I find it not a bit surprising that I failed to update my blog as often as I promised. As much as I love to write, I find that I love even more to share my life with my loved ones face to face. Believe me, with the number of happenings in my life that I have shared face to face, it has left little time to also write them down. However, I have been pretty sick over the past few days, and this has allowed time for me to simply be with Jesus, listen to His heart, and write down all that comes from that. With that being said, I will do my best to share with you what I have experienced over the past couple of months.
Christmas of 2009 was a life changing experience for me. Beginning in 2003, large numbers of unpleasant Christmas experiences began to pile onto my “Christmas Memory Plate.” I was absolutely certain that I would have the same negative experience and that I would continue proclaiming my hate for Christmas. What exactly was that hate? Consumerism, gifts, Winnie the Pooh blow-up decorations, misunderstandings of the true meaning of the season, and bickering over the details of the traditions. All of these things, along with many more, created in me an extreme dread for the holiday season. Upon moving in with my dear roommate, Maggie Britt, I informed her of this particular aspect of my life. She responded to me, “this year is the year. You won’t hate Christmas anymore.” I mulled over what she said for a long time, talked with the Lord about it often, and finally came to a conclusion. I hated Christmas for so long that my hatred was a distinct part of who I claimed to be. I knew I wanted to enjoy Christmas, but because that hate was such a part of who I thought I was, I was afraid to allow the Lord to redeem that part of my life, for fear that I would no longer be who I claimed to be. The truth that God revealed to me is that hating Christmas was never really a part of me. The belief that I “hated” Christmas was a lie that Satan spoke to me over and over in order to take away from something beautiful. Upon hearing this truth, accepting and believing it, I realized that it was completely up to me to allow the Lord to redeem Christmas. In order to do that, I had to make the choice to allow God to show me how He intended the Christmas season to be. This involved choosing to engage in Christmas activities. I mean, you can’t have good Christmas memories if you have no Christmas memories at all. Therefore, I chose to engage in Christmas festivities with my beloved friends, and do so with a positive attitude. It made all the difference. I will not say it was never hard, because that would be a complete lie, but it definitely was not as hard as the enemy told me it would be. I can honestly say that I no longer hate Christmas. I cannot honestly say that Christmas will never be hard for me, but I know that it will get easier as each year passes and I allow the Lord to do His thing.
Three days after Christmas, Maggie and I set off on a road trip to Kansas City, Missouri. Taking place that week was the OneThing conference at International House of Prayer. Neither of us knew what to expect there other than for the Lord to move in some crazy ways. This expectation was far exceeded in my eyes. God did a work in my life while I was there that I never could have imagined. He allowed me to venture to a depth that I did not even know existed and took me to heights that I thought could only be reached by Him. He released me from sin that I have struggle with for many years and told me I never have to go back there. He showed me where His bride is headed and my role in helping her. He showed me my place in His plan for the next year. He gave me new freedom with violin and dance, and spoke to me that He is increasing my artistic gift and the anointing He has already given me with that. He then told me that I never have to step away from His presence. Each time I think of it, I should ask myself “can I feel Him right now? If yes, great. If not, why not?” He is in and around me at every moment of every day. Therefore, I have no reason to not feel His presence.
God also increased and tightened a bond between my sweet friend and mentor, Margie, and myself. To make a long story a little less long, Margie is crazy Spirit-filled and ridiculously anointed. Several years ago, she began planting a seed in me that I swore would never grow. I thought everything she spoke over me was complete nonsense and I even prayed that God would open her eyes to the “truth.” A couple of months after I left Alabama, God literally slapped me in the face when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. As I went deeper and deeper into a crazy encounter with Him, he just laughed and laughed. The very seed I claimed would never grow had emerged into a beautiful fruit, bearing much seed. Not only was I to admit to myself that I had been wrong, I was to write Margie and apologize to her for the way I treated her, and tell her about all the Lord was doing in me and all of the ways He was releasing me from the nasty Spirit of Religion. Writing Margie was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it was by far the most rewarding act of humility I have ever experienced. Since then, the Lord has truly connected our spirits in a beautiful way. As I was at OneThing and Margie was in Alabama, I felt the Lord pressing on my heart and saying, “I have given you a sweet gift in Margie, and it is yours to keep. Tap in to her wisdom. She has much to offer.” I am so blessed to have Margie in my life, and I cannot wait to see where God leads her over the next few years.
At some point during the second day at OneThing, the Lord told me to get baptized. I was baptized as a kid, but I had no idea what I was doing or what I was proclaiming. I simply did it because my grandparents said I should. For many years I felt as if I was supposed to get baptized but several pastors told me I did not need to since I had already been baptized. Because of this, I waited and waited, knowing in my spirit all along that it needed to happen. I called Margie that night to tell her what I heard from the Lord, and she had been watching the webcast when they announced they would be doing baptisms. She said that immediately when they announced that, she heard from God that I was supposed to. It was really sweet of the Lord to use someone so dear to me to confirm something so huge. The next night I was baptized with three very special friends. The old truly was gone and is never coming back. What we took down with us in the water stayed under. We emerged as new creations, free and pure in His eyes. It was sweet moment I will never forget.
Since we returned from OneThing, God has continued to do a beautiful work in all of us. He is leading us all down a path of truth, where lies are not a part of who we are. He is calling out lies and having us speak the truth, believe the truth, and live the truth. He is having us step into our callings, knowing that He will lead and guide us, and that He will uphold us. We are never held by our own strength, but by the strength of our Beloved. He is crying out for us to be completely abandoned to Him, to love Him without limits, and to obey Him at all costs. The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards.