In the summer of 2010, God blessed me with the unique opportunity to be a part of the Journey Internship. Early on in our time together, Kristin prophesied to me that I would be beginning a new season of my life once I arrived home. Looking back at how much the Lord has done in my life since I embarked on that journey, I can certainly testify to the accuracy of that word. Beginning in my time in Africa, I have experienced His presence in new and exciting ways. In this time, I have heard His whispers of sweet new promises, and experienced His unmistakable yearning for me to draw nearer in order to experience Him more intimately. It has been a remarkable voyage that I have held dear to my heart and it has given me a strong foundation for which I will be able to build on for the rest of my life.
In short, my trip to Kenya and the events surrounding it have been life changing. Starting with the preparation and fundraising that began in January, to the processing that went on for months after I returned home from the trip, it made 2010 one of the most special years of my life. The year began with a 21-day fast, culminated in Kenya, continued on with new experiences and relationships in my local church, and finally ended with amazing promises from God about my own ministry. Echoing Kristin’s prophecy, one specific word that the Lord spoke to me countless times last year was “new beginnings.” I saw and heard it everywhere after I got home from Kenya. In the Bible, new beginnings is associated with the number 8, and the Lord continued to show it to me time and again in incredible ways as a testament to His faithfulness to His promises. In this time, the Lord even introduced me to the man that He has chosen to be my husband (just a week after I returned home). I might add that he was born on October 8th and weighed 8 lbs 8 oz at birth, but then I could sound a little overboard! At the center of all of this, I experienced God’s faithfulness and grace in my life in the most tangible ways I have ever known. It has certainly been true that God’s word to me through Kristin really vaulted me in to the next season in my life.
In somewhat stark contrast, 2011 has been rather different. One of the new beginnings the Lord was speaking to me in 2010 was that my family and I would be embarking on our own ministry in the form of a Christian dance studio and children’s after-school program. This vision and promise came to us while I was in Kenya, and soon thereafter we were able to witness God miraculously moving each individual piece. I am beginning to experience firsthand what it is like to step out in faith - but it is not easy. Often as Christians, we romanticize and idealize adventurous callings of our destiny. I know that I did. Although I have seen God answer our prayers for the studio continually and while the journey has been exciting (particularly at the onset), it has also been extremely challenging and full of highs and lows. I have wanted to give up at so many points. “Obedience for the day” has been the mantra I cling to, and it is literally all I feel like I have sometimes.
At the beginning of this new ministry, the Lord spoke to me Deuteronomy 1:3 in a dream. I did not really know what it meant at that point, but I could relate so much to the Israelites experiencing the wilderness. The Lord began showing it to me everywhere for several months, and I continued to receive confirmation that this was a word for me. I knew I needed to really study the surrounding scripture and heed it for its encouragement and also for its warning. Through this passage, the Lord warned me that there would be giants long before we ever experienced them. I was warned against my own grumbling, fear of man, and unbelief. I was also encouraged that if we did not faint or give up, we would reap in due time (Galatians 6:9). However, I did not understand the full scope of what this word would mean to me until recently.
I had been praying that God would soon move me out of my cubicle job of two and half years and place me closer towards His calling and promise for my life. Miraculously, on May 29th of this year my family and I signed the lease to an 8,000 sq. foot space for our dance studio. Then on June 1st I was laid off, along with the majority of my department. Fear immediately swept over me. While I despised my job, I knew I needed stable income to get the studio off the ground. Was this the answer to my prayers? Was I being punished? My head was spinning with questions and doubt. Without delay, the Lord reminded me of Deut. 1:3 which says, “…on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the LORD had given him in commandment to them…” The subsequent verses go on to describe the way the Lord told the Israelites that they had stayed too long at their current mountain in the wilderness and it was time to go and possess the Promised Land. As it happened, June 1st was the first day of the 11th month of waiting on the realization of our vision for the dance studio. To me, this was confirmation in the confusion that God was still for me and for the studio.
Since that day, the dance studio has been a daily process of waiting, waiting, and WAITING on the Lord. It has often been quite tedious and mundane. We have experienced lack of funding, difficult landlords, miscellaneous electrical problems pushing back our opening date, family discord, fear of failure, anxiety, discouragement, doubt, and the list goes on and on. The enemy has been throwing arrows, setting off bombs, and causing confusion at every corner. I would like to say that I have handled the obstacles with grace, but the truth is that I have often sobbed and cried out in anger. I frequently feel like I have no clue what I am doing, and that I am completely unqualified and unequipped to take on something so enormous. BUT, MY GOD IS GREATER. He will provide and He is faithful. When I think that I cannot go on, He gives me just enough manna to whet my appetite for more. And then something miraculous happens. Things may not go the way that we plan, but His way of doing things is always better and higher than anything we can imagine (Isaiah 55:9). I have been learning to exchange my own ideas, plans, and timing for His. Sometimes that makes me feel complacent or lazy because I feel like I should be DOING something or even WORRYING about something because, in an entirely fleshly way, it makes me feel as if I am more deserving. But then I call truth to mind. It is not about me it is about Him. And I remember: just obedience for today. That is all I need. I often get weighed down by where I’m not instead of seizing the opportunities right in front of me. The Lord wants to make me into His likeness, so what is obedience for today? Then I can breathe. I am being refined through the fire; I asked for this. And there will certainly be a harvest in this season or the next. So be it!