Hope Fest Arizona 2013! It happened, now the day is over, but the work continues. The work to bring hope, to serve, to love, to clothe our neighbors and so much more. I want to share just a few highlights of the day. I am going to skip over the part where I got extremely frustrated with the man who stood in a parking spot right where I wanted to unload my gear and wouldn't let me in because he had been standing there saving the spot for 15 minutes. Yes, God dealt with me on that by saying these words (which sounded a lot like my husbands voice) "Mia, do you want to be right or do you want to be righteous?" To be right would mean to argue over a parking spot to be righteous which my husband is, means to move on, forgive, love and find a different spot, even if it means a longer unloading trip.
I am always amazed how sneaky my sin is when it creeps in my mind and I don't even recognize it until I've opened my mouth. Can I remind you, I am a work in progress!! After the Lord dealt with me on that issue and forgave my repentant heart, I was off and able to experience an amazing day!
Walking among all the vendors, I had a great chance to talk with them and hear their hearts through their stories of faith, strength and hope. I re-connected with Monnie, who I first met when I was arranging vendors for a festival that I was involved in and she was just getting re-started and had not acquired all the supplies she needed. By God's design, my husband and I had the canopy, table and chairs that she needed and she re-launched her business. Now I got to see her at Hope Fest with an amazing booth, non stop traffic and a huge smile. She is such a great encouragement to me. I admit, I kinda felt like a Mamma who had birthed a baby and watched her grow into an amazing women! Check her out at faithwearforever.com
I met up with a facebook friend (now an in face friend), Deni, who embraced me with tears as I walked by. As she shared her heart we both rejoiced that God is a God of restoration and healing. Now she sells jewelry with Compelling Creations! The jewelry was so powerful that just reading the descriptions of the designs made my heart full. Here is her website and you can also find her on Facebook. Another awesome gal!
There were so many other amazing vendors, it is hard to name them all. I guess you will just have to come to Prescott, AZ next year and visit them all with me again!
Throughout the day, there were baptisms, prayer tents, testimonies, outreach to the homeless, free hugs and music. Lots of music.
It was a blessing to see bands, that I now call friends, like Faith by Fire, Covenant 31 and Brian Weaver. A big thank you goes out to Brian for letting me bum a ride up the mountain with him, his 2 dogs, Chris the guitar player and all the gear. He wasn't kidding when he said there might not be room. So I sat in the front seat with my two bags packed between my feet and legs and a dog on my lap. Just like that, we made the trek. I have to admit it was fun cuddling with his sweet doggy!
Not only is it great connecting with bands I know, it is a blessing to meet new musicians. My merch table was right next to a young couple that travels full time in music ministry. It was fun to talk with them, but to watch them do what God has called them to blew my mind. Dusty is a Hip Hop artist (AND A GOOD ONE) and his wife Krystal is a singer and paint artist. They incorporate it all in their ministry and set. LOVED IT!! My greatest compliment (at least I think it is) when I meet a hip hop artist is this "I'm not really a hip hop fan, but I LOVED that." Dusty is so kind to see my heart through that ridiculous comment as I haven't yet mastered the art of political correctness or tact. They are so gifted, called by the Lord, sent to share their testimony and lift up the name of Christ! They are "Irregular4Christ" and ready to travel!
With all the independent artists that were there, many of us rely on help. We can't do it alone. When someone says that they are willing to drive up to Prescott, get a hotel and volunteer at your booth to watch and run your table so that you are free to sing and meet with people, there is only one answer...YES!!!
I'm not sure if there are words that can adequately express how grateful I am to these two ladies. I kept saying "I don't know what I would do with out you." It was true, they were amazing, selfless and willing. They really are not volunteers, they are partners in the ministry. They are friends!
Thank you Deby! Thank you Lisa! As you can see by the photo, they didn't just help me, but also Brain Weaver, Faith By Fire...all of us!
With my table in good hands, I was able to go and do the main thing I came to do...SING!
This is where I get blown away (again). First off, I was blessed to have Jerry sit in with me on base. He was so great. It takes great skill to play with me. A midst the wrong chords (played by me), playing the song in a different key (me again) adding or subtracting a bridge here or there (give you one guess who did that), Jerry was a pro and able to follow my every crazy move and mishap.
(so thankful to Karmen for the photos, always the last thing I think about when playing)
One of my favorite parts of the set, especially because this was sponsored by Celebrate Recovery, was being able to share bits of my testimony, what God has done in my life, how awesome our Lord is and the song I wrote for the Celebrate Recovery inspired Home Run Movie CD ~ "You Are Not Alone" (looking forward to recording my own version soon)
It's what happened after the set that blew my mind. The rush of people who were there waiting and had beaten me to my merchandise booth and the fact that they all waited after they bought CD's to talk and share their hearts was overwhelming.
To talk with a man who received hope through the songs because he was just diagnosed with cancer that week, to hear from a man who is praying for a marriage restoration, a woman who even 20 minutes after I was done was still weeping because of what the Holy Spirit moved in her through listening to the music and words I shared on stage..... to have people come up to me in tears because the Spirit spoke to them through the songs.....a lady who was telling her friend on the way there, "I just wish some one would sing a Keith Green song" and then to hear it at the end of my set and worship to the words of that amazing man, blessed her heart and blessed my rejoicing heart as well. It overwhelms me.
Story after story, hug after hug, prayer after prayer, I stand amazed at what God does when we simply obey. Amazed at what God does through broken, imperfect people who stumble and fall, but people that know the voice that lifts them back up.
It is my joy to sing, to share my testimony, to be used by God as He has gifted me, but more than that it is a responsibility. When God has done an amazing thing, my response and responsibility is to go and tell.
Yes, it is a joy. Yes it is a responsibility and Yes it is also an Honor.
An honor that I do not take for granted or take lightly.
Whatever vocation we are given, we have a story to tell. It's the beautiful story of the redemption of mankind, the story of redemption in our lives. We all have different ways of doing it, but we all are called to do it.
Hope Fest Arizona answered the call. They just did it and they will continue to do it, even when the music stops playing. Hope Fest is more than a festival it is the hands and feet of Jesus serving God through broken people who celebrate all that God has done and will continue to do.
It is because of the hearts of the Hope Fest team, that I count it a joy and honor to have partnered with them to share the story.
Hopefully you made it to the end of this post, because I am saving the best for last. None of this would have happened without the Lord. The few stories and miracles that I heard of and the countless ones I did not get to hear are testimony to God's hand and providence for this event. He really was there EVERY step of the way, providing it all.
A huge blessing and thanks go to these two who heard the call and gathered God's people to action. Thank you Jaye Lene and thank you David. May God's blessings continue to flow over your lives!
(and thank you Monika for this beautiful picture I snagged off of FB)
It is sometimes easy and always a joy for me to write blog entries of what God is doing in my life, the joys I see in others and the encouraging truths He reveals.
Today is not one of those days. Today is the day that I typically don't write about because it doesn't make me look very good, but today I think I need to.
I always tell people how imperfect I am. We all are right? But sometimes we (and by we, I mean, I) don't showcase our real imperfections, our secret struggles because people might really know who we are and who wants to do that...to really do that. But I have learned repeatedly that it takes to much energy to pretend to be something that I am not, so here goes!
There is a sweet lady that I knew growing up, her name is Mary. She really is "perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). OK, obviously she is not and she would probably give you a list of her sinful flaws, none of which I would believe except for the fact that no one is perfect on this side of heaven.
Enough of me avoiding the point of my sin. As I was reading in Matthew 5 today, the heading for verses 43-48 said "Love Your Enemies." I read it as I have read it before saying of course I will pray for my enemies, for those who are against me (Yes, I have a few.) Yes, Lord I will pray for those that don't like me, I will pray for them, my enemies, that's easy! Maybe I'll just pray that they like me and we'll all be good, right?
God did not let me slide through these verses today. He stopped me and said, "No, YOUR enemies, the ones that YOU are against, the ones that you dislike, the ones that make your stomach turn, the ones that slander rolls so easily off your tongue about....THOSE enemies!" To which I quickly replied "I don't want to pray for THEM!" (There are so many times that my birth order reveals itself in my conversations with the Lord. Yes, I am the baby of seven.)
As I sat there with my Bible and my pouty lip, knowing what the Word said, knowing what God revealed to me, I had a choice. I could refuse to pray for them, I could pretend pray, or I could ask the Spirit of God to guide my words.
Today, this was a tough one to swallow. I have learned my lessons the hard way about disobeying the Lord, especially when He speaks to me and makes it crystal clear. So, I asked the Spirit to guide my words and I began to pray blessings on my enemies, those two people that I just don't like. God gave the words as my stomach literally turned to the point that I wanted to throw up. I guess I felt a little like Noah, not even wanting these people to be blessed. At the end of it, God showed me that it's gonna be difficult, it's not always fun, but as I release these people from the wrong I "feel" that have done to me, He will bless them and He will bless my heart with a peace that I will not even be able to understand.
So, now, I sit hear...heavy hearted and a little bit teary, because I know the battle that rages in my heart as I learn to forgive people who probably have very little clue the bitterness I have towards them.
While I may not be outright mean to these people, I may not even cross paths that often with them, for me, the danger is deeper, because it's a bitter-root in my heart and it pops up at the most unpredictable times.
Yesterday, God laid two beautiful women on my heart to pray for...that was easy, THAT was a joy. Today, God called me to pray again, but for my enemies, That's NOT easy, But God's strength is perfect and I know that as I pray His will, He WILL change my heart. That's a JOY.
I am humbled. I surrender. LOVE WINS!
Love Your Enemies
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
I don't have the answers, but I always have a lot of questions. So if you are curious about what's rumbling around in my head and heart today, here goes!
I have, for years, struggled with Trust. Then, when I think I have it curbed, I go through the 12 steps and see how far I have to go. God is always working to grow me in this area, particularly in the area of trusting others.
So, if my heart cry is to trust God more, how does that translate into trusting other people? Is it a cop out to say I trust God, just not people.... probably!
How do I learn when to trust others after having confidentialities broken repeatedly and simply want to trust God alone with my secrets and heart cries?
What does TRUST really look like in my life? Where is that line when I lack trust in God and put more trust in my own abilities. My prayer there is that God would reveal those areas in my life quickly.
Well, that's just what is swimming around today. What I do know is that God if faithful in all areas of my life and the lives of those who TRUST in Him.
So I trust the Lord and at the same time ask Him to help me with my lack of it.
One day I will strive no more, but until then, I count it all joy to be refined through the fire.
As I was driving to a women's event tonight that I was singing and speaking at, I spent time praying, going over my set list in my head and talking through my testimony. Thinking about my testimony and all the patterns of living that God had redeemed me from, I said to the Lord "Man, I used to be such a whore, such a slut. If people really knew how bad and lost I was would they really want to listen to anything I had to say?"......to which God always replies "Yes, it is in your weakness that I am strong. I have redeemed it all, now go and tell people how forgiving and strong I AM!"
It was a short conversation. But then He said to me "You know, Mia, you really WERE a slut." Through that whisper He showed me what a slut really was.... what I really was....and what I am no more. It wasn't about the guys or the partying; the drinking or the sneaking around behind my families back, no, it was about one thing. Then he gave me this acronym and opened my eyes to the truth. He said you were Someone Longing to Understand the Treasure that you were.
It all made sense. Because of my misconceptions of who I was, the lack of believing the truth that I was dearly loved and forgiven, I went on a search for anything to fill the hole that I felt was in my life as I longed to understand the treasure. Little did I know, so many years ago, that the answer was found in Jesus and Jesus alone!
I am no longer a bad S.L.U.T but a good S.L.U.T
I am now Someone Living in the Understanding of the Treasure
PS. There's nothing like worship leading, sharing your testimony and coming right out to a group of women that you don't know and telling them I used to be a SLUT! Come to find out there were a lot of us there who now stand redeemed living under a new understanding. Thank Be To God!!
II Corinthians 4:7-10 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
**Please pray as I dig deeper into the S.L.U.T theme and share and teach from God's Word on this subject.