Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Five - Five Things I appreciate about Teri

Today's Friday Five - Five things I appreciate about Teri Valdespino, our Missions & Ministries Coordinator at Del Sol Church:

1. Her servant's heart. One thing that describes Teri is that she is a servant. Sure, she leads - but she does so as an incredible example of what it means to be a servant leader, to be first among equals. I've seen Teri lead in many, many things - and I've never once seen her complain or be afraid to get in the game and serve right alongside everyone else. She's definitely a servant.

2. Her caring, maternal heart. Teri has a great way of bringing a maternal ethos to things. She's a great mother to her two kids, and she carries that wonderful maternal attitude on in her work - which is definitely a good thing considering that she often works with people who really need a tender, caring touch.

3. Her willingness to grow. Teri came to Del Sol from working in a bank, so she's had to really be on her feet in order to learn about ministry, about leadership, about theology, about the Church - and she's never afraid to ask questions. She reads, she asks questions, and she learns. That's an awesome characteristic about her.

4. Her ability to build teams. Teri seems to naturally do what many other leaders struggle at - build teams around a single purpose. That purpose may be something as little as copying and stapling papers, or something as big as assembling an international mission trip. I've constantly been impressed at her team-building ability.

5. Her heart for the community. Teri has a big heart and a deep concern for our community - especially the poorest areas of our community, around Downtown and in Second Ward. I think that, paired with her Kingdom mindedness, is what makes drives her and makes her such a great Missions & Ministries Coordinator.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Del Sol Northeast prayer update, 08/26/09

Here's the latest update on the Northeast campus:

- I apologize that I didn’t send out an update last week; it was a very busy week though, with some important developments concerning Del Sol’s Northeast location.

- Two weeks ago I mentioned a possibility of some shopping center space that had recently opened up and that we were looking into that option. Just around that time, another facility – a former church in the Northeast, on a road called Angora Loop – became available as another possible option for us to meet at. There are some major pros and cons to both the shopping center and to the former church property, so we took some time to go look at both properties and then pray, think, and discuss what the wisest option for us would be.

- After lots of prayer, thought, discussion, and several late nights staying up thinking and praying, we’ve come to the conclusion that though the shopping center I mentioned two weeks ago is a great option and a great opportunity, it just would not be the wisest use of our financial resources at this time – so it looks like we’ll be renting the property on Angora Loop for awhile to get things started. It’ll be a “starter home” if you will, a place for us to get things started and then grow out of after a little while.

- This property will require some minor improvements, mostly things like painting, carpeting, landscaping, etc. – things to make it an environment that’s more welcoming, friendly, and functional for what we’ll be doing. Location is important, but what’s more important is what goes on at a location so even though this property is not the best location, it’s a great opportunity for us to step things up and create environments on Sunday mornings that people are excited about coming to and are willing to go out of their way to invite their friends, neighbors, and coworkers to. It’s also an opportunity for us to do something that will hopefully improve the neighborhood a bit by making improvements to this facility.

- So there are two major ways in which God has guided us lately: first, in providing a location for us to meet at and second, providing a location where we can be a fixed church campus rather than one where would be portable. It would have been a huge and very difficult feat to ask people to drive 30 minutes on Sunday mornings to the other side of town, get there 2 hours before the worship celebration service, set everything up, have an hour long worship celebration service, then spend another hour and a half putting everything back before being able to drive another 30 minutes back home. That would have made for long, tiring Sundays and an immense amount of wear & tear on our people and equipment, so I’m very glad that we won’t have to do that for now.

- Two weeks ago I also mentioned some dates of Sunday morning worship celebration services that we were preparing for; I’d like to keep that schedule if at all possible, but it’ll depend on how quickly we’re able to prepare the property for our gatherings, so that’s a matter of prayer as well.

- God has given us incredible amounts of clarity and direction in these past couple of weeks, in large part due to your prayers, so thank you SO much for praying faithfully.

Here's how you can pray this week:

1. Thank God for the clarity and direction He’s given, and ask Him to continue leading the way by showing us exactly what we need to do with the Angora Loop property in order to make it a more welcoming, friendly, and functional environment for people to come to.

2. Please ask God to show us His pace – meaning that we want to move along at the speed He wants us to go at, not going so fast that we get ahead of what He’s doing and not moving so slow that we lag behind and miss out on God-given opportunities.

3. Please ask God to continue giving us guidance and wisdom about programming matters like kids ministry activities, GrowGroups, the preaching schedule, etc.

Thanks for your prayers - I truly believe they make a big difference.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- On Monday morning I met with a realtor to look at some shopping center space that's recently been made available in the Northeast, in the Las Colinas Plaza at the intersection of US 54 and Kenworthy. We talked about some of the details and I told him that we're interested in the space as one of our options but that I'd need to talk with my supervisor about it when he got back in town the following week. These are some pictures of it:





- After that, I spent the day working in the Northeast at The Bagel Shop and at Starbucks, sending out some emails and continuing to work on a renovation of the Del Sol Church website among other things.

- Most of my day on Tuesday held me being at the office, having a couplme of important meetings, doing some dreaming with other staff members, creating a preaching calendar for the Northeast location for next year, and working out details on some other important projects I'm working on. After being at the office all day, I went to the gym for awhile and got in a good workout before coming home for dinner and to unwind and get ready for Wednesday.

- Wednesday was another day spent at the office. I had some important projects I needed to get finished before the weekend (which for me starts on Friday), so I decided I needed to work at the office the whole day. So I did, then hit the gym afterwards, and went home to unwind and get ready for Thursday.

- I didn't get nearly as much work done on Thursday as I had wanted to, but I had a meeting with my accountability partner mid day that was important, so I had to postpone some of my "to-dos" until later. After my meeting, I came home to read for awhile, then went back to the office, worked some, then met some friends for dinner and then went to the Firehouse to ask a couple of people some important questions and ended up hanging around for awhile just talking with friends there.

- Friday was a very strange day; I woke up with a dark, angry funk on me. I don't know what it was, but it was nasty. Actually, I think it was a spiritual attack and it took me all day and lots of prayer to get through that. Thankfully, the David Crowder Band played that night at the Activate MusicFest, so it was a great time to worship with other believers and to focus on Him, not on me.

- Friday, my ordinary Sabbath day off, was not very relaxing so on Saturday I slept in, rested throughout the day, and went back to Activate that night. We saw Superchick and others play, and it was just a fun time with good music.

- This morning I woke up early and met my team at El Dorado High School to watch/help The River's Edge Church setup for their Sunday morning worship service. It was a great time of learning, and helped clarify some things for me. Based on what my team said, I think it was beneficial for them too. I mentioned that potential shopping space, so hopefully we won't have to be a portable church because it's gonna be really hard, but if we do, now we know some of what it'll entail.

- Afterwards I went to lunch with the Loya family and then came home and took a long nap. After that I did some updates on my iPhone and went to Starbucks for a couple of hours to read.

- When I went to the school this morning, I arrived about 15 minutes late; 15 minutes after my team. I had felt bad about that and while I was at Starbucks, I was really convicted that I needed to apologize to my team. They worked their tails off to get their on time, and it was very disrespectul of me to get there late. I should've been the first one there, not the last one. And what troubled me the most is that tardiness is become an irresponsible habit of mine; I know that because some friends of mine joked with me recently that they knew I'd be late to something because I was always late.

I don't want to be known as someone who is always late, and I think it's irresponsible and disrespectful of me to be late and expect others to be on time. So as you read this, I'd appreciate your prayer and your accountability in this area. I want to be known as being on time and even being early, not being late. I want to respect people's time by being on time all time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Del Sol Northeast prayer update

Here's the latest update on the Northeast campus:

- Last week I mentioned that we won’t be able to meet at Dr. Nixon Elementary School, and so I’m looking into other possible meeting locations. I’ve been doing my research so that I can present Pastor Walter with some options when he gets back next week from a family vacation he’s on. I’ve looked at a small church building that’s available, I’m pursuing North Star Elementary School, and I found some shopping center space that just opened up a couple of months ago when a pizza place closed down. I’ve also looked in the YMCA, but it probably wouldn’t work for our purposes.

- Last week I also mentioned that I’ve been believing and claiming Ephesians 3:20 which says that God will do something far better than what we could even imagine would be best, and I believe that He is answering that. If all else fails, we could definitely meet at that old church building (though it’s not the ideal location or facility, we could make do), North Star ES is a much nicer, newer facility than Dr. Nixon ES and it’s on a main road, not a residential road, and the shopping center space I’m looking into is right at the intersection of two main roads in the Northeast, behind a Walgreen’s drug store and across the street from an Albertson’s grocery store – so it has the advantage of being identified by the landmarks it’s nearby.

- I’m open to whatever God leads us to do, and we definitely want to be wise managers of the money God has given us access to, but after much prayer, thought, and discussion I would really like to meet in the shopping center space, it that’s at all possible. The downside to meeting there is that the rent would be significantly higher than what it would be to meet in a school, but I think it would be a better option because:

  • We would have access to it 24/7 so we could do midweek stuff and maybe even open it up to the community throughout the week, whereas we would be paying a large sum of money to meet at a school for a limited time on just one day a week.

  • It’s close to those landmarks I mentioned above, unlike schools which are usually in neighborhoods away from main roads.

  • We would control over it as far as the arrangement of the facility and rooms.

  • Though the rent would be higher, we would save money on some expenses that are unavoidable in a portable setting, such as having to buy portable staging, purchasing of a trailer, insurance on the trailer and its contents, monthly rent on a storage space for the trailer, fuel for the truck used to pull the trailer, etc.

  • We wouldn’t have to spend 3-4 hours each Sunday just setting everything up and tearing it down like we would have to do if we met in a school. The wear and tear we’d save on the volunteers alone is worth it, in my opinion.

I’d like to be able to secure a location soon, because we need to start ordering equipment and setting down some other details pretty soon, so please ask God to give us wisdom and direction about this matter.

- Because we don’t have a location secured yet, we’ve had to make some minor changes to our schedule, but we still plan on launching in to weekly worship celebration services in January. We dropped our preview gathering in October, but should still be able to have one on November 15th, one on December 13th, and then one more on January 10th, launching into weekly services on Sunday, January 24th instead of on January 10th.

Here's how you can pray this week:

1. Please continue to ask God to show us where He wants us to meet, to open the doors we should go through, and close the doors we need to stay out of. Ask Him to give us favor where we need favor and most of all, please ask Him to give us wisdom to discern what the next step is.

2. Please ask God to show us His pace – meaning that we want to move along at the speed He wants us to go at, not going so fast that we get ahead of what He’s doing and not moving so slow that we lag behind and miss out on God-given opportunities.

3. Please pray for me as I continue to try to wrap my mind around everything that needs to be done and as I try to meet more people in the Northeast community. Also, please pray for our NE campus staff we brainstorm together, work on the details of graphic design, mail-outs, advertising, servant evangelism outreaches, preaching calendars, and all the other things we need to prepare for.

Thanks for your prayers - I truly believe they make a big difference.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A different kind of Sunday night mind purge.

Usually on Sunday nights I write about what happened during the previous week, but I want to do something different with this post. Several weeks ago, on the morning of Sunday, July 19th, I had the honor and privilege of bringing a message to the Del Sol Church family, and it was an incredible experience for me. I've had many people, even three weeks later, commend me on my message three weeks ago, so I want to write about my thoughts from that experience.

I suppose they're convictions of mine, really, about preaching:

- When I preach, I have to present the Gospel in a compelling manner EVERY time. No exceptions. If that were to be the last message I ever preached, I would want it to be known as a message where I told people about the life that only Jesus Christ can give. And since I have no guarantee of tomorrow, EVERY time I preach could be the last time, so I just have to preach the Gospel every time. And for me, talking about the Gospel just never gets old!

Every time we gather on Sunday mornings, someone's "one" is there. The "one" son or daughter or friend that they've been praying for months would come to church. The "one" person in their life who they finally worked up the nerve to invite to church. The "one" neighbor or coworker who finally started showing interest in God and the things of God, and who finally agreed to come to church. So you can see that the stakes are way too high to not present the Gospel every time.

- "Solidly Biblical, Intensely Practical." That's the motto of the School of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. I read that statement on their website awhile back when I was looking at the grad school program, and that statement really resonated with me. Whenever I preach, I want it to be a message that is solidly Biblical because my main responsibility is to honor God and do justice to His Word, the Bible, handling it in a way that is right and proper and that glorifies Him. I also want my messages to be intensely practical, because I believe that to teach the Bible without teaching how to apply it to one's life is to do a great injustice to the listener.

Jesus, along with Paul and many others in the Bible never seemed to just preach the Bible and not tell people what to do with it. Jesus talked about being people of action ("doers"), not just listeners ("hearers"), and as a leader and preacher, I believe it is my God-ordained responsibility to teach the Word and to teach how to apply our lives to the Word. Solidly Biblical, Intensely Practical.

- The Church exists more for those who aren't there than for those that are, more for the lost, unsaved, nonbelieving outsider than for the already convinced. This brings great tension for those of us in church leadership - how do we reach wide (focus on the lost) and go deep (help believers grow) at the same time? It's a tension we have to deal with, but I honestly believe that Jesus would have a bent more towards the lost, but would also know that the mission of His Church cannot be accomplished without the committed believers who are willing to sacrifice to great extents for that cause.

Because of this, I believe that churches should do anything - ANYthing - short of sin to create environments where the lost can come in, connect with God in a personal way, understand a little more about what God says in the Bible, experience His love, and can have an opportunity to commit their lives to the Lord Jesus. That'll make things uncomfortable sometimes for us believers, especially traditionalists, but Jesus never said we should be comfortable - He said we should be committed.

- A next step should always be laid out clearly and concisely. This kind of goes along with the intensely practical thing but when I preach, I want people to know what they need to do next - whether that means they stop dating the Church and commit already by becoming a member, or if new believers need to be obedient to Christ and be baptized by immersion, or if those still exploring the faith should ask for more info so they can be better informed about Jesus and His Church, or if some need to commit their lives to Christ on the spot, before they leave the room.

Giving someone a clearly laid out next step is a vital part of showing them how to journey along with Christ, and those of us who are just a few steps further along on the journey should turn around and show those just beginning where to go next. Next steps are crucial in a message.

- The message shouldn't always try to make people feel better and leave happy. Oh I know that people get beat up in the world and that the Church should be a place of refuge, and I know most people will readily confess that they're not perfect and that they know they've messed up - but that's not an excuse not to present the truth. And the truth about the truth is that the truth sometimes hurts. I've recently stopped telling people I hope they have a good time at church, because maybe God doesn't want them to have a good time - maybe He wants them to be convicted like the dickens!

Maybe He wants to root out sin in their lives and is going to use what happens at that gathering to help do that. So maybe as a preacher, my goal should just be to honor God and preach what He leads me to preach, not what I think people need to hear. They need to hear what God wants them to hear, not what I want them to hear.

- If God doesn't show up, we're all wasting our time. We can't produce a move of God. We can facilitate it, we can prepare for it, we create an environment where hearts are open to His Spirit - but if it's not God, we're wasting our time and we might as well close up shop and go home. It's not about music, it's not about denominational label, it's not about what anyone wants or thinks. That's why I will not preach unless I have a couple of men pray for me first. I must have God's anointing, my words must be inspired by Him.

It's all God, or it's nothing - plain and simple.

Those are my basic convictions about what must go on when I preach. I sure hope and pray that those things happened when I preached 3 weeks ago, and I hope and pray they'll happen again each and every time I have the huge honor and privilege of standing in front of a crowd, preaching God's Word to them.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Friday Five - Five things I appreciate about Dag

So it's been awhile since I've posted a Friday Five, and even though today is Saturday, I thought that it'd still be good to get back on the saddle with Friday Five's, albeit just a day late.

Awhile back, I wrote about the things I appreciate about Pastor Walter; today, five things I appreciate about our GrowGroups Pastor, Dag Sewell:

1. His passion for God. Dag is a man of God, with a passionate love for God. He is a strong in knowledge of God and the things of God, but it's not a head knowledge that doesn't lead to action. He knows God, he knows the things of God, he knows God's Word, and that knowledge leads him to be the kind of man God has created him to be. He's a great man of God.

2. His passion for people. If there was one thing that could be said about Dag besides that he is a man who passionately loves God, it would be this: Dag Sewell is a man who passionately loves people. He loves his family, he loves his fellow staff members, he loves GrowGroup leaders, he loves the whole Del Sol Church family, he loves other church leaders ...he just loves people in general, no distinction and no favorites! You may not know that Dag works full time leading Howard Payne University's El Paso Branch, and works part time at Del Sol. That's a LOT of work, yet with all of that he somehow still manages to be an incredible husband, a great father, and an all around great person.

3. His genuineness. Dag is one of the most genuine people you'll ever meet; he truly is a great example of "what you see if what you get". I've never gotten the sense that he was posing or pretending, I've never gotten the sense that he was doing something he didn't want to do - he's just as genuine as can be, inside and out (not that I'm implying our other staff members aren't also genuine).

4. His sense of humor. He's stinkin funny! One of the reasons I enjoy hearing him preach on occasion is because he always does a good job weaving his sense of humor into his messages, like this past Wednesday night when he, being bald, talked about "those of you who can pull out your hair" doing so. I'm always drawn to people who are secure enough in God and in themselves that they can use self-deprecating humor to bring down walls. I really enjoy Dag's sense of humor.

5. His humility. As I mentioned about Walter, Dag is also an incredibly humble man. He's a man who is well respected and who is spoken of well by many, many people in these parts, he's a very capable leader, he's a great example and role model to younger leaders and younger Christians - and I think the reason he is all those things is because he's not full of himself - he's full of God. In other words, he's not focused on himself, but on God. He's truly a humble man.

Let's brag on Dag a bit. If you know him, leave a comment with some things that you appreciate about him.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The cup.

Tonight we had First Wednesday, which is our Lord's Supper service we have about 9 or 10 times a year. It's a time for believers to come together, worship through music, giving, sitting under Biblical preaching, and taking part in the Lord's Supper together as a church family.

We usually take the two elements of the Lord's Supper, the cup and the bread, toward the end of our time together. This is the cup:
communion cup

It's just a little, disposable plastic cup filled with Welch's 100% grape juice - but it's symbolic of an incredible truth; it's symbolic of the blood of Christ which was spilled for you, for me, and for everyone else throughout history so that we imperfect people could have a personal relationship with perfect, Holy God.

It's a really incredible thing, what the Lord's Supper symbolizes.

Whenever I hold the cup in my hand, I always hold it under the light and over my hand, looking down through it and seeing my flesh under the redness of the fruit of the vine. I do that because it makes me think of how God the Father sees me - He sees me through the blood of Christ and because of Jesus' blood, I am clean and pure and holy.

He doesn't see my sin, He doesn't see my selfishness, He doesn't see my mess of a life, He doesn't see my shame, He doesn't see my screw ups - all He sees is the perfect blood of Jesus Christ.

And that's why I'm humbled to take part in the nearly two millennia old ordinance of the Lord's Supper, because of what it reminds me of and more importantly, of Who it reminds me of.

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. - 1 Corinthians 11:26

Del Sol Northeast prayer update

Here's the latest update on the Northeast campus:

- I didn’t send out an update last Wednesday because I was on vacation for the most part of last week. However, we did see some interesting developments since then, which I’ll fill you in on in this week’s update.

- For the past few weeks, I’ve asked you to pray about a meeting I would have with the principal of Dr. Nixon Elementary School. Well, I met with the principal and assistant principal last Tuesday, and long story short, we will not be able to meet there. The meeting went very well and there are no bad feelings; they just simply cannot host us because of various reasons which were explained to me and which I understand. I’m very grateful for all the time the administration at the school took to work with me over the past few months, and I want it to be known that we will bless them and be gracious to them even though things didn’t work out with them.

- You should know that this is not really a bad thing; it’s simply God giving guidance and telling us that for whatever reason, that school is just not the place He needs us to be. Interestingly enough, there’s a brand new elementary school being built about half a mile away from Dr. Nixon, and I found out today that another church will be meeting in that new school starting in October – so God’s at work there and rather than be upset, I bless the school and I bless that church that will be meeting at the new school. It’s great to see God is at work there; it’s not about us, it’s about Him and His Kingdom anyway.

- So what’s next? There are several other schools around there, there’s a rec center out in the Northeast, and there’s also a former church building that’s available, and there’s even some shopping center space that recently opened up, so we’re in the process of praying, seeking God, and thinking through these other options. We can’t really move ahead with other things like advertising, promotion, ordering equipment, etc. until we have a place where we know we can meet, so this is definitely a big prayer request.

- As great as Dr. Nixon ES seemed like it would be, I’m excited because I know that according to Ephesians 3:20, God has something in store for us that’s way better than what we ever could have imagined. I believe that a year from now, we’ll look back and think about how low we were aiming and how small we were thinking in wanting to meet at Dr. Nixon. I don’t know what’s in store for us, but I know it’s gonna be great because it’s gonna be from God!

- One quick update about the staff for the NE campus: we now have a kids’ ministry director! I’m not going to saw their name right now, but I believe they’re a great fit for the position, they have a great vision, and I’m very excited to see how God will work through them at Del Sol Northeast!

Here's how you can pray this week:

1. As I mentioned above, we are asking God to show us where He wants us to meet. Please ask God to show us where He wants us to be and to open the doors we should go through and close the doors we need to stay out of. Ask Him to give us favor where we need favor and most of all, please ask Him to give us wisdom to discern what the next step is.

2. Please continue to ask God to raise up all the volunteers that we need to be a fully functioning campus, and to guide me as I approach other Kingdom-minded churches and businesses to raise the rest of the money we need to cover all of our expenses to launch this campus well.

3. In this search for a location to meet at, I want to be a good ambassador of Christ to all those I will interact with, like school administration, city officials, realtors, etc. Ask God to give me words to speak and the right attitude to have as I interact with them.

Thanks for your prayers - I truly believe they make a big difference.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Post-vacation mind purge ...

So I just had a much needed, way-too-short vacation. I spent the first few days just relaxing at home and then from Thursday 'til Monday, I was in Dallas with David Pryor and Alex Romo.

The first weekend of my vacation (the weekend of July 25th) was pretty similar to any other weekend, and it really took me a few days to start to unwind and disconnect my mind from work. By Monday, I was starting to relax but I ended up having to do some work on Tuesday and then lead my GrowGroup that night, so it was weird having a few days off, then working one day, and having the rest of the week off.

On Wednesday I relaxed some more and prepared for my trip on Thursday. Thursday morning I left to Dallas and what should've been a 10 hour trip turned into a 12 hour trip because we left later than what I had planned, we made a couple of spur of the moment stops, and ended up getting a little lost in Downtown Ft. Worth, thanks to bad directions on the Google maps app on my iPhone.

We spent pretty much all Friday at Six Flags in Arlington (which was awesome and better than Six Flags in San Antonio, I think), and on Saturday we went to the Dr. Pepper museum in Waco, then met a friend of mine in Ft. Worth, and went to a campus of there afterwards. After that we met a friend of mine back in Dallas at Speedzone, which is an arcade with outdoor go karts, a drag racing track, and some other stuff like bungie jumping and such.

On Sunday morning we woke up early and went to The Potter's House church, which was a really interesting experience. The building was massive, and there were SO many people there! We had to park across a highway, walk over a steel catwalk to get to the parking lot, then walked into the building and had to walk up to the balcony because it was so packed. When we got inside to our seats, the joy and celebratory spirit was amazing! There were thousands of people there singing out to God, celebrating the spiritual life that only He can give us.

After almost an hour and 45 minutes of singing and stuff, T.D. Jakes finally came up to preach but by that time, we had to leave to go visit another church - First Baptist Church of Dallas, right in the heart of downtown Dallas. What a difference going from a massive, contemporary, charismatic black church to a very traditional, upper class, Baptist church! They were both so different, but I really enjoyed both experiences and I think it was good for us to see those different expressions of worship. It just goes to show that God is so big and great that there are many ways for us to worship Him.

After that, we met my brothers Aaron and Aramis for lunch, then went to the Sixth Floor museum, which is in the building from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy in 1963. After being there for awhile, we headed off to Watermark Community Church in northern Dallas for their 5:30 pm service. Of all the churches we went to, that would probably be the one I would want to go to if I was in Dallas. I loved the environment there, and I was incredibly impressed by all the stuff do for the community, like a mentoring partnership with an impoverished school, giving a truckload of food to a food bank, sending their youth to work at a Christian summer camp for disabled kids, and having a beauty day for prostitutes in Dallas where they gave them a makeover, manicures and pedicures, and took glamour shots as a way to remind them that they are women of great value to God and to His church. I was also impressed that during the pastor's message, I saw most of the people with open Bibles on their laps and taking notes not on a provided outline, but on their own notebooks that they brought themselves. It really was a great experience there!

Afterwards we went to Panera Bread, then went to the hotel and chilled for awhile before going to bed. The next morning, we hit the road to come back to El Paso.

So all in all, it was a great experience. I had a REALLY good time with David and Alex, we had so much fun, had great discussions, joked around a lot, and just enjoyed our time there together.

As I got my mind off work, got out of town, and asked God to open my heart and mind to what He wanted to speak to me, I kept sensing His reminding me over and over and over that He is God, He is Lord, He is in control, He is good, and He will be faithful to provide. Most of all, He kept reminding me that He loves me. And that's enough for me.