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(One of my friends posted this on Facebook and I thought that I'd share it with you all...read it all the way through b/c the last line is a zinger)

I listened tosomewhat soon. a fiery teaching called "Missions: Affection Based Obedience". This stuff is soooooo important to own...please read and re-read (or go to itunes and listen to the teaching yourself, it's on a podcast called "firekeep" for free)

"And if ministry becomes your intimacy, you will lose the battle. We have a relationship with our dreams and our visions for God, and we find our joy in what we do for God. We don't find our joy in Christ. What we don't realize is that Christ loves us just for who we are...we get so caught up in what he wants us to do that we don't realize that God is not so concerned about the destination, but he is more concerned about walking with us on that journey. I am not what I do."

"We fear 'What if I missed the will of God?' God says, 'Even if you did nothing at all, If you didn't fulfill this prophecy or that calling, I want you to know that you are still valuable and worthy and stunning in my eyes. You are my son, my daughter, and NOTHING will ever change my LOVE for you.'"

"The highest form of obedience is affection-based obedience. All of the sudden, you love what he loves and what he loves you love. It's no longer something you have to do, it's something you're compelled to do. It's just a part of who you are. That is the kind of life I want to live."

"Most of the Christianity I was living was religion, it was not grace. Religion says, 'behave right, act like us, talk like us. Then you'll be accepted. Now believe that you're good.' But Jesus is so much different. Jesus says, 'I don't ask you to change or behave, you're already accepted. Believe that, and THEN you'll change. But I want you to know that I love you just the way you are. And even if you didn't ever get your quiet time right, or preach that sermon right, you're not living FOR my approval, you're living FROM my approval."

-Jason Ma, International House of Prayer
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So...some of you know that I've been struggling for the last few weeks. I was walking in fear -- fear of vulnerability, fear of being real, fear of hoping for things, fear of trusting. All the lies that Satan threw at me seemed so much closer and so much bigger than everything that I know is true. So, I chose to stand in a bunch of stuff that was not of God and I chose to keep my heart hidden, guarded, and isolated.
But (here comes the good part!) little did I know that God was after my heart like crazy...He was weakening the guard I had up without me even realizing it at first. In the few moments where my guard was down, He would send someone to speak truth to me and I would, of course, take it in because my guard wasn't up. So bits of truth about God, about others, and about myself were seeping into my heart and God used those bits of truth to get ahold of me...He's so sneaky sometimes...lol...I love it.
So tonight I was at Consuming Fire and God used like every song, every word, EVERYTHING to get ahold of my heart and to speak to me about different things. First of all, we meditated on Genesis 18 and the verse that totally stuck out to me was "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" God just started showing me that I have bought into the lie that there are promises that He has made that He won't fulfill because they are too big or difficult. I heard God say to me "The promises that I make are not made to be broken. Trusting in those promises...trusting in me...is not a waste of time. I will fulfill what I have promised. Don't believe the enemy when he says that your trust in me is in vain. Don't let circumstances tell you that something is too big for me. Trust in me and in my promises. I will not fail you...I will not forget about you. Don't let fear keep you from partaking of the blessings and promises that I have given you and that I want to give you. I did not create you to live in fear."
Then God spoke to me while we were singing "How Great is our God". He just kept saying to me over and over again "I am good. Trust me. I love you." There was a battle going on inside me between the truth of how good and loving God is and the fear that I had been walking in. I was afraid to give God the guard I had up. I was afraid to let it go and just let God be the protector of my heart and lover of my soul. But God just gently kept reminding me that He is good and loving and trustworthy. God won that one :)
So, then there was this song about victory and God showed me that I was hanging my head in defeat...that I was walking and living like a person who had been defeated and He totally called me on that. He showed me that I am not defeated because I am in Him and He cannot be defeated...He is victorius! He told me to lift my head in triumph and in victory because He is my victorius warrior! I am not defeated...Satan cannot overcome me, he cannot have victory over me because I am God's!!
Last but not least: God totally just filled me up with His love tonight...I seriously felt this physical sensation of being filled when I finally gave God permission to break the guard that I had over my heart...it was really cool (but kind of weird...lol).
I choose to stand in what I know is true, even if I can't see it...I choose to stand in truth and I know that I can trust God to lead me to a place where I can see that truth more clearly. I will no longer stand in defeat or fear...I will instead stand in God's love, in victory, and in the confidence/authority I have in Christ.
So can I just say that I love that even in our disobedience, defiance, stubborness, and fear God doesn't give up on us!?!?! God thank you so much for being relentless when it comes to our hearts, when it comes to us. You won't relent until you have us...all of us...Abba you are so wonderful! He didn't give up on me...He kept fighting for me...He kept pursuing me...He kept loving me (and He will continue to do so until He has every bit of us). He doesn't change even when we do...He doesn't stop loving us even when we push Him away...oh man...I don't think I'll ever be able to wrap my mind around this...it's so powerful and so beyond anything I can understand...yet I know it's true and I believe it. Wow!
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I was reading through a book called Hope in the Dark...it's a book with photographs and reflections/stories from the author's trip to Africa. A lot of the pictures/reflections struck me, but nothing pierced my heart like the following:

"We know that Americans pity Africans," he told me. "But sometimes I think Africans pity Americans."
"How so?" I asked him.
"Americans seem to expect that everything will be provided for them. For us," he said, "this ear of corn is a gift from God. This evening's rain is a shower of mercy upon us. This healthy breath is life giving. And, maybe tomorrow we will not have such things, but our hearts are so full from God's provision."

As much as I appreciate all that I've been given, sometimes I despise the fact that I was born into a society where we think we deserve all we've been given and therefore believe that it will always be there. We think we have this entitlement to whatever we want and need, but thinking in such a way makes it so much harder for us to see God in everything. We take so much for granted. Yeah we thank God for our meals (if we remember to pray and "bless" our food before we eat). And when we need something really big and God provides, we thank God and give Him the glory (unless we somehow think it's because of something we did...then God doesn't even get any acknowledgment for what He did).
When was the last time you or I genuinely thanked God for the breaths we take, for the clean water we have to drink, for the fact that we have heat, for the rain (or snow), for the beauty that is around us in His creation (you know the trees, the sky, the things that we often overlook...the things that should cause us to be in awe of our Creator), for the food in the DC? When was the last time that you or I took time to realize that the only way that we have those things is by the grace and mercy of God? I know that it's been awhile for me.
So, I'm praying a dangerous prayer...I'm praying that God will awaken our hearts to His provision, that He will humble me so that I can see how dependent I am upon Him and His love/grace/mercy, that He will change my heart and make it one of thankfulness rather than one of entitlement...God is so good and I pray that those of us who have been given so much will begin to see His goodness in the smallest things...that it will become more and more apparent how much we need Him everyday, every minute, every second.
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So I know I haven't updated like at all this summer...sorry about that. This summer has been good and I've grown a lot, which is never bad :) God has taught me a ton about, well, a ton...lol. I've been some great relationships and I've had a great time (for the most part). I am definitely ready to be done for the summer, but I'm not ready to leave everyone. I've been a bit of a mess today. Pretty much everything makes me want to cry. I am sad to leave everyone...I've kind of distanced myself from people today and yesterday. I don't know if it's a good thing or bad...I mean you all know me well enough that you know that I need a bit of "me" time to process/deal with newness (is that even a word?) in my life. So, it's good on some level because I need that, but I think it's partially because I think it will make it easier to say goodbye...I know it won't make it easier. I love these people and I will miss them...so pray for me as I move on from camp life into real life/school life. I need prayer for strength as I go back to not being in a Christian community...back to not really knowing anyone and all that jazz that goes along with being home. Don't get me wrong I'm super excited to see family and friends, but being home is usually hard just because I don't feel like I have a big, supportive, Christian community there. I need your prayers and your support from afar family. I love you guys...see some of you soon :)
Current Mood:
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What Your Soul Really Looks Like

You are very passionate and quite temperamental. While you can be moody, you always crave comfort.

You are a grounded person, but you also leave room for imagination and dreams. You feet may be on the ground, but you're head is in the clouds.

You believe that people see you as larger than life and important. While this is true, they also think you're a bit full of yourself.

Your near future is still unknown, and a little scary. You'll get through wild times - and you'll textually enjoy it.

For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.

Your Gemstone is Amethyst

Dignified, impressive, and wise.
You have a deeply spiritual soul

You Are Fall!

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Hey friends :) So...I leave for camp in about 8 hours! I am so excited! But I'm also nervous...new job, more responsibility, new people...you know, all that good stuff. I would definitely love your prayers and thoughts throughout the summer :) I would love any emails or snail mail you'd like to send me too :) I won't be able to check LJ, MySpace, or Facebook very often (if at all) so those are the best two ways to get ahold of me.

Email Address: sweetheart18_227@hotmail.com
Snail Mail:
Staci Schoonover
Spring Hill Camp 44
P.O. Box 637
Evart, MI 49631

You will all be in my thoughts and prayers all summer and I trust that God will keep you all safely in His embrace until we are in each other's company again :) Don't hesitate to get ahold of me if you need anything (or if you just want to talk).I love you all very much :)

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I stole this from somebody's MySpace because I thought it was so amazing...so read on :)

One Flaw of Women

Women have strengths that amaze men. They bear hardships and they carry burdens, but they hold happiness, love, and joy. They smile when they want to scream. They sing when they want to cry. They cry when they are happy, and laugh when they are nervous. They fight for what they believe in. They stand up for injustice. They don't take "no" for an answer when they believe there is a better solution. They go without so their family can have. They go to the doctor with a frightened friend. They love unconditionally. They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends get awards. They are happy when they hear about a birth or wedding. Their heart breaks when a friend dies. They grieve at the loss of a family member, yet they are strong when they think there is no strength left. They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart. Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They'll drive, fly, walk, run, or email you to show how much they care about you. The heart of a woman is what makes the world keep turning. They bring joy, hope, and love. They have compassion and ideas. They give moral support to their family and friends. Women have vital things to say and everything to give.
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Two weeks ago, I had some major spiritual breakthroughs and for some reason I feel compelled to share them with all of you :) Some people prayed over me and a couple of things came up: 1. a spirit of depression that needed to be replaced by the joy of the Lord and 2. that God would restore the childhood that was ripped away from me, by giving me the freedom to come before Him in a childlike way. The first time these two things came up, I wasn't sure what to think because I didn't feel like I was depressed...I mean I hadn't really been myself, but I thought "me? depressed? I need to act more like a child? nope. sorry. you've got the wrong girl." The second time that it came up, it got my attention more because the person praying for me was different than the one who prayed for me the first time. Then when the third person started praying and these things came up, that's when I was sure it was a God thing...I know, I know...it takes me awhile sometimes...lol.

The change since then has been so amazing! I didn't know how down and not myself I was until I was back to being the joyful, childlike woman that God wants me to be. I'm not going to lie, I didn't have a lot of faith that the change would last or that it was even for real...I kind of thought it was all in my head. But despite my lack of faith it is sticking! Satan has been trying to steal my joy by throwing some really sucky situations my way and then trying to lie to me by telling me that any anger and hurt that the situations might bring up can't be present if I'm really walking in the joy of the Lord...but guess what, he's wrong! I'm still walking in that joy. I'm learning that I need to walk in the joy of the Lord (and that I can walk in the joy of the Lord) while I'm allowing myself to feel anger and hurt.

And then you've got the whole being childlike aspect of this whole thing...I'll tell you what, the world looks like a different place. I get distracted by the wonder and amazement I feel toward God and the beautiful creation around me on a regular basis. I do goofy stuff just because it makes me (or someone else smile) and sometimes I don't even realize I'm doing it! For instance, last night I was making a smoothie and all of a sudden my mom asked me if I had to go to the bathroom. I laughed and asked her why she thought that, and she said "well you were doing a little dance while you were making your smoothie"...lol. I didn't even realize I was doing it :) It's like I'm seeing the world for the first time...it's like I'm a kid again (in a good way...lol) Not only am I more childlike in that way, but my faith is more childlike and I'm curious about life again. I ask a lot of questions (sometimes too many maybe...lol) I just want to understand the things that I can, but I'm ok with not understanding some things too. It's an incredible way to live!

Also, one of the things that God restored to me was the desire that every girl has to be a princess (wear pretty skirts and be girly especially). I've worn skirts 5 or 6 days in the last two weeks and...I even twirled in my skirts a couple of times :) I was afraid I'd feel foolish twirling in a skirt because it's kind of nonsense, but I didn't at all...it was actually pretty fun and made me smile:) I'm allowed a little nonsense sometimes...I don't have to take everything (and everyone, including myself) so stinkin' seriously all the time...I don't have to analyze things...things are way more simple than I make them. And the cool thing is that I'm finally realizing those things!
Current Mood:
ecstatic Pretty Dang Happy :)
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The Part of You That No One Sees

You are passionate, romantic, and emotional.
You put love first in your life, even though you have often been disappointed by it.
You expect to be swept of your feet, and you never expect infatuation to die out.

Underneath it all, you are scared that you aren't lovable.
Your insecurity has ruined many relationships, as you are unable to see the love that's really there.
You are secretly afraid of being alone. Confronting your insecurities is incredibly painful.
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So...I kind of fell for a boy who fell for someone else. I was hoping something would happen between me and this boy, but I didn't expect it. That's a huge deal...in the past I have had a hard time really finding that balance. I've been journaling like crazy lately and it's been really good. God showed me a lot of really cool stuff. Ron made me think about the first one. He told me that no matter what happened, God used this boy to draw my heart away from Rich (which was needed). I needed to back away from Rich, and then this boy came along. Also, I realized last night that this whole him liking someone else thing is an answer to prayer. I prayed (from the day that I realized I had feelings for him) that God would protect my heart in this situation and that His will would prevail. I thought protecting my heart meant that if this wasn't meant to be I wouldn't want it anymore or that it would be meant to be. But God chose to do it some other way. He protected my heart way more than I could imagine. If this boy would have said he had feelings for me, we would have dated and if we aren't meant to be then all that would come for both of us is a bunch of hurt. So, instead of God giving me this little desire of my heart, He protected my heart by preventing the hurt of a relationship ending. How cool is that? Another thing God showed me is that he used this situation to bring up some of my biggest hurts/lies/insecurities I've adopted into my identity. This brought up the whole idea of "of course he would like her instead of me...why should I be surprised? I'm not good enough for him" along with some other stuff. Without this situation, I might not have dealt with this. I've had some good Jesus time...some good crying...the start to some healing. And I can say something that I never thought I'd say. My beauty and my worth is not based upon whether someone else can see that. It's there even if nobody ever sees it. I know that there are people who do see it, but if nobody did it wouldn't make it go away. Who I am...the beauty I was created in...the beauty I am meant to walk in...the worth of my heart is not contingent on other people seeing it. I need to be confident in that even if I don't feel like anyone sees it. So...God used this situation to reveal/work on some stuff in me. It's so cool how God can take a situation and use in a way that I would never imagine. I guess that's why He's God and I'm not :) The fact that I can say I'm really ok is huge...the fact that I've grasped that my worth/beauty is not based upon whether people see it is huge...and Satan is going to try to undo this. He'll try to snatch it away...I'm going to need your help to hold onto it. So that's where I'm at right now...sorry for such a long post. But if you read it all, I want to say thanks and just ask you to walk with me in this truth. I'm not going to say I'm not fragile or raw...because I am. But I am ok and I'll be ok and God is doing amazing things in my fragility and brokenness. I choose to stand in the truth! Love you guys :)
Current Mood:
happy Loved by my Abba
Current Music:
It is Well With my Soul by Selah
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