LONDON + HILLSONG CONFERENCE 2016
After a few days in Ireland, viagra buy we packed our bags & caught a ferry that would boat us over to Wales at a port in Holyhead. We had made friends with our taxi driver the first day we landed in London, and he was kind enough to drive out to Powerscourt resort, pick us up, and take us back into the Dublin area, showing us some sites as we made our way to the pier. Unfortunately, Jason had to go back home to make the monies, so we didn’t to have the joy of experiencing England with him. As Vanessa hugged her hubby bye, we made our way to the Jonathan Swift Ferry that greeted us with complimentary breakfast and comfy seats. When we arrived into Wales (my father’s family heritage / homeland!) we instantly had the fear of… “what in the world are we thinking”… “are we seriously about to take a people mover across England”. Continuing with the smooth travels, we got our rental car, and quickly named it ” The TERD” which provided some good laughs and comfort as Randall navigated us through England. The English countryside was BREATHTAKING. Instantly, we noticed a difference between the Irish countryside and English. There were so many large rolling fields, full of grains, grass, and sheep. The towns were so quaint and bright, full of cobblestone streets and luscious hanging flower baskets. We were so sad we didn’t have time to pop in and out of each little town we passed through, although, Randall pulled such a “bro move” and pulled over so I could run through the English wheat fields…. to our sad discovery, their thicket bushes are not something you want to crawl through. The English have their beautiful fields on LOCK DOWN!! As we approached Oxford, I think it’s safe to say that all of us were craving for more time to be able to explore the small city, buzzing with university students and history begging to be told. Oxford is now on my bucket list to return to and spend more time at. We grabbed dinner, returned the beloved “TERD”, and grabbed the Tube to take us to our Holiday Inn in Newbury Park (just a little… maybe a lot.. outside of London). We arrived to the ghetto, checked in, and quickly fell asleep excited to explore London the next day and experience the opening night of London Hillsong Conference 2016. To read more about our trip… you’ll have to look for the story throughout the pictures ;).
Also, God ROCKED our worlds on this trip. Ireland was a blast sight seeing, learning, and growing in friendship with the lovely friends we traveled with. London bonded our hearts together. Jesus spoke to our hearts in such a profound way. Scroll down to read all about it…
(Picture above): Our taxi cab friend!! He was so great. // (Picture below): Vanessa saying bye to J (don’t leave us Jason!!)
THE TERD … Brown, Large, and in Charge.
I felt like this should have been on the back of our car…. Although, Randall OWNED the English roads. I was SO IMPRESSED.
Note to self: If / When I return oversees, I will not buy your expensive Data, AT&T. I surely will not. Nope. Instead, I have discovered the promise land of International Data. The Vodoafone.
Quick stop for dinner in Oxford!!
Where are you Bear??!
This is the tube station we got on and off of everyday to get to our destinations in the area!! We all really missed the ability to hang out for however long we wanted in a home. When you stay in a hotel, you just don’t get the same richness. Airbnb ALL THE WAY!!
I spy Lucas … Dita, where are you? We loved seeing our friends from Czech in the mornings, and experiencing the Hillsong conference with them!!
Happy Birthday to Vanessa!!!! It was SO FUN to experience the Louis Vuitton purse purchase experience in London with her. <3 And at a impeccable deal might I add. Hello pound to the dollar. We love you right now!! Thanks for being so kind to us.
Picnic in the Park with National award winning fish and chips!! Dusty even ate them and liked them!! Now… that’s saying something. Poppies, you were yummy.
We LOVED stumbling upon the Spitalfields Market!!! This place was full of food trucks, treasures, and culture! A favorite experience in London for sure.
I bought an old photographs album to print and place all of my London Pictures in!! Thank to V for the awesome idea.
The O2 Arena!! We were here every morning and evening for the Hillsong London Conference 2016! The first night, Brian Houston spoke & the moment he opened his mouth you could feel the anointing on him. During worship, fear fell off of me. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about going to a huge Christian Conference, in a publicly known location, with all that’s been going on in the world. In fact, many from Normandy gathered at the conference. It was so encouraging to my spirit to worship along side them. We will not fall subject to fear. We will love. We will unite. We will not cower back. We will praise the wonderful name of Jesus.
THIS STORY BELOW WRECKED US **
The next morning, we had floor seats!! They divided groups with color wristbands, and your color rotated throughout the arena with each session. That way, you had the opportunity to experience the conference from multiple viewpoints!! This day, Steven Furtick preached & Jesus completely rocked our world.
He put my guilt and doubts away, and silenced the enemy. To be honest, I felt a little guilty about getting to go on such an amazing trip, see so many dreams come to fruition, have part of the trip costs covered, and didn’t feel worthy of such good things to come my way. I felt it was a little unfair to be honest. But the Lord assured me, “YOU BELONG HERE” over and over again.
Pastor Furtick talked about our dreams. My husband dreams big. I tend to hold myself back from dreaming big things, because I feel bad to ask big things. Again… feeling undeserving to ask or step into greater. But in those dreams, sometimes (or a lot of times) there’s a feeling of inadequacy. Steven preached about how we all have a “glitch”. Paul had a “glitch”. Paul was a great writer, but not a great speaker. The thing that was Paul’s “Glitch” actually served to release his gift. If Paul was a great speaker, he may not have written the letters of the gospel we so desperately need. “Sometimes it’s what God withholds from you in one season — is what makes you fit for the next”.
Boom. Mind. Blown.
Buckingham palace was basically empty!! It was the weirdest thing, but we didn’t mind one bit!! We got right up to the gate, and were able to get some great pictures with the queen ;). Just kidding, but she was home (hence the flag).
After seeing the Palace and quickly running through Harrods, we took the tube back to the O2 for the second evening of the conference!! Steven Furtick brought the word again, and what he spoke was something the Lord would continue to bring up in our time in England. It’s something I’ve brought home with me and will likely be digesting for awhile. A few quotes from his sermon that hit me hard…
ALL FROM STEVEN FURTICK’S SERMON:
“Sometimes saying you’re living in faith is really living in denial. We need to face our issues. If we are struggling with finances, we need to make a budget. We can see faith as a way to escape our situations, and it becomes and excuse. Abraham faced it. He knew his situation. He was old and had no kids, but was promised to be a father of may nations. It’s not faith to live in denial. If you’re broken or disappointment you can tell him (insert, me raising my hearts hand, taking ownership for that conviction).
“It is what it is” – Faith cannot fix what you will not face. You have to have the faith to say the truth of where you are. To not hide or deny. The faith enables us to face our situation without shame. I’ve got promises I’m believing God for that have not come to pass. I’m not going to live in denial, so we as that he help us and give us perspective!!!
Abraham thought with more and more time that passed, He was further and further away from God’s promise to him. But God knew, that the more and more time that passed, the closer he was to the promise being fulfilled.
If you don’t know what you want, don’t expect God to give it to you. Ask BIG THINGS. Don’t minimize your ask. Dream BIG DREAMS. However, know that you will not have a lot of cheerleaders. People will ask, “who do you think you are?”
God showed us the mustard seed as the Kingdom to show us the POWER OF POTENTIAL.
The Beafeaters Tour at the London Tower was SO GOOD.Highly recommend it.
Steven Furtick & Eric Macmanus’ sermons kind of ran together for me at the end… I don’t remember what content was from who, but the gist of what I got from the rest of the conference was..
“WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”
God wants us to ask for what we want. He is a generous God. We don’t want to be like the woman in scripture who was told to go gather as many jars as she could. She only gathered a few, and missed the opportunity to receive more. Once all of the jars were filled, the oil stopped flowing.
One of the biggest things said that gave me SO MUCH FREEDOM, was when Furtick talked about the blind man. He was given a garment that gave him permission to beg in the city. This gave him provision for food day to day. However, the blind man, in faith dropped his garment before walking to Jesus to ask for his healing. IN FAITH, he left behind what defined him, what gave him physical provision, his daily bread… and he approached Jesus leaving his garments behind believing He would heal him. We were asked, “What garments do you need to lay down?”
For me, a garment of disappointment. A garment of Fear. A garment that didn’t want to dream big dreams, or ask big things, or have faith for impossible things because I didn’t want to open up the avenue for disappointment. Or to potentially embarrass God if he didn’t come through for me. Believing “who are you” to ask for such things & to BELIEVE Him for them??
All of that… Gone.
Garment, laid down. Tossed aside. No longer something I will chose to wear.
The thing is… “It is what it is”… My situation is my situation. I can’t deny the reality of my situations, or the condition of my heart.
But… “It’s not what it seems”…. I can have faith for the IMPOSSIBLE. It isn’t want it seems. It doesn’t have to be!! But it’s a choice to ask big asks. To dream bigger than your present reality. To tap into Faith that allows freedom, that changes perspectives, that heals, and supernaturally provides.
The Lord would continue to work on this in my heart as we left London and traveled to Rustington, England to help Arun Community Church with their community outreach week. Stay tuned.
He is so kind. He is so good. He is so faithful.
I can confidently say, that this was all MUCH MORE than a “trip”… these two weeks were perspective changing, heart healing, & ground breaking. I have never experienced God speak so powerfully, clearly, and through so many different sources to tie together a big picture message, heal my heart, and set my feet back on solid ground. I am SO THANKFUL.
What makes your heart come alive?
For me, it’s traveling, friendships that are vulnerable and share all parts of life, meaningful conversations around the table, standing on the shore – feet in the sand – looking out to the ocean, stargazing (stars make me cry), being in the quite of the mountains with it’s fresh + crisp morning air. It’s time spent with family, making memories and laughing together. It’s dancing, worshiping, creating, and expressing myself from a deep place with no limitations or fear. It’s when I am immersed in love and sense a place of belonging. A place of “enough”. A place of confidence & assurance.
As we traveled, through Ireland – across the sea – and through Europe, it was like my heart was hooked up to an IV of all that makes my heart come alive. All that awakens me to the richness of life – love – and to the deep parts of myself.
Rustington was the final chapter of our adventure. A small town on the east coast of England, that waves at France from the English channel. We had NO IDEA what was waiting for us when we got there, but I can honestly say it will forever hold a special place in my heart. A landmark of the Lord’s goodness.
We drove with our team from London, to Rustington/Little Hampton, and when we arrived, we met a group of people that so graciously volunteered to host individual team members from Lubbock, TX in their English homes. Unbeknownst to us, our host home couldn’t host us at the last minute. A lovely couple by the name of Paul & Pippa Smith stepped up and welcomed us into their warm & humble home.
The moment we stepped into their home, it was as if my heart knew – you can breath deep here. You can belong here. You can rest here. Just as a home should feel – welcoming & cozy- a place to just “be”.
Paul & Pippa are DELIGHTFUL. One of my favorite & most impacting experiences of the entire journey was being in their company, and in their home. As we talked with them over lunch, over a walk along the pier + delicious ice cream, and a warm cup of afternoon English tea, my husband Dusty and I were wide-eyed at how much we resonated with their life story. It was like writing in the sky saying, “This connection is not by accident, or coincidence. Indeed, the Lord had planned this all along.”
I’m eternally grateful for Paul & Pippa. Their open home, their joy, & Pippa’s open & vulnerable heart created space for the Lord to do an incredible work in my heart specifically.
The tide takes the water out really far each afternoon. By later in the day, the tide will quickly come back in & the water will be back up to the shoreline.
Picture with Pippa & Paul the first afternoon we met them!
Paige & Josh Allen were our leaders for the time we were in Rustington. They would pick each member up from their host home and drop us off each day. After spending the afternoon with our host homes, they gathered the troops and took us out for Fish & Chips by the pier.
Our team!! There were 15 of us from Church on the Rock in Lubbock, TX who went on a mission trip to Rustington. This was our first trip ever to serve in Rustington, so we didn’t really know what to expect. We knew we would be working with Arun Church & helping with their outreach week, but didn’t know any specifics. I can say for all of us, it was nothing we expected as it looked way different than what we all think “mission” trips have to look like (serving in hard areas, poverty, going 100mph all day, etc.). This mission trip was even more than we could have ever expected and the Lord rocked all of our hearts, minds, and world views. It was incredibly slow paced, which opened up a lot of opportunity to connect, rest, listen to the Lord, and to give and receive at the same time. Dusty and I unfortunately could only do 4 full days of the trip (I had to get back home for a wedding), but in those 4 short days my heart was healed and changed. I prayed to bring “joy” into this trip, to serve the church of England with a freshness, with hope, and encouragement; however, I’m not sure that I offered anything… Instead, I was the one that was encouraged, tasted joy, and left with a freshness & new faith & hope!!
This is Harvey. The PRETTIEST PUP I’VE EVER SEEN.
Did you know that the swans are protected by the Queen? She owns all of the swans in England!!
Our team’s time in England was to serve the Arun Community Church, and help them with their big outreach week. The church put’s on a kid’s camp from 9-noon for 5 days that includes a lot of FUN: games, dance, crafts, and songs about Jesus & his joy that many of the kids have not heard of..
(cue the tears… watching kids sing about letting their light shine, and being loving and kind WRECKED this girl).
The camp was held at the the church’s gathering location – Little Hampton Community – A primary school building. Inside the school, there is a chapel for students to come and “be” no matter what religion they identify with or if they don’t identify to one at all. — This is from the school’s website about their chapel…
Paul Sanderson, our Chaplain, writes: Our Chapel has been created as a place for students and staff to come and ‘be’. There is a lot to do when we are working and learning and that is good but sometimes we just need to ‘be’. Its part of us as human beings that sometimes gets forgotten. So if you are suffering or celebrating, feeling great or in a state, come and make time to ‘be’ in the Chapel.
I felt this was a really neat and beneficial thing for the school. It was so moving to see all of these precious kid’s prayers. Some were heartbreaking, some were hope-filled, but they all lead to a similar desire — love.
& God.. IS LOVE.
Dusty got “Gunged” at camp on our last day with the team. A slimy concoction that gets dumped on the leader who’s name has been entered the most by all of the kids at the camp. On our third afternoon in Rustington, we were invited to have proper cream tea in a lovely couple’s home. Norman & Grace Barne’s are Kingdom mover’s and shakers in the Faith, & being in their home was such an honor. Grace had an amazing spread for us complete with biscuits, cakes, sandwiches, and English tea served in her best china.
Norman & Grace have been pastors + traveling missionaries + founder’s of LINKS International + and have influence MANY around the world through the Lord’s love and gospel. I sat on this seat in their home that is from Ghana, Africa. It’s an African Ashanti promise seat. As I was sitting here, in my heart, Iasked Jesus to remind me of a promise He’s made to me, & to let me know that He see’s me. Unknown to Norman, he prayed over our team, and as he prayed of Dusty and I he told me that the Lord wanted to remind me of a promise that He has made to me. The promise was that In Him (Christ) NOTHING is IMPOSSIBLE, that HE CAN do ALL things.
The Lord knew that the promise I needed to be reminded of, was the promise that He is God. He is Good. That his character never changes. HE can do the impossible. My faith rose as tears fell down my face, as Jesus spoke to the deep parts of my hear that were suffering, dying due to doubt, fear, and disappointment. Shackles began to fall off.
Then this nugget of wisdom came out of Norman’s mouth, “The issue is NOT the issue. The ISSUE is WHAT DOES GOD SAY?” — This will now replay in my mind every time an issue that’s “impossible” arises, or a place that seems hopeless is on my journey. I will have FAITH for what I hope for, assurance of what I do not see… “It is what it is, but it’s not what it seems.” – “The issue is not the issue, the issue is: What does God say?”
Then Norman said to me, “Jesus wants you to know that He see’s you and is near, that He’s never left you… even in your heartache, even in your brokenness, He has always been there.
It was in that moment that I dropped the chains that I had been holding onto. I dropped the grave clothes I had chosen to wear. I dropped the doubt, fear, and disappointment. My Jesus gently wrapped his hands around my heart, and breathed life & light back into all the places that were dark, dead, and distant.
The last day we were in England, after our time singing with Kids and serving the church at the camp, they had us over to one of the member’s homes for a big “Texas size” cookout!!! WOW. Delicious. They had a full spread and we all felt so spoiled as we ate, enjoyed conversation, played soccer, and grew in friendship with our brothers & sisters from England… I think at this point we were all feeling a connection with this community of believers like no other. It was as if these people, their hearts, the church’s vision & dreams, was but a mirror reflection of who we are at COTR back home. We connected so quickly, and were deeply encouraged & honored by all that they did to serve us, when WE were there to SERVE THEM!! Oh, the beauty of the gospel. Oh, the beauty of unity.
Oh, the beauty of love that transcends time, places, backgrounds, races, etc..
A love that can unify hearts from one tiny town to another from across the world.
We were so sad to have to leave early. My heart is already hurting to go back. To see the familiar faces, and talk with friends that have forever left an imprint on my heart. The church we worked with is planning on sending a group to Texas, and I cannot wait to show them the same hospitality that was shown to us. We left so free. So loved. So encouraged. So FULL.
Thank you Jesus, for taking me on an adventure that created space for you to speak, set my heart free, and awaken deep desire in my heart. Thank you Jesus for your love.
My precious cousin & this cool cat named Braden took turns taking care of our home & pup’s while we were gone. They were so well taken care of they didn’t even miss us when we got home ;).
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