At encounter this year, God showed me so much about himself and about me. I went in not really knowing what to expect, except that it was going to be way different then 1st year... thats about it. I was really excited though! I soon gave into the frustration that I had been feeling all summer as we started our first session at wildhorse. During worship, I felt nothing. During the lesson, nothing. I found myself trying to force myself to something, anything. I was angry at myself and disappointed that I couldnt find God. I prayed and searched and felt like I was going no where, fast. I cant really explain what was going on or what I was feeling, it was just this desperation that if I didnt find God, I would literally die, my spirit would die. On the last night, as I went in for prayer, I still felt like I hadnt really connected with God at all. I hated it, thats for sure. As Bo, Lindsay, and Katie prayed for me though, this hope welled up inside my heart and as they delivered their words for me, something just clicked inside... the light had been switched on. It was like going from light to dark, all over again. Like I've mentioned before, this summer has for sure been a wilderness one... dry, gross, tiring. As they spoke with me, I came to the realization that it really was God who had drawn me there, with him. I had said it so many times, "God has brought me here for a reason", but I think deep down I didnt really believe that God was with me in the desert... I felt so alone. I had forgotten dreams, and hopes, and vision, and goals, and callings... I had forgotten them all. God started something that night as I sat there. Since that night, God has been restoring the things he had spoken to me and the things he had promised me. I hate it that I forget so easily what He's done for me when times get tough! I have this incredible hope and faith now. Hope that there's more to find and faith to go look for it. God's grace astounds me!
So I came out of encounter with this renewed vision and passion and then found myself back in the problems that I had left at home... mainly the issue that I had barely half of the first payment for CLC. But I had such faith that God would provide... and He did, but there was a big area of uncertainty for me. He gave me supernatural faith to believe for the rest, but in the natural I saw no possible way it was going to come through. To make the story short, God provided $700 dollars for me the day before the last day I could turn in money or not do CLC. Lots of prayer and tears, I tell ya... It scared the crap out of me to think that I might not be able to do CLC! It grew my faith so much to see God come through. I knew he would!
Then coming right out of this miracle, I ran hard right into I Heart Bend. It was awesome. All the past I heart events, I've felt that God moved, but I dont think I've ever experienced the love of God for a city before this event. My day started at 5:30 and ended at about 10:30. I got to the church, blew up baloons, ran stuff over to the Nazarene church, prayed with a homeless couple, ran over to Healey Hights, gave away stuff, prayed with a lady there, went door to door with two very cool people (Lily Smith and Alexa McBride!), went to lunch with Lily, went home, left 10 minutes later to go get on the dream kids bus, got to Drake, face painted for 3 hours, sat down for 30 minutes during highstreet, then loaded red chairs and cleaned up the park, then walked to my car which was literally 8 blocks away, drove home, and then passed out for many hours, glorious glorious hours! Whew! I say all this not for any other reason than this: I was tired. I served and loved Bend for one day... and I was tired. As I drove home I just started crying because I was tired. God spoke to me and just downloaded his heart for me and for my city in that very moment. I was tired after one day. God is relentless. He does this day and night, never stopping to take a break. Jesus is constantly at the right hand of the Father interceding for me and for everyone. He never stops. I realized just how weak and feeble and human I am. I was tired after one day! Oh the depths of the love of Christ... I cannot fathom or understand it. I saw how we loved our city and heard the stories of so many people being touched by the love of Christ, and it was only one day. God showed me that if the church would just be the church, and love like this everyday, our city would be so so much different. I thought about all the people I crossed paths with that day. God goes after them every single day, wanting them to know him and his love. He tries to get their attention. He tries to use you and me... how many times do we ignore the voice of the Lord and choose not to talk with someone we see. I know I do it all the time. God birthed in me a heart for the lost that I've never had before. He left me with this question: Are you going to let I Heart Bend be the only day that you pray for your city, the only day you serve strangers, the only day that you actually care? Its for sure something I've thought about, and something that has consumed me, heart and mind. My prayer to God right now is to not let me forget about those he cares about.
Switching gears a little bit, here are some pictures from Encounter till I Heart Bend and everything in between!
No better way to start something than with Spongebob... thats my motto!
Thats really all I got for now! So excited for fall in bend! Whoo Hooo!!!!!!!!!
Joy, joy, joy!