Welcome to…

So, here’s the thing.  When you pray for God to move, to strike up revival, to use you, He might actually DO it.  I know the church has been praying for revival for a long time, but nobody actually expected (or, in my opinion, wanted) it.  Change is just too uncomfortable.  We like our lives.  American Christians enjoy complacency – surrounding ourselves with menial everyday things.  “God, meet us where we are but please don’t make us suffer.”

Kind of connected to this, and kind of on a buzz-high of a rant, here’s something crazy that’s going on in my life right now.

All black, fuzzy, out of focus.  The world of my dream hard to touch and easily forgettable.  Mind barely comprehending, confused and cloudy, separated from body and motion.  

And into my dream popped something so solid and real I knew it must truly be happening.

I was holding my phone.  It had to be mine, not a subconscious fabrication of desire.  The cheap walmart phone with nail polish on the “x” button and “i” beginning to peel.

There was a text message on the screen.  I couldn’t see who it was from, but I could clearly read it.  Acts 2:18.  “That’s cool,” I thought.  “Someone sent me a Bible verse.”

When I awoke from this experience several weeks ago, everything from that other world fell away.  Everything except the text message.  It was so real I could almost still feel the phone in my hand.

“Hey that’s pretty neat.  Jesus sent me a text message.”

The thought was half joking, but I was still curious to see exactly what verse I was sent.  I jumped out of bed (a RARE occurrence I assure you!), flipped on my desk lamp, and pulled out my Bible.  Opening to that passage I found that I’d highlighted that whole section of scripture.

What’s happened is that Peter stood up and addressed a crowd at pentecost, quoting the prophet Joel who had been speaking about the end times (read Joel 2:28-32 for the original).

My verse specifically was this (Acts 2:18):

“Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”

Wow, that’s pretty interesting.  But it really didn’t catch my attention.  “Yeah, prophecy’s not really my thing.  Sooooo….MOVING ON!”

I’ve been steadily reading through Paul’s letters, a few chapters every morning.  The day before I’d left off with 1 Corinthians 13 so, after my excursion into the book of Acts, I flipped to chapter 14 for my pre-class devotion of the day.

Check it out (1 Corinthians 14:1):

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”  

Hey now.

Especially the gift of prophecy?!  Both men and women?!

Okay, God, you’ve got my attention.

Of all spiritual gifts that I’ve ever read about or heard taught on, prophecy wasn’t ever one I was drawn to.  Healing, maybe.  But not so much this one.  In fact, my most common reaction to the “prophets of our time” is EXTREME SKEPTICISM.

Yet, as someone who doesn’t believe whatsoever in coincidence, I could not ignore this.  Unfortunately, chemistry lecture would not wait for the revelations of heaven, and I had to dash off to class.

But I couldn’t shake those verses, or the chills I had after reading them.  What in the world did it all mean?  And why was it directed at me?

Here I am.  Barely surviving school.  Sure I’m getting good grades.  But all I do is study.  Once again struggling with chronic illness and depression, struggling to find a solid group of friends, feeling generally emotionally raw.

And now I’m supposed to be a prophet or prophetess or whatever???

They thought I was weird before….

So here’s what I know.  After talking to my mom and studying scripture more thoroughly I have a more solidly biblical understanding of what a prophet is.  Not only can they foretell the future as a result of divine revelation, prophets are solidly grounded in truth.  They see what is wrong in the world and speak out against it with the authority of God.  Prophets have discernment from the Spirit in life’s situations.

Words of Wisdom.

That’s what my mom called it when I told her that I knew.  I knew about the situation my dad had gotten himself into a full year before it came out.  It was the ultimate thing that separated my parents three and a half years ago, and I knew about it.

How did I know?  Every time it would come to my mind I would shake it away.  No 14 or 15 year old child wants to believe such terrible things about her father.  But they were there.  And it all turned out to be true.

Time and again it has happened, these Words of Wisdom.  Something would come to my mind, sometimes something nice, often times something horrible.  Thoughts about people and situations.  STOP BEING SUCH A JUDGY PERSON, I would tell myself.  Then I would turn out to be right.  Frighteningly, terribly, inescapably right.

I haven’t had such a “Word” in a while.  But the fact that it’s happened before won’t leave my mind.  Especially in light of these most recent events.

Just over the past few days it keeps coming up.  Last night I went to a community group bible study for the first time (props to the crazy friend who dragged me out).  The leader is a seminary professor at my school and told us something crazy.  He and a ton of other professors on this campus have been praying fervently for revival to break out among and as a result of these students.  *cue chills*  Then this morning I heard a teaching that highlighted the spiritual gifts of Romans 12:6-8.  Guess which one caught my attention?  (Hint: more chills)

What does all of this mean?  How am I going to apply this in life to change the world for the cause of Christ?  Honestly, I don’t have the foggiest idea.  But it WON’T GO AWAY.  So here it all is.  We’ll see what God does.

Yet I will say this – it is clear that these are the end times.  And it is quite obvious that God has been moving in powerful ways.  So please permit me to say:

Welcome to revival.

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Mission Impossible

Although my title may conjure images of Tom Cruise wielding weapons and women through a film franchise, it is not what I want to talk about (yet!  I’m just now watching these movies for the first time…a post may very well be coming…)

No, I am returning (once again) to the topic of education.  More specifically, higher education.  This is the story of how God has directed my path over the last few months.  It has proven that not even the bureaucracy of our Nations educational system is too much for my God to handle.

Back in March, God laid it on my heart to NOT rush out of the States right away, but to stay and study here a while instead.  At the time I simply assumed that I’d attend community college for a while, get general course work out of the way, then transfer somewhere ‘bigger’.  I knew I couldn’t afford anything else!

Knowing that community college was imminent, I didn’t feel any pressing need to take a formal test.  (Refer back to previous posts for more thoughts, if you dare!)  So, no ‘prerequisite’ tests!  Well, that was my plan before my sister (Sierra) came up to me one day and said “By the way, you’re signing up to take the ACT with me and my friend.”  Okay then!

Fast forward about a month.  Just a random Friday, bumming around the house, working on homework, hanging out.  Pretty relaxed stuff, until I remembered that I was taking the ACT the next day!  Cue the panic.

After studying for about four hours I just gave up and handed the results over to God.  “I’m not going to need the scores anyway, because I’ll be going to community college” I told myself.  And up in heaven, God was laughing at me and my foolish assumptions.

Another month and a half go by.  I’d been *officially* accepted into community college (do they even reject people?).  And God pulled one of His I-won’t-let-you-get-away-from-this-topic things.

A university that I hadn’t even remembered hearing about before starting showing up EVERYWHERE!  I have friends going there, I met strangers going there, I saw commercials and heard ads on the radio.  Random people would bring it up when it didn’t fit into the conversation!  From complete anonymity to extremely in-your-face.  So I started looking into it…

I called the university to see what it would take to transfer in after a few years of community college.  They said, “Hey, well, why not go ahead and put in an application right now?  Do it over the phone.  We’ll waive the application fee!”

After giving them all my information, I remembered that a friend of mine going had just received a full-tuition academic scholarship.  When I asked about it, they said that I had to receive the scholarship the fall semester right after I graduated from high school, so I needed to send in the paperwork for it right away.

This happened THREE WEEKS AGO.  My friend had been awarded one of the last of these scholarships months ago.  But (thanks to much harassing from that particular friend) I finally overnighted the forms needed (thank you, Dad, for giving me the $20).

I got a letter in the mail telling me that I was accepted into the university – apparently no small feat – but I wouldn’t even consider going without this full-tuition scholarship.  How could I?  So I put it before God – a ‘fleece before the Lord’, if you will.  God if you want me to go to this school, let me know.  Please allow this scholarship to be the deciding factor in all of this.

But how could I possibly get this scholarship?  All the priority deadlines had passed months ago, I was way past late.  Talk about the eleventh hour!  Somewhere around 11:58…

Monday the 8th I was supposed to go to my community college and register for classes.  It had only been about a week since I sent in the scholarship forms, so I hadn’t heard anything about it yet.  Inner turmoil ensued!  Do I go ahead and register for classes then try to cancel them if I get the scholarship?  Do I wait to see if I get the scholarship before registering?  Will I know in time?  Is there even a chance I’ll get the scholarship? 

When I tried to call the community college to talk to them about it and explain my situation, nobody answered the phone.  I checked my email to see if they sent me the confirmation code for my appointment to register for classes, but it wasn’t there.  Nobody ever sent it.  I tried to call them again (14 times, to be exact), trying different departments.  No answer.

Okay, fine.  I’ll just drive over and talk to someone in person.  Sierra and I were going to swing in the library on the way to return some stuff and pick up a few more things.  It was 3 o’clock, and I had to be at the college by 5 if I wanted to talk to someone.  Well, ‘swinging in’ is apparently a flexible term.  I returned some movies and picked out three books, but when I got in the car, it was 4:50.  It takes ten minutes to get from the library to the community college.  Needless to say, I was livid.

Sierra just turned to me and said “I know you don’t want to hear this right now, but God has a plan in all of this.  Trust that He’s in control.”

I didn’t want to hear it all right!  I had already been struggling with going to community college (read my previous post, Weak and Foolish).  After months of warring with my pride, I’d finally accepted what I saw as the next step in God’s will for my life.  He’s telling me to stay here.  Isn’t community college what I’m supposed to do?

And the next day (Tuesday the 9th), we left.

Having to go away for a week, the week, that I was supposed to find out if I got the scholarship or not was torture.  Building a house out in the country, no internet, practically no phone.  I couldn’t register for classes.  I didn’t know if I was going to be able to attend this university.  I just. Didn’t. Know.

So then, after I *thought* I had surrendered every bit of my pride, I had to give up more.  I had already handed over the ability to make the choice, now I had to lose control of even knowing what the ultimate decision would be!

With my type-A personality, I know that I have a fleshly need to control situations – to deal with everything myself.  The result of my flesh struggle is that most of my refining trials involve surrender and trust.  Complete surrender of my pride and desires and trusting that God (in His ultimate wisdom and sovereignty) will do the very best thing for me.  And as simple as that sounds, it is so hard.  The moment I think I’ve laid everything down, God shows more junk hiding just under the surface.

With extreme prayer and supplication I came to a place of accepting the situation God placed me in.  Of thanking Him for being in control when I had no power whatsoever.  Remembering that He loves me and will do what is ultimately best.

Of peace.

And on Tuesday, July 16th (just two weeks after I sent in the shot-in-the-dark-application) I received an email telling me that I qualified for the full-tuition academic scholarship.

Full-tuition for four years. 

The GPA I ended up with because I was able to take a year off while I was so sick (homeschooling is the best).  The ACT score I got even though I didn’t study and didn’t care.  One of the scholarships being available only a month and a half before school starts.  And the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE ON MY SIDE!

I still have to come up with several thousand dollars a semester for room and board and books.  But what is that in the face of Jehovah Jireh?  The Lord always provides.  And now He’s done it again!

When I turned in my application for this university, and for the scholarship I thought it was impossible.  How could it ever happen?  And bigger than that, how could I ever lay down my pride, desires, expectations, and control of the situation?  Definitely impossible.  Mission impossible.

But with God, nothing is impossible.

Voices in the Wind

I see flashes of red and gold blow by the window. I am safe here, protected from the wind and the chill.  I should be content to stay here in the house.  Should be.  But something is calling me, pulling me.  It’s tugging at the little hollow place where my ribs come together.  The center of my being.

I yank on my boots.  Warm and black and rubbery.  Designed to keep out wet and dirt.  I wrap the yellow scarf around my neck.  Bright and happy.  Why am I not content to stay in this refuge from the outside world?  Something is out there, drawing me on.

In my haste I slam my fingers in the closet door.  Pain!  Flash of white hot light!  I consider stopping to get some ice to calm the throbbing in my hand.  No time, no time!  Nothing can divert me from reaching out and answering that call.

One step and I’ve left the safety and protection of the house.  A chill runs down my spine as a cool breeze toys with my hair.  I can feel it here too, even stronger than before.  The desperation in the hollow of my stomach is large and round and hard, pushing out all other thoughts and feelings.

Down the gravel path, crunching, grey, determined.  I see the trees before me, purple and orange and red.  They are waving to me, beckoning to me, inviting me to join them.  I run, almost fall, keep running.  I must get to the woods!  The pulsing in my chest is so strong, I know I’m close.  If only I can reach it before it overcomes me!

Suddenly the path is no longer gravel.  The moist earth beneath me, spongy and welcoming.  Shadows fall across me, and I am here.  The insistence in myself that was so consuming is now gone, leaving in its place a quiet.  I listen.  Whispers of the leaves as they fall from above, joining their brothers and sisters on the ground.  Creaking and groaning of trees as they speak to each other.  If only I knew what they were saying.

Burst!  A fresh gust of wind blows through the majestic trunks, swirling and wrapping around them like a river.  It takes hold of my hair and throws it in all directions.  It blows in my ears and eyes and nose, sniffing me, touching me, testing me.

I can understand!  “What a strange being to be out here in the wide cold world” says the gust blowing through my clothes.

Why are you here?” demands the powerful wind wrapping around my neck.

My throat feels hoarse.  Dare I speak?  Will human words uttered out loud defile this moment and break the spell?  But if I don’t answer will they abandon me, thinking me to be only another dumb creature, lumbering by and taking no notice?

So I whisper as softly as I can, afraid of the sound of my own voice, “I was called here.”

Oh!” they all cry and go rushing away.  I feel deflated, as if they have left and taken a piece of me along with them.

But then I feel the slightest tug on my shirt.  A little breeze, that I hadn’t notice before among all the turmoil, had remained.  It must have been a young wind, for it was very small, hardly more than a breath of air.  It climbs up my body until it reaches my ear.  I can barely hear it, but it trills in its gentle whispery breath “I know what you’re looking for.  I can take you there if you wish.”  I only nod my head, terrified that I will startle this one too, and it will leave me as well.  Yet, as small as it is, it must be the bravest of all the Winds for it stays with me.

Gently, ever so gently, it wraps itself around my hand and leads me deeper into the woods.  Farther and farther, how far I do not know.  I am too captivated by the magic of the situation to notice much else.  Finally we stop.  We’ve reached a clearing ringed by trees.  The sunlight breaks through the leaves here, dancing on the ground carpeted in a soft and welcoming bed of leaves.

All is still for a moment and I’m afraid that the little breeze has left me, but I had no reason to fear.  Quiet, ever so quiet, I hear the word “Listen.”

At first all I hear is the tumultuous sound of my own breathing.  Slowly it returns to normal.  The bump, bump, bumping of my heartbeat in my ears.  The throb, throb, throbbing in my hand returns.  I am impatient, waiting to hear…what?

Then something inside me clicks.  I hear them.  The voices of the leaves.  They are quiet, oh so quiet, I would never be able to hear one by itself.  Together, they sing their song.  They sing of dying, slowly dying, but not to no end.  They are dying so that there can be new life.  They sing of the One that came before them, the One they model themselves after.  He, too, died to bring the world New Life.

The trees add their voices to the song, singing of winters past, and the winter to come.  Singing, knowing it will be hard, but they will make it through, and will be even stronger on the other side.

The sunlight laughs, shining on everything, bringing light to all.  No matter how great the cold, or deep the frost, or painful the change, it will always be there.  Singing, laughing, bringing joy to all who look upon it.

The wind returns, adding its harmony to the others.  Determined.  Persistent.  The wind bears the task of changing the seasons, bringing warm and cool air, each in their turn.  It sings of always moving, never resting.  Touching all and seeing all, it tells of places unseen and stories untold.  No one knows from where it comes, or the place to which it goes.

I listen.  I can hear them!  The song that they all sing, the tales that they tell, the lessons that they all have for those who are willing to listen.

Slowly the sun begins to sink, drawing night into the world.  Shadows deepen, and all prepare for sleep.  I can still hear their song, but I am now aware of my body as well.  There is no telling how long I’ve been standing here, in rapture to the words I was hearing for the first time.  I am shaking, chilled to the core.  My muscles ache, complaining of the strain I’ve so uncaringly put on them.  I know I must go in, but I never want to leave this place.  I want to stay and listen.  I want to hear the strains of snow adding its beautiful voice to the others.  I want to listen as the flowers emerge and life returns to the world.  But I know that even if I go in now, I will be able to return and listen to the songs of nature once again.

For once you have learned their language, you will always hear Voices in the Wind.

This is a story I wrote a long time ago, but just recently re-read.  I hadn’t remembered why I’d liked it so much, but I think I reminded myself.  For that is the power of writing.  To capture the world you see in your head, to share it with others, to preserve it so you can re-enter the land of your dreams.  I don’t want to be a professional writer.  But I love it.

A Day in the Life of Me

I am super special.  And amazing.  And talented.

(For those of you wondering, what I just said was TOTAL sarcasm.  Read on to find out why.)

Just in the last week and a half I have injured myself in way too many major ways.  I slipped in a creek and fell on one knee, on a rock, with my full weight.  I slammed my hip into the corner of a counter.  I sliced the front of my leg on a rabbit cage.  I bludgeoned my toe with a block of ice, effectively flattening it.  And just as my knee was recovering, I hit it on the corner of the coffee table.  Needless to say, it hurt to walk.

I do not usually admit to being clumsy or accident prone (and usually I’m not).  But this was just about the most painful week I’ve experienced in a long time.  And then things got really interesting.

You know that “game” where you jump into a pool, and someone throws you a ball in midair?  (I can already see you imagining what horrible thing I managed to do to myself here).  I was at a youth pool party on Sunday, and my dad was throwing a football to some of the guys.  So I went up on the diving board for my turn.  Despite what you may be thinking, I’m actually pretty good at throwing and catching footballs.  Not good for a girl.  Good for anyone.

I was all set to show off my skills, and God was like “Haha, no.”  You know that whole, “pride before a fall” thing?  Yeah.

All set, I jumped out over the pool.  I saw the ball coming right to me.  The perfect throw.  All I had to do was keep my hands open to receive it.  Guess what I didn’t do.  The ball hit my pinkie, ring, and middle fingers of my right hand.  Directly on the tips.

I went underwater and thought “Ow, that feels jammed.”  After resurfacing I grabbed the ball, swam to the side, and threw it to my dad.  For the record, it was a perfect spiral and landed right in his hands.  I had no time to feel pride over my perfect throw, however, because my fingers felt like they were broken.

As it turns out they weren’t all broken.  Just one of them.  Having only been in the pool for about ten minutes, and not wanting to leave yet, I packed my hand in ice and stayed for the rest of the afternoon.  I did splint my finger that night, but didn’t go to the doctor until the next day.  He then referred my to an orthopedic specialist.  It was there that I learned the amount of damage I’d caused.  Seriously, I didn’t think it was that bad because I didn’t get hit that hard.  I was wrong.

Turns out, I fractured the bone severely and partially tore the tendon from the bone.  This is a condition known as “mallet finger”.  In most cases it never fully heals properly, and the end of the finger is permanently crooked.

The instant I heard this the girly girl in me blanched.  She thought Oh no!  An irreversible deformity?  What guy could ever love a girl with a mallet finger?!  Yes, I do have one of “those” inside me, but I usually drown her with logic and reason.  Which is what I did in this case.

I realized that this is something a lot of girls struggle with.  How could a guy be attracted to you if you are overweight?  Or have cancer?  Or a prosthetic?  Or a birthmark?  Or a mallet finger?

Well if he doesn’t, THAT’S HIS LOSS.  If he’s not man enough to accept you despite your faults, no, if he doesn’t love you for them, he is not worthy of you.  There are too many girls who settle for the guy willing to overlook “defects” in order to get what he wants.  I am not one of them.  Mallet finger and all.

Not many guys will admit it, but they have their things too.  I know guys are supposed to like their scars as proof of “man cards” or whatever, but even males are susceptible to insecurities.  For all the dudes reading this, you know what you hate about yourself.  But someone out there loves it.  So think twice before you try to hide/remove/despise it.

As it turns out, if I wear this specialized brace for ten weeks, there’s a good chance that I’ll make a full recovery and regain full function in my finger.  If it happens that I’m stuck with a mallet finger for the rest of my life I know that the people around me will love me anyway.

Because if they don’t, it’s their problem.

/sīˈkädik/

Because murdering people is frowned upon, a blog is much safer for everyone.

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