To see like You

The Summer of 2006. I had finished 2 tracks of the Fire In the Night internship at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and made the decision to move there and go on staff with the ministry. However, my parents were in need of help around their property that summer, so I headed back to the Omaha area to work a summer job and to be with my family. 

During those few short months I sought to serve the church that they were attending, and the greatest need that they had over the summer was for someone to lead the Wednesday night Children’s program. Insert 19 year old, vivacious, passionate me and about 10 children ranging in age from 6 -12. It was an interesting program.

We played games, had snacks, and in the simplest way that I could communicate, we talked about prayer, lifestyles based in the bible, radical devotion to Christ, and had a prayer and worship time every week. All that I can say about the short time that I spent with those children is that every single one of us was on a fast-track to collide with God that summer. He had all of us set up to meet Him, together. All that they needed was for someone to tell them that He wanted to speak to them for them to utterly believe it, and all that I needed was to see it happen in the lives of children, for me to believe it.

And we all did. They began to have powerful dreams where the Lord revealed His word in prophetic images that only an 8 year old would understand. They began to really fellowship with the Holy Spirit and learn to be His friend, and to let Him be their friend. They began to truly receive burdens from the Lord in the place of prayer, in ways that I never could have imparted to them, or convinced them to care and feel about. It changed my life in the most powerful way. 

Among that group of children were 3 siblings whose family had recently moved back to the area after spending some time in the South where their father was a part of the massive clean up project left from Hurricane Katrina. During that time the family had regularly attending the Ramp and the parents were being very impacted by the ministry, as well as the children. They arrived in my Wednesday night group, Hungry to meet with God and were SUCH an encouragement to my heart!

Over the years I tried to stay in touch with the family, visiting them when I was in town and giving time in phone calls every few months. My heart was knit together with the parents and just in love with the 3 children. Since then the family has relocated to KC and now, they are no longer children. The oldest recently enlisted with the Navy, the youngest is taller than me and can drive, and I can’t fathom how that’s even possible. 

This week I took the mom and daughter, Lucy and Emily, to one of my favorite local joints – an all natural snow cone place called Little Freshie. It was my first real connect with them in over 3 years and we all soaked up the time. At one point, Lucy looked at me with tears in her eyes and began to tell me how that summer had affected their family. It’s amazing to me when I look back and see myself, so weak, so young, and with so little knowledge of things that I was saying, and see how God used me and my weak messages. He is so faithful to us! All three of us cried and I listened in wonder. When she was done Emily looked at me and said,

Nobody saw us the way that you did. Nobody believed in us like you. And that meant so much, it changed us. Thank you for believing in us.

Those words have rung in my ears all week. The unfortunate truth is that I’ve been in youth ministry long enough to learn how to peg teens early on, label them in my mind, treat them through that label, and at times, write them off. Not all the time, and not dramatically. I love teens and I love youth ministry, but it happens internally and I have felt it at times, and felt the effect of it in the way that I minister. Honestly, it hinders the love of God flowing through me. I’ve been so moved this week considering that statement, repenting to the Lord for the times that I can remember where I chose not to see a teenager or young adult the way that God does, I chose not to hope all things for them, not to believe all things, not to believe IN them. 

I want to be a woman who loves like the Father, a friend who loves like the Father, a youth minister who loves like the Father. And this week I’ve been praying this over my heart, over the youth ministries in KC and in America, and over the Pastors of the church of America.  I’ve been praying that the Lord would raise up Shepherds who would look at the flock the way that Jesus does, to see the people as the Bride of Christ. To see the youth who are floundering in this nation, and to be moved with compassion. To believe in them. 

“Nobody saw us the way that you did.” I am thankful for that powerful testimony from my teens, but I want to always see like Jesus.

Moment of Truth

The truth is, I record music all the time.

The truth is, my beautiful blue guitar? Yeah it has a hole in the side. Yeah my bridge is uneven and it has a TEEEERRRRIBLE buzzing noise. And my guitar skilz are still lacking in every way. But I love it.

And pretty much, I’m broke all the time. So no I do not have any sort of recording program on my lappy, and I have yet to purchase one of these darling mic’s.

But none of this is stopping me. So for all those people who have asked me the question and had me completely avoid an answer, Yes. I do think about recording a cd someday (thank you Emily Collier). When and what that looks like I have absolutely no idea. The lack of maintaining calluses on my fingertips is testimony enough that I know it wont be soon, but until then I steward the little moments of glory with the Lord by *moment of truth* the sound recorder on windows. Yeah it’s terrible, but it does the job. And someday I want to put some of those little song starts together.

Last week I handed my in-ears to my brother in Virginia and walked away. I’ve not been a ‘Singer’ by vocation for two years, and currently have no hope of getting back into the house of prayer in that capacity. But I was born into the prayer movement in a baby HOP and they continually call me back. Five years from now I may find myself in the country in some state leading worship 7 days a week, dreaming about the racing schedule I lived by in Kansas City and wishing I had SOMETHING else to do and SOMEWHERE to get good coffee. But for now I fly through my days and stay up late to sing.

Let me tell you friends, Jesus sings in the night.

Armed with tears

Tonight I went to a fundraiser for a campaign that Youth With A Mission is doing in Grandview MO this upcoming fall. Mark Anderson is one of my hero’s in the missions movement and I was so excited to hear him speak.  Also I was excited for the desserts. Just being honest.

I was expecting a night of vision casting, lots of details, ramped up emotions and to leave full of sugar and excitement for this plan to take off! I was not expecting a swarm of conviction. A card sitting in front of me on the table, accusing me with it’s gentle color’s and bold font “What is it worth to you?” . Hearing the plan for my city and finding in my heart there was little to no excitement, and instead a significant amount of reluctance, knowing just how much would be required of me. And not sure I wanted to give it.

You see I feel, a whole lot, about the youth of the “Nations”.  I have a significant amount of emotion related to the “youth of THIS Nation”. But when Mark Anderson himself talks about the first season of his marriage including lots of young adults living in his apartment because they’d gotten saved and kicked out of their homes….. I suddenly don’t like it. I like the idea of kids living in my home …. when it’s an apartment somewhere in another country  and not my actual little living room. I’m in near daily struggles with my housemates over my desire for our shared living spaces to be kept cleaned and uncluttered. Add 4 young adults to the mix, all of us sharing one bathroom, and I don’t like it. Not when it’s this house. Not when it’s this bathroom. Not when it’s in America and not my dream world as a real missionary in some other country.

This talk about preparing my home to be a disciplining center by the fall? I didn’t really like the sound of that either. Add into that my need to be evangelizing my neighbors, yeah, that struck a nerve too. Trust me I noticed my growing dread and was concerned. Right about the time when I was wondering if I am saved Mark made a statement about “the Church that doesn’t share the gospel” and their need to actually get saved. That struck a different nerve.

Then he told a story about Brazil and a tour that he didn’t want to do there. Long story short he finds himself convinced by the Lord and one passionate  23 yr. old intern, in the city to meet with the Pastor asking for World Impact to come. All of the plans had fallen through; the money, church backing, and venue. The pastor was discouraged and Mark couldn’t understand WHAT he was doing there and what God wanted to do, until that night. He & the intern were pacing their hotel room praying and as the sun set he stopped at the window of their 12th floor room to look down on the city.

On the sidewalk below he noticed many children (typical for latin america) but quickly saw that something was different. Instead of boisterous laughter and the scampering play that he should have seen in a group of children still outside at sunset, they were all standing, with a few feet between them on the sidewalk. Little boys and little girls. Cars began to pull up and one by one take them away. Some of the cars just stayed there. Little boys and little girls in open forced prostitution. “My heart broke and suddenly I knew why God wanted us there, it was about them. It was about the youth.”

I cried for a minute right there over my hard heart, and for that minute I could hear nothing but Mark’s voice saying that, “it was about them”. Card on the table staring me in the face “What’s it worth to you?”. One of the other youth leaders and I spent a moment praying together and discussed it on the way home. She empathized with my emotions and we talked a little of the conviction we felt and our renewed commitment to the youth of this city.

Less than ten minutes after walking through the front door my phone rang. Both of my parents were on the phone and my father was quick to assure me that they were ok. But my mentors were not. A couple who I consider spiritual parents back home live in a very bad part of town. This afternoon around 3pm Mike got home, walked into the kitchen and noticed someone in his driveway waving for him to come outside and calling for a cell phone. Seeing someone on the ground he thought they’d fallen in the ice and quickly ran outside to find a 14 year old boy, shot in the head and stomach, lying in his driveway. Mike put his hand on the boy’s chest, and right there he died.

Mike and Lucy have three children, 16, 14 & 12. I’m so thankful that Lucy and the kids weren’t home this afternoon, but at 10pm Mike still had not been able to leave the house and his responses to my messages were full of pain. They are intercessor’s, saints, friends of God and full of compassion. I hate the thought of how he will not sleep tonight, and the fear that Lucy is going to fight for their children.

I tell you, sometimes the only weapons we have to fight with are tears. And they wage a strong kind of warfare! It is time to stop longing for the nations and ignoring my neighbors. That You would have a bride out of every tribe and tongue, even my own Lord. Watching one of the WIT video’s tonight I heard a latino woman say “I can not thank you for what you have done, what you have brought to my people.” My people, I thought, Lord I hardly have a thought for my people. Father make Americans my people. More than Latino’s, more than Romanian’s, make American’s my people.

Tonight I made a cake. While praying for my friends and crying for that 14 year old boy who is now before the Judgement seat I whipped up some cream cheese frosting. Before going to bed I covered it in red sprinkles, because sprinkles are just a little bit more happy than plain icing, and tomorrow morning I’m going to need something happy. Yup, I’ll probably eat that cake for breakfast on a fasting day.

Tonight I am not armed with eloquent intercession. Tonight I come before the throne of Grace with only gentle tears to offer. Come and move on behalf of my people Lord, send Revival to America, send Revival to Omaha, send Revival to Glenwood, send Revival to California, and send revival to South Kansas City. And send Revival to my own heart.

Full of Family

Half of the Collier clan was in town for the weekend. This morning I woke early and made pancakes for them, Danika joined us and the two of us sent them off to early service, took naps and woke in time to pour cups of coffee and run out the door for the Youth service. Mike had agreed to bring the kids and come to Youth with me after they got out of church, and I was as excited as if my own family had come with me. Afterwards they took me to an Indian restaurant for lunch where I was mostly excited about the true Indian Masala Chai. It will never cease to amaze me how blessed I am simply by time with this amazing family.

Fast forward 7 hours. Katrina and I find ourselves in the familiar Roberts kitchen with a large clan of people, eating fresh just-killed-yesterday venison, talking and laughing with all the kiddos (this is a photo of me busting into Charlotte & Olivia’s facebook photo fun) and adding to the general chaos.  Hours later, I’m confessing stories from last spring when I stayed with the kids while Stephanie & Brad were in Lakeland and the girls are roaring, arguing over details of the stories. My heart was filled by their screaming.

On Wednesday my grandparents are arriving from Texas to spending the holiday with us, followed a few hours later with my parents oldest brother. This thanksgiving we will host the most people to ever fit into this house, and it will be gloriously flavored with my grandfather’s mexican laughter, and my grandmother’s fiesty smile. I will be singing a set on Thanksgiving and am so excited to have them in the room and praying the Lord will touch them with His presence. Our dream is that they will stay a few days, and maybe JUUST maybe we’ll be able to carve out some time for making Tamales with my grandfather.

To be cool like David Pawson I’m not going to tell you where, but  (insert sweet old man British accent) in the book of Philippians (exit accent) Paul says that his joy is made complete when the body of Christ is like-minded, and loving one another. I think that’s when my joy is complete too. The Lord is renewing the hearts of the body in this city, and I’m loving being with people more than I have at any other point of my 4 years here because our heats are unified and in love with Him. We can’t quit talking about Him, can’t quit sharing the stories of what He is doing in our lives and in each other’s lives and I love it. My heart is growing more and more tender, feeling more affection and love for the people around me as I see the love of Christ Jesus blooming inside of them and making them new.

Jesus wants a bride, His father wants sons and daughters, and my heart too is full of the love and fellowship of family. Thank You for love Jesus!

All my little sisters

I’m the youngest of four. When I was very young I would plead with my mom to have more children and somewhere around the age of 8 she explained to me “Daddy and I…..can’t….have more babies.” That was the day I began to try and convince my parents to adopt.

I’ve been adopting for as long as I can remember. Sometimes because a younger boy or girl would work their way into my heart so intimately I would call them my own, sometimes because I knew the lost always need a home.  At 10 I told my mother that all of the orphans of Europe would be mine and I still believe it.

The Lord has blessed me with some  GREAT younger brothers but today I’m thinking about my sisters.

I met Natalie 4 years ago, she was 15 and drop dead gorgeous. I remember God telling me that she knew how to love well before I knew almost anything about her.  Nat is #4 of 13 kids and the oldest girl. She lays her life down day after day after day serving her parents and siblings. Ive watched her sit at a piano and usher the presence of the Lord into that massive house with her worship. Now she’s 19, still beautiful and one of my dearest friends. I’m thankful for the joy that explodes from her being and the way she teaches me to serve.

The first time I saw Annie she walked into TheCall house to attend our staff meeting and I knew 2 things: 1)She was very nervous and 2)I liked her. She worked her butt off volunteering for TheCall DC and TheCall CA, and I’m pretty sure we could have gotten in trouble with child labor laws, except she did it all out of love. That and she bakes a mean coconut cake! Annie spent the last year as my “late night friend”, joining in on nearly every one of my midnight urges to get icecream, or be ridiculous. I love the way I can startle her into laughter and how her hands move when she’s nervous. She is one of the classiest college freshman’s I’ve ever seen and her deep desire to dwell in the heart of Jesus inspires me daily.

But today, today I’m really thinking about Emily. Looong, brown hair, big dark brown eyes, I met Em 2 days after her family moved back from AL where she’d spent a year at The Ramp, and she just drank up the presence of God. She was 9, I had just done my internship at IHOP and she watched me like she could see into the depths of my soul. I learned healthy fear that summer, it drove me to spend very intentional, long times with Jesus from the fear that I wouldn’t know Him more than her. I came before the children of the church with real fear that I didn’t know Him enough to offer them anything.

Emily would watch me worship and dance beside me. Most often she could be found sitting at the altar of church with her eyes closed, just listening for the voice of the God who she loves. Sunday mornings I would come to church before the early morning prayer meeting and she would greet me at the door, wrap her arms around my waist and stay that way for an hour – wherever I went she’d just walk with me, arms around me listening to whatever I had to say or just sitting next to me.

One of the last conversations we had before I moved back to Kansas city went something like this,

Ms.Chris, when you record a cd can I have the first copy and will you sign it?

I don’t think I’m ever going to make a cd Em.

(insert pause as she considers this.)

Well, when you record a cd can I have the first copy and will you sign it?

I’d never met anyone who believed in me with such admiration and affection. She did ATC this summer and I literally couldn’t believe she was 13, so grown up, so beautiful and she still had that look that put the fear of God into me. All week she has been in KC and tonight sat by me during the renewal service, eyes closed just listening, and I followed her example. She leaned over at one point, laid her head on my shoulder and stayed there for about an hour as i quietly prayed over her, for the love of God to dwell in her heart.

My heart burns for young people to encounter God. I love children, I love teenagers and I will lay down my life for them to know the Lord of all Creation and be His friend. If living my life boldly before the eyes of God, doing everything out of the love for Him and giving everything inside of me to see revival come and the holiness of the Lord branded on the hearts of a generation will help to give them entrance into His heart than I will do it! I want to always live in a way that encourages them to love Him with everything. I want to burn with holy fire so that they can burn with holy fire. Amen!

After a Looooong week away for KC

Today some comrades with TheCall came into town, tomorrow they will be ministering at Victory Fellowship in Council Bluffs IA. I am blessed to have them here and am anticipating something good for the service tomorrow. Afterwards is lunch with the family, then back to KC……that is if my clutch stops slipping and my papa lets me drive the car….Lord fix my car.

I once had a hunter green, pontiac bonneville. That’s not true. I twice had hunter green, pontiac bonnevilles. When the first one died my papa got me another with a salvage title, the 2nd was better than the first; leater interior, sunroof, electric everything, and golden hub caps…ouw ouw! Anyway, about the first……it began to die in a rather weird way. As I would be driving it would begin to sputter and shake, making the oddest noises and jerking in the most terrible way. I told my papa about it a couple of times but of course, it never acted up when HE drove it. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe me, just that he didn’t know what to do or what was wrong since it was perfectly fine when he would drive it. For roughly 6 months I drove it like this. Crazy, but it get’s worse. Our house was at least a half an hour drive from the city, 45 minutes from anywhere important. Part of that drive was in the hills and there was no cell phone reception. Those 6 months I learned to pray without ceasing.

While on a missions trip out of the country my brother nate had to drive my car; he made it a block before coming home and declaring it was never to leave the driveway so my dad took it for a spin and FINALLY it acted up. My mom said he cried.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that I don’t mind interceding for my car as I drive. Let’s pray I make it KC tomorrow shall we?

This was an extremely encouraging trip in SO many ways. Every meeting was sovereign, with the Helper stirring within me and leading me in how to speak, but for my own heart, thursday night with the LeColst, and the Colliers was the most beneficial. Tonight we all had dinner and a time of prayer at Pastor Lonnies, andit was a sweet time with the Lord.

Monday Life begins again! Full speed ahead with our eyes set on August 16th and theCall……come and have Your way o Lord, do what only You can do, have mercy on America.

“Isn’t He wonderful isn’t He holy?

He is the one I love isn’t He lovely ” – the waking song for today

Another day of meetings today – every sing one has been great! I have been encouraged and used to encourage in each meeting. My heart is so thankful for the Spirit of God living in me, for the way He speaks and moves among us- it’s so good! This church of this region is going through so much transition, but the hearts that I keep encountering are saying the same thing; they are willing to trust Him, & want Him to come. That is the only response.

All day long we talked about the rains coming, the movement of God that is just on the horizon. Tonight while meeting with the Colliers it began to massively storm. I just laughed. Yes, come like You promised, come to America again – fire, rain, wind and wine – we just want You to come