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    why Charlotte?

    before moving to Texas,

    i went to a workshop called For the Love in Seattle. i went to two coffee shops and they both gave me the same design: a morning glory flower. when i arrived in texas, our backyard was covered with purple morning glory flowers. it marked the beginning of my journey. 2 years later, a bush in our front yard that had nothing on it the day before, now had purple morning glories all over it. Lord, are you saying this is an end to our season here? it was an abrupt thought that passed just as quick as it came.

    2 months pass

    …i had just gotten done writing the blog “why Texas” after an intense week of defending our call at the beach vacation to all of my family. after attending Elevation church’s “Wake up the Wonder” live album recording at Time Warner Arena, we arrive home & Caleb tells me he feels God calling us to Elevation church. WHAT!?!?!? my heart went into shock because I did NOT see this fore coming. he set a table that demanded me to eat all of my words from the whole week. it was a full course meal that left my tummy in aches. my attitude was a complete and whole heartedly NO with tears and loud sobs after it. i work at our church as administrator to the Youth Pastor and I’m an elementary art teacher at a Christian school. i have my two DREAM JOBS given by the hand of God!!

    so i did what any good wife who supports her husband would do…told him to lay his fleece down (because I was sure it would be denied since we obviously we were not “called” there). i went in my prayer closet and began crying…”God, I just feel like he’s being Jacob, pretending to be someone he’s not, and like a good father you’ll put the cataracts on as you feel his fake hairy arms.” God asked me, “then what will I do?” i paused and took a moment to recognize He was wanting me to remember what was next in this biblical story. “….You’ll BLESS him!?!” “that’s right. I’ll bless him, and he should have your blessing too.”

    we called our families

    and told them Caleb was applying for Elevation’s Prodigy Program. skipping the details…i got an email saying i should apply too because they love couples. after so much excitement from our families, i decided it was time to reveal how i was truly feeling about all of it so i sent them the blog “why Texas.” it ended with, “until the winds change.” right after pressing send, i opened up my email and this video called Blow Mighty Breath was sent to me. I clicked on it and at the very end he starts to sing, “There’s a change in the wind, there’s a shift in the wind!” I started to burst out laughing. Okay God, I guess the wind is changing now. 3 days later, we were accepted into “Bootcamp.”

    the next morning

    i went a different way to my destination and drove by the river in the park that i loved to sit with friends and write or paint. i peered through my window to see nothing but leaves! the stream was dried up! New Braunfels decided to not pay for that water anymore and it will never flow again. i was devastated. later i came home and read out of my favorite book,

    Let Go” by Fenelon

    which left me in a stream of my own tears as i read this:

    “I cannot express to you how deeply I sympathize with you in your time of suffering. I suffer right now alone with you, but still, it cheers me up to know that God loves you. And the very proof that God loves you is that He does not spare you, but lays upon you the cross of Jesus Christ. Whatever spiritual knowledge or feelings we may have, they are all a delusion if they do not lead us to the real and constant practice of dying to self. And it is true that we do not die without suffering. Nor is it possible to be considered truly dead while there is any part of us which is yet alive.

    This spiritual death (which is really a blessing in disguise) is undeniably painful. It cuts “swift and deep into our innermost thought and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are.” The great Physician who sees in us what we cannot see, knows exactly where to place the knife. He cuts away that which we are most reluctant to give up. And how it hurts! But pain is only felt where there is life, and where there is life is just the place where death is needed. Our Father wastes no time by cutting into parts which are already dead. Do not misunderstand me; He wants you to live abundantly, but this can only be accomplished by allowing Him to cut into that fleshly party of you which is still stubbornly clinging to life. He might even test your faith with restrictions and trials of all kinds. Don’t resist. You must learn to suffer all things!

    The death of self must be voluntary, and it can only be accomplished as far as you allow. You must be willing to yield to the will of God whenever He decides to remove from you all of the props on which you have leaned. Some times you must give up even your most spiritual friends, if they are props. “What dearest thou, oh thou of little faith?” Do you fear that He may not be able to supply to you from Himself that help which He may have taken away on the human level?

    I know how confined you are, but I convinced that God means to accomplish His work in you by cutting off every human resource. He is a jealous God, and He wants you to understand that what He is about to perform in you has been done by Himself alone, and by no other. So give yourself up to His plans. Allow yourself to be led wherever He wants to lead you. And be careful to not seek help from your friends if God is forbidding it. Your friends can only give what He gives them for you.

    Why be so concerned about the dried-up streams when the rivers of living water are so available?”

    every season i ask God,

    “what am i going to be in this season that i couldn’t be in any other?” then i ask Him, “what are You going to be for me that You couldn’t be in any other?”

    i asked Him this back in June at the Youth Retreat and He said, “you’re going to be a vine & root. I’m going to be your shade.” i hit up wikipedia as soon as i got home as usual to see what He meant.

    VINE: climber; runner

    Ex- ‘morning glory’

    •  can grow high IF support is available
    • other plants enable them to reach sunlight with a minimum investment of energy
    • colonize large areas quickly without even climbing high
    • adapt to life in areas where there’s more sunlight but little soil
    • rooted in the soil with leaves exposed getting the best of both worlds
    • twining their stem around support
    • clinging roots & attaching adhesive to the support
    • hooking on to grow quickly
    • flowering plant that provides attraction
    • some climb by themselves, others need work such as tying them in and training them

    SHADE: the blocking of sunlight

    • the shadow created by that object
    • shelter from the sun
    • plants produce shade by absorbing sunlight to invest as energy to produce sugar
    • Hosea 14:7>live in His shade, blossom like the vine
    • Psalm 80>i am a young vine. clear out my brambles & briers. plant my vineyard. prepare good earth. plant my roots deep. fill my land. soar high and shade the mountains. attend to this vine. care for what you once tenderly planted. the vine you raised from a shoot.

    if you haven’t connected the dots thus far…

    this might help: my friend bought me some flowers because Jesus told her to pick them up for me. after a while they began to wilt. i felt much like that little flower…depleted of energy and hope. i was experiencing the brown-thumb syndrome in life and needed to check my growing environment affecting the health of my heart. God had me look up why flowers wilt. there are many reasons why such as fungus infection, lack of water, being cut which could be a separate blog entirely but the one that put the puzzle pieces together was known as “transplant shock.” when a plant is relocated to a different environment it will go into shock if in too much sunlight.

    this next season,

    God is moving me to another location and in order for me to live & not wilt, He will be my shade! after flying to Charlotte, NC for “bootcamp” (the final weekend interview), i got to hear the heartbeat and motivation behind Elevation church. they said, “you need to find the purpose for God’s reason of promoting you. you need the support of others to take the personal risk required to extend the kingdom of God.” they also said, “if you’re always transplanting, you’re never planting yourself and growing roots.”

    i knew we were going to be accepted because God told me so the week before India, when i was able to attend the Gateway Conference despite pink eye & an ear infection. Pastor Steven Furtick was one of the guest speakers and guess where he preached from…Acts 27 (yes, 27 is the number God uses to speak to me & the day Caleb & i got married) and the title of his message was: “IT WILL HAPPEN!” he even said “i’m looking for some Caleb Joshua’s who are saying, “it will happen!”

    • trouble is the route to transformation.
    • you’ll get to where you want but not in the way you thought
    • the dream is free but the journey costs
    • are you steering by your spirit or your senses?
    • loss of hope, fear, shame, opposition= the storm
    • depression-when you can’t see it’s gonna be any better than it is right now
    • we’re too in love with the way we want it to happen
    • there’s a fresh WIND BLOWING & what was against you is breathing to blow you forward!

    in these last 4 months, God has taken me from wilting in despair/dismay to planting my roots in the hope He has for me. i had “small dreams, a skeptical mind, a stubborn heart, selfish motivations, and a short term memory” but despite all that, we will be in Charlotte for 6 months and then see where God takes us!

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    why Texas?

    on the first day of arrival here in Texas, God spoke the future as we pulled in to this small town. He said, “I did not bring you here for the job, but if I had told you why you came, you would have never come.”

    sometimes His words don’t make sense in the moment but clarity rises as time gets spent. now i am breathing in the life of that statement. it is the oxygen in which keeps me level when doubt arises. i want to breathe out some C02 to you so that you too can kill the questions and the reasoning and remember HE is the reason. it’s always been about HIM.

    the first Sunday here we went to a church (that wasn’t even the one we meant to go to but somehow was pulled up in my mind and was 2 minutes away). i had just been prophesied over in Virginia Beach hesitantly…”you are about to walk a path that will be hard…very hard, but at the end you will receive the robe of righteousness.” back in Freedom Fellowship in Texas at the end of the sermon the pastor said very loud and clear as he pointed, “and you will receive the robe of righteousness!” the words pierced to the core of my heart and i knew this was it. this was our church home.

    weeks after that, a prophet came in town named Jay LeRoux. our presence was requested at a “Leadership Meeting” even though we were not yet leaders. that night he prophesied over Caleb a message so spot on we were jaw-dropped. he dissected his heart and deciphered  ”youth & worship, youth & worship as he said over and over.”

    i was told there was no need on Sunday mornings for singers and to get with youth, then youth told the same and to get with home group and from home group i left with the same answer. guitar in hand, sitting on the carpet of our rented room, i said, “Lord, i’ll sing to you in my bedroom forever if that’s what you want. just You and me.”

    that Sunday they had a meeting for vocal tryouts and i was told to go. i was put on the schedule and after asked by the youth leader if i could lead “Closer” one of my favorite songs at the time, & then they asked for us to lead home group worship. all in one week everything had flipped! shortly after we found out the leader & his wife were transitioning out of youth and he out of worship and they wanted us to step in. everything was falling in to place.

    shortly after we had so many worried for us…”you guys do too much! you’re gonna burn out!” i’m humbled to say, we still haven’t simmered down. burn out doesn’t happen when Holy Spirit breathes on your fire.

    it’s coming up on 2 years that we’ve set foot in the foothills of Texas and many of you are wondering, if Caleb’s tennis job is what brought us here and he no longer works there, then why aren’t they scampering back “home”?  if he wants a job in ministry then why isn’t he in one and why can’t he do it near family?

    if God had told us to move halfway across the US, away from family to a small town to do ministry in a small church not knowing anyone and going from one job to the next, we would have never come. the truth is…he is in ministry. we both are doing ministry within the church part time & in the world part time, we just don’t see a pay check for it…in the natural. our treasure is in heaven. what’s the treasure? it’s Jesus. when God says arise, go to Nineveh…you don’t tell Him you’d rather go to Tarshish because there is better opportunity there for ministry and because it’d be way more comfortable to have family there. He’ll cause a storm, provide a whale, and spit you out where you belong because He called you there.

    perhaps you feel that He has told us to go to Nineveh (home) and we ran to Tarshish…then the outcome will still be the same. He will direct us back to where we belong. isn’t that encouraging?

    since being here Caleb & I have seen our church transition into a new building…the youth group go from 30 to 100 kids in attendance, with 60 kids on the Youth Retreat…countless salvations…12 baptisms…10 kids in my Art class get saved!…we’ve been able to attend marriage classes, a 3 month online worship school, co-lead Young Adult Fellowship, lead worship at Youth & Young Adults, and start a young adults ministry called Underground. God is settling Himself upon His people and we are so excited to see the work He is doing. we’ve never felt so apart of a community.

    So please, we need your support! Don’t pray for the ruby red slippers to be put on our feet if He’s calling us to walk the yellow brick of His path. This is all a season and seasons change.

    Until the winds change…

     

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    iNDIA

    I didn’t wait to be “called to India” from the voice of God…I had already been commissioned by Jesus in His Word (Luke 10:42). “Jesus didn’t say come but GO…not make members but disciples…to teach, not just give knowledge.” Back in March, our church showed a documentary on India that broke our hearts for the women and sparked Caleb to say, “lets go!” I simply submitted and we signed up that night. If God agreed, He would provide the funds to send us. We ended up raising a little over the amount needed! It wasn’t until months before we left that the dreams came, confirming and preparing my heart for the trip.

    The first dream I had was of an Indian girl who I had shared the gospel with and she was preaching at other men in the village yelling, “You believed in all of those ways to get to God and where did it get you? NOWHERE!” She was so passionate and fiery but I immediately feared that these men were going to grab their guns and kill us. They hopped in a car and began to follow us back to our home. I ran ahead, seeing the leaders outside with smiles waiting expectantly for these men to come and share the gospel as I sprinted into the house to jump behind the curtains. “Jesus, I want to be brave,” I said. “Don’t be afraid. Step out of the curtains,” He replied. I came out but heard noise and jumped back behind them. The men all shuffled in and by the end they all prayed to receive Christ. They may have come to kill but Christ’s blood finished their flesh and slaughtered my fear. First thing to do in India…tear down all the curtains!

    2 weeks before India, I couldn’t walk and was diagnosed with Planters Fascitis…I got the flu shot on a Saturday which led to the flu…fever…throwing up on Tuesday…got pink eye on Friday (the day before I was leaving for the Gateway Conference—a church hosting pastors and worship to pour into those who work at a church)…got meds and determined to go & woke up with an ear infection at the hotel on Sunday…went to the urgent care & lost my voice on Monday. Woke up and left Tuesday.

    After a 5 hour flight and 14 hour flight, I looked down and saw the city lit by candles & fireworks illuminating the city. I was the celebration of Diwala (which means light) because Rama, their god’s bride was stolen & this was the night he rescued her and took her back to his land. Jesus immediately spoke a word over the land—I am the light of the world and I’m here to bring enlightenment to the darkness. I’ve come to win back my bride (the people) and take her back from the enemy.

    My 2nd dream: we walked in to a cheap hotel and there were girls chained to the walls in our room. I looked at one and said, “Get out of her in the name of Jesus!” The demon looked shocked and then fled to the next girl. I lifted my voice and said, “I said, GET OUT in the name of Jesus!” and ordered him the to not return. All throughout the night the demons made screeching noises outside our door to try and torment me in fear because they were upset that we covered the place with Jesus and they no longer could live within souls. Caleb was sound asleep throughout the night.

    In reality, we arrived to our hotel and it looked so much and felt like the one in my dream. I even woke up in the middle of the night from nightmares about the Hindu gods as Caleb was sleeping sound. They believe in their own trinity-Brahma, Shiva (the Destroyer), & Vishnu (the blue man). I dreamt of a pale Indian man in a white turban then his head rotated upside down and turned into the elephant god. On our first day on the field, we went to a house and there he was on a huge photo on their wall. He was an ancestor that was worshipped in their household. We were unable to share the gospel with that village.

    The first day we exchanged our cash for rupees and hit the mall, took a 3 hour nap and woke up to walk to a restaurant. The Indian food was the one thing I most dreaded but surprisingly the last thing I needed on this trip was cheese-its and peanut butter! Nothing is better than garlic non with butter chicken! I felt completely spoiled the first day. We rode a bus with all of our Indian translators to our 2nd hotel, in which we showed up and our room number was 207 with a olympic sized pool view outside our balcony! Hanging with these people felt like my heavenly home. Not once was I told, “you don’t have to talk about Jesus all the time, Bethany!” and every joke we made was including some type of Bible verse. Totally cheesy but we all loved it. One of the translators that reminded me of Jay LeRoux nicknamed me “Joy” and referred to me as that the whole week.

    Sunday we were asked to preach at the church service. Caleb taught on abiding in the Vine and I taught on bringing heaven to earth through faith. It’s funny because that’s the first thing God taught me. I thought I carried faith bigger than a mustard seed! But it’s not until its planted, will you see it move mountains. After having 2 girls come up to me with their mom asking for their deaf ears to be opened did I realize that I had a lack. “Who do these people think I am?” Boy did that reveal who I was putting the power in…and myself won’t get very far. Jesus said to me, “Bethany, belief is different than faith. You believe that I can heal the blind and deaf because I did it 2,000 years ago but do you have faith for Me to release heaven through you in this moment right now?” I didn’t go to India to appreciate the culture but to shift it but in order to shift the culture you have to appreciate the people. “God, give me a love for these people” began to be the cry of my heart. I won’t live without it and they’ll die without it. Love is the currency of anointing.

    We headed out to the villages and had crowds of 20, 30, 50, 100, etc.. We shared the gospel and many were saved. We prayed for healing and while praying many said they felt hot oil running throughout their body and completely light afterwards. People came for prayer for anything from deaf ears to a pimple. There was no shame in wanting healing and some came just for that. It’s easy to get discouraged or angry when they want to use us for the power of God but Jesus knew those who showed up on the day the fish and bread multiplied that all they wanted was food and yet He still continued to give.

    We drank lots of chai tea & ate lots of cookies as each house pulls out their precious tea sets and serves their guests every…single…time. Hospitality is not a struggle in this land. After the trip I had realized that Jesus had been giving me a gift each day. Our translator whom I had just met the first day gave me her pants that I had complimented. On the plane in Germany I was so hungry for some of their famous chocolate but refrained and on the plane they passed out a huge round chocolate bar! I had forgotten to pack my hair brush so my hair was super knotty and I had forgotten a hair tie to the village. This woman kissed my hand, asked if she could kiss my cheek and then went and got a brand new comb that had never been used before and began to brush my hair, tying it off with an Indian scrunchy. I realized immediately that Jesus had just washed my feet.

    The next day I asked if my translator thought he could find me a mustard seed. The other translator said, no you won’t because they’ve already been harvested. The first translator then speaks Hindi to the the family of the village and he comes out with a handful and puts them in my hand! I counted 72 and when we got home I recounted and they had multiplied to 111! The last day as Charles explained how important it is for the pastor’s to follow up, he shared a new article of how a village had 72 converts from Christianity back to Hinduism. My heart beat so fast connecting the dots that although this happened, God is going to take our mustard seeds and multiply faith.

    I left homes that told me when presented with baptism, that they accept Jesus, His death & resurrection, & the cross but could not get baptized because they didn’t want to stop worshipping their other gods too. Jesus’ sacrifice became so real in those moments. A fiery fury burned within me at the thought that He gave it ALL away…all of His glory & His very life to save this wretched world’s relationship with God so that we could have all of Him but can’t give up our idols? But who am I to name my own hidden gods of shopping, money, coffee, possessions under different pretenses and think that they are worse? We chose not to focus on asking them questions focused on their gods like “does your god provide love? do you fear him?” because they are blinded. Instead Jesus tugged on my heart and said, “Stop laying rules on them to lay down their idols and let them come just as they are! I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” After His words, I had the faith to believe that if they got in that water, Holy Spirit would do the rest.

    Before the trip, there were so many things that had question marks over them that God showed me clearly. “Why does God cause pain and sorrow?” someone shouted from the crowd. It was obvious a demonic spirit was present and wanted to release confusion. “God’s world was perfect without tears & sorrow. Pain entered when satan came slithering in the garden with his lies.” I responded. Satan tries to turn heaven to hell everywhere he goes. We can choose to follow him too if we let pain diminish our praise.

    Was India awesome? No, HE is awesome!!! This blog could start and end with the fact that 423 mansion foundations just got laid in heaven. That is enough for Him to receive the glory! That could be the start and end of this story. But my favorite part of the trip was experiencing my salvation and taking full advantage of the open heaven over me. I was in the palm of His hand and He held mine. I felt His smile upon me and He kept me smiling. I’ll go back to the mission field just to put my life on His hip and have Him carry me until I’m resting.

     

    THANK YOU to all of my financial and prayer supporters who funded this trip and allowed God to use you to add lives into the kingdom!

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    Kathryn T

    Praise the Lord! Thanks for sharing!