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Walking with God

One of my favorite things to do is go on walks.  There’s something about the fresh air and all of the nature surrounding me that it immediately brings me comfort.  It is also a way to de-stress and get out of my head!  I found out when I was away in New Zealand, living with a team of amazing people, sometimes I just really needed to get away.  So I would go for walks.  In that time I would be able to breathe, relax and see that whatever thoughts were swirling up there were just thoughts and I could carry on.  Now that I’m back in California, I’ve continued this “tradition” and it’s been such a help for me!  The key to these walks is talking to God.  The Bible says God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in our time of trouble (Psalm 46:1).  Psalm 55:22 tells us to cast our cares on the Lord and He will sustain us.  This sounds so simple, yet for me it hasn’t always been.  I find myself getting into battles in my head, going through possible scenarios, stressing out about situations, and not enjoying the present because I’m caught up in thoughts.  I remember awhile back this song “Come to Me” by Bethel Music/ Jenn Johnson came out, and I loved it, I would just listen to it because I loved the singer’s voice so much.  But then I started to really listen to the words to the song and applying it.

Come to Me, I’m all you need
Come to Me, I’m your everything
I am your anchor, in the wind and the waves
I am your steadfast, so don’t be afraid
Though your heart and flesh may fail you, I’m your faithful strength
I am with you wherever you go
Come to Me, I’m all you need

It’s so amazing what God does when you go to Him, tell Him what’s on your mind, and listen to His voice.  Instead of wondering what will happen, you see all of the amazing things He created.  How the beautiful wildflowers stand steady, even on windy days.  Instead of hearing your troubles and worries, you hear His steady voice encouraging you to keep going.  So, the next time your head starts spinning I encourage you to take a step outside and talk to God.  Take a look around you and see, He is all you need.

Love,
Laura

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Comeback!

I haven’t written for awhile because I just felt like I was unqualified. I felt like I needed to be more in order to share the things God put on my heart.  You see, the thing that I struggle with is my feelings.  They aren’t always true.  There are so many times that I feel things, mostly thoughts about myself, or what other people are thinking, and they are just wrong.  I wish that wasn’t the case – but it is!  I’m so grateful that God gives me the truth, and in so many different ways.  He has given it to me through His son, Jesus, who said I am the way the truth and the life (John 14:6).  He has given it to me in His Word, the Bible.  He has given it to me through the Holy Spirit.  He even uses other people to show me the truth, which is so awesome! Every time I’m dealing with an issue, thinking I’m at my wits end, crying, wondering what I should do, God provides an answer.

The other week I was frustrated because I wasn’t sleeping well, stressing out trying to figure out the solution to this problem, and someone from across the world sent me a clip from a sermon giving me the exact message I needed to hear!  I never told that person what I was dealing with,  this was something given to me by the grace of God!  I know that if God is reaching out to me from the other side of the earth, encouraging me, then I can do the same for you!  I can encourage you with testimonies, the things that He has done for me, and the things He is doing in my life.  I know this is going to help me in my journey, and hopefully inspire you.  If God did it for me, He will do it for you too!  All you have to do is ask! John 16:23-24 says whatever you ask God in Jesus’ name He will give you – Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete!  Trust Him – the answer might not be exactly what you think or come in the time you expect, but God is faithful and will provide.  I’ve seen it time and time again and look forward to sharing my experiences with you!

Love,
Laura

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Going on a Journey!

Every life is a journey.  I want to write about my journey because I have to admit I’m not the most vocal person!  I’m getting ready to take the trip of a lifetime, a 5 month discipleship training school (DTS) with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Te Ao Marama in Auckland, New Zealand!!  I’ve always wanted to live in another country, and now I’m about to embark on that journey.   This DTS is extra special to me – it is focused on identity, something I’ve been wanting to discover – Who am I, What is my life’s purpose? – and as the website says “Identity DTS is purposely designed to cultivate a safe place where students get to meet and know our Creator, believing He is the key foundation in establishing our identity.”

I’m SO excited! My first 10 weeks are going to be spent in the “Lecture Phase” where I will get to grow and experience different ways of connecting with God.  My weekends are going to be free time, getting to discover New Zealand (AHHH!!!!) After that, comes Outreach Phase, where I will get to go to other countries, using the skills I’ve learned to minister to people in need.  One of the most fun things about this base is that they use native dance as a way of ministry!!!  I really can’t wait to learn how to do that 🙂

Thank you for taking time to join me on this journey!  I’m going to do my best to blog as much as I can so you can get to join me on this awesome adventure!

 

 

 

 

The AMAZING Power of Your Words

This last weekend I got to go to Colorado for a family reunion, something I haven’t been to since I was a kid.  I was so excited to see all of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and meet their families too.  My aunt Rachel had been planning the reunion for over a year – she had told me about some of the events she had planned, and I couldn’t wait to participate in the games – I love team competition!  One thing I wasn’t too excited about was the Aggravation board game match, where there would be single player competition for a shot at a championship trophy.  My family loves this game, and many have been playing for years!  I on the other hand wasn’t so confident in my skills.  My cousin Chris put together the game brackets for the first round and I found out I was playing against 2 of the people I saw as best at the game, my grandfather, and cousin Jeremy.  My first reaction was to plead with Chris to change the bracket – to put me in an “easier” match.  But after a few minutes of heckling him, Chris was firm that the brackets were set!  My uncle Dan was standing next to me while I was groaning about my poor position and started sharing some wisdom with me, wisdom that I’ll never forget.  He told me how my younger sister and cousin Kristina played the game, with energy and excitement!  They didn’t sit and wonder what the outcome of their game would be, they spoke “I’m winning!”  They told the dice the numbers they wanted to roll and saw the results!  God had been speaking to me so much about the power of the tongue – I knew Uncle Dan was right!  I turned my attitude around, and started to change the words that were flowing inside of my head.  Instead of telling myself “I’m going to embarrass myself playing the game with these pros” I started telling myself “I’m going to win this game, I can do this”!  Something started happening inside – instead of dread, I started to feel excited about the game.  As we started to play, the game did not start out well for me, but I didn’t give up.  I spoke aloud that I was going to make a come back, and internally repeated to myself “I can do this” and “I’m going to win”.  I noticed as we played that the game was fun!  I wasn’t worried about the outcome, or the moves I had to make.  I felt joyful and was encouraging the other players too.  As the game neared the end, all 4 players were in the same spot, close to victory, and the outcome came to a roll of the dice.  I spoke to the dice to roll the number I needed – and eventually they did – I won!  The true victory, however, wasn’t winning the game.  It was the joy of playing it, and seeing the power of speaking life to myself instead of death, telling myself “I can” instead of “it’s not possible”.  Proverbs 18:21 says Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.  I experienced that power fully on Saturday night, and “the fruit”, the outcome of speaking life, was delicious!  Not only did I have a fun time playing a game with my family, I got to experience what it feels like to overcome defeat.

I want to encourage you to start speaking life over yourself.  The best way to do this is by using the truth, which is from the Bible, the Word of God.  The Word that you speak over yourself is like medicine that you give to yourself, when you tell yourself the truth, you feel better!  One thing I like to do to find the truth is to use the YouVersion Bible app, which allows you to search for Bible verses based on how you are feeling.  Another resource I have used is Steve Backlund’s Daily Declarations, which are statements that have been created based on Bible verses.  If you want even more, there’s a great book I’m reading now called “The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word” by Joyce Meyer.

Love,
Laura

Amazed by Your Love

Every day You meet me and show me more of You
Every day You embrace me and give me something new
You open up my eyes so I can see more of love’s light
You show me that my battles and wars are not for me to fight
The truths I read in your Word are exactly what I need
I’m so amazed by the way You love me and the way that You lead
Thank You for all your healing and giving me more freedom
Thank You for calling me your daughter, for access to your kingdom

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Beautiful Kiwiana Things

I can’t believe I’ve been living in New Zealand for 3 weeks!  Here are some of the interesting, fun, amazing, and life changing things about being a Kiwi.

1) Coins.  Sure you have paper bills, but not anything less than a five.  And no quarters either.  Nope, here in NZ, you get a nice golden “toonie”, the Canadian word for a $2 coin, a silver $1 coin, and a 50 cent coin.  I have to make sure to have those “toonies” on hand for my laundry!  The paper money isn’t so bad either – very colorful with animals on them.  In my opinion, much more fun to look at then dead presidents (Sorry Lincoln!).

2) Games.  Here at the YWAM base where I am living I have gotten to learn and play so many fun games!  First there is Dutch Blitz, a card game similar to Nertz, but with its own deck that includes a yellow wash bucket, a blue hoe, a green water pump and an orange buggy!  I thought I knew how play Uno, but over here, there are additional special rules, and “torture” given to the hand of the person that loses.  Then there is “ABC”, a Korean hand clapping game that involves giving slaps to the people that match the same hand pattern as the leader.  It is pretty fun to watch my friends and the way they give out their slaps!  My favorite game is a Japanese version of “rock, paper, scissors”, which just makes me laugh because of its silliness!  I even had a try at touch rugby the other day.

3) Nature.  I’ve made myself get up early a few mornings to go for a run or walk and caught the sun rising – it is spectacular!  Last weekend I saw a double rainbow at the end of a walk home in the rain that was breathtaking – the colors were so bright!  The jaw-dropping concave of Mount Eden can’t be described, and a picture really doesn’t do it justice.  The feeling of freedom I felt in the air at the top of One Tree Hill, with spectacular views of the lush hills dotted with sheep and plants.  My good friend from New Zealand told me that the ozone is thinner here, so maybe that’s why every time I go outside I just can’t get enough of the open sky, clouds, and whatever glimpse of sun I can get.

4) Family.  In just three weeks, the 10 DTS students I live with, the staff that live here, their kids, and even our neighbors with the King’s Kids Ministry next door have all become to feel like family.   I never thought I would say this, but, after living by myself for three years, it feels so good to share a room with 6 women!  My living environment  has made me feel supported, comforted, and strengthened.  Sure, there are nuances, and I try to hide the blush on my face when people are laughing at me, but this atmosphere is allowing me to be more and more who I am.  Every day I can step out further, open up more, be real, and shine!

5) Hearing God.  Back home I was too concerned about what was going around me to take the time to stop, listen, and really wait to hear from God.  Sure I would read my Bible, and pray, but often in a rush, or with my own agenda.  Now I’m slowing down, going for quality rather than quantity, and being still with a smile on my face as I wait to hear God speak.  And He does!  It is so amazing, because more than anything, you know what he says?  He tells me “You are mine” (Isaiah 43:1) ❤

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Love,
Laura

Hearing God

I wanted to share a poem I wrote 🙂

Hearing God’s voice is a choice I take
Being in a relationship with Him is the first step I make
There are many ways that He can communicate
The key to hearing Hi is to be still and wait

Other voices will try to distract us from our call
Be aware of them and know God is above all
Come to Him by laying everything down
This is the key to keeping steady our crown

Now is the time to take steps forward
To choose to listen and build our relationships onward
Obedience is all that God really desires
To keep growing in truth instead of falling for liars

When God speaks to you, His Word won’t bring fear
You can confirm the truth from those who are near
Go to the Bible and don’t depend on your feelings
Be completely dependent on Him, He is your healing

Love,
Laura

 

Faith

Nothing is ever what you expect it to be.  Even though I knew New Zealand was going to be winter, stepping out into the cool day Thursday morning when I arrived I thought, “Oh this isn’t too bad”.  And it isn’t.  When the sun is shining.  Unfortunately clouds cover that sun a lot!  And then it is COLD!  I hate being cold.  I’m not sure if it is a “girl thing” or part of my genetic makeup, but when it is cold my body reacts negatively.  I start shivering and shaking, and honestly getting warm is all I can think about.  My mind goes to that place of reacting – what can I do to make this situation better, and ultimately, how can I make myself feel better.  It is kind of funny because I didn’t bring my sweat pants, warm socks, down vest, or any of my “real” winter stuff.  New Zealand is ending their winter, so I thought I’d be fine with my down jacket and some sweaters.  I also didn’t realize I would be in a big campus-style house, not exactly equipped with central heat and a/c.  Luckily I got to go shopping Thursday night to buy some of the basics I didn’t bring – sweat pants, thermals, a scarf, and some nice slippers.

Friday was even colder than Thursday – it rained a lot during the day, and even with my extra layers I couldn’t seem to get warm.  I was so frustrated.  I came all the way to this country and I didn’t want to spend all of my time focused on getting warm.  I finally reached out to one of the staff leaders and shared my feelings.  I didn’t realize how much this was really bothering me.  Last year I went to Mexico and had to come home early because I didn’t feel well.  I really didn’t want that to happen to me again.  My leader and I prayed together and I felt so comforted.  Not only by her words, but by the love she already had for me, someone she had just met the day prior.  Just as when I had been praying earlier, I felt the Lord saying “Trust me”.  And I know the truth – He says in Psalms to cast my anxieties and cares at His feet and He will strengthen me!  But when I am looking at my circumstances it is hard to feel that.  I know why God wants me to be here in New Zealand.  He wants me to grow stronger in my faith!  Faith is what we hope for but can’t see (Hebrews 11:1).   I’m really thankful that God has put me in a situation where I need to operate by faith, and not by sight.  Yes, this is going to stretch me, but, I’m excited to grow 🙂

Here’s a song I’d like to share with you all – hope you like it! Hidden – United Pursuit

Love,
Laura

Beloved

On Saturday night I came back from a week long trip to Colorado.  Before I left a week earlier, I had the usual thoughts I do before I take trips – what will it be like, how will I feel, will it meet my “vacation” expectations?  The week before my trip I didn’t plan very well – I had a packed schedule, with events almost every night, so I ended up scrambling to pack the morning of my flight.  I was so exhausted that when I got on the plane I didn’t even take the time to glance out the window to see California landmarks become tiny!  As I landed 2.5 hours later, I was groggy; grumpiness and frustration settled in.  Why didn’t I prepare better??  Why didn’t I get more rest the night before so I could enjoy my vacation??

The ride to my Aunt’s house where I was staying was a long one and I was hungry.  This didn’t help.  I felt bad because she and my Uncle where excited to see me and wanting to talk, but I was really tired!  I wanted to share their excitement, and inside I was really happy to be there, but I wished I wasn’t so physically tired.  As the drive continued I noticed that instead of condemnation, something different started happening.  My Aunt wasn’t mad that I was tired – she said “Just relax”.  GRACE.  It was okay to be me.  I didn’t have to press out of my comfort zone to make anyone happy.  We drove to a Mexican restaurant and I had the most amazing fajitas.  As I tried to help pay, my Uncle wouldn’t hear any of that – he had me covered.  Joy, peace, and gratefulness washed over me.

The rest of my trip continued on with more of this – when I felt like there would be resistance, welcoming arms met me.  Situations that I thought might be awkward weren’t – I could relax knowing that I was fully loved and accepted.  As the week continued on I noticed that I didn’t even hesitate to be myself – something I’ve definitely had issues with in the past – I was just all me!  God does the same with us.  He fully accepts us and loves us as we are, so we can be ourselves with Him.  This is something He continues to remind me of in my relationship with Him.

One of the best nights in Colorado was when I got to worship with one of my favorite groups, WorshipMob.  It was much more than what I imagined it would be like – a true gift from God!  I can’t even describe the joy that I felt, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

On the last morning of the trip my Uncle took me on a motorcycle ride on his Harley.  It was amazing.  We went to this lookout where you could see a reservoir and all of this beautiful land.  It reminded me yet again how amazing our God is – His works our wonderful!!

I’m so thankful for my vacation, God blessed me beyond my imagination (Ephesians 3:20-21).  I truly felt that I am Beloved.  He did that becomes He loves me, and He will do the same for you too!

Love,
Laura

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Only God

Last year I wrote a year-end review to share about my year and how God showed up in unexpected ways.  This year I want to share about things that only happened during the year because of God.  2017 was not easy – I know I’m not the only one that experienced difficulties.  I didn’t even take time to blog (something that I hope to change in 2018!).

The year started with an increase of medical issues – seizures.  Seizures aren’t fun.  They are scary and they make you make you feel anxious and depressed.  Because I have epilepsy, I have experienced seizures before; however, I take medication so my seizures are controlled.  When I started experiencing seizures again in 2017 it was really depressing.  I didn’t like waking up wondering what had happened the night before, why my head was pounding and why I felt confused.  I didn’t understand why I had to go through this during that point in my life.  I had just started a new role, I wanted to go above and beyond in it, not be tired and weak because of seizures.

I finally decided to see a new neurologist at the end of April to get help.  I didn’t want to present my issues, but I knew I couldn’t keep going on in the state I was in.  There was definitely something wrong with me.  Unfortunately that visit was not what I expected.  As I was crying telling the doctor some of the experiences I had, she handed me a tissue and said some words like “that must be hard”, but then told me that after failing anti-epileptic drugs, what I really needed to consider was brain surgery.  She also said she would be reporting me to the DMV since California law does not allow someone to drive if they have had any seizures.  I expressed my concerns about brain surgery, and after some prodding, my neurologist agreed to prescribe me a higher dosage of one of the medications I was taking.  She still told me I needed to consider brain surgery and at least undergo monitoring to see if I could be a candidate for brain surgery.  After that visit I was in a state of shock.  I had my license suspended before, but I had never been told there were no other options besides brain surgery, which seemed so extreme.

I was also upset about not being able to drive – I had just bought a new car and I didn’t understand why God was letting this happen.  As I prayed I felt Him telling me to take the time where I wasn’t driving and spend it with Him, He would use it for my good.  I would have to slow down in the morning, walk to the Bart, and use Uber and my friends for rides.

The year moved forward and I obeyed.  I let my new car collect dust in my parking space while I walked to work.  I took time to notice flowers, breathe in the fresh air, and actually enjoyed the time I had to get to the Bart, which was more than when  I was driving since I didn’t have to rush to make sure I would get a parking space.  After the summer passed  I started to get really tired from all of the walking and God put in on my heart to buy a bike.  Only God would tell me to do something like that!  I had such a fun time picking out the bike and buying it.

During this time, I continued to press into God and pray, as well as read the Bible.  God put it in my heart to read the entire Bible, which I finished in 6 months.  As I grew closer to Him, peace grew in my heart.  I knew that I was a conqueror in Him, He was for me, not against me (Romans 8:31), and whatever plans He had for me would be prosperous (Jeremiah 29:11)!

God worked through a close friend of mine to bring me to a healing prayer night led by a doctor and minister, who prays specifically for areas of the brain.  That night was an amazing night, I was excited because I expected healing, but I also was nervous because I didn’t know what that would feel like.  That night was one of the most incredible nights of my life.  Only God would orchestrate a meeting like, to allow me to be prayed over by someone who knows the brain, who could pray for the chemicals in my brain, and for the way that the brain works.  I felt a fog that had been in my head break and lift and a new lightness settle in.  I came home that night a new woman, feeling even more loved by God, and amazed by His love for me.

There are more things that happened last year that I could share that only God did for me.  I saw that what the Word of God says is completely true and applies to me!  I felt God’s grace pour over me as I reached out to Him and He came close to me.  I want to share these things because I want you to know that just like God helps me, He will help you too.  All it takes is asking, seeking, and knocking (Matthew 7:7-8).  You will find not only the God who supplies all your needs, but the Lord Jesus who is your Savior, Comforter, and Friend.

Isaiah 41:10

Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.

Love,
Laura

Come to Me

Tonight I made soup with God.  Does that sound weird?  If you ask me I would say yes!  But I’ve been doing this devotional and the 7th day of the devotional asks me to spend time doing something with God.  Instead of trying to “go deep” or be get into holy mode, I asked God to make soup with me!  I’m not a pro in the kitchen, I wanted to make soup, and I could definitely use the Almighty’s help.  And guess what?  He showed up!  It was fun!  The Lord says “Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest.”  What I’m learning is that doesn’t just mean come to Me when you’re tired.  It means come to Me period.  He wants to be with me.  He likes me.   Why shouldn’t He like me – I’m His child!  He made me.  He’s a part of me.  He’s living inside of me.  I really appreciate the Great I Am.  He doesn’t need any reasons to show up.  This is the very nature of God.  He is our Provider.  He is the one who gives us life.  I get so caught up in thinking I’ve got to work on all of these things and then turn to God to pull me out of ruts, help me out in times of need.  Luckily I’m discovering that’s not true at all.  God just wants to shower me with love!  How cool is that.  I get to go to him in everything, including my joy, excitement, good times, fun times, and He wants it all!  He created me, so of course He wants to hear from me, and of course He wants to be a part of my life.  I’m really thankful that the lies I believed are being erased from my mind!  God doesn’t tell me a bunch of negative things and things that need improvement.  He tells me how worthy I am, beautiful, lovely, and showers affection on me!  I can lift my head up high in His acceptance of me!  Thank You Father!!!!! ❤

You are the One I praise. You say I’m beautifully made. Your thoughts are precious to Me More than the sand as far as the eye can see!

Love,
Laura