Thursday, January 25, 2018

Faith in Men

Coming to BSSM, God has been transforming me from the inside out not just in breaking down strongholds and false beliefs but also in redeeming my faith in men. Yes, the male species that we christian girls are so worried about because good godly men seem to be on the verge of extinction. Most decent looking godly men are more often than not- taken. While the rest of the pool are either too young age wise or too young maturity wise. The gender ratio in church seems to also be quite alarmingly lopsided with most christian women either on fire and single or married with a less-than-passionate husband. I'm not going to say it's a sad reality because I don't have a global view on that, however, it's quite natural to see in most churches how there are so many more single ladies than single men.

Before coming here, I seriously almost gave up the potential of ever getting married just because I didn't see any potential man I could marry in my immediate community. Plus the fact that my parents were divorced also didn't help my view on marriage. It almost came to point of remaining single forever, or settling for less-than-best and the latter really scared me deep. I'll rather be on fire, free and super in love with Jesus than to be bounded in a relationship where I struggle in my freedom to worship. Thus, there was not one single option I could see myself actually risking.

But then "heaven invaded earth" and more than an idea or a concept, it became a true fact. A fact that scared me so much, I'd be so afraid that I will wake up one day and think that all of these was just a dream. You see, here in BSSM, we have 1,400 students (more or less) being chosen from a pool of 5000 applicants, so you cannot doubt that God wanted you here for such a time as this. Some people I hear, come to find mates but majority actually come with a deep hunger for the "more" of God. And that kind of aligns all of us on the same page. We don't have to necessarily manipulate ourselves into relationships but chase after God and allow Him to guide and lead us to the right one.  Because in true fact, there is actually tons of attractive, good-looking, godly men out there and we just have to open our eyes and see.

My Revival Group Pastor was on duty for collecting the offering once and he broke off the spirit of poverty over us. Not just poverty over finance, but poverty over our health, career and how we viewed the opposite sex. That changed my entire worldview. I realized that I have always held onto a poverty outlook of the opposite sex because I viewed them through the lens of my father. And that was unfair to men in general. No wonder it was so hard for me to go on dates or just hang out with guys because I'm already building cases against them as a self-defense mechanism before even allowing them in and even forfeiting myself for a great non-romantic friendship.

Here, I see men all around, passionately pursuing God and working on their own identity, that it has really restored my faith in men and changed my negative outlook on them. We can be going to the gym together and I don't feel sexualized. Or we can be ministering and prophesying to another and there is not one tinge of pride or performance in there. No trying to "put myself out there" so I can at least get a chance of "hooking a fish" but total surrender to the will of God in their lives. Including who they will spend the rest of their lives with. That's super romantic.

I on the other hand have to release myself from the tension of having to "marry the first guy I date" and allow the situation to unfold before me because there is beauty in the process. There is beauty in getting to know more about someone beyond the surface and there is beauty in thriving relationships.

And so with that I rest my case. I will leave the pursuit to the man and not try to "man-handle" myself into the arms of the one I think I love, but allow the one God has seen fit for me to pursue me. That takes a lot of faith and surrender.

When we were younger, we always dream of how we will meet Prince Charming and how he will sweep us off our feet and make us look so good with a Knight on our arm. But as I'm maturing in age and identity, I'm beginning to see that it's not so much about me and how my man will make me look good anymore but how I can help him with all my heart and see him walk into his destiny. It is about me making him look good to the world because as they say "Behind every successful man is a successful woman" and behind the scenes, I will love on him so much, it's impossible for him to not recognize his own gifts and walk into his destiny. As I've mentioned before, "I want to be so in love with my man that it would make it extremely hard for me to hurt him". I think this resembles the heart of the Father and that's why I think that it's a risk worth taking. For after coming here and seeing with my very own eyes that there are good godly men out there, my faith in men have truly been restored. (That and faith in myself to allow the right man into the depths of my heart, and I'm praying that it will be the same for you too.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Revelation of His Goodness

I'm being so overwhelmed by the goodness of God in these last days that it's just blowing my mind of how such a good God He is and that He enjoys seeing what we enjoy. Been joining Cheer here and even as I'm practicing, I'm like "What is life?!!" screaming in my head! hahaha... Watched all the "Bring it On's" as a young girl and being part of a cheer squad seemed like a faraway or even impossible dream just cos the Cheer community back home comes nowhere near the US. And then there's a cheer squad here in BSSM and I just can't fathom the chances and opportunities, God is offering me. He doesn't see secular or sacred. He doesn't compartmentalize the things we love under spiritual or "nonspiritual". He just loves to see His children enjoying the things we love. We were wired and created in His image, and our love for dance, music, maths or science was of original design by Him and through Him. We don't prioritize the arts back home just because it doesn't "make enough money" to sustain a family but I'm starting to see the arts in whole different light. God made me for dance not cos He wants to "use" me on stage, but cos it's our "love language". He's constantly dancing over me and what can I do but not withhold my praise? He is really blowing me religious box time and time again here in BSSM and for that I'm forever grateful. God, You're just too good. I loveYou.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Finding My Lost Phone

During my Christmas break in Seattle, I lost my phone. And almost immediately I had to reject the voice of the enemy mercilessly whispering in my head. See, I'm known to be one of the clumsiest in my family and if I were to lose this one, it would be my third i phone in two years and fear and disappointment could creep in so fast, robbing me of my identity- something I've been "fighting" to keep, embrace and reclaim here in BSSM. I consciously made myself busy so that my thoughts wouldn't go into a downward spiral because I knew that losing my phone does not make me a loser. Although naturally, shame could easily attach itself to me and cause me to be hard on myself, thinking how could I ever be so clumsy and careless. I chose to consciously partner with the truth of what God said about me over and over again to not allow shame to creep in. I withheld telling my family back home in Malaysia, as to not worry them, but also in believing that my phone will be miraculously found.

Being in the Bethel community of crazy and miraculous signs and wonders, anything is possible and I've personally seen testimonies of God's provision. Cars, cash, bicycles and plane tickets are given by God so freely, it truly is a glory zone of supernatural provision and so I believed that I could get back my phone.

I recalled where I last had it and it was either in H&M (where I was crazy shopping cos of the sales, totally regret that now), on the bus back from Seattle to Puyallup or on the streets of Seattle when I was rushing to catch the bus. I called all three contacts and was blown away by how kind they were and how much each of them wanted to help and hoped that I would get my phone back. Back in Malaysia, this would never happen. Chances of ever finding back your phone is zero to nil, just because if someone found it, they will sell it. If the police found it, they will sell it too. But I knew that this was an attack of the enemy and what the enemy has stolen, it has to give back no matter what.

While doing all the necessary procedures such as calling the different contacts, I also had two options in terms of prayer. I knew I could pray for a new phone cos anything is possible here, but more than that, I wanted my old phone back because of the prophecies and photos embedded in the memory. This past 5 months have been totally life-changing and most of the memories documented were in my phone. I just needed it back. I began to pray everyday for a Good Samaritan to pick it up and call the emergency contact my friend put in there. I prayed almost all day everyday, holding onto the highlights in 2017 and believing for a greater 2018, at the same time suppressing all negativity that were on the verge of bubbling up.

Time came when I was suppose to fly home to Redding from Seattle and I still didn't hear from anyone. My host family prayed for my lost phone even as they sent me to the airport, believing for a miracle. Came home without a phone, did laundry and all the necessary, and started preparing myself to come back to school. On the 31st of December, my roommate and I decided to host a New Year Eve's party and whilst we were busy decorating, I got an FB message from my friend from Seattle, saying that my lost phone got found and that she'll be driving down to Seattle to collect it and mail it to me!!! I was ecstatic! Overwhelmed by God's goodness and faithfulness I couldn't believe it. God answered my prayer to the T! You see the H&M manager was collecting all the stuff from the lost and found on the last day of the year and she saw my phone, charged it and saw the number to call if retrieved! God is so amazing and I couldn't believe it!

Through this, I learned three things.

1. Pray, hope and believe that God will answer your prayer no matter how impossible the situation is.
2. My family wasn't as "judgmental" as I thought. Instead of identifying me as clumsy, they reached out to me through email, hoping and believing that it will return. (I just love my family so much and am super grateful!)
3. Not having a phone with internet connection made me soooo much more productive, I felt so robbed off my time when I actually had it!

After going through a withdrawal period (it was super tough, seeing how much I love taking photos), I had nothing better to do than to clean my room, decorate my wall, do my homework and what not. I became so much more productive, there were no more clothes on my bed waiting forever to be folded, or trash in the garbage needing to be taken out. I even had more time to be creative, it was amazing! I told myself that if I ever get my phone back, I would immediately delete Facebook off my phone and stop paying USD30 for service just cause I could survive with "wi-fi". And so I did. I must say that life has never been better. I don't fund myself wasting time scrolling through stuff that won't edify me, instead I became more happier just living in the moment and not comparing my life to everyone else's highlight reel. I loved it and am still loving it.

So I realized that God (and my partnership) can truly turn things around. We just need to believe and we will see that every storm has a silver lining and that the reward and lessons learned is so much more valuable then the "lost" we encounter. God is amazing, He works wonders as we encamp around His presence, making all things beautiful, turning beauty from ashes in making the lost get found.... even if it's a (stupid) i phone. Hahaha!!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Just Be You

“You’re the most anointed when you’re fully yourself” - Richard Gordon.
Here in BSSM, God is teaching me how to fully embrace and love myself. I think for the first time in my life, I can confidently say that there is no one else I’ll rather be. ❤️

Friday, January 12, 2018

Vulnerability as a Strength

I've been thinking about how the Bethel community is sooo different from where I came from. And I think it's two things. "Vulnerability" and the "Culture of Honour" and both of these can only breed from a place of freedom. Couldn't believe it when my pastor told our group that he just had a SOZO (inner healing) in the morning, I was like, "wait.. did you just give a SOZO or received a SOZO?" And we realised that it was through his honesty and vulnerability that helped us all see ourselves through the eyes of God. Everyone is the same in terms of feelings, hurts and emotions. Either you shove it down in a shame based culture, or be over vulnerable and share or your disappointments all day, everyday. But when you are mature enough to know your own limitations and allow the Holy Spirit to work through the awkwardness and mess, you'll see freedom and hope at the end of the tunnel. And that is when your personal breakthrough becomes other people's breakthrough. As Brene Brown says that vulnerability is key for connection. I believe it's the same between God and men. So may 2018 be a year where we take risks, be vulnerable before the right people and God, and see our relationships thrive under that. For I'm beginning to realise that vulnerability is not so much a weakness, but a strength that if you're willing to face, can bring so much breakthrough and freedom. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Bold Faith, Quiet Trust

Bold Faith & Quiet Trust
That's what she carries with grace & honor
Belief in God we must
But she took it many steps further

She graced the seasons of change
With silent but bold faith 
In times of need
She held onto quiet trust

She was a single mom
But don't be alarmed
For she faced the storms with courage
And in battles stayed calm

Looking back I didn't or couldn't see the price she paid
The sacrifice she kept laying over & over & over
As a child, you are oblivion 
To the finances, schedules and car rides a single mom gave

She sent us for ballet and music lessons
Vocal lessons and tution
Gave us everything we needed 
Above all she prioritised Jesus

That's her life's calling
To raise up two girls to be the most Christ-centered individuals anyone could be
To laugh at fear of the future
And acknowledge God as our Victor

I never knew the stigma attached to being raised by a single mom
Until a high school friend one day was quite surprised
When he found out I was raised by a single mom
I didn't show any signs of what a child with a single parent would typically look like

Other people were even astonished when they knew my dad
Amazed by how well my sis and I were brought up
One even asked us to be "backup" parents for their children
When we were only 15 & 13

See people recognize the strength in someone
When they see those below thrive healthily
And I'm glad that my mom did not raise me alone
But truly partnered with God almighty

She weathered the storms
The dissapointments
Carried me in prayer through my darkest times
And kept laying us at the feet of Jesus over and over again

She did not make her children her idols
But always pointed us to the King
Blessed us with so much more than we could ask for
And I pray that she will see the fruits of what she sowed

Been told to "forget" about her dreams
Been treated unjustly before
Been underestimated so many times
But what men don't see God sees

So thank you Mom for protecting your secret place
For keeping me and Deb in the hands of God
And never allowing us to embrace a poverty mentality
Showing us that true riches lie in all of eternity

We are both adults now
And I pray that what we carry
Would reflect what you "paid" for
We are so glad that God chose you to be our mom

Thanks mom for all you have done
The price you paid for the life we live
You have given us our dreams
May you now live yours...

Happy Birthday, I love you so....

My mom & I with our spiritual weapons! hahaha...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

10 Years Redemption, 10 Years Fulfillment

Coming to Bethel School of Superntural Ministry (BSSM), I've gotten to meet lots and lots of different people, young and old from all walks of life. It always leaves me in awe to see how there are soo many more radical Jesus-lovers out there and despite background, skin color or social status, we're so hungry for God, it places us on a same level as one humongous global family. So this is Cheska from the Philippines, a dance teacher that taught me dance in a one day hip-hop workshop my mom signed me and my sister up before we even knew. But I'm so glad she did because back then she didn't know particularly what she was doing, but God knew. God knew that it wasn't just a seed of beautiful connection and friendship He was planting, but also a seed of revival that would eventually connect me to Bethel, because fast forward 10 years of wandering away from God, Cheska is now a third year student in BSSM! She was one  of those friends (or seniors) who cheered me on when I was just "thinking" to come. Little did I know that I was a "sign" from God to her in terms of redemption....

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Me and Cheska! Meeting after 10 years in America!

It was when I was reflecting on her 10 year breakthrough that I realized that it was also my 10 year breakthrough of depression!!! I tried taking my own life when I was 16 and 10 years later I'm still ALIVE!!!!!!!! In your face, devil! God is so good to me, and I'm so in expectant for the future and all that it holds! I want to live life in joy and abundance and God is just giving me that!!! So let's kick fear in the face because it's just an illusion! 2018 here we come!!!

Also, here is a link to donate to Cheska for her expenses here in Redding for groceries, rent, etc. If you have a heart for dance and Hollywood, please support her because she has a call to go into dance industry and reform it for Jesus! And man, can she dance! Just do as God leads! You never know, you may just be funding a future Bieber dancer! hahaha..

Or cashapp: $FrancescaTabifranca

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Is it for Me or is it Not?

I thought that I didn’t learn much from the worship leading amt (elective) because most of what was shared came from a “mega” church point of view with an abundance of super talented singers and musicians to pick from.. a far cry from what my home church situation is. And then we got Kalley. I’m still marked by what she said. How her sharing about worship came from an overflowing well of substantial depth for the sole purpose of adoring God. How amidst the platform, followers and fame, Jesus will time and time again come back and say “is it for Me or is it not.. is it for Me or is it not.” And then you always come back into the alignment of Him before you and that’s really all that matters. Whatever follows is secondary to the grace we experience when we’re face to face with our first love. And I found myself thinking, “Why so much struggle lord? Why do we go to great lengths to come to a place like Bethel to seek for more of You and then struggle with the enormity of the prophecies spoken over our lives?” In which He replied, “If there is no war, there will be no victory.” So whether it’s direction for the next stage of our lives, finances, miracles or the salvation of a loved one, I’m confident that my “yes” to God whether big or small is a resounding “yes” throughout my generations. Until I see God face to face and spend my ultimate victory in all of eternity. And my relief is that the war has already been won and all we have to do is live out that beautiful story God has written for us. It lies in leaning into Him and abiding. And in that I rest my case. #bssm #worship #grateful

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Joanna Finchum (1st Year Worship Pastor) & Kalley Heiligenthal (2nd Year Worship Pastor)

When I do....

When I find the one I love, I want to be so in love with him it will be tremendously hard for me to hurt him...