Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Choices and Changes

"So let us be faithful to do the same. [make disciple makers] We are followers of Jesus. We have died to ourselves, and now we live in Christ. He has transformed our minds with his truth, fulfilled our desires with his joy, and conformed our ways to his will. He has joined us together in bodies of believers called local churches for the accomplishment of one all-consuming commission: the declaration of his gospel and the display of his glory to all the people's of the world. 
This task involves all of us. No child of God is intended by God to be sidelined as a spectator in the great commission. Every disciple of Jesus has been called, loved, created, and saved to make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus until the grace of God is enjoyed and the glory of God is exalted among every people group on the planet. And on that day, every disciple of Jesus- every follower of Christ and fisher of men- will see the Savior's face and behold the Father's splendor in a scene of indescribable beauty and everlasting bliss that will never, ever fade away.
This is a call worth dying for.
This is a King worth living for."
                           David Platt - Follow Me

This truth is what I came face to face with last year. I knew, deep down, that my season with Ballet Mag was coming to an end and yet I still loved it and after an injury free season asked The Lord to confirm, and reconfirm that it was time.
Facing the unknown is exciting for sure, especially when the sky's the limit. Endless possibilities invaded my imagination; I could go to school, live closer to my family, teach or perhaps DTS. I knew I was on the verge of something new and something great. One of the ways the Lord confirmed His timing was the challenge to "walk by faith". I'm fairly simple, so when a truth like that hits me, my response seems evident. I could stay in my comfort zone, where I loved what I did and knew how to do what I did well, or I could step out into the unknown by faith and follow by faith, a God who says he has "good work prepared in advance for me to do". 

By February 1st I had put in my notice with Ballet Mag (meaning I would finish out the season through August 1st).  I was so thankful for their response as they  prayed over me and affirmed me in the confidence they have that I hear His voice and therefore must obey. (Though they did try to convince me to stay in some form or fashion.) 

I'd like to say that I obeyed without hesitation as soon as I heard His call, and  without requiring confirmation or doubting, and that I stepped forward into the unknown without trying to take control and plan out my future, but I didn't. I definitely required confirmation time and time again before I obeyed and doubted that I had heard his voice along the way trying to conceive a plan for my life before I put in my notice. 

The overwhelming peace that washed over me after telling B-Mag leadership was continued confirmation. And The Lord continued to confirm in other ways too. You see, The Lord loves to give good gifts to His children. This has been head knowledge for me but The Lord evidently wants it to become heart understanding this year as he cracks open this hard heart with His incredible love. 
The second confirmation came in the form of quick and clear direction as The Lord opened the door for me to apply for a internship position at my church in MS.
As I prayed through the endless possibilities, the desire to be near my family, the pressure to go to school etc., one thing stood out over them all. My heart cry (and I believe the lord's call on my life) is to help make Him known to the ends of the earth and specifically where people have never heard the name of Jesus Christ, or the good news of the Gospel before. This was confirmed in my Spirit by the desire to be a missionary from a young age (probably from hearing
my grandmothers stories from Papua New Guinea) and several visions, words I had that The Lord was recalling to mind in this season. This in turn provoked a desire to accrue discipleship training and equipping for the field. This coupled with my desire to be a part of the movement of God taking place at Pinelake Church led me to apply for a one year missions internship program there. The application process, applying for the position without the required bachelors degree, the interview, and all that went along with that were all part of the "by faith" journey I've been on this semester. I learned a lot about myself, how the Lord had already been transitioning me and giving me desires to walk out.
 My desire to serve and learn and grow under the leadership of my church grew until I had to lay down the desire to do it because fear of disappointment was setting in. Haha "Me" is always too eager to take over. All along I can just imagine The Lord looking down, smiling and saying "these are good plans, I'm unfolding for you, they are a gift". 
Meanwhile I busted my foot on our
East Coast tour, in St Augustine, FL early in March. I limped my way through the rest of the tour, doing (faking) what I could while all the girls stepped in and pulled extra weight... dancing, driving and lifting for me. 
Just one week before we left for our 6 week overseas trip I found out I was accepted into the internship. I was so shocked and excited that I was silent on the phone for what seemed like an eternity until I could choke out some words. :D "Every good and perfect gift is from above!"

The first 3 weeks overseas I wasted a lot of time in pain and frustrated that I was in pain. I was sidelined for the most part hit still in costume having to do (fake) small acting roles. That got tiring really fast and breakthrough happened about halfway through for me. 
I could write for days about all that I saw, learned, experienced, the people I met or the work The Lord did in Switzerland, Poland, Ukraine, Czech, Russia, Kenya and South Africa, not to mention the many stops, airport sleeps, and flights along the way. I'll save those stories for another day.

Right now, I sit at the close of a chapter. A beautiful chapter of spiritual growth, stumbling, challenges, grace, healing, and serving. I have been so blessed to work with the people I get to every day. Where else can you find such sweet relationships that challenge you, refine you, love you (on 18hr drive days in close quarters) and motivate me to be more like Jesus and who speak Truth into my life when I need it.  
It has been a whirlwind transition from 6 weeks overseas, a week in CA for (my sister) Jennifer's graduation, and then our month long summer intensive dance camp held here at Belhaven University. After 4 weeks of acting as a head counselor for over 200 students (we had 375 total ages 11-24, + 30 teachers), I find myself in a swirl of packing, transition and processing. Today is officially my last day with Ballet Mag and Sunday is my official start day at Pinelake. I look back and my heart is filled with thankfulness and sweet memories and I look ahead with excitement, anticipation and hope as I look to Jesus the author and finisher of my faith. 

As David Livingstone said: "Without Christ, not one step; with Him, anywhere!" 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Follow Me" -Jesus

I have been thinking a lot about Jesus' call - "follow me" that is prevalent throughout his life and imperative for Christians and disciples. We have strayed so far in the church and in our own lives from the importance of these two words. "Follow Me"
I was dialoging with a friend about this topic this week and after Secret Church last night, (6hrs of solid teaching from David Platt), I thought I would share some of the things that have challenged me as I have reflected on the importance of being a Christ follower.

The dictionary defines the word "follow" like so:
follow - to imitate in behavior
follow - to behave in accordance or in agreement with
follow - to travel behind, go after, come after
follow - to follow in or as if in pursuit
follow - to follow with the eyes or the mind
follow - to accept and follow the leadership or command or guidance of

Growing up I did a lot of hiking and backpacking. ( If MS wasn't so flat you can bet I would do more of it now!)
My favorite thing to do towards the end of a long day with many miles of trail behind me, was to position myself behind my dad in the single file line as we neared the end of our ascent. When I was climbing behind him, I could almost draft... in a walking sort of way. The pressure was off. I wasn't setting the pace, I just had to keep up... keep in step. Also, as we climbed I could follow in his footsteps as he preselected and tested footholds. Stepping where he stepped, and following his footfalls, required less forethought and effort. All I had to do was just follow.
Of course, I couldn't see the trail from behind my dad and his huge pack, (with the exception of an occasional glimpse of the summit), but I could see just far enough. I could just see a few steps ahead of me. Oh! ...and, as a daddy's girl, the best part was that I was close to him, walking with him...my life was
made! Those are some of the best memories of my childhood and of my dad.
If only I would daily apply them to my spiritual walk now!

In the following passages Jesus is telling people from all walks of life to follow him.
Luke 9:23-26 "And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
Matt 4:19 "& I will make you fishers of men"
Matt 8:22 "And Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead."
(Mark 1:17 ESV) And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men."
(John 10:4 ESV) When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
Matt 16:24 & Mark 8:34 -deny yourself and take up your cross
Luke 5:27 - to a tax collector
With the rich young ruler what one thing did Jesus require from him?
(Mark 10:21 ESV) " And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:37-39 ESV)

In all of these verses the call is clear. Follow Me. Take up your cross, deny yourself loose your life and follow Me!

The second thing that is clear, is that it requires sacrifice from us. (Matt 10:37-39)
Amy Carmichael says it well;
"Missionary life is simply a chance to die."

The cost of following Christ and the cost of being a disciple are the same. Following Christ is an opportunity to die. Death to self, death to sin - through Christ, and physical death. Most of the disciples died martyrs deaths. Are we this serious about our confession of faith where death isn't necessarily a threat, yet persecution is eminent? Will we hold to our confession with an unrelenting surety? Our destiny is secure, our hope profound and the way to find life is by giving our lives away. But do we live this radically? Are we passionate about accelerating Christ's return and and saving souls from an eternal, fiery, torment in hell? Or are we content to sit on the sidelines.

Today, I'm thankful that Jesus didn't take a sidelines approach when he died to purchase my wretched life. He walked in perfect obedience, perfect submission to the Father's will. Will we in turn, walk in obedience, in-step with Christ? Will we... Will you follow Christ ... Even to death?

"We do not know the value of Christ, if we will not cleave to Him unto death!"
Robert Murray McCheyne

"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Tertullian

"No one makes us afraid or leads us into captivity as we have set our faith on Jesus. For though we are beheaded, and crucified, and exposed to beasts and chains and fire and all other forms of torture, it is plain that we do not forsake the confession of our faith, but the more things of this kind which happen to us the more are there others who become believers... through the name of Jesus."
Justin Martyr

"Never did the church so much prosper and so truly thrive as when she was baptized in the blood. The ship of the church never sails so gloriously along as when the bloody spray of her martyrs falls on her deck. We must suffer and we must die; if we are to ever conquer this world for Christ." Charles Spurgeon

Lord, thank you for your perfect, shepherding example, for humbling yourself and taking on a human frame so that we could follow in your footsteps. Thank you for dying in my place and taking the punishment I deserve upon yourself. Thank you for calling me to follow you! Thank you that you give me clear footsteps to follow in. Thank you that I can't see too far ahead, just the next steps you show me. Words don't express.... Thank you! You are Good! You are more than I deserve, all I need and the motivation of my life and death. I willing, joyfully, lay down my life to follow you! Help me, uphold me, lead me.

"He makes His ministers a flame of fire. Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of 'other things'. Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul - short life? ... Make me thy fuel, Flame of God." - Jim Elliot

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Henry Drummondo

"You can take nothing greater to the heathen world than the impress and the reflection of the Love of God upon your own character. That is the universal language. It will take you years to learn to speak in Chinese, or to learn the dialects of India. From the day you land, that language of love, understood by all, will be pouring forth its unconscious eloquence. Take into your new sphere of labor, where you also mean to lay down your life, that simple charm. You can take nothing greater, you need take nothing less. It is not worth it if you take anything less."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

6K Mile Reminders

For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:29 ESV)

First of all, Im reminded that I'm forgetful. How easily I forget that the Lord has not called me to a task (or works) but to himself! I have recently been reminded of my adoption as a child of God. I, who was once far away, have been brought near to God through Christ Jesus my Lord, and am now considered a child of God!
1John 3:1 says; "What love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are."

For so many years I allowed myself to be defined by what I did for the Lord. Recently, I have been struck with a new awe that Gods love for me is not swayed by what I do or don't do for him, and further that he even allows me (frail and faulty as I am) to partner with him in his work. Wow! If we focus on the work, our perspective narrows to 'me, my, and I' and we will fail at the task. If we work in our strength, we will eventually run out of strength and fall short. But God calls us to partner with us in his strength through his Spirit's continual filling. Paul puts it so well as he prays for the church at Colosse.

"...we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14 ESV)

What? Did he say that the Father has qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in light? Yes! He has granted me sonship and an inheritance with Christ!
On this 4 week tour we put over 6000 miles on our vans/trailers. Not only are there testimonies of how The Lord literally moved blizzards and a hail storm for us, but we had no blow outs or breakdowns all month! He IS a good Father to his children! The second thing He has been reminding me of over the past couple months, is that when we ask for bread, he gives us bread. Not a stone, or a snake like I assume he will. He gives us bread! This tour was one of asking The Lord in faith for things (and increasingly so) and watching Him move powerfully. When we ask according to his will he answers and provides! I think I can imagine a lot and I can be pretty needy when it comes to asking the Lord for things. The Word tells us that he can do abundantly or immeasurably more than ALL we ask or imagine! And that is exactly what we did! This tour we asked for much fruit. Guess what?! We saw fruit! 17 salvations (that we know of), over 800 public school students heard the gospel, and there was
deliverance, healing, and restoration in broken lives, marriages and relationships through ministry, prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are celebrating those numbers but they aren't the point. God is always at work. He doesn't need us to accomplish his purposes, but he does choose to use us! Letting us glimpse some of the fruit of our labors was only fuel to the fire of our faith, and as it grew we asked for immeasurably more.

Thirdly, I was reminded that his power is truly perfected in weakness. Almost 2 weeks into our tour, towards the end of an amazing program/revival in Florida, I hurt my foot. The Lord was moving in powerful ways that night and had given us an extra measure of joy. I was tempted to be frustrated, and more so as I sat on the sidelines for my last 4 performances in the states, but was humbly reminded that The Lord delights in my weaknesses because His power is perfected through it. He also met with me backstage that night and confronted some areas where I don't fully receive his love. Christ loves perfectly and in some ways I deny him the fullness of what he died for by allowing self- condemnation to slip back in. I'm so thankful that he is so patient with me, slow to anger and abounding in love!

Finally, I am reminded that it is the Lord who equips, sustains, and strengthens. In many ways this tour was difficult. We battled a lot of sickness and several people battled injuries, but the Lord is ALWAYS sufficient. We must labor out of His energy, with His endurance, and by His spirit who will grant us patience and joy when serving, giving and lovig gets tough.
I am so thankful to be home again, eating my food, sleeping in a familiar place and not living out of a suitcase or the van. But, with all it's challenges and trials, I would do it again in a heartbeat if it meant more lives rescued from the dominion of darkness, (Satan's grasp) and set free in the healing, freedom, and salvation found in Christ alone.

We are home for Easter and a few short weeks before we head overseas and start a grueling schedule. Please pray for me and for the Omega team, for refreshment in our spirits, increased unity, and health.

Would you also pray the following for me over these next few weeks?

Colossians 1:9, 10
"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."

In Christ and Because of Him,

Sunday, February 24, 2013

On the Road Again

"There are no 'if's' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety-...let us pray that we may always know it!" (The Hiding Place- Corrie Ten Boom)

This quote came to mind at our prayer meeting Tuesday night. We were spending time looking back and being thankful for all The Lord has done in, through and for Omega over the past year.
It came to mind again as I battled Atlanta traffic, Friday afternoon with some close calls and crazy drivers around me. It was close to the end of my 4 hr shift and I was tired. Keeping the trailer which has a line to line wheel base, taking up the whole lane, and leading another vehicle and navigating through traffic gets tiring really quickly. 'Ahh! this is tour!', I thought.

We headed out on our first tour of the new year Friday morning. It was a good feeling to get on the road again, - after all, this is what we work so hard for in the studios. It is also bittersweet for me. This will be my last US tour with these girls, this ministry, and Ballet Magnificat. I don't want to miss a thing and feel like I have have my eyes open wider than ever as we set out, not wanting to miss seeing God move in any way.

I'll copy a portion of what I wrote in my journal after the first program in McDonough, GA.
"As I paced backstage in the darkness I just raised my hands to the Lord in adoration and surrender. 'Use me God!' My spirit cried out. 'We are yours, your instruments...use us as you would! Humble us, anoint your servants and fill us with joy overflowing.' (Little did I know what I was truly asking for. :)
I'm in awe of God who chooses to use the weak and foolish things of the world. It is a privilege to be His and to partner with Him in His work. So many 'little' things seemed to go wrong last night from our perspective backstage, things that you nothing about except laugh. Leslie's earring flew off; one of mine ended up in my shoe during a fast change and was there for the rest of the second act (and it didn't puncture my foot!); one of my braids came unpinned and was whipping me in the face and other unplanned hilarity. I guess I got what I asked for...joy overflowing!"

Some of that joy came through our ministry time as well. Sovereign God orchestrated our salvation that His children might walk in freedom! I truly have no greater joy than to watch God transforming lives and setting them on a path towards abundant life; an abiding life, a life hidden in Christ.

This tour will be almost 4 weeks long. We have one more stop in GA before stopping in Orlando and Saint Augustine, FL; Cleveland, OH; Vincennes, IN; NJ/ PA; and Hartford, CT. We experienced the opposition rising already this past week as we prepared to head out and positioned ourselves spiritually on the front lines. Your prayers are greatly appreciated as we don't take the Lord's provision, protection or strength for granted.

Prayer Requests:

- Joy - Not only does the Word of God tell us that the joy of the Lord is our strength, but it is also a command. Despite the obstacles and trials that will come up, I want to walk in joy, cherishing each moment and the people He's placed in my path.

- Grace - To juggle this transition season, staying in touch/involved with my family and their lives long-distance, and all that tour entails, requires tons of grace.
Please pray for grace on my body as well. My hips and back are pretty bad. I have almost constant pain in then right side of my back that often hinders me from lifting my right leg or sitting for extended periods of time... both being things that tour demands.

- Sensitivity- I want open eyes, heart and hands this month. I don't want to miss a single opportunity, 'God-moment', word, person etc. but truly function in and minister Christ's love.
I am also praying for clarity and direction for the next season of my life. Pray that the Lord will speak clearly and open/shut doors.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Faded Memories

In loving memory ~
It has been eleven years since my dad passed away. This year, for the first time in 11 years, the calendar week is the same as it was the week my dad died. The memories , good and bad, (though faded now,) flood back.  I still weep when I sing "It Is Well", one of dad's favorite hymns, and remember singing it 2-15-2002 at His memorial service. What a celebration that was! The Lord took His son  home that week and now dad is enjoying the presence of Jesus in glory! I will also confess that the song "Butterfly Kisses " kinda  melts my heart when it comes on the radio. Thoughts of what could have been, and the reality of what will never be flood back especially strong this time of year.  I wrote a poem for dad's memorial service and it began like this.
"Daddy I will miss you,
All the smiles you gave;
All the times you made me laugh,
These treasures I will save."
February 11, 2002... It was a Monday night just like it is this year. I remember it like it was yesterday and yet the memories are beginning to fade. My world turned upside-down that night. I was awake all night once the call came. I wanted to hate God forever, but knew I had a choice in front of me. I felt alone, confused, angry and wanted to run from God.  I also felt His presence that night and knew that everything I had been taught from the Word was true. That the Lord loved me and would care for me and wipe away every tear...somehow, some way. That was also the night I chose Him. My life took a radical course change. Christ came into my life and I was filled with joy and a Phil. 4:6-7 peace which surpasses all understanding. After hearing my testimony, a friend once wrote this amazingly accurate picture the Lord gave him.
"I have this picture of young girl hugging her knees for warmth, sitting in the darkness as it presses in around her. The darkness is strong, powerful, making her shake with anger and fear...but another presence is there as well. He is there...light, life, hope, on His knees before you whispering your name and your infinite worth to Him. His arms are open aching for you to run into them, where He can hold you and cry with you, letting you know that although the grieving and pain are real, He hurts along side you and in time He will wash every tear away and replace it with pure joy. I know too many who have run from those arms. Instead you came rushing into them that night." Praise the Lord!

It was Valentines week and a hard decision to let a loving husband, son, and father go. As confident as I am that I will see my dad again, I am also stuck in this human frame which selfishly grieves my own loss.  This week as I remember and grieve the loss of my earthly father, I also rejoice in my Abba-Father. The Lord God is my Comforter, My Shield, My Shepherd. His rod and staff comfort and correct me.  He is my validation and my affirmation.  He is my Protector and the Lover of my soul.

Several sequels have followed the poem I wrote 11 years ago. (You can read the 7 yr memorial poem in a note on my fb page.)  This is just one more sequel. :) This one may seem to be more on the sad side as I processed many "what could'a been's", and the raw and real side of loss and sadness. Please just know that these thoughts are always backed with a supernatural joy and thankfulness to a faithful God who has carried me every step of the way.

The years fly by and the memories start to fade, but I will always be Daddy's little girl.
Faded Memories

Daddy, 11 years have passed,
And I miss you just the same;
My heart still hurts when I think of you
Though the memories start to wan.

Daddy, I still miss you,
Though time and pain have passed;
Many tears of what 'coulda been'
And the pain that seems to last.

Just hold me in your arms again,
Say you won't let go;
Tell me I'm your little girl,
And tell me that you know.

Show me your support,
As I learn and serve and grow;
Tell me that you're proud of me
And let some others know.

Support me, and encourage,
As I walk with God and grow;
Let me spread my little wings,
To the places God's said "go".

Daddy, I'm still your little girl,
Though I'm quite grown up now;
Still say you think I'm beautiful,
I'll stay your little girl somehow.

Ward off unwanted suitors,
And keep me as your own;
And give me away one special day,
To someone loved and known.

Walk me down the isle,
Dance that dance with me;
Bless me with your blessing,
All the things that cannot be.

It's hard to be one left behind,
It doesn't really seem fair;
I'm just thankful you are free from pain,
And enjoying God up there.

Though the years will come and go,
The memories fade and die;
God has ALWAYS been faithful,
And this I cannot deny!
11 years ago today, I surrendered my life to Christ. Spiritually, I was the one dead and my dad was actually alive, but the most amazing transaction happened that night. Christ rescued me from sin and the death I deserve and nailed it to His cross once for all. I now know that I too will one day worship Jesus in heaven, in the glorious presence of the Most High God. I cannot wait! If only I can finish strong and be found a faithful servant, daughter and disciple. I want to hear those precious words, "well done, good and faithful servant".
Yes, the memories have faded, but with each passing day the eminent approach of Christ's return or my journey home draws nearer. Looking back over the past 11 years, and remembering all God has done and all His faithfulness, my only response is thankfulness. Gratitude for the Lord's faithfulness, mercy and grace wash over me anew.  Great is Thy Faithfulness!

"Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In His great mercy He has given us new birth, into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last days. In this you greatly rejoice, though for a little while you may have had to suffer trials of various kinds, these have come so that the testing of your faith, of greater worth than gold, may be proved genuine and result in praise glory and honor when Christ Jesus is revealed. Though you do not see Him you love Him and though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Holy Unto The Lord

Today, as I was reading in Exodus 28, the words of vs 36 jumped out at me. Aaron, acting as the high priest, would enter the Holy of Holies and offer sacrifices for all of Israel's sins. He had to wear a sign on his forehead. It was a sign for the Lord. The sign said "Holy to the Lord". Wow! I began thinking... Isn't there a New Testament verse about writing on our foreheads? My concordance led me to revelation 22. When we see His face, He will make His name visible, written on our foreheads. And His name IS Holy!!!

Not only do we not have to continually offer sacrifices of atonement for our sins, because of Jesus sacrifice once for all, but God sees "Holy to the Lord" written on us because of Christ's blood. Then, when we see Jesus, face to face we will receive in full our inheritance; holiness, purity and son-ship. Wow! I'm excited! Are you excited?
"It makes me want to shout! Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus! Lord you're worthy of all of the glory, of all of the honor, of all of the praise."

"You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, "Holy to the Lord ." And you shall fasten it on the turban by a cord of blue. It shall be on the front of the turban. It shall be on Aaron's forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord ." (Exodus 28:36-38 ESV)

"No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever." (Revelation 22:3-5 ESV)

On a side note. I was down at "We Will Go" ministries again today. I got to make all sorts of animal hats for their kids day. But, as I participated I came to the conclusion that converted gangsters are the real deal. There is something so powerful about a converted, Jesus -following gangster. I guess God just showed me another piece of his heart for ALL mankind. Praying for a few more gangster converts and this city could turn upside down. :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Adventuring with God

For those of you who don't know much about me or what I do, this post is for you.

If I had to describe myself in one sentence I would probably say that I am extremely adventurous but with a strong conscience. :) Let me explain. I grew up always trying to be just as tough, fast and cool as my brothers and all the boy cousins. In the summer we were racing dirt bikes and always moving the trampoline under the next highest tree. When it came to heights, speed, critters and pain, I found myself always trying to get over my fears and/or face them.  If it wasn't for ballet (which my mom enrolled me at the age of 6 after I failed the cartwheel test in gymnastics) and my conscience I would most likely have spent a lot more time in the ER, or be dead. Between my strong conscience always making me re-think the latest competitive endeavors and ballet (involving contracts for injury prevention in high school) I was never quite as adventurous as I wanted to be.
All the while, God had his hand on me. Thankfully, from the time he placed me in the family he did with the desire for adventures He gave me, He was weaving a path and sovereign plan for my life that was beyond my imagining.

Skip ahead.
Shortly after I was baptized in 2002, I had the opportunity to attend a month long summer dance program with a Christian ballet company in MS. More than the dance training it helped ground me in Christ and upon graduation, I heard the Lord clearly calling me to join the discipleship and training program of Ballet Magnificat in Jackson, MS.  At first I thought this was crazy and that this couldn't possibly be God's plan.  After all, I wasn't in love with ballet and planned to stay close to home, quit ballet and go to school...something more 'normal'. :) God slowly chiseled away at my heart those months during the application process and brought me to a place of surrender knowing that I would only be truly happy inside His will. I moved to Jackson in 2005 thinking I was only committing two years of my life and that I would move home and carry on with my plans after that. 
Now, almost 8 years later, I can look back and say that I could not have dreamed or imagined this life for myself. I wouldn't trade these past 8 years for the world. 
"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." (Prov. 16:9)
Invited to join the Omega touring company in 2007 I entered a whole new level of stretching, growing and living by faith.  Working a job (or two) part time on the side to make ends meet, while juggling touring 2-3 weeks of every month, it was overwhelming at times to say the least.  I learned a lot, experienced a lot and grew a ton.  My first year touring, I had the opportunity to minister across the US and in Honduras and Belize through worship dance classes and evangelistic programs and then spent 6 weeks in a boot after tearing all the ligaments in my ankle during a program in North Carolina.  The following season I was humbled to share the story of Corrie Ten Boom in Israel. It is a powerful story of hope in the midst of suffering, a WWII story of  Christian who survived Auschwitz and was able to share the hope and forgiveness of Christ with thousands around the world and even those who personally hurt her. Meeting hundreds of Holocaust survivors and hearing their stories was incredible and very humbling.
The following 5 years proved to be more of the same. Stretching, growing, serving and learning.  Each year I took on more and more responsibility not only on the road but in Jackson as well.  I have had the privilege of discipling the younger girls coming into the program and watching them as they grow, blossom and even pass me up in their faith.  I became a head counselor in 2010 for our annual 4 week summer camp. This entails a little of everything, but mostly listening, relying on and walking in the Spirit and His wisdom.  With 12 counselors under me and over 175 students in my dorm (split into 2 - 2 week sessions) it is a busy time of teaching, discipleship, little sleep and tons of fun. 

As I approach the end of my 8th year with the ministry, I believe God is calling me on. I don't yet know what is ahead, but His word is enough for me. "Walk by faith", He said.
  My time with Ballet Magnificat has been very full.  I have served with the most amazing group of like-minded, amazing, Spirit filled/led people and feel like it has been a spiritual oasis for me to grow in. I couldn't have asked for a better leadership covering and am so thankful for their guidance, correction and encouragement. I have been blessed to travel with 12 other amazing women of God (in VERY close quarters) and have many stories, memories and testimonies as a result.  I have been to over 14 countries, sharing the Good News and my testimony cross cultures and language barriers.  I have taught ballet students across the US, Canada and overseas, always praying before class and sharing my faith.  I have witnessed the power of Christ to change peoples lives. Healings, freedom from bondage to sin and addiction, the demon possessed restored to sanity, salvation, and many other miracles of Christ's all powerful, all loving hand. 
And to think....there is SO much ahead!  I am looking forward to this last touring season, to every performance and ministry time, every long van day with the girls, every drop of sweat in the studios etc.  We are gearing up for just 2 large tours this season.  The first will include Florida, Georgia, Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana and Connecticut and will last about 4 weeks.  The second will be to Switzerland, Poland, Czech, Ukraine, Russia, Kenya, possibly Botswana, and South Africa.

God, who orchestrated my salvation (another story, for another day) and who called me into fellowship with His Son, is weaving a grand tapestry with my life.  He is using all sorts of things and all colors of threads and weaving them together.  What it will look like, I don't quite know...it isn't finished.  One more square is almost finished as this chapter of my life closes, but there are many more to go. Something tells me, they will involve more growth, more stretching, and require more leaning on Him and His strength. Walking with Him is always and adventure! I may not know what's next or what is ahead, but I do know who is already there.
And who knows, maybe I'll get to check off some of my bucket list items that have been put on hold all these years. ~

“The way for me has certainly not been conventional or
predictable…..but I have sought the will of God,
and in this I find rest…
….I find His approval and seal in the smallest and unlikely things.”
-Jim Elliot

Alpha and Omega International tours 2013

We're going overseas again!!!
You may be wondering why this is often the most popular topic of my updates, but our international tours are definitely a highlight of our year. Much planning and preparations go into these tours as they can be a logistical nightmare. We allot 3-7 weeks for international tours each year, typically in the Spring. The Lord has worked in miraculous ways each year in the past to work salvation, healing, freedom, and forgiveness to many all over Europe, Israel, the Netherlands, South America and the Balkans. I was just going through my pictures from this past year and was marveling at God’s power to work salvation for all men of every tribe tongue and nation. His love is so amazing! I am humbled to think that the Lord has allowed me to travel to the nations to share HIS Good News. But how can I keep this joy, peace, hope and offer of abundant life to myself?! Each member must raise their own support to cover their air fare since we treat overseas tours as special missions and do many concerts for free. We seek the Lord diligently for our destinations. Many doors are open for us overseas at this time (more than we can logistically cover) and we believe the Lord is calling us to walk by faith and in obedience to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations. It is our desire to join Him where He is already at work. For 2013 we will be splitting the European cities with the Alpha company, then we hope to break ground in Ireland, Russia, Ukraine, Kenya, Malawi, Botswana and South Africa. We covet your prayers and support as we launch into a new season! Check out the Ballet Magnificat facebook page for video updates and prayer requests which we will post throughout the spring as well as when we are overseas.

"Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."  (Proverbs 25:25)


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Starbucks and Salvation

I was in Starbucks with a friend this week when an old man approached the table where we sat and asked, "Does ballet make you beautiful?" 
This man was one of many older men who have too much time on their hands congregate at our local Starbucks. (Yes, there is still only one in Jackson, MS.) Being that it is the only Starbucks in town and located close to our studios, you will ALWAYS run into someone you know there, and the other locals have gotten to know this group of ballerinas who read their Bibles, or meet their prayer partners, or have counselling sessions at the quiet(er) tables in the corner.  Several of the dancers have built relationships with several of the other regulars there and are always talking about Jesus and the hope we have in Christ with them.  So, the question didn't take me by surprise. Rather while my friend just laughed at the question, I replied without a second thought.

No! Ballet doesn't make us beautiful, Jesus does!

He bumbled about and after a "humph", with a furrowed brow said, "well, I suppose that could explain some things... like your general peace, and the happiness that you carry". 
For me, it is just that plain and simple. Where else on earth can you find lasting joy and fulfillment, peace and happiness? What other source, never runs dry but is always flowing, filling and satisfying?
I was once DEAD in my sins and trespasses when Christ redeemed my life. Dead! Condemned, an object of wrath. Hopeless and helpless, condemned to hell. BUT Christ, who is rich in mercy and abounding in love, saved me by grace. Not only did He pull me out of the pit, but He gave me a firm place to stand.  Not only did He give me a firm place to stand, but He ransomed me. HE took my place. He took on my sin and shame and filth and paid the penalty of death that I deserved and made a way for me to stand in purity before the Father, forgiven and free. Thankfully, the story doesn't end there.  God is sovereign and on the 3rd day Jesus rose from the dead, conquering sin and death for anyone who would call upon His name and making a way for us to be with Him forever!  Not only did He save me, give me a pure standing before the Father, forgive me, pay my penalty and rise again, but He's also coming back for me. Is there anything greater? Is there anything more worthy of talking about in the streets, at Starbucks and on here? 

What concerns you today?  What things or burdens of life have you down that His Sovereignty and grace cannot cover? I pray you find strength in the all sufficiency of Christ today.

"What'er I need in Jesus dwells,
And there it dwells for me;
In Jesus Christ the King of grace,
In whom I stand complete!"

Sovereign Over Us - Aaron Keyes

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Jericho

"When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, ‘What does my lord say to his servant?’ And the commander of the LORD’S army said to Joshua, ‘take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.”        Joshua 5:13-15

Why was Joshua “by Jericho”?  I can imagine him alone, praying, away from the hubbub of the feasting that followed the Passover. Much of Joshua’s training for battle was spent in the presence of the Lord. Now I can imagine him thinking back over all the manna God provided for the Israelites as they wandered and how good this first meal of produce from the land tasted, then marveling at a God who provides and keeps all His promises.  Chapter 6 proceeds to tell us that Jericho was a great fortress, “shut up inside and outside. None went out, and none came in.”  They knew that God was with the Israelites and they feared them. One translation says that there was “no longer any spirit in them” (vs1) as they watched God Almighty work wonders for Israel.
I love the next part of the passage when the “commander of the army of the LORD” arrived with his sword drawn in his hand.. Why?  Was it to intimidate Joshua? NO! Ever since Joshua was called to lead the Israelites, he had been told to be strong and courageous, for God was on His side. I believe it was the Lord’s way of saying, ”I’m fighting with you and for you! I can and will deliver Jericho into your hands!” Before getting down to business after Joshua asks what the command is,  He tells Joshua to take off his sandals for the ground where he’s standing is holy ground!  Sound familiar?  When in the presence of the Lord and His command there is an element of Holy fear.

Where am I going with all this, you ask?  I have been borrowing a roommate’s bicycle a lot lately and cycling a big loop in our neighborhood. The other day, with lots on my mind and wrestling in my spirit, I started out to “clear my head” as I often do.  It soon turned into an amazing time with the Lord as He met with me. Recognizing the battle, Joshua 1:9 came to mind. I began counting 7 loops (which turned out to be like 12 miles) and my legs seemed to be increasingly fueled as I discovered many parallels to the Israelite’s march that day.  The first several laps were just fine. I started out with fresh vigor and an excitement to see what the Lord would reveal to me.  As the 5th lap came around, I was getting tired, slowing down on the hills and becoming really sick of the clicking noise it made every time I pedaled. (I can only imagine how sick of those trumpet blasts they got by the 5th day, not to mention the 5th time around on the 7th day!)  By the time I was completing the 6th lap I wondered what they were thinking as armed warrior men, nearing the completion of their march. I can hear them now… “We’re supposed to just shout? Why would God command us to march for so long before we take Jericho?! All our strength is gone!? Something tells me that Joshua marched with peace in his heart. Assured that the Lord would fight for them once again. In the same way, the Lord calls us to be strong and courageous. We do not fight alone. He is on our side and the battle belongs to Him. I pray that you and I will rest in this amazing truth as we enter a new year. Let us not forget the faithfulness of God in 2012 but step into the new year remembering that the Lord our God is with us wherever we go! §



Hi friends!

    I got a little overwhelmed trying to keep up with updates and emails, newsletters and facebook this season that I decided to start a blog.  I know, I know... I've never really been an advocate of them as the world is turning into one giant, social media spider web.  (Instead of "just shoot me", I've found a new way to express my feeling towards this web with a new phrase. "Oh, just pin-my- twit-face-you-blogger!" This combines, twitter, myspace, pinterest, facebook, youtube and blogging in one colorful expression! You're welcome. ) But, back to the reason I started this thing...

Basically, I hope to post updates throughout this busy season, about life, tour, the Word, as well as prayer requests, in the hopes of recruiting some prayer support. With 3 fundraising events and a 5 week tour to kick off the year and a 5-6week tour overseas in April, I'm sure there will be plenty to share.  I pray it will be a blessing and encouragement to you as we run this race together, looking to Jesus the author and perfector of our faith.

All that to say that I will have many adventures to write about, but more than just wanting to share cool stories, I covet your prayers and support throughout this season as I follow the Lord's voice and partner with Him. Seeking His kingdom, following His voice, partnering in His work, and going where He leads, as I give my heart, soul, mind, and strength ..."for the praise of His glory".