Friday, July 29, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins.
Leviticus 16:30

Have you ever felt like everything was going great, and then get that feeling that something bad is about to happen?  I had that feeling last week, except it isn't that I think something "bad" is going to happen.  I feel as if I am about to get challenged.  A challenge can be bad, if you look at it like that.  I like to look at it as God working on and making me stronger!

I had this feeling in my heart and deep in my gut that the Lord was about to challenge me in a way that He hadn't challenged me before.  I had this feeling that I would be stretched and have to depend on Him.  I know, I should already depend on Him for everything... And that is probably why He is about to do this. 

Let me say this before I continue- I am not saying this to brag.  I am saying this to give you an idea on how to look at a struggle that is ahead.  If a girl like me can do what I did, you surely can!  Now, I can say this...

I took this feeling and ran with it.  I knew that if God is going to challenge me, stretch me, and force me to depend on Him to make all my coming decisions, I needed to get started on the right foot.

Back in February, Pastor Steven challenged the staff and leaders of Elevation to juice and water only fast for five days.  It was called the 5:11 Favor Fast.  It was because our church was entering it's fifth year in 2011 (5:11), and we just wanted to thank God for where He had brought Elevation and where we were going. 

I remembered this, and remembered how it forced me to lean on God.  So, I fasted this week.  On day five, last time, I didn't want to get out of bed because I was so tired.  So, I fasted for four days.  This forced me to lean on God.  I wanted my mind to be in the right place going into this period of challenge.

I want to encourage you.  Lean on the Lord.  Get your mind in the right place.  For me it was fasting.  For you it may be opening your Bible every day, spending time alone with the Lord every day, learning how to be silent and listen to Him... Leaning on the Lord looks different for everyone.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

You asked...

Wayne from Writers in the Spirit asked, Your writing. What have you written? What motivates you to write? What do you aspire to write? When did you start writing? Who are your favorite writers?

When I was younger, I wrote poems.  I have not been inspired to write a poem in years.    For now, I just write on this blog. 

God motivates me to write.  He lays things on my heart, I type them as fast as I can to share with my blog followers.  Sometimes He lays something on my heart, I write it, but feel as if it shouldn't be shared for a while.  This, I feel is God's way of knowing that it was the right time for me to type it but not the right time for it to be read.  Sometimes, I will have something happen and know that I will write about it eventually but haven't figured out why, yet. 

My dream is to one day write a book. I don't know what I will write about, but I would love to be a published author. I don't have to become a New York Times best seller or anything, just publish a book!  I, also, think it would be amazing to get paid to write a blog.  It sounds wonderful, to get paid to write about what God lays on my heart... sigh.

I started writing after horrific incident when I was in 8th grade.  It was my way of getting out the hurt and pain that I was experiencing.

Favorite writers... That is a tough one.  My favorite blog to follow is Pastor Perry Noble.  I love his posts to leaders.  I always am challenged by them!  I loved Shel Silverstein growing up, and still enjoy reading his poems.  My favorite author is Clayton King.  And I wouldn't be a true Elevator if I didn't plug the Pastor in here somewhere!  Sun Stand Still by Pastor Steven Furtick changed my world. 

That was fun!  Blog followers, what else would you like me to write about?  Are there personal questions you have for me?  Are there any questions about religion or my beliefs on something that you would like for me to discuss? 

Friday, July 22, 2011

When You Listen to God...

I have to tell you an amazing story!  Prepare to have chills from head to toe.

Between four and six months ago, God began telling me that He wanted me in the Rock Hill/Fort Mill area.  Everyday that I would drive to work, my heart would break for that area.  I knew that this area needed God.  Ya know how sometimes things that God tells us to do don't make sense?  Often times we began to question GOD'S judgement... Kind of silly huh?

I didn't understand why I felt so strongly about this area.  I felt as if God was telling me to lead an eGroup in this area.  So, I told God one day, 'Really?  An eGroup here?  How?  No one in this area goes to Elevation.'  That day, I saw five Elevation stickers on cars.  What a way for God to confirm His need for me in this area. 

I accepted the challenge.  I began to pray about what kind of group He wanted me to lead, and figure out logistics for this group (being that I don't live near Rock Hill!). 

Let's fast forward a few months.  The weekend that Pastor Steven was going to announce the new campus, he sent a video out to leaders to tell us early.  When I read Rock Hill at the top, everything around me went quiet and I had chills from head to toe.  I didn't even know that Rock Hill was a consideration for the new campus!  I had friends who knew about my feelings toward that area calling me in shock. 

What a conformation from God!  I emailed Kelly, the eKidz director for Matthews to let her know what was going on and that I felt as if God needed me at the Rock Hill campus. 

I can't begin to express to you how excited I am.  Every time I think about Elevation:Rock Hill, my heart begins to beat faster and I want to explode with excitement. 

So, how can this apply to you? Has God ever told you to do something and you felt as if you weren't equipped with what would be needed to do that?  Have you ever felt like what God was telling you didn't make any sense?  I promise you that if you follow what God is laying on your heart, the reward will be far greater than you could ever imagine. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Q & A

Hey followers!  So, I have somethings that I would like to write about in the coming months.  The topics and titles are ready to go.  I just don't feel as if God is ready for me to write about them or for them to be out there just yet. 

So, in this transition period, I wanted to open the floor to you. 

What would you like me to talk about? 

Are there questions that I could answer for you?  Any topic that you would like to hear my opinion on?  I would love to write about it. 

The stats on my blog say that there are people reading my blog in Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, South Korea, and obviously the United States.  Sadly, it doesn't tell me where in the United States.  So, I also want to hear where you are reading from.  If you have a blog, I would love to read it, too!!

So... question you have for me/something you would like me to talk about, where you are reading from, and your blog!

I can't wait to hear from y'all!! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Ghost of Fourth of July's Past.

Let me start by saying, I am not sure where this post is going.  I just know I need to write.  :-/  Feel free to leave now because I may begin to ramble, and this may not really go anywhere.

I love fireworks. I love the sound of fireworks. I love how they look in the sky. I love the beauty of fireworks. I love how something so magnificent is inside something so small. It is pretty amazing. 

Fourth of July growing up was always my third favorite holiday.  Philip would by fireworks for weeks.  The Lockridges would come over.  There was often a cook out on the porch.  Victoria and I were not as interested in the hamburgers as we were looking for neighbors fireworks in the sky.  Philip would never shoot off fireworks until after 9:00, because otherwise it would be too bright outside.  Never a moment before 9:00.  We had the skin so soft lathered on, sparklers galore, and countless fireworks.  All of the lights in the house had to be off.  There were chairs lined up, Victoria and I always sat on the bench.  We would always sit and enjoy an amazing firework show.  Philip put together better shows than any professional could do. 

Yesterday was not so amazing.  I know I haven't been to Aiken to see one of Philips amazing shows since I was 14.  But, something about knowing that I missed out on six years of fireworks with him to work kills me.  Something about knowing that I will never get to see one of his amazing firework shows again, something about knowing my (future) kids will never get to see one of his amazing firework shows... It just breaks my heart.

I didn't want to be anti-social and lay in bed and cry like I wanted to.  I went to Nicki's house for firework extravaganza.  As I sat in her yard watching her husband shoot off fireworks, I couldn't enjoy it. 

I came home and watched the DVD created by the funeral home for his funeral.  I hadn't done that yet.  I cried so hard and so much that I had a headache.  I miss him so much.  I wish I hadn't been so selfish the past six years.  I wish I had spent them with him. 

(If you read through this, thanks.  I am officially balling my eyes out again.) 

Monday, July 4, 2011

All the Single Ladies

She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:12

I want you to read that a couple of times.  What do you notice that this verse says?  Does it say, She brings him good, not harm starting on their wedding day?  No!  Does it say, She is kind of good to him once they get married? Not quite.  Does it say, She begins to honor him once they meet? Nope!

What it says is... She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.  That means starting today.  It doesn't matter if you are single, dating, engaged or married.  It doesn't matter if you know your future husband or wife.  You need to begin to bring him/her good starting today.  All of the days of your life needs to start now! 

So, how do you do this?  You honor your future spouse with your actions.  You honor your future spouse with your thoughts.  You honor your future spouse with everything that you do.  Honoring them before you meet them is offering them a treasure that has no price tag. 

Confused?  Don't worry, I was rather confused at first.  I couldn't understand the concept of honoring someone who I didn't know.  But, the more I thought and prayed about it, the more God told me that this is the right way. 

This comes straight from the amazing book I am reading.  It is showing me how to lay the ground for an amazing marriage before I even meet my husband.  I know that there will be days when making these commitments will be hard and I will struggle.  I would be crazy to think this will be an easy road. 

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 
2 Timothy 2:22

Resource: When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric & Leslie Ludy

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Making His name famous

I am reading this book called When God Writes Your Love Story.  It is teaching me a lot about love.  But, I applied a principle from the book and it played out in a way that did not relate to love.  The other day I was reading.  The book was talking about glorifying God by your actions.  It said that we should ask God every day how we can make Him happy, how we can glorify Him.  Once we start living life like that, we will have a new perspective on life.  So, today... I wake up and pray to God. 

Lord, I ask that today you will give me numerous opportunities to make your name known.  I ask that you will give me the opportunity to make you happy.  If this situation has to be hard or uncomfortable, I ask that you still give it to me.  If it is easy, give it to me.  I want to make your name known today.  I want to make you happy today.  I want to glorify you with my actions today.  -Amen. 

And, this is the story about how I was able to make His name famous. 

I met an amazing girl for coffee.  She is pretty awesome, and I am pretty stoked for the new friendship she and I have.  It is going to be amazing.  Leaving coffee, I get into my car and am ready to head home.
An African-American man walks up to my car.  He mouths, "Do you have jumper cables?"  I roll down my window to apologize and tell him I did not.  He looked very hot.  He had sweat rolling down his face.  He says, "I think my alternator has died.  I went to AutoZone and I was $11 short.  Can I borrow $11?  I will give you my license, my phone, anything you want to hold onto.  I will bring the money back to you." 
Let me be honest.  I am freaking out inside.  What am I suppose to do?  I do not normally carry cash.  I would have typically said, "Sorry sir, I don't have any cash.  I wish I could help, but I can't."  But... I had cash.  I couldn't lie to this guy.  He said he had just left the hospital, had stints put in his heart, and shouldn't have even been out in the heat.  I did something that I would not have normally done.

I pulled out my wallet and handed him $15.  I told him to keep it.  It was $15.  I didn't need it back.  I know God had planned that situation, and I was suppose to let him have it.  Otherwise, I would have not had cash on me.  He says, "You must be a Christian."

What an interesting thing for him to say.  Have I always come off as a non-Christian by saying I didn't have money when asked for money by a homeless person?  I am a Christian.  This killed me to think that I have always said no, and I was apparently making my Father look bad.  Wow!

I said, "Yes sir, I am."  He asked me where I went to church.  I began to tell him about Elevation and our four campuses.  He asked me where I attended and said, "I want to be your guest."  I told him I went to Matthews, would be attending tonight at 6:00 and would love for him to be my guest. 
He said he will be there! 
He asked me to pray for him.  Many of you know how uncomfortable this makes me.  But, I did it!  He didn't tell me what to pray for, but we prayed! 

After we prayed, he left.  I sat in my car and reflected on this experience.  I could not believe what just happened.  God's hand was all over that situation.  I never carry cash!  But, yesterday at Target I felt the need to get cash back.  I got $20 but asked for a ten and two fives.  Interesting, huh?  I was at a Starbucks that I had never been to.  We were on East Blvd.  Interesting that I would be there, with cash on me, and have that situation....

I have had some time to process this, and all I can think is how I made God's name known by giving this man $15.  I could have been selfish and told him that I didn't have any cash, then gone to some fast food restaurant and used the cash that I could have given this man in need.  I would not have made God's name famous if I had done that. 

In what way can you make God's name famous by changing your actions ever so slightly?

Pastor Steven, Elevation staff and Elevation volunteers,
Thank you for teaching me about generosity.  Thank you for teaching me the "One Day Principle".  Thank you for equipping me with the skills I needed to glorify God in that situation.