform my heart and the way I thought a Christian should be. I think I'll just end like this...
It's only by God's grace that I stumbled into this adventure.
So I'm going to try to update everyone on the past couple of weeks without writing a novel.
I know quite some time has gone by and I haven't been able to catch everyone up. I had no idea we were going to be THIS busy all the time. I am having a hard time even keeping up with mom and dad. I've only been able to talk to Rachel once since I left. So this has definitely been an experience.
We went out about a week ago to do outreach every night to specifically the Muslims. Before we got to where we were staying I was pretty nervous about the whole situation. I just didn't know anything about the Muslim culture, let alone how to talk to people at random. First night we were there we were educated a bit and then shipped out into the streets of the Gold Coast. We walked around for a good while praying and asking God how in the world we go about this. Ended up asking a few muslim girls if they could take a picture of us. From there on we just started talking and they were so incredibly sweet. We prayed that we would run into them the next night and sure enough... we walk into the same area and we saw them! Talked again and made plans to hang out the next night. Got to hang out again and just got to know them, asked them lots about their culture, what dating was like, etc etc. By the next night they wanted us to come over for one of their birthday parties! So we got her a little gift and took her out to ice cream. That night we got into a real good conversation about love and what that looks like to them. We got to talk about Jesus and how we receive our love from Him and how its unconditional. It was a really good conversation and probably affected me more than it did them... God really was speaking to me during that and I loved being able to share without questioning myself or doubting.
Basically by the end of that week I made some great friends! I can't believe I was even scared in the first place. I love it.
This week has been prayer week and saying it was exhausting is barely describing it. We split into groups of 3 or 4 and had 2 hour prayer slots throughout the day. Each day we had different things to pray about specifically and the last day we did it was praying for what comes next for each one of us individually. It was pretty cool and we just sat and prayed and listened to worship music. I think those two hours of the days were definitely my favorite hours this week. By the end of this week I have felt completely exhausted but I feel somewhat encouraged? I never had any major "God moment" but by the end I knew that God was telling me to continue pursuing Him. I have a tendency to give up after feeling like I am not getting anything in return. But this time I am not giving up and I know why I shouldn't give up as well. Not like I ever really "gave up" because obviously here I am in Australia. But I would give up reading my bible or praying unceasingly. This time though is different.
All of this is so hard to explain. Plus I'm sun burnt and exhausted from being knocked all around by the waves today.
Basically, God is doing really cool things but right now in the DTS I am definitely being challenged.
Only a few more weeks until we go to on outreach! That is definitely going to be an experience.
I can't believe I've been here 6 weeks. Time flies by.
So today, most people went to the zoo and some people went to play soccer. I on the other hand decided to spend some time alone for once and get things done.
Weekly journal - done. Read most of Mark - done. Look up chords to some of my favorite worship songs - gettin that done now. Book report - definitely not done... procrastination at its finest right there. Update blog - attempting that right now.
Sorry it takes me so long to update. I seriously write so much during the week taking notes during lectures and then we have to write in this journal that they assess here. So all of that together just ends up being a ton of writing and reflecting and by the time I get to a computer I just don't want to think anymore.
It's the weekend right now and this week has been pretty incredible. Danny Taylor came from the Perth base to speak at ours this week about hearing Gods voice. I want to change the title of that topic because when someone says voice it makes me think of only the audible voice of God. He really helped us see that God speaks in so many ways and I hear God in my own specific way... not someone else's way. He started out by talking about the character of God and sometimes we get the wrong impression of God through past experiences that made us angry or hurt by what we thought was God. Then when we dug into the word we researched what it said God was and if we needed to pray that God corrects our past pre-judgments of Him.
Anyways... it wasn't just someone tellings us what to believe. They want us to look into the word for ourselves to get the truth. Not just listen to someone tell us what they think and then automatically believe that. So anyways... on Weds night I lead worship with a few other people and afterwards we had an open community prayer. Just praying for each other and if people just needed to confess something they had a safe place to do that. Or if you were feeling completely discouraged about not hearing God speak in the times that we set apart for that then we would pray for that. Well pretty much all of us at some point had prayer.
I just asked the group to pray that this wouldn't just be a season of my life. I want everything that I've been learning to be something that I use daily and when I go home it sticks with me and I do get a passion for something and not be apathetic anymore. Well people started praying for me and this woman Patty spoke out and told me she felt like God was saying to her that I am going to take these next few months and really dig into the word and its going to be burried in my heart so when I go back home I wont be able to forget it and God will totally pull it out when the time comes. Well then after that one of the other leaders Justin came up to me and told me he also got Psalm 119 for me. It was pretty awesome how God re-affirmed that in my life through two people and I really got encouragment through that as well.
I feel like I've had multiple conversations that I feel have helped me exercise talking about what I've been learning and it's like this is Gods way of creating a boldness in me!
Ok... I'm super distracted cause there are always people around this house. Plus there is a puppy here that is super cute.
I'll try to update more often. There is so much that I'm learning in such little time and the weeks are really starting to fly by. God is so incredible and I am falling more and more in love with Him each day.
OH p.s. We are going to Thailand and Indonesia on our 2 month outreach!!! Crazy!! That's going to be so world shattering... I think it's going to be impossible to not be drastically changed.
So in our lectures this week we are talking about God as our Father and what all that means to us personally.
A few things that I wrote down were simply talking about how God corrects us and transforms us through discipline NOT punishment. A lot of people think that God puts us through things in order to teach us a lesson but that's not it at all. Sure, God may allow some things to happen because He can use the time that we are "broken" or at our worst to speak to us. Who really wants to listen to God when you think you have it all together? At that point you don't think you even need Him.
God doesn't need a scare tactic to change us. We have free will and when we want to do our own thing we put our own selves in danger... He didn't make us do anything. But here is the cool part about God... when we come crawling back because the world can't fully satisfy... He loves us just the same and is excited we want to be with Him again. He embraces us with open arms and no judgement because He is just glad is child is back again.
We did this little exercize which I thought was pretty cool. The speaker gave us each a bible verse that was picked at random and told us to go somewhere around the building and just ask God what this verse means to us specifically. We don't often just sit and listen to God and try to hear what He has to say. I got the verse Isaiah 12:2 and I just layed in the sun and asked God what does this mean to me personally. I get what the verse says and what it says upfront... but what does God want me to hear when I read this? In the verse it says that God is my salvation and he is my defender and strength. I started to feel like maybe God was telling me that He isn't just a strength to get through tough situations... He is also constantly fighting off satan from my thoughts that are harmful to myself. Thoughts of being prideful or thoughts that aren't pure... basically any thought that doesn't bring glory to Him. And I realized that it's hard enough for me to constantly be thinking about things that are only good... but I don't have to worry because God is helping me fight them off. And when I feel like I am not strong enough to keep going and want to give into my ugly thoughts... God is also my strength.
So sitting in the grass God gave me the revelation of that... which was pretty cool :). We all came back and other people had lots of cool stories on how God spoke to them through their verse as well. One thing that one of the girls said really hit me and I needed to write it down because I think God tries to tell me this all the time as well.
She talked about how she was thinking about nature and how beautiful it was. You have the mountains and all the beautiful beaches all over the world... things people just marvel at. And God spoke to her and said, "Yeah, those are beautiful but you are far greater than those." And it's just so cool to think about... God delights in us FAR more than the mountains. He loves me and cherishes me... nothing else makes Him happier than to see His baby girl (me!) smile and sit in His presence.
Anyways... thats only a glimpse of what we have been learning haha. PLUS it's only been two days! I have 5 months of all this good stuff.
OH and I got to surf today... it really hurts and is exhausting but I don't want to stop now! I am going to try to do it as much as I can and really try to get decent at it.
Anyways, God is good and I am so happy I get to experience this. Especially at this YWAM base because it really was perfect for me specifically. Totally clicks with my lifestyle and the way I need to be taught.
There has been so much more that has happened and I wish I could write it all down but that would just be pages and pages.
I can't really upload pictures, but when I find a way to do that... it'll happen.
Ok, so I am here! Sorry it's taken me so long to update. I wrote a whole long blog at the airport but my interenet doesn't work on my computer at the house. So I couldn't upload any blog and honestly... I don't feel like copying it word for word onto this computer. Cause we have three computers at our house for our own use plus if someone brought a laptop.
Anyways... I don't even know if that made sense. My mind is all over the place haha.
I seriously don't know how to sum up these past few days. It's been ridiculously insane full of every emotion possible. I miss everyone back at home so much but I am so glad I am here. Everone has such open and giving hearts... these next few months are fully and completely dedicated to God and God alone.
One of the leaders just brought over a surfboard I'm renting and I can't wait to get out on the water and try surfing for the first time. I LOVE this base so much... everyone is so relaxed and down for anything.
God is going to do some craaazy stuff and tonight is outreach in the city and I'm super excited :)
Ok, I have to skype Nick now and there isn't much time!! Thank the Lord for skype.
So the idea of leaving for 5 months is getting harder think about. I'm very excited to go on this adventure but I'm going to hate missing out on everything that happens here. But God keeps giving me a sign after sign that this is a good thing and I know it's something I have to do. He keeps reaffirming me and I know this is going to be so good for me. I actually met someone just yesterday that was from Australia and lived only a half hour from where I'm going. It's such a small small world.
Anyways, the benefit show was incredible. We packed almost 100 people in Taza! The bands were all incredible and everyone played for free. It ended up just being a massive party and I don't know one single person that didn't enjoy themselves. I couldn't have asked for better music... it was such a blast. Who knew benefits could be so much fun?! Anyways, without Briana and the girls... none of this would have happened. God seriously answered every single one of our prayers about the night and even took it to the next level. We ended up raising over $800 and I couldn't stop smiling all night. That is going to help me out tremendously. I still have a lot to raise but this helped me out a ton!
Tomorrow is Chic-Fil-A night. The owners are gracious enough to give me 15% of all food sales between the hours of 5-8pm. And I just so happen to get lucky and do this the week of SOS. They even put an announcement on a flyer for all 800 students to see at the conference! So hopefully we jam pack Chic-Fil-A with loads and loads of Jr. and High School students.
So anyways... thank God for my amazing friends who have helped me out with everything. I've never met such a giving group and I am blessed to have them in my life. It's hard to meet people who never ask for anything in return and genuinely just want to help because they love you. It makes you want to give to them so much more. Crazy how that works right?
Thought I'd share a few of our greatest moments...
The plane rides were extremely long but they got us to Germany safe. There are many stories that go into that one but I'll try to keep this to the point. We arrived around 4pm there and the Benz girls picked us up to take us to their house. I got to know the family a little better over an amazing dinner and a good beer. Got up late the next day and walked around Basel Germany and I have fallen in love. The city is absolutely beautiful... I can't explain it. I got to know Talitha a lot better talking about all the shopping they have there and what life is like there. She speaks english so well and makes it very easy to talk. It's fun for me to try to explain words that I wouldn't normally have to think about. Later on our parents went off to the conference and Talitha and I listened to each others music and talked about everything we were going to swap. We then got ready and went to meet up with her friend Daniel who was taking us to see some of his friends play a show in Switzerland. Before we went to that we stopped at Starbucks (ha!) and got some coffee and sat on the Rhine where TONS of young folks sit for fun and just talk. Everyone is of course drinking beer and smoking. Ah Europe :). Then we ended up meet up with another friend Kevin who took us to this lounge bar. It was called CityBeach and it was on a roof over looking all of Switzerland. It had sand with modern white couches and a pool for people to swim in if they wanted. It was too cold for that so obviously no one was in it. It was a seriously ritzy place... Talitha and I felt so under dressed because probably every single girl was in high heals. After a beer and around 9:45pm, we left and walked back to where the concert was going to be.
It was awesome. I got to meet the band and hang out while they all tried so hard to speak to me in english and it was so sweet. They were absolutely incredible and I can't wait to see them play in the states. Currently they are being produced by the guy who produced Sigur Ros... sooooo pretty good stuff. I had such a blast at the show and couldn't get enough of it. It's so funny because the bands write their music in english but in between songs talk normal. Made me laugh...
Got up the next day and Talitha and I went to the market far out in the countryside and bought guinea pigs/rats for the pet snake their dad has. It was so surreal walking into a tiny village with tubs being surrounded by people talking only in german. I really did feel like I was living back in the day.
We took those back to the house and she wanted to show me her church that she calls home :). It was incredible. We got coffee at the cafe and she took me on a tour of the church. They have a restaurant/bar, hotel, apartments and then the actual sanctuary all in one building. We went and listened to the worship band practice for a few mins then headed up the the creative department to visit some of her friends. They were fun and I had a blast talking and hanging out with them for a bit.
After that we decided to go on a 10min drive to France. We drove past many villages with the most amazing houses and every village had a beautiful church in the center. It was incredible... rolling hills all around and tall trees everywhere. Even the cows looked french :) . We ended up in more of a populated area and stopped at the market and it was so much fun listening to people speak french. After taking it for 3 years you'd think I would have remembered more! I was in Heaven though... so Talitha and I went into a photo booth (an actual one... not the one on your mac) and took a picture together! It's so cute and I'm going to keep it forever!
After all of that we picked up Benaja and went back to the church and had a little jam session on the stage. It was pretty fun to try to think of all the songs we both knew. Then we went up to Jonathan's apartment at the church and watched Faulty Towers. It's a british show with terrible slapstick humor but it was really funny. I loved it when everyone would quote it.
Got home super late and got up early for church. Got to wear headphones and listen to the english translated version of the service and sing worship in german. Good times. Hung out with all my new friends after church and then Talitha and I left and swapped a ton of music back at the house. Took the car out for a spin later and went all through the really rich areas and saw incredible houses. Went to switzerland to get pizza from a turkish man that was ordered by talitha who is german for me who is an american girl. Funny funny.
It is now extremely late and I have to get up early to go to monkey mountian. I'll leave you in suspense with that.
I love my parents. I know a lot of young folks my age that can't say the same and sometimes I feel bad talking about how blessed I am. But why should I try to hide the fact that I feel so unworthy of having this amazing family.
I know in this picture it looks like it was mid day but the sun was actually starting to set and the air was finally thinning out. Beautiful. My parents and I went out onto the back patio and sat in the hammock chairs and talked about life. One of my favorite things to do now is sit outside with good friends/family and talk about life, love and God. Nothing bad can come from that. There is no gossip, no lies, no worry... nothing but revelations, encouragement and scripture. My dad has always been good at asking fun questions to answer and he asked me where I would gauge my relationship with God right now?
I thought about all of the craziness that has been going on. Recently it has started to level back out and I've had to start on all the crap I have to get ready for ywam in July. I know that God has all this money stuff in control but my earthly body is slightly freaking out. 5,500 dollars is a lot of money to raise in 7 weeks.
I do on the other hand have my visa and my passport and my support letters all completed! Now we just have to book the bajillion flights to get me there and back. I'm already terrified of airports because they are so confusing... so how in the world am I going to go through multiple flight changes and attempt to not miss a flight? Pfft... no clue.
Oh boy, what an adventure. I feel like my story is just now starting to take shape. It's becoming interesting to tell.
Moved to Nashville when I was 18 to pursue music Ended up having new passions ignite in me Learned how much I love meeting new people Learned I love to travel and find fun places Moved back to Cincinnati Developed some amazing life long friendships God wrecked me in order to save me Now I'm off to travel the world
This is Jen and Drew. They got married today <3 <3 Sorry I got the flu Jen... I suck.
I was actually going to be in her wedding but of course I would get the flu 3 days before. I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate how I couldn't be there. I wanna hear alllllllllllllllllll about it though ;)
Ok back to my ramblings.
I'm happy. My sister gets married in a week and that's gonna be crazy to watch. My mind is going to be all over the place. Because right when we get back from Chattanooga we have to pack up everything again and leave for Europe two days later. Then two days after we get back there is a benefit show we are throwing to help me raise money for Australia. So lots and lots of stuff going on. I'm sure I'll be stressing out like crazy but trying to act calm and trust God.
Life is crazy!! If you asked me where I would be at 21 when I was in high school... I would probably say in college playing music trying to "make it." Because music was my dream. I still love writing and playing but there is so much more that I want to experience. This world is too big and I haven't seen anything yet.
Speaking of... anyone want to give me a camera? I can't afford one considering I have to raise 5000 by July 1st. And I would realllllly like to take pictures of the exotic places I go. Just throwin that out there if you even read this far.
Ok, enough talk. I need to drive home and attempt to fall asleep. Goodnight.
We have a funny God who is seriously unpredictable! I feel like I just relived a modern story of Abraham and Isaac. Here is the short version of everything...
After I got the email saying I wasn't accepted into the DTS because it was full, I went into a slight depression. I'm not a depressing person and this was really starting to wear me down. It took God to strip everything away from me in order to make sure my heart was still in the right place. Throughout the past month I've felt God ask me some seriously intense questions. Even if I have nothing, no plans or future planned out... will I still follow Him? I finally learned what it means to actively pursue God daily. There was a point where if I didn't have worship music on or wasn't meditating on God I slowly started getting depressed again.
I became really good friends with those girls I just talked about in the last post. Without them I wouldn't have been as encouraged in all of this crap. They helped me realize that God was doing something huge and I should be encouraged and I was! Even if I was in a sucky mood... I some how had a strange feeling of peace.
To sum all that up... I broke down and told God, "ok... if you seriously want me here in Cincy... then fine. Just tell me what to do here cause you know I don't want to be here without a reason!"
God somehow got me to realize a life without Him FULLY in it... just makes no sense.
Wellllllll then I got an email from YWAM Waves yesterday and it said in big formal letters, "CONGRATS! You've been accepted!!"
I almost peed my pants in the little coffee shop on madison. Ultimately confused... I just stared at the email. I called my dad and we both just laughed so hard.
God is seriously soooo freakin good. It's like He just wanted to make sure I really wanted to pursue Him. I don't deserve any of this, I don't know why God is being so good to me. But He knows the desires of my heart and obviously wants me to fullfill them! I don't doubt for a second about Australia now... granted I have to raise a buttload of money between now and July 6th. Gos is way bigger than money as well though, and I get that.
I'm constantly blown away.
So here is my schedule now:
May 22nd-24th - Jen's Wedding (i'm in) May 29th-31st - Rach's Wedding in Chattanooga June 3rd-18th - Switzerland, Germany and Ireland with my parents July 6th- December ? - Australia for YWAM
I have some of the most amazing core girls in my life.
Briana, Christine and Catherine are amazing women of God and its amazing how we can get together and just build each other up.
Who can honestly say they have friends that: 1. don't cause drama 2. push you spiritually 3. comfort you in time of need 4. not only can have fun but can create the fun 5. aren't afraid to take on challenges 6. love God more than themselves 7. vulnerable so the friendship can get deeper 8. will pray with and for you 9. can show their flaws and make jokes about them 10. hold you accountable in a loving way
I have that.
All 4 of us have such a strong desire to pursue God more and when we all get together... it gets REAL good. We have such strong passions and characteristics that somehow we balance each other out and I fully believe God is gonna use us for something big.
The only person I wish could be a 5th member would be Lisa. Miss that girl so much and she has been all these things with me as well. She is here in spirit haha.
Im not about to write this to get praise... I honestly just want to write this down:
God has seriously broken me down so much last week that for the first time I think I understand what it means to actively pursue Him. These girls have had visions and dreams and we all combined have separate gifts that bring something HUGE to the table. Just the other night Catherine and I went out to a bar and she ended up getting words from God to give to some guys we met. Totally encouraged them and let them know God still had their marriages in His hands. But we weren't planning on having a major spiritual experience that night! We just wanted to go out and have some fun! God is a big big God and I'm realizing that more and more each day.
I love being in this place now. I love not having anything BUT God. I wont have a job in 3 weeks, I don't have any sort of boyfriend and I wont have a place to live soon. I have absolutely nothing that could possibly distract me from my Lord. Most people would think I am in deep water and need to start thinking about my future but honestly... I only want to think about Jesus.
Sounds crazy but isn't that what love is?? Love is blind! I'm walking blind with Jesus but am falling madly in love.
So I feel like I need to update everyone that actually reads this blog. In this past week my world has completely been thrown upside down. I don't think I have ever felt this unsure and confused in my entire life.
I got an email from YWAM telling me that the DTS in July was all filled up. I immediately packed up my computer from Starbucks, walked to my car and cried. That was my goal. That's the whole reason I picked up and moved to Cincinnati in the first place. I felt like God was pulling me back in order to help me save up money and transition into a different stage of my life. Cincinnati was only supposed to be temporary. At first I felt like maybe I failed at listening to God and I should have just stayed in Nashville. Kept on goin with my happy comfortable life. But if you understand God and his character... that is NEVER his plan.
Immediately called my parents and talked to my mom on the phone. Right when I got off the phone with her my good friend Adam called not even knowing of the news I just received. He couldn't have decided to start his road trip at any better time because Cincy was the first stop. I got off the phone and then talked to my friend Christine on the phone and we decided before Adam got into town we would take a walk and just talk about life and such.
Before all that I still had to work and hang out with the boys for a while. I was a bad nanny that day hah. Was not there mentally/emotionally at all. Then I got to talk to my dad on the phone and he is good at sorting thoughts out and thinking through the emotions. Said this is the perfect time for a long walk or drive just to talk with God. I decided to take a walk around French park and just sit and pray. I honestly didn't get any sort of answer through that or major feeling of peace but I knew God heard me and I knew He saw my desperation.
Christine called not too long after that and we went on an even longer walk around Eden park. Found this broken down bridge that must have been by a dam of some sort. This I feel like was God's way of reminding me of how small I really am. How much I need Him and once again... my plans are not my own. Looking over Cincinnati made me think about how huge God really is and how He is fully in control.
Later on Adam drove into town and we stayed up till 4am talking about life, God, and so much more. Next day was jammed packed with Cincinnati things hah! The Coffee Shop on Madison, Chipotle, a little bit of work, frisbee/football, Eden park, cartwheels, sitting and dwelling on God's glory, Taza, Christine/Catherine/Briana and Adam making so many people mad at Highlands and barely getting sleep. Just all that in one day was so good for me.
The next day was getting up SUPER late, washing clothes at my parents house, Chic-fil-a, Long long stories, a little bit of work, starbucks, Navigators, starbucks again haha, dollar burger night, girl and boy bonding, back out to mason to babysit lucy at my parents house and not going to sleep till 4:30am again.
Through all of this God has really been showing me the beauty of Cincinnati and how much my close friends here are very important in my life. I have been hearing in different places how your mission field is wherever you are and I understood that but always thought in the back of my head that I'll do that when I get back from wherever. During Navigators on Weds night I kept feeling like I needed to get Briana, Christine and Catherine all together and talk about what God potentially could be doing. Briana and I have had many conversations about how we feel like God is wanting to use us to start something or get something going but we didn't know what. And all of us girls really balance each other out and and we all have such unique characteristics... I don't think its just coincidence that we all became really close friends since I've been back.
So, if all this means I have to get a normal job and stay here in Cincinnati in order to let God do His thing... I'm gonna have to suck it up. I really didn't want to stay here and I really didn't want a normal average joe job. I thought that after YWAM I would be able to stay in that and get a job through that and live happily ever after. But uh, turns out that wasn't God's plan?
Honestly, when people would tell me to "just pray about it"... I never had a sense of peace. I would just be like, "eh ok... soo uh... here it is." And I would never really feel like God was sincerely listening. But today has been the first day in a while when I thought about praying with the girls about what He could possibly want to use us for, I got a mild sense of peace. It wasn't a major world shaking feeling... but it was just enough to encourage me and make me want to step it up and make it happen.
God is good. I think I'm learning to wholeheartedly understand that. God has shaken my idea of what my life should look like and now I can only stop, wait, and listen.
It's been exactly one week since I shipped out my application to Australia.
I hate waiting.
My friend Adam said some very encouraging things yesterday on the phone. He reminded me that these are the passions that God has placed in my heart. So even if I try to push things back or manipulate the situation, these passions will always be there and I will eventually do it. It's just best to do it now when I have absolutely no ties in my life.
Funny how God is definitely keeping me free of that, even though I want to fight Him constantly.
I should be encouraged by this rough period. It should remind me that I'm doing the right thing and once again, I can't screw this up! God is breaking me (not by my will) from anything that could potentially be a distraction.
Blahhh I don't want to wait anymore to hear back from YWAM haha. I just want to know so I can continue to move forward. Start figuring what else I could do with my time. Oh man, do I LOVE being in control.
What happened to romance now a days? I mean really?! What happened to women being so level headed that the men HAD to fight for them. I feel like now a days men can so easily just find something easier. If one girl seems like she might be a little harder to capture I feel like men just give up so easily and try to find a different one that will be easy. What happened to being pursued and letting love make you do crazy things?
I'm don't want a man who isn't willing to wait or fight for me. What about the old fashion way? Men going off to war and women waiting for what must have felt like forever for their men. I mean, I don't know what all I'm doing but I know that if someone isn't willing to jump in with me... he just isn't worth it.
I hate being in my twenties sometimes. People are scared of taking chances and getting hurt. Whats the point of living then?! I'm sick of living on the safe side.
I guess I can't change people's minds though. Only God knows what's best for me.
This weekend was ridiculous. I kind of needed it honestly, I've been needing to keep myself busy. Friday I actually went to bed at a decent hour but only because I knew Saturday was going to be a long day. First, I drove to my parents house to meet up with Rachel and the other bridesmaids. A limo picked us up fully loaded with champagne and a cute driver ;). We went to a cute little tea place and had tea and lots of sugary treats. I started to feel nauseous from all the sugar and champagne is not a good breakfast drink haha.
I realized how happy I am I'm not super wealthy because honestly, I can't handle it. I'm extremely clumsy and awkward when it comes to being around super nice things. The tea party was very "cute" but I would never want something like that for my showers. I even fell out of the limo...
After that we went to Dana's house in Indian Hill and she did such an amazing job decorating. She obviously is good with small details. We played a few lingerie party games and drank even more champagne. By the end of all that, I was exhausted. I can only handle being around a lot of people in a small space for so long. I love being around people, don't get me wrong. I just can't handle it when everyone is trying to be polite and proper. My face starts to hurt from smiling and I am definitely no good with small talk.
I was happy when the limo picked us up and took us back to my parents house. That was my chance to re-energize my social skills. We then took Rachel out to eat and then to mt. adams. That's where we finally had some real fun. I felt like I could relax for the first time haha. That went till really late and we finally drove back home. By the time we got home I felt like my eyes had shards of glass in them they itched so bad. There was no way I was going to be able to sleep there because my parents had all the windows open instead turning the air conditioning on. So I drove home.
Sunday was filled with church, Jen's bridal shower, and back home to say goodbye to Rachel and the other girls. I went home after all that for a minute then Briana had asked me to go to her small group, so I went to that and met some fun people. Finally went back home and relaxed.
It's been a really long weekend.
I don't know why I blogged about it. Just felt like it I guess.
I wonder if my application has reached Australia yet? Probably not. I realized that I MUST do this YWAM thing. I have zero things holding me back. Not that I was going to let anything hold me back... There were a few things I probably would have missed but now really the only things I will miss are my few amazing girl friends and my family. But those things will never change and will always be here for me whenever I get back.
Last night the Notebook was on tv. Bad idea. I watched it and cried my eyes out, just like everytime I watch it. At first I started thinking, ah man, I really want to find someone who I can love in that way and he will love me just the same back. But then I started praying and I realized I still don't understand that God loves me just like that. I act like the old lady who doesn't recognize the man she fell madly in love with. I don't recognize God's character and love for me. Then after He has read to me all day and is desperately pursueing my heart, for a moment it clicks and I see my love and my maker. Those are the moments I see for a minute then just as quickly I forget who He is. I want to fully know in my heart that kind of love He has for me. Because I honestly don't think after 21 years I get it.