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Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Seeking

Lord I find You in the seeking
I seek Your face and You shine upon me
You call me Your own
Your beloved
Your precious daughter
Your little princess

You place Your robe of righteousness about my shoulders and I stand tall. I stand with head raised high, back straight and shoulders even.
Not because I am prideful, but because You have made me whole and I can boast in You.

"Look!", I say. "Look how far my Lord has brought me!"

"Look!", I say again. "Look what my Lord has seen me through!"

He has brought me through valleys and led me beside streams of flowing waters.
He has set me upon a firm foundation so that when storms come and the wind blows I will not be shaken.
I will not be moved.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rainy Days

---from a rainy day a week or so ago

Today it is raining. No, pouring.
It is pouring so hard that I can easily imagine it's a cat or a dog running into me at full speed.

The rain soaks through the layers of my clothing and I think that this makes for an excellent weight training opportunity.

Everyone is running through the streets, some bravely forging ahead, the safety of their umbrellas be damned.

I am one of the many who braves the weather without an umbrella. I think mine wouldn't have been useful anyway. Even if I had remembered it was in the bottom of my purse.

Every seat on every bus and train is wet.

Well, that's what it seems like.

At first this was all frustrating, but as I get off the bus and the water I had wrung out of my coat soaks back in, I remember, and I laugh.

Slick skin, bathing suits, shower caps, and the warm Honduran rain, my cousins and I run around in mother nature's sprinkler.
I always wondered if I would come down with something, but Grandmother assured me these times being out in the rain wouldn't make me sick.

Inside the lobby I stand dripping, same slick skin, my coat likely ruined, my natural hair that needs no shower cap already curling in on itself from the water, and I laugh again.

It is good to remember I like the rain.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thankful

What's up folks!

I don't even know what to write! Well, I'll start with ICOM.

It was a lovely conference that I was grossly unprepared for. I forgot my business cards and despite being a Posse scholar, I didn't really understand networking until about halfway in.

I did eventually get the hang of it though, and had a stellar time getting to know people while supporting Go Missions with Alisa, my missions partner.

While at ICOM, two things stood out for me. An increased passion to see the end of human trafficking, and a need to clear up some trust issues I was having with God and finances.

In the interest of keeping things simple, here's a list of things I've been thankful for over the past month.


  • Meeting the owners of clothing company 1Body 1Spirit. We connected and they agreed to sponsor the radio show I'm starting! In return, they get sponsor promotion on the show and station, and I manage their social media accounts for them. It's been a wild ride and a crazy blast!
  • Italy: I've been staying in touch with friends in Italy through mail and skype, and it has been such an incredible blessing! They always say what I need to hear, even if it's not what I wasnt to hear ;).
  • Making new friends, reconnecting with family
  • Stepping into newfound freedom with all I've got
  • Learning where to hold on where to let go, and growing in the process
  • Starting a new radio show!

Honestly, while there are difficulties in this life of mine, I can't really complain all that much. I'd much rather focus on the happy moments. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On the road again

Hello folks!

Generally when I don't post for awhile it's because I'm processing something that I'd rather not have spill over into the waves of the internet. That has definitely been the case for me these past few weeks. I felt as if I were under an all-out assault, and it seemed as if every area of my life was going down the tubes and it was all my fault.

But I've been faced with difficulty before.

When the bottom dropped out I sought the Lord and He proved Himself faithful. Where there once was captivity there is now freedom, and where there was uncertainty, I now have peace. Not everything is where I might like it to be, or the way I would like it to be, but I've learned that perhaps that's a good thing.

So, now that I've finally recovered from the blows of circumstance, I am gearing up for my next trip as an EFM missionary. This time Alisa and I are going to Columbus, Ohio for the ICOM 2014. The International Conference on Missions.

While certainly not as glamorous a location as Poland or Italy, I've found that the Lord is good on adventure no matter where you are.

I'm excited to network and make connections, and I'm looking forward to seeing how this all connects. I am a worship leader at my church, but we will have to have the continuing conversation about the fact that I cannot guarantee my presence on Sundays, and that if we go forward with me leading a weekly worship session, someone might have to cover for me every now and then. Not to mention the clear and fabulous progress being made with the radio show.

I dove into "Godly activities" when things in my life started going sour, and now it feels like my life has gone back to the hustle and bustle rhythm I've been used to.

When life is busy though, one must set priorities, and what you choose to give (or not give) your time to is a large indicator of the prevalence that thing takes in your life. So before I start dropping the ball on things, I want to set early on what I can and cannot give my time to, and what I will and will not give my time to.

Currently, my time is being given to four days in Ohio meeting international missionaries! Again and again I realize that reaching the nations can happen in so many different ways, and I'm looking forward to the mental expansion I sense is on the way.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ask me for the nations...

Very recently (yesterday, in fact), I was having one of my random bursts of manic energy. Usually these occur around the time I go to the gym, where I can take full advantage of them. Not so yesterday. So instead, I decided to work my brain muscle and began outlining this rather recent dream of mine: starting a Christian radio show.

I had nothing to do really, sitting in the atrium of the school where I was substituting, and so I guiltlessly put pen to paper, waiting to see what show titles and mission statements would come to me. None did. So then I prayed (wish I had sooner...), and everything just came in this rush of ideas and connections: a title, an alternative title if that one was already taken, a mission statement, tag line, twitter handle, and two logo options, one of which could simply be reserved as an alternative image for any possible future merchandise.

I felt this rush of excitement and as I sat looking over the words now spilling over the pages, I thanked God for His kindness. Then I felt more than heard, "Ask me for the nations, and I'll give them to you."

That was it! This was the word recently given to me by my ministry partner.

The show is about connecting nations and connecting people to opportunities to serve. I looked up to see the flags of Honduras, Albania, Trinidad and Tobago, and so many other countries all around me. It was beautiful. I remembered the word. I remembered that I asked for the nations, and I remembered that God proves Himself faithful.

I began to see connections, and later that evening had the excitement of speaking with my spiritual father, who if anything, definitely knows how to encourage people in dreams.

So here I am, open to new adventures, and so excited to see how things turn out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dreams

I tend to be a dreamer, likely in every sense of the word. Right now two dreams are standing out to me. Maybe three.

When in Poland last week I had one of those stand out dreams. In the dream I had been napping, but an itch in the bend of my arm woke me. I moved to scratch and ended up with fingers covered in gold dust. It was all over my arms and upper body, and there was even this new gold inlay pattern set into the bottom of my jeans, that I only noticed when time fast forwarded and our team was leading a late night worship set. It was pretty cool, to say the least, and while I don't understand the dream in its entirety, certainly not all of it was lost on me.

The second dream was from last night. I had what seemed to be an assignment. One of my Italian professors in college, who was also my major advisor, had a beautiful stretch of cloth in a soft white color that had unfinished embroidery and crochet work. Knowing that I could do both, she asked me to finish the work, and I accepted, pushing aside that small feeling of not wanting to inconvenience myself.

I would be adding a pretty yellow/gold crocheted brocade, and floral and berry-like patterns in a rich red. Hints of other colors also caught my eyes. My professor seemed to think it would be easy for me.

As she smiled, she held the cloth up for me and that's when I realized it was actually a robe.  I let her put it on me, realizing she was giving me the robe to keep because I had accepted the task of finishing it.

The robe looked too small for me, but somehow it worked. I would adjust, adapt, change.
This particular dream is not clear for me. What have I agreed to finish? What's the symbol here? I'll find out eventually ;).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Reflection on Kalisz

So, it's right around right around this point that I some final reflections about my time in Kalisz this year. There will likely be more posts about specific moments in Poland, but I'm feeling a bit more meta-narrative today.

Last year I went through the gamut of healing, it seemed. I let go of a lot of hurt and anger I didn't even realize I was holding on to. This year, with the lens no longer focused inward, I could begin to look around and think of being a blessing to others.

It hasn't been very long since my eyes were opened to the prophetic within me and I asked God for more gifting in this area. It would seem God decided to use Kalisz as a training ground.

For session after session I drew small prophetic pictures for different groups in the pages of my journal. I even briefly reflected on how the remaining frayed bits of paper made me feel when I looked at them.

 
The pages ripped from my journal remind me that I'm not alone on this journey.
 I am reminded of the connections between us. Us, this big, beautiful body of Christ.
A bride.                                                                                                                    
 
 
It was so exciting to engage with God this way and to begin to see a larger, even more beautiful portrait of His bride. When I'm moved prophetically it's often in images, and each image I see is like looking at a piece of God's heart revealed.
 
This week I saw more pieces and caught a bigger vision for how they all fit together. I understood more the importance of building others up in their faith. At the end of the day, that is the point of every person's unique combination of personality and gifting. Wherever you are, this is your potential 'building up' place. Who can you encourage today?
 
I see the students I encounter and my heart is moved for them. My colleagues, people on the bus, the bus driver. Everyone! I don't want to miss my moments: those divine appointments God set up for me because He just knew I would be the right person to reach someone else. I am reminded of three words my ministry partner has taught me: Look, Listen, Love.
 
It seems only fitting that at the beginning of my own faith journey the same words would ring true, and lessons learned and to be learned would be mirrored.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

There and back again

It almost seems strange that an entire year has gone by since I was last in Poland. An entire year!
It's wonderful and amazing to see so many familiar faces, and it's a blast getting to know the new ones.
This year is different in the sense that less of the responsibility falls on me. Last year I was the lead singer on every song, whereas this year I'm only lead singing and playing for half of each set. It's different, but good.
While I appreciate the rest it gives me, I can't pretend there were no reminders to be humble needed. One can grow accustomed to being the center of attention, even when all intents are to redirect and focus that attention on God.
So, it is with great pleasure that I can say I have learned to let go of the reigns a bit. This week I am leading worship with two of my best friends. I'll never get these moments back and I'll never get to try them over, so instead of griping about communication problems and last minute set changes, I'd rather just enjoy the ride. It's like we're all riding the wind of the Spirit, seeing where it takes us. The freer I allow myself to be, the more the Spirit can move me.

Similarly, the more the Spirit can move through me.

A day or two ago many of the people gathered here spent the better part of three hours prophesying over each other in the upper room. Only certain people were nominated from each team here to do the prophesying and then we formed pairs. I was nominated from team Albania and stepped forward to flex my newly discovered prophetic muscles.
Talk about fabulous! Opening yourself to God in this way, listening to hear what He has to say to someone, oh it was amazing! It got to the point that, as I heard more clearly, I could speak more specifically into people's lives and my partner and I could even tell what profession or hobby someone had that God wanted to speak into.*

Honestly, what impacts me most about this isn't how fun and awesome etc. it was to grow in a spiritual gifting. What I am left with is the beauty of God's heart for people. When you begin to listen to God's heart for other people you begin to see them as He does, and so the effect is twofold. You see more clearly a beautiful God, and through that you see more clearly His beautiful people.
I was purposefully, intentionally, connecting with and seeing through love.
There's no way that doesn't leave a mark on someone.




*(I do realize that this type of stuff isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I believe in an all powerful and creative God who can very well do crazy awesome creative things that we don't always have to understand. It's definitely part of the fun!)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Getting to Poland

Hello folks! Let me tell you the story of how I arrived in Poland....

It all started one unseasonably warm evening at the airport commonly known as Logan International.  As I was walking to check my guitar into the oversized luggage area, I was stopped by a woman and a man holding a very bright light attached to a large camera. Reluctantly I agreed to talk about ebola, which of course is what anyone traveling internationally right now wants to talk about right before they get on an airplane...

Well, it turns out my interview was picked up for the 11:00 news and I aired repeatedly on television for days. Cool. Totally prophetic. Totally.

I then made it through check out in record time, chatted with a few loved ones while waiting to board, and then slept like a baby the entire flight, waking up only when people came around with food and Swiss chocolate. Miracle? I think so.

After arriving in Poland better rested than I thought I would, I meet the person picking me up only to find out a ride to the next city I'm heading to isn't in the picture. Apparently I have to take either the bus or the train. After much indecision I opt for the train.

Judging from the story of the Italian team, neither option was a good choice. For the train, we first had a 30 minute delay, and then, when we're literally a few minutes away from my stop, the train crashes into something. Crashes!!

Considering the train ride was already like another five hours added onto my traveling day, I was about at my breaking point. Being so close certainly didn't help. Still, despite my brain shooting a running monologue of all the things that could now go wrong, I managed to get in contact with the emergency person given to me.

After much conversation through google translate, I was assured that the person, who also didn't speak English, was now coming to get me, and that I need only wait calmly.
Riiiiiight.

Right.

So I wait in what can only be described as a state of supernatural peace for an hour and a half until the super hippie Polish guy with long grey hair comes to pick me  up. I then leave, in the dead of night, trekking through the mud on the side of the train tracks to reach his car, which is parked behind the police cars and fire trucks.

It helped that the firemen were fans of Bob Marley and we had a Marley jam session with my guitar while I waited. In retrospect, it all seems a bit far-fetched...

I arrive at the hotel, check into my room, joyfully reunite with my missionary partners, and then slept happily ever after.

The End


Friday, October 10, 2014

Chances

The journey of creative response to a week's worth of worship begins! My first actual session is coming up in no less than two hours! Despite the fact that that translates to 2-4AM my current time, it should be fun fun fun. The late-night crowd is always a treat. :)
In the meantime, I leave you with today's impression from sitting in on other people's worship sessions.

Chances
 It's always like this, isn't it?
I love Your Presence!

Overflowing, overflowing

I burst with joy
Joy over Your great love, Your great forgiveness, and Your willingness to give millionth chances.
I'm not foolish enough to think this chance is only my second.

I am aware of, enraptured with, a God who is love, who is just, merciful, and all-encompasses me with His knowledge of me. His view of me.

He sees me as beautiful, He sees me as His bride, His beloved, made pure and holy by the blood of the Lamb. Perfect and being perfected.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ready, Set...

Life holds no punches.

I'm a bit bruised from the bumpy ride I've been on as of late, but as is usually the case with me, I wouldn't change it.

I'm now packing for Poland, looking at TSA approved containers and trying to find ways to wear the same articles of clothing seven times over seven days without anyone noticing. The most important item to come with me, aside from my hair moisturizer (I'm serious), is my guitar. If that means skimping on my fashion sense, so be it. It'll be an awesome challenge.

I fly out tomorrow.
To say I'm excited would be an understatement.

I'll be linking my Poland blogging endeavors to another site, so I'll let you all know if I'll just post links or do some sort of re-blogging.

Til next time folks!



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

States side

Somehow living in the U.S. makes my life not as interesting anymore. Well, I can't be sure it ever was all that interesting to begin with.

Still, despite the fact that I am older and have taken the steps to live a responsible, more secure life, I have managed to not even do this in a normal or semi-normal fashion.

I have, praise Jesus, found per diem work as a substitute teacher for the Somerville school district (and hopefully also Cambridge). This means that I can take no-strings-attached time off for missions trips and weekend concerts in some glamorous location halfway across the country. Or globe.

The first trip on the schedule is the Feast of Tabernacles in Kalisz, Poland. You might remember the posts from last year. They were numerous, and I expect they will be this year as well. With the help of an incredible friend and partner, I can make this year's feast, flying out of Boston.

This will of course be balanced with hopefully leading worship at the house of prayer attached to my lovely new home church, and working on fabulous music collaborations with my new music partners.

I don't think I could have planned this any better myself.

Really.

My plans never turn out quite the way I expect or want them to.

So, here's to entering a new stage in life's adventures, and here's to hoping you'll continue to join me along the way.

Happy trails folks!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Making Home

I like the idea of building a home, though the concept has not always been an easy one for me to grasp. I am the free spirit, the baby bird who jumped the nest just a bit before her wings were able to fully carry her. I have left a trail of broken hearts across the globe. People who hoped I would stay, people who hoped I wouldn't. I've caused my own heart to be broken more times than I care to recall.

All the same, there always seemed to be a nest of pine needles to soften the impact when my wings couldn't quite make it anymore.

And now that bed of needles (soft and fresh scented) is a place I like to call Boston, MA, USA. It is a group of people I like to call family more than friends.

Family is something Italy taught me, and that I had hoped would translate well to American culture upon my return here. It would seem that it has.

I have an incredible new church family, and I am (slowly, but surely) reconnecting with friends and family throughout the USA.  I love it.

But I am also aware that there is a cushion for my falls still there for me in Europe. I am aware that there are still people there who are more family than friends, places that feel more "home" than "temporary dwelling place". I love it.

Once you've made some place home it never stops being that, even if you've moved away and found ways to make "home" somewhere else.

I am now at place in which it would behoove me to solidify what home and family are to me. Especially since I'll be building those things with someone else.

But then I think, I already have it, and any building will be added onto the foundation of all the fabulous experiences that have come before. I am loved. I am valued. And because I know that so surely, so strongly, it is no problem to want to make others feel that way too.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

TLoEHR: Cultural Literacy

Let me start this post by affirming that I am not, by far, the most culturally literate person out there. I can say however, that when someone's lack of cultural literacy has something directly to do with you, you tend to feel a little bit on the up-and-up as far as things like that are concerned.

With that introduction, let me take you through a few of the more interesting moments of intercultural exchange the took place whilst I was in Albania.

1. "American Culture" vs. "British Culture" or Wii Gone Wrong?

While in Albania I stayed in a most fabulous hostel, called Propaganda Hostel. The staff are super friendly and the prices are quite manageable, etc etc. In short, loved it.
However, there are a few bad apples in every barrel. In this case it was the older British man who insisted on complaining or griping over anything that didn't go his way. For those not into the crazy party life when they are indoors and trying to sleep, this is the hostel for you. With that in mind, I aimed to take advantage of a wii and my games to, you know, have some fun. Some end by 8:00PM even though quiet hours start at 11:00PM fun.

Still, someone saw fit to complain about it and when I was helping bring in our pizza orders, muttered that I could at least be teaching something cultural to the high school boys I was gaming with. He then added, "But then again American culture isn't really culture, is it?"

This was a new one for me, as I am used to these comments being either race or gender based. Nice to know there's another angle.

At any rate, this guy comes in the gaming area in the middle of "Sweet Home Alabama" on Guitar Hero (here's where things get good) and tries to shame me because the song is racist. Ummmmm....

So I say, "If I can forgive you for what you said about American culture, I can forgive these people for writing this song. If I went around worrying about what other people thought and said of me I would be angry all the time. What matters is what God thinks of me. Nothing more, nothing less."

Bam! He shut right up, I ended up in the class journal of those high school boys, and the acts of forgiveness and kindness I continued to show that man were remarked upon with awe, leading someone to say, "It's because she has Jesus." (No one else liked him and pretty much everyone avoided him like the plague.)

2. Cornrows
Another awesome moment occurred when, after singing "Our Father"-Bethel Church in Albanian with a buddy, this buddy's grandmother became open to going to church (whoooo!), and apparently, also to cross cultural interactions. The most momentous moment like this being when she braided my hair in straight-backs. That's right folks. My friend's Albanian grandmother braided my hair.  Awesome.

3. ?
This moment was so baffling as to cause difficulty coming up with a title.
So I met this woman who was married to an American. Being thusly united, I assumed a certain level of cultural literacy. Wrong.

I am standing with my guitar when this woman asks me if I'm from Africa. In Europe this question is pretty standard and actually makes sense given that most immigrants of color actually are more directly tied to the continent. Anyway, when I said I was American, she apologized and said she wasn't sure why she thought that. I told her there were a few giveaways that would give her that idea, and that it was perfectly fine for her to think I was from Africa since, in effect, that's where my roots trace back to anyway.

Then she says something about dance and I say something to the effect that yes I like to dance, and yes, I suppose it is important in African American culture, but no, I wasn't here to dance today.
Then she says, complete with a broadway-esque hip high hand flare with spirit fingers on the word "dance", "Oh, I just walked in and I saw you and I thought, here's this African woman and she's gonna dance for us!"

At this point I kindly ended the conversation while trying not to laugh. I did laugh later though. No harm done ;).

Friday, August 22, 2014

Back From Outer Space

Hello Folks!

I wanted to be diligent and get all of those Albania blog posts up before moving on to other things but alas, things did not turn out that way. But don't worry. I'll still finish the series. Just not in order...

Anyway, I am back home now and it feels more as if life has grabbed me by the horns.

I remember telling a friend when I was leaving Italy that I realized there were dreams and desires that I had buried in America, pushed aside for the idea of being the missionary living abroad in Italy. Somehow I would feel more a missionary if I was living abroad, not to mention my degree feeling more useful. I mean, how cool is it to major in Italian, something no one thinks is useful, if they're honest, and making it such by living and working abroad in none other than Italy? Really cool.

I've noticed though that since being back things have come together at an alarming rate. I'm back in America barely a month now and it's like a valley of dry bones coming to life. I'm seeing new things happen in my relationships with family and friends, I'm having an amazing time with music, I'm already connected to a house of worship and prayer which in turn has led me what I expect to be a wonderful new church family, and there even seems to be some romance on the horizon.

It almost seems to be too good to be true, but my lack of employment and therefore money, keeps me well grounded. One good thing about the ground though, is that there's always room to rise.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TLoEHR: Up All Night

While Friday morning saw us getting up bright and early, Friday night offered no opportunity for some early shut-eye. In fact, it offered no opportunity for any kind of sleep at all.
At some point during the week we got it into our heads to host an all-night prayer and worship gathering. (It was that crazy Tuesday and it was totally my fault for suggesting it. It just sort of popped out of my mouth...) So after finishing up at Radio 7 Bjorni and I grabbed lunch, an ice cream, and then we went to put the finishing touches on the worship space we had begun preparing in days previous. Check it.










The idea for the night was freedom. We wanted to encourage people to worship freely and move freely in their gifts, and so we had a space set up for painting, a separate space for sketching/journaling and writing prayer requests, and dancing, jumping, and just resting in God's presence was all favorably looked upon.

I didn't think I could make it through, but I did!

Here are some pics of the evening.





some art examples
all of the pieces painted were given as gifts :)









morning after








Monday, July 28, 2014

TLoEHR: Radio 7

At the time this highlight takes place, I had been in Albania for about four days. I arrived Monday night, and that same Friday morning saw Bjorni (I called him Teddy in the previous post but in retrospect I'll just call him his real name...) and I getting up early for my first international radio gig. It was so cool and so fun, and I can thank so many people for the experiences that I have had, especially throughout college, that helped prepare me for something like this.

I did the half hour morning segment with friends tuning in mostly from Albania and Italy (online), to support me. I can't tell you how incredible that felt!

Radio 7 is Tirana's (the capital of Albania) Christian radio station, which, as far as I could tell, does quite well.
I shared two songs, one in Italian, 'Salmo 36' and one in English, 'Papa', the lyrics of which I've posted here on this blog.

I was asked to talk about what I do, and so I told them about being a worship leader and a bit about the worship nights and street evangelism my buddies and I do often in Milan.
When they asked for the word of encouragement they wanted me to prepare, I shared about the father heart of God, and about how He cares about our dreams. I felt really strongly the importance of sharing that God loves us. He is bothered even with the little things that we don't want to trouble an Almighty God with. Almighty extends even to seeing a friend one last time, who just hapenned to be on the same bus you were on as you headed to Stazione Centrale for your airport transfer. It extends to a situation that makes you laugh ten minutes straight when you're having a bad day. It's the homeless man who gives you what is likely his last seven cents because you look that miserable sitting in South Station, sad you missed seeing a friend and saying one last goodbye to family. You get the point.

After the interview and song sharing, I recorded a couple of tracks. Bjorni sang harmony on one, and we even involved a girl who was hanging out in the station. Her name was Nisa (meaning 'I start/begin') and it was wonderful to bless her in this way.

Considering the fact that we had literally zero practice time, it all came out quite well.
Here are some pics.






Thursday, July 24, 2014

Homeward Bound

So it's literally been about a month since I've updated my blog.
Sorry about that.

I am now homeward bound. I did decide, however, to make a quick pit-stop in Albania to visit a friend. My next few blog posts will be updates of some special moments and occasions that happened while I've been here. So much has happened that I likely will forget something, so cut me some slack if these posts don't come in chronological order.

On my first night in Tirana, the capital city, we did not have some fabulous local dish. No. We had pizza. I'm coming from Italy, folks, and you can bet I was getting my fill of pizza, brioches, and coffee before leaving the land of where all of that actually tastes good.  It was really good pizza though, so I suppose I was proven wrong rather quickly.

Then the next day I went around meeting lots of people and that's where all the fun starts happening. I suppose everything needs a little legwork.

Anyway, I met the pastor of my friend's  (We'll call my friend  'Teddy') church, and we started looking into my leading worship at one or more of the services, since Teddy assured him that I was an anointed worship leader and he wouldn't regret it. In that same day we met some of the worship team and had some friendly musical sizing each other up time. At some point in all this, there was a meeting with the radio station to plan my sharing my testimony as a worship leader, and some songs, and then that evening we met with some of Teddy's family group where we talked about the awesomeness of God, randomly decided to plan an all night prayer and worship time for the evening of the day I had the radio interview early in the morning, and then we went out to the pyramid, which is a monument in center city. Once there, though freezing my butt off, we stayed and worshipped and interceded for the nation of Albania for a good half hour.

Then, I was brought back to my hostel where I most gratefully fell into sweet repose.

This more or less gives you can accurate picture of what my first week was like. I'll spare you and go into detail only on the highlights. So without further ado, I present to you the Happy Trails Blog Series, "The Land of Eagles: Highlight Reel". (Shortened to TLoEHR, in loving memory of the ridiculous acronyms in "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs).

Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Weekend in Germany

Anyone who knows me or has looked at my blog knows that I like traveling, discovering new things, and that I'm oddly and madly in love with Jesus.

These things combined to form a super awesome weekend trip to Germany. And really, it was super awesome. I went with a group of friends who have easily become one of my most cherished spiritual families here. I went to show support, but I also wanted to learn.

The father of this spiritual family was talking about the culture of honor, a term popularized in the Bethel Church in Redding, California. I cried so much that I was worried there was no water left in me. It's one of those experiences that you keep processing and seeing the effects of months later. I haven't figured anything out yet to write concrete examples of "what I learned". 

What I did notice though is that this culture of honor is very family centered, particularly father centered. It is also focused on forgiving and encouraging/building up others. It's about loving people, really, and choosing to look at and bring out the gems of who people are, instead of the gunk that often surrounds those gems. You can really honor someone when you take the time to get to know that person, and don't do and see things according to what you would like. People are different. Then there's also the issue that if someone does not explicitly say they want to become a Christian, do we still love that person? Or is our love conditional and based on the conversion agenda?

Folks, Jesus died for us whether or not we choose Him. If that's the model, we've got some work to do!

Anyway, Germany was awesome. Very few people will appreciate the excitement of entering a real Lidl supermarket. I think a few more might appreciate sleeping in a castle, warm sunlit walks admiring lovely architecture and landscaping, and really really good food.

Our hosts were incredibly generous and sacrificial and just amazing people. Worship and Word was anointed and just...good. So so good.

I've made tons of new friends and I'm just too tired to continue this post. Should I find a more interesting way to update you guys I will.

A quick prayer for clarity for decisions and provision for what God has planned for me would be greatly appreciated!
Muah! :*

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gelato

There's something really special about softly melting icecream cones on warm days in Italy. I love seeing staunch men in suits become boys again as they clumsily eat gelato on lunch breaks or walks home.

I love seeing the young couples walking together. They snap and pop, full of energy, laughter, and playful taps and soft caresses.
I especially love the older couples full of a sort of knowing and a love that has endured.

On its paper holder, my own icecream cone reminds me: "Non esiste un ricordo che non abbia sapore." There doesn't exist a memory that does not have a flavor.
Though perhaps it would translate better to "Every memory has a flavor."

While not always true, I can say that in a country like Italy, this saying holds a certain special truth to it.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Presence (and hello there!)

It's been way too long since my last post. It's been busy folks. But a good busy. I've had some fun recently at the Milan House of Prayer (MiHOP), part of the IHOP Kansas 24/7 prayer and praise movement. Here's a reflection from one of the last times I was there.

Presence.

This is where it's at.
                       Literally and figuratively.
I want to float on the stream of Your love,
be carried by the tide of wonderful places unknown.
But I'm afraid. Honestly, I'm afraid.
This means leaving what little familiarity I had
in this place that is unfamiliar.
This means pulling up every anchor I had
cast in a harbor that isn't you.

But I'd rather ride Your wild waves than
be tied down to something You don't want me tied down to.
So I'm cutting the ropes until there's only one anchor left.

I'll cast it in You.
There's no safer harbor.


I've had some awesome times supporting other Christians in their sessions and I've started playing a Friday session rather regularly. It's been suuuuuuper fun folks. Super.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Where to begin?

How do I even begin to describe the myriad of things that took place this week?
Seriously.

I'm assuming you've already read the post about Tuesday.
That was just the beginning. I am going to lead you on a countdown to Sunday, highlighting some of the most exciting moments of one of the most exciting weeks I have ever had EVER.

Wednesday was pretty chill, but I felt like a super star because I walked six miles, moseyed along international food stands and just generally felt very pretty while going through Milan's historical center on my way home.

Thursday, no band practice turned into impromptu aperitif faith activation. Basically, a friend invited friends to come so that he could sow into/evangelize them, and then invited one of my friends who then invited me and another friend so that we could help out. These two friends and I form quite the notorious trio, but that's another story for another time. Needless to say, the friend who organized the "event" was super happy at the end of it.
I shared part of my testimony and then with the other two parts of the trio, went down a list of recent miraculous healings and divine encounters we had seen or been a part of.
It was a pretty epic list.

As is natural with Jesus, people got interested and wanted to see this for themselves. So, the large majority of us decide to meet the next day and that brings us to Friday.
We meet in the Colonne di San Lorenzo around 9:30PM, right when things are hopping and the beer bottles are out in full force. We gathered in our little group, already plus one because of a Polish woman we had just met who I invited to sing with us, and we began to worship. Long story short, we had jam sessions with drunk people, some of who played our guitars, and though it was wonderful, I personally learned quite a few ways in which I needed to grow in love.

More than that though was a hunger for something more. That came out in a song I wrote during quiet time on Saturday morning, which was basically a prayer for love. I was reviewing some notes from my Bible study time and "the fervor of love" stood out like a beacon. This was Jesus turning over tables in the synagogue, full of zeal--the fervor of love. This was a good thing! Love isn't always mushy gushy, and as I meditated on what Jesus did, I knew I wanted that. I wanted to be like that. I wanted the perfect love that cast out fear, so that I could stop saying "My friend loved on this drunk guy...prayed for someone and he/she was healed...modeled Christ to his classmates, etc." No more miracle mooching for me!

This leads us to Sunday. After a day of too many divine encounters to recount here, God provided the opportunity for me to become aware of the work He'd done in me. Because my two friends and I weren't all three in the same city for Sunday service and the activities that followed, we headed over to one of their houses for dinner and testimonies of the incredible days we had. God had one more thing in store for me (and really, also for the kid I met). I had begun to take more initiative in our divine encounters throughout the day, but this last one was just for me. Well, like I mentioned before it was really for the guy whose name was so prophetic I almost fell over laughing when I heard it.

Basically, he had hurt his foot playing soccer and when I asked if I could pray for him, he was rather chill about the whole thing. So I prayed for him in the name of Jesus, and when I asked him to try his foot and tell me how it felt he looks to me a little less nonchalantly and says, "Bene... Cos'hai fatto?!"

Good... What did you do?!

So then I say, "I prayed for you in the name of Jesus. This is called a miracle, and you've just been healed! God loves you so much! Jesus loves you!"

Well, we all got off the tram at the same stop, and when I look back his family (who were Muslim and who had I noticed were there I might not have had the guts to approach the kid) is smiling like they won the lottery. The kid is still shocked and his family stand on the other side of the road looking at his foot for a good five minutes before moving on.
WHEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have an awesome week folks :D

Friday, May 23, 2014

Super

We're all 'super', really. All of us.
The Pearl of Great Price.
That's how much it cost to buy us.

Do you ever stop to think that you're worth Jesus?

I've heard it said that it's not that we were worth a lot so much as paying off our sin cost a lot. Honestly, I think paying off the cost of sin wouldn't have happened if the prize weren't worth it.

Get that?

God loves you. God loves you. God loves you!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Night to Remember...


Last night I talked with a Norwegian model/musician about the importance of memories and the joys of the songwriting process. I shared my guitar with a Philippine and heard some of his original music, I shared some of my original music, I jammed with southern Italians, and I got to talk with a girl from Turkey. I didn't want it to end!

Milan never ceases to surprise me with these sorts of moments. In all, between old friends and new, eight countries and four continents were represented in a little square in center city as we played and sang our hearts out and got to know each other better.

When people ask me what it is I like so much about this often dirty and graffitied city full of a culture that is all too often superficial, I can point to moments like this. It's the people, and more than that, it's the heart I have for the people here. Here in this fashion capital it can get really deep, often because few expect profundity in such a place. I have had wonderful jam sessions in places other than squares in Europe, but my heart burns for this country and for the region of Europe.

As my friends and I finished practicing for an event we were invited to sing at, it was the most natural thing in the world to fill up on some love with a little more worship and then go pour it out on some unsuspecting strangers. It was almost like the prophet Jeremiah. The impulse to go and share God's love was so strong that had we not gone, it would have been like a fire shut up in our bones. We would have quickly wearied of holding it in. This is too good a thing to be kept secret!

And like moths to the flames, people were drawn to us as we went to them. They opened like something poetic that I can't think of at the moment, all because of the love of God they saw in us. It was that simple. It was amazing.

There was prayer, invitations to church, and we eventually moved toward an atmosphere of worship as me and the Philippine guy shared our songs toward the end, but by then we were already buddies with everyone. When you love people and want to get to know them, you want to get to know what they love.

So yea. Last night was a night to remember, and I am 100% sure that something really special happened for all of us present.
Here's most of us in a pic.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Dreams that You Dream...

Hello Folks!

Lots has happened since my last post. As usual...
This past week was literally a whirlwind of activity, much of it concentrated in the end of the week. I'll just do a few highlights.

Friday was interesting, to say the least. I had a full morning and afternoon, a show during the evening and no time to go home between activities, so I lugged around my guitar and a change of clothes all day. I stopped by my friend Alisa's house after my last class to change into my singing clothes and do my make-up. It turned out to be the perfect opportunity to celebrate some good news: I'm officially a member of European Faith Missions/Go Missions! In Europe I am now partnered with Alisa Brown and Sally Davis. There's like, a post about it on the website and business cards have been ordered for me. Legit.

Basically, as a member of EFM/GM, I am a missionary who supports other missionaries in addition to the other work I do in Milan leading worship, evangelizing, and the like. You need prayer for something? Hit us up. Need help with English, Italian, worship leading, arts and crafts, a much needed place to stay in Milan? I'm your girl. The dream here is to be able to do this work full time, and for that I'll need lots of support, both spiritual and financial. I am believing for God to work a miracle in my financial situation.

Anywho, Friday I talked with Alisa, cleared up some details and took a selfie for the website update.
Then I hightailed it clear across town to my church where I was singing at the singles' event, thanking the Lord I hadn't sweat through everything or tripped over myself.

The night was fabulous. I sang well and felt pretty, so for all accounts and purposes I started the evening on a high note. I got lots of compliments and was even offered a wedding gig (through a friend, since the couple in question was not at the event). I won musical chairs (never mind that one of my besties was the DJ...). I had the usual good time dancing and being my extroverted self, and then someone came up to me and said I was the princess of the evening. And there you have it.

While I did not finish then evening on the arm of some dashing, debonair, tastefully tanned Italian, I'm still pretty satisfied with the evening. ;)


Saturday was similarly packed. I got up bright and not-quite-early-enough for a trip to evangelize in a bar (cafe) in a nice little section of Milan on the other side of town. In a sense, this was the first outing as the new official EFM/GM. Despite both me and another member being at least 30 minutes late, we worshipped, prayed, and believed in God to show up and be glorious.
Now, if you are curious as to what evangelism in cafes in swanky neighborhoods looks like, maybe I can give you an idea.

Here's what we did:
1. We set up one of those double sided chalk signboards that restaurants often put out, setting on the sidewalk. On it was written in English and Italian: Free Service, Miracles, Healing, Dream Interpretation
2. We waited for people to come in and ask what on earth was going on

Crazy right? To give credit where it's due, this was Sally's idea. But what an idea!
One woman came in, a little unsure of what the background of all this was. She asked quite a few times to ensure herself we were Christians.

Sally prayed aloud for her while Alisa and I interceded quietly. As I felt led to pray for her heart God showed me what it looked like. I swear, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. This woman literally had a heart of shining gold, and I just knew that she was dearly beloved. I shared this with her, telling her that she was a jewel for God, but I didn't push it too much because I could tell moving in the Spirit in that way was scaring her off a bit. She thought I was clairvoyant or something, and immediately said that this was not the first time someone had given her that word.

Eventually we packed up shop, went back to Alisa's for a group photo, since we only had my selfie from the day before, and then I chilled a bit before heading back home with Alisa's son, who's visiting for the summer.

He came with me to the first ever concert of the Iberville Band, which is the Blues group I sing in. The name is a reference to New Orleans, a fairly legitimately bluesy/jazzy place where I lived for about a year and a half, but it still somehow lends me legitimacy as an American blues/jazz singer. I guess you could call them my blues band, especially since two songs I wrote are on our set-list. Alisa's son and I were both super tired, me from my packed schedule, him from jet lag (he literally arrived 3-4 days ago from the US), but we still had a good time. Iberville Band got great reviews and we were offered other dates to play, so on the whole I'm super happy about how the evening went. I learned a lot, had a lot of fun, and this Friday we play again! I want to be able to be a bit more settled in Milan so that we can keep up regular practices as needed, and play regular shows.

So much has happened so fast! Really, dreaming is seeming less and less a foolish thing to do.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Questions and Answers

What do you want?

What do I want?

What do I want?


It's time for you to spread your wings and fly...
Caged birds spread their wings but they don't fly.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Presence

I want to wear You about me always, like a cloak of many colors reflecting the fullness of your dreams for me, inspiring others to step into the fullness of Your dreams for them.

I want the fragrance of You on me, picked up from a mile away. Yes, I want to be saturated with it, with You.

I want the fullness of me paired with the fullness of You.
You created me wonderfully, oh so wonderfully.

Why would I want less of that? No, I want more and more.

You've created me as a woman of great joy. A woman of great calling. A woman who, surrendered to You, is limitlessly capable through a limitless God. As I go deeper in You my joy is made complete and the calling placed on my life is answered resoundingly.

You are the Naomi to my Ruth. I will follow You.
Like King David, I will worship You always.
Like Deborah, I will prophesy and ride out to battle, victorious in Your great name.
Like Samson, my faith in Your saving hand will remain secure, unfailing as You are.
In the unique combination of who I am in You I fall at your feet eyes raised in adoration, tears falling and oil flowing, with damp hair and nostrils filled with rich perfume.

This is it.

Falling down, reckless abandon, pouring it all out... this is where I take You on and become not only a lover of Your presence, but also a carrier of Your presence.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

How ya doin'?

It's been quite awhile since my last blog update. As is typical with me, I've had quite a bit to process. I couldn't possibly lay it all out here! Given my wordiness coupled with my natural tendency toward introspection and reflection, it really quite possibly would take a book.

Anyway, since I also have the tendency to process through any medium available to me, I made a conscious decision to hold back on the blogging until I could talk through certain things with my mama. It wouldn't be fair to her to read what I'm going through here on this blog before actually talking to me about it. So! We finally got to google chat and see each other. It was so good! We've only been able to email and send pictures because my horrible internet connections, so last week was wonderful. And as a result, I can now share my updates with the world!

1. I got a nose piercing!
This may not seem all that awesome, but when keloids run in the family and you've never done any piercing of any kind ever, praying and then getting your 1st peircing on your face is pretty epic. Also awesome was the 20% discount  I got because a former student works in the shop and remembered me fondly. Yaaaay. :)

                 1b. I'm just gonna tag on another fun update. Let's just call this one "Oh Snap!"
        While praying with friends and hearing testimonies of people healed of keloids, in the car on my way to the train station (another long story to explain), I mentioned how I was never able to snap with my right hand. We had just believed for me to have no keloid problems with my nose piercing, and then bam! I'm snapping with my right hand. Gotta love God's sense of humor.

2. This may not come as much of a surprise, but I toootally want to be a missionary in Italy. I'm trusting that God is going to make a way for that to happen. I'll update that in due time.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Heaven

Heaven

Heaven touches earth in a a kiss of epic proportions

This kiss holds the promise of every fulfillment. The fullfilment of every promise.

hands lifted in praise hold on to this connection, reach through the veil and touch realms unseen

new visions

new mind

new
renewed

Monday, April 14, 2014

On the Verge

I feel like my life right now is neatly divided into "Before Bethel Retreat" and "After Bethel Retreat". This piece here is a reflection I had before going to the retreat. My emotions were more intense than they had been in awhile, and I cried so much that my mentor at church joked once that what I needed wasn't tissues, but a pad. (Sorry for anyone who's grossed out by that humor...)

What is important when we go through these seasons is our response in the midst of it all. Do we fall to our circumstances or do we proclaim that praise shall continually flow from our mouths? Here's the reflection.

--

I cried out to the Lord and He heard my calls to Him.
In the midst of despair and confusion He did not remove His presence.
His shadow of protection rested still over me, and I have known Him as faithful.

Though in my own strength I grow weary and faint, the Lord by His own perfection sustains me.
He does not allow His daughter to fall, for He lifts me up and speaks sweet words to me, though I have turned away.

Yes, I have tried to find strength elsewhere, but it was all for nought.
For where could I go but to the Lord?
My inimitable, irreplaceable Savior, healer, redeemer, friend, yes, You are all I need!

You are a fountain within me, ever fresh, ever changing, and yet Your essence always the same. Living, renewing, restoring, healing, refreshing waters.

Though I stray You do not for You cannot deny Yourself. Oh my Lord my God, I have known You as faithful!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A New Song

It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to call this song, and then the other day it just came to me, reflecting a  wonderful change in my relationship with God: Papa

Papa

I didn't even have to make You want me. You sought me first.
I didn't even try to make You love me. You loved me first.

Now I'm swimming in Your love.
You are living in my heart.
Your grace has been more than enough for me.

You are everything I ever wanted, beyond compare.
I don't even have to ever wonder. You're always there.

Now I'm swimming in Your love.
You are living in my heart.
Your grace has been more than enough for me

Your favor falls as praises rise and we draw near to You.
God You come in glory, Your fire consumes and we are flames for You.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Post Bethel Retreat Reflection

Today

Today is a day like any other, and yet it is a day unlike any other. New habits form like goosebumps on the backs of my arms, accompanied always by excitement, tingles, the increased rate of the beating of my heart.

No detail is too small for God, and He's so gentle with us. Each new hair raising, spine tingling experience teaches me to become more accustomed to it, so that it becomes natural. Not that I become less sensitive to these new things, but that I come to expect them, look for them.

The supernatural becomes natural.

Friday, April 11, 2014

One (A Song for Italy)/ Una Sola Cosa (Una canzone per l'Italia)

 
There's a wave of love breaking walls and washing borders clear. We all are one.
There's a wave of hope reconnecting what's been torn apart. We all are one.

Let the waters flow. Dive deep to where the treasure lies.
Walk upon the land and call for it to be revived.
We can see awakening rushing like the wind as we are one.

There's a wave of joy joining hands and lighting up the dark. We all are one.
There's a wave of peace calling all to enter in Your rest. We all are one.

Let the waters flow. Dive deep to where the treasure lies.
Walk upon the land and call for it to be revived.
We can see awakening rushing like the wind as

See how the chains have broken.
Hear how the walls have fallen.
Enter in with arms raised in victory.
Be revived!

Let the waters flow. Dive deep to where the treasure lies.
Walk upon the land and call for it to be revived.
We can see awakening rushing like the wind as we are one.
 ---
Traduzione fatta dalla mia BELLISSIMA conquillina che adoro e adorerò per SEMPRE!! :D

C'è un'onda d'amore che infrange i muri e cancella le divisioni. Siamo una cosa sola. 
C'è un'onda di speranza che ricuce ciò che è stato separato. Siamo una cosa sola. 

 Lascia che le acque scorrano. Tuffati in profondità dove c'è il tesoro. 
Cammina sulla terra e dichiaralo che vivi! 
Possiamo vedere il risveglio come un soffio di vento quando siamo una cosa sola. 

C'è un'onda di gioia che porta luce all'oscurità. Siamo una cosa sola. 
C'è un'onda di pace che chiama tutti ad entrare nel Tuo riposo. Siamo una cosa sola. 

Lascia che le acque scorrano. Tuffati in profondità dove c'è il tesoro. 
Cammina sulla terra e dichiaralo che vivi! 
Possiamo vedere il risveglio come un soffio di vento quando siamo una cosa sola. 

 Guarda come sono state spezzate le catene. 
Senti come sono stati abbattuti i muri. 
Entra con le braccia alzate in vittoria. Si è risvegliato! 

Lascia che le acque scorrano. Tuffati in profondità dove c'è il tesoro. 
Cammina sulla terra e dichiaralo che vivi! 
Possiamo vedere il risveglio come un soffio di vento quando siamo una cosa sola.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Catching Up

I've written tons (songs, poems, rambling thoughts in my journal) and so much has happened since my last post. A few weeks can seem like a lifetime when the Lord is working things through in you, and introducing you to people who in the span of mere minutes impact you for a lifetime. Once again I feel that I have met people that I never want to part from, and who I feel are integral to the plans God has for our lives.

About two weeks ago I went to a Bethel conference where I was greatly refreshed, received lots of confirmation regarding the anointing on my voice, and was generally encouraged. I feel an important shift took place and that I have entered a new level in faith. It is even easier now to slide into heavenly realms when leading myself or others into worship, and I can feel in me a deeper joy, a more bubbling love. I remember talking to my Mumsy about it, saying that I feel more "me" than I did before, like I'm closer to the essence of who God created me to be.

I feel I have been charged to 'release' God, to enlarge His territory, through praise and worship and prophetic song. There's that Israel Houghton song where he says he can hear the Lord say: No limits. No boundaries. I see increase all around me. Stretch forth. Break forth. Release me. Enlarge my territory.

Singing that song shifted something in me. Meeting and spending time with the missionaries I caught up with and met through that conference has marked me eternally. I literally don't want to let any of them go, and I want us to serve God together. There is an excitement that stirs in me at the concept of missions through music, of calling down the heavens in heaven-inspired song and seeing and feeling atmospheres shift as people come into greater awareness of the presence of their Creator, his nearness.

A deep "yes!" resounds in me. Let it be so. This is good. So good.

All of these questions and desires bounce around in my head.
Not even two weeks ago friends of mine were caught up in worship and I had a vision of a wave of love coming to Italy. A wave of good things: love, hope, peace, healing, that would crash over the body of Christ here and we would move in an overflow of love, bringing all the good things in the wave to pass.

I asked God for a song for Italy and He gave it to me that same afternoon, showing me again the wave when I asked what I should write about, while also drawing out the importance of prophesying unity over this country.

Then, I get an email telling me I've been accepted to the graduate program I wanted.
I have to make decisions, but in reality I want it all. I want to be able to work on my degree online, continue working and doing missions on Italy, be with my mother for her wedding (!) and lead worship in Albanian for this year's Sukkot in Poland. I want a partner in my life who would have the same heart for traveling, ministering to people through music, and helping people to step into what and who God created them to do and be.

I don't think that's too much to ask.
I remember reading a pastor who said that even if we can explain a miracle scientifically, it doesn't make it less of a miracle. A miracle is in the timing. The speed of the healing, the growth. The timing and strength of the peace, the absolute perfect moment for the resolution.

And so I am here, believing for a miracle, and trusting in God's timing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Playground

I'm sitting on a playground bench eating chocolates and writing in a journal. I cast the occasional piercing, discerning glance about me. I like to think I make quite a picture, with the bright pink of my new blouse peeking through on this unfortunately dull and cloudy Spring afternoon.

I am painfully early for work.

Despite the chill in the air I sit on this not-so-freshly-painted green bench because I don't have any cash on hand. I won't have any until my lesson tonight, but I think I can survive without coffee and brioches until tomorrow.
This city often has a heaviness to it, and kind gestures are therefore especially appreciated on days like this. I want to be extra kind today.
I am reminding myself that this time is a gift.
Yes, this time is a gift.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Music, Ministry, Calling, and Clarity

From the title you more or less get an idea of what this post is about. Basically, I'm in a period where I desperately need clarity in how, where and when my calling of a music ministry is going to take place. Now, I don't need God to tell me the whole story, because then I wouldn't exactly be walking in faith (well, I would, but it'd be different, you know?), and then some of the fun of the journey would be taken out. What I just want to know is the next step. Which country, which city, how to procure documents for this place I've been called to, and how I should support myself/be supported financially. I am down to the wire, folks. For real.

Recently I had a dream in which it was felt pretty clearly that God was telling me to take good care of the music ministry given to me.This is the same dream in which I also received a huge barrel of gifts. Then, there were two occasions immediately following in which while I was leading worship, people started crying. And I mean crying. Ok. So God is using me. Excellent. Now, what should I do, exactly, to take care of this ministry? I received a word from God during worship this Sunday service, in which I was told to rise up and do the work He set before me. So yea, it's time for me to get proactive about this. But again, how?

I feel a bit like a whiny broken record that even I want to toss into a corner, but it's those whiny kids who eventually always get what they want, isn't it? I would love to be able to come to God about this like a well-ordered, organized adult, but honestly I feel like wiggling in frustrated immaturity, pouting my lip, furrowing my eyebrows, and releasing a squeally, utterly annoying, "waaaaaaaaaah". I cannot even fully articulate all of the questions I have right now...

Still, I am encouraged because "the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." Romans 8:25-27, NIV


I've been encouraged to pray these verses from Ephesians, asking for wisdom of revelatiom. The idea is to personalize the prayer, so you pray it for yourself. Then you can also pray it for others.
Ephesians 1:17-23

New Living Translation (NLT)
17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

Ephesians 3:14-21
New Living Translation (NLT)
14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

I'll end this post with a Psalm that over the past weeks has already been a great encouragement to pray: Psalm 138

A psalm of David.

1 I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart;
    I will sing your praises before the gods.
2 I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.
    I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness;
for your promises are backed
    by all the honor of your name.
3 As soon as I pray, you answer me;
    you encourage me by giving me strength.
4 Every king in all the earth will thank you, Lord,
    for all of them will hear your words.
5 Yes, they will sing about the Lord’s ways,
    for the glory of the Lord is very great.
6 Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble,
    but he keeps his distance from the proud.
7 Though I am surrounded by troubles,
    you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.
You reach out your hand,
    and the power of your right hand saves me.
8 The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
    for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

NLT

* Bible passages retrieved from: biblegateway.com

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spoiled

Sometimes getting a little spoiled can be a good thing. A little pampering, a little being taken care of, loved. Nothing wrong with that.

Lately I've felt incredibly spoiled. But what that really means is that I'm not used to, or perhaps I should say I am uncomfortable with the amount of good vibrations coming my way. It is natural for me to accept love from my mother. It is natural for me to encourage and counsel others. Now I am learning to be encouraged, to receive, to abide in my Savior.

I'm being inundated with love. All around me there are little reminders, little whispers of I love you...
... I care about you

I'm taking care of you... 

... You are important to me

You are special...
...You are made in my image

I have clothed you in My righteousness...
...I am you portion
I am working all things for your good...
Find your delight in Me and I will give you the desires of your heart... 
See, all these things will come and have already come to pass!

Believe in your worth, because I have given it to You, and you can always find it in Me

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Revolutionary Smile!

** Before you go on to the poem, can I just say how true this turned out to be? I wrote this poem on my way to work this morning. Every morning I say hello to the lady who sits at and monitors the school entrance while enclosed in her glass box, and every morning she either ignores me, doesn't hear me, or sort of frowns in return. Today, having just finished writing this poem, my smile was feeling revolutionary, and I felt the power of God's joy flowing through me. This morning the lady smiled back at me! It was a little tentative, but I could see real pleasure at being greeted cheerfully and not just ignored like most people do when they enter the school building. I've been smiling at her and saying "good morning" for months, people. Even when you don't see an immediate outward change, know that God is moving in the spiritual realms. In order to get to know her better, in order to witness to her effectively, I needed to be patient and consistent in showing love. She will respond now if I go up and ask her name and share a bit about my testimony. A foundation has been laid now. Even some parents lit up when I greeted them this morning as they waited for teacher conferences. Light is powerful folks. God is good!  Ok. Here's the poem.

Revolutionary Smile

This is dangerous.

In a city so full of doom and gloom frowns, a smile is revolutionary.
This morning, I am especially so.
My smile is as wide as the Grand Canyon, yet it represents only a fraction of the immense joy in my soul.

Song bursts forth from my mouth; I no longer care that I'm in public.
Today I am a songbird gleefully releasing her morning melody.
Today, I taste God's presence like a child tasting ice-cream for the first time on a hot summer's day.
Cool, sweet, refreshing.
Today, I dwell upon God like we dwell upon 1st love's 1st kiss. I feel the excitement of being with Him well up within me.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good!"
I have, and there will never be enough words to describe it for I cannot even completely understand the fullness of His goodness.

This is dangerous.

This smile is a light in the darkness that will not be overcome, but change almost always causes a push back.
I'm ready.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Gift Upon Gift

One recent gift that I haven't blogged about yet was the one in which God allowed me to lead worship from the floor. Literally, the floor. To be more specific, this was during Saturday's worship at the youth service.

I tend to hold my worship in sometimes, but then the Holy Spirit bursts in me and there's no shame, only loud proclamations of God's goodness. God has given me an ear for medleys, and that is often a large component of how I lead worship.

We were worshipping to Kari Jobe's "You are For Me", in Italian, of course, when I notice that the chord loop we were on worked for another one of my favorite worship songs. So there I am, singing "Su di noi" (Let it Rain-Jesus Culture), tranquil as can be, when the Spirit bursts in me and I start wailing on "Where You Go I Go" (also Jesus Culture, Bethel Church). While not the same key, the melody fits over the chord structure.I'm having a medley good time. I go between that and "Let it Rain". It was a special moment, really, because during that time I was feeling self conscious about how loud I can sometimes get when I'm praising. It was like God broke down the door and opened the floodgates of heaven like I was asking in the song, and let it flow through my vocal chords. I didn't have any brain cells to spare to care about whether or not people thought I was being obnoxious.

Anyway, I stay in this special place a bit, though much quieter than before, moving between songs, when the worship leader switches to "Let it Rain"! He did a medley! Oh the joy that rose up within me! As far as I can tell, they've never done this before. I was so excited, and I felt like God was telling me, "I'm using you no matter where you are in the congregation". Leading worship is my ministry, no matter where I am!

You see, I know they heard me on stage because for about a month now after almost every Saturday service someone on stage tells me about how they heard me worshipping on the floor, and it blessed them. Even the guy in my cell group who is always really far back on the stage, next to the drums. Even I was surprised with the strength and volume of what came out of me while I was worshipping, so I'm pretty sure they heard me on stage. Again.

So, in this past week of gift upon gift, this was one of the sweetest. Truly, all you need to do is be the light God made you to be, seek His kingdom, and you'll walk in the promises of His Word. The blessings overflow in abundance!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cool Ways I Met God Recently...

So! Wassup?
It struck me this morning on my way to work that I've had lots of wonderful divine encounters. From meeting friends on late night trains and stopping for a chat and a prayer, from running into people I never expected to, and schedules just happening to click, everything is coming together in the coolest ways!

I'll start from the middle.
On Wednesday I had the morning off from work and decided to use that for quiet time and a morning fast, instead of the lunch fast I had planned around my usual schedule. Awesome. Then that evening I shared the message in small group, and that was awesome too! It was really a God given word, and many people received :D.
Then Thursday, somehow my schedule worked out, despite everything getting moved around, and even though I had missed two meals instead of one (hungry Allegra= She Hulk. seriously.), God gave me the patience to deal with an incredibly unfortunately behaved little girl, to the point that her mother commented on my patience at the end of the lesson to the father when he got home. God is good!

Then on Friday I went to an open mic where I shared one of the songs I recently wrote from my times of worship and personal time with God, and on Sunday I ran into someone from the bar where I played. He invited me to sing with his buddies next Sunday, and you can bet I and a few others will be there! We just happened to go to Sempione for our after church worship, and there you go: evangelism opportunities! Assuming the weather holds up, we'll run into each other again.

This Sunday was pretty much fantabulous. Not too long ago I remember reminiscing over a group hang out at my friend Alisa's house that happened a few months ago. It was so anointed that people still bring it up to me when we run into each other at church. It was with mostly these people that I hung out with this Sunday afternoon, and so we were all primed for the movement of the Holy Spirit. One of the guys in this group had come to church with a friend who was going through a rough time and reached out to him for some spiritual guidance. While we were all there sitting in the grass in the middle of crowded park belting out worship songs in English and Italian to our heart's content, he starts crying. Apparently it was right as we started singing, "All consuming fire. You're our heart's desire. Living flame of love, come baptize us."

Naturally we're all excited about this. Another girl new to our group who was a friend just happened to have had a similar experience last week, and when she felt led by God to go and pray with him and listened, that's when he let loose the flow.  Apparently he started crying as soon as he got to church too, and so I'm sure this is not a day he'll easily forget. We're praying for him to give his heart fully to God, and I'm trusting in His timing.

Then we continued worshiping into the late night, but inside since it was getting cold and people had to leave, and I became aware of just how important my quiet time is as a worship leader. I pour out a lot when I lead worship, and I need to remember to have time to receive from God. So when I took some time to rest during our evening worship, it was nice. But then for the last 30-40 minutes I needed to pick up my guitar! It will be good for me to learn to receive even as I pour out, because when leading worship I feel the most "me". The most what I was made to be.

The last thing I'm noticing is God's provision. I've had a few extra expenses coming up, what with a Bethel retreat I registered for and the setting up of my hopefully functional new/old iPhone 3, but I've also had a flood of new requests for private lessons, all of which fit into my crazy schedule. This week I'm doing three lessons more than I did last week! That makes a huge difference for me, and I'm so grateful.
I'm especially looking forward to Thursday, since I work with one of my favorite (yes, I've got faves) students, and then I start with a new student from the group of friends I praise with. It's the guy who brought his friend on Sunday. These types of lessons are nice because we'll be able to fellowship and talk about God as His English improves.

Ok, now that I've written a short novel here, I'll end the post. This is what happens when I can only update when I have access to public wifi or the computers at work! Trusting God for a wifi revolution at my apartment!
Ciao ciao folks!





Monday, March 17, 2014

Revelation

The other day I had a revelation about consecration. Often in the Bible, especially in the Hebrew Bible, we see the word 'destruction' a lot. In particular as Israel was claiming their promised land. This 'destruction' was the type of destruction associated with consecrating something or someone fully to God, as an offering.

One morning during my fast last week (it ends tomorrow!) this popped into my head, mostly in relation to this period of fasting and consecration I've entered into. Anyone who's spent any length of time with me understands that I absolutely LOVE reading, and I don't handle hunger particularly well. Therefore, deleting all of my romance novels from my kindle app (even my favorite ones!) and voluntarily choosing to skip meals was very much a sort of destruction of myself. It was a sacrifice. But you see, I chose to do this, and this revelation coming to me was almost like a 'good job' from above, a sort of confirmation of my journey.

Suffering is part of the package when you choose to follow Christ, but I daresay that sounds worse than it actually is. Every sacrifice brings with it its reward. There comes a point where "suffering" takes on a different meaning.There are many accounts in the Bible and elsewhere, where people rejoice in trials, tribulations, and the like, and thank God that they were counted worthy of suffering for Jesus Christ.

I can't say I was jumping for joy all of last week, but I can say that I had some very special moments with the Lord. And definitely my relationship to food has changed. Today would definitely be the first time I was physically unable to finish a pizza. And the old adage, "There's always room for dessert", well that wasn't the case today. Half of my small cup of ice cream went down the drain. There are worse things, I suppose.

Well, today I've also gone to get my new/old phone fixed. I haven't had a smart phone since coming to Italy, but it hadn't been a problem until WhatsApp became the primary form of communication amongst essentially everyone I know. One of my small group members gave me his old iPhone 3 for my birthday, to remedy the issue. Very nice of him, except that it doesn't charge. I'm hoping that it's just a port problem, and that it will charge once that gets replaced. We shall see.

Either way, it's been quite a lovely sunny day! I'm definitely loving this weather!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Stuff

So my birthday was pretty awesome. I fasted two meals and felt awesome doing it. It really felt like some issues I had with food were dealt with that day, and today I feel strong going into another day of fasting. Super exciting! Some friends and I are going through a period of consecration, and so I've gotten rid of a lot of not so good reading material I'd been holding on to, and I am so sure that all of this is bringing good fruit. Whoo!

So right now I'm dashing off to meet up with a few friends, but I've got to say, life is good :D.
I got myself a good wax for my birthday this morning, and so I'm ready for poolside aperitivos, should they arrive.

Also, the gifts that I ordered for myself were waiting for me when I got home yesterday! Talk about God's amazing timing! I literally ordered my pedometer like three days ago, and international shipping is not supposed to be that fast. I'm already counting my steps and working through my 10k steps a day healthy goal. I'll be sure to update on how all of that is going.

Ok! Dashing off through this lovely weather! yay :).

Thursday, March 13, 2014

It's My Birthday!!!

Yo!!!

Ok, so today is my birthday. Super awesome. I bought myself quite a few kindle books and a new pedometer with the amazing gift card my mama gave me, and I'm already enjoying the benefits of my new reading material. :D
I spent my workday handing out Boston souvenirs to my colleagues and people in the school, and I gave out two packets of cookies that I brought to share with everyone. Can I just say that giving feels WONDERFUL! It might even be better than receiving. Or at least it makes me feel less bad when I do get something.

On a side note, I had a dream a few nights ago that I got a huge barrel of gifts, and so I feel certain that God has some wonderful things in store for me as I grow in this period. The increase in joy and peace, the large amount of people who comment on my weight loss, and the larger amount of people who tell me how peaceful and settled I look as opposed to a few months ago, means I'm already off to a great start.

Yesterday I received so many wonderful things during my quiet time. Specifically some verses from Psalms that really encouraged me. Then, I was also encouraged as I prepared a mini sermon for small group. It was really really cool. I shared from David's life, focusing on his facing Goliath and his battle for getting the Ark of the Covenant back from the Philistines. It was supposed to launch from the sermon our youth pastor preached on Saturday, and so I started from there and then went further, since a simple regurgitation of what he had said would have been, well, not as useful.

I can say again that I applaud God for His timing. All that I'm doing now are things that I've wanted to do for awhile, and I was so frustrated over having to wait. I'm a leader, and I've known that about myself for awhile. I have an anointing to lead and when the opportunity does not present itself as I think it should I can get frustrated. But I've learned in this period that waiting can be a good thing, and I realize that I am much better equipped to do this work than I would have been had God allowed me do this sooner. I am humbled now, and I am not seeking the approval of man.

Now, I'm still learning how to wait gracefully, and there are a few areas in my life that I have to keep coming back to with that lesson, but I trust that all is in God's hands and that He's working all for my good. After all, He told me so!