"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose". Romans 8:28

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Season change: Healing in KC!

Greetings from Belton Missouri! I have been wanting to write this post for some time now, but just kept putting it off and I am glad that I did so that I can share with you all the full extent of what God has been doing during my time here.

It's been almost a month now since I left my home in Ohio and ventured out to Kansas City to follow my love here and begin a new season of my life. The getting here was faced with many obstacles and I had several doubts that this was going to work out, but I kept persevering. My living situation changed before even getting down here and I am now next door to my friend Anne living with her neighbor Beth. I know that God had this planned for both of us and it has worked out wonderfully, even though Beth has children my age! My car is also different than originally planned. Thirty minutes into my first attempt to KC, my little Honda would go no further! I had to go car hunting that Monday and with the help of a Godly car salesmen who has connections to IHOP, I was able to drive away with a 2003 Saturn L200 (which I have already ran into a pole)! My trip down here was long, painful, and quiet because of IPOD issues, but I finally made it! I started work the following day, enjoy my first full-time job, and am now fully trained as of Thursday.

I am only 15 minutes from the International House of Prayer and have been filling my time with hours in the prayer room, two small groups, teachings, and services. My first week here, I happened to be in the prayer room during the healing ministry. I went of course, but left feeling the same. However, I knew then that God would soon heal me and that this season of rest is a gift from him. It was difficult adjusting to my new life on my own, but it has been worth it all! I have encounter God and fallen more in love with him in just these past few weeks than I have ever. Sometimes we just need to be taken aside, to be still, and just allow him to minister to us.

Ok so ready for the full extent of God's awesomeness: last night at the church service, God began to heal me! I know that for some this is a strange occourance and many are skeptically until it happens to them or someone they are close to. I had been praying for healing and prayed with hundred's of times since March. I was a little discourgaged last night as others were giving their testimonies of how God healed them and seeing others dance and I just told God that I wanted to share my testimony of healing and dance for him. I started praying for others for healing. It was easier to believe God would heal others, but not me. However, he wants to pour out his affections on ALL of his children! We are ALL worthy to be healed! As I was praying with someone right before the service, I began to feel the pain move from my neck and back down to my left hand. I went back to my friend Anne and told her that my hand was hurting, but nothing else was. She prayed with me and then the message started. Now God's timing on all of this is pretty comical because the message was on SUFFERING! During the message, the pain in my hand happened three other times and then would go away. I could literally feel my neck and back tingling and things getting put in place. Crazy I know, but God's love is crazy (a book I highly recommend: Crazy Love)!

So after the service, I decided to test out my body to see if this was really happening. I sat on the floor without any support on my back for 20 mins, raised my left arm for a long time, and then I danced, haha. I know it's not very Nazarene, but I had told God earlier that I wanted to dance for him and he allowed me to. Two hours pass by and still no pain!! This is obviously a miracle because earlier that day I went to a museum with a friend and was in severe pain just walking!! Last night I slept on my side which I haven't done in 8 months and it was just another confirmation that God is healing me. Now there is still a slight pain, but I feel that is more from lack of use of my muscles than anything. Sorry this is so long, but God is just so worthy to be praised and I wanted to make sure that you all had the full story!!! Thank you again for the continued prayers and believing this would happen even when I didn't! I believe he wants to do the same for all of you! More prayers that this stays away are much appreciated!!!!

" Come and listen all you who fear God and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me". Psalm 66:16-20.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Silver lining

So you know the phrase, "Every cloud has a silver lining"? It means an optimistic and hopeful prospect in the midst of a storm or difficulty. I heard it in a few songs recently that have brought me encouragement. I always loved looking up into the clouds and seeing the sunrays bursting through the clouds. It makes me think of Gods radiating presence and is like getting a glimpse of heaven on earth. These past few months a storm has definintely been all around me, but God has not allowed it to consume me and has been faithful to provide. This past week I had a glimpse of that silver lining.

I have been diligently searching for employment over the last three months. I actually considered that my full-time job! Last week there was a major breakthrough and all my long hours of "work" finally paid off. I had two final interviews last week and was offered both jobs on the same day! One job is in Columbus and the other job would take me out to Kansas City. Many of you who know me know how indecisive I really am. I can't decide what restaurant to go to or what movie to watch, let alone which job to take! I recruited several of my close friends to listen to my dilemma and help me figure out which option was God's best for me. I wanted to chose the position that would bring the most honor and glory to Him and help me continue in the healing process.

Some verses that really spoke to me during this time:

"Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you." Psalm 25:4-5

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

I flew out to Kansas City on Tuesday morning and went straight to the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging to meet with the staff in person. As soon as I arrived there, I felt a peace I hadn't felt in a while and just knew this was where I needed to be. It is an international non-profit sponsorship foundation which deals with impoverished children, youth, and adults in helping them reach their highest potential. I will be mainly on the phone talking both in English and Spanish with the sponsors and translating material from the field and the sponsors. I'll be moving in with one of my dear friends, Anne, and her husband and 5-month old baby girl and have another close friend and her husband that are only 40 minutes away. I will also be 15 minutes from the prayer room and will be going to the church services there. I feel this will be a time of receiving, resting, and healing.

I will be leaving next Friday the 8th, and starting on Monday the 11th. I know this is all happening incredibily fast and I only have a week to get everything together and move, but I feel God has opened these doors and has provided this opportunity for me to take and I don't want to hesitate any longer. Prayers are very much appreciated as the drive next friday will be quite painful and long. It's still surreal to me that I am actually moving and employed. It will be difficult to leave my family and friends once more, but I am filled with excitement for what awaits me in Kansas City!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Healing in solitude

I first want to apologize for the lack of blogging and silence in the past month. The truth is I have been experiencing so much healing and lessons learnt that I didn't know where to begin! This time in my life has by far been the hardest, but the most exhilerating! God has been so faithful and has revealed more to me in this time of solitude than all the years of church sermons, mission trips, and school combined!

As God did with Elijah in 1 Kings 17 when he took him to the Kerith Ravine for a time set apart before his ministry, I feel that he is doing the same with me. God provided for Elijah with a stream to drink from and birds to bring him food, and it has been true in my life as well. God often takes us aside for a season of solitude and allows us to experience pain so that we can draw even closer into his strong arms, listen more deeply to his voice, and grow in strength to do his work for the future. We can't run to our Mount Carmel experiences without first spending time in the desert!

These past few months have in no way been easy, but I have had the support of my loving father and close friends to help guide me along the way. I have spent the majority of my days praying, reading, and job searching. I feel that I have sent out atleast 50 resumes and have only had 4 interviews! However, I refuse to allow discouragement to set in because I know that as it says in Romans 8:28, God works for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purposes!

I have enjoyed the bonus time as I call it with my family and friends. I have learned to be content in all circumstances and to blossom where I'm planted. I even told my mom that I was happy to be home. She thought I was being sarcastic and didn't believe me, but I finally convinced her that I really meant it! For those of you who know me, you know that is proof that God has been doing some work in me!!

I'm not exactly sure what tomorrow will bring (or even the next hour), but that is perfectly ok with me. As I wrote in my last post, I eventually want to go to IHOP, but the timing is totally up to God. Please continue to pray for clairty and direction in this time. The excitment and anticipation of God's future plans has finally returned! I'll definitely keep you all posted on where I am planted next :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The next step

It has been over a month since I returned from my Peruvian adventure and began my life again back here in the states. There has been alot of adjusting, letting go, and tears, but I am at peace with everything and am embracing the idea that God's best is yet to come.

Even before I got on the plane in Peru, I was asked the question, "so what is next, what's the plan?". I have repeatedly been asked this since my arrival and my answer was usually, "I'm just waiting on direction and God's plans to be known". This was always so frustrating to me because for once in my life, I didn't have a plan and couldn't give a straight answer.

However, God has revealed to my heart what the next step of faith is to be. Before I even heard about Peru, I felt I was supposed to go to the International House of Prayer in Kansas City to do a prayer internship there, but I but that aside when Peru came along. Now that I am back, that desire to be there has only grown stronger, eventhough I was given yet another opportunity to serve somewhere else with the Nazarene church. It was hard for me to say no because this was the perfect open door, but I know that it is not God's best for me. Right now I am in need of healing, rest, and being ministered to, not ministering. If I want to be an effective missionary in the future, then I know I will need to be well feed and equipped to serve.

The internship consist of two-three month tracts where I would be spending 6 hours every night from 12-6am praying during the dark hours of night. I would be living in a dorm setting with others going through the internship. The community would be really beneficial for me during this time in my life. We would have classes, small group meetings, and fellowship together. There are even opportunities to serve in one of their ministries each week. I am interested in Exodus Cry, a ministry to help victims of human traficking. There is also an orphan justice center and a soup kitchen. I would be working with the leaders that are over these projects and many doors would be open for me to serve along side with them after the internship. I know after spending this much time praying and in God's word that I will get direction and healing and be ready to serve once more.

I deeply appreciate each and everyone of you and the roles you have played in my life. Thank you again to all who were sponsoring me during my mission in Peru. Hopefully everything was taken care of, but if you are still having issues, please let me know! The cost for the internship is $2200 for the first and $2000 for the second tract. This includes housing, food, classes, and ministry expenses. I am currently looking for more employment so that I can save up to head out to Kansas City as soon as possible. There are two different time frames for the internship: September 27th and January 17th. You all have done so much in supporting me and I just wanted to share this next step with you. If you are interested in helping me either financially or in prayer, please let me know! You can reach me at: brandi.courts@gmail.com. Here is a link to IHOP if you are interested in getting more info: www.ihop.org.

"Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light". Matthew 11:28-30.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Counting blessings

Though I miss Peru deeply and think of my family there constantly, it's times like this past weekend that make it easier to be at home. I had the privilege to be apart of my best friend, Shelli's, wedding. This was a day that I dreaded missing during my time in Peru and had even contemplated flying back just to see her. When I had received her invite in Peru, she mentioned that the date had been changed just so that when I watched the video, I wouldn't feel like I missed out on anything! However, God in his beautiful love, allowed me the opportunity to experience this day first-hand and to attend both my lovely roommate Kelsey's and my dear friend of 14 years, Savanna's wedding. It was definitely an exhausting experience, but it helped me realize how blessed I truly am and was worth all the driving and cake!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Empty My Hands

Just when I thought that I had surrendered everything over to God and that there was nothing else to give to him, he sheds light on another area of my heart that he wants control of. This is a difficult, long, and painful process. I have given him my dreams of being a missionary in Peru and thought that was what he had promised me for this season on my life. However, I am learning that he has not forgotten his promises to me and will fulfill them in his time, but what he wants now is for me to let them all go and be captivated with him alone.

I have found comfort in both the Psalms and certain songs during this time in my life. I want to share with you a song that says EXACTLY how I feel and is my prayer to God as I go through this trial.

Empty my Hands by Tenth Avenue North

Time to get off the floor

These past three weeks that I have been back home have been some of the most challenging times in my life. I thought that the real test of faith was giving up the next two years of my life to serve God in Peru, but that was actually quite easy and smooth compared to where I find myself now. I had security and community in Peru, here I don't know what the next day will bring, let alone the next few years! I am literally clinging to God during this time and trusting him as I step out onto an invisible road. That is exactly where he wants each one of us.

A friend of mine recently encouraged me to jump into the arms of God and allow him to carry me instead of having him pick me up off the floor. I didn't take his advice right away because it was easier to just stay broken, crying on the floor. That's where I have been for a while and it is time that I get up and allow his strong arms to surround me and gently carry me to where he has planned for me.

"When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand . You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever".

Psalm 73:21-26

I know that this is a time of purifying and refining me. The end result will be exactly what he has destinied me to be in order to serve him with all that I am.