God inicoles writing a story in and through my life and He is also doing the same with you.  It is my prayer that through my story you may begin to be more aware of the many ways that God is moving in and through your life.  May this inspire you with hope for how BIG God is and how He wants to impact your life and the lives of your family in great ways in this season at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

On May 1st this year I was sitting in a regular, ordinary church service at Westminster Presbyterian Church. We had a man and wife combo preaching for a neutral pulpit that day. The two pastors being examined were just graduating from seminary and were young and adorable. I was just sitting there like normal and Ed sat with me (never happens since he is usually preaching). It was nice. The two kind of tag teamed where the man preached the first 1/2 of the passage in Acts 16 where Paul had assumed that he was traveling to go and preach to a group of male Jews, but when he got there he waited and waited and there were no men that ever showed. He felt his journey had been wasted. Paul went through a process of surrendering to God and decided that he would talk with whoever was there. He crossed the river to a place of prayer and found a group of women there. Paul began to speak with them because, hey – they may not be the men he was expecting, but they were there. 🙂

Then, the wife got up to speak. This next part was so unexpected, but familiar. So unbelievable, but clear and strong. When she began to speak I immediately saw myself in her – speaking just like her.  I saw myself up there and heard my own voice coming out of her mouth. She began to talk about Lydia and how she had nothing in common with Paul or the women there and she wasn’t a Jew or a believer, but a Gentile. Lydia was a business woman.

At that point in the story there was what felt like a cloud of heat that was all over and in my body. I began shaking and crying deeply and hard. There was a peace unlike anything you can imagine. I was concerned with appearances so I cried up (like Oprah says LOL) and tried to hold it together. I have had one other time in my life where I physically felt God in this powerful way with the deep heat and amazing peace and it was when I left my old life to begin following Christ. Once you feel that you long for it all your life as there is no other PEACE like that. My mind kept searching for what this could be and what did she say that connected to my spirit and made me cry. It is quite common for God to touch my heart in everyday things and it brings tears to my eyes, but this was not that. I asked God, “what is this?” Very clearly in the still small voice inside I heard, “I am anointing you”. I was like” okay weird. Why am I being anointed?” I thought I was already anointed.

The heat, deep peace, and crying stayed for 10 minutes or so. Then the husband preached some more on the passage and then the wife got up again. She began speaking and I saw God’s face (like in a cloud) right in front of me and his arm stretched out at me and his finger pointed directly in my face and God said (like each word was it’s own sentence with a pause between each word) – I…AM…CALLING…YOU.

The world just kept going on around me, but for me everything changed. The heat, peace, and crying returned but this time with a deep sense of responsibility. This was no light thing. I got myself together towards the end of the message and continued to ponder what just happened to me. What did God call me to do? What did He expect of me? When the wife was leading us into receiving communion she said that many times God will call us and we attach all sorts of expectations to it like how it will happen, how it will look, what each step will be. She challenged each of us to lay down all our expectations of how and what the process will look like as we receive the Lord’s Supper. So, I offered that prayer and still do on a daily basis. This moment in time will define me and burn in me for the rest of my life. I pray that I will make God proud; that I will hear and see and understand all the steps He lays out for me. I pray that I have the courage to tell my many stories and to be a part of the stories of those around me.

After church that day, Ed and I got in the car to go to lunch. As soon as the doors to the car shut I bawled as I told him what happened. I mean ugly cry, let it all out, no one’s looking anymore kind of snotty crying. Poor Ed. At lunch Ed said that he felt that he was supposed to share something with me. He said that when he sat down and put his arm around me in the service and the woman was speaking, he saw me standing there and heard my voice coming out of her. I am thankful for God’s confirmation through my husband. It is so sweet of God to include Ed in this whole process as he experiences God very differently than I do. But, that day, God gave Ed a glimpse into what He was doing in me. And Ed would need that experience as we both tried to navigate the waters of change ahead.

From there the decision was made to pursue a seminary education at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.  During this process, a close advisor suggested that if I had any desire to apply for the CYF position then I should.  Through multiple interviews with the search team (that did not include Ed) we all felt that God was leading us in this direction.  So, here I am.  I believe God has orchestrated all this to bring great things for our children, youth, and families here at WPC.  I have committed to building these programs over the next 3-4 years and am excited to see all the possibilities here.  I just wanted to fill you in on how it all happened and to challenge you and your family to believe God to be actively at work in your lives in big ways every day.  I pray that you each will be filled with a strong desire to see, hear, and experience God in new ways.

Blessings – Nicole