Giving My Dream to God

“Set me like a seal on your heart,” Song of Songs 8:6.

Over the past few months, God has moved mountains in my life and broken strongholds that I never believed would be gone. With each new step He has asked me to trust Him more, even when I didn’t understand and didn’t think I could. Holy Spirit has empowered me to believe more. God has confirmed dreams and rekindled love for the marginalized that I had let die down. I would like to say it’s been an easy journey, except that would be a lie. I’ve pushed myself more, prayed more, struggled to find my footing more and cried more and in the end, God’s grace has always been more. He has never failed me. I have truly set Him like a seal on my heart and He will not let me fall.

Yesterday morning, with the cool lake wind blowing gently on my face as I sat the lake’s edge, God asked me to give Him my dream of moving to New York this year. He asked me to believe that He has a better plan, a plan I can’t even see yet. He asked me to trust Him with this dream knowing completely that He will take me to the city that He has placed so much love in my heart for…just not now. Again, I would like to say this was easy, but that would be a lie.

Then God reminded me of Abraham and Sarah. God promised them a legacy of generations so vast they outnumbered the sand on the beach and they doubted. They doubted because they were old and outside of the norm for bearing children. They didn’t really believe God was able, so they took matters into their own hands instead of waiting on God. Abraham’s first born son was from another woman, not Sarah, and to this day there are issues between the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son from Sarah. God was faithful even when Abraham and Sarah couldn’t believe. I don’t want that to be more story.

I am confident that I could have figured out how to move to New York this year. I am also confident that God would have blessed us and allowed us to prosper. I am more confident, however, that I wouldn’t have chosen His best for me, I would have settled and in that, I would have had increased stress and anxiety. My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth (Ps 121:2) and I want to follow Him as closely as possible. In that moment by the lake, I asked for another way that didn’t involve giving Him this dream right now and I knew, absolutely knew, that there was no other way for me to go. So, through tears, I handed this dream over to the Author of the dream itself. I set Jesus as the seal on my heart a little tighter and I believed that there is more for me in the waiting.

Here’s the deal, God is all about free will. I had the option to hold on to the dream with no fear of repercussions because God is about love for His children. He will let you go and, when He needs to, He will rescue you. My heart doesn’t want to be rescued anymore, it just wants to follow His path the first time. I won’t be perfect, I don’t even strive for that, but I do strive for obedience. God has a plan and I want to follow that plan always. Even when it means I go back to people and say “thanks for the support but I’m not going now”. Not “now” as in never going, just not at this time. I have more things to do here where I am and more to learn before I go on to the next big step. God trusts me to follow Him and I have shown myself deserving of the trust. I hear Him well and when I can’t, I seek Him out until I do.

Set God like the seal on your heart. Give everything you have to God and when you think you have nothing left, ask Him if there is more to give. He is faithful and if He is your focus, you will never go wrong. You may not understand what He’s doing in the moment, but you will never go wrong.

Shalom,

KA

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When Following Jesus Gets Hard

“Follow me”. Two little words. Less than 10 letters in total. Short sentence. How is it that these two little words are bringing me to tears right now!?

Several years ago, I asked Jesus what He wanted me to do for the kingdom and for Him. He spoke two words, “follow me”. In my heart I rolled my eyes a bit and replied with, “Of course I’m going to follow you. But what do I DO?” Again Jesus spoke and said “follow me”. I sat there for a moment and felt my emotions bubble a little. I was trying to figure out why Jesus wasn’t understanding my question. “Yes, gotcha, follow You, check. But what should I DO?!?!” At this point, I picture Jesus taking a deep breath, turning to His Father and saying, “Can you believe this kid?” (LOL) Instead, He lovingly says one more time “follow me”. At that point I got it, sunk my head down, slumped my shoulders forward and say, “ok, I’ll just follow you”. I felt like that was so lame and so easy. I was SO wrong!

Fast forward almost seven years and I find myself back at the feet of Jesus asking what I should do and I hear Him saying again, “follow me”. Only this time, I only need to hear it once. I burst into tears and I almost beg for release from this call of following without knowing. You see, I follow Jesus just like the Amplified Bible describes in Mark 1:17: accepting Him as my Master and Teacher, walking the way He did. He walked fully given over and in complete submission to His Father. He went where God told Him, ate what God provided and loved all who God brought His way. He had moments of sadness when friends died. He had moments of anger when the religious people of the day wanted to twist His words. He had compassion on people stuck in a life that was destroying them and others around them. He begged God for another way. In all of it, He remained faithful, and so will I.

Tonight, I feel like God is inviting me to trust Him more and I’ll just be honest, I’m struggling. I’m afraid He won’t make dreams come true, even though He has promised He will. I’m afraid the financial needs of my day-to-day life won’t be met, even though He has promised He will. I’m afraid I’m following Him wrong, even though I follow Him with a pure and honest heart only seeking to live more like Him in every way. I’m afraid I’m not enough, not seen, not heard and not known. Insignificant. Unremarkable.

Ah, I see you, my nemesis, and your name is Unremarkable. You have haunted me my entire life. You make following Jesus hard because you make me doubt that He loves me regardless of what I do. Even worse, you make me feel unloveable unless I am doing something I have decided is important. So, once again I say to you, Jesus finds me remarkable and while you served to protect me years ago, I don’t need you now. I bless you and I release you.

Following Jesus is hard, folks, let’s just be honest. We all come to the Cross, if we come to the Cross, with our own stories of trauma and pain. Your nemesis may not be called Unremarkable, but yours does have a name. Jesus is inviting you to follow Him completely. Live like He lived. Love like He loved. Sacrifice your life like He sacrificed His. Look your nemesis in the eyes, bless it and release it. Engage your story, dear friends, so that you are more able to “just follow me” when Jesus calls you. Cry, yell, journal, process, and then follow. Jesus is worth the risk.

Shalom,

KA

The Crisis

Faith is tricky. Being sure of what you hope for and certain if what you don’t see (Heb 11:1) can get daunting. Especially when you don’t know the Master’s plan. Many times, I believe God asks us to step out in faith and we, being human, decide we know exactly the outcome and then, God changes it all up and we can feel tossed about and bruised.

I’m beginning to believe that faith is a path that you either choose to walk on into the darkness and bring light to as you go, or you choose to require more light before you go. Neither is a higher call, they are just different. Many years ago, I chose the path that I cannot see clearly but I know Maker of the path so I’m secure in Him.

When God introduced me to the International Project (IP) in New York City (NYC) several years ago, it started a path. When He invited me to apply last fall to be a student in their cross-cultural training program, I hesitated for a moment and then kept walking. When He took us to NYC for the interview process with IP in April, it confirmed for me that He has planted a deep love for this city in my heart and it is my home. A truly beautiful experience that I will never forget. When they offered me a job there, I was ecstatic and I fully believed God would provide everything we needed in order to get there by July 23rd. My faith, being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see, has wavered but never faltered.

So here I sit on 7/5, no ability to move to NYC this weekend has initially planned, and my faith meets its largest crisis.

Did I hear God wrong?

Did I doubt more than I think I did and now I don’t get to go?

Did I not do enough?

Basically, I’m wondering if I am being punished and removed from what I believe God called me to because I’m not enough? My story of never feeling like I was good enough is triggered and I was finding it hard to see beyond this crisis and this pain. This place is exactly where my enemy wants me. You see, the enemy wants us to move our focus off of the cross and onto the crisis. That’s always his plan, to get us to shift our faith off of Jesus and onto ourselves. In those moments, Jesus invites us to remain in His presence and receive the gift of peace.

God is not a mean old man sitting on His porch just waiting for us to step in his yard so that He can tell at us to get off! God is good. God is love. God is faithful. I have no idea what God is doing other than leading me in love to become the person He created me to be. Over the past two months, I’ve experienced more freedom than at any other time in my life. I’ve confirmed for myself that Jesus is my everything and, like Job, if He decides to slay me I will still trust (Job 13:15). This journey, this life, is not mine. Yes, I have choices and options, but in the end all I really have is Jesus.

So, I keep moving forward and asking God for clarity. His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) for every area in my life. My mind is firmly set on the spirit (Romans 8:5) and while I do not fully understand what God is doing, or going to do externally, internally He is growing me more and more every minute of the day. The transformation process is never easy and to many, my life may look like a series of mistakes. And I’m ok with that because God has me and He will never leave me or forsake me.

Shalom,

KA

Year of Jubilee

This Sunday I will turn 49 and usher in my 50th year, my year of Jubilee. I am so excited to see all that God is going to do!! I’m also super excited to share it with all of you. Thank you for following my blog. I love story and I love to share all that God is doing, always praying it encourages you. I believe fully God is about community and in community, we share our lives and our stories. Always feel intived to leave a comment.

This season of waiting has been one of the deepest seasons of growth for me ever. I can see exactly how I got here and why God had me travel the path thus far. I have a better idea of what’s up ahead as far as ministry and life in general and, I await the exact next steps with eager anticipation. Our God is mighty and mightily in love with us! He is ever making a way, don’t doubt that for a moment.

I believe God has miracles and surprises in store for us all. As you see them happening in your life, I woul love to hear your story! Leave a comment and know that it will be read.

I pray blessings over each reader. May you travel well in all seasons knowing that with God fully for you, nothing opposing you will stand.

Shalom,

KA

Discouragement, Addiction and Hope

Hi, my name is Kellyann and I’m an alcoholic. It’s been 7 1/2 years since my last drink of alcohol. Praise Jesus!

Here’s the thing about addiction, it only goes dormant, it doesn’t go away. You may think you know all of your triggers and then, swoop goes the rug and you find yourself on your back aching for relief. The aching lies to you, it tells you there is a quick way out…medicate. Medicate through drugs, alcohol, pornography, food, television, whatever will get your mind off of the ache for just a few moments of relief. It takes the lie one step further by saying “you can do it this once, you won’t get hooked again”, and if you aren’t so very careful, you consider giving in. You consider it because there is a level of truth to the lies and you know that first hit, first drink, first bite is going to feel good even though, it’s also going to feel bad. This is the cycle an addict lives in and many of us live this out all of our lives.

I’m discouraged today. I’m discouraged because my heavenly view and my earthly view aren’t in alignment and I’m feeling frustrated. I know what I believe 100% that God said and the waiting on His timing, while amazing for long-term growth, is sometimes a bit crushing. My faith, certain of what I am hoping for and eagerly expecting what I do not see, is being tested and it hurts today. So, the enemy drops a lie…”have a shot of whiskey. You can have just one! It’s been seven years, you’ll be fine.” My discouragement kicks my addiction’s light on and I find myself spiralling a little into more discouragement. It’s a catch-22 with a wicked backlash.

So, I reach out to friends who understand and then I pray, begging God for new salvation. I beg for a life that never wants alcohol again. Beg for any light of hope that my faith is not in vain. And His reply today is the same as His reply to Paul long ago in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is enough because in your weakness I become stronger.” So I slump my shoulders forward, tears streaming down my cheeks and I hand my life over to God one more time. And in this moment of submission, my soul knows He has me even though my body still cries and still craves. In this moment I know I won’t drink alcohol today, not today.

Following Jesus is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s a choice I make every day and sometimes, every minute. I believe Jesus has me and is making a way where I can’t see one. I believe Satan wants to stop me. I believe I have an impact to make for Jesus through loving people. It’s who I am and who I was created to be and if I give up now, I will be lost. Not lost beyond being found again, but lost all the same. I have no plan B, I only have God. I have given Him all of my life and that is a crazy thing to do no matter who you are and yet, I know Him to be faithful and unrelentingly in love with me. And in that knowledge, built in historical data and biblical truths, I find hope.

Shalom,

KA

God Will Provide

In case you don’t know the story of Abraham and Isaac, let me give you a quick summary. God had promised Abraham that he would be a father of many nations but, at the time of the promise Abraham was almost 100 years old and his wife was well past childbearing years so the promise felt unlikely. However, even though it seemed impossible and actually made Abraham laugh, he believed that God was able to do anything. A year later, Abraham and Sarah had a son together, Isaac. This son was the fruition of decades of hoping for a child and a lofty promise made by God. It was incredible and astounding for them to hold this child in their arms. They never thought it would happen and look, it happened.

Fast forward 10-20 years after his birth (history doesn’t tell us his exact age), and Isaac is being bound to a woodpile and about to be sacrificed as an act of obedience. God spoke to Abraham and asked him to take Isaac up on the mountain and sacrifice him there and, Abraham being a devout follower, was willing. Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, God speaks to him and stops him. An angel directs Abraham’s attention to a ram caught in the thickets near them and points out that the ram is the actual sacrifice. Abraham, I’m certain exhausted emotionally by this entire situation, names this spot on the mountain Yireh Jehovah, which means, “The LORD will provide” (Genesis 22:14). 

God never intended for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, that would have been cruel beyond words and that is not the nature of God. God wanted to remind Abraham that He is the provider of everything. You see when Abraham and Sarah had finally accepted that they were not going to have children, instead of continuing to seek God they took matters into their own hands and Abraham fathered a son through a servant, Hagar. This was not what God had hoped for them so He created a way to prove once and for all that He was a God of provision. To show that He could always be trusted, even in the most extreme circumstances.

God is showing me this now as well. Last week, or maybe the week before, I woke up with the words “the promise has already been given” soaring through my heart and mind. I believe that all of God’s promises “yes and amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20) so I know that the promise of moving us to New York City is going to happen. What I don’t know is exactly when and this is where God has been working on me to grow my faith. I believe in my gut that we are supposed to move this summer and yet, I don’t really see that coming together well at this moment. So, I keep praying and hoping and praising, and I keep believing that there is a ram in a thicket that I just haven’t seen yet. My provision is here, it just hasn’t been revealed to me yet. We have our neighborhood chosen in the Bronx, we have a great high school picked out, we are ready to go, we now wait on our God who will provide. Yireh Jehovah.

Waiting is hard folks. The truth is, God is in control, not me. I know His promise and I know His character, I just don’t know His timing. So I keep moving forward into what I believe beyond a doubt He is calling me to. To turn back now would make no sense, I’m in too deep. And if God doesn’t move us out on 7/7 like I think, I will stay in faith believing that His timing is perfect and His plan is greater than mine. My God is Yireh Jehovah and He is providing all that I need. 

Shalom,

KA

He Will Finish It

I have lots of things I love about God, and one of my favorite things about His nature is His faithfulness. God will never leave us or give up on us, it’s just simply not His nature. We are His kids, His chosen family, and because of that He remains ever faithful in our lives.

I know I begin to doubt that He is paying attention when He doesn’t act like I want Him to. Yep, sounds like a kid!! I’m beginning to understand some things about myself, and I believe these things to be true of most people, and I’m trying to make a shift. When I have a burden that I bring before God to ask Him for intervention, I’ve already determine what success looks like and what “answered prayer” is for the situation. So really, though my words my be asking God to step in, my heart is asking Him to bring about only my desired outcome. And just like a child, I begin to allow doubt to enter when God does something different. It’s like a spiritual temper tantrum.

How many times have you prayed for something to happen and when it doesn’t, you assume God didn’t hear you and didn’t answer? Or, you assume you didn’t hear Him correctly and you doubt. Be honest. I’m betting the answer is at least several times and more likely, lots of times. Now, I’m not condemning how we pray. I believe fully God wants us to be honest in our prayers and tell Him what we are seeking. What I am questioning is why we lose faith when the answer isn’t as we hope.

This then leads me to wonder about my motives. Am I more interested in getting my way, then allowing God to have His way? If I am giving my life over to Him, sacrificing all to follow Jesus, shouldn’t my primary focus be to give Him full control and not have a tantrum when I don’t get my exact way? I should still bring my heart’s desires to Him, and once I do, I can leave them with Him knowing He has a plan that is always going to be better than mine. What I have to steer clear of is feeling let down and losing faith when God’s plan doesn’t look exactly like I thought it would. Not easy!

If I believe God is ordering my steps and has a good and perfect plan for my life, then I have to believe that He is able to finish all the work He has started. So, when I start to get stressed out about anything, right now for me moving to New York, I have to stop and realize I’m no longer operating in faith and I have to get back to trusting that God is going to finish what He started…not me. My role is to seek Him, be watching for what He’s doing and move with Him.

If you are feeling stressed about a situation in your life, release it to God. You may not understand His plan, you may not even like it, but you have to trust Him. He’s got you. He will finish it!

Shalom,

KA

Yes and Amen

“The promise has been given.” Those are the words I woke up to, floating through my head and heart, one morning last week. Lovely and deeply needed.

I used to think the wilderness was the hardest season. Traveling towards something but not really knowing what. Knowing that you are moving forward but not seeing a path. Taking time to stop and work through things but never really knowing when the work will be done. All the while, believing that the wilderness is where the dream forms and from where you launch. I was wrong, entering the promised land is the hardest.

Now, like the Israelites before crossing into the promised land, I find myself standing on the bank of an overflowing river, not sure how on Earth to get across. And just like those followers of God, I hear God asking me to trust Him for all of my provision. It’s hard. It hurts. And every time I am about to give up, something deep in my core says hold on.

So, I hold on. I talk about New York as much as possible. I pray about New York twice as much as I talk about it. I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the one who gave the promise and also said, the promise ends in fulfillment. I have laid it all on the line, I have no plan B and I have no desire to back out. I don’t know how God is going to pull this together, and yet I know He is already at work and my provision is already on its way.

I have chosen the narrow path with Jesus. He is all I have that I put my entire life into His hands. So this morning, I just simply feel empty and I say, “fill me up Holy Spirit. Thank you for the promise! Thank you for the yes. Thank you for the provision. Thank you for loving me. Thank you.”

Shalom,

KA

Go to http://www.internationalproject.org\give and donate towards the work I am moving into in New York City. Put KBOWMAN in the comments and your donation will go into my account. Thank you for helping me love the people of NYC!

Expect the Lord

Today starts the countdown!! We are scheduled to pull out of Washington state in 30 days and head to New York City!! I have no idea how that’s going to happen and, I’m full of faith that it will. I am living out Psalm 27:13-14, waiting for and confidently expecting the Lord.

This season has been so crazy. My faith has grown by leaps and bounds and in ways I never imagined. I’ve been praying for so long about NYC and cross-cultural ministry and I’m just excited to start a new chapter. It’s challenging to think about saying goodbye to friends and family because the truth is, I don’t know when I’ll see folks again. I know there will be vacations and time together, I just don’t know when.

Jesus has been breaking old thought patterns and defense mechanisms I had in place that I just don’t need. He’s been tearing down the walls built by fear and leading me to deeper freedom. It’s been hard work! Lots of tears and lots of prayers. Lots of testing of my faith and, I never really saw any of it coming. Isn’t that just like God?? He brings us to new depths and new heights and, all the while He leads with this crazy and relentless love that just whispers “keep going, I’m with you”.

So, today my faith is renewed. I understand Isaiah 40:13 in a personal way now that I never had before!

“But those who wait for the LORD [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired.”

‭‭ISAIAH‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭AMP‬‬

http://bible.com/1588/isa.40.31.amp

I feel that sense if soaring today and I am thankful. The battle isn’t over, but the outcome will be victory in, through and for the glory of God.

What are you waiting on and expecting the Lord to do? Keep standing in faith. Keep pressing into Jesus. He’s got you, and He will never let you go.

Shalom!

KA

Make A Choice

Elijah’s question, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions?” is really speaking to my heart this morning. If I am going to be effective for God, I have to know what He is saying to me and not waver.

I have been praying and dreaming about living in New York for decades. When I first heard about International Project (www.internationalproject.org) it piqued my heart so I started asking God if that was something in my future. That was 4 years ago and in that time, I have gotten to know the folks there a little because I’ve sent loads of questions to them. Last Fall, God told me to apply to be a student in their cross-cultural training. I hesitated for just a moment because it was getting real all of the sudden! But, I was obedient and applied.

The next six months after I applied brought various rounds of interviews, writing about myself and background checks. At each new level I was sure I wouldn’t pass. Isn’t that the defense mechanism working it’s hardest? If I assume it won’t happen, that lessens the disappointment. That’s the enemy, not God, but I’m getting off track.

After all was said and done in the interview process, we were invited out to NYC for a site visit. Here was my first real crisis of faith… flying. I don’t like to fly and honestly, I almost bagged out of the process because of my fear. I didn’t have enough time to drive or take the train, flying was the only option. So I took that fear and flipped it to, “I can’t really afford this trip so I’m not sure we’ll be able to go”. I moved from having to confront my fear to an excuse that allowed the fear to be hidden. Thankfully, God nudged me deeper and instead of staying in that place, I prayed for Him to provide for all of our financial needs and my fear. He provided all that we needed so off we flew! The trip was beyond my wildest dreams and I walked away with a job offer!

It was at this point two of my closest friends said the same thing to me, “Can we stop talking about whether or not God is calling you to New York now? Clearly He is!” Even though everything pointed to that truth, and even though my heart and soul were firmly convinced, I still limped between two opinions: He is calling me/He is not calling me.

Now here I am, job offer extended that I wasn’t expecting, waiting for financial provision to come through, and that little tiny voice of “Maybe He’s not in this” is whispering again. I have already told everyone we’re going! The financing isn’t where I thought it should be! I’ve already accepted the job! What if I’m wrong? And then God walks in and speaks peace and confidence and I know, God is calling me to New York in this season and I just have to keep declaring that to myself and speaking out my faith. God gets all the glory, this will happen because of Him, not me.

Here is Elijah’s prayer, and my prayer: (1 Kings 18:36-37)

O, LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.

I don’t know what you may be on the fence about, but I would invite you to take time to really listen to God and then no matter how radical or ridiculous His call may seem, choose it and stick with it. Don’t limp between two thoughts and don’t hesitate to follow God. He’s got it all covered, just go with Him and see what He does.

Shalom,

KA