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.


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:

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  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!

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.

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!



Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Resurgence of Dreams and Self Discipline: Yes, the Footprints of Living Hope

What a dramatic title!  Haha!!!  (Side note: I love me!  Wheee!)

The past few weeks have been intense; second year at Bethel hasn't felt the same as first year.  When I say that, I'm talking about my life in my body, in my spirit and soul.  I can feel when things are off kilter - no matter what's going on around me, I am an optimist, and I'm usually aware of Him (the peaceful resident of my heart).  Anything draws a shade on that reality for me feels like death.  No, I'm not being dramatic, I'm serious.  I get pretty frantic pretty fast, because I'm strongest when I live from my heart.

I started second year feeling weaker than I've ever been, emotionally, spiritually, even physically.  I was lacking interest in all of the things that I love to do, and was falling down on just the personal routines that keep my life moving.  I quickly got behind in homework, started struggling even getting to school on time, and generally felt STUCK.  Haha, yes, hiiiiiiigh frustration level!

I can't go into too much detail, since I don't have a lot of space or time, but sufficed to say things didn't look pretty.  My friends really rallied around me, and my revival group at school really loved on me, my intern repeatedly reminded me to take the pressure off, and my sister was there to sweep up the pieces every time I fell apart.  (Danielle is my personal rock star.  I don't ever want to live far away from her ever again!!)

In one week, God wiped away the storm clouds.  It's always so funny when He does that!  Because the circumstances don't change, it's just the posture of my heart that is different.  It's like He reboots my heart or something; all of my expectations change and I'm drafting on Hope again.  This year's reboot model was composed of LOTS of received prayer, LOTS of talks with friends who just listened, a sozo, and my first meeting with my coach!  It's so good - but I'm can feel that the growth is young and tender, and I don't want to rush it.  I don't want my heart to miss learning how to really rely on Dad.

Now though, as I am coming back to life, it's like I'm cleaning up after the storm.  Yep, have to catch up on homework.  Yep, have to start the healthy life habits again.  Yep, have to reinvest in relationships.  And most importantly, I have to begin to dream again.

Dreams are funny things.  Once you see the fruition of a promise - it's almost like you have to remember how to receive the seed of a new promise again.  I was talking with my coach about promises and how I was feeling uneasy because I don't have anything that I'm standing for right now.  It's like God has answered all of my past tense desires - what am I supposed to be contending for now?  And I realized, at some point my expectations went into survival mode!  No bueno.  (I could go into how I know that's not how I'm supposed to live, but that would lengthen an already lengthy blog!!)

Surprisingly, for me, self discipline re-awakens my dreamer.  As I do the things I know to do, keep my environment tidy, keep my room tidy, keep my car tidy, stay on top of homework, soak, spend time with friends, I begin to see my dreams so clearly.  It's like, I'm just cleaning the cogs of my clock and God is powering the motor.  I do my part to stay unclogged, and He moves me forward.  I keep my heart clean and pure (not to earn anything, but because I am HAPPIEST that way!!), and He fills me with dreams and with joy.

And once again, the climb has interest.  I'm listening for adventure, I'm looking at the horizon line and expecting Him to show up.  The season is busy when the season is called Hope!

Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Psalm 24:3-4
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?  And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and pure heart....

(Author's note: Just so you know, I'm not quoting these scriptures because they correlate perfectly or because they are in context - they are just the scriptures that are alive in my heart at the moment.  Love ya!)

Friday, October 22, 2010

All I Asked For Was A Painting...

(Yes, I know I keep goofing around with the design on this blog - bear with me.  It's still not quite "me" - I'm looking for a blend of quirkiness and depth that I haven't discovered yet!  Until then, feel free to post your opinions and suggestions.  ^_^)

My good friend Marla is an artist.  She is AMAZING.  There is just something compelling on her art; it makes me want to stare and stare and stare.

I've been lusting after a piece of her artwork for about a year now, so two weeks ago, I asked her to make something for me!  She very obligingly said yes, I bought a big canvas and some paints, and she started work!  When she asked me what I wanted, I knew exactly what to request.

All of Marla's artwork is born from some place deep in her heart, deep in her soul.  When she paints, it's like a sacred moment is captured; suspended in acrylic, it haunts and beckons.  It's truly a lovely thing.

So what I wanted, what I requested, was an encounter painting.

Now before, I go on, please, if you're a skeptic, I understand.  Believe me.  This is not some TV evangelist's blog; I'm not shaking you down for a buck.  I'm really just recording my experience and sharing something precious and frail with the undefined "reader".  At this moment in time, I know the readers are mostly my family, and I am deeply grateful for this fact.  When the day comes that you, reader, are not genetically related to me, please look on this account with kindness and generosity - as though it was your sister who was writing.  This is not meant to persuade or convince; just simply to share.

Continuing on - what is an encounter painting?  In Bethel lingo, an encounter is an experience with God that is outside of human machinations.  We may ask for Him to come - He decides how, when, what, and where we go.  Some people see things with their physical eyes, most see things with the eyes of their imaginations, some people have vivid night dreams, and some experience all three.  No matter how dramatic, or how non dramatic these events may be, they are all classified as encounters.

I wanted a piece of artwork that released as well as invited an experience with God.  Tall order, right?  =)  If you saw Marla's art, you would understand why I felt confident in my request.  And from the beginning, it seemed that the request was actually in alignment with what God wanted for me, because not only did I have two dreams about the painting before I ever saw it, but Marla also had a dream about the painting, and God actually woke her up at 3 in the morning to give her more specifics about how it should look!

And it's funny, the painting she created for me is completely unlike any other painting she has done so far.  It's different in style and simplicity.  But, my goodness, this painting SPEAKS.  (Yes, I'll be uploading a picture as soon as possible!)

From here on out, I'm just going to record what happened.  Yesterday, I picked up my baby - aptly named "Dreams".  It is a black background, with horizontal slashes of color across.  I brought it home as quickly as I could and immediately hung it over my bed.  I went to sleep last night thinking about the colors, and even seeing the colors pop out at me in my head.

It was funny, last night was actually a really bad night of sleep.  I woke up like three different times, and when I first got up this morning, I didn't remember any of my dreams.  But as I readied myself for the day, the first dream I had last night came pouring back!

I dreamed I was in my bed, and I was laying on my back looking up.  Around the perimeter of my vision, I could see several forms - it was like many people standing over me in my bed.  And somehow, I knew they were angels, even though I couldn't make out their faces.  And as I recognized that they were angels, it was so funny!  I heard God say (and I knew it was God), "This is the first encounter!!"

^_^  I am very, very excited about this painting.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day One in the Healing Rooms

The day started out with me running around the house - I woke up a half hour before I was supposed to leave!  Arrgg.  Drives me nuts.  They told us in our classes that we should always be early to our outreach (which we call "Activation"), a practice that I fully support and fully intended to follow every week.  But, this morning, I needed to wash my hair BADLY. 

So I'm slapping on my makeup and making sure to brush my teeth really well (nothing worse than someone's beast breath in your face while you're receiving prayer!) and all the while trying not to stress out.  I did NOT want to be late.

It just didn't feel like the morning was setting me up for a good day.  But on the drive, as I breathed prayer to God, I just felt Him remind me that I could trust Him.  That I didn't have to be perfect for the day to go well and for good things to happen!

And boy, was He right!

Since I've just started in the healing rooms, my name tag has a yellow dot on it.  I can't pray by myself for people just yet, I have to pray with a person who has a green dot.  Green dots are like the "seniors", they can pray for anyone they want by themselves.  I was actually quite happy to be a yellow dot - I like working in teams!

I was teamed up with my friend Steven who is from Australia.  He is such an amazing guy!  He really has such a father's heart, so he really looked out for me, and made me feel confident. 

I asked God to give me His eyes for people, to help me to really see how He loves them.  Right away, I felt a shift.  I wasn't worried about performing anymore - it was just seeing people, seeing who they were, and being present with them in the moment.  Being available, and being moved by His love for them.  Man, we had some truly incredible people come in! 

Just a couple of testimonies
~ Steven and I prayed for this little old lady who happened to be Asian.  She was suffering from arthritis in her knees; she could barely bend her knees, and when she did there was all this cracking and popping and pain.  We prayed for her one time and nothing seemed to happen.  Then prayed again, and asked her to walk three feet and come back to us - all the pain left!  She could bend her knees without pain, without popping!  She had full mobility back!  Haha!
 ~  My friend Angie (another green dot and also one of my roommates) and I prayed for a lady who had shoulder pain.  She described it as a sharp pain that she felt whenever she moved her arm or tried to lift anything.  After the first prayer, she was already feeling better.  After the second, she was swinging her arm around and said it was completely better! 
~ Other people had testimonies of people who had hearing loss completely restored, lung and breathing problems improved and healed, several people received healing of back pain from car accidents - and this is just the tip of the iceberg!  There must have been five hundred people there today, and testimonies were plentiful!

Such a good day.  The best thing about today was how easy it was.  There was no pressure, no pushing, no striving.  He was just there, and He showed up as Love. 

There is a song by United Pursuit Band that perfectly captures today's feel.    It's called "Believe" and I highly recommend it!  The chorus says, "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."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fremont, Vallejo, and San Francisco - My first ministry trip!!!

Wow, what a trip!!!  God was so good!

We drove caravan style down to Fremont, CA on Friday.  The church we ministered at was called Harvest House, and interestingly enough the pastor's wife is Bill Johnson's sister!  Cool, right?  The trip was fun, since I got to ride with my friend Petra and see some of the sights.  I haven't had much of an opportunity to see many places besides Sacramento.

The first day, we ministered at the night service.  It was my first time prophesying over people through poetry!  Wow, what an experience.  The first lady I wrote for was really funny - I totally thought I was just adding some random part to the poem about how God loves to watch her graceful hands!  But then, she told me she was a sign language teacher!!  HAHA!!!  Others on the team were singing over people, dancing over people, and making prophetic pictures for people.  Everyone was so nice and it was a lot of fun to see God work in such unusual ways!

That night, I found out where I'd be staying for the duration of our trip.  A really cool lady named Teresa Goines heads up a youth run supper club called "Old Skool Cafe" and I got to stay in her house!  It is located in downtown San Francisco, and it overlooks the whole city!!  I felt so spoiled; they made us homemade granola and blueberry kuchen, and one of the other girls had some gourmet coffee she shared with us!  I'd fix my breakfast every morning, go out onto the balcony, and watch the city wake up!  So awesome!

On Saturday, I helped out with two different workshops.  The first one was "How to release Healing through the Arts".  Did you know that God can heal someone through a painting?  Or through a dance?  We had several testimonies of people being healed through art!  How cool is that?  We shared testimonies and prayed for people, and then we had everyone make their own art.  Three different people with leg problems got healed, someone with sciatica got healed, and a woman who had been suffering from a variety of ailments was completely healed.  Woohoo!!! 

The second workshop was called "Arts in Worship" and we just activated people in painting while worship was going on.  That was SOOOO FUN!!  I got to pray over people while they were painting, encourage some people who were shy, and interpret their paintings when they were done!  So cool!  I met this really nice girl - her paintings were amaaaazing.  She was really, really gifted!  At the end, everyone showed their art, and everyone else said what they saw in the painting.  This was totally my favorite workshop!

That night, I did more poetry - but this time it was supposed to be for a specific person and be a healing poem.  I don't know how successful I was at the poem being healing - since it ended up picking out the same person that my friend prayed for!  But, that's a story that needs more detail for sure! 

My friend Mike is a dancer - very proficient at popping and locking!  Haha, he is a treat to watch.  But on Saturday night there was an older lady who was locked up with arthritis and really couldn't move.  She had a walker, but she attended the workshop he taught because she loved dancing when she was younger.  She ended up coming up for prayer during the evening service, and she asked Mike to dance for her.

While he was dancing, God healed her!!!  She got up and was able to dance!  Haha!  We were in AWE!  Amazing, right?  God is so fun!

Sunday we changed venues since the conference was over.  We drove to Vallejo and visited a church there called NorthBay Foursquare Church.  Honestly, I think I liked this church the best.  As soon as we arrived, I thought it was going to be old fashioned - but it was so nice!  The building was very old fashioned, but they had updated certain rooms of the church; the overall effect was like a really loving family house!  Some rooms were old fashioned and comfortable, and some were up to date for the kids! 

We met out on their back porch which overlooked the whole city!  When our team was ready to pray together before going in and joining the church, the whole church staff came outside and so earnestly prayed for us, I got teary.  It was so kindhearted and loving!  This church was so awesome. 

We got to do art during worship and I did more poetry.  My poem was supposed to go with one of the paintings, and I think it fit pretty well.   I'll have to copy down a couple of the things I did so you can see.

I really loved this whole trip!  I had such an amazing time - prophesied over so many people which is always fun, and got to form relationships which will last.  God is so good!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's On My Heart

Ok, so I wanted to just post something that has nothing to do with school and everything to do with the burnings of my heart.

I have a friend (Marla) in second year that I've known since last year - and she is amazing. Marla is a mother and a wife, and is extremely prophetic and extremely mature, but she's also creative, zany, and free. I love her. I feel like God put her in my life as someone to learn from and be accountable to. She really speaks into my life.

Anyway, Marla has been pursuing music more and more recently with really powerful results. I got to go over to her house and listen to the most recent song she's written, and I was a crying mess by the end of the song! It was so poignant, and strong, and it spoke directly to your heart; I really loved it.

The funny thing was, listening to the song woke something up in my heart. I really felt like God showed me something that He's doing in the earth right now.

I feel like there are people in the music industry who were created to be worshipers of God like the world has never seen before. I feel like they have an anointing in their voice to touch hearts and move souls - and unfortunately, right now, they are kind of drifting out there. I feel like they don't know what they're doing, don't know why they aren't satisfied with their lives, just feel a hole.

And I keep seeing God releasing a sound into the world through people who know Him now and have been faithful to Him and in love with Him for years. I feel like God is going to release a sound into the world that will wake up the sleepers and remind them of the One who knew them before they were born.

I feel like these are people who were meant to gaze on His face with the eyes of their hearts - they have access to a place of intimacy with Him that is so sweet. I feel like He doesn't really care where they are right now - He just sees them, believes in them, and loves them. Wants them back.

When these worshipers awake, they won't know why they can't stop listening to particular songs on the radio, why they lie awake at night with their hearts burning, why they are suddenly feeling full of power and strength, but have lost interest in the things that held them captivated before.

And when they are fully found by Him, I feel like the place of intimacy that they'll lead the body of Christ to will be mind-blowing! I'm so excited!

This has been burning in my heart for the last two weeks. I keep thinking about it and praying over it. If this speaks to you, I invite you to pray with me! Daydream with God about it - watch as He shows you how cool it's going to be! Good things are comin'!

Love ya!!

Retreat, Prophetic Words, and Activation!!

Hey Everyone,

I just got back from retreat a few days ago. My revival group (Theresa Dedmon's revival group) went to the Chico YWAM base with two first year revival groups, and we had a fabulous time! It was so cool to be able to invest in first year students!

The first day, I took part in welcoming the first year students. We had booths set up around the lobby where they could get prophetic art and prophetic words, and we had a big fire tunnel as they came in! Everyone was excited and very talkative as we got in and settled.

The YWAM staff was amazing - they cooked all our meals and cleaned up after us, and just blessed our socks off. It's so humbling to be served like that by another "Body part". We have a large percentage of students who come out of YWAM and they seem to be really on fire people!

The night sessions were super intense both nights. The first night, Theresa Dedmon spoke about the Father's love. The second night, Crystal Stiles (a first year revival pastor and a FIREBRAND!!!) spoke about being a daughter and not working for God. Great teaching both nights. The other cool thing was when they released their interns to prophesy over the entire audience. Some sang over us, some danced, some had prophetic words, others had words of encouragement - it was just cool all the way around.

So yeah, retreat was super great!! I loved just about every minute of it. I got to prophesy over probably about 10 people, with really good feedback. Also met some amazing people too. There was one lady who'd been in ministry for like twenty years, and she and her husband have a ministry that trains and equips ministers in their denomination. We got to talk for like an hour and I had fun just picking her brain about life IN ministry. It's one thing to be preparing for it and equipping myself with the things that I think I need - it's another thing to listen to people who are actually doing the stuff that I want to do, and learn from them. I feel like God is bringing me connections that will last for the rest of my life!

I just wanted to update you guys on some cool things God has done for me so far this year.

School Payment
Someone donated $100 dollars to my tuition!! How cool is that? I was so surprised and happy, it made my day! And then, someone else donated $50 - so that means my payment is about 200 now! ^_^

I got picked for the Healing Rooms Activation! That means that on Saturdays from 9-1, I'll be in the healing rooms and leading a team in praying for the sick! (Actually, all you intercessors out there, if you wanted to pray for me at some point on Saturdays between those hours, I'd super appreciate it!) I am so excited about this opportunity - I know a lot of people who signed up for this who did not get in. And I know God is going to do some powerful things, so keep your eyes peeled for testimonies!!

Home Life
I got a lamp, a basket, and a really nice blanket - all for 5 dollars! Haha, may not seem like much to you, but these homey things make our apartment such a nice place to be!

Also, some of you remember my story about my tire blowing out? Well, both my parents felt like they should buy me some new tires - so my car is ready for winter! Man, I feel so blessed these days - God is good.

Check out my prayer request list for updates in what I'm believing God for - I really appreciate your partnering with me. I have such amazing opportunities available to me out here, I just want to soak it all up and come home ready to turn the world upside down!!

Love you!


Friday, September 24, 2010

Praise Report!!!

Hey Everyone,

Just wanted to give you guys some updates - so far second year at the Bethel School of Ministry is awesome!!!! I'm so excited to see how this year unfolds.

I live in an apartment not far from Bethel with two of my roommates from last year (Lina and Angie - AMAAAAAAAAAZING women!!!), and I share a room with my sister Danielle. It's such an awesome set up and everyone who visits us comments on the peaceful feeling to our apartment!

God has been looking out for His girls since day one. Our living room has three very nice couches and a recliner, and we got them for free! The furniture is very comfortable and in good condition, and just fits our home. Our kitchen is filled with practical living supplies - most of which were free as well! To top it all off, I got an almost new twin bed for free for the year!!! God is SOOOOOOO good!!!!

I'm taking two classes outside of my core classes (bible, speakers, etc). The first class is called Student Development, and in it I'm learning about coaching so that I can be one of the Student Developers this year. It's an awesome opportunity, and I'm so excited!!! The second class is called Encounters, and it's taught by Theresa Dedmon. It's a class that teaches the history, as well as the practical application of encounters with God. We're going to learn how to lead others into encounters with God. So far (my first class was today), I'm really enjoying it and learning a lot.

I'm also taking a track (a sort of advanced ministry training course with projects and study groups) called International Transformation. This course is all about impacting the world in a truly seen way. We're going to divide up into groups and work on projects that range anywhere from sending prophetic words to leaders in other countries, to raising money to buy equipment for a recording studio in Israel. There are projects for every sphere of influence (Family, Church, Economy, Government, Science and Technology, and Arts) - it's really incredible training. I'm still trying to decide what project I'm going to be a part of - I'd appreciate some prayer about that! Just that I'd know which one to pick and that God would give us divine solutions that would leave an inheritance for future generations!

Oh, and before I go, I wanted to let you all know about a ministry trip I'm going on!!! I'm going on a ministry trip with Theresa Dedmon and our team will be ministering in San Francisco. We will be prophesying over people, helping to lead workshops, equipping people in the Arts as well as being on Theresa's team when she speaks on Sunday morning service! Awesome, right? I'm so excited!!! It's not a huge team, and it's such an honor to be able to go with her - so I'd really love all the prayer I can get! I want to really bring God's love to San Francisco and speak into the city - that they would know that there is God who has a good plan for their city!!

Thank you so much! Hope you all have an amazing week!!!


Friday, September 17, 2010

The Party, The Blow Out, and My First Crack @ Clay

I'm sitting here listening to Vicky Beeching "Above All Else", my nails are still have some clay stuck underneath them despite ten minutes of intense scrubbing, and I'm pleasantly full of pizza. Today was an adventure to be sure!

To start, today was my revival group's first party!! At the Bethel School of Ministry our 2nd year class is divided into "revival groups". To further break down the student body into manageable chunks, each revival group is split up into (about) ten member "family" groups. Each family group is overseen by an intern pastor. My pastor is Aline and she is AWESOME.

But back to the party - what fun!!! We played games, met in family groups for the first time, got to know each other, and just started to gel as a body. I'm ridiculously blessed to be in a group with many of my friends. My best friend Lina Stav (from Sweden and also my housemate) is in my family group, along with my friends Rebecca, Beatrice (they became my little sisters this last year), and several other girls I know. It's gong to be good, because now I have people I can process with as I experiment with ministry, and God works on my heart. It's going to be a great year!!

Anyhoo, after the party, I took Lina and Beatrice home. We stopped at Michael's (an arts and craft store) because I've been daydreaming about working with clay. Lina, Beatrice and I wandered through Michael's for about an hour; eying new colors of paint, playing with the soft paint brushes, and leisurely meandering through the print gallery. Eventually I settled on two sizable bricks of clay, some clay working tools, and turned our heads towards home.

When I stopped in Beatrice's subdivision, the unexpected happened! I turned the corner, and just like that, my right front tire popped! I hadn't hit anything, I didn't run over anything sharp; my tire blew out because my tires weren't properly balanced! In this, I really experienced the tender fatherly care of God; I wasn't on the expressway doing 70 miles an hour (which was a sincere possibility), I wasn't out on the street where I couldn't stop immediately and avoid injuring my axles, and I wasn't out on some abandoned stretch of back road (ALSO a sincere possibility).

Within literally two minutes, my friend Jesse came out and started changing the tire. Sadly, my jack was cheap and quickly bent out of shape (no one was hurt, and the car didn't get hurt either!). Once again, before I could even feel overwhelmed, a man named Dave showed up with his own professional jack and he changed my tire, gave me detailed instructions to resolve my tire issues, and just selflessly helped me!! Man. God was so good to me.

I was so ready to take care of myself - I know how to change my own tire. But I really felt like God was just showing me that He is more than strong, more than capable, and more than able to take care of me.

When I got home, I was feeling a little traumatized by the whole experience (though I was marveling at God's intervention), and my sister Danielle totally stepped up and offered comfort just when I needed it! She treated me and Lina to pizza and encouraged me to start experimenting with the clay I'd bought.

I don't know how else to put this - as I sit here listening to Vicky and watching my sister manipulating the clay, I feel strange. I feel vulnerable, but comforted. I feel like He is real. And I feel like He wants me to know that He'll be there for me in really practical ways - not just fluffy good feelings, and pretty dreams, but in truly useful ways. I don't know how to accept that - I don't know how to trust that yet.

But it's good and it's good for me to learn. He is God. He does as He pleases. =)

Good night!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

An Overview of My Life So Far...

Wooohoo!!!  Lovin’ the new layouts on blogspot!!

Let me just say, this blog is going to be very real, and very honest.  I’ll be posting prayer requests and testimonies as the year goes on.  Please feel free to comment with prayer requests too!

To start, I’d love to give you a quick recap of my first year on my own in California.  I moved out to Redding with enough money to survive for 1 month.  I didn’t get a job until December, and my monthly school payment was more than the monthly rent I was paying (and more than my car payment!)!  God totally intervened on my behalf.  I had people come up to me and give me money.  I found money in my car.  I had a couple of wonderful friends from back home sow into my life as well- it was such a lesson for me in supernatural provision.  God more than provided for me last year; though there were a couple of times when I had only rice in my cupboards, I never went without a meal, and I never felt poor!!  Haha, actually, never feeling like I was poor was the thing I appreciated most.  I had such peace the entire year.

I also got to serve in many capacities.  I volunteered for Sidewalk Sunday School, which was an outreach for at risk children in the low-income areas of Redding.  We put on a program that taught about God’s love, and then we demonstrated His love in practical ways.  Mentoring those children really rocked me!  The coolest thing, though, was that when we ministered to the children, because of our love for the children, we had an open door into the hearts of the parents.  More often than not, after the program we got to pray for the parents.  One mother that we prayed for received healing from a bulging disk in her spine.  Another mom was going through a hard time, since her husband was out of work and one of the kids needed surgery.  We got to pray for her and sowed money for a night out for her and her husband – with an amazing return!  She was so encouraged; and then by the next week, her husband had found a job!

I volunteered at many of the conferences at Bethel, and got to pray and prophesy over leaders from all over the U.S. and even all over the world.  My roommates and I had hearts for releasing what we had received to anyone who visited Redding, so there were many mini revival meetings that occurred in our house – basically any time that someone visited!  Again, more amazing opportunities to pray for people, prophesy into their destinies, and just release refreshment and breakthrough.  It was such a humbling experience, and I was pretty awed.

In December I started working for a coffee shop that is pretty popular in Redding, called Yaks.  Yaks is a coffee shop with a mission!  They don’t want to just serve people coffee, but they want to love on the lost, lonely, hurting, and forgotten of Redding!  Pretty cool mission, huh?  They don’t accept tips, and everyone gets paid minimum wage (even management!) so that all the extra money that comes in can go back into the community.  After working there for a few months, the Lord really gave me favor with the owner, and I quickly got promoted to assistant manager, then manager, and by the summer, I had the incredible opportunity to be the general manager over all four stores.

Honestly, it was a mind-blowing experience.  I really discovered my strengths and my weaknesses, and learned to be impressed by neither!  I got to build teams, create standards, manage budgets, and serve the city, as well as pour myself out for another person’s vision.  So awesome.  So God.

I’ve begun my second year at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, and so far it has been amazing.  This year is all about building on, and putting into practice all the things that we learned in first year – literally!  We have the opportunity to go on mission trips with Pastor Bill Johnson and Pastor Kris Vallotton (as well as many others from the leadership team at Bethel) – but the only way we can do that is if we have at least half of our tuition paid off.  Tuition this year is a little bit higher than last year; about 3,600.  I know that God has opened doors for me that no man can shut and I am so excited to see what He does for me this year.

If you want to partner with me this year, just leave me a comment with your email address and your name, and I’ll make sure to keep you updated every month.  If you don’t want to be emailed every month, but you’d like to send a financial gift, here’s the link that will take you to the page where you can give.  Bethel School Of Ministry Donation Page

Just make sure you designate that it is for Samantha Flanagan, and you can give to either my tuition or my mission trips!