Monday, March 28, 2011

His Voice

I picked John chapter 14 to be my new scripture memory passage. I’ve been working on  1 John 4, and I’m about half-way done with it, so I’m starting a new one too. 
But John 14 leaves me wondering this maybe superficial but still very intriguing (to me) question:
What did Jesus’ voice sound like? 
Did it gently rumble when he spoke? 
Did it lilt in it’s own distinctive rhythm? 
Did it naturally carry for long distances, or did it come across as soft? 

Don’t you sometimes wish they had video recording or at least voice recording back then? 

Can you imagine hearing God’s own holy Words actually falling from His own lips? 
Did he speak with an air of confidence? 
How much of his humility was reflected in his tones?
I wonder, I wonder.
I especially wonder in this interaction with his disciples, did his voice shiver with excitement and then quiver with disappointment? Was it laced with astonishment at their hard-headedness? Was it ever so patient and understanding?
Or is his voice so inconsequential that only the feeling and truth of the words left a lasting impression, rather than the tone?
Whatever the case, I can’t wait to be in the presence of the God, and hear Jesus speak.

  "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
  Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
  "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."  Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered him,  "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
 "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

faith like a seedling

Today was pretty great. it was long, but still great. lots of great things happened. lots of great conversations happened. i’m not gonna talk about them though... you’ll just have to take my word for it when i say, “it was great!”
But ya know what? 
There was one thing today that stood out as the greatest of them all.

 It was this teeny, tiny little sprout.
no bigger than a pin-head. 

I planted some seeds gathered from a flower last summer. I planted them a long time ago. I faithfully watered and sun-bathed the little cups they were in. I waited and waited. Nothing grew. I gave them one last dousing with water yesterday, and told them “i’m giving you one more shot at this, little guys!” and this afternoon, I went to visit the cups, expecting to find them empty, getting ready to throw them out, and found this itsy bitsy lil guy pushing through the mud.

see how tiny!?

It was funny the amount of happiness that teeny little seedling brought to my heart. It was like a monster-rush of joy. I started talking to it, and smiling like a fool. 
don't ask me how my mind makes these odd connections, but my experience added a new depth to my understanding of these verses:

 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.  So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”  And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.  However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:14-21

Just because something’s close to invisible, doesn’t mean it can’t pack a powerful punch... especially when God’s in on it. Have faith and wait expectantly. Don't give up when God is at work under the surface, just about to burst through the mud!

i promise you, the seedling's in this cup!

Praying for faith like a mustard seed ~ faith that moves mountains,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

addictions part 2

My last addiction post was kind of my general opinion of addictions, but I’ve been thinking more, over the past two days, and I think I’m gonna share some of the specific ways I was able to attack my addictions. 
I want to say this right out:
It’s not the abundance of addictions, or a lack thereof, that proves the strength of a believer’s walk with Christ. True strength is shown when a believer is faced with that certain temptation and chooses to say ‘no’ through the power of Jesus Christ the Omnipotent.
Without addictions, sin or evil, God’s grace and strength wouldn’t be recognized for how beautiful and amazing it is. Now, this is not to say go on sinning so that God’s grace may abound- I’m just saying that we have the chance to show God’s glorious hand at work, as we battle our weaknesses and the devil’s temptations with HIS STRENGTH!
After I recognized my addictions and discovered I couldn’t fix my problems myself, I cried out. I exposed my sinfulness to God, and to people who could help me. (I initially chose my mother, and then some other mentor-type figures. Your mom, or dad, may not be a suitable option for encouragement in the ways of God. In that case, I’d recommend going to your pastor, Bible Study Leader, or an older person in the faith who shows great devotion to God. If they can’t help you, they can probably direct you to someone who can!)
But, if you’ve tried this before, you know that even that is not enough. I’ve heard that there are stories of God’s immediate removal of addictions, but most commonly, we need to wage war and use the weapons God has given to destroy the addiction and it’s temptations.
So- here’s a great thing to do: REMOVE THE TEMPTATIONS. If you’re addicted to the computer, turn it off. Don’t even go near it for a while, if you can help it. If you’re addicted to spending, leave your credit card at home, and only take your weekly budget in cash. If you’re addicted to TV, cancel your cable for a couple months. If it’s music that gets you, clear your iPod, or stuff it in a drawer for some time. If it's a place, stay FAR AWAY, reroute your daily paths if you must. If your addiction is food, or alcohol or something of that nature, have someone you see regularly keep you in check. Tell them to pull it out of your hands and throw it away if they catch you with it. Sometimes we have to do extreme things, because destroying the addiction is EXTREMELY important to our walk with the Lord! 
Get a godly accountability partner (or a mentor, if you’re young) to encourage you, keep you on track with your decisions to remove temptations, and to pray for you.
Bathe yourself in Scripture. Like, seriously. SMOTHER YOURSELF. I don’t care if it’s not “fun”. I don’t care if you “don’t want to”. If you want to see any kind of decent result in fighting your addiction, you’ll need God’s Words. READ THAT BIBLE! 
In the morning when you wake, at night before you close your eyes, during the day, carry around index cards. Download a reading of the Bible to your itunes and play it. often.
It will get easier to stay in the Word, and you’ll start to see the effects of spending your time feeding your mind truth. The Word of God is ALIVE. So it changes things. It saves. It rescues. It refreshes. It. Is. ALIVE. so let it work in you. Bible studies and fellowships are also great ways to cover ourselves in scripture.
Talk with God about every moment of your life. Let him know you’re struggling, ask Him for help, praise Him for His faithfulness in answering your prayers and offering ways of escape. (p.s. don’t forget to take those ways of escape, when he offers them to you. don’t think you fell back into your addiction because He wasn’t there -It’s probably because you weren’t paying attention to his way of escape!)
Change your habits and schedule. When I struggled with honoring God in certain social circles, I needed to step out of those areas until my walk was back on track with God. Some of the activities I was able to rejoin after a while. Some, I never went back to because I realized that they were not beneficial to my spiritual growth, but consistently tore me down, or caused me to doubt God’s truth.
These are some things that I did to attack the addictions. They were very powerful, but I still felt (and sometimes still feel) the tremors of addictions, coaxing me to cave. So, in addition to all these things, we need to turn completely away from the direction of the addiction, and pursue the things of God. Fill the time you spent in that addiction with volunteering in the community, serving at church, spending more time with family members or friends, and of course, spending more time with God. Find new fun activities and hobbies. When those tremors start shaking your faith and determination, stop where you are and drop to those knees. Ask God for the power to say “NO” to the temptations. Ask God for the strength to continue pressing on in Him. THANK HIM for not leaving you to stew in your addictions, but for raising you up into newness of life. 
I cannot tell you how much joy abounds in the freedom from bondage to an addiction. Your eyes will be cleared to see so many more wonders of God than you could imagine. Your life will be full of fruit and your rewards will be in heaven, and maybe even blessings on earth. Jesus knows our sorrows, He knows our temptations and pain. I think I can say he is SO proud of us when we choose to take hold of His truth and wield His strength to defeat the addictions in our lives. 
God loves us. and he doesn’t just leave us to sit in our dirt. He’s reaching out His hand. Take it, and wait in expectation!

Phil 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Rom 6:1-4 - What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Heb 4:12 - For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart
Phil 4:6-7 - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


This week's sermon reminded me of these powerful worship songs. 
They may take a while to get through, but their messages are so worth it, in my opinion.

  "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:2-6

Your Great Name- Natalie Grant

The More I Seek You- Kari Jobe

Give Us Clean Hands- Mark Schultz

Jesus, Thank You- Sovereign Grace

Get Ready For Revival- Bryan Clift (Jonathan Stockstill song)

be filled to pour out,

Monday, March 21, 2011


I’m sitting here, staring at my computer screen. where do i even start. addictions aren’t easy to address, because they are the things closest to us. The things that we love so much we devote our lives to them. The things that we’re painfully attracted to, and can’t seem to give up. They’re things that cause radical change in our lives, for good or for bad. They’re, well, addictive. 
merriam-webster describes the word addict as: “to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.”
I’m gonna spring off the two words ‘habitually’ and ‘obsessively’ to try and share my view of addictions.
Obsessive Addiction- this one’s lighter, so we’ll address it first. ‘obsessively’ reminds me of children’s fads today. silly bands, pillow pets, hannah montana or justin beiber... things that are obsessed over. I know kids who live and breathe for their favorite music star. Their walls are covered in posters, they’ve memorized every word ever sung from the golden lips of their idol, maybe they even went to a concert and pushed and shoved their way to the front of a gaggle of screaming fans, just to “touch” so-and-so’s hand, or maybe even get a snap-shot together. An obsessive addiction is something that consumes your thoughts, dreams, and eventually your actions. It can be a spending addiction, a food addiction, a popularity addiction, a tv, gaming or *gasp* facebook addiction. 
But what if you’ve chosen to obsess over children’s advocacy, or taking care of our planet. Am I going to criticize you for that? well, no. and yes. it depends. 
As Christians, we should lead godly, well-balanced lives by giving proper attention to the different needs, likes and passions that God has given us to take care of. Working-out is good for the body, but how much is too much? The desire to be knowledgable in the things of the Bible is great, but when it consumes your life so that you neglect the people and responsibilities God has given you, I believe that can be an unhealthy addiction too.  
I’m not going to offer a scale of balance for everything in life, i think it’s different for each person, and between them and the Lord. But I will encourage you to step back and review the things you devote your life to. Have you chosen things that bring the most glory to God? Are there “addictions” you should modify or completely release? I know I’ve got some.
Think about it. 
Now we’ll take the next (and maybe a bit heavier) type of addiction- 
Habitual Addiction- to me, ‘habit’ implies not necessarily having a great love for the object of addiction, but being “stuck” to it. Habitually taking another smoke, when you know it’s hurting your health. Habitually resorting to drugs or alcohol to handle fear or sorrow, knowing the sorrow will still be there when you shed the stupor. Habitually exposing yourself to media that tears down your own self, your relationship with God, relationships within the family, or the body of Christ. Habitually reacting harshly out of anger, when you want so badly to respond calmly.
These, and things like them are addictive habits that are formed by an inital exposure, and the lack of strength to say “no” when the temptation comes around again.
I have dealt with habitual addictions in a most heart-breaking way. 
In the past, I’ve gotten into things I never should have done, or been exposed to. Once I did, I was caught in them. I couldn’t let them go no matter how much I willed myself to. The saddest part is that I took hold of them, and then couldn’t let them go because I believed, with all of my heart, some dreadful lies about who I am, who God is, and what the purpose of my life is. My focus was turned inward. I was trying to solve the problems using the tools I could offer, and they were not enough. So, I was doing things that hurt my life, my relationship with God and my relationships with others, because I was captive to habits that were destroying me. Thank God, He saved me from some of the worst and most destroying addictions, but still ~
EVERY DAY I struggle with habitual addictions. Things I know are wrong, but I still sometimes give into. Fighting or aruging with my siblings, or even parents, instead of being a peacemaker. Watching movies, listening to music, reading books or internet articles that promote ungodly or selfish behavior or thoughts. Looking to do things that best glorify me, or make me look good. In essence, putting myself above God. The addiction to be in control. 
Saying this goes against all instinct to protect my reputation, to pretend i’ve got it all together. But I think it needs to be said, because I think someone needs to hear it. I think someone needs to see that they’re not alone. Trying to keep it together, but knowing they fail miserably, even when no one else knows. I am RIGHT. THERE. WITH. YOU. 
Ever since the moral fall of mankind, shortly after the creation of the world, every single human has struggled to keep their priorities where they belong: Living for God’s Glory. 
Jesus laid it out pretty clear, the things that we’re supposed to do: 
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-39.
That’s what we’re supposed to be doing. That’s what our habitual addictions are keeping us from doing. That’s why we’ve GOT to get rid of these addictions. 
Fact: Humans were made to be passionate. We were made with the ability to praise something. We were made with the need to serve something. It’s how we are, and we can’t change that. 
Also Fact: We have an enemy. He will and DOES use EVERYTHING he can against us. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). If he sees a weakness, he’ll jump on it. he’ll rub it in our faces, he’ll rain it down all around us. 
BUT another Fact: as believers, we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, revealing the truths and mysteries about God and His ways. We have the Scripture, to study, to learn from, to memorize, to apply. 
Here’s something my friend Stephanie said, “Now I may not strike you as the type, but it is true, at times I struggle with addiction.  Addiction to spending time with certain  people (or people in general,) addiction to summer vacations, addiction to coffee.  Not all addictions are bad, it's true. The one addiction for which I can feel no regret is the addiction to spend time with Jesus.  I usually find that I crave the things I am accustomed to having.  If I eat a lot of yogurt, I find myself craving yogurt.  If I drink a lot of coffee, I crave coffee.And yes, eating chocolate makes me want more chocolate.  When I spend my days conversing with my Savior, I crave to be in His presence.  And when I fail to make the effort the symptoms of addiction begin to fade, and the desire to draw near diminishes.  Feed the right addiction.Cling to what is good.Crave Jesus.” 
I just love it! She’s saying that if we use what God has given us (Scripture, Prayer, the Holy Spirit), and feed the right things, the right addictions will be promoted. Simple as that!
If you’re not a believer in Jesus Christ, you don’t have the Holy Spirit living in you and guiding you. I’m sorry to say that, in your condition, there is NOthing that can help you completely escape from the bondage of any addiction. There are temporary “fixes” but all too often, you’ll fall right back into the addiction, or find a new one to replace it, because as I said before, we were made to be addicted. We were made to devote ourselves to something. And if the old/natural self (sin-nature) rules us and causes us to devote ourselves to harmful things, we cannot rise above it. We need something more. Something new. Through the power of Jesus Christ, we have recieved the gift of freedom from the bondage of sin. When we accept that, he gives us a helper, the Spirit of the Living God, INSIDE of us, helping us to make godly choices. (How cool is that?!?)
This world is suffering from a downward spiral in morals, productivity, health, everything. Last night, my friend Emka candidly called it, “the flushing toilet”. we’re going down. It’s entropy and it happens. (entropy- a process of degredation or running down or a trend to disorder. merriam-webster)
BUT when we put on the new self, we begin to “un-entropy”. 
“In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit [entropy], and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth [un-entropy].” Eph 4:22-24
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry [entropy]. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator [un-entropy]. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” Col 3:5-11
I believe that un-entropy is only possible through an addiction. Some might call it a “passion” or a “way of life” instead of an “addiction” but what it is, is the COMPLETE devotion and surrendering of yourself to Jesus Christ. According to our dictionary definition, an addiction to God. 
It’s admiting that you’re not enough and that He is. Believing that He loves you and He has the power to un-entropy your entropy-ing life. (yes, i'm creating words all over the place here...) It’s choosing to follow his examples and instructions with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. 
As we devote ourselves to becoming like Jesus, learning from His example throughout the scripture of how to love, trust, obey and serve, HE WILL BECOME OUR ADDICTION. OUR HABIT. OUR OBSESSION. OUR EVERYTHING. 
And those habitual and obsessive addictions that once entangled and snared us will fall at the feet of our great desire and love for our God. 
As a general rule they won’t disappear immediately, because God in His sovereignty decided we will remain among this churning and chaotic world after we believe in Him. But they CAN be overcome! 
In Christ, it’s no longer futile to press towards freedom from the shackles of an addiction.
Every day, as I struggle with controlling my addictions, I must (and often) choose to believe that MY GOD is greater than any addiction. That He, and not the dirt of this world, deserves my devotion. That in Him I can triumph over any temptation my enemy presents to me (1 Cor 10:13).
And when I fail, I have to be strong enough to admit that I failed, and seek His forgiveness and help to do better next time.
Don’t give in. Don’t give up. These addictions we have, they ain’t got nothin’ on our God!
Desiring to be completely addicted to Him,

disclaimer: in no way is this exhaustive (i only spent 6 hours writing it) and it's only my opinion, to boot. yes, i made up some words too. but maybe it's something that you or someone you know needs to hear. so if it helps, praise God, if not, please don't hold anything against me :)

Monday, March 14, 2011


As my pastor spoke of the redeemed singing a new song this sunday, It reminded me of a few of my favorite worship songs... 

"And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth."
Revelation 14:2-3

Revelation Song- Kari Jobe and Gateway Worship

Say So- Israel and New Breed

I Will Sing of My Redeemer- Selah & Barlow Girl

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Oh, do I have a Birthday Story for you!

Ooooooh, ooooooh, oooooooh. do I have a birthday story for you!
Well, my day started out pretty normal, except I had like, twenty facebook notifications when I woke up at 6:30... that made me smile. and the love kept pouring in all day. Let me tell you- if you ever feel that no one cares about you, switch your FB birthday to “tomorrow” and see what happens. I might as well have been famous, I felt so popular. But more importantly I felt indescribably blessed and loved. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Then, circa 7:25 I opened a present, from my soul sister Rachelka, that’s been sitting in my room for 3 veryyy long weeks. it was a SPEC.TAC.U.LAR green and purple UMBRELLA!!! 
Now the thing about my birthdaies (and don’t cite me on this, cause I’m not the almanac) is they’re always sunshiney. at least, that’s how it seems. because God always seems to wow me with a spectacular sunrise. not today though. it was over cast and dreary. I was a little sad, until my mother pointed out that God is rather obliging, to give me the chance to use my new gift right away! I had to smile at that. So, I carried it with me all morning.
Well, I left for work. Allie, my dear, sweet, two year old, soon-to-be-FINALLY-sister, and I sang Hymns ALL the way to work. Cause you know what? I found out she LOVES them. Old Fanny Crosby hymns, Old Spirituals, whatever. She Loves. I Love. So we sang. That was the best birthday gift she could possibly give me!! At work, my co-workers (which are more like a bunch of friends, but hey, we gotta keep a somewhat professional appearance going) blessed me by singing happy-birthday, giving me hugs and smiles, and my boss even brought me a delicioso birthday cookie-cake! So it was pretty sweet. 
About half-way through the work-day, I started feeling strange. Like I do before a heart episode is about to kick in. Oh.My. I was worried. I kept praying, “not today, God. Please, not today!” and other than my balance being slightly off, and my head spinning occasionally, I kept a pretty cool mood. I left work and here’s where things got kinda funky:
You see, I started feeling worse, with a little bit of a weather-headache setting in, and It hadn’t rained yet, so i didn’t even get to use my umbrella. I got home, brought my bags, and my sweet little sis inside, and turned back around to go pick up mayonnaise for a recipe my mom was making. I grabbed my purse, headed out, and as I pulled up to H-E-B, low and behold, the rain comes. 
Now here’s the part where I wish I could say, “So I whipped out my handy-dandy, brand-new and gorgeous umbrella, and skipped through rain puddles all the way to the door and back” but i can’t. You see, low and behold (again), I LEFT MY UMBRELLA IN THE OTHER BAG AT HOME!!!! :( so i sighed, and then I had to laugh. after all, who said just because it was my birthday things had to go my way? They Don’t. Let me tell you, it’s much better that they go God’s way anyway... keep reading and you’ll get it.
Not even an hour later, I find myself in a car full of sweet friends plowing our way into Houston for dinner and then on to Bible Study. My spirits rose, even as my physical strength fell. We had a lovely and fun time talking together, laughing, eating, navigating and consequently evading death. You name it, and we did it- with flourish! :)
Dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse

We went into HFBC for the last session of Beth Moore’s new study on James, and met up with some more friends... two things I want to say before I go on.
Number 1. Tonight one of the “more friends” I met up with, is a rather young lady who is most affectionately dubbed “Medium” Bethany (because I am “Big” Bethany and she’s too big to be called “Little” Bethany). I’m glad she came! Keep reading and you’ll get why...
Number 2: As embarrassing as it is, I must tell you I haven’t always liked Beth Moore. Not that I know her personally, but what do slightly rebellious, early-teen girls do when their moms “force” them to attend Bible Study? they buck. they scoff at anything they can. I chose Beth. silly me. Wouldn’t God use the very thing I mocked to bless me so distinctively? keep reading and you’ll get it...
So, since my rebellious 13-year-old days, I’ve come to respect and cherish my time under Beth’s encouragement. I was sad that it was going to be the last of an 8 week study. But I was so happy and joyful- How could I not be, as I lifted my voice in song with hundreds of other ladies, worshipping our Father, Savior, our God! It was like a birthday playlist, as Lisa, Star, and the rest of the team led us in songs like “A Mighty Fortress” by Christy Nockles, “Come Thou Fount” -the way Gateway does it, “Revelation Song”, “How Great Thou Art”... it was marvelous!
As they got off the stage, at the end of an anointed session, Beth stepped up like usual and we sat down like usual. then Beth said, “I don’t usually do this” and from here on out, things get, well, unusual. but keep reading, you’ll see what I mean...
Beth went on to tell us that she felt God was calling her to do something that she “couldn’t remember the last time” she had done. She asked for all girls 25 and younger to come to the altar, so she could pray a blessing over them. I stood up with two of my friends and we walked down our aisle, toward the front. It was then I had the privilege to grab little miss “Medium Bethany’s” hand and guide her down to the altar to receive the blessing Beth would pray. The whole time, I was thinking, “what in the WORLD, God? On my 20th birthday of all nights?” She told us that in our lives we are going to do some crazy things beyond what we felt we are able, so that God will be obvious. She reminded us we have the Holy Spirit to help us do what we can’t do on our own. She encouraged us to learn from our “mothers” in the faith. She encouraged our mothers in the faith to teach us. She asked the spiritual mothers to place their hands on the young ladies nearest them. She read this scripture over us:
Joshua 1:6-7
Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
  “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

Then she asked the mothers to rise, and she prayed over us. She commissioned us, I guess you could say, to loving the Lord with EVERYTHING we had. She rebuked the devil from having place in our lives. She thanked God. She praised. 

Mom snapped some pics,
so I thought I'd post them

I'm in the far left of the pic,
barely visible...
I teared up, you bet. And I felt somehow strengthened. With my knees to the ground and Medium Bethany in my lap, I couldn’t contain my amazement at my oh-so-special birthday gift! and the fact that I was sharing it with every other woman, young woman and girl in that room. Oh, you just can’t describe the feeling that brings.
Beth went on to teach one of her most impacting lessons I’ve been to (and I’ve been to a LOT). It was on prayer. and praise. and well, God. And i knew it wasn’t her talking, I knew it was God. because He spoke to every SPECIFIC trial, hope, joy, pain, that I’ve faced or am facing. He LAVISHED His love on me. 
I’m still in awe. and tears are once again forming in my eyes, as I reflect on the night’s happenings. 
So I’ll close up with this:
Last night as I drifted off to sleep, I contemplated how I had spent my last 19 years. God has given me so much more than I ever would have even known to ask for. 
He’s given me incredible family and friends, ministries, talents, struggles. Hope. And all this, He knew of, that very day I came into this world, twenty years ago today. He not only knew, He PLANNED it. EVERYTHING. From learning to trust by dealing with heart issues (physical and spiritual), down to learning to speak Slovak because it’s the native tongue of some of my dearest friends, down to getting a job at a wonderful preschool as a chapel director,  down to Beth Moore, one of the greatest teachers of the faith praying a blessing over me on my 20th Birthday.
 He. Is. RIDICULOUSLY indescribable. too great for words. He’s done so much. 
I trust He’ll do more. Because that’s who He is.
He’s my God,