Sunday, November 7, 2010

a child in awe of You.

November 7, 2010 1:30 a.m. Its hard for me to imagine that I can have somebody sitting in a room with me that is struggling as much as the people I spoke to in Uganda. There is nothing in me that wants to accept the fact that we have people in this country today who don’t have a home, don’t have running water or electricity. I knew it though. I have known it all along. It’s a lot easier to accept it though when you have somebody sitting on the edge of your bed weeping over all of the terrible things that have gone wrong in their life. Tonight, after firmly believing in the work and power of the Holy Spirit, especially how He has appeared to me in the past week, I still struggle with believing the Lord will provide for all of Donnica’s needs. I know He is there, I know He is willing to help, I just don’t know where or when or what that means. All I do know is that I have an empty bedroom next to my bedroom where nobody lives, and I cannot force her to go back to a cold house with no running water.

November 8, 2010 1:31 a.m. (24 hours of fasting and praying later….) God searches our hearts, He finds in us what the Holy Spirit is saying inside of our hearts. He knew that in my heart the Holy Spirit desired for Donnica to have a warm home with running water. As He searches our hearts, He finds in us the good and bad. And as I desperately seek to rip out the bad stuff in my heart, He desperately seeks to give the Holy Spirit more room to live, by showing us His glory. He reveals Himself freely, as we seek His beautiful face. Nothing in this world will ever compare to the joy found in knowing Him more and more in each new day. I seek with my whole heart, to know Him fully, although I know I never will, that is where I find my joy in seeing Him appear and perform the miracles He has been so desperately wanting to perform since Christ performed them. John 14:12 “Truly, Truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” And if we believed this everyday, we would see miracles as Donnica and I have in the past week, happening all around us. He is good, He is faithful, and He is so worthy of all our praise. Thanks be to God, who is our Rock and our Salvation.

It is so funny to meet that in desperation I wrote and prayed for Donnica last night, and today He showed His face again. I stand in awe once again at his unfailing love and faithfulness. I have no words to describe how deserving Donnica is, and how thankful I am that God sees her heart. Today and this week the Lord has truly taught me what it means to be in his arms all the time. Yesterday, while at the Christmas village Donnica and I were buying my mom ornaments she gets every year, but in the meantime of looking for the ornaments we wandered around to the many different vendors looking at all the neat things everybody had to offer. I saw this cute shirt and looked at the price: $54 and Donnica noticed it too. She looked at me and said I could never imagine spending $54 on a shirt. In my past life, that I have so quickly and lovingly been redeemed and forgiven for, I admit I would have easily spent $54 on a shirt. And today, oo I beg God to forgive me for the ridiculous amount of things I “NEEDED” but really just wanted and never needed. And I notice, that I truly am a new creation, and may NEVER return to the old me, after tasting in the beautiful, sweet Holy Spirit. We came to a table that was selling bags of soup and I asked donnica if she wanted some to take home to cook for her boyfriend Brian. She was hesitant but tried the soup and decided she actually did want some. So, I spent the $6 and bought her a bag of soup, NOTHING compared to all of the neat things they had there, but that of course was what she NEEDED. We continued to walk around and we came to another vendor who was selling photographs. He had this one incredible picture of an elephant which I told Donnica was my favorite kind of animal, and that I have always wanted to ride one! We stood there and talked to the photographer about all of the cool places he had been to take pictures, and the stories behind all the pictures (I know I am a photography dork). As we walked off I started looking at some paintings then noticed Donnica had disappeared. I looked all around and started to get my phone out to call her, then she came out from “hiding.” After a few minutes of walking around again, she said, “you promise you won’t be mad at me?” and I said, “yea why?” She said, “I am a really good bargainer and I knew you really like that photo of the elephant, so I got the guy to give it to me for $10 because he really liked you.” In my heart, the wellspring of life, I shed tears, as she reminded me of the sacrifice and love God has given to us. This $10 was the ONLY MONEY SHE HAD. And how could I ever be so selfish to take that from her, but in her loving kindness and unforgettable heart, she wanted more than anything to give me something. Truly humbling. Although I was upset with her spending the last money she had, I did not allow myself to show my emotion towards her until later that evening with God. We spent the evening attempting to make a frappuchino with Katelyn, Brett, and Andrew, and I noticed once again Donnica had disappeared. As I walked upstairs to Austin’s bedroom, I realized it was dejavu again. I could tell something was wrong with my sister. She revealed to me that her and her boyfriend had been living without heat and running water for the past year. Although the burdens began to grow upon our shoulders again, the Lord reminded me of what He had done just a few days before this. And I had no doubt that in whatever way He wanted to, He would provide these imperative needs for Donnica. Sitting there on the bed with Donnica we prayed and gave it over to the Lord. Then we spendt a few hours at the Asbury Youth Fall Retreat, and had our world rocked by God. He again, showed Himself clearly in the doubts and fears we had. He whispered in both Donnica, and I’s ears that everything was going to be okay and that He was going to take care of her.

I must interrupt and say, that the Lord, will indeed rock your world when you never thought he would have something to say to you. IN my pride I denied that the Lord would have anything to say to me at a YOUTH retreat. Little did I know, the Holy Spirit wrecked my pride, and showed Himself as He always does, in His magnificent way. My heart has learned to constantly be in prayer in every moment, that He may teach me something I did not know, in the circumstance I was in. He has taught me more than I could imagine in the past week by the radical faith of my sister Donnica.
Anyway, Brett took Donnica to Whataburger because she had never had one, and she could not finish it so she saved it for later. As we were driving back to my house from Whataburger I thought so hard about what the next three days would entail trying to help Donnica out with her house. It never left my mind that I had to help her, although God ransomed my heart last night. But last night I felt great desperation to offer it all to Him. This morning Donnica and I woke up to drive to Christ City Church, and I informed her that (it’s a long story) but our friend Shae had snuck out of the house last night and that they were looking for her. The reason why Donnica was staying till Tuesday, was because I felt she would be better than anyone else to understand on Shae’s level what was going on in her life. Shae has been rebelling and forcefully trying to ignore the work of the Spirit in her life. She has been fighting against God, and allowing the enemy to have her. This morning after church, Donnica sat Shae down and allowed herself to be a vessel for God’s words towards Shae. She explained that nothing Shae did would ever make her fit in enough with the crowd that told her to do the terrible things she was doing, and told her the reason why she was talking to her was because she knew how many people have been praying for her, and wanting her to turn around. Donnica had only met Shae once before this time, but she loved Shae and Shawonda with her whole heart. -I PROMISE YOU I have seen the face of Jesus in Donnica. Truly Truly Truly! There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord has revealed what a Christ-follower actually looks like in Donnica. She is a young woman radically abandoned to the One. She does not deny Him, although her emotions sometimes get to her, she knows without a shadow of a doubt that she will be taken care of by Him. That indeed is the fact. The Lord led my dad and I to speak to a man after church today, and as our conversation continued, I quickly realized Donnica’s tears were going to be redeemed. In my excitement, I ran and got Donnica to tell her the good news: This man was going to fix her water pipe and her heat! WOW- can we stop right now and bow to the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Redeemer, the Savior, the most Loving, Gracious, Merciful, Faithful, Beautiful being. We must all surrender our wants and our needs to Him. Obviously He is faithful, obviously He is Good. Our most Holy Father, desires with everything in His being, for His Name to be glorified all the days of our lives. Donnica, as a faithful servant of Christ, has made this promise, to glorify His name all the days of her life, and she has been rewarded not just on this earth, but with an eternity waiting for her in front of her Maker and Creator. What joy she has found in giving faithfully, even when she has nothing to give. Even today, she found $2 randomly and put it in the offering at church. I looked at her like she was crazy, and said, “where did you get that money?” she said, “I found it in my purse and because He has blessed me so much, I must give it all back to Him.” Can you, whoever is reading this right now, place yourself in her shoes, and ask yourself if you would have done the same thing, if you had $0 to your name and you found $2 would you put it in the offering? I am going to be honest right now. I know that I wouldn’t have. I would have kept it myself, believing it was a blessing from God. She did believe it was a blessing from God, a blessing she felt God deserved to be given back. I believe with all my heart Donnica has taught me more about being a Christ-follower than anyone else has ever taught me, and I have only known her for 3 months.

This I believe would be a verse to explain Donnica’s heart:
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:5-6

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Praise Him with everything in you, for He is good and faithful.

Tonight was one of the most incredible God-glorifying nights of my life. Never in a million years had I thought it would be though. I don’t even know where to start, and I know that is what I always say when I am about to right something about our most Holy Father. This summer, I met this incredible young woman named Donnica, and the only reason we became close was because she asked me if I could take pictures of her because she never had graduation pictures made. I of course jumped at the chance to take pictures! After that the rest is history! About two months ago when she called me and informed me that her and her boyfriend were struggling with trying to make ends meet. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but I felt a lot of pressure on my heart to help her the best way I could. Seeking the advice of my Father, I asked only that I would do His will, and not my own. Through prayer and an earnestness to help, I invited donnica to come stay with me for a while….a while…not knowing exactly how long that would mean but I wanted her to be fed so she came to Birmingham. One of the nights she was here I had some of my friends over to hang out and play games. After dinner I noticed Donnica had disappeared up to her room, so I came upstairs to look for her. I found her sitting on Austin’s bed crying, and I HAD NO IDEA WHY. AS I sat down to listen to her she poured her heart out to me and explained that while she loved being here and being taken care of, all she could think about was going back to piedmont, and that she knew she was going home to a dark home, with no food. In her mind, it seemed, she did not want to leave the place where she was, but realized she could not stay for forever. She lay there crying because she didn’t know what she would eat the next day. For the next few days after this, I cried out to God in desperation, seeking that He would explain to me what I should do. I HONESTLY had NO IDEA where to start, how to support her, when to say yes and when to say no, all I knew was that the Lord had provided me with money from working at the ranch for two weeks. All I wanted to do was give her everything I had made but I knew that would not be the faithful way to do it. So after talking to Donnica about how much money she needed to get by for a month she said $50, which obviously to feed her self, keep her lights on, and have clothes on her back, was definitely not enough. So I decided $150 would be better than nothing to suffice for a month. Little did I know the Lord had a much grander plan. There was a donor that gave another $50 and I am sure he wouldn’t want his name mentioned so I will just let you know that one of my most faithful brothers in Christ donated this money to help donnica out. The Lord began to move in big ways, proving Himself to provide in the midst of heartache and desperation. So after donnica had been at my house for 5 days I drove her back to Gadsden with $200 to her name. I did not know how long it would last her, if it was enough, if I was being selfish, or if I was hurting more than helping her. After two months went by, Donnica called me and texted me quite a bit, and somewhere in the midst of the calls and texts I never “found time” to get back to her. I let my Lord and Savior down. I denied that I had anything left to give her, and was scared that I might not be able to satisfy her needs, so I denied even trying. Saturday she texted me and told me she was coming to Birmingham with our friend Kelsie. I knew this week was going to be a crazy week for me, but I knew the Lord had placed a true burden on my heart to deny myself, and spend time with my beautiful sister. I had it all planned out in my mind that I was going to find sometime to spend with her. Things became very crazy this week very fast, and I found myself not seeing a time that I could spend with her, while she was here. Then donnica called yesterday, and I told her that I was going to make time to spend time with her, so today at 4:30 after class I went and picked her up from Birmingham southern. The plan was for us to go to Asbury to eat dinner then go to UCF for worship….little did I know God’s plans would trump anything we had planned. On the way to Asbury I asked Donnica (randomly and I have no idea where this came from because I wasn’t thinking about it at all) “do you have winter clothes to wear?” she smiled and said yes, which obviously meant I am trying to lie through a smile but I am not very good at lying so no. At this point I started thinking about what my mom had just told me about the money in my account. I remember calling the bank only to find out I had $193 exactly. I knew I couldn’t be eating on campus anymore, and that I would have to be making my lunches. So today my college lunch-sack life began ☺. As we were driving to church I remembered all of the art supplies that I still needed to buy for my next project, and I started stressing out because I knew I needed to watch how much money was in my account. After walking out of hobby lobby with $37 worth of art supplies, I realized my next step HAD to be buying donnica a jacket. The only jacket she had was a thin sweatshirt that would not keep her warm with the weather getting down to 40* soon (tonight). Funny how God works, how perfect His timing is, in giving me the money to provide her with something to keep her warm. We traveled to Academy and found a ski jacket that would DEFINITELY keep her warm for $20. So just tonight I had spent $57. And I had to take out $20 to eat dinner at Asbury. Whoa. I was stressing out in my mind that I had just thrown away $77, but I handed it over to the Lord, because I could not bring myself down, because I knew the Lord would provide whatever way He decided to. After dinner, Donnica and I were trying to figure out what we wanted to do before UCF started at 8. I told her all of our options: stay at Asbury and go to the youth service, go home and do nothing, go to target and walk around, go to TJ maxx, or go to Ross. I knew I HAD to do something about the fact that she didn’t have any winter clothes, so I sought the Lord as we decided against all the other options, to go to Ross (even though I had talked about taking her to the thrift store tomorrow). As we were driving to Ross, I was stressfully thinking about how much money I could spend on providing her with clothes, and how I could for the next 3 weeks while my mom is gone, live off of nothing basically. We arrived at Ross and immediately checked out the clearance section for the cheapest, cutest winter clothes we could find. I find Soooo much true joy in giving to others, not spending on myself but in seeing a SMILE on my beautiful friend, Donnica’s face, truly this is joy unspeakable. How often does the Lord, give me a chance to see that joy on somebody else’s face?!? I am blessed. I couldn’t wait to pick out as much as we could for her to try on so she could have NEW WARM clothes to wear! Soo with a handful of clothes we headed to the dressing room! I knew we would be there a while so I took a seat in front of the mirror to watch Donnica perform a “fashion show” for me ;-) I was sitting there thinking of all the stupid things I had bought in my life that I absolutely NEVER NEEDED, but just wanted, and how I wish I could take it back and bring the money to pay for these clothes for her. I don’t think I have ever wished I had the same body type as somebody so bad, so that I could give her the clothes off of my back. All I could see was her precious little feet as she swapped clothes in and out trying to find the perfect outfits. As she tried everything on, everything seemed to be fitting her perfectly. I didn’t understand how on one try we could find so many things that fit her so well! She looked beautiful in every new thing she brought out! Then I noticed the shoes she had on her feet: a pair of plain white tennis shoes, that I soon realized she had worn all summer long. Knowing nobody else was in the dressing room, I asked her curiously, “donnica, are those the only shoes you have?” she bashfully said, “yes.” Soon the burdens grew as I knew she had found so many clothes that fit her well, and that I had to buy her some new shoes. I began fearfully praying to the Lord that in whatever way He wanted to that He would provide. I knew He was going to provide, I just didn’t know How, when, or where He would provide. After she came out of the dressing room BEAMING, we began to walk towards the shoe section of ross. As much as I wanted to buy all of the things in the cart for her, I started going through them as she was trying on shoes, and I realized there was no way I could pay for everything she had so joyfully picked out. I ended up on a different aisle as Donnica wandering aimlessly, begging God to provide money for me to give her. As I was standing there a lady came up to me AND SAID, “I overheard you asking her if that was the only pair of shoes she had, and heard her say yes, and I quickly realized I have way more than one pair of shoes, so I bought her a gift card.” I think I was just so dumbstruck and confused I didn’t know what to say, so I just started crying, tears of joy, but they were definitely POURING from my face. I gave her a hug and said, “you have no idea how perfect your timing was.” She walked off without Donnica ever noticing. Then donnica came over because she heard me crying, and she was freaking out thinking I had a call from somebody about my mom or something. I couldn’t even get words out of my mouth and I already had another audience member. A lady working in the store came and asked me what was wrong. As I took a deep breath the Lord gave me the strength to tell Donnica what that sweet lady and more importantly what the LORD had just done for HER. All I could say was, “Donnica, the Lord HAS YOUR BACK NO MATTER WHAT NEVER FORGET THAT< DO NOT EVER GIVE UP HOPE< EVEN WHEN YOU ARE DESPERATE AND YOU FEEL NO ONE IS GOING TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS.” I embraced Donnica as if I was hugging Jesus, because I couldn’t help but be overflowing with the emotion of the Spirit, and the love and joy that I had experienced standing there. Donnica and I just stood there embracing eachother, balling in the middle of ross. And of course the power of the Holy Spirit was SOOO powerful, that this other employee walked over and the only thing she said was, “what’s going on? I feel the power of the Spirit coming from over here?!” (OOO myyyy! The Lord is good and faithful and never leaves, and makes His presence known when He performs a miracle like that! And I could not be more filled with joy then to be a part of His plan this evening) Then the first employee that was standing there offered Donnica a job, and said that she would have her working there tomorrow if she wanted it. Sadly, donnica had to explain to her that she doesn’t live here, but of course my wheels began to turn. We had not even looked at how much the gift card was for, then Donnica opened it up and saw $75, and we just looked at each other and started balling, again (as if the first time was not enough). Then Donnica continued to look for shoes and not just one pair but THREE! OO the joy of the Lord has faithfully produced emotions that are so unexplainable, I can’t begin to put words to them. We walked around the store SHOUTING at each other how Perfect and wonderful the Lord is. After she found three pairs of shoes, we made our way to the check out counter, and of course God was not done yet. One of our good family friends Bee Little was standing at the counter trying to look for a receipt. I was so excited to see her even though I looked like a mess, I had to tell her what just happened. I couldn’t even get the story out right I was so excited! As we stood there telling her how GOOD GOD is, we started checking out, and I said, Donnica use the card on as much as you can buy and I will pay for the rest! Bee chimed in and said, “wait what are you doing? let me pay for the rest of it.”….really? The Lord completely provided everything needed to pay for donnica’s clothes, and I didn’t not pay a dime. As we walked out of ross I said, “seriously donnica, please don’t tell me I am dreaming” and when she pinched me the glorious presence of the Holy Spirit resonated in my mind. I finally wrapped my head somewhat around what had just happened. The Father in Heaven, provided for his faithful follower, Donnica, that she might have clothes on her back, and be prepared for the harsh winter that is ahead. OOOOO how incredible and Beautiful He is. And that is not even the end of the story. Sarah Holsembeck and UCF provided food for Donnica for her to take back to Piedmont! HOOOWWW GLORIOUS! I do not think I have ever worshipped God so incredibly, and felt that He was so near to us in my whole life. Andy read scripture that I FELT. Donnica and I kept on looking at each other as he read the different scripture and started crying, because we were so FLOORED by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It was so REAL and ALIVE. NOBODY CAN EVER CONVINCE ME THAT THE LORD IS NOT REAL. HE IS ACTUALLY ALIVE. He is with each of us in our desperation and in our times of need. Donnica was at a point where she was doubting the presence of God in her life, and just when she began to doubt, God proved Himself in a way she NEVER thought He could/would do. In all of this, I solemnly vow, my faith will never be the same. How could it ever be the same? Seeing miracles happen is not a daily occurrence, unless you realize that the breath we have in the morning is a miracle. How joyful we should be to wake up in the morning and tell our brothers and sisters of the Glorious presence of God in our lives, and how desperate we should be to share the Gospel. “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. For I said, “steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness. You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.” Let the heavens PRAISE your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly TO BE FEARED in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them, you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm. The Heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them. The north and south, you have created them: Tabor and Hermon JOYOUSLY praise your Name. You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in YOUR righteousness are exalted. For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel.” Psalm 89:1-18.

Praise Him with everything in you, for He is Good and Faithful, and greatly to be praised.