Check back for updates on my trip to the UK and the amazing things God is doing in the city!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Here it is....

Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Part of this stemmed from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and part of it from genetics and the fact that my brain wasn't producing enough serotonin. I struggled with insomnia, night terrors, panic attacks, and a feeling of anxiety all the time. There were days when I couldn't get out of bed. It's effected relationships I've been in and my ability to function at work. It's been embarrassing at times. I've been on and off medications. Twice I've weened myself off the medication and prayed for healing. Twice I've had to go back on it.

God brought so much freedom over the course of the two weeks I was in the UK. God is so good! Here's my story:

Belfast was amazing! I met so many amazing people and it was so moving to finally see, first hand, the things God has been stirring my heart for. It was surreal to stand next to the peace walls. It was heartbreaking to see the division and denial. I got to pray for two men who are planting a church in West Belfast. (The worst and most dangerous part of Belfast.) This happens to be the area that stirs my heart the most. I cried and prayed and shared my heart for this broken city. It was encouraging to hear their heart for that area. I also got to pray for two young girls (just out of high school). As I was praying for them, my heart started to break. I wept. I could sense the desperation in their hearts. I wanted so badly to hear their story and to know more about them. I knew, however, that they probably wouldn't want to open up too much since I just met them and I wasn't even from that area. As soon as the pastor that was praying with me left, I started to say my goodbyes and they pulled me back and started pouring into me. They told me their story of heartache, pain, division, and hope. My heart broke...even more than it already had. These two beautiful sisters had been through so much and yet had so much hope for a better future. They wanted nothing more than to flee this culture of bitterness, pride and brokenness. I began to wonder how many other young women feel the same way. I wondered how many young women live with this and feel so alone. Towards the end of our conversation, I really wanted to ask for their information so we could keep in touch, but then thought that might be kind of weird since I live in another country and we'd just met. Again, I started saying my goodbyes and one of them asked for my information and said that they would both love to keep in touch!

There's a lot I learned on this trip, but one thing that was really influential was at one of the conferences when Jay said, "The encouraging thing about ministry is that we can't mess it up. If God wants to use us, He'll use us and there's nothing we can do to mess it up." There is so much freedom in that! Even if we say something a bit "off" or forget to say anything at all, God has a way of using these things and making them His. Here was a moment that I could have missed because I dismissed it as "well, I'm not from here and they might think that's weird." God, in turn, used these girls to show me that I really can't mess it up. And, sometimes, all you need to do is just listen. Sometimes God uses our ears and our hearts without ever requesting the use of our mouths. That was a stark realization for me since I love to talk. Humbling to say the least.

We spent only two short days in Belfast and then left for Coleriane, Northern Ireland (Causeway Coast). We put on a leadership conference at the Causeway Coast Vineyard. We participated in "Healing on The Streets" where they set up chairs in the center of town and offer to pray for people. We also handed out free tea and coffee and provided free face painting. I got to pray for a man who used to be in the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and is now a police officer in Northern Ireland. It was incredible to hear his story and all he's been through and seen. We also spent two days gutting out the new church office building. We spent a lot of time cleaning, painting, and finding a lot of random things through the process.

On our walk home, I found a note folded up on the ground. I thought, "Oooo. That would be fun to read." But walked on. The next morning, the note was still there, so I picked it up. It was from a man who was writing to his girlfriend or wife. He was apologizing and asking for forgiveness. He told her how he wants to be a better man. How he doesn't want to beat her anymore....and on and on. It was a moving letter. I wondered if she ever got it. If he dropped it or if she dropped it or if it was intentionally tossed.

The last couple of days we were in Coleraine, we put on a leadership conference for the church. The second night of the conference, I found myself getting rocked by every word that Jay spoke. He spoke about depression. He spoke about pain. He spoke about freedom. I was so overwhelmed and all I could think to do was to stuff it down and deal with it later. I was there to pray for people. I convinced myself that praying for people needed to be my focus. I prayed for a few people and sat down to soak in the last bit of worship/ministry time. A friend of mine on our team came over to me and asked if she could pray for me. As soon as she started praying, I broke down. I realized that I can't just choose when to "deal with" what God is stirring in my heart. When He wants to do something, He'll do it. Not matter where I am or what I'm doing. I had been feeling depressed all day that day. I had been having anxiety about the different things we had on our agenda. (For no reason in particular.) I felt numb and empty. I was broken. I was suddenly very aware of how much I say, "I don't have time for this. I'll deal with it later." I was suddenly very aware of how unhealthy that is. How painful that is. I missed our late-night pub outreach that night. I was so rocked and didn't know how to begin wrapping my head around what was happening. I was exhausted.

From Coleriane, we traveled to Harrogate, England (by way of Bus, Ferry, and Train through Scottland...with a 50lb back pack) for the New Wine Leadership Conference. THAT was an experience...and a LONG day. We made it to Harrogate just in time to have a quick bite to eat and head to the first session of the conference. Whew. But, HEY, I got to see Scotland! Beautiful country!

On May 18th, I arrived for the second evening of the New Wine Leadership Conference. I was feeling pretty worn down and a bit fatigued. The session started with a lady from the Salvation Army who was speaking about prayer. She had everyone take a moment to wait on the Lord and ask Him for words of affirmation for themselves. Then, she had us all speak out those things over ourselves. As this was happening, I was wanting to badly to hear the Lord. I was so desperate for His voice. For his presence. And, yet, I felt nothing. I heard nothing. I looked around and saw people worshiping and proclaiming these things and shouting with joy. I felt nothing. I felt numb. I was suddenly very aware of how joyless I'd been. I felt such desperation in that place. I wanted what these people had. I didn't understand why I didn't have it. Then, the lady asked us to ask the Lord for words of affirmation and encouragement for our church. She then asked us to get in groups of three and pray for our church. I staggered over to two girls on our team as we began to pray. Each proclaiming things over our church. They looked to me and said, "Ok Tia. Your turn. Do you have anything you'd like to proclaim over the church/pray for over the church?" I broke. I started weeping. I told them I had nothing. I was empty. I felt useless. I couldn't hold it in any longer. We went into the hallway to pray for quite some time. I expressed how frustrated I was and how much I wanted to experience all that God has for me. I told them how I'd gotten prayer for the anxiety for years and nothing has happened. It's seemed that it's only gotten worse. One of the girls got a picture for me. She said she saw a bunch of people jumping on trampolines and I was saying, "I want to join them! I want to play!" (which is so totally me) Then God said, "I have wings for you. Wait for the wings. Trust me, you want the wings." WOW. That sobered me a bit.

We then went back into the auditorium where the speaker was just finishing up. He asked leaders to come forward for prayer who had been struggling with doubt. I was convicted in the fact that I doubted God's ability to heal me. I doubted God's power and provision in my life. I went forward, fell on my knees and wept. A woman came and laid her hand on me and began to pray. I began heaving as if I were throwing up. I realize now, that this was merely spiritual darkness coming out. I didn't quite understand what was happening.

I couldn't hear what the woman was saying until she leaned in closer to my ear and said, "You're delivered."

Then she was gone.

At that moment, I felt a heaviness lifted off of me. I felt a freedom I've never felt before.

Then...I burst out laughing.

I was weeping and laughing...which felt a bit odd since everyone around me was weeping and I'm cracking up. I was so filled with Joy. They Holy Spirit fell on me and I knew something big had happened. Even still, I sat up and started to doubt. I thought to myself, "What's going on? Is this the Lord? Is this just me trying to make something happen? Have I been healed?" Then I started feeling anxiety. I started hyperventilating. My hands started getting tingly. I was having a full blown panic attack right there. The laughing stopped. I started weeping. I couldn't breathe. I didn't know what was going on.

Then, as quickly as a flame goes out with a abruptly stopped.

I heard a still small voice say, "It is finished."

It was in that moment, I knew I'd been healed.

I, again, was immediately filled with joy and could not stop laughing. It was joy like I've never experienced before. I didn't know what to do with myself. 9 years of anxiety and depression and it's over just like that. GOD IS GOOD!!

Now, you remember this all started with the words of affirmation thing? Well, this lady (whom I'd never met before in my life) came up to me as I was sitting there. At this point, I'm laughing and crying and my jaw is shuttering like crazy. This lady said, "I have a word for you! Can I tell you?!" Of course I said yes. She continued to say, "I saw you from across the room and I heard God say that He is going to give you prophetic gifting for the lost generation. You are called to work with youth. God wants you to know this is real. The reason your mouth is shuttering is because you have encouraging words for the youth and those words need to come out."


I'm still processing this. Wow. God is good. He is faithful!

I was on cloud 9 the rest of the night. A friend of mine on the trip said I looked like I was high. Ha! I honestly haven't been the same since.

The rest of the trip was amazing! I survived my first solo trip on the underground. I got to see a lot of London. I met so many amazing people. The people we stayed with treated us like we were their own daughters. They were so wonderful!

Now I'm back and still processing all that happened and all that lies before me now. It's bitter sweet being back. Reality always hits hard, but things look different now. I can sleep. I can breathe. I can process. God is good!!