a year in the making.
What a whirlwind of a September. He is so good though, and I want to share with you how He has been moving.
First off, school has been tremendously wonderful. What a sweet time to be back on this campus and I KNOW He is going to move in extraordinary ways. I was encouraged this week simply by our Friday chapel service, known as 'praise chapel'. Instead of students standing in the bleachers (because it's in our gym), the bleachers were pushed in and we were offered the chance to stand shoulder to shoulder with our classmates and on the same level as the band. It was beautiful. He is stirring revival here and I can see it and it makes me so excited.
Last Saturday my dear mama and I were in Los Angeles for Bethel's Heaven Come Conference. It's a big long story of His goodness in how we came to go, but in as short of a summary as I can deliver:
Last August, my friend Sophie and I went to see Bethel at the Orpheum here in Vancouver. God spoke to me in an intimate moment, telling me to give up track for the season, that I wouldn't be coming back to school in January and simply to trust Him. Before the night started, we walked down the aisles to our seats and noticed small cards in the back of our chairs that were advertising some conference in LA. I think mine probably ended up on the ground as the thought of even attending was outrageous.
Fast forward to my time in Ottawa, and it was nearing the end of September and as per usual, I was scrolling through Instagram. Bethel and their many pastors and associates were putting out ads and posts saying 'early-bird deadline is coming soon!' or 'this is a great opportunity' blurbs. They kept popping up on my feed. I don't believe in coincidences, but more so on divine placements from Papa God. I clicked on the link.
I was taken to the conference site, where I then did the most spontaneous thing I have ever done in my entire life - I bought two tickets for a conference more than 365 days in the future in Los Angeles. LA?! Uhhhh, what? I told Keara, my roomie, and she encouraged me on. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that we were supposed to be there. I called my mom, "want to go to LA in a year?" Her answer was a hesitant no. I then convinced her in the span of a few hours that this was in fact a good idea. After tugging on her leg, she was in.
The way everything came together was only by His design:
- tickets were extremely affordable, mom had points for our flights, dad had points for a car, we found a sweet airbnb, my cousin gave us FREE Disneyland tickets (uh, what?!), and we had a free place to stay in Anaheim. My mom then had the chance to see a cousin she hadn't seen in 37 years.
Over the course of the next year, God warmed up my mama's heart towards the trip. She was excited, but also terrified: what would happen? what should we expect? what was the driving going to be like?
The conference ran Thurs-Sat and God changed my perspective on many things going on in my life. There were phenomenal speakers (Carl Lentz, the Johnson's, Lou Engle, Jonathan-David Helser - who is my all-time favourite, if you don't know his testimony, watch it HERE - and many more). I'll be posting more about what I learned, but one main theme that sustained itself throughout the entire trip was one of family.
We went into the trip as a mother-daughter duo, experienced God in relation to what we were going through together, and then got to pray together, cry together and simply understand each other better. It was beautiful. I learned things about my mom that I would never even bother to ask, and they were only revealed in the honest light of worship and quiet surrender.
Jonathan David spoke to the heart of family and relationship (also one of my favourite topics): God stared Adam face to face, drawing dust from dust and by doing so breathed life into Him. He gave the metaphor of when He saw his son, Cadence Zion, for the first time. He told us how he would wake up his wife (Melissa) often during her pregnancy because he was singing over her womb. I got shivers over that! When his son was finally born, he felt so overwhelmed with a love, an adoration beyond anything he could explain. Kneeling on the stage mimicking this breath of love, he reminded us of this love that is beyond anything we could ever come to comprehend. It's pure, undeserved, relentless, constant.
The first night of the conference was difficult. I felt a big burden to carry the expectation of waiting an entire year for that exact moment. In fact, the entire day I struggled with the ideas I had preconceived in my heart and mind. Later on Saturday, I was reminded that it's okay to have expectation, but not in ourselves, but in HIM. When we try to craft something for ourselves, by our own strength we neglect the fact that if we are truly following and believing in His sovereign power, then we are not in control. Making self-structured expectations means we are in control. Ultimately, I designed a trip to California that was filled with MY plans and not the plans of my Father. As the days went by, and the sessions grew on, my heart turned from "I don't want to be here because it's not how I envisioned it" to "God, wreck this emotion in my heart, and change my perspective".
Friday night drew me closer to Him out of any other moments in the trip, not that I am meaning to create a comparison. For the duration of the conference, the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry was situated on the second floor of the theatre foyer. I felt directed by the Lord to go up in the afternoon on Friday, right after dinner.
I rode the escalator up, and waited awkwardly around for a while. It felt weird to just be "waiting" for prayer (my pride there), but after a few minutes a girl walked over to me and introduced herself as Rebecca. Asking if I needed prayer, I nodded sheepishly, and she began praying over me. Placing her hand on my head, she spoke in tongues, asking God for a Word! WHAT?! I had never before experienced His warmth and heart like this before. She delivered His word, and prayed over me. I asked that we could pray over image - everything and anything relating to it. It's something I have struggled with since the middle of this past summer, and so we declared that it has no power of my life. We prayed into this next year of understanding my beauty before God, and He delivered so clearly on it. If you want to know more about the exact Word He gave me, I would love to share it with you in person :)
Afterwards, we went downstairs and got to pray over my mama. It was in that moment that I got to see my mom in such a beautiful state of awe before God. My hope for her was renewed. After a moment of quietness with my mom, a girl who had joined Rebecca and I came back and told me "she wasn't done with me". What did that mean!?
In that moment, she spoke over my life characteristics which were true to my very identity, written on my blank canvas by God alone. Let me tell you this - I had never met her in my entire life. She didn't know my name, yet used it, didn't know how I act, and proclaimed my attributes like she were best friend. Holding hands, pointing out my features, she prayed deep roots into my heart that formed in the very foundation of God. I opened my eyes, of course stained with tears. My mom was beside me and again, that was a truthful moment of vulnerability with her.
He is good and I cannot wait to continue posting about my time in LA. Don't worry, I won't overload you, but I believe that when He moves, we need to know. I want to know about how great my Saviour is.
Miniscule to His movement was our time in Santa Monica. Like I said, my mom got to see her cousin for the first time in 37 years and time spent in that small coffee shop (the BEST food I have tasted in a long time) reminded me once again of who I am before Him. My mom's cousin had some many similar attributes to her - freckles, a fresh spunkiness, an adoration for Father God, and it was so encouraging to see. I grew excited when I heard about the revival of my family when we moved from Europe to Canada and the US in the 50s and tears rolled down my face (duh) when I heard my mom talk about her Opi and her dad (my Opa) and their time in the church. I often forget the rich history because many of my family members have passed on, but I am coming to understand my spiritual gifts in light of my family. It's almost as if they have been passed down generations and it makes me proud to serve Him.
With that being said, here are some photos from our time.
PS - Listen to "I Just Want To Worship" by Kristene DiMarco - it's so beautiful. :)