Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Construction in Progress

Well I've only just arrived and God has started doing some major construction in my life. I am unable to describe exactly what is occuring, but I know the Lord has planted me in a safe place and I can't wait to see what it is He is up to. But in the mean time I am "under construction" and so will not be posting for the next bit (I think about a month)

See you on the flip side :D

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Don't you Remember?" Part 3

And now for the 3rd and final part of how I ended up on Redding.

So after my time at the Jesus Culture event in early February 2012, I had a couple weeks at home before heading off on a 10 day SCUBA trip with my parents. I figured this would be the perfect time to discuss my going to BSSM as we would be stuck living together for 10 days, and this topic was definitely the elephant in the room. The first few days went by with no real mention of my time in Redding. My family doesn't do conflict well, and so for the most part we avoided the topic. But eventually it did come up, and when it did, it was primarily with tears on my part, frustration on my Dad's and Mom stuck in the middle (this is purely my assessment of how I viewed things - my parents could easily have a different perspective, so please bear that in mind). I gave a litany of reasons as to why I should go: "I only have one life to live," "I don't have anything keeping me permanently to Calgary," "I don't want to have regrets about opportunities not taken," those kinds of things. My Dad was concerned about me building my career, getting on with "life", and wasting my "key earning years." This was a very difficult conversation, because I felt like he thought I was being foolish and that I was disappointing him. Once I had used up all of my "reasons" for wanting to go, I finally blurted out, "I feel like this is what God is calling me to do. I don't know why He wants me to go,  but I feel like this is something I need to do." To that my Dad responded, "If God is really calling you to that, then there is nothing I can say against it." In that instant the burden lifted and I knew my parents were now fully supporting me, and not just resigned to my decision. It was also a big moment for me as I fully recognized God's call on my life for this. It was as if in that moment I relinquished control of this adventure to Him.

Me being me, once I get home from my vacation, my mind kicked into overdrive about all that needed to happen before I went - find somewhere to live in Redding, find someone to rent my Condo in Calgary, arrange travel medical insurance, make sure I have the necessary insurance/registration for my car......and the list goes on. #1 on my list was finding someone to rent my place, so that Thursday at Home Church, I ask my friends to pray about that. Friday morning I received a text from one of my friend's saying a guy, whom I know, is getting married in September, and they would potentially be looking for a place to live - would I be OK with giving my number out. I said "of course!" So emailing and texting back and forth with the guy and his fiancĂ©, it sounded like they are interested in my place! They came to check it out, and were very happy with it. This was so awesome, because it worked out well for both of us. It was the type of place they were looking for in a decent area of the city, and for me, I know and trust them, and was not just leaving my house in the hands of perfect strangers! As we did all of the paperwork and prepared for the transition, each of us was more concerned with protecting the other's interests than our own!  God's amazing answer #1

Confirmation from God #2 was not one I was particularly looking for. As I mentioned earlier, things at my job with the Christian Media organization were not going as well as I had initially hoped they would. Now that I knew I was planning to go to Redding, my mantra became "5.5 months, 5 months - I can make it until then." I was scared to tell anyone I worked with about my school plan, for fear they would let me go as soon as they found out, and I'd be stuck without a job - which I definitely needed at this point! Then on Monday, March 26, 2012, a few days before the end of my 6 month probation, I was pulled into the General Manager's office. I was informed that they felt I was not worth what they were paying me and I could either take a pay cut of $30,000/year or they would let me go that day. Needless to say, that was my last day there. I was shocked, frustrated, and most of all hurt. I had tried to make it work there, my journal was full of pages asking God what I could do to satisfy them, to serve and do the best I possibly could in the role. Obviously this was one of those situations where I just wasn't a "good fit."

Historically, my response to a disappoint of this scale would be to turn my back on God, because to me this was a clear indication that He could care less about what was going on with me - especially since He had this brilliant idea for me to go gallivanting off to school in California. However, I had kickboxing class that night, and I managed to burn off a good deal of frustration there....don't worry I warned the girl holding the pads for me that night! After that, I had coffee with a very dear friend and good conversation and prayer helped alter my perspective. I came out of that coffee time seeing this as a blessing! I had been removed from a situation where I was very unhappy and  had the potential to again destroy my view of those who called themselves Christians - which would not have been good as I preparing to enter a rather large school of Christians. So instead of being upset, I was actually thankful that God had released me from that place.

There was a hiccup in this however, because I was now unemployed. I would continue to be paid for another 3 weeks due to accrued vacation, stat holidays, and pay in lieu of notice, but that definitely wasn't going to last me until I departed at the end of August. And I definitely could afford to draw on my savings and still afford to attend school in the fall. But who would hire a fully accredited accountant for a 4 month contract over the summer, at the wage I needed? I realized that this wasn't actually my problem. I had not quit my job, it had been taken from me while I had been giving it the best I knew how, and it was God's idea for me to go to the school, so I decided it was His problem. If He wanted me to go to BSSM, He was going to have to find me a 4 month contract position that paid the equivalent to the salary I had at previous jobs. And He did just that!!! I was let go on Monday, Wednesday morning I started making phone calls and by Wednesday afternoon I had 2 interviews for 2 contract positions lined up. I started at my new contract job before I even received my final pay out from the media company! God provided beyond anything I could have expected! And on top of all of this, when I left for school in August, the Vice-president and some of the other employees told me to let them know when I get back to Calgary in the spring and they will find work for me! God is sooooo good!!!!

Since #2 wasn't even on my original to-do list, the next thing I had to do was find somewhere to live once I got to Redding. I had no idea how to go about this as I had only lived with family up until the time I purchased my own condo, but I started sending out emails in search of a place. Then one day my Mom went for lunch with one of her friends. They were having the usual "what are your kids doing now?" conversation, and Mom mentioned that I was going to be going to school in Redding in the fall.  Mom's friend responded with "Oh really? We have friends in Redding! They have 4 daughters, 2 of which are away at university and I think they might be looking to rent out a room. Let me get in touch with them and let you know." This led to some Facebook messages back and forth, a Skype conversation, and a mutual agreement that we would be helping each other out if I came to live with them. God's answer #3 was a complete blessing, and I am already loving my adopted family :)

These are the 3 big examples of how I felt God made it very clear that He wanted me to go Redding. There were a bunch of little things as well, from a change in my condo and car insurance policy that resulted in significant annual savings, to getting what seems to be a great deal on travel medical insurance. Another highlight was the day I moved out of my condo. All day it had been raining, but I was confident that the skies would clear for my move. However, even as I was driving home from work it was still drizzling a bit. I didn't have any tarps to cover my things, as I hadn't considered the possibility of rain. I picked up some cheap tarps at the dollar store, but was still confident I wouldn't need them, and as I left the store, I noticed the sky clearing. Once my moving help arrived, the skies had completely cleared, and it was dry for the remainder of the evening. Amazing  God! On top of this, once we had loaded everything, it appeared we were one truck short, just for some random bits a pieces. One phone call, and my friend who lived 5 minutes away was able to come with his truck. He had just gotten home from work and the timing of my call was perfect. I didn't know that - but God sure did!

Once the Lord laid the initial framework of making me aware of BSSM back in the Spring of 2011, it was as if I could see the path unfolding before me. When I came to Redding in February 2012, it confirmed I needed to get on the road that would bring me back in time to start school in the fall. From the moment I acknowledged that I was stepping out in faith and following where the Lord was calling me,  it was like He was lighting up the runway for me so I had no doubt as to where I was headed. I am so incredibly thankful to my Papa God for bringing me to this place. I don't know what He has planned for me here, but I have no doubt that is exactly where He wants me right now!

Thank you my dear friends and family for supporting me as I have made my journey to Redding. As I continue this adventure, I will do my best share what I can of what I'm learning and experiencing. Let's go!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

"Don't you Remember?" Part 2

OK. So my last post left off with me on Vancouver Island, feeling like I needed to go ahead with my life, knowing God would lead me to Bethel when the time was right. On August 30 I received an email from Bethel stating that my application was being moved to the 2012/13 school year as the wait list was too long and there would not be room for me this year. So I went back home to Calgary and pursued the job with the Christian Media organization, and things worked out in such a way that I really felt like the Lord had led me to this job. It was great for the first month until I went to the annual conference for the church that was associated with the media organization.

At that point, things shifted dramatically. A friend was with me while I was at the conference, and both of us were very uncomfortable with the Spiritual atmosphere. We both felt like Scripture was being misused and as a result it was the pastor who was being promoted rather than the Lord. The people of the church seemed to primarily be drones blindly accepting everything the pastor said and became indentured servants of that church. About this time I was also given a personality test. At first I thought it was great, because I felt like they actually wanted to know who I was and help me grow as an individual. But instead they stuck me in a box, and began identifying weaknesses I needed to work on, without being able to provide me with examples of these weaknesses. I was also being pressured to attend the church associated with the media organization, even though when I was hired I was told it was not required. It felt like they were trying to make me fit their mold and as a result I was hurt, confused, and frustrated because it felt like no matter what I did, it was not the right thing.

During this time, there were also some bright spots. In November, I was able to book a SCUBA vacation with my parents at the end of February, as well as arranged additional time off (as I did not have sufficient vacation time) to go check out Redding and of course Bethel during the Jesus Culture event in early February.

On December 2, 2011 I received my acceptance letter from Bethel. I had 30 days to pay a deposit of $300 to reserve my spot, otherwise my space would be forfeited. This freaked me right out and I immediately contracted Pastor J and his wife, so they could help me sort out how to proceed. Even though I am in my late 20s, I wanted to have my parents support, as it is important to me to honour them. At this time my parents were not onboard with the idea of me going as they did not see the value of the experience and thought I would be better off staying in Calgary building my career as an accountant.  My Pastor and his wife suggested I ask my parents to pray and ask God very clearly for a "yes" or "no" answer about if I should go, and to set a deadline of Christmas. When I informed my parents about my acceptance and asked them to pray, they still were not keen on the school but they did agree to pray. When Christmas came, the both said they had not heard anything from the Lord, which they thought was unusual. I took this as a "yes" and paid the deposit, knowing it still didn't HAVE to go and it would simply mean I made a donation of $300 to an organization I supported.

January passed fairly uneventfully, although I was beginning to grow more and more disgruntled at the Christian Media organization, and began subconsciously counting down the days until I could escape to California. And then February hit! Jesus Culture and my experience in Redding and at Bethel were amazing! I felt so comfortable and like I belonged there. On my last night, I shared with the people I was staying with that I felt confident that this is where I was supposed to be. Now all I needed to do was convince my parents and we had a 10 day vacation coming up......

That is as far as I can take this tonight. I know I'm just getting to the exciting bit, but I'm hoping this will get you through a little longer. The story will be completed this weekend :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Don't you remember?" Part 1

This blog was supposed to be written before I even left for Redding, however busyness proved to be a ready excuse to procrastinate, and thus prevented that from happening. A few faithful friends have already asked when I would get my post done (I gave them permission to bug me for updates) and my response was a very indefinite "soon". And then I had my first day of class.....

Soooo many things were talked about today, my mind is still reeling 4 hours later. However, sitting, hearing Bill Johnson address us first year students for the first time convicted me that I needed to get this written, if for no other reason than for my own remembrance. I'm not going to get into all of that now, instead, here is the first part of the (long) story of how this logical accountant left the security of home and employment in Calgary to venture off to the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) in Redding, California.

2 years ago, I had never heard of Redding, Bethel, or even the worship band Jesus Culture. Then in December of 2010, a friend of mine "D" invited to attend this event called "Jesus Culture" in California in February 2011. Usually any excuse to leave Calgary in February would be welcome, however, I had just dramatically changed my relationship with D, instilling rather strict boundaries, and the fallout of that series of events had me even questioning my relationship with Christ. So needless to say, I was not about to go to a "church" event, especially with this individual, no matter where it was.

I didn't think much of this event again, until D came back with glowing reviews. I highly value this person's opinion on matters of faith and religion, so I thought it significant that D was so moved by the experience. However, I was still suffering from the fallout that had resulted from the change I had caused in our friendship, and I didn't have much interest in the things of God or even talking to Him for that matter. At least that is what I told myself....

About this same time, a friend from my home church introduced me to Jesus Culture and to a little bit of what Bethel Church in Redding was about. I found it interesting, but I still wasn't much in the mood to talk to the Lord about anything. But this, coupled with D's glowing reviews of the Jesus Culture event in Redding began to pique my curiosity.

And then in early 2011 (let's say March) I met another friend ("J") on Facebook through a mutual friend. During our conversations, J came to know the Lord and stated having dreams and visions - some of which were about me. At this time, I still really wasn't talking to the Lord, but my conversations with J started warming me up to being in a relationship with Jesus again. One day J had a dream with 3 words for me and  informed me that the Lord would tell me when the time was right for me to ask for those words to be shared. So I waited a month and then asked J to share them with me. It took a little while for J to find them in a prayer journal, but a few weeks later I received a Facebook message with the words, one of which was "BSSM." At that time neither of us knew what that stood for, and J suggested I Google it. I was a chicken and waited a bit, but eventually did. And of course the first thing that popped up was Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. My jaw hit the floor. I had never looked up anything on the web related to Bethel before so I knew it wasn't Google just being smart - I definitely felt this was a word from God and I was in shock.

Throughout this whole period, I discovered that the company I was working for was more than likely going out of business. Being the accountant I was well aware of the financial situation, and it wasn't good to say the least. I negotiated with them, and they asked me to stay on with the company until the end - which ended up being July 7, 2011. If I stayed they would give me a fairly significant severance package - it looked to be enough for me to cover my expenses if I were to take a year off of work.

Needless to say, this got things going with my relationship with the Lord, and I decided to meet with my Pastor to talk things through. Pastor J and I had a good conversation and time of prayer and I asked him if he thought this meant I should apply to the school. He said it wouldn't hurt, it was only $35 to apply, so why not? This was about June 2011.

The application was somewhat lengthy, and required letters from 2 references and my Pastor. By the time this process was complete it was already early August, and classes were scheduled to start early September 2011. Around August 20th I had a phone interview with someone from Bethel. I had a great conversation with them, and at the end of it I was informed I was accepted but they had too many students so I was on the waiting list - they would let me know no later than mid-September if I was accepted.

This left me in a bit of a conundrum! Should I look for a job or not? I had been doing a bit of consulting over the summer as I waited to see what would unfold with school, but I knew that work was coming to an end, and I would need something permanent if I was going to stay in Calgary. It looked like I might have an opportunity with a Christian Media organization, but I was concerned if I took the role, I would lose my passion for school and get wrapped up in working.

I decided to take the opportunity to go to my cousin's condo on Vancouver Island to think this over and pray about it. While I was there, Jeremiah 29:11 came to mind "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for your good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope'."This verse has been important to me for years, but I needed something more than that, so I decided to look at the context of the verse. In Jeremiah 29, the Lord promised the exiled Israelites that He was going to bring them out of exile. So they were wondering if they should settle down and develop their lives in exile, or just live day to day waiting for Him to lead them back home. The Lord told them to settle down, live their lives, and to trust Him to lead them out when the time was right. For me personally, I realized that I needed to get on with my life in Calgary, and trust God would prepare things for me when it was time to go to school.

I think that is a long enough post for now - so I will leave you, my dear friends, in suspense (although I guess the final outcome is clear haha). I will continue on with the story of how I ended up in Redding another day (before this week is out I promise).

So......I'm in Redding.....

Just a short note to start off the blog I'm going to be writing which will describe the adventures the Lord takes me on here in Redding. I was initially considering starting a new blog entirely, but with only 3 prior posts, I figured I could just make use of what I started.

The title "HJ's Footsteps" fits for the most part, as this continues to be a forum for me to document my journey. However, I am quite cetain the footsteps aren't, in fact, mine. I believe the cartoon below is a more acurate depiction of what has taken place in my faith walk:

The purpose of this blog is to keep you updated on my journey and to open up avenues and topics for conversation. So please feel free to message me or leave a comment! For those of you who have not seen this side of me before and have questions about my faith, Christianity, or any of the stuff I've mentioned in any of my postings - please don't hesitate to message me either here or on Facebook or leave a comment.

I can't wait to see what God does in and with me over the next 9 months. Thank you for joining me with this - it is a pleasure to share this with you!