Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Leaders

I think one of the marks of a great leader is the ability to recieve feedback, and implement new ideas. It's not easy, but it is essential to the growth of an organization.

Friday, November 27, 2009

This week's dreams

I've been dreaming recently about people I went to high school with.

In one dream a girl asked me to hang out and I was busy and couldn't do it, but we made plans for the following day. But it was weird because it was a girl that I don't have a stellar relationship with. In fact, we might be on each others "people we least like" list. So that was random.

In the dream the next night, I dreamed of a friend from high school and it was her wedding day. Oddly enough, she was engaged, and broke off the engagement this week. So that was weird because I saw her hair and her dress and where her wedding was being held and who her bridesmaids were. I saw their dresses and hair and the flowers. It was a beautiful day, lots of trees and greenery around.

The next night I dreamed about another girl that I didn't have a great relationship with in high school. We had a falling out freshman or sophomore year and for some reason, we were hanging out and really close in my dream. I knew her at UGA but we never really talked. I'm sure we're both past the things that happened, but we're different enough to not feel the need to reconnect. I wouldn't be opposed to reconnecting, but she lives in another country so those chances are very slim.

Last night I had two dreams. The first one I hung out with probably my best friend from middle school and most of high school. After high school we went completely different directions and I haven't talked to her in several years. We were at a conference and sharing each other's clothes each day. I drove her home in her car on the last day (her dad was in the back seat with her), and for some reason, the ground was VERY rigid and hilly. We drove on the grass instead of the pavement because the pavement was too broken and fallen in. I went with her to her house, and after being there for a few minutes, I felt really awkward and called my mom to come pick me up. I told my friend I had a lot to do to get ready for work and wished I could stay longer.

The second dream last night, I dreamed that Warren Kritko from Bethel got up and announced a ministry trip for second year. It would be to Turkey with YWAM and we only needed to pay for our plane ticket ($1069). We would leave at the end of January and do a lot of under-cover ministry since Turkey is mostly Muslim. On the screen where all the information was listed, Guam was also mentioned but I don't know how that ties in.

So here are my dreams from the week thus far! I've been terrible at writing them out, but I think its important to make an effort when I remember. Who knows when/if they'll happen?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Next Great Awakening

This is a song by Jake Hamilton that is rocking me right now. He used to be a part of IHOP and he's recently been singing with Jesus Culture. His heart is amazing, and I love his song "The Next Great Awakening."


I see you in the valley
Transferring death for life
I see an army coming
They all bear your light

I am not bound to reason
I live in violent love
This world can not define me
My heart is set above

For me to live it Christ
For me to die is gain
I am not shrinking back
I'll never be the same

Four walls can not contain me
I know I've been possessed
I know that God is love
And there is no failing love
So I am fearless

Come, love is overtaking me now.

This is the sound
of a revolution.

This is the sound
of a prophet's cry.

This is the sound
of a reformation.

This is the sound
of a warrior bride.

This is the sound
of a giants falling.

This is the sound
that you can't ignore.

This is the sound
of a rebel rising.

This is the sound
of an open door.


God, release the sound
Release the movement
I am laying down everything

God, you promised nations
I want the nations
I'm not gonna settle, now
I, I hear the cry
I hear the longing
This is the sound of freedom

I stand in the gap
I stand here praying
For the next
Great Awakening

Revivals not an epic or a mission

Revivals not a program
or a play

Revival is not a slogan
Revival is a man
His name is Jesus


The Next Great Awakening
-Jake Hamilton

Monday, November 16, 2009

Campfires, Dreams and Acoustic Worship

Tonight was an awesome night at ministry school. We spent time soaking with Judy Franklin (Bill Johnson's assistant) and telling God our dreams and hearing what He said about them. Then we went around the room and declared them out loud. It was amazing to hear what was on everyone's heart to do with their lives, and how they wanted to impact the world. Our classes capacity to dream has greatly expanded over the last year, so I was so inspired to hear what big things people were going after.

Then Lacey spoke on her relationship with the Holy Spirit. Whenever she speaks I feel like love comes in and just settles around me. Her words come out of an intimate place with God and I am so blessed to get to hear from the deepest recesses of her heart. She embodies love, strength, compassion, and wisdom. Being in her presence is truly life-changing.

Then we went out by the lake where some of the guys had started a campfire. We had s'mores and acoustic worship. Our class is starting to feel more and more like a family and I love every minute of it. Acoustic worship by a bonfire is one of my favorite things in the whole world. Being beside a lake and also getting s'mores was like icing on the cake. Worship was beautiful and unhindered, full of life and intimacy.

I loved tonight and can't wait for more nights like this with my sweet friends.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Red Moon Rising

I'm still hoping to transcribe some of my notes and thoughts on the book of Revelation...but I keep putting other good blog thoughts aside in hopes of tackling Revelation first. However...this hasn't happened, so I'm going to move on for the time being.

I'm reading a book right now called "Red Moon Rising" by Pete Greig and Dave Roberts. It's the story of how 24/7 prayer started, and how it is starting to awaken this generation. For centuries, there have been pockets of 24/7 prayer houses that lasted anywhere from 1 month to 100 years. Starting in the 1990s, 24/7 prayer houses started sprouting up all over Europe, Africa, in underground churches in parts of Asia, Australia, South America and the United States. This prayer movement is no longer contained in small segments of time in isolated locations...it has become global, and it is continuous. Full of momentous strength.

For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch... I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night... Isaiah 62

Pete Greig, one of the original fire-starters of this monumental move of God, wrote a poem late one night in one of the prayer rooms in England, and I wanted to share a few lines with you.

"The Vision"
The vision? The vision is JESUS- obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus.
The vision is an army of young people. You see bones? I see an army.
The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes. It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago... It is dangerously pure...
And this is the sound of the underground, the whisper of history in the making
Foundations shaking, Revolutionaries dreaming once again...

Those are only a few lines of a three-page poem, but it is raw and it is authentic. It breathes out radical love and devotion. Unity among believers that want to see the Kingdom manifested on this earth. This book is riddled with countless stories of these lovers willing to lay down everything in order to move with the Spirit and keep their view of God 'out of the box.' To smuggle Bibles into "closed" countries, and to develop prayer houses in the darkest of cities in the Middle East and underground China. To worship publicly and to go after healing for the sick. It is so challenging to my faith to spend hours in intimate communion with the Father of Lights. Feeling every breath and shift in my innermost being. And then to carry that love and communion out to the streets. To the hurting and the broken, the naked and the lost.

One day in my home, I can't wait to have "prayer room." With sketches, and declarations and mandates written everywhere. Prophetic art, poems, people's names, and Scriptures filling the walls. Maps and Bibles and worship music, testimonies of encounters with God and miracles and healings. A room full of God's presence. I want that room to be an expression of what is going on inside my heart, but then my life to be an overflow of what happens in that room. I want to be marked with incredible intimacy and radical love. I want to be a "watchman on the wall" and I refuse to be silent day or day.



Monday, October 26, 2009

Beginning of Revelation

I no longer hold any traditional views of Revelation. I no longer believe in the rapture and/or the tribulation or 1,000 year reign. I also believe that most things in Revelation have already happened. And I'm great with that.

I am a part of a glorious and overcoming Church that is constantly wanting to know God more. I don't desire to escape...I desire to chew through, because that's where great faith is found. In the pressing in and mulling over. In the pain and the fighting and the abuse. It's time to keep pushing through because we ARE a GLORIOUS and OVERCOMING Church. We ARE kings and priests, seated in heavenly realms NOW. And WE have all authority. I believe things will get better, not worse. Why live passionately for Jesus if everything is just going to hell? I have hope in a good God that desires to give good gifts to His children.

More to come on this...with Scripture and details. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Getting over differences

I'm learning how to let go of what I can't do anything about.

I make quick decisions, some people need time. I immediately see systems and ways of organizing, others don't. Some like to save money, I like to spend money. Some people like to live quietly and keep to themselves, I like to be loud and share stories and hear about other people. I love cats, some love dogs. I'm learning to be un-offendable, but some people actually do it. I'm an open book to anyone, some prefer to be more private. I love books and magazines and art, some love science, philosophy and technology. I love reality tv, others prefer shows of substance.

Some people come to Chick-fil-A and only eat coffee creamer and ketchup packets...I eat chicken strips. True story.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Some tidbits on honor

Honor means to recognize God's glory in another. To see what makes them valuable. Scripture says to "Honor a prophet in the name of a prophet and receive a prophet's reward." If we recognize what God is doing in someone, we are honoring them. We don't have to agree with everything they said, but if we can see what God is doing and how He is moving, then we open ourselves up to the revelation that that person is receiving. We need to be able to see and recognize God in anyone.

In the section of the gospels where Jesus goes back to his home town, He is not given honor. The title of the section is "A Prophet Without Honor" (Matthew 13:53-58). Those in Nazareth said "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't His mother Mary and His brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?" By being critical and not honoring, they are cutting themselves off to the revelation that Jesus brings. And because they were not honoring or open, Jesus could not do many miracles there.

Honor attracts life: "Honor your father and mother so that your days might be long." Jesus Christ honoring us in His death brought life.

You grow from glory to glory through honor.

Honor is the key to passing the baton of revival to the next generation. The way we honor determines what gets passed onto the next generation.

Humility comes before honor. Phil. 2:8 Pride comes before dishonor.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ministry School

So, I'm a terrible blogger. I can't find a medium between short and light-hearted posts and serious thought-provoking posts. But honestly, I have too many serious thoughts in my head to keep them to myself. So I'll just stick with serious for a bit until I run out of stuff to say. :)

I'm currently in my second year of ministry school at Bethel and its been awesome so far. Part of school is having a life coach that you meet with every other week, and it's just amazing. One of the areas that I really wanted to work on and develop was my life purpose. Although I don't have any huge dream or goal, I've spent the last week writing out all the prophetic words over my life and doing some freehand writing on things that I love. The more I've written and explored and read over my journaling, I've found so many consistent themes: People, traveling/missions, developing and managing teams, the prophetic, taking a dream and developing a strategy to accomplish it, investing in others...etc. For the first time in my life, I'm seeing different gifts and strengths and passions of mine, and how they overlap.

I used to think that my life purpose wasn't big enough or significant enough. But I'm beginning to see that not only can I develop and train mission teams, I can then deploy them to go change the world. I want to see people interact with new and different cultures and help them process the experience they are having. I want to invest in other people's dreams and help them strategize on how to bring them to fruition.

God has created each of us with HUGE destinies that are uniquely designed for US. We aren't competing with anyone to do anything, but if we don't pick up our dream and run, someone else will. So we can't be afraid. We have to get out there and start dreaming and start pursuing and start bringing love to this world. All creation is longing for the sons and daughters of God to be revealed. To rise up. To know who they are and be who they are to this world. It's time to rise up and to shine.

Dreams Pt. 2

Dream 1: I have had two dreams with the Obamas. The first one was:

Barack and Michelle Obama had come to Bethel Atlanta to visit. They were staying with the Coopers. The Coopers were showing them around their house.

Number 2:

Barack and Michelle wanted to start coing to ministry school and church with us. They wanted to be trained up by the Coopers and our teams. They came on several firestorms with our second year class, and kept asking lots of questions trying to understand how we did ministry.

The second dream about the Obama's is very significant. Paul Manwaring helped me to see the significance of it on Sunday at church through his message. He talked about how we need to get people out of the church. We shouldn't be training up followers...we should be training up leaders that will then take what they've learned and use it for the world. He said we should be having government leaders come to our church because of our training...because we are known for equipping and sending out, for giving vision, purpose, and tools to fulfill dreams. So that solidified that what he was saying was something that God was wanting to do. We need to get our talented and gifted believers out of the church so that the world can be impacted with God's love. It isn't the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Recent Dreams

I dream all the time. Every night I feel as if there is something significant God is trying to tell me. In talking to Jasmine at work yesterday, I was compelled to write down more of my dreams on my blog. I journal them as often as I can, but let's be honest...I get tired of doing that. So here are snapshots of my dream life from this past week.

Series 1- I've had several dreams about me being pregnant and giving birth. The most significant and recent of these dreams was 3 nights ago. I was several months into being pregnant and Bill Johnson was in town for his conference in December. I started going into labor during the conference and Lauren Brownlee took me to the hospital. My family also came but they sat outside the hospital building...not even coming inside. Lauren went with me into the delivery room. We were told we needed to go there in case they weren't able to stop my contractions (I still had 4 months to go). So Lauren and I went into the delivery room, they gave me an IV (a new kind that I'd never seen before), and before long the contractions had stopped and I was free to leave.

My only thought so far about this dream is that I am about to birth something in the Spirit, but it is not yet time. Bill coming to Atlanta will perpetuate the growth of this "baby" or "dream," but it will still not be time for it to be released. So I've just been declaring that this dream will be born at its appropriate time.

Dream 2: I was sitting in church, and a girl I know from church in Marietta was standing at the front of the room with her husband. The pastor was telling us a story about this little girl somewhere in the Asian Pacific who's parents had passed away. She had grown up abused and raped for most of her life, and now she had no where to go. The pastor continued to tell us that my friend and her husband were adopting this little girl and that they were going to pick her up that week. I started crying because this is a huge dream of mine, to adopt someone in a hopeless situation. After the pastor finished, my friend caught my eye and came up to me. She told me the next child in this situation would be mine.

For years I've wanted to adopt children from all over the world. I want kids of every color and ethnicity in my household. Korea has been the main place that I've wanted to adopt from, but recently my heart has been opened to parts of Africa and Eastern Europe. I don't necessarily want to go through an agency that is going to take a year+ for us to complete the process. I'd rather hear of a need and jump at the chance to adopt a child out of his/her present situation. This dream gave me hope that there'd be a way for it not to take months and months for me to have a child. I feel like God is clarifying my vision and dream for me and showing me that there is a possibility to do things differently than most.

I'll try to continue to post dreams as often as I can. However, sometimes there are ones I can't share for various reasons. I'm still learning how to steward this gift that God has given me so I'll be posting those that I am able to share, and those that I've received revelation on. I hope you will be encouraged by my dream journey.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Islam on Capitol Hill

Several weeks ago, I had a dream that I thought nothing about at the time. I dream constantly so at some point, I just have to be selective about the ones that I pray into more and question. So I didn't realize the significance of this dream until last night at ministry school.

I dreamt that Ahmadinejad (the current leader of Iran, whom the United States does NOT have a good relationship with) and another man came to North Carolina. I saw them in a boat out on water at night, and they were building a bomb.

I talked to a coworker about the dream the next day because she's from Iran and we had a laugh about it. However she made sure to mention that if he ever came to the US, that would be a terrible thing. We don't have a good relationship with him, nor does he have a good relationship with us. Most peace talks have been anything but peaceful.

So fast forward to last night at ministry school. Audra got up and wanted to share something with the class before things got going. She told us that this Friday, all the Muslims in the country are called to come and pray at the Capitol in Washington, DC for 15 hours. They want it to be a day of "unity" for Islam. Buses are being sent out from every state to bring as many Muslims as possible to DC. As if that wasn't significant...that 50,000+ Muslims are gathering to pray together....Audra then said that they would be led by Ahmadinejad and another man, Qaddafi.

As soon as she said that, I remembered my dream. As a class we spent 15 minutes interceding for all the Muslims in the country. Bethel has such a strong stance on not praying destruction or anything negative on anyone, so we just released blessing over the Muslims. We released encounters with God...that they would experience God in radical ways on Friday...and that God would show up and His presence would be undeniable.

I shared my dream with some of our leaders and we were seeing that the bomb that I saw was not necessarily a physical bomb, but that Ahmadinejad and Qaddafi were going under the radar, and they were wanting to release something in our nation that will forever change the face of it. Never have I been so motivated to rise up in my identity and exercise my authority as a follower and lover of God.

History belongs to those who pray. We, as Christians, have been given all authority. And we have a responsibility to stand up in the face of potential adversity and to declare and pray the opposite. The Church cannot afford to sleep through this huge and potentially earth-changing event. This is the time when our identities are called forth. We are given a chance to alter the course of history. If we do nothing, nothing will happen. And nothing will change. We can call forth heaven. And we have a responsibility to do that this Friday. So ARISE AND SHINE FOR THE GLORY OF THE LORD RISES UPON YOU.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dreaming Big


I have two dear friends at work that are about to take a huge step of faith and follow their dreams.

They've been married for 5 years and have always wanted to end up in Colorado. For awhile they thought that they wanted to open up a Chick-fil-A out there, so he's been finishing school and training to be an operator, while she has been doing marketing for Chick-fil-A. Long story short, they met a couple who is moving out to Colorado to plant a church and Jasmine and Adam have decided to go with them. They are leaving their condo, furniture, jobs, and unfinished school in Atlanta and embarking on a brand new journey together. They are trusting that all the appropriate doors will open, that they'll find a place to live, get furniture, new jobs, and be able to build a church from the ground up. Dream pursuing is not for the faint of heart.

I'm so encouraged by them because so many people have big dreams and things they want to do, but never manage to take the first step. But Adam and Jasmine are some of the first people that I've known to just drop everything and pursue the things God has placed inside of them. They may never finish their work at Chick-fil-A, but they know that Colorado is where they want to be, so they're going to start there. And be in a state that they love, with the beautiful Rockies out their back door, pressing into God's heart for what He wants to do in Colorado. They are living life bold and unhindered, and radically chasing their dreams. Getting to watch the beginnings of this process is such a joy and a privilege for me.

I want to chase after my dreams the way that Adam and Jasmine are doing. Abandoning all that's familiar, and straining towards the promises that lay ahead. God has so many great things in store for us, but sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zones and trust that He wants to give us all that is in our heart to do. So let's dream big and press in further for the courage to move out in faith.

"And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues....they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." Mark 16:17-18


Monday, August 24, 2009

Books

"You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read."
-Charles E. Jones


I love this quote...mainly because I love to read and I love to meet people. Now if only I can read the books that are enjoyable and edifying and meet the people that will leave lasting impressions.

I've been devouring books recently. This summer I read Angels and Demons, Sheet Music, Dance Into Destiny, The List, My Soul Cries Out, and the Time Traveler's Wife. Each book was incredibly different and fun to read. I decided I had to put the religious, self-help books aside and start grabbing for more real pieces of writing. Writing that had personality, character, compelling stories and Truth that was hidden between the lines. The Time Traveler's Wife was one of my favorites that I read. It's so interesting to watch authors unfold themselves through page after page and chapter after chapter. You learn so much about an author by the way they write and the words and phrases that they use. The things that they choose to highlight or conceal. In some ways I feel as if I'm getting to know people through reading eclectic stories with lots of personality. So I'm going to try to keep up devouring books, especially the ones that allow me to experience other people in new and different ways.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ordinary

I will not be satisfied with ordinary. I will not be satisfied with an ordinary marriage, or an ordinary household, or an ordinary job, or ordinary friends, or an ordinary life. The God I serve is not ordinary, therefor I will not be ordinary.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Little Known Facts About Me...

1. I still use strawberry Lip Smackers lip gloss at age 24.
2. My favorite smell is an apple pie baking.
3. I love to read things my friends have written- thoughts, poems, songs, books, blogs, etc.
4. I've never had a hair cut that I've loved.
5. My sweet husband Patrick gets better every day. Every day he gives me a reason to love him more.
6. I will always have cats.
7. I circulate between the same meals at every restuarant...usually something glazed or with teriyaki sauce.
8. I'm terrified of being pregnant and giving birth... and will do anything I can to get out of it.
9. I wish I could live at Bethel.
10. I love to travel, especially to places where I can still shower regularly and use a western style toilet.
11. I love doing creative things but most of my inspiration comes from something someone else has already done (Love you Frankie). What's original these days anyway?
12. I cover my ears in the shower so they don't get wet.
13. I don't eat vegetables, but I eat everything else. :)
14. I'm deathly afraid of the ocean, and usually wear platform shoes or heels if I have to go in.
15. I love to bake and create my own recipes.
16. I have a 2 year old sister and I feel as if she is my own child and sometimes wonder why she can't live with me.
17. I love the fall in a big way. There's something in the crisp air, warm drinks, beautiful leaves and scarves that makes me the happiest person on the planet. I always feel confident and free in the fall.
18. I don't wear tennis shoes and socks with pants.
19. I have so many things that I want to do in my life, and I'm afraid of pursuing one thing because I feel like I'd be missing out on other things.
20. I love taking walks near the river or in the mountains.
21. I'd like to think of myself as very easy going, but I'm totally not. I'm working on that though.
22. The song "Heavenly Day" will always change my mood and take me back to my wedding day...which was the most perfect day of my life thus far.
23. I love letters and emails and notes and messages from friends. Words are my love language.
24. Kittens, warm blankets and pastries are also love languages of mine.
25. My dad is the most generous person I have ever known and I pray that I would possess even a fraction of his compassion and generosity for others that he has.
26. I love a good book on a porch or by a fire.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Something Weighty

If anyone knows me, they know that I have the hugest heart for adoption. I long to take the children of the world who have no one and give them a family full of love, support, grace, and encouragement. Adoption has been my deepest heart's cry as long as I can remember. I think it would be amazing to have my own children. To have children that look like me and have mine and Patrick's quirks and mannerisms. But there is something inside of me that is not satisfied with leaving millions of children on the streets, with no one there to hold them or to give them a better life. No one to give them undivided attention or take them to dance or soccer practice. No one to teach them how to share or how to navigate through the awkward middle school years. No one to just be there.


There are 143 million children in the world with no place no call home, and no woman to call "mom" and no man to call "dad." And I want to bridge that gap. I want to contribute to the number of decreasing orphans in the world. I want to adopt everyone.


Tonight I watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition with the Kadzis family. This is the most inspiring family I have ever seen. For the last two hours I have been sobbing uncontrollably. George and Barbara Kadzis had a son of their own, and then they adopted 6 more children from China...5 of which have special needs. One is deaf, one is blind, two have cleft palates that have required multiple surgeries, and one is missing bones in his right arm. They live in a 4 bedroom house with 1 bathroom. About a year ago, George Kadzis found out that he had brain cancer. They removed the tumor, but said there was no way to know whether or not the cancer would return. Sure enough, the cancer returned and ravaged his frail body with no warning. It was George's dying wish that his family have a better and safer home to live in. George was on all of the videos, but when it came time to do the show, he was in the hospital. Three days after his house was finished he passed away, never having seen his dream fulfilled.


At the beginning of George and Barbara's adoption processes, George went to see Stevie Wonder in concert. He was in awe of what a miracle it was that Stevie could play the piano and compose such beautiful music, despite his disability. So George decided to find a way to use music to unite their unique Chinese family. Each child played an instrument and had composed countless of their own pieces. The last surprise for the Kadzis family was a music room, full of new instruments and equipment to record their own music. When the family walked in, Stevie Wonder was sitting down at the new grand piano playing it for the family. He continued to play while the family talked to him and asked him questions, and then he sang the song "I just called to say I love you," but he changed the words to "George just wants to say he loves you." It was George's dying wish that his family have everything they need in his absence. Stevie Wonder singing this song to them was so sweet to me.


I turned off the television having witnessed such extravagant love and devotion. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I loved watching this precious family lean on each other and teach each other. I loved watching Barbara care for her husband so well and lavish her love on him in too many ways to count. She was so proud to be his wife. She was so proud of her beautiful family. Never has anyone exemplified love the way that Barbara and George have. Love for each other. Love for not just the orphans, but for "the least of these." The very, very least of these.


"Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:18

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rants Part 2

First of all, I'm a poor time manager. You give me 3 hours to work out, catch up on some reading, have a snack and put a load of wash in the washing machine, and instead I'll choose to watch a full 3 hours of America's Next Top Model without getting up during the commercials. Regardless of how productive I can be at work, when I get home and have no plans, I'm worthless. I have a dream of reading countless books each week, painting beautiful pictures, being really creative with second-hand stores and fabrics, getting into a deep Randall Worley-type study of the Bible, cooking elegant dishes, and soaking in God's presence every afternoon. But what will I do with my time instead? I'll watch Gilmore Girls, Oprah, America's Next Top Model, the Bachelorette, So You Think You Can Dance, and an occasional Real World episode on MTV. I know, real mature. I'm 24 and have done very little classical reading, have hardly developed any sort of work-out routine, have used our iron once, and effortlessly cook many of the same meals week-to-week. Maybe there's a support group for people like me. Then again, maybe it's just called maturity.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rants

Typically I love a good serious, thought-provoking, faith-inspiring exposition. However today, I'm just in the mood to rant about all sorts of things. So grab a drink, sit down, put your feet up, and enjoy a taste of my life.

First of all, birthdays are really important to me. The last few birthdays I've had have not been great. Last year only one of my close friends called me to tell me happy birthday. Each memory of my birthday brings with it an onslaught of terrible thoughts and memories. However this year, I felt so blessed on my birthday. Still none of my close friends from college came to celebrate (but at least they all called!), but there was still an incredible group of people with us. Most of them I've only known the last year or two, but it's been amazing how close we've gotten so quickly. So Mexican (Buffalo chicken quesadillas), Mango Margaritas, mojitos, hookahs, cheesecakes and other desserts made for a great night. As well as some of GREAT gifts.

Secondly, my friend Kristin and I have started a bra company. Affectionately called "Dueling Gazelles." We figure women need a Victoria's Secret quality store, but one that's a little less pricey for such small amounts of fabric. So far our "line" ideas are: "Purity", complete with hidden Scriptures throughout the seams; "Forbidden Fruit", quite possibly scented with fruit embellishments; "Armor of God" which is more of a bondage themed line, but unique and wearable nonetheless. Who doesn't want to feel hot under their clothes? No one has to know but you, and I'm sure you'd walk around with 15 times more confidence than normal- but maybe that's because this line would also be completely bullet-proof and flame retardant. Yep, it's that good and multi-purposed (inspired by the woman who got shot and her underwire kept the bullet from getting to her heart). We're still working out the details of our "Cupcake/Dessert" line but haven't gotten it quite sorted out yet. However we do have a conflict with our name. We were hoping for a really clever Song of Solomon reference, and "Dueling Gazelles" is what we came up with. But when we studied Song of Solomon a little further, we learned that the man is called a gazelle and the woman is called a stag. Yikes. So essentially our name means "Fighting Men." Great. Although catchy, it speaks to the potential problems with our garments, rather than the solution we want our customers to be drawn to. So we're open to suggestions.

Last rant: I think I deserve a prize for healthiest eater. And by healthiest eater, I mean most horrific and terrible eater. I hate vegetables. I started to work on tomatoes and peppers, only to find Im developing slight allergies to those. Awesome, really making progress here. I also learned that my system is too acidic which means....cut down on the fruit. Really? Thats the only healthy thing I eat, and you're telling me I eat so much of it that its actually having a negative impact on my health? You've got to be kidding me. My response: first I made French Toast with powdered sugar and syrup. Then I had an ice cold coca cola classic with a homemade chocolate chip cookie. I made sure to work out first so that I wouldn't feel so guilty about such a great meal, but one lap around the apartment complex and 10 lunges hardly puts a dent in the amount of powdered sugar and syrup I used on my French toast (but i did wear ankle weights!!). But I felt better about it for sure, and let's be honest...that's really all that matters.

Thanks for reading and maybe I'll post a few more rants soon. I'm slacking on my blogging. Sorry.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Social Justice

Recently over the last few weeks I've become exposed to the need for social justice. For years I thought social justice was merely a "liberal" thought or tactic for people to gain money and recognition for themselves or their organization, or it was for people who had nothing better to do with their time...people that wanted to help but had a few lousy ideas that sounded good, but weren't practical and realistic. Or maybe it was just for people who wanted to look like the "church," rather than just BE the "Church."


Straight up, social justice just wasn't for me.


I didn't understand the issues, I didn't understand the importance. I didn't know the facts, and I didn't understand the heart of the matter. But a lot of things have changed over the last few weeks. I ended a year of spending time with the homeless in downtown Atlanta every Sunday, I've been following a lot of stories from Heidi and Rolland Baker in Mozambique, as well as Compassion International. I've also gotten plugged into Exodus Cry...a group based out of IHOP Kansas City that deals with raising awareness and building prayer momentum for the sex trafficking industry. All of these things have shaped my view and my heart on what social justice is really all about.


On our last day at Taskforce for the Homeless, the poorest and least-equipped homeless shelter in Atlanta, we discovered something that might have changed the way we did ministry all along. We learned that even this poor, dilapidated shelter provided the homeless men with MARTA cards, bus passes, ids, access to computers, telephones and beds. Churches came in every day of the week serving 3+ hot meals a day and delivering clothes to the men and women. The homeless were not without at all. They receive social security checks and welfare checks every two weeks...some checks are for even more than Patrick and I get week to week. But for some reason these men are still homeless. They have access to just about anything they need, but they are still homeless. No amount of government money or aid is going to encourage them to get out of their situation. The streets of Atlanta are comfortable and familiar.


So what's the problem?


After reading through some blogs of those on the Compassion trip to India right now, and hearing stories from Mozambique and Thailand....there are some significant things that I've started noticing. 
One: There are many countries that are so poor that there is no option to work harder and make more money. When your crop fields are flooded, and so is your entire country...there are very few resources. Even the government can't do anything. When your town doesn't have roads to it, it's hard to bring relief in. When everyone in your town lives in mud shacks, it's very hard to find the money or resources to live in something different. 
Two: Those that have nothing are the most hungry. The homeless in Atlanta are not hungry. I'm not talking about physical hunger, I'm talking about spiritual hunger. The kind of hunger that can linger on one simple Truth about Jesus for months. The kind of hunger that searches for answers when there are no answers. The kind of hunger that burns deep and won't stop until something inside is satisfied. 

The thing is, we can't change people's hearts or mindsets. We can do things to call forth dreams and creativity, but we can't stir up someone's hunger. And the people that aren't hungry, don't want answers. But there are countless people that are hungry, but don't have access to the answers. Like the poor in Mozambique, or India, or those involved in the sex slave trade. Even some of the homeless. It's our responsibility to provide answers when there are none, even if the people aren't hungry. 

Sometimes you don't realize how hungry you've been until you have eaten and gotten full. 

So we can't withhold answers just because someone doesn't "look" hungry. Because deep down, they are probably hungrier than they realize. Hungry for love. Hungry for Truth and for grace. Hungry for honesty and generosity. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Go Green




So, it might be time for me to jump on the "Go Green" bandwagon. Why not learn how to be more efficient with your energy and money?


Today Oprah provided a variety of small ways that make a huge difference in the impact on our environment. One of my favorite being making your own cleaning supplies! Click here to see how some basic household items (vinegar, water, baking soda...etc) clean well but are also great for the environment (can save you up to $600 a year). 


There are tons of other ways to make your home more green. For example: 


1.Clean out your dryer lint regularly to help increase the efficiency of your dryer and lessen the amount of power needed to dry your clothes (not hard and keeps your bill lower). 

2. Switch from incandescent lightbulbs to LED bulbs. Although they are just short of $40 to start, they last for ten years and save you $740 over the life of the bulb, as well as being way better for the environment. 

3. Use weather stripping around all the openings in your house to keep out the unwanted heat/cold. 

4. Keep your blinds closed when you aren't home so that your house is not heated unnecessarily.

5. Invest in a water aerator that cuts the amount of water that comes through your faucet by 1-5 gallons daily. They are $2 and don't change the pressure you feel coming out of the faucet. 36 towns will face droughts over the next few years so this is a way to reduce the amount of water you use, as well as cut down on your bill.

6. By buying a water purifying pitcher for $30, you save over $300 a year in bottled water (not to mention how much better it is for the environment to not be using so much plastic.

7. Drive the speed limit, reduce the amount of aggressive driving and lane switching and save money on gas. 

8. Use only reusable containers for lunches, snacks and water. 

9. Choosing to not eat meat one day a week is the equivalent of taking 20 million mid-sized sedans off the road. By pushing meat aside, you bring fruits and vegetables to the center of your plate which means you eat healthier. 

10. Eat foods that are living and will eventually rot. Processed foods cause the most waste while also taking the most fossil fuel to produce. Eat foods around the outer ring of the grocery store, that's where the healthier choices are. 

11. If you can afford it, buy organic and sustainably grown food. Most regular fruit and vegetables only have 50% of their original nutrients (requiring you to eat more in order to get all the benefits), while organic and sustainably grown food still have a majority of their nutrients. 


I've never been a "tree-hugger" but many of these suggestions save you money, protect the environment, and are ten times healthier. Why not choose to go green?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Excerpt from "Always Enough"

     "They were hungry, tired and penniless. This was our first conference in Nampula Province, a major event. Some of our pastors had walked from their villages for two days without food to get here, sleeping on the dirt by the side of the road at night. Others walked four days, and one six days-to learn from us. All came with only the poor, threadbare clothes on their backs. Now they were all waiting to see what we would do. Guy asked them, 'What are you most afraid of?' 'That our children will starve to death while we are here,' they answered simply. They didn't even know how they would survive going home. What did we have to say?

     Heidi and I deliberately came to Mozambique to face situations like this. We came to test the Gospel and strip from our preaching everything that didn't work and wasn't the Truth. We came to give people the living Jesus, not to try out our mission strategy on them. We came to love the poorest of the poor into the Kingdom, not to promise them a cheap road to health and wealth. We came asking Jesus to kill us, destroy us and remake us however He wanted so that we would be useful to Him here. And now we faced the test. 

     These people were suffering. They were sick and weak. They had seen their children die in their arms. Muslims persecuted them. They saw no hope outside the Good News we brought. So we preached the purest, simplest messages we could, straight from Scripture. We had no confidence in any other ideas we might have. They needed words that the Holy Spirit would back up. They needed to know what Jesus will bless and support, what will attract His company and presence. They needed content they could depend on to the death."


These are three of the most significant paragraphs in this book to me, for obvious reasons. I love these paragraphs, they are so challenging and life-speaking to me. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Always Enough

So, I'm reading a book right now that is plucking every heart string that I have. It is called "Always Enough" by Heidi and Rolland Baker. Heidi and Rolland are missionaries in Mozambique and they work among the poorest of the poor. They spent years in Hong Kong and Indonesia living in trash dumps and slums with people. Then they ended up in Mozambique with orphans from the streets. Children that would get dropped off on their doorstep that had been abused and raped and watched their parents be killed...and Heidi and Rolland would just listen to them and hold them and love them. They found ways to get food and shelter and clothing for these children and show them the love of Jesus. And what started out as a handful of children from the dump turned into hundreds, and now there are over 7 thousand of children that Heidi and Rolland are "parents" of. 


They planted several churches over the course of a few years, and then they got radically touched by God's presence in Toronto. Once touched by the Presence of God, they came back to Mozambique and started thousands and thousands of churches in a very short amount of time...full of thriving people who are seeing God show up in so many ridiculous and unexpected ways. 


They live so much on God's faithfulness that they would not be able to live if God didn't show up. They have very little money or possessions and count on God every single day. Their hundreds of children wouldn't eat if food wasn't multiplied daily. They see the blind and deaf healed regularly and have reported over 100 people being raised from the dead. Everything is about the love of Jesus in Mozambique. They feast on the love of Jesus. They spend hours in praise in worship every day. They love to talk about God and the miracles that He is doing among them. 


When Heidi and her teams go to new villages, they call up all the blind and deaf and heal them. Once the town sees these people that they've always known to be blind or deaf, healed, they immediately are open to hearing the Gospel. Heidi's team then shows the Jesus film and spends time ministering to the village. It is so cool that God is so good and powerful and full of love and hope, that people can be brought out of any circumstance and be transformed through one touch by the Father. 


www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6oB0UTwNK0  This is a video with some clips of Heidi in Mozambique. Just thought you might be interested in seeing "Mama Aida" (Mama Help) and her precious children in Mozambique. www.irismin.org/p/home.php   This is the Iris Ministries website. 


I definitely encourage anyone and everyone to read the story "Always Enough" and see how good and faithful God is despite some horrific circumstances. 




Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Psalm 126


When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with joyful shouting. Then we will say among the nations "The Lord has done great things!" 


Ps. 126:1-2

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Guyana pictures

Above: our group on the boat
Below: Patrick and I after "playing" Pahgwah



Above: the house where we stayed
Below: a typical house in Guyana...up on stilts with a stream that runs in front of the house

Above: Part of our group in the "black water"
Below: where the boys slept on the porch

Above: a Guyanese woman
Below: Our group minus Alan Winter 

Above: berries at the market
Below: Patrick and I on the front of the boat

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Home from Guyana

We are home from Guyana! What an incredible trip we had. God is so good and faithful all the time.


Some highlights of the trip include:

  • all 14 members of the team staying in one pastor's house
  • eating extravagant amounts of East Indian food (lots of curry)
  • trying countless new fruits none of us had ever heard of
  • seeing over 240 instant miracles!!!
  • lots of Guyanese came to know the Lord
  • we "celebrated" Pahgwah with the natives (a Hindu holiday)
  • the boys slept in hammocks on the upstairs porch
  • we took a boat across the Demerara river and then up a long winding tributary with a picnic of bbq chicken, macaroni and cheese, rice, vegetables, a homemade heart-shaped lemon cake with icing, and a cooler full of water, sprite and coke
  • we visited an Amer-Indian Reservation accessible only by boat
  • we swam in "black water"- it gets its name due to the large amount of tanic acid in it that comes up from the ground
  • we all preached and led at least one service a piece
  • we saw the largest wooden structure in the world (an old church in Georgetown, the capital)
  • getting well acquainted with all sorts of bugs that bit- I had over 40 bites and a rash that made parts of my arms and legs swell up pretty bad
  • we rode on a horse carriage/buggy one afternoon
  • learned how to play cricket with a nationally known cricket umpire
  • ate lunch with one of the highest ranked military officials of Guyana
  • learned about the different forms of Hinduism
  • spent several days at Save-R-Kids Children's Home and had a chance to pray over and give words to every single child individually
  • then the children put on a singing/dancing program for us
  • had lemon shandy- a low alcohol content beer that is a very popular drink in Guyana
  • got up at 4am in order to get to the airport in time and to start our 18+ hours of travel

Although this isn't an exhaustive list, it still gives you an idea of some of the things we got to do. The list of spiritual things that happened and that we learned would take up an entire set of encyclopedias. We saw God show up in some strange and crazy and awesome ways. I'd love to share if you want to hear more! Shoot me an email at maryhwest@gmail.com or call me. Pictures are up on facebook, but I'll post some here as soon as I can. Thanks to everyone who gave generously to this trip! It really was remarkable.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them beauty instead of ashes, oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of dispair. The will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. Is. 61:1-3

Listen to "Desert Song" by Hillsong on youtube...I listened to this a lot.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Guyana


Tomorrow I leave for Guyana and I couldn't be more excited. The coolest thing to me is that we're the first mission team being sent out from Bethel Atlanta. Last night at school we had a chance to be prayed over and get words from everyone for our trip. That definitely revved me up like crazy. I feel like our whole class is getting to travel with us. We've become such a tightly knit group that one person's victory is everyone else's victory. So I know that we're going to advance the Kingdom and re-claim territory for more than just us. 


Guyana has a really unique mixture of people. It's one of the only non-Spanish speaking countries in Latin America and most of it's residents come from either Hindu and Muslim influence.  I've been fortunate enough to do lots of different mission trips before, but this is one trip that will be completely new and different and challenging to me. I'm excited to learn about the Guyanese culture and to really  be stretched. 


I've been reading the Happy Intercessor by Beni Johnson and it has revolutionized the way I pray for different things. It's all about how to get strategies from heaven on how to pray. What's been cool is that I've been digging into this book before our mission trip so its been neat to see some different things in God's heart for Guyana. I'll be excited to get down there and  see what I have heard clearly from God and what I haven't. It's so important that we keep checking ourselves and fine tuning our Spirit so that we can start to hear more clearly and act more effectively. God is so good and wants to show up in big ways in Guyana. I can't wait to see what happens!


Love you guys!






Saturday, February 21, 2009

Best Friends Reunited!!


So....let's just say, God is good. All the time.


When I first met Christina, I thought surely someone like her in the world couldn't actually exist. Fortunately for me, I was wrong. I met her one of my first weekends at UGA and it truly was love at first sound (we had a long talk on the phone before we actually met in person).  Her brother was the college pastor at my home church and he was insistent upon us meeting each other. So we talked on the phone and met at a Starbucks in downtown Athens one night. We must have talked forever and very quickly learned that our friendship was very different from anyone else's. 


Christina is one of those people that you feel instantly known by. She automatically sees good and beauty in people and allows them the freedom to be themselves. She is radiant and compassionate, gracious and honest. Two or three years into our friendship I came to the conclusion that our friendship mirrored that of David and Jonathan. She got to know me quicker than anyone ever has and found ways to meet me where I was at. She would crawl into the dark places with me or she'd celebrate any victory. She'd pray for me and fight for me in ways I couldn't believe. We both used to study and do terrible on all the same tests. I maintain that we are both very smart but horrific at taking tests. We could talk about anything for hours and enjoy the most random things. I liked to think that she was the introverted version of myself. However, she knew how to act like an extrovert. 


Unfortunately, through a system of events, we took a 2 1/2 year hiatus on our friendship. We were both hurt through several things that started as out of our control but motivated us each to make some poor decisions that didn't help our friendship. We slowly backed away from each other for different reasons and in the summer of '06 parted ways. 


But the good news is GOD IS GOOD. So so good. Full of healing and restoration and beauty. He has brought the most precious person in the world back to me. And I feel so honored and blessed right now. I feel like part of my heart is back again. Christina is truly the most beautiful and compassionate person in the whole world, and I hope you all have an opportunity to meet her. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Day Eve

This is a picture of the 12 roses Patrick sent me at work! He really is an incredible husband in so many ways. I am beyond blessed by his love for me.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Least of These

Today we had homeless outreach after church. I'm never excited to go because it makes Sunday such a long day, but I'm always happy I go when I get down to the parking lot where all the homeless wait in line for lunch. They brighten my day every week. 


It's been especially cool to see the expectation level in our group rise. We've seen some awesome miracles and each week we go down to the parking lot expecting God to show up in a bigger way today than He did last week. We're constantly seeking out the "greater things" that Jesus tells us we will do. 


Last week and this week there has been a rise in demonic activity, but there has also been a rise in the Presence of God. Last week and this week we had people get out of wheelchairs, stop needing their canes because their arthritis they've had for 10+ years has stopped bothering them, ears open up, sinus pressure and pain gone, degenerative disc disease completely leaving and crutches no longer being necessary, and so much more. We've gotten to hug on people, tell them how much God loves them, and speak life over them. 


One of our dreams for the homeless is that they'd start to realize their dreams and start to pursue them. 2-3 weeks ago we had such a change in the atmosphere downtown. One man told us that he hadn't been singing in awhile, and wanted to start up again. And this man was an incredible singer....similar to, but better than Kirk Franklin. He was unbelievable. He just stood in the parking lot among hundreds of others and just sang. Then we had a guy come up to us randomly and tell us that he loves poetry and that he used to go to open mic nights at coffee houses around Atlanta just to do "freestyle" poetry. You could give him any two words and he would fabricate this beautiful poem around them. We gave him "fearless love" and you would have thought he spent his whole life creating a poem around those two words. He had a lot of religious symbolism as well as stuff from his heart. The funny thing is that he didn't think before he started the poem or write anything down. It all just came spilling out of his heart. Thirdly we had a guy who sketches come show us all the art pieces he'd been doing over the last few weeks. Because he's homeless he only had an old notebook and some scrap paper, but I would have paid him to do a portrait for me. He would use pens or pencils and within an hour would do someone's entire body (the best was TI), shading and everything. I hope to post some pictures of his art soon. The talent among the homeless is unreal.


So we've been really encouraged in our time with the homeless recently. We've seen people get healed and we've seen creativity and dreams get stirred up. We have such a heart to see their passion for life restored. Only when they believe that they can go after their dreams and that they are worth them will they get up and go run after them. And if we do anything down there I hope that we communicate that they have those dreams for a reason. And that God put them inside of their hearts and has given them the capacity to see those dreams fulfilled. And I can't wait to see the dreams flow more freely and the passion and level of expectancy to rise up in them. It's going to be awesome. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

My favorite blog

http://whittakerwoman.typepad.com/whittaker_woman


So this is officially my favorite blog. I want to be this family...


This family has 3 children, one is their own, and their other two are adopted from Korea. On this blog, the mom has all the adoption videos posted...and if you know me, I want to adopt a million Asian children!! But it's not just the crayola-ness of this family that I love...


This family also does a cool thing called "Family Night" which they do every week or so (there's a tab on the right side of the page that tells all about each night). One night they did a "Snow" themed night...everyone wore their winter coats, gloves, hats, scarves...etc. They made a snowman on the table out of cotton and drank hot chocolate. They hung snowflakes everywhere and ate potato soup (they put cut up carrots and bacon in it to make the face of a snowman- they called it a melted snowman's face). Then they ate powdered donuts, or "snowballs" and then had a snowball fight with balled up white socks. Some other nights included Beach Night, Carlos' Night (Carlos is the dad), Paper Night, Baseball Night (Patrick can't wait to have children and have baseball night every night), Football/Cheerleader Night, Turtle Night, Back-to-School Night...and SO MANY MORE! these nights might not sound awesome, but if you look at this blog, you can see all the pictures, activities, outfits, food and decor that goes into every single family night! It's incredible. 


I want to be this family, including the Korean children. They're beautiful. 

Friday, January 30, 2009

Me

I stole this from Cam...but changed her answers. :)


I Am: interested in everything
I Have: too much time on my hands some days at work
I Think: that i should get to play outside all day
I Know: that God is good
I Dislike: the dark
I Miss: Athens in the spring
I Fear: that no one likes me
I Feel: a little insecure most days
I Want: to do great things and travel the world
I Smell: my pomegranite Orbit gum in my purse
I Crave: warm cookies
I Cry: when i feel really lonely
I Usually: don't use my free time wisely
I Search: for the good in everything
I Wonder: why I can't adopt the whole continent of Africa and Asia
I Care: about orphans
I Love: PATRICK and kitties and Libby Gray and Melanie, Evie, and Jessica
I Regret: not investing in people better
I Always: love to get letters and flowers
I Worry: that we focus too much on what we disagree on rather than what we have in common
I Am Not: a big fan of vegetables, or even a small one
I Remember: the kindergarteners in Tokyo that wear yellow plastic hats and yellow boots
I Dance: in dressing rooms and in front of mirrors...always
I Don't Always: think before i speak
I Write: whenever something moves my heart
I Win: only at state capital contests
I Wish: I could spend time in every country in the world
I Argue: more than i should
I Listen: to the sounds of children all day
I Lose: at most games
I Don't Understand: why adults don't get a summer break or spring break
I Can Usually Be Found: watching America's Next Top Model, Ellen, or 24
I Am Scared: of the ocean
I Need: lots of people around me all the time
I Forget: how blessed i am
I Am: excited about lots of things

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Love

"Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dreams are being fulfilled

Today dreams are being fulfilled.

I wrote the following in my journal last night during worship at Bethel:

"There is a joy in the room tonight during worship. We just watched Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I have a dream' speech. Our level of expectancy is rising in the room. Dreams from long ago are starting to be fulfilled. We are encouraged. And we're ready to see what's about to unfold.

Today is MLK Day. Who we are today as a class, church, city, state, and country is the fulfillment of a dream spoken of by MLK. We are the fulfillment of his dream he declared in 1963. Blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics and many others are gathered around together worshiping tonight, thanking God that MLK's dream came to fruition. 

Shawn Bolz is speaking in a little while and he once had a dream that a generation would be raised up that carried radical things. And that not just the leaders of a movement would hear from God, prophesy and heal, but that an entire generation would be equipped to do those things. We are a fulfillment of that dream. 

Tomorrow, President Elect Barack Obama will become the President of the United States. He will be the first black president. He will usher in equality, courage and compassion in a way that can only be done by him. He is an equal, and he is the fulfillment of a dream. " 

Today as I watched Obama accept the Presidency, I was overwhelmed with emotion. This is an awesome time in history and I feel so honored to get to be a part of it. 

I'm committed to praying for our new President. I want him to succeed. I want him to be honored. I want him to encounter God in new ways. I want him to increase in knowledge and wisdom. I want him to increase in compassion. He is a symbol of hope to so many Americans. I pray that God would use him powerfully to rally this nation together. We are powerful when we are unified. And as easy as it is to hate on someone you don't necessarily agree with, I am choosing to love and not hate. To speak highly of him and to bless him. And I am making a declaration that he will do things in this country that no other president has been able to do. He was brought in for such a time as this. He has something to offer this generation. And it's going to be awesome to see it manifest.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Year of Restoration

2008 was the "Year of New Beginnings." 


2009 is the "Year of Restoration."  I believe this refers to the restoration of apostles to the church. The restoration of the mothers and fathers of faith for this generation. Restoration of 5-fold ministry. Restoration of identities. Restoration of dreams. Restoration of relationships and hearts. Of purity and beauty. Of love and of what grace was intended to be (not just a ticket to heaven, but the keys that unlock realms of the impossible). 


One exercise we did in school several weeks ago was one regarding our identity and declaration. We all laid out on the floor and spent 1 1/2-2 hours asking God to tell us who we were. Soaking music played in the background as we started to see things in us that we always hoped would be there. Things that we never thought possible. Things that we'd been dreaming about since we were children. New things that seemed unfathomable, but were completely possible with a limitless God. The interns walked around and prophesied over us which helped confirm many of the things the Spirit was telling us. 


At the end of this time, many of us had written down page after page of all the things God had showed us. In a sense, God had cast a vision for us for our lives. 


One by one we lined up to make declarations to our class about who we were, and how God saw us. This was tough because God spoke to a lot of insecurities and lies that we believed about ourselves, and we had to stand in front of 70+ people and tell people the truth about who we were. The truth about what was deep inside of us. The truth that we had been concealing and hiding from others. The things we weren't ready for people to know. The things we didn't think we could steward once others knew about them. I wanted to share two different things here with you; who God told me that I am, and then my declarations and dreams that I have for the year 2009. 


I am a healer of hearts and relationships.
I will change the way people hear and think about God.
I make people feel at home.
I am a safe place for people. In me people can find rest. 
I carry radical grace and peace and I will continually walk into deeper and deeper levels of freedom.
I will see healing by touching without prayer.
I am marked for greatness.
I'm worth getting to know.
I carry an inner strength that can be imparted.
I am significant and loved.
I am beautiful. 
I am worth encouraging.
I am a treasure-hunter in heaven. 
I will have radical encounters with God and see visions and angels.
I carry a spirit of revelation.
I have the keys that unlock God's heart. 
I will carry the love of Jesus to hundreds of nations. 
I will see hospital numbers decrease and the need for hospitals decrease because sickness will no longer be able to hold a candle to the sons and daughters of God that are rising up and stepping into their identities.


For 2009:

I will see thousands healed. I will see nations being discipled. I will encounter God in new and radical ways. I will walk and grow in intimacy daily. I will see hearts healed. People will encounter God through my art. We will be blessed financially. Our dreams will increase 100-fold. Night-time sleep will be full of the sweetness of the presence of God. Revelation of Jesus and of heaven and of God's heart will happen daily. We will have angelic visitations. Patrick and I will go to places in the Spirit together. Our families will start to be transformed by the love that we carry and steward. Whenever we take territory, others will also get that territory (Deut. 11:24). Life will be abundant. We will see the dead raised and it will be normal. Patrick will get business ideas. I will find my place here and have clarity added to my passions and heart. 


The cool thing about dreams is that we can dream in two ways. One: we can dream dreams that are so big that they can't be completed in our lifetime. Two: we can dream dreams that would be impossible unless God showed up.  So....basically we need to dream BIG. bigger than we ever thought possible. Because God wants to show up in BIG ways. 


So start dreaming big dreams and let God show up. Dreams are being restored this year. :)