Letting Go

IMG_4754

My room is completely empty and cleaned out.

Before I started cleaning, the last thing to leave my room was my bed.

I laid across my sheets and looked up out my window, remembering the first time I laid on this bed in my new room and how thankful I was for the new season then (That was 26 months ago).

Today, I just laid there and cried.

I know change is a form of loss. And honestly, it’s hard. I just laid there with this image in my head of me holding all I’ve known and experienced, loved and cherished – holding it behind my back, not sure if I was ready to give it to God. And His arms were open, drawing me to Him, asking for me to give it to Him. Behind His back – a surprise – something far better, something I can’t see right now, something that’s a promise but isn’t tangible yet. Letting go of something good is hard.

This house is the first place I’ve felt planted and at home. I’ve gone through so much in this house, in this very bedroom, and encountered the Holy Spirit and His presence in ways I never had previously. I learned how to worship here. I learned how to have faith for anything regardless. I poured out my heart to God in countless tears and laughs.  I really grew so much.

And so I cried and cried, and then the Lord said, ‘Rise up, My daughter. I have so much more for you.” Through my sobbing, I sat up and just worshipped Him. Because when you’re leaving familiarity and entering into an unknown season, it’s out of your control, and all you can do is worship Him – because HE is true to His character and will keep His word to you.

We weren’t meant to stay in the same place. We were meant to discover new lands and take ground for God’s kingdom. With uncertainty, discomfort, and new places and new people we grow in different ways and we encounter God in new ways. I learned from a bible study called Experiencing God, ‘you can’t stay where you are and go with God at the same time.’

The cloud has lifted, He’s leading me elsewhere, and I will follow Him because He is trustworthy.

 

“We don’t wanna stay where we have been

We’ll set our sails to catch Your wind…”

  • Set Our Sails by Bethel

 

IMG_4750 IMG_4752 IMG_4751IMG_4755 IMG_4753 IMG_4749

Set Your Foot.

Surprise! I’m blonde!!

FullSizeRender (1)

What a journey 2016 has been so far already! I’m really learning to trust God and His plans.

God told me towards the end of 2015 that this next season would be filled with surprises, blessings, and gifts. I was anticipating what He would do, but He’s already been doing it way differently than I anticipated (isn’t that the point when He says ‘surprises’?)

12474052_10207372638847593_135114655380290664_o
12472252_10207374298129074_4610777462059662985_nFirst surprise was that I got to go to Wollongong for our church’s Frontline Retreat. I was also surprised that I ended up leading the photography team there! And until day before I left I didn’t know where I was staying but God provided the best blessing possible for me and a few other friends, too! It was a huge blessing to get to return to Wollongong for the second time after a year, I loved being there. God also showed me that the things I learned in my 3 years of college are now a part of me. I am different. I lead differently. He truly is doing a good work in me. That was really encouraging.

The next surprise was the decision to not start Degree yet, but to do working holiday for 6 months and start in July. This decision in and of itself was pretty easy for me to make. God was the one who told me to do Degree in the first place, so delaying it a few months I didn’t mind.

However, the sad surprise attached to that is that I now have to move out of my house.  I seriously love my house and I love my housemates.  I’ve lived in this house for 2 years – which were pretty much the best 2 years of my life- and it’s hard to imagine any place better.

God told me at the end of 2015 in a dream that I’d be moving out, but I didn’t want to face that truth until just last week. I was scared. Of the unknown, of such a big change. I still am. But learning what trusting God looks like in every season.

The next surprise was a spontaneous trip to Bali, Indonesia with my two friends Tamara and Tabea. I’ve known these 2 European girls since the first day I arrived in Sydney and it was a fun holiday and adventure we spent together! We had zero plans and at first didn’t have anywhere to stay – but He provided, abundantly more than I could ask for. All our accomodation was free and we stayed at a beautiful villa! It was so amazing. 1397063_10207438454572945_2909166365564235604_o While I was there I got my visa plus had a sweet holiday enjoying a different culture.  While I was on this trip, my new house opportunity came up unexpectedly. I’m so thankful that God is working even when I don’t see it. That all along He was preparing a place for me as I kept walking in obedience (even if it is shaky steps).

My new house will be a mixed house (guys and girls). I know I’m entering a unique season, an uncommon, set apart, stretching season. And though it wasn’t what I would have chosen for myself, I see time after time what a waste my worry is and what a treasure it is to close my eyes and trust God to lead.

So here I am, January coming to a close, and God’s surprises slowly unfolding. I’m comforted by what the Lord told Moses in Exodus before Moses led the people out of Egypt, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’  I can keep moving forward simply because I know God is going before me.

I think of Numbers 9 and the cloud which represented God’s presence:

vs 17 ‘Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out: wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord’s command they set out, and at his command they encamped…whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out.’

Even though at first I resisted what in my heart I knew to be true, I see for certain that the cloud has lifted off the house I’m in and the season I’m in, and it’s leading me somewhere else. All I know is, wherever He is, that’s where I want to be, regardless of my comfort.

One thing God really spoke to me about this month as He began setting me up for whatever I’m entering into is this:

“I will give you everywhere you set your foot.”

-Joshua 1:3

God is calling me (and I’m sure you, too) to cross over and possess another land. A new land, one that He wants me to inhabit for His purposes, His Kingdom, and even my blessing.

Check out the whole story in Luke 9 when Jesus miraculously feeds thousands of people and then afterwards proceeds to ask His disciples who they say He is…

In this story Jesus basically is anointing his Twelve Disciples, through His words He equipped them with everything they needed to do His will – spread the good news of Jesus – bringing the kingdom of God to every person they met, and healing anyone who needed it. So he sends them out, they return, and what happens is more ministry time. So many people want to see who this Jesus is and He shows them. Then the disciples are like, Okay I think it’s time for everyone to go home now. It’s late, they’re hungry (we’re hungry), ministry time over, Master.

I think it’s so interesting how God equips us, calls us, gives us EVERYTHING we need to do His will, and then two seconds later we start living in the flesh, living weak, living victimised, living selfish, living faithless.

And right when these Disciples think they’re going to go off and have a lunch break, Jesus throws it back on them, and this is what He has said to me as well,

“You give them something to eat.”

Ok too often now it’s become normal for me to live life like the 12 disciples, ‘send the crowds away so they can go get themselves some food’… this is safe thinking, it’s ‘logical/worldly’ thinking. It requires nothing of me. But God challenges me here, ‘you give them something to eat.’ Because for me, that’s impossible… (as I’m sure the disciples were thinking as they looked across the lawn at over 5000 hungry, irritable people). I would HAVE to rely 100% on God to act in faith and step out of my safe comfort zone.

Can you imagine if the Twelve had sent the crowd away? they would never have experienced Jesus and the power of God. They wouldn’t have been involved with Him and this miracle.

Miracles He wants to use ME for.

So many miracles and opportunities I have missed out on due to remaining comfortable. Every day I’m met with that same challenge to step out, it’s my choice to do it or not.

But oh, when I actually do it – when I actually set my FEET where my FAITH is, the miracles that take place – the intimacy with God I have, the LIFE that is brought to OTHERS (many for the first time).

It’s interesting then how in the passage afterwards Jesus asks Peter ‘who do YOU say I am?’ and Peter says confidently, ‘You are the Messiah.’ Peter knew without doubt or hesitation WHO Jesus was because He had experienced Him.

We will know God as we experience Him at work, and we will experience Him at work when we give feet to our faith, leave comfort, and set our feet where HE has already blessed and prepared for us; every day, with a kingdom mindset, eyes of Christ and the sensitivity of the Spirit.

Now that I have the assurance that God is with me and He has great surprises in store, where will I set my foot? Because He’s already said He will give me everywhere I set my foot. It takes courage, and more than just an enthusiastic start, but a determination, a deep trust in God, and a willingness to do whatever it takes. But blessing is on offer, and awaits those who will take Him up on His invitation to be a part of something more.

Where are you setting your foot? Where do you NEED to set your foot but it’s just idle right now for whatever reason? My word for you would be to stop standing around, but actually begin to take ground. God’s given you THIS day. He wants it to be productive. He wants it to be blessed. He wants to fill it with joy and life and peace, for you and someone else. But we have to take part in what He’s doing, too.

 12112363_10206782687259172_2906471348337334296_nI’m reminded that where I am is not where I’ll always be. And who I truly am now I cannot always see. Just trusting God with the process of becoming me. In every moment and every season, He is all I need. Looking up, stepping out, moving beyond present things; Oh the joys and the blessings that with each step closer to Him He brings. And it is for this that my heart forever dances and sings. One thing [I do}…

Blank Canvas. Audacious Dream.

Hello 2016! While 2015 has now ended, as well as my enrolment in Hillsong College, God’s been stirring my heart for whatever is coming up next. And if that’s getting a Bachelors in Theology or a working holiday first to save up – I’m looking forward to doing it with Him.

I went home to America for 3 weeks for the first time in 3 years, and now that I’m back in Australia it feels so good to be home! Especially this morning when I got to be involved in church with our cafe, meet a lot of new visitors, and sit in a service and experience God moving!

When talking about the new year, one of our pastors accidentally said 2006 instead of 2016. And while many chuckled at the mistake, I instantly felt God tug at my heart and say “remember where you were in 2006? Ten years ago…”

I saw myself when I was 12 years old. I was at my first Christian camp, and I gave my life to Jesus.

And God began to remind me and cause me to think on all He has done in my life these last 10 years. It’s been incredible and nothing short of miraculous.

Being ill for 5 years and then seeing miraculous healing.

Moving across country and going through a dark season but growing closer to Jesus.

Leading worship – and the small beginnings of that when it was just me, a guitar, and like 6 chords, but a heart to bring worship to every youth group I went to (6 youth groups) because I desired people to seek God and His presence – to know Him like I did.

Leading girls in Bible studies.

Going on mission trip after mission trip and  becoming more and more passionate about the lost and taking His Name where it’s never been heard or accepted before.

Being called to Australia. And in the future called to Africa.

Going through different battles and challenges and seeing God bring victory.

And so many countless moments where I just encountered God’s love in the most intimate, touching, and transformative ways.

So many tears, endless joy, and truly immense growth in my relationship with the Lord.

I am changed and changing still, thanks to the grace of my God.

And then today in church God whispered to me, “your next 10 years will not even be able to compare to the last 10.”

And just this morning I was a bit discouraged because God was telling me that He wanted to give me my heart’s desires (that’s not the discouraging part lol) but I told him, “God, I don’t know what my heart’s desires are.” And I just asked God from deep in my heart to awaken my heart’s desires and to give me a dream so that I could hope for it. And I believe He will, and that He won’t leave me without vision. Because He knows that without vision I will perish. So until I discover exactly what those dreams are, I know my vision is to pursue God and draw closer to Him and His word.

Then today in church he said for 2016, start out with a blank canvas and an audacious dream.

Without the revelation of the past 10 years of God’s greatness, the above statement would have discouraged me some, since this morning I was feeling dreamless. But as he said it, I envisioned the next 10 years ahead of me, and really was encouraged that they will be filled with new heights and new depths, new joys, loves, challenges, but especially more of God and more of His presence and surprises I can’t even fathom.

And while the “future” can seem so wonderful to think about, the present can sometimes appear less. But something else that was said today- you will have a lot of ‘suddenly’s’ – unexpected amazing things…and why? Because you are being faithful in the EVERYDAY – the sometimes mundane, sometimes routinely, ordinary days. But I know as I’m faithful to meet with God and listen to His voice to obey Him daily, He will show up in ways I never imagined and I will know him at new levels. For this I am excited.

Embarking into new territory. A new place. A blank canvas. I’m in!

I’m A Hillsong College Graduate!

12314723_10207090425792443_9176454081030127901_o

It’s official. I’m no longer a student at Hillsong International Leadership College.

These last 3 years have been nothing short of miraculous, indescribable, immensely blessed, challenging and rewarding.

I’ve experienced God in ways I never would have imagined, and my relationship with Jesus is stronger than ever.

I only came to Australia for ‘one year’ of college (as many say),

but now it’s been 3 years and I’m planning to stay another year and a half to get a Bachelor of Theology with AlphaCrucis College to prepare for whatever God has for me in Africa.

These last 1000+ days I wouldn’t trade for anything.

So now what?  My life doesn’t stop when I graduate Hillsong College. Actually, it’s just beginning.

As God’s been speaking to me the last couple of months about trusting Him with this next unknown season of life, I’ve never been so encouraged, so rooted, and so anchored in Him. Sure, I only know the next small step to take, but with Him at my side that’s all I ever need.

When some people think of transitioning in life, moving on or letting go, jumping into the unknown, or people who just have no clue what to even do next, they can easily give way to fear, unbelief, and distrust. And that’s what the enemy would love, right? However, this is not God’s will for us. In Psalm 1 He says WHATEVER you do PROSPERS! That’s a promise for the one who delights in God and what He says and meditates and trusts His Word.

A couple of months ago God spoke to me about letting Him lead me, with my eyes closed, because He was leading me into surprises, bringing me gifts, and He assured me He will give me the best. This calmed my spirit so that I no longer was worried about what the next season would look like, and I didn’t have to have all the answers. In fact, NOT knowing is a glorious thing! Because it only ever draws me closer to Him.

So yesterday on my first day of break as a Hillsong College graduate, as I looked out over the ocean, God clearly spoke these words to me – and I pray that this would encourage you – especially if you’re transitioning into something different and you’re a bit afraid.

beach.jpg

Deep Waters

Deep waters is where I am calling you

I know you like the water you’re in…

because you can see the bottom and you feel safe.

I know the deep water looks scary…

because you cannot see –

it is something you don’t currently know.

But I want to take you into 

new revelation

new knowledge

new depths

new experiences 

of Me and My Truth ,

My Son and Holy Spirit.

When it gets deep and you become unsure and feel far from safety-

remember I am your anchor

I will not abandon you. 

It will feel different.

Don’t live based on what you feel 

but on your convictions of who I am and

who I’ve always been 

because I’m not changing. 

I will teach you to swim

I will strengthen you

and I will give you joy in the deep waters. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

“The Lord watches over the way of the righteous” -Psalm 1

He is in your tomorrow, your next month, and your next year, and you can trust Him when you can’t see. Allow yourself to leap, allow yourself to close your eyes and be surprised, allow yourself to be okay not knowing everything. God is up to something grand, I promise.

Gideon Part 2 – Men, let’s encourage you!

This is for the guys 🙂 Why not? 
If you’ve read the Bible at all or grown up in church you probably know the story of Gideon.
His story is used a lot to tell of a person who feels weak, inadequate, and afraid but when he obeys God and relies on Him and His strength, battles are won. (See Judges 5-7). And it’s honestly so encouraging to hear his story as I relate to it so much.  
However, I realized today that where we usually stop telling Gideons story is not the end. That was just part 1. 
Read part 2 for yourself in Judges 8.

Gideon’s Ephod

22 The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us from the hand of Midian.”

23 But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lordwill rule over you.” 24 And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)

25 They answered, “We’ll be glad to give them.” So they spread out a garment, and each of them threw a ring from his plunder onto it. 26 The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels,[b] not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks. 27 Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.


I was a bit surprised actually, I guess it was like *childhood felt board story crushed* [holla American kids].
While his heart was in the right place and he had good intentions, he lacked some wisdom in leadership. Sometimes we do things rashly without thinking all the possibilities through. The consequences are more devastating the more responsibility you carry. 
And the sad reality is that the legacy he left wasn’t a good one (verses 33-35).

33 No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god 34 and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. 35 They also failed to show any loyalty to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) in spite of all the good things he had done for them.


I felt like God wanted me to encourage the men in my world that it’s not just about winning huge battles but it’s the “small” battles in every day life- like self discipline, keeping the main thing the main thing, family, personal leadership, etc.

While these ‘small’ things can be overlooked and are built in the unseen and in the trials of life, they are actually huge. It’s the small things that make up a person’s character.

Some other side notes I saw while reading about Gideon’s part 2 of his story…

Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it. He said to the men of Sukkoth, “Give my troops some bread; they are worn out, and I am still pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”

I can’t expect the men in my world to be super human, just as these warriors weren’t super human either. What set them apart and gave them victory was God, yes, and HE graced them to win- but it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t like God said, “I’ll give you victory” and they just sat there and watched. It was hard work but God gave them the strength.

19 Gideon replied, “Those were my brothers, the sons of my own mother. As surely as theLord lives, if you had spared their lives, I would not kill you.” 20 Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, “Kill them!” But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid.

21 Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Come, do it yourself. ‘As is the man, so is his strength.’” So Gideon stepped forward and killed them, and took the ornaments off their camels’ necks.

This passage is interesting to me. And while I realize the context and the background (it’d be humiliating for him to be killed by a young boy, especially an untrained warrior), I noticed a few things. And if I’m just reading into it, ignore me haha, please. But I feel like some guys are still acting like Gideon pre-battle (and his son now doing the same) – afraid, hiding, and not seeing or fully living up to the potential that is truly within them. These guys need someone to see it in them and bring it out of them and call the man out! We should be encouraging the men in our world to be courageous and not hiding in fear of failure or inadequacy. But we all know Gideon wasn’t just a fearful, hiding man, but he also stepped out when God revealed Himself to him. And we see in the above verse that when his son was afraid to do it, he stepped forward and did it.

We as women should be encouraging our men to be brave and step forward into God’s anointing and His strength! And to not just focus on the big battles/mountains but the ones they are facing every day. I want to support and cheer on the guys in my life, and I want to learn how to do that well.

A thought.

Secondhand Has Got To Go

2thriftClothes. So much clothing. Not enough space. Not enough days in the year to wear it all. Drawers overstuffed and bags of ‘other season’ clothes overfull. Clothes I love and clothes I liked but never wore. Clothes that are so flippin cute but don’t match anything else I own. Clothes coming out the wazoo. Or whatever that phrase is my mom always said.

This probably accurately describes my wardrobe currently (let’s be honest, I only inserted the word ‘probably’ to make myself feel better.)

And it may surprise you that I’m not a shopaholic. I rarely go shopping and I also rarely spend money on clothes… (insert some sick false humility here and then quickly take it out because that’s just wrong).

My passion? (Ok passion is definitely the wrong word, a better word would be something like obsession, or addiction…but I would rather avoid those terms)

Secondhand clothing. 1thrift

And I’ll just tell you I have absolutely no problem whatsoever – (if I stopped that sentence right there I’d be in denial)  with wearing clothes that complete strangers have worn who knows where. And I’ll make a confession right here and now that I’m sure the majority reading this will be like, You’re disgusting. But I really don’t care. My confession is that I also have no issues with wearing secondhand clothing without washing it first.

Yup. I said it. Why, you may ask, do I not really care if I wash it first or not? Well, maybe it’s partly due to having been in Africa and wearing the same clothes for days and being in grosser things than developed countries could bear to think of, or maybe it’s because I’m just so excited about my ‘new’ old clothes that I’m not patient enough to wait for the wash. Or maybe, and I just may be hitting the nail on the head of this little problem of mine, I’m just lazy. Did I just admit that? Ew.

And sure, it’s just clothes and I haven’t picked up any diseases so really why am I admitting this and what’s the point?

Because I realized today that I can treat my life like someone else’s broken in Converse or already stretched-to-fit-me skinny jeans that I was just blessed to receive for free.  And I can easily get used to that. (the ‘free’ I’m referring to is the clothes swaps we have at Sisterhood here at Hillsong College…this is where my wardrobe comes from)

What do I mean by this? I like to be comfortable. No, white that out. I love to be comfortable. Actually I even did this Core Values finder ‘test’ a couple times during my time here in college and I’ve realized Comfort is actually one of my core values. Now, that can be a good thing in that I love making others feel comfortable, feel at home (hospitality). But there can be a downside because while we are all grappling for comfort and going to such great lengths to be comfortable, we are missing out on the character building moments and God encounter moments we could be experiencing on the brink of the unknown…in the face of discomfort.

How does that relate to clothes anyway?

Now, I don’t know about guys, but ladies will understand me when I talk about breaking in new shoes. _____(insert painful sounds there). Sure,  I may have only experienced this personally once or twice in my lifetime #secondhandforlife, but I know that breaking in new shoes isn’t comfortable. In fact, I don’t even like breaking in new jeans. They’re tight, the waistline is uncomfortable, and this is one reason I enjoy wearing other people’s pants. Ha.

But someone has to experience walking in those stilettos for the first time. And someone has to walk some miles in their shoes in order for them to become used.

Character doesn’t just happen, and it certainly doesn’t come through comfort.

Today in chapel a student said this: ‘sometimes the waves require great faith because they’re terrifying, but sometimes the waves require great character because they’re unappealing.’

Sometimes in life our next step is honestly a bit unappealing, and looks uncomfortable, and like a lot of hard work.  Like for me, staying in Australia longer than I originally planned in order to get a degree sounds a littttle bit unappealing. Especially when my plan was to go straight to Africa.

For me, my comfort zone is change. And it’s funny, because it’s not even that I love change (I’m realizing that a lot of change at once can be overwhelming, but praise God for His grace), but I’m familiar with change.  Changes, resilience, flexibility, different places and different people is what I’m used to. And familiarity is what we crave. And since God told me to stay for another year and half to get a degree that I don’t really care about (that’s changing, don’t worry…I care about Africa and I care about His people, so this causes me to start caring about getting a degree), I’m suddenly very aware that the upcoming season will require character…and my willingness to break in a pair of shoes that I wouldn’t have picked for myself.

I’ve also realized that I can’t live on secondhand ANYTHING. But to actually work hard, to seek God, to encounter Him intimately, to be His hands and feet, it will require me getting uncomfortable.

And yeah, it would be a whole lot easier to live off the fruit of what someone else worked for, but what am I contributing?

And breaking in new shoes will be painful, cause some blisters, and it may take some time, but when something has cost you something personally, your own sweat, your own tears, your own money, you value it.

I was just reminded of a passage in 2 Samuel 24 (read the whole chapter for context) where David goes up to buy a threshing floor from Araunah…

23“Everything, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.”24However, the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.
The whole story is kind of intense when you think about it, but I admired a trait in David that he showed here: He refused to take the easy way out.
All my life I’ve been prone to doing the bare minimum, taking the road most travelled, and doing the easiest, most efficient and most comfortable thing- but I know God is calling me out of my comfy, secondhand clothes and asking me, “Are you willing to pay the cost?”
And flip, I don’t know what I’m getting myself into, but I’m trusting that God won’t let go of my hand as I follow His lead. What aspect of your life or your calling are you settling for mediocrity in that God wants you to start sweating for? And I’m not implying anything about working to earn anything from God etc, but God does tell us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling in Philippians 2:12. And right after that he tells us that it is GOD who works in you to will and to act according to HIS good purpose.
He doesn’t expect you to work in your own strength, but He does expect you to put your hand to the plow and not look back. (Luke 9:62)
The hard work will be worth it, and the only thing we will ever regret were the times we chose comfort and familiarity over taking on new challenges and experiencing the unknown with God.
He’s got so much for us to experience, with Him, and with others, but we’ve gotta drop the secondhand clothing attitude. He has some new shoes for us to break in.