The Cry of My Heart

The cry of my heart is for healing. It always has been. I’ve just never known what that looked like.

The past week has been a struggle. I’ve been hurting. It got to the point where I didn’t  bother to put in contacts because I knew they’d probably just wash away haha. The pain emanates from a broken heart being in community with other people…

If you had asked me a month ago if my heart was hurting, I would have said no. Because it wasn’t haha. It actually wasn’t feeling much of anything . But as I have asked God to take me deeper into His Prescence, there has always been this little part of me thats like, “no. thats ok. that’s scary. lets not go any deeper.” 

At first I tried to ignore it. Then I got angry at it. Then I asked God what it was. And He showed me. That the little voice that protests intimacy with God is pieces of my broken heart crying out in fear and longing to be healed.

I was hurt so badly in the past that I made myself incredibly independent as a coping mechanism. I thought that if I didn’t get close to anyone, I couldn’t be hurt by anyone. But this was super lonely and my heart longed for deep relationships.

Now I’m choosing to be vulnerable and let people get close, and past wounds are being triggered, like lemon juice seeping into torn skin. Being independent just covered the pain up, it didn’t heal the wounds, and they’ve been festering. Some for a very, very long time haha.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, it just buries the pain so that we don’t feel it all the time. The pain comes when something pokes at our wounded hearts and makes the injury bigger and more painful. I believe that only God can heal us and make our hearts whole again. It’s what Jesus came to die for!

The Bible says that faith without works is dead. One speaker said it this way: faith always manifests.

Manifest is defined by thefreedictionary.com as: clearly apparent to the sight or understanding; obvious.

What I put my faith in is going to manifest in my life. If I put my faith in the Holy Spirit and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I get the fruit of the Spirit which are joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, righteousness and a lot of other good and beautiful things!

But if I place my faith in a lie, then that lie will bear fruit in my life as well. For instance, rejection, insecurity, worthlessness, fear, comparison, jealousy etc. (things that are not from  God).

The manifestations of faith are like fruit on a tree. You can cut fruit off a tree but it will quickly grow back because the tree is still alive. You can’t kill a tree by picking off it’s fruit haha. You need to destroy the roots!

So when I feel rejection again and again, and I know that rejection does not come from the Holy Spirit, I know it is fruit from something else. Something that doesn’t belong inside a child of God!

God is taking me back (as far as elementary school and earlier) and healing my heart,  removing roots of destruction that have grown deep in my life. In their place, He declares identity, dignity, strength, and His love! It’s painful because I’m revisiting a lot of memories I’ve buried deep and tried to forget. The result is inner healing that is so indescribable. Each encounter, every touch of His Presence sets me free to truly live, not just to cope and numb my heart till I just cant feel anymore. Does that make sense?

It’s still really new to me, but I am more free than I have ever been in my whole life and I know that greater freedom is coming every day I spend with God! He is the Truth and the more I know Him, the more the lies of satan have no affect on me.

 

Be blessed my friends! God is love and in Him there is no darkness at all.

Love always,

~Chelle

 

 

It Only Takes 5 Minutes

Today was amazing.

My friend Becca came to visit and we had a wonderful morning catching up while we played with my friends baby. I then helped move boxes to another friends new house and finally met up with my friend Jes for dinner. Jes and I spent the evening drinking a glass of wine and having an amazing conversation about life and God. Afterwards we sat on the ledge above Kilwins and sang folk music with a bunch of friends who decided to twang up a variety of musical genres. Amazing Grace, Mumford and Sons style, was hilarious and definitely my favorite and we even got money thrown at us haha!

To top off the incredible day, my bus ride home tonight reminded me that it only takes a minute- or five- to incredibly impact someone’s life. It was 10:00pm and I was waiting for the last bus to come so I could go home. I didn’t know the exact time so I waited a while and even considered calling a cab. Unfortunately, I had a grand total of 4 dollars on me so a cab was a little out of my price range haha.

I asked Daddy God what to do and I asked him to get me home somehow. The bus finally came and as I stepped on the driver said something about refueling. I didn’t really hear him, but I was content to be on my way home, even if there was a detour of some sort.

When we pulled into the refueling station the driver asked me and the young man in the back to step off the bus while he pumped the gas. While we waited in the vacant parking lot I introduced myself to the guy from the back of the bus and he said his name was Dub. We started talking about music and art and I asked him what he liked to draw. He said he drew butterflies. Butterflies with hornets stinging them in the faces, causing them to shrivel up and die. He also drew skulls and blood and roses. It was really dark imagery, but God isn’t afraid of the dark and neither was I. I told him it sounded really interesting and intense- which he agreed to haha- and I asked him if I could bless him and his artwork. I told him I serve Jesus and I have the Holy Spirit of God living inside me. He told me he also knew Jesus and then he started to talk about how the stuff he was drawing was bad for his mental health and he knew it. Then he let me pray.

I thanked our Daddy in Heaven for the chance to meet Dub and for the blessing of the unexpected refueling detour. Then I spoke identity into him and reminded him of his status and authority as a son of the King. I blessed Dub and his artwork and I thanked God for power in his lyrics and drawings to bring hope and light into the world to change lives for the kingdom of heaven.

Dub was amazed and asked me how I knew that his words were powerful. I just told him that I know what God says about us as his children. The Bible says that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Jesus also gave the children of God authority and power to act in his name for his kingdom on earth when he ascended to heaven. Our words are powerful, and Dub, as a lyrical artist has an amazing gift and unique potential to use his words to catalyze change. He had just forgotten who he is as a beloved child of God. I got to point him back to the goodness of God and the Lord took it from there and brought conviction and awe that cut Dub to the heart and brought him home.

It was a 5 minute encounter where I had the privilege to watch as a loving Father poured out his love on his son. It was amazing, and I am in awe of my King.

And now I am going to sleep :)

Love always.

~Chelle

Christmas in July

Yesterday I went on a spontaneous lunch date with my heavenly Daddy. I got on a bus, got off at a Subway, bought my sandwich and prepared to journal. But rather than writing, I found myself reading the first entry of my current diary instead.

After reading it I was compelled to share :)

So here you are. Enjoy a sneak peak into my heart and diary. In it I talk to my God, and sometimes to myself haha, and He often replies through His Word, the holy Scriptures of the Bible. The Bible verses are in CAPS LOCK, not because I’m yelling but because I wrote in capital letters in my journal and didn’t think to change it until after the fact haha. Happy reading!

Tuesday: December 25th, 2012

“For the past two days I’ve been reading blogs about the World Race, crying, getting super, SUPER excited, feeling nauseous, praying and quoting the Word [the Bible], and then crying some more.

I really have no idea what you have next for me Father, but I pray that you’ll make it clear in your time and lead me step by step towards it in Jesus’ name. I declare your peace over my life and I thank you for your plan and your sovereignty. YOU ARE AWESOME GOD!

So it’s Christmas and I’m sitting on my floor (it’s really cold!) looking at the website for the World Race.

There’s been a whole lot of junk floating around in my thoughts so I figured it might be good to write it out. One of the racers blogs likened sin to a disease or mold. Where most things need sunlight to grow, disease thrives in the dark, away from the light. So rather than hold in all my fear, I want to expose it all and let the light of life take care of it and destroy them.

Disclaimer Fear #1: I don’t know if I’m called to the World Race.

I’m afraid that I’m not “called.” As I’ve read through these blogs people say over and over how they’re certain that they’re called to the Race…

what if I’m not called…

“THEREFORE, I TELL YOU, DO NOT WORRY ABOUT YOUR LIFE. WHAT YOU WILL EAT OR DRINK; OR ABOUT YOUR BODY, WHAT YOU WILL WEAR. IS NOT LIFE MORE IMPORTANT THAN FOOD, AND THE BODY MORE IMPORTANT THAN CLOTHES?… LOOK AT THE BIRDS OF THE AIR; THEY DO NOT SOW OR REAP OR STORE AWAY IN BARNS, AND YET YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER FEEDS THEM. ARE YOU NOT MUCH MORE VALUABLE THAN THEY? WHO OF YOU BY WORRYING CAN ADD A SINGLE HOUR TO HIS LIFE?” (Matthew 6:25-27)

“FOR I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU, DECLARES THE LORD, PLANS TO PROSPER YOU AND NOT TO HARM YOU PLANS TO GIVE YOU HOPE AND A FUTURE.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“MANY, O LORD MY GOD, ARE THE WONDERS YOU HAVE DONE. THE THINGS YOU PLANNED FOR US NO ONE CAN RECOUNT TO YOU; WERE I TO SPEAK AND TELL OF THEM, THEY WOULD BE TOO MANY TO DECLARE.” (Psalm 40:5)

“BUT THE PLANS OF THE LORD STAND FIRM FOREVER , THE PURPOSES OF HIS HEART THROUGHOUT GENERATIONS.” (Psalm 31:11)

Fear #2: I’m afraid of being wrong… which really goes along with the calling part…

“FOR MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS, NEITHER ARE YOUR WAYS MY WAYS, DECLARES THE LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)

ok… I’m afraid of what people will think if I’m wrong…

“THE FEAR OF MAN BRINGETH A SNARE; BUT WHOSO PUTTETH HIS TRUST IN THE LORD SHALL BE KEPT SAFE.” (KJV; Proverbs 29:25)

“THERE IS NO FEAR IN LOVE. BUT PERFECT LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR, BECAUSE FEAR HAS TO DO WITH PUNISHMENT. THE ONE WHO FEARS IS NOT MADE PERFECT IN LOVE.”  (1 John 4:18)

“FOR YOU DID NOT RECEIVE A SPIRIT THAT MAKES YOU A SLAVE AGAIN TO FEAR, BUT YOU RECEIVED THE SPIRIT OF SONSHIP,  AND BY HIM WE CRY ‘ABBA, FATHER.’” (Romans 8:15)

“NOW THE LORD IS THE SPIRIT, AND WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS THERE IS FREEDOM.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

“SO IF THE SON SETS YOU FREE, YOU WILL BE FREE INDEED.” (John 8:36)

“IT IS FOR FREEDOM THAT CHRIST HAS SET US FREE. STAND FIRM THEN, AND DO NOT LET YOURSELVES BE BURDENED AGAIN BY A YOKE OF SLAVERY.” (Galatians 5:1)

Amen. Thank you Jesus. Let your Word break the chains of everything enslaving me. Lord I would LOVE to go on the World Race if you are leading me there. If not, I look forward to wherever you lead. I just want to be where you are. Can I write why I like the idea of the World Race? ok. here goes:

1. The blogs: I see your fruit being produced in the lives of so many people who go. I love the testimonies, the adventure, the fellowship, the transformation, how Adventures in Missions wants to see your kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven. It looks different. It looks biblical. It looks terrifying… but it looks like you, Jesus. On their site, they wrote that they look for the darkest place in the city and then go there. This trip looks so bold. It looks awesome because it looks like you. It looks like the Great Commission. I want that…

2. I’m not satisfied where I’m at. I don’t want to get a 9-5 job in an advertising company. I want to go and build relationships. I want to worship freely and truly live. I want church to be a lifestyle, not a building. I want to learn. I want to die to myself and find life in you Father! Wherever we go next, I want to know you more, in Jesus’ name I pray!

Alright. I’m going to apply…

I might be wrong… Thank you Father that you love me anyway. I am not afraid. Lets go. Lead me wherever you want me to go. I am yours! Send me. I’ll go <3 In Jesus’ name I commit my life to you. Amen.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The World Race: Route 3 

Guatemala ~ Honduras ~ Nicaragua ~ Costa Rica ~ South Africa ~ Mozambique ~ Swaziland ~ Myanmar ~ Malaysia ~Thailand ~ Philippines

Two weeks ago I was accepted to the World Race. In January, 2014, I will be leaving with my team to bring the AWESOME news of the kingdom of God to the nations. I look forward to sharing more of this adventure with you over the next months and year! :)

God bless you and have an amazing day!!

~Chelle

Up in the Air

Song of the Day: Marriage Supper of the Lamb by Aviad Cohen

Two weeks ago I graduated college without a single summer plan. I wanted to visit some friends, maybe take a roadtrip, and then hopefully go on a mission trip called the World Race in September. But the day of my graduation, everything was up in the air.

Twice in one week interviews had fallen through for the mission trip and the deadline  was quickly approaching. I started to wonder if I should drop the application because I hadn’t heard back from a real person in what seemed like weeks. While I waited, I studied, and packed, and said goodbye to many amazing and beautiful friends. A few days later, after finishing finals, closing the building and doing the motherload of RA paperwork, I walked across the stage and moved out of University housing all on the same day. My family, a few friends and I went out to dinner, and then my friend Aubrey and I returned to spend the night at my house. Our plan was to wake up at 4:00am the next morning to go to another friends graduation at the Naval Academy; the thought of which brought me to tearful giggles from lack of sleep. The suitcases stayed packed and my bedroom was littered with bags and miscellaneous boxes so Aubrey and I slept on the living room couch. It seemed like the minute my head hit the pillow, I was already waking up to her voice telling me it was time to get up.

The day turned out to be a super strange one, beginning before I even opened my eyes. In those 5 short hours of sleep, I dreamed, which is relatively strange in itself. I rarely remember my dreams, but the few I can remember have been spiritually significant and very meaningful. In my dream I saw a single image of an infinite white hallway splattered with red. It looked like someone took a paintbrush and flung bright red paint at the walls, ceiling, and floor. The red was splattered, but not dripping and the dream was accompanied by an unsettling feeling; and it was not nice at all.

Then to the sound of Aubrey’s voice, I opened my eyes to a second shock. As I shook off the sleep I found myself in my own bed, curled up with a bag of dirty laundry (which I quickly tossed to the floor). Somehow during the night I had sleep-walked down the hallway, over a waist high rabbit barrier and safely into my own bed. The absurdity of making the voyage without falling on my face, paired with  lack of sleep, made me laugh until tears threatened to roll down my face again. Aubrey just looked at me from the other side of the rabbit barrier. She said she had had spiritual dreams and it was freaking her out because she never dreamed like that. She said something about lies and that I had been praying over her in her dream. My own dream still burned bright in my memory so I started to ask the Lord what it meant, if anything. Then as we were getting ready to go, Aubrey turned and asked me when I had moved to my room and why. The logical questions just sent me into another fit of giggles as I told her I had no clue whatsoever.

So thats how we started off the morning and I was super excited for whatever the Lord had in store for the day. The words “armor of God” repeated in my head as I thought about my dream and what Aubrey had said. I wasn’t sure what to make of anything that was happening but I felt an urgency to read the Bible and I didn’t know when I’d have time; we had woken up late and had to leave. When I prayed about this, I heard the words “read out loud” soemthing I barely ever did.  Shortly after, we got in the car and I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to read Scripture out loud again so I asked Aubrey (who was driving) for permission, then asked the Holy Spirit where to read. Immediately the armor of God (Ephesians 6) came to mind, and I felt like I should read all of Ephesians so thats what I did haha. And it was really sweet.

There were several things that stood out, but my personal favorite was Ephesians 3:7-12. In these verses Paul talks about the gospel of Christ and how God reveals his perfect plan to heavenly powers though his church:

“His [God’s] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Woah. Through his church- all the children of God who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit- God makes known his wisdom to therulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. Say what?!? Almighty God chooses to make his infinite wisdom known to the spiritual forces of darkness in the heavenly realms through a bunch of human beings who love him! And because of the blood of Jesus, God’s children can now approach a perfectly holy God with freedom and confidence because there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That’s crazy.

So anyway. My mind was overwhelmed by these verses as we made the drive towards Annapolis. And that’s when we encountered it… the traffic. dun dun dunnn. After inching along for several miles we found parking close to the stadium that was hosting graduation. We paid the parking fee and then remembered we still had to pick up the tickets downtown. So in heels and dresses we high tailed it about 2 miles to downtown Annapolis. When we finally got the tickets around 8:45, we noticed that the little paper stubs asked all guests to be “seated” by 8:45am! haha, no good. We decided to stop by a local bus stop to see if the buses were running and we saw a man in uniform walking along the other side of the road. Aubrey called out and asked him if he was going to graduation and he replied yes without stopping. Then she yelled after him asking if he thought walking or the bus would be faster. All he said was “follow me.”

Oh man. In that moment all I could think about was the first disciples of Jesus hahahaha. I sometimes wondered what it must have been like for them when Jesus said those very same words. Now I think I have a better idea. We hesitated a split second, then ran to catch up with him. The man was a colonel in the army and he shared some of his story with us as we speed walked through the city. Curbs and sidewalks started to fade out into pebbles and grass as we walked through backstreets and residential neighborhoods, but after 15 minutes we somehow made it to the stadium entrance. It was insane. I had blisters on the tops and bottoms of my toes and Aubrey and I were sweaty and out of breath. We thanked the colonel and parted ways to find our seats.

Then we watched graduation, in the rain, without jackets, and it was frigid. We had forfeited our umbrellas at the entrance so we sat huddled together on the metal bleachers and held our high gloss paper programs over our heads in a feeble attempt to stay dry. After 2 hours, shivering and soaked, we joined about 30 other people huddled in the bathroom just trying to stay warm haha. We watched our friend’s Company walk the stage and after the ceremony ended we hurried to Main Street to warm up and get lunch. The blanket in the back of Aubrey’s car never felt so warm! It was then that things started to get really cool.

About a year ago some friends of mine introduced me to a couple named Nick and Molly who own a shop called Kilwins in DTA (Downtown Annapolis). They both love the Lord and  use their store as a means to further the Kingdom of Heaven. Last time I met them, Nick and I briefly talked about what the Lord was doing in our lives. I had just heard a guy named Todd White speak at a friends church and I was super excited because his lifestyle manifested the Holy Spirit in a way I had never seen before. His testimonies sounded like they came straight out of the book of Acts! He spoke about healing, and prophesy, and the work of the Holy Spirit all rooted and grounded in the abundant love of God. (Youtube him out if you’ve never heard him speak before. He has been HUGELY influential in my life and his testimonies encourage me to dive further into the depths of the love of God an then act upon it!)

So as Aubrey and I were walking down Main Street I was like, “we should go see Nick and Molly.” But after a minute of consideration, we decided that we couldn’t just show up at their house uninvited so instead we settled for a little muffin shop to get some lunch. As we sat down to eat our food Aubrey turned to me and whispered, “Michelle, isn’t that Nick over there???” And it was. So I started praying for an opportunity to talk to him but he seemed pretty deep in conversation. After about a half hour Aubrey and I decided to leave and as we got up, Nick and his friend did too. We walked over and introduced ourselves and started talking about the super exciting things God had been doing in all of our lives. To our surprise Nick started to talk about things in the book of Ephesians and the words rang out loud and clear as we heard them for the second time that day. Nick then encouraged us to go visit his wife Molly, so we did. We began sharing the crazy account of our day, beginning with the strange dreams we had woken up to. Molly then asked us to tell her the dreams and we prayed that the Holy Spirit would show us what they meant. After praying we still had no insight into the dreams but Molly encouraged us to keep praying about them.

Then she asked us what our summer plans were. I told her I had absolutely none. I shared how I was applying for the World Race and how two interviews had fallen through and I had not heard anything in over a week. I shared how I had no job, no money, and no car. And she invited me to spend the summer in Annapolis possibly helping with a prophetic art ministry some people in their community had just started. It felt right so I said yes knowing the promise that when I seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, everything else will follow.

Then our friend Josh, who had just graduated, arrived at the house and we decided to go on a tour of the Academy with him and his friends. After walking through many of the buildings, Aubrey started to ask Josh about the Holy Spirit. He shared how he had recently encountered the Spirit in a way that brought him to a deeper understanding of his identity in Christ and how deeply he is loved by the Father. As he was sharing, he started speaking about how Satan is the father of lies and when we believe him we find ourselves in bondage that Christ has set us free from. As he was talking Aubrey stopped him and explained her dream to him, finishing by saying that he was interpreting her dream, before she had ever shared it with him! It was so sweet haha and really crazy!

It was such an incredible day. I got home exhausted and overwhelmed by the love of God and in awe of how he truly works all things together.

Fast forward to the present, I heard back from the World Race and it turned out that a bunch of their emails were landing in my spam box!! Haha. But today I had my interview so we’ll see what happens next :) I hear back in two weeks.

And I’m still waiting to hear back about Annapolis, but your prayers would be much appreciated in that. I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him so whatever happens next I thank God that he has a plan (because if he didn’t I would certainly be a fool. haha.) :)

Thanks for reading! This was quite the novel, and it was all in one day whew.

I pray that the peace of the Holy Spirit will be with you and that he will strengthen you to  understand the love of God the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ. <3

Sending all my love,

Chelle <3

Crazy

True life: I am a hoarder. I keep EVERYTHING. And at the moment of decision, to keep or not to keep, my brain always seems to come up with a reason to keep the object in question. Embarrassing, I know. But whether it’s cabinet doors from a yard sale or old papers or gelato spoons (which are the cutest thing!), I tend to keep everything. And as one keeps everything, everything has a tendency to spill out into one’s living space. And as sad as it is to say, nothing has changed here in Italy. Although the quantity of my belongings here is significantly less, it grows day by day and it is terrible.

But in spite of my embarrassment, I have to share this. On this one bag of cookies it said:

“500 kcal: La colazione ideale per un uomo dinamico”

Which translates to “500 calories. The ideal breakfast for the dynamic man.”

bahahahaha. That just cracks me up :)

But anyways, let me backtrack a minute and talk about my three day trip to Rome last weekend, because it was amazing! We stayed in this cute little bed and breakfast hotel and then toured the major sites by day. Rome is HUGE in comparison to the other cities I’ve seen so far in Italy. I liked it, but not to live in. We took a bus from the train station to hotel and we literally packed that thing full. I was standing overtop of someone else and I had to twist my body around in a very obscure pose to avoid a backpack that threatened to knock me off my feet every time the bus took a turn.

In our 36 hours of active field tripping we saw the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum (which was flooded unfortunately), more churches than I can count on my fingers, St. Peters Basillica, the Trevi fountain and various others, the Pantheon, Capitoline Hill, the Spanish Steps, and I could easily go on. Like all of our art history trips we saw everything we possibly could in the time we were there. It was crazy, but well worth it!

On a more personal note, God has been teaching me some crazy things as well.  In the past I have felt the Holy Spirit work in me so many times. I won’t know what to say and suddenly I’ll be speaking words that are not my own, or I will be struggling with fear or doubt or sin and I will open my Bible right to Scripture that speaks directly to my heart. And even though I have personally experienced God’s Spirit move in these ways, I also read about gifts I have never even seen such as prophecy and healing and speaking in tongues.  And so coming to Italy I asked the Lord to teach me about His Spirit. And to say the least He has been. In so many ways.

Almost immediately upon arriving I saw the Holy Spirit come up in the sermons at church and in our Bible study, in my own time reading the Bible, and especially through the testimonies of the amazing people I have met here. Since being here, I have met Christians who have the gift of tongues, who have helped to caste out demons, who have seen healings, who have had prophetic words spoken over their lives and others who have experienced the Spirit leading them to speak words into the lives of others. Things that I had never experienced and to be completely honest, scared me to death, especially the gift of languages. When I first read in 1 Corinthians 12 about the gift of tongues I said, thanks but no thanks, God. I would love love love to see your Spirit at work in someone else, but I don’t want that for me. And that was that. I asked God to show me authentic movement of his Spirit in other people. And he did.

As the Holy Spirit came up more and more in conversation, I started to realize that the gifts of the Spirit were being poured out all around me to people just like me.  I asked  my best friends here if they had ever spoken in tongues or seen healings or had prophecies spoken through them or to them. And to my complete surprise, God had blessed every person I spoke to with the gift of languages. My one friend told me how she had once felt this overwhelming need to pray for her family, but she didn’t know what to pray for, so she had started praying in tongues, asking the Holy Spirit for words. Later that day she got home and found out that her parents had almost been in a car accident around the same time as she prayed for them. The Bible says,  “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8: 26b). Another of my friends told me how God had spoken directly to her through the pastor of her church. She attends a Brazilian church here in Italy, and in the middle of the service the pastor stopped preaching, pointed directly at her and said, “don’t follow your heart girl, it lies,” then continued preaching. Crazy thing is she had just had someone very close to her try to convince her to turn away from God by telling her to follow her heart. And I could go on! As I heard my friends, the people I trust, talk about their experiences with the Holy Spirit, my fears and misconceptions about the gifts started to melt away. I heard how God was moving in the lives of those around me and I wanted what they had. I wanted more of the Holy Spirit, and in particular I wanted the gift of tongues. 1 Corinthians 14  says, “…anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God” (v. 2) and “he who speaks in a tongue edifies himself”(v. 4). It later says that our spirits pray when we pray in tongues (v. 14).)  So to say the least, those things all sounded pretty sweet to me, and if all that intimacy with God was available to me through the Holy Spirit already inside me, then I wanted it.

And so a few nights later I prayed during Bible Study for the Holy Spirit to fill me to overflowing- or baptize me, or whatever you want to call it. All I knew was that the Bible talks about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and I wanted them if God chose to give them to me. I was not satisfied with the Spirit simply living in me (which he has since the day I accepted Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14); I wanted more, for the Spirit overflow in my life that I might have every blessing and every gift Jesus talks about giving to those who follow him…. and nothing happened. I felt nothing. haha. I had expected that I would speak in tongues or something crazy would happen… Or that I at least would feel something. Anything. But I didn’t that night, and it made me even more confused, and very frustrated. I didn’t understand. But I sure as anything wanted to.

In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul says to “eagerly desire the spiritual gifts.” And at this point I started to desire them very badly. My attitude had changed from I most definitely do not want the gifts of the Spirit, to how can I receive them? And because I knew I had Gods Spirit living in my already I wanted to know what I had to do to receive the blessings he promises in Scripture. I talked to a lot of people who had received the various gifts (see 1 Corinthians 12), and each of them told me the same thing. I just had to ask God for them.

In Luke 11:11-13, Jesus says, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead … If you then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” And in Matthew 7:7 Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives….” According to Scripture, God filled me with more of his Spirit the second that I asked him to (that night when I prayed)! After reading his Word, I then I started to ask God why I was still unable to speak in tongues.

Then one Saturday, about a month ago, I came home to an empty house; confused, filled with doubts and very very frustrated. And let me just says that when I am confused, and doubting, and frustrated with God, things start to happen. Those are the points in my life where I am not content with where I’m at in my faith and I want answers. I want to go deeper with my God. And in those moments God is always faithful in drawing close to me. Like Jesus says, seek and you will find.

So I opened my Bible. And I prayed. After reading countless Scriptures and crying a lot because of the turmoil in my heart, I read this passage from John 14:27. In it, Jesus says:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

At Jesus’ words my anxious heart stopped freaking out. God started to bring to light the fears and need for control that I still held on to so tightly. Deep in my heart I was still so scared of what would happen if I relinquished control of my words to the Holy Spirit. What would it sound like, what would I say, and what would people think?!?! But as I sat alone in silence with God I realized that none of those fears had any place. My God is so good and so faithful. I could trust Him, and I wanted to. I was given more of the Holy Spirit the instant I asked, but my fear and unbelief put a wall up to keep me from experiencing the gifts that come with knowing God more intimately.  So I got down on my face and begged God to remove everything that was keeping me from accepting everything he had for me. And after that I don’t really know what happened. I started praying and my words were not in English. It sounded foreign and I had no idea what I was saying, but I kept saying the name of Jesus. And my body was freaking out. I had a strange pins and needles sensation everywhere, but it didn’t hurt. It wasn’t like anything I had ever felt before. My fingertips felt like they were going to explode from the pressure of the tingling. And at one point my temples felt like static electricity had just shot through them. I stopped praying and when I stood up my legs were all shaky, and when I looked in the mirror the skin under my eyes was twitching, but not twitching… more like vibrating super fast, and rhythmically and I could see it move! It was really crazy.

And then I wrote everything down in my journal as fast as I could. My hands were shaking so badly that I couldn’t even write straight, but by the second page of writing everything  was completely back to normal, as if it had never happened. And instantly my mind was like, that didn’t just happen. you made that up, all of it. you wanted it so badly that you made it all up. that was not of God, and that was not the Holy Spirit in you. And then I tried to say something in tongues again and I couldn’t. And once again doubt flooded my mind as my brain reasoned away what I had just experienced.

The next night I went out into one of the town squares and I poured out my heart to God. I voiced my frustrations to him. All the doubts, especially about what had happened the day before. I told him I didn’t understand and I told him that I wanted everything He had for me, but I wasn’t sure what that looked like. I read Psalm 51 out loud over and over again, but my heart was so restless.  I asked God to show me the truth. I asked for clarity. I said, God, if this thing, which is so strange and unfamiliar, if it is from your Spirit, give me a peace like I have never felt before. And if it is not, if I am making anything up, if I am not in your Spirit and if this is not of you, then convict me like I have never felt convicted before. And then peace flooded my heart and I prayed in tongues again and my heart was filled with this crazy joy. :)

So to say the least God is teaching me some crazy crazy things. And I am very very excited to continue to draw closer and closer to him in the future- whatever that looks like. Please please pray for me in this.

Also, for all of you who believe in Jesus as your Savior, I urge you to pray over all of these words and test everything I have said against the Bible, because this is all super new to me and I do not even pretend to understand. I am just sharing what I have seen and experienced as best as I can.

And for all of you who don’t know Jesus yet, he is amazing, please ask me questions. Christianity is not a religion! It is not about what you do, because nothing you do, good or bad, will get you to God or to heaven. Christianity is about God, in his crazy unbelievable love, sending his Son to die, making it possible for us to know him personally. Ask me questions. I would love to talk.

Scripture About the Holy Spirit (for those of you who want them :)) = (John 14, especially verses 15-21, 26-27 ) (John 16: 5-33) (John 17 LOVELOVELOVE) (Romans 8: 26-27) (Romans 8:1-17) (Acts 2:1-4) (Psalm 51, especially verses 14-17) (Isaiah 44:1-5)

Phew. This was a novel. Talk to you all soon, and thanks for taking time to read about my life! :)

Ciao, Michelle

Painting #1: Untitled

I know that it has been far too long since I last updated this. But I have been so incredibly busy. Midterms come up in a week and I cannot believe how fast the semester is flying by.  Lets see. I don’t even know what to write about. Ive been spending a lot of time doing schoolwork. Most of my time actually. I have become newly acquainted with the library here. Several libraries actually. And I have fallen in love with picture books. For those of you who have never checked out high quality prints of master paintings, go get a book. I will never go back to the internet again if I can hold a copy in my hands.

I can’t remember if I’ve already written about this, but this is my fourth week of giving tours of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Florence Duomo!) Let me just say that it is so much fun! Today I bought a little book to write notes in because up until this point I’ve been carrying around this crinkly packet of papers that has seen better days.

But anyways. Thats been another highlight of my weeks :)

Art history is great as well. I am learning so much about everything haha. Well, not really everything. But our teacher knows so much information and she shares all of it. Some of our field trips border 12 hours. It’s a little crazy, but I really look forward to them. Rome is coming up soon.

Ok, like I said, time is slipping away here and it blows my mind. So I’ll wrap this up with my first finished painting of the semester. It’s still untitled, but my inspiration came from a conversation I had with a friend a while back about what spiritual revival would look like here in Florence.

I’ll put up a description soon. Check back :)

Again, I’m sorry this is such a brief post for such a long span of time! But I’ll write again soon!

Ciao!

Michelle

Pesto, Bugbites and Brazilians :)

I really love pesto. Up until this point in my life, I was blind to the joys of chopped up basil leaves and olive oil. After trying several different homemade pestos from the market, I decided it was time to make my own. So Saturday afternoon I translated the list of ingredients and set out on an adventure to make my most favorite condiment! About two hours later, amidst a wreckage of basil bits, garlic, and pine nuts pieces, I spooned my very own pesto nicely into a little glass jar that once housed some olives… and then I found five dollars! (except not really). Sorry, there was really no point to that story besides that fact that I was super excited that I made pesto!!! :D

Mosquito update. Never in my life have I had so many bug bites at one time. And it’s not even from going outside. The majority of attacks take place in my own home! Our flat has become a battlefield and there are casualties on both sides. My arms and legs are dotted with red welts and my walls are spotted with disgusting gray smudges. They might be winning at this point in time, but I refuse to invest in bug repellent. I might cave in soon though.

So the other day Heather and I ran out of espresso. Initially we had bought the best coffee in the store. It was a whopping 7 euros but it was sooo good. It had a rich wonderful flavor. Then we decided to opt out for a cheaper, more cost effective bag of grinds. And like the sad cheese, it was a mistake. While the bag cost us 2 euro, the coffee tasted like dirt and if we left it too long without stirring it, a black silt actually settled on the bottom of the cup. It was quite foul. Yet every morning I woke up and drank the dirty coffee, downing the cup in one motion and trying not to cringe at the taste. It was so gross… but I drank it because I wanted coffee haha.

Yesterday evening I went to a Brazilian church. It was so so cool! The sermon was in Portugese, translated into Italian, then translated by a friend into English. Talk about crazy. I can barely speak my own language some days. But anyways, the message was on Psalm 27:7: “He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.” 

It was about how we are starving for love and for acceptance in life. We are starving for a love that only God can supply. In our hunger we fill ourselves with the bitter things of this world and we think they are sweet because we are so hungry for love. But the world lies. It promises us satisfaction through sex, drugs, alcohol, money, power, attention, fame and the list goes on. But it’s all meaningless without Jesus. Jesus promises satisfaction through himself because he is God. And while the things of this world leave us empty and craving more, God fills us to overflowing because He loves us so much. The pastor asked who in the congregation was full. I raised my hand. I am so filled with crap sometimes. Selfishness, pride, jealousy, idleness, you name it I’ve probably harbored it, and I know that I constantly look to satisfy my hunger for love with just about everything but Jesus. But I’ve learned from experience, and you probably have too that the things we look to for satisfaction may feel good in the moment but they don’t satisfy, they leave us empty and wanting more. Everything is bitter compared to the sweet sweet love that comes from God through Jesus Christ. And like Proverbs says, when we are full, we detest even the sweetest honey. So my prayer last night was that God would once again empty me of everything I was full of so that I could be filled with the sweetness of life in Jesus once again. I want to enjoy my relationship with God :)

The pastor then closed with a word about a Christian’s purpose in life. Our mission. He told a story about going to the store to get meat for dinner. All he went in for was meat, but a few hours later he walked out with all kinds of things he didn’t intend on getting, but still no meat. I thought this story was so funny because its so true to my life. The pastor asked why we do this. As humans why do we have a tendency to get distracted in the grocery store and buy all kinds of unnescessary things? He said it is not a problem with the store. It is a problem with our hearts. Like the pastor went into the store with a mission to buy meat, we as Christians have a mission as we go through this life. We are called to love God and love others, but in addition God created each and every one of you with a unique purpose that only you can do! We were not created to wait to die. God has big plans for our lives and he created each of us with a purpose and a mission. Don’t let the world distract you and cause you to forget what you went in for. The problem is not the store, the problem is our hearts. Know what you want, and then dont let anything distract you from it. I want to follow God’s perfect plan for my life. And I don’t want to be distracted by anything else that this world has to offer. If you’re praying for me, please pray for that :) Thank you, and I will talk to you all soon!

p.s. There is this peppy little mariachi band down in the street and its making me so happy! Allrighty, Goodnight!