Weekend of Affirmation and Confirmation: A Testimony

Last month, I wrote a post focused on religion, and the fact that I’d started to waver in my faith, had questions, doubts, etc. Today, I’m going to return to that topic to focus on new developments in that area of my life. Just a couple of developments, really, but they’re important, nonetheless.

Maybe the first one has to do with the personal Bible study sessions I’ve been having with my friends Emily and Alexia. Emily and I have been friends for about a year now from our French classes at the university, and she and Alexia attend the same church in Houston. Already, through these sessions and the girls, I’ve made new friends outside of school and perhaps am also making more of a friend out of God as I learn. It is a relationship, after all.

I don’t know for sure if I get as much at a time out of my Alpha course at church—“a series of interactive sessions to discuss life and the Christian faith in an informal, fun and friendly environment”—but I look forward to it every Tuesday. A short video talk or lesson each week, and then discussion questions to be addressed in small groups. Yesterday evening, however, this past Sunday morning was brought up during discussion, and that’s really what I’d like to share…

At the moment, I think what I want most from God is more affirmation that I’ve had. Some kind of tangible encouragement that this could be real, this could be the truth, and that maybe I’m on the right pathway after all. I think I received some of this on Sunday.

I shouldn’t go too far into detail, because the story belongs to a friend of mine and I haven’t asked permission to share it. But really, what happened on Sunday is that while we were in the middle of worship (a fairly informal setting in the fairly informal Vineyard Church) our bass player shared a word that he felt was on his heart, that somebody in the church that day was struggling with something, and that, of course, as always, the church wanted to pray for that person. I saw my friend to go Dylan’s mom, Kim, for prayer, and I thought nothing else of it…until I saw her body start to convulse as Kim prayed over her. I knew she’d been crying, so at first I thought maybe she was just hysterical now, or hiccuping…but there was something unnatural about it.

I remembered that she had attended a church conference over the summer, and when she returned, she shared some of her experiences there with our church, and one of them was that her body showed signs of evil activity…specifically, demonic possession…and when she was prayed for there, it went away. But this past Sunday, it happened again, and as soon as I realized that, I wanted to help her. Prayer was the obvious and perhaps the only choice, but I stayed where I was, with tears in my eyes, because as much as I wanted to help, I reasoned with myself that my relationship with God right now is nowhere near where it should be for me to have any kind of power to cast out a demon… I let that disqualify myself.

Kim had called our pastor Bill over to pray, too, by this time, and my friend ended up okay. But afterward, as we continued with worship, Kim turned toward me and she saw that I was sitting in my seat, as usual, and trying not to cry, so she came and sat next to me and asked if I was okay, if that had scared me. I told her the truth: it wasn’t so much that I was scared as it was that I’d wanted to help, but I didn’t feel like I could, and she told me that I’m not just disqualified, no matter where I am with God.

I felt better after that.

I’d always believed in demons, I guess, but that was the first time I’d ever seen any hint of them in real life. Kim told me that the demon inside my friend hadn’t ever really been gone between the summer and now, but that it came out again on Sunday because God wanted to set her free. And now she is free.

After church ended, there was just one more piece of affirmation for me…

Kim was sideswiped in her Jeep last week or so, and while the damage wasn’t bad, the incident left her sore, I think, and she showed a couple of signs of that on Sunday. Kind of on a whim, I asked if I could pray for her, and I did. I asked God to take away the pain in her shoulder, arm, and back, and I ordered the pain to disappear from her body. Now, normally, when I’ve prayed for healing for people in the past, there’s always been this kind of way out in my head, like, “Oh, well, this may not work, but I’ll try anyway.” I had a little of that thought Sunday, but I felt more convicted then in my prayer, too, and when I said “Amen” and asked her how she felt, she told me that there was this new icy sensation in the place on her back, but that there wasn’t any more pain. On Tuesday, she told me that later on Sunday, it felt like the pain tried to come back, but ultimately it did not.

I felt affirmed, then, and more convinced…and I hope that it won’t just stop there now.

Falling For Fall

Why couldn’t I have been born in October or November? Why can’t I live in New England, where the air is fresh and crisp, the trees change color, and it snows every winter?

One day. One day, I will.

It’s that time of year again, and the older I get, the more convinced I become that fall is my favorite season. Too bad that I live on Texas’ Gulf Coast…

Let me tell you a secret. I actually don’t do well with cold weather. I don’t like to be cold, and I get cold very easily. I guess it’s not genetic, since both of my parents seem to prefer cold to hot. But I love snow, and I like winter clothes. I love boots, and scarves, and pea coats, and fluffy accessories! I love fireplaces, and hot drinks in favorite mugs. My favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas and each year I look forward to them, enjoying that magic feeling of anticipation that hangs in the air right before.

It often doesn’t really feel the way Thanksgiving or Christmas should feel, I think, in recent years. When it’s warm enough outside that I can wear shorts on Christmas Day… Please, no. The last Christmas—and the only Christmas of my life—that it actually snowed here at home was in 2004, the first significant snowfall for more than 100 years. For several years after that, every Christmastime, I would pray to wake up to a white blanket on Christmas Day, until eventually I gave up hoping. Maybe I’ll hope again this year, and look forward to the possibility that one day I’ll live up north, and can look forward to a first snowfall of the season every year. I honestly believe I’d much rather have to contend with a fear of blizzards than our fear of hurricanes.

What’s your favorite season? Do you have any fall traditions that you look forward to? Like pumpkin spice?

Another secret: I’m not big on pumpkin spice lattes, but if you want to make me a loaf of pumpkin bread, or a pumpkin pie, I’ll be all for that! Pumpkin spice lattes have come to the coffeeshops near me, but I haven’t ordered one—I’ll order a spiced apple cider first, and enjoy it while my Honeycrisp Apple candle from Bath & Body Works burns nearby. It smells like a transition from late summer to early fall, which is probably what we should be experiencing, except it’s still so warm out. Fall weather, come quickly…

Do you live in New England? What’s it like there during this time of year, and in the winter?