"I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. Come let us tell of the LORD'S greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing." - Psalms 34:1-10 NLT
Oh how I feel this verse right now deep down in my soul! I have so much to be thankful for - so much praise to give!! So many amazing things are being orchestrated in the lives of my friends! So many stories to tell of God's redeeming power, of His contstant provision...and above all of that...of His unfailing love for his people!
But I cannot even begin to put into words the work He is doing in my heart and in my life - I can't even take it all in at times. My daughters (and maybe my husband) are getting baptized this month. (How marvelous!) I get the privilege to celebrate another year of life which after all of the loss I have seen and experienced over the last several months is truly a gift and not a promise. (How wonderful!) And some quiet time of reflection (which is super hard for me) has shown me just how much He has grown me as a leader, friend, mentor, mother/wife, vocalist, and Christ-follower over the last year. (Is my Savior's love for me!)
I have done things in the last year that I have to stand back and say, "Only God!" I have heard things spoken to my heart that were so overwhelming and beautful that I have to stand back and say, "Only God!" I have experienced more joy, more awe, more faith, more trust - Only God! And I have been attacked from every angle by the evil one but not overcome - Only God!! What an amazing journey! I can't wait to see what awaits!
A little over a week ago I was feeling weary - tired, defeated, unsure. I sat alone in my house with my bible and my thoughts. I started asking God (as I often do) if what I was doing was still lining up with what He wanted. I was struggling with what my next step was - was I doing enough or was I just being impatient. I am an all-in person - most of you who know me at all know that I tend to do things with great intensity or not at all. And when I am passionate about something - well look out! Ha!! But God has shown me over the last year that so much of the changing and the refining and growing that He does in us is done in the routine - the mundane, the quiet. So I just wanted to check in and see if this was one of those times.
Sidebar: One thing I have felt a great desire for over the last several months was a female mentor that has been where I have been. Someone who has been in the worship leader role - someone who understands the unique challenges a woman faces both internally and externally as they move through chasing what God is calling them to do. I have been blessed with several great male mentors at Oakbrook - I call them "my guys." Haha. They have taught me so much and have taken me under their wing and encouraged me along the way - they are so important to me, but there is still something lacking. It is hard to speak openly about challenges that I am facing with any man other than my husband. Those emotions are so raw and personal, and my husband is a great listener, but he doesn't (and can't) fully understand. So I prayed. And I kept praying. And I had friends pray.
In the quiet of that day God brought an image to mind. Oddly enough it was of a post I had seen on Instagram several weeks ago. It was an image of a screen - full of women on an online conference call. The image was posted by someone I greatly admire and have admired for many years. The caption said: "Just a little peek of some of the women worship leaders that I have had the honor of leading over the past 6 months online. God is raising them up and they are also now going to raise others up. Love you ladies and how you have surrendered every bit of who you are to Jesus.. #WorshipCircle." So I looked through the comments and happened to see a link to find out about what Worship Circle was.
I spent quite a while reading about the program and found out that it is an "exclusive small group mentoring community for Worship Leaders and Worship Pastors that takes place over a 6 month period." (taken directly from the site) It is a place where worship leaders are mentored, trained, and given community with other leaders of their gender. The women are led by Christy Nockels (think: the Passion movement) and the men are led by Todd Fields (Northpoint Church). Along with the mentors other teachers like, oh, Kari Jobe (anyone know her??) and Kristian Stanfill, David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, etc also jump on board. I continued to read about it and got more and more excited.
I decided to apply even though the info sheet that was emailed to me to read before I applied stressed how limited the opportunity was and how small the group was. It reminded me to not get discouraged if I was not accepted and to not take that as an indication of the amout of (or lack of) giftedness. I filled out the in-depth application that also had to include links to videos of me singing. I hit send and moved on with my day. I started doubting, but God kept reminding me that if it was something He wanted for me that He would make it happen.
The next day I received an email from Todd Fields thanking me for applying. He informed me that Christy's spring group was full and that they weren't even going to start looking through applications for the fall group until late summer/early fall. He reminded me (again) that they had lots of applicants and that is was a very small group and that not being chosen was not an indication of giftedness, etc. I emailed a quick, "thank you," and filed it into the "closed door" category.
Last Thursday I received an email out of the blue from Todd. This time he was writing to inform me that there had been an unexpected opening on Christy's team - for the SPRING term that started that day! He wanted to ask if I would want to fill that open spot...uhhhh...YES!!!! Unreal! I think I cycled through just about every emotion like someone who is completely mentally unstable and then I called my husband to tell him the news and of course said yes! I am still somewhat in shock. I am so excited and anxious to see what God will teach me through Christy and the other women over the next 6 months. And if there ever was a time for the phrase "I can't even" it is now! ;-)
Would you pray for me over the next 6 months - a prayer of celebration and thanks? I know God will do great things - things that only He can do. What an answered prayer times 1,000,000!
"God, please send me a mentor?"
"Ok. How about Christy Nockels?"
Haha. Also please pray that I would be open and moldable - that I would be able to juggle all that life is throwing at me - and that God would protect me from the evil one. I know all too well that when something BIG happens to advance God's will in my life that the evil one is lurking.
I can't wait to share my experiences with you all! It is going to be a wild ride!!!