Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Two Weeks And Four Days Since Graduation....

WHO AM I?????????

Heh heh, no, it's not that bad.  I'm just teasing.  It's funny how "Change", even when expected, can throw you for a loop.  For me, Change unsettles my insides and I feel insecure.  Like a little crab on the bottom of the ocean when an underwater current rolls through and shifts the sand beneath the tiny crustacean's feet, I also scurry.  I find myself looking for security in routines, in relationships, in music.  I try to comfort myself and assure myself that, this time, it's going to be okay.

But what does "okay" even mean?  For me, it means that life submits to my order, my planning, my foretelling of the future.  I want time and circumstance to submit to me.  I want control.

It's very human, isn't it?  I think God smiles at me when I get like this.  I think He finds me hilarious, but not in a "I laugh at your pain" kind of way - more of "we'll laugh when you're through this season" sort of thing.  I've been feeling these unsettled feelings for a while now.  The cool thing is, for the first time in my life, I'm not afraid of these feelings!  I don't like them, I don't enjoy them, but I'm not afraid of them.  And while, in the past, I would have found various and sundry means of comforting myself - for the most part, I've been turning to God.

"But Sam!" You say, "Isn't that what a ministry school graduate SHOULD do?"  Heh, yeah, I'm not done being human.  I don't know about other church people, I don't know how they handle their insecurities and weaknesses, but I still have mine.  And I still battle with a natural desire to fix things on my own.  So I'm excited to see myself going to God when I'm weak, not as a "this is the right thing to do" maneuver, but actually a natural, unforced response.

At this moment in time, in my life, there are very few things that are simple.  Very few things that are straight forward.  And my feelings don't like those uncertainties!

So!  In this time, what am I doing?  Well, I'm being intentional.  Rather than being obsessed with all the complexities and challenges, I'm reminding myself of what I know to be true.  No matter what it feels like, I know that this season is a season of faith, and a season of increase.  I know that next year, I will be miles ahead of where I am right now - but right now has it's worth too!  This moment has worth.  And when I get overwhelmed, I'm moving quickly to my Father's lap.  I'm saying that it's okay to be vulnerable and it's okay to rest and just be loved.  I think that's God's version of "okay" - resting in the center of His love, no matter what the circumstances.

Anyway.  Here's a scripture I'm loving: Zephaniah 3:17 - "The Lord your God is with you, He is might to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."  I like reading the Bible because it's truly about God.  It's not someone else's interpretation or someone's sales pitch - it's just plainly a description and display of God.  He will take great delight in me.  He will quiet me with His love.  Mmm.  That's just nice.  Or this one: Nahum 1:7 "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him."

Goodnight!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thank You

This post is for everyone who prayed for me, sent money, thought about me with love, called me and counselled me, and just overall LOVED ME through the last two years.

At Bethel, every year they pick two revivalists from each class (one guy and one girl from the first year class, and one guy and one girl from the second year class) to receive recognition as Bethel's version of class president. I WAS NOT ONE OF THE FINALISTS NOMINATED - but I was nominated by like four or five people from my revival group, which was a pleasant surprise.  (When they approached me to tell me they'd voted for me, I was like, "For what?"  >_<  I literally had no idea what they were talking about, haha!)

During the ceremony, as I sat and watched my friends cross the stage and receive their diplomas, words poured out of my heart.  They sounded good, so I decided to share them with you.  This is what I'd say to my class if I could stand up and give them a charge.  Hope you like it.  ^_^  (If you want to skip the thanks - jump down to the part titled "Charge".)

Thanks
I have to start by thanking my parents for all of their sacrifices, love, and support through this whole journey.  There have been lots of late night phone conversations, cash transfers directly into my bank account, emergency prayers, and all around supernatural acts of parental love!  On top of all of that, my parents are quietly and humbly some of the most amazing revivalists I've ever met.  They don't make a big show of it, but doing the stuff (healing the sick, serving the body, and pressing into God) is just a part of who they are.  They have set the bar high, but they've been known to kneel down and give me a leg up to make sure I go over!

Thank you to my brother Jeremy for believing in me and investing in me - it meant a lot!  You're my spiritual competition (yes, competition is of GOD), and I mean to give you a hard run.  My sisters, Danielle and Abby, I LOVE YOU.  Thank you for being so willing to talk nothing but God, Bethel, and boys for the last few years - nothing can change your place in my heart.  To my roomies and best friends, Angie, Lina, Audrey, and Richelle, and Margaret, wah!  I couldn't have made it through the years without you!  You are my sisters and I will pull for you and with you for the rest of my life.  To all my Clay St. family (you know who you are), I love you.  Thank you for loving me.  To my family at Family Life Christian Center, and my email partners - thank you for your prayers and financial support!  You were more than an email chain, you were my sounding board and my extended family.  I love you all!

To Papa Bill and Papa Kris, thank you for stepping up and being the catalyst.  The first message I listened to from Bethel was called "Multigenerational Kingdom Thinking".  It spoke to things that had been the hidden dreams of my heart since I was a small girl.  And I want to say that every day more like me hear you and wake up because you carry His words, you carry His heart.  Thank you for all you've done and you continue to do - I pray for you both from my heart.  

To Mama Beni and Mama Kathy, you ladies are AMAZING!!!!  I loved it every time you came and spoke to us - thank you for lending us your strength.  Thank you for all the sacrifices you've made and all the burdens you've shouldered to make Bill and Kris's dreams come true.  Thank you for sharing your husbands with the world.

And finally, to all my 1st and 2nd year pastors, Papa John Sturges and Mama Diana, Anne Kalvestrand, Lynn Strietzel, Eric Johnson, Theresa Dedmon, Sara Webster, Mike and Sue Tesauro, Aaron Tesauro, Aline Lidwell, Deanne Mather-pike, Phil Breja, and all the interns and all the pastoral staff - THANK YOU.  You have poured into me in such amazing ways!  I wouldn't be standing here with out you.

Charge
Well, everyone, we did it!  We graduated!  We made it through two years of exegesis and hermeneutics, book reports, revival group meetings, small group meetings, home group meetings, outreach/activation meetings, intern meetings...  Lots of meetings.  Some of us survived the culture shock, and we manifested - if "only" fruits of the spirit!  We learned new definitions for common words, approached strangers in public with no other motive than love, practiced words of knowledge and prophetic acts, and grew out appendages like we knew what we were doing.  We crossed the chicken line over and over and OVER.

We did it.  We did it.  And I'm so proud of us.  Now, you might be thinking, ok, so what's her charge?  There is something that has been ringing in my heart for the last few days, and I want to share it with you.  My charge has a few points, and I'll do them in order.

First of all, I want to challenge all of you (though I include myself in this admonishment) REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE.  If there is one word to describe our class that word is intentional.  We are passionate, we are opinionated.  We are intense.  We long to burn, we long to run after a vision.  And all year, we had people behind us, cheering us on as we went deeper and pushed farther into all that God had for us.  Now I'm not saying, "Class, rest on your laurels."  But I am saying, remember who you are!  You are on fire, you are alive, you are dreamers, and visionaries.  You carry the eternal fire of the living God.  You are laid down lovers, you will change the world - don't ever forget it!  

When life gets intense, and that perfectionist thing starts to creep in, shut it up.  Do whatever it takes, and keep that Christ in you the hope of glory picture clear!

This leads me to my next charge - STAY CONNECTED.  We have had the most amazing experience here at Bethel and in this culture - let's not waste the bonds we've made.  We are a body, let's be the example to the world - an example of believers who BELIEVE in each other.  Use facebook as the tool it is, get invested in the alumni program, heck, text your friends!  Attempt to spoil all your friends with prophetic words and encouragement - encouragement should be something that every Christian is well practiced in, not just "encouragers".  The other half of this charge is, ask for help when you need it.  When you're tired, give yourself permission to ask for support.  When you're lonely, reach out to someone and let someone know.  Let's not let this whole Bethel culture thing be just a Redding phenomena; be vulnerable, be reachable, be intentional about staying connected.

And lastly - when in doubt, ROCK IT OUT!  We're not sneaking out of here, we're being sent!  Live your lives boldly in the way that best reveals the glory of God hidden inside of YOU.  Value the fire you carry.  We're all different parts of the body, so no comparison allowed!  Of course the foot doesn't change the world the same way the bladder does!  

I expect to cross paths with many of you in the years to come.  It has been a pleasure and privilege to learn along side all of you -but now... first one to save a nation in day wins!  GO!

Monday, March 14, 2011

I believe

I believe in light that shines, in a voice that finds me in the darkest place
I believe in an endless Love who's everything; He's breath and life to me
I believe God has a Son, His only one and He gave Him up for me
I believe in the Risen One His kingdom's here, death's overcome in me

I believe He loves me.  I believe He loves me.  I believe He loves me.  And that's all I need to know.  That's all I need to know.

I believe in a peace that rules over trials and storms and fears that can be so cruel
I believe in a wind that blows, in a Holy Ghost and His fires consume in me

I believe He loves me.  I believe He loves me.  I believe He loves me.  And that's all I need to know.  That's all I need to know.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Random Bits And Pieces

I think books are time capsules.  There have been SO many books that I've started and thought, "Bleh, this is stupid."  A year or so later, picked said book up again only to discover that my perception had changed and now the writings resonate!  Revelations are time, experience, maturity, and situation released - or some combination of those four.

I feel like the same is true with revelations about God.  I sometimes think of my life as a living room cluttered with different oddly shaped and interestingly wrapped presents.  They are numbered and color coded, but in a way that makes no sense to my logical brain.  Present number 77 could be opened before gift box number 28.  Not all yellow boxes hold revelations that have to do with joy.  Each gift is different, some have music playing softly from inside of them, some look teensy weensy, but are impossible to lift!  A couple have opened just as I've brushed past them.  Others I've been trying to open for years. 

Each package changes the color of the room and, strangely, my position in it.  And I go from package to package testing and tearing, untangling ribbon here, and trying to unsnap something there, until the "right" gift opens, revealing that which I never knew. 

Revelations are exactly like that...but a little bit different.  God is way kinder than I just described, so add some more goodness to that description.  And I left out the fact that He follows me from gift box to gift box, enjoying my reactions and anticipating my joy.  He's fun like that.  He always watches my face as I open a box, but at the same time, He watches my heart.  He's looking to see if I truly got "It" - that "It" is all about His Love for me.  Some boxes produce a greater light in my heart than others, for various and sundry reasons, but they are all Love based presents.  It's all about His Love for me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Prophesy - Fancy Speak For "God Said He Loves You..."

Hey Everyone,

Thank you so much for your prayers - I can definitely tell that you're shifting things in my life.  I just want to take some time and tell some stories so you know how effective your prayers have been!

I've been able to prophesy over so many people this month; students, business leaders, government officials, and ministers from the U.S. and other countries.  It has been incredible.  I asked God what I should focus on when I came back to school and really felt like I should look into business and government.  I had no idea how to move into those spheres, and no idea what it should look like when I did.  Thankfully, God knew!

Within two days of praying, I had a friend at school invite me along on a trip to the city hall to sit in on a town hall meeting.  Because we attended, I had a better grasp of what was going on in the city, and could converse competently with the connections God moved into my circle in the next few days!  Craziness!

After that, another friend invited me along to prophesy over a business leader in the neighborhood.  While I can't tell you anything about that in specific, I can tell you that it was a MIND BLOWING experience and so fun.  ^_^

I prophesied over two people from Southern California in the healing rooms the week before last, a man and a woman.  I was partnering with a friend of mine, and we were both shocked at the accuracy of words of knowledge that began to flow.  I was able to tell the man what he'd prayed to God the night before, and even repeated word for word part of his request!  We then detailed all the areas of ministry that he felt interested in and were able to seriously encourage him in his calling.  He left so blessed; he said he'd never had anyone tell him his heart before and he felt so special.

I had a dream that I felt was for a friend of mine whom I hadn't seen in a few months - turned out that she had been considering moving into a new field of ministry and the dream totally affirmed the steps she'd taken!

A friend of mine from South Africa invited me to come to a party thrown in honor of his parents who were visiting for the month.  Along with 6 or 7 other people, we spent a large chunk of the evening praying over his parents, and prophesying over them.  His parents then prayed for each of us and we all left feeling totally spoiled.

I have like 9 other stories I could tell you.  I've taken just about every opportunity available to step up to people I don't know well or at all and talk to them about things I couldn't possible know.  God has shown up and shown off; there have actually been a couple of times that I've been frightened by the words coming out of my mouth.  I've been doing prophetic portraits, and prophetic writings, I've sent letters to through other people to people in government and in the media.  It has been such a season for risk!

I've been wanting to move into prophesying over people on the street.  If you could pray that God would show me who and when, I'd super appreciate it.  I really want to stretch and take risks, but I don't want to step out ahead of His plan.  Also, please pray that I'd have wisdom and discernment - that I'd never get wrapped up in the fun of "saying stuff" or showing off.  I'm so serious, please pray that my heart would continue to enjoy the comforting cloak of humility.  Such a peaceful, peaceful place to stay!  Thank you, thank you family!

Please know that you are having an impact on my life.  I couldn't do all of this without your investment of time, money, and prayer - thank you for believing in me.  I'm so excited as I see the things that God is doing in the world; we're truly heading into an amazing time!  Love you all!

Hugs,
Sam

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Possibly The Strangest Post I've Ever Made

I am a dreamer. 

I have more ideas and visions and hopes for ten years from now than practical wisdom for tomorrow.  I've been working through this book that has exercises to help stimulate creativity and curiosity.  One of the exercises was to create a list of 100 questions; don't think, just write.  Don't worry about the answers, just ask the questions.  And it was funny, some of the questions that came pouring out of my soul were: "Why is it so hard to get still?", "What am I running from?", "Why do I have such certainty about 30 years from now, but no idea about tomorrow?"

In the last two years of my life, I've learned some wonderful things about myself.  I've learned about the depths of creativity that God placed inside of me, that I am a woman who is passionate about relationships and love, that I am a very good leader, and that I have to be free, that I cannot stand to be constrained. 

But I've also learned some hard things about myself.  I've learned that I have things to work on and areas in my life where I need to grow.  I have fear in my life.  I've let fear push me around more often than I'd like to admit.  When I'm scared I hide, I lie, I get busy, I keep secrets, I procrastinate.  I've learned that it just takes a moment to make a mess, and messes scare me.  Messes scare me because they challenge love.  They challenge other people's love for me, challenge my love for myself, challenge my trust in God's love for me.

And I've realized that I am SO TEMPTED, so tempted to live my life just a little bit safer.  Dream up a future that I can do, that I'm sure I can do.  One without major messes, one that doesn't expose my faults, one that doesn't challenge me or my perception of myself.  It would be so much easier!  And wouldn't that be better for everyone?  Wouldn't everyone like that better?  If Sam wasn't such a screw up?

But.  I came to California because my life was on fire.  The past behind me that was so safe, so predictable, so strong was too small for me, and much too small for me to truly see God.  It's so sad, I've seen Him better in my worst moments than on my most peaceful day.  I came to California because I wanted to know Him, really and truly.  If it turned out that it was all hype, that Christianity was actually just some sort of mass emotional high, I wanted to know.  I wanted to know and for certain. 

So I burned everything that I built, and came out here where daily I walk on borrowed strength.  I know that I eat because He supplied it for me - and not in a way that I would have picked!  I've chosen this.  I've chosen honest frailty rather than implied strength.  I've chosen to be ugly when I'd much rather TRY to be acceptable, covered up.  It feels insane some times!!  It feels like, shouldn't chasing God be easier?  Shouldn't suddenly finances pour out of the sky?  Shouldn't wisdom just be downloaded to me; wisdom and tons of self control?  Right?  Wasn't that in the book somewhere?

I don't have a beautiful, properly edited end to this post.  This is just an honest moment where suddenly a bunch of ideas congealed and I knew I needed somewhere to remember this blob of truth.  This is the truth: God never gets tired of ugly me.  He never backs up or steps away.  The only step He takes is closer.  And He never does things the way that I want Him to, and I have to be ok with that.  Because that is who He is.

Night!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Organization is of God....

Haha, had you asked me five years ago - I would have told you I had no gifting whatsoever in administration OR organization.  But, God has given me new eyes to see the tidier giftings.

Firstly, I've been using a day planner.  (Can you all hear my mother gasping?  Haha!!)  Yes, it's true, Samantha Flanagan is the proud owner and regular user of a day planner!  I have one of those day planners that shows the whole week on a two page spread, and I use color coded blocks of time to break down my time with God, my time at school, my time for home work, my time for friends, and my time for work.  You see, once I understood that a day planner helps me to guard time in my life for the things that I ACTUALLY care about - we became goooood friends.  Hee hee.

Another step in this whole process (thanks to Gabe Valenzuela) has been discovering the roles that make up who I am, and focusing my time on them.  This is a new exercise, and one I'm still learning about, so I'd like to give you an overview.  Everyone has roles that make up who they are.  These roles help define your day and to quote Gabe, give you a reason to get out of bed every day.  The trick is to make sure that you're investing time in your week on the roles that need work!  Example: for a some people their roles would be father, mother, sister, brother, student, writer, musician, linguist, explorer, chef, etc.  Just to mention a couple of my roles: sister, friend, disciple, author, and explorer. 

Those last three roles are roles that God has been really talking to me about in the last few weeks, so I'm going to be very intentional about them.  Here is the break down of what that looks like:

Disciple
I am a disciple of the Holy Spirit!  Like I said, in the last couple of weeks, there has been a growing awareness that I need to focus more on being a student, and pursuing His revelation.  All the bible homework we do through school is great, but there is something special about pursuing your own studies with God.  I feel like there is a grace to grow in the knowledge of Him through the bible, so I'm setting aside time in my week to ask Him to teach me.  Practically, I'll be using the interpretive tool that I learned last year from Grasping God's word to take me deeper into His word, as well as our Hayford Bible Handbook, and online resources like commentaries and blueletterbible.com.  Every day, I'll spend some time in the word, and then I'll also set a time at least once a week to bite off a larger chunk of scripture to study.  I'm really excited!

Author
I really enjoy writing and I know I'm going to write books in my life time.  So!  To prepare and brush up, I'm going to learn a new word every day (probably post it on my facebook, haha), and spend time every week writing.  I have a story that I'm working on right now, but I haven't asked anyone to look at my work besides my sister - I'm going to find a either a writer's club, or something like that, and open my work up to receive criticism.  Also, this blog plays a large part in my routine of regular writing - I'm going to keep modifying it until it's perfect!  To keep my creative juices flowing, I'm visiting the library regularly and taking out books (nothing like the classics to enhance your tone and your style!), and I'd like to buy a thesaurus.  Yes, the online ones are nice, but I like having books on my shelf!  Doesn't this sound like a good plan?  I like it.

Explorer
This is an odd one.  In my time out here, I've been realizing, I love the idea of being adventurous.  Love it.  The problem is, I have this little voice in my head that says, "You're going to mess up your clothes.  What if you hurt yourself?  What if you get lost?  You don't know how to do that, do you really think you'd enjoy that?" and very quickly, I dismiss whatever opportunity for adventure is in front of me and go back to the known and the safe.  Mind you, I'm not unhappy - I just believe that I'm made to tramp around off road every now and again.  So in the interest of developing curiosity and creativity, and reawakening that spirit of adventure, I'm working my way through a delightful book called "How to think like Leonardo da Vinci."  It's a fun book that is filled with historical fact, quizzes, and exercises.  The first set is amazing!!  I had to write down one hundred questions and then look for the top ten, and then look for themes.  Seriously, it was eye opening.  So, in my journey to look closer at everything and to ask more questions, I am going to set aside time every week to explore, try new things, and work my way through this book!  I'll probably be posting stories (which would kill two "roles birds" with one stone - I'd be exploring AND doing creative writing!) and you all can watch as Sam experiences life in new ways!  Sounds fun, right?  That little voice in my head is doubtful, but what does it know about having fun...

So there you are!  My life is full of new fun things!  God is so good.  Just a side note - I was thrown a surprise birthday party yesterday by my sister Danielle and my roommates Angie and Lina.  That was SOO FUN.  They prophesied over me and we had snacks, and it was just perfect.  I couldn't have asked for a better birthday.  

Love to all of you!!  Hope your week goes well!  The holidays are around the corner - hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!

Hugs,
Sam