Life Journey

Holy Moment

There haven’t been many times I’ve been moved to fall on the ground, weeping…for joy. Sorrow, certainly. This was different.

I was on my way out the door when the long-awaited email came into my inbox containing the link to one of the final versions of the Parallel Bible promotional video: the one that shows the world what is being birthed. I hadn’t seen any of the other versions, so I have been really excited for this.

A Presence came over me so heavily that I literally started weeping, hit the floor, and began thanking God for allowing me to be a part of bringing this amazing gift to life. I’m still in wonder as to how I even found myself on this team, and I can’t believe this is to be my career, especially since I thought I’d never actually have one. I’ve been wandering yet following a golden thread of His choosing for years now, walking through the desert, around mountains, into valleys, and back again. This past year, especially, has been full of blessings, disappointments, and waiting. So much waiting, without really an idea of what He was doing, but fully aware He was doing something very big and very deep. After being unemployed (yet overly employable) for 11 months of last year, He staved off all the lesser opportunities of time-fillers and less-than-heart inspiring proportions so that I would be free to jump when the time came. And it came suddenly, unexpectedly, and it still doesn’t fully make sense to me other than I said “yes” to a series of Divine appointments without knowing where it was all leading. Suddenly, all those seemingly random jobs, skills, dreams, and endeavors, they all make sense as each left me with a piece of the puzzle I’d need to be prepared for this. And now, I can’t imagine any other thing I’d rather be doing with my life than what He’s bringing about through Parallel – I seriously can’t wait to finally be able to show you all what we’ve been up to!

But man! He’s so so good to us, isn’t He? Such a good, good Father. He knows the perfect fit for our hearts, and He won’t relent until His best is brought forth in our lives. Praise Him!!

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Thoughts on God

On Mess & Stress

After opening my eyes to feelings of anxiety this morning, I was like, “What the heck? This isn’t me.. What’s up, God?” Waiting for His answer, I stared out over the landscape of my bedroom. My pulse quickened with embarrassment upon noticing the overwhelming mountainous mess. This past month of travel and transition cultivated bad habits, leading to “I’ll deal with this later” and shoving items into bags or drawers or piles. If I needed quick access to something, I just shifted piles around like puzzle pieces. I told myself it was organized chaos: I know where everything is even if it looks like an explosion. This only worsened as guests would come on short notice, causing me to hide messes from other parts of my house by throwing them into my room and closing the door.

The problem is, a mess hidden from view is still a mess, organized chaos is still chaos, and it’s a horrible waste of time trying to bring order to something that, by very definition, lacks order.

A knock on the door interrupted my pondering. The landlord’s repairman had finally come to knock out my list. “Oh no,” I thought with dread. “He will have to go into my room! The mess will be revealed! This can’t happen!” I briefly considered shoving the whole mess into a giant pile – some bare floor space might make it look at least a little better? No, I’d lose any semblance of organization I still have going for me. “Well, maybe I’ll just tell him to come back?” No, I had been waiting a week already and the repairs were necessary as they were beginning to effect my ability to function in the space and host guests comfortably. I was going to have to let him into my room, in all it’s mountainous glory – I hung my head, avoided eye contact, and muttered excuses about having been traveling, whatever.

Noticing my posture and panic, it struck me: I no longer live in shame, and nothing gets to allow it back into my life. So then why was I responding this way? He’s just a guy trying to help improve my living conditions, and I seriously doubt he cares what my room looks like. In fact, he’s probably seen worse!

Right then, God showed me that my internal world looks a little like my bedroom right now: I’ve been so busy meeting people, serving others in crisis, and rushing around that all my personal messes have just been piling up in the bedroom of my chest. The places people get to see have been swept clean, leaving the secret, quiet place cluttered – there can be no real rest in a cluttered nest. I’ve been asking God many questions and waiting on Him for some major life decisions to be made, but how can He do that if it’s all been piling up behind a closed door to a room that I am too embarrassed and busy to open? Behind that door, so many moments needing to be processed and put away properly have been tossed into the “later” pile. And this was ok for a time, but my anxiety is flagging that we’ve hit max capacity.

Ready or not, it’s time to slow down, open the door, let Jesus into the mess, and deal with everything…shoe by shoe, paper by paper, pile by pile.

But isn’t it so good to know that He’s patient with our processes? Where we are content to sleep in squalor and step through mess, God says we were made for more. Yet, He won’t force the door open until we’re ready – He’ll just stand there and knock, tool belt at the ready. If we allow the resulting panic or embarrassment to be indicators and immediately ask Him what needs to be done, shame and anxiety are denied a place to take root.

Because I let the Lord’s Repairman (wink wink) in this morning, my heater is now breathing warmth back into my halls, I will not be trapped in my room again by the broken doorknob that kept falling off, and my fire alarms will sound and save me from fiery peril. What’s more, he noticed some cosmetic issues with my car that I’d just accepted as permanent and fixed them on his way out. BONUS! What would God withhold from us, His precious kids, if only we’d give him the permission? He always does more than we could ever ask or hope for because He never settles for less than everything His Son died to give us, even if we do.

P.S. He never leaves us in serious mode very long – Joy always comes in the morning. After setting things right, He sang this perfect little reminder to me and invited my heart to join in by making an incredible video…I’ve been dancing the anxiety away! Enjoy:

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Birds, Life Journey

On a Wild Goose Chase

“Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit–An Geadh-Glas, or ‘the Wild Goose.’ The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him.”
– Mark Batterson in Wild Goose Chase: Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God

A conversation yesterday with an old friend reminded me of an incredibly impactful discovery I’d made a few years ago involving the Celts and their wild goose. He expressed:

“I wish I had that much faith to go completely give myself over to the will of the Lord. I’m stuck believing that with the right preparation the Lord will give me an opportunity. Which forces me to be safe in the way I live. Always prepared. If I don’t feel prepared, I get anxious. Idk tho. Everytime I have ever traveled alone I have always found myself doing things I never planned to do. Being taken on paths I had never even fathomed and being provided for by strangers and circumstance.”

I got excited, because this is exactly how someone sounds just before the Goose swoops in and completely messes them up! Hang on, bud…it’s going to be an incredible journey.

To this day, I remember the exact moment the Goose found me and my soul recognized a critical piece of itself was being suppressed.

It was during a season of a million questions and inevitable transition but no clear path. I’d met someone, THE one, and was praying about all the different difficult choices I’d have to make in order to be with him. As is my propensity when brewing big ideas, I decided to wander for the afternoon in order for God to have the occasion to surprise me with unplanned lessons or revelatory encounters. While browsing through a Barnes & Noble, a backwards book caught my attention:

“Most of us have no idea where we’re going most of the time. PERFECT.”

I was so overjoyed upon reading the rest of the description that I immediately snapped a photo and sent it to my intended with the comment, “See? I’m not ‘immature’ or ‘irresponsible’! I’m just CELTIC! You can blame your quirks and habits on being Chinese, I can blame my sense of adventure and following Holy Spirit wherever He may lead on being Scotch/Irish. Papa has promised that He’s got me in His hands right now, and I know I’m frustrating you by not having an exact plan, but I know God’s got me 🙂 This proves it.”

Here’s what the rest of the cover said:

“Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit–An Geadh-Glas, or ‘the Wild Goose.’ The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to follow the Spirit through life. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something…Most of us will have no idea where we are going most of the time. And I know that is unsettling. But circumstantial uncertainty also goes by another name: Adventure.” (Wild Goose Chase: Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God by Mark Batterson)

I’m not sure whether my heart leapt higher for the fact that it was a whole book confirming that I wasn’t alone in flowing where God leads me or for the fact that they defined “adventure” as “circumstantial uncertainty.” Either way, it was as if someone came along and finally told the ugly, rejected duckling that she was really a swan – I wasn’t in the wrong, I was just in the wrong nest and needed to find my people.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was not shared by those in that particular nest. The first major fight my ex-fiance and I ever had was over my sending him that book cover that day. He called me, irritated that I would even send him that picture; when I tried to explain my reasoning to him, he told me that I was the least responsible person he’d ever met, that I was lazy for not having even started working on a resume yet, and asked me, “So maybe when you’re done being a free spirit you could grow up and start paying your bills…or are you thinking I’ll be doing that for you while you get to stay home and make art all day with our kids?” Heart. Broken. Was I really being careless, or was God inviting me into a level of intimacy and faith that teaches ruthless trust? I wanted to have a plan and had great anxiety over not feeling in control of the next step, but I knew in my gut what God was whispering and that to ignore His direction would be disastrous.

I’d spend the next two years scorning my “flighty” artistic side, silencing God’s voice lest it ask me to do something seemingly radical and irresponsible, trying to be a productive adult, and ending up utterly miserable. Because, you see… a bird is created to fly: “It would be like this bird, whose nature it is to fly, choosing only to walk and remain grounded. He doesn’t stop being the bird, but it does alter his experience of life significantly” (Wm. Paul Young in The Shack). Lesson learned.

Sometimes (see: “most of the time”) when we begin to answer His call to radical faith and ruthless trust, the opposition heats up quick. It starts as a battle in our own brains – our logical side and the part of us that doesn’t want people to see us as irresponsible or flaky wages war with the burning passion growing within our hearts to explode into whatever wild unknown God may have before us. “Would God REALLY say THAT? Are you sure it’s not just the voice of your own desire? I mean, that doesn’t even make sense…. and what if you fail?” Even if we can contain the inner turmoil, those we love and believe to be our closest friends and family may not understand. They begin to heap on the pressure, in the name of loving concern for your wellbeing, without really knowing that this can sound like rejection, be counterproductive to what God is working, and become soul-deadening. Upon opposition, this can melt into anger or frustration. Regardless of their reaction or motive, great pain can come from being vulnerable and feeling like what you feel in your spirit is rejected or misunderstood – call it a crash-course in deeper intimacy and dependence on Papa. Chasing the Goose is not for the faint of heart.

This is why it is so important for us to seek out our people – Kris Valloton (the pastor under whose tutelage I’m about to submit for the next year at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry) spoke on this quite a bit at the beginning of this year: find your people, find your people, find your people. This journey to find my tribe has taken several years, and I have finally found them here in Redding. But that is not what this blog is about. It’s about the process, the chase, and the off-chance that you’re a fellow goose-chaser in serious need of affirmation, validation, and encouragement to keep running.

My quest to formulate the best, most inspirational response to my friend yielded the following results, rendered here for your pondering pleasure:

“The Celts looked at nature and saw God revealed in all His glory and they understood God best when they took symbols from what they experienced. The Holy Spirit was symbolized by the wild goose. Doves were docile and delicate, but the wild goose was untamable, free, and unpredictable. Instead of a soft coo, the wild goose was noisy and raucous. And it seemed always to be on the move—on a pilgrimage ordained by the Lord Himself…

Jesus said that those Christians who were led by the Spirit were like the wind—you don’t know where it comes from and you don’t know where it’s going. A Christian who follows the wild goose is wild and free themselves. They have lives that are less than predictable. They live life to the full (John 10:10). They are wild and free, untamable either by society that would bind them with lies or by religion that would chain them with duty and obligation.”

From “Flight of the Wild Goose” by Bill Tenny-Brittian

 

Celic Goose

“And it seemed always to be on the move—on a pilgrimage ordained by the Lord Himself…” Oh, how I love that. It’s spot on. I’ve put more miles on my poor little Beetle in the last 7 months than in the 4 years I’ve had her, all without having a job, a clear idea of what’s next, or any real desire to do anything but passionately come alive in order to follow God’s will wherever it’s leading. “Ministry” is on hold. “Career” is on hold. I’m livin’ on a prayer and rise each day and wonder what’s in store. This season has challenged and stretched my faith more than I could’ve imagined, and it’s only about to get bigger! I have less than a month to raise all my tuition for BSSM, on top of living expenses for this season, and every single job option has been shut down except the arts and photography studio I’m starting (which I have a lot of fear surrounding). God said go, He said seek Me in increasing depth, He said rest and wait and see how I provide, and He wasn’t kidding. I’ve done all I know to do, and as resourceful and crazy adaptable as I am, I’m at the end of myself. And I’m not the only one…there seems to be a whole lot of this going around (or maybe it’s just because I’m rollin’ with Bethel peeps now?). We’ve all said “yes” to the call, “no” to convention, and “bring it on” to whatever wave of crazy adventure God’s bringing our way in this new season.

My life is a wild goose chase, and it’s time to fly.
Who wants to join my “V”?

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Healing, Life Journey, Uncategorized

Thus Ends the Dress Saga

“This is the last song that I write
While you’re even on my mind
Cause it’s time to leave
Those feelings behind
Oh, ’cause blue skies are calling
But I know that it’s hard”
Noah & The Whale

For those who’ve been tracking the drama of the wedding dress, I have quite the praise report! I’m happy to announce that I am not only all paid up a whole month early, but the dress made its way to my doorstep on Friday as well. Understandably, this has stirred quite a mix of emotions. The joy of blessing and provision swirled in to deep sadness that the dress will live, unused, in storage. There is no “big day” or occasion. Just a girl and her dress – the most beautiful she’s ever seen.

So, after allowing myself the whole run of emotions this weekend, I’m ready to write. This will be the last spoken about the dress until the day comes to don it. But it’s such a beautiful dress with such a beautiful story for it to pass along into the box without any acknowledgement, so here goes:

In November, when the time came to start the search, I was totally unprepared. As a little girl, I hadn’t really given much thought to a wedding – I guess everyone else had at least some idea of the magic and majesty they’d come to expect, but I was busy worrying about more immediate concerns. My aunt made the first move and set appointments for me to dress shop the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was a good thing, too, because I didn’t even know you had to make them!

I tried to make a Pinterest board for the dress, but I grew increasingly frustrated when internet searches yielded not a single dress I really loved. I pinned bits and pieces from dresses here and there, but I’d yet to see a complete dress that wowed me. To make matters worse, my ex-fiancee saw my board and made negative comments about each part of each dress I actually kinda liked. He’d say he liked everything I didn’t, and my heart hurt a little when he pointed at the coolest remnants I had found and shot them down. Combined with the fact that every other dress search in my life had ended in tears and disappointment when, store after store, I could never find a dress that fit both my body and budget at the same time, I was dreading the day.

Already anticipating failure, I approached the day rather lackadaisically – I knew I wouldn’t find a dress that day, so don’t get hopes up. I threw up a desperate prayer, “Papa God, I know there are so many greater concerns, but could You please help with my dress shopping? I’ve never found a dress easily, and I always get stressed out and cry. Lord, with everything else being so hard to find and plan, could you please just make this the easiest decision about the whole wedding? Please help me find the perfect one quickly and have no doubts about it at all or get stuck between two – let me just know beyond a shadow of a doubt, love it, have complete peace, and be able to afford it.”

I was shocked at the incredible treatment I received that day (at Trudy’s Bridal in Campbell for those who need a fabulous experience). I had my own personal dressing room and helper; no racks to rummage through, just me and my aunt on a bench while our assistant retrieved what she thought I might like based on my Pinterest board and insistence that it be lace. After I tried on a dress at the helper’s request so she could estimate my size and be sure I didn’t want satin, she brought in about 5 lace dresses.

The very first dress I put on, I knew I’d found it.

I did try on several other dresses that day to make sure, but I kept coming back to this one. I couldn’t believe it. I’d found the dress in less than an hour and it was $100 less than our estimated budget.

Or so I thought.

When I got home, I looked at our wedding budget and realized I’d just committed to double what we’d allotted. Slightly panicked, and getting major gruff from my intended, I prayed and the peace returned: I’d asked God for this dress, and He’d hand-delivered it to me down to the last desire of my heart before I could even articulate what they were. He’d provide.

But then my engagement was broken and a call to the bridal shop revealed that I was still on the hook for the full amount. The ironclad no-cancellation policy had me in a chokehold; I was unemployed, in transition, had exhausted all my savings, on my own, and had 4 months to pay off the $1200 balance. Each month, I made the $300 payment, I was not quite sure it would go through – the anxiety of it all brought so much anger and stress and resentment. What had been a blessing and a gift seemed now a burden and reminder of my deeply broken heart.

Then, Papa stepped in. Each month, the payments miraculously cleared until I came to the halfway point. As I made my second-to-last installment, a quick figuring told me that, unless I found a job soon here in Redding, I would not have enough to finish paying the dress, much less drive down and pick it up. I became angry because I’m also trying to save to pay my BSSM tuition, and this was draining resources that could be going to that.

What I learned is that Papa’s resources are endless – they cannot be drained! The day after I made the payment, I got an email from a man I had met in passing one time back home in Indiana, circa 2009. Our interaction couldn’t have lasted more than ten minutes, and I’m honestly not sure how we were Facebook friends. Long story short, he expressed that he would be paying off my dress:

“From your postings it’s evident that you always give so much of yourself to everyone, for so many great causes, and to God. You pour your heart and soul into everything. You leave a lasting impression on everyone you meet. Just wanted to give you something back, just to say thanks Lindsey from everyone.”

And just like that, I realized I had been complaining and totally missing the point God was trying to make. How often do we allow Satan to come steal our victories, kill our hopes, and destroy the miraculous blessings and testimony God’s writing in us? God had given me the dress of my unarticulated dreams, one that was never intended for my ex (he pointed out and expressed distaste for each feature without knowing it), and He’d given me a double-portion since I doubled the cost on accident. And, He’d paved the way to pay for it both through my own finances (completely independent of my ex) and gifts given by a few other people. When the final payment was made by a near stranger, I heard Papa say, “I do not bless to curse. I would never give you this dress if I didn’t intend to give you a reason to wear it. I know there’s a part of you that believes pursuing Me and the call I’ve placed on your life to serve the least of these means silent submission to a life of singleness. I see your pain of M’s broken promises to love, protect, and cherish you. But I have not broken My promise. This is not a reminder of an end – this is a promise of My love, provision, and a beautiful future. Just rest, and let Me continue to provide for your every need and heart’s desire while we work together to restore your spirit.”

As an added lil kiss, the bridal shop offered to ship the dress to me in Redding, free of charge, to spare me the trip. Boom. God even sent my neighbor over to my house, beers in hand, the moment I opened the box and started the mix of sorrowful sobbing and overjoyed “Oh, it’s even more beautiful than I remembered.” Blessings on blessings, glory to glory.

So, thank you to the people who chose to give so generously to help me receive this healing gift. You know who you are, and I know I could never fully express my gratitude. I thank God for you every time I see my dress hanging in the hall.

And praise be to the One who is the Giver of the best gifts, Promiser of great promises, and only One who truly knows my heart. Thank You for reassuring me that blue skies are calling and for holding me close while it’s still hard for me to see. Thank You for the grace & space to grieve what’s been lost and for marking the time to leave all those feelings behind with such a beautiful milestone.

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Music, Thoughts on God, Uncategorized

I & You

A short musing (for once).

“For I am Yours
and You are mine”
=
I & You

Technically, it should be IOU.
I OWE You all, everything, forever.

But He tore up the slip when He tore the veil.
Stop trying to paste the note back together and living under a debtor’s shame.
In doing this, you are the one who retreats, not He. You recreate the barrier, drawing a veil between you and His loving grace.

Set yourself free.

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Healing, Music, Thoughts on God

My Future and My Past

“You are my Future
And my Past.”
– Future/Past by JohnMark McMillan

Today, after 3 years of suggestion from my counselor, I committed to reading the book The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Dr. Dan Allender. It’s causing me to go toe to toe with my past so I can fully embrace my identity as a beloved, passionate daughter of Papa God and all the blessings and joy and future that come along with that title. As Dr. Allender says, “The work of restoration cannot begin until a problem is fully faced” (p. 14). Well, I just moved to a new place, know no one, have no schedule, and am still job searching, so if there’s ever been a time and place, it’s the right here and right now. And it’s hard. Really hard. But not nearly as hard as living with this constant feeling of separation from my Papa or of shame that if people really knew me they’d all abandon me or of distrust in myself that I have changed or will ever be free from my old struggles/self. “The damage done through abuse is awful and heinous, but minor compared to the dynamics that distort the victim’s relationship with God and rob her of the joy of loving and bring loved by others” (p. 14). I’m sick of being secretly disgusted with myself and waiting for the next time I’ll screw up (or God will).

The other shoe is always poised to fall, and enough is enough. I’m too blessed destined to be held back any longer.

At this point, I have a workbook and two notebooks slowly filling up with thoughts, confessions, musings, and revelations, so certainly there will be many more posts of a similar nature, but this is what I felt released to share from today:

This song has been stuck in my head for days now, on repeat, to the point I had to acknowledge it as a meditation: “You are my First, You are my Last, You are my Future and my Past.”

At first, I thought this was because God hit me hard at Friday’s concert with the revelation that He is not only interested in/excited about who we are (in the present) and who we will be/what we will do (in the future) but ALSO He in/about who we used to be and what we’ve done…and what’s been done to us. Elementary concept, I know. But as someone with a past like mine that is a source of so much shame and guilt and desire to just forgive, be forgiven, forget, and “that’s not who I am anymore, I’m a new creation in Christ” it all away, this was stunning.

Jesus not only was there in every single moment of my past, with me and not against me, but He was also IT. He IS my Past. And if He is my Past, it is blameless, beautiful, and holy; I need to embrace it and love it just as He does. He sees the gold in it, already died for it, and gives it massive grace. I need to do the same, because I don’t see what He sees: how He’s going to spin the scraps of waste and hay into a golden destiny someday.

With this song and thought process swimming circles in my skull since Friday, it finally had a place today to land and attach. I’ve learned enough by now to know that when something seemingly simplistic happens to get lodged in there like this has, it is rarely happenstance or simple at all. Well, waiting for me in the book was the following:

“To be told, ‘The past is past and we are new creatures in Christ, so don’t worry about what you can’t change,’ at first relieves the need to face the unsightly reality of the destructive past. After a time, however, the unclaimed pain of the past presses for resolution, and the only solution is to continue to deny. The result is either a sense of deep personal contempt for one’s inability to forgive and forget…Hiding the past always involves denial; denial of the past is always a denial of God. To forget your personal history is tantamount to trying to forget yourself and the journey that God has called you to live” (Allender, p. 15).

I’ve spent years trying to be a new creation, trying to just be different and better and good. I have acknowledged my past abuses do contribute to present dysfunction and sins, but I reasoned this away with the flick of a “but if I am right with Jesus, I am new and don’t do these things anymore; I just need to be in Him and nothing else will matter.” And thus, an even harder fall when the inevitable happens – open wounds always drag us back to the point of brokenness. It is here where the Great Physician waits for us to stop hiding the hemorrhage, to stop scabbing and denying Him access. As long as I hide or justify or nurse my own wounds, He cannot bind up my broken heart.

I look forward to the day that I can truly say that my scars are continual songs of praise to my Savior. Til then, I’m gonna be a bloody mess awaiting redemption, book and pen in hand.

 

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Uncategorized

Set the Record Straight and the Women Free

Absolutely everyone needs to hear this.

When I sat through it on Sunday, a little piece of my heart came back to life.

Women in the church are NOT to remain silent, we are instructed to prophesy and teach (yes, IN THE CHURCH..even to men *gasp*), and we were never relegated to children’s ministry. I went to a church in liberal capital of the US, San Francisco, for two years that still taught that women couldn’t be pastors or hold board positions; these beliefs caused great strain on my relationship with my ex-fiancee who genuinely believed I could never be a pastor or that God wasn’t calling me to preach internationally because I was a woman. Now, hear me: I’m not slamming that church – they love Jesus and are doing great things in SF! I’m only saying that doctrine always rubbed me the wrong way, is misguided, and is causing people pain. I continue to pray, as I did then, that they find truth and freedom in this area so they can continue to grow and thrive and change the face of SF forever!

But for right now, it’s time to set the record straight and the women free to be all God intended us to be!

Watch “The Theology of Empowering Women, Pt. 1” by Kris Vallotton (Bethel Church, Redding): HERE!

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