Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Beginnings: The Belgium Project.

Sorry to keep you in suspense! So here it is...the news: in October I was invited to be a part of a new ministry at my church, New Beginnings. My good friend, Irvina, who is an amazing singer, was asked by a pastor friend of hers to bring her ministry team to Belgium, to his church, to sing and speak and minister to them.
She and I happened to be talking on Facebook at the same time she was talking to him. She was so excited about it and said, "Hey! Maybe you could come, too!" "And do what?" I asked. (Because like I've mentioned before, I don't sing.) She said, "Girl, you need to speak." And I immediately replied, "Uh. NO. I don't think so. But you have a great time!"
Well, the more we talked about it, the more ideas that flowed. And I was more than willing to be a part of the behind-the-scenes stuff. I offered to help in whatever way I could. Here at home. But go? To Belgium? No.
And I'll tell you why I said no. I don't want to do something "in the name of God" unless GOD has asked me to DO it. I don't do things because my pastor asks...or because a friend asks...or because it could be a good opportunity...or a chance to see another country. If I do the name of the will be because HE has asked me to do it. It will be because HE has dropped it in my spirit and given me the desire of my heart to do whatever it is that needs doing. And honestly, while we were chatting online, I wasn't sure that it was a God thing...for me. I thought it was a God thing for her. I definitely thought it would be an amazing opportunity! Absolutely. But...maybe not for me. So I left it at that.
Or so I thought.
Over the next couple of days I couldn't think of anything else. So I just kept it in my heart and prayed about it...asking God for confirmation if I was, in fact, supposed to be a part of New Beginnings or not. And once the flood gates opened...the confirmations just kept pouring in.
Jeremiah 29:11...for I know the plans I have for you. Plans He had whispered to me over the course of this past year. Plans I didn't vocalize. Plans I shoved back into the box. Plans I didn't want to admit were being made. Plans for me to speak. In front of people. Uh, there's a reason that I BLOG. Because it's not in front of people. Are you hearing me? I am terrified to speak in front of people. It makes my stomach hurt. And it makes my hands makes my whole body shake...including my voice. Public speaking is not my thing. I got a C- in my speech class for crying out loud! Me? Speak? You must have the wrong girl, Lord.
But God continued...bringing to mind old journal entries where He'd told me I'd be speaking. Reminders of long ago prayers asking to use my creativity for His glory. Then a friend reminded me of some words she spoke to me at this past women's retreat in October..."God wants you to know this has all been year at this time you'll be doing something you never thought you'd do."
More and more scriptures began coming to the forefront of my mind...Isaiah 43...when you walk through the fires you will not be burned. Isaiah 61...He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
The more I thought about it...and the more I prayed...the more I knew that I was supposed to be a part of this ministry....regardless of my fears and insecurities. The bottom line's not about me. It's about others. It's about them. It's about you. It's about the homeless kid atthe grocery store. It's about setting myself aside and allowing God to use me and my experiences to proclaim freedom for captives. To release prisoners from darkness.
Once I got a grip on the fact that I was called to be a part of New Beginnings I began to pray about what God wanted me to share. What did He want me to speak about? The answer came clear as a bell when Irvina called me and said, "God revealed to me what you are to speak on. Depression." I knew she was right. I immediately began to cry.
Of course I would be asked to talk about depression. Why didn't I see that right from the start? Depression is something I've been dealing with for years. I can't pinpoint when it started. But I can pinpoint when it got it's worst. Let's just say it's been a battle for over 20 years. And...I'm still in it. The only difference now is that I have God to help me through it...I have biblical truths and weapons to help me fight the good fight.
Over the years I've come to the conclusion that depression is my "thorn". It's the thing in my life that keeps me grounded...that keeps me tethered to God...that keeps my face turned toward His day after day after day. If it weren't for Him, I don't know where I'd be. He has saved me...and kept me...and showed me how to be victorious. As I like to say, "God is my anti-depressant."
So...there you have it. On one big deal. On the other hand? A HUGE deal. I am amazed and terrified that God has chosen me to do share my story in hopes of helping others find freedom in God's amazing grace.
I have about 6 months to prepare. 6 months to make sure I've got my message straight...and 6 months to raise the funds to get my behind on a plane to Brussels, Belgium!
This brings up my next raising. I need to earn money for my flight to Europe. So over the next couple of months, among other fund raising ideas, I will be advertising items in my Etsy shop for sale...mainly notecards made with some of my own photos. And all proceeds will go to the ministry to help pay my way.
I pray that you will help me in my endeavors...that you will tell others of my goal and spread the word about my Etsy shop in hopes that many will support my goal and this ministry.
I also ask that you pray for me. Pray that I am courageous...and bold...and transparent...and clear and concise. Pray that I am organized. And efficient. Pray that I am protected...a lot of times when we do something for God, the enemy doesn't like it. At all. And he will do anything he can to distract weaken my stop me. So pray for protection...of my mind and my thoughts.
My mom sent me an email a while back that said something like..."Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says "Oh cr**...she's up!"
That's right. I don't want to worry about him. I want HIM to worry about ME.
Thank you in advance...for your prayers and for your support. I am grateful...


Sheryl said...

woohoo!! yay for you. that is so exciting. i cannot wait to see all that God does. and may i just add that i am SO glad it is you and not me! i chose to take an F in speech class rather than speak in public!!

it would be a privilege to be partnering with you and helping you anyway that i can.

sarah said...

wow Michelle.
You have my support. The praying has already started for you.. minutes ago.

Thank you for being real.

Mari said...

That is inspiring to say the least! You go girl. I hate speaking too, and get so terrified, but when God lays something on you to do, it's hard to say no to that.
I will be praying for you.
With God all things are possible!

Jeannine said...

Many contratulations, Michelle! Such a truly awesome opportunity for you and the people you'll be working with and ministering to. ♥

Anonymous said...

i have so much to say - I will have to email you tomorrow afternoon.


You Can Call Me Jane said...

Wow, Michelle. This is amazing. I am very excited for you to say the least. Not for the trip or the experience, but because you have been called. Blessings to you, friend, as you prepare and as you go.

Nancy said...

What a fantastic opportunity! You'll do wonders. Sending up prayers for you, friend.

Unknown said...

Hooray! You are on your way! Isn't it exciting to see God working - and through each one of us that is listening and obeying? Nothing will give you more pleasure than doing what He's called you to do. I know you were not sure at first, but think about it... He uses the humble and the willing, not typically the "most qualified". Whatever He calls you to do, He'll enable you to do. And your only measure to know if it was successful or not... whether or not you obeyed.

I'm STILL excited and waiting for those note cards!

Megan said...

Belgium... beautiful and amazing!!! Oh, Michelle-- such a wonderful opportunity, I'm sure that you will be focused and determined and 6 months will fly by!

Talitha said...

Wow, that is so exciting! I am overjoyed for you. What a journey God has you on. I will be praying now and will look forward to all your updates so I can continue to pray. God will definitely bless you for stepping out in faith. Love you, lady!

Lisa Gallup said...

I will support you both through prayer and monetarily! Please let me know when you do fundraising stuff. Sponsoring people who are going overseas...even in a small one of my passions. You are PERFECT for this!

Elaine said...

Oh my gosh! How exciting. You should definitely get your passport started.

How very cool and really exiting.

I can't wait to hear more.

Em said...

How wonderful! You will definitely in my prayers. What an impact you can have. To say "I'm excited for you" sounds much too trite compared to what I feel. Best luck! ~Emilie

Anonymous said...

I missed this post and have come back to read it because of your beautiful cards. I think this is so wonderful! You will be used and a blessing, how exciting. I absolutely and totally love what your mother said, hilarious.