Houston Fall 2017 / Spring 2018 Big Group

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“I believe the most impactful truth from this year at RECESS was learning God’s desire for me to rest in Him. To rest in His perfect love for me. To rest in His strength while, like Paul, embracing my weaknesses so that Christ’s strength and power could be displayed in me.

Because of childhood neglect, I have lived believing the lie I had to take care of myself. I could not fully embrace God’s desire for me to depend on others, which as a mother of 6 (ages 4 to 16) had left me exhausted. The enemy had convinced me that if I had a need, I should find a way to meet it myself. This denied me of the grace God pours out through His children to one another.

I can now confidently say it is my great pleasure to ask for and receive help. To humble myself and throw my hands in the air admitting I need help! I now find myself no longer believing God is most pleased when things run smoothly. I am beginning to embrace God delights in my messes because He delights in me. The messes and hard places are not to be dreaded because that is when my God really makes known to me His power to deliver and sustain. I can view obstacles and hardships as opportunities to see God pour out His grace and mercy on me and my family. My unknowns are not so scary because He knows all and He works All things for good for me.

Psalm 23 is a scripture my husband teaches our children when they turn 3. The last 13 years I have listened to my children recite this verse never fully comprehending the posture of rest David displays in the Psalm. This year the Lord sweetly spoke these words to me in a new way and I am filled with joy:

‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’” – Amy, 47

“Gosh, so many areas of my life were touched by RECESS, and in a sense, not any area was untouched.

For instance, I, for the first time, am finding so much freedom through worship. Before RECESS, I honestly never really ‘got into’ worship in a church setting. I enjoyed it, but I never felt like an active participant. I am very much a WHY and HOW person, and since no one ever taught, articulated or demonstrated to me the importance of worship, the power in it, the personal blessings from it, and how to do it, it was never that important to me. I listened to Christian music & enjoyed it, but that is very different than worshipping! And in RECESS, I finally learned why and how to truly worship, and it changes everything.

It all became very real to me a couple months ago when my granddaughter Kaiya was born and was rushed to NICU with a serious health issue. Our family was faced with the choice of either faith or fear — it’s either one or the other; they can wrestle but one ultimately wins. My two daughters and I had been learning during RECESS about the power of praise to shifts things in us and the world around us (2 Chron 2:20; Acts 16), so we decided to trust God and PRAISE our way through the long days and nights. God had given me a vision on Christmas day that He had Kaiya IN HIS HANDS, and I banked on that promise. So we sang with all our hearts. We worshiped God in the midst of an unknown outcome. We trusted HIM and not what we could yet see. Our Kaiya was released to go home a week after birth without any lasting effects from what could have overcome her, and I truly believe our praise was the weapon He used to crush the enemy and usher in His victory.

RECESS also taught me a lot about the workings and power of the Holy Spirit. I’ve also been on a journey for the past three to four years learning about the Holy Spirit and how to hear God’s voice. I’ve had dreams, visions, profound thoughts I knew were from God, an entrance into heaven once and other undeniable God experiences, but RECESS really gave me the space and time to practice how to hear and respond to the Spirit’s promptings. This Spirit-led equipping has radically changed my life and my ministry with the teen girls I mentor. The Spirit prompts me or even stops me from saying specific things and guides me to do this or that. The outcome is undeniably different.

It’s been so exciting to be a part of these powerful God-encounters with others, and it’s definitely faith-growing. The best analogy for living in the power of the Holy Spirit is living on a playground with God. Life in the Spirit has brought so much joy and fun into my faith walk!” ​- Gaynor, 59

“I’ve known Jesus since I was 7 years old, but since college really, I kind of went on this downward spiral of not spending time with Him or really even acknowledging Him. I still went to church, but was living a life of the world. This life consisted of partying, sex, drinking, judgement – basically hiding.

Joining RECESS came at such a sweet and funny time. I was just about to apply for jobs in Denver, and then Harvey happened. I felt like I needed to stay for my family. Then the first night of RECESS, Kallie talked about how we don’t have to be the strong ones, and I knew the Lord was calling me – pulling at my heart-strings. I’ve always felt that I needed to be that for my family my whole life. A couple weeks later, I started learning who the Holy Spirit was – who I’d never really thought too much about before RECESS – and I started learning what it means to let Him be my strength. I’m learning what it’s like to lean on Him – that it’s not my burden to bear.

I’ve also learned that so much of what’s been holding me back all my life has been believing lies about who I am in Him. I’ve always believed that I’m not enough, that I can’t or won’t hear from Him, that my words aren’t good enough for Him to use. But I know now those are all lies. Through RECESS, I have learned who I am in Him. I am desired. I am loved. I can hear from Him, and He wants to hear me speak. I am powerful, and He will heal me and use me to lead others – which I never even wanted to because I didn’t think I could.

It wasn’t until recently that I have been asking God why I partied. I’m honestly still working through that – but I think it stemmed from a desire to belong. When I’d drink and party, I would feel like I belonged. But God has been revealing to me that I belong with Him, and I’ve started to see my desires change. He’s been breaking through my unbelief that He won’t come through, that my desires won’t change, and the fear I had that life in Him won’t be as fun. I’ve realized that unbelief is just a misunderstanding of how much God loves us. He loves us so much. He chases us down. There is room for mistakes and He is still a faithful God.

Gosh, there are so many things the Lord has taught me in RECESS and so much I’ve heard and been blown away by. I could go on and on about what I learned about entering into His presence through worship and praise. But I think the sweetest thing for me is knowing now that He is with me through every second of it, carrying me, leading me, encouraging me and desiring me. We get to go into the battle with joy because the victory is already won.” – Emily, 28

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“‘What has RECESS been?’ This season has been a heart cry. It’s felt like that first breath feeling after a long season of drowning.

Before RECESS, I was in a dark place. I was so frustrated and upset that I felt so alone that I was crying all the time and lashing out at those closest to me. Turning to God never even crossed my mind. Flash forward to my friend Amanda posting about RECESS on Instagram and deciding, ‘well it couldn’t hurt…maybe at least I’ll walk away with a new friend,’ and boom, y’all, did He deliver!!

RECESS was an introduction to Love – a love that I never fully grasped, understood or felt worthy of, which honestly is just wild to think about now. I got to encounter His love in ways that I didn’t even think were possible, or at least not possible for me. From visions to words for others to physically feeling His presence, I experienced the heights and depths of His love, all while being surrounded by a community of women who trust Him completely and hunger for the same thing…It was everything I didn’t even know that I needed.

Looking back and seeing where I thought I belonged when this journey began to where I am now with Him is amazing. I remember when RECESS first started feeling like I was on the outside, watching this magnificent feast take place and seeing an open chair but thinking I couldn’t sit in it. Now I know that my name is written all over that chair, and that there was, is and will always be a good, good Father hosting this feast, longing for me to sit down so He can love me through it all.” – Megan, 24

“Before RECESS started, I was in a dead-end season of dry religion. I was craving community, but I was so nervous I wouldn’t find it. After years of feeling like I never quite ‘fit in’ and several attempts to join a church group in the city, I was close to giving up. I made every excuse in my mind why I couldn’t go, but a friend from SoulCycle named Darla insisted I come saying ‘it’s the real deal.’ I was afraid RECESS would be another exclusive religious social club and I would have to fight to be accepted. BOY WAS I WRONG!

After worshipping Jesus alone for most of my young adult life, it was amazing to have a group of multi-generational vibrant women seeking hard after the Lord. Yes, God truly answered my prayers. RECESS was amazing, and God started transforming the way I think as we read the Word together and sought His face in intimate, raw worship week after week. I was surrounded by God-chasers like myself. They embraced me, and all my insecurities starting fading away quickly. I truly felt loved for the first time authentically through my community. I could come just as I am.

Through RECESS, God helped me break out of my legalistic mindset and focus on my relationship with Him. I realized I could stop striving to please Him because I understood Jesus fully loved me. I can rest and receive His love. RECESS gave me tools I can use to encounter Him daily, and I also gained a family who will always have a special place in my heart all my life. Glory to God and a big thank you to the RECESS team! I highly recommend this journey to anyone who is seeking JESUS.” – Alyssa, 28

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“Before starting RECESS, I was like most lukewarm Christians, church on some Sundays and that was enough. I only wanted to pursue the things I selfishly wanted regardless of what God’s plans were for me because I knew that if I were to really dive into the Word and have a relationship with God my whole life would be different, and I liked my life.

Then I met Dallas, one of the RECESS leaders who was so tender and loving towards me. When she spoke about Jesus there was this fire in her eyes and tone in her voice, I could feel her passion and I wanted nothing more than to love him like she did, to worship as if He were right in front of me. A few months passed and she invited me to join RECESS. I had no idea what it was but I signed up anyways.

Before starting, I battled with the question of, ‘If today was my day to go, would I go to heaven?’ and the reality of that question was no. I started reading the Bible – and this time past Genesis – because if He is who He says He is, I wanted to know for myself, and what was there to lose? Nothing, I had nothing to lose, only to gain. Either I figure out who Jesus is and live my life according to His will and not my own, and when it’s my time I’ll go to heaven and look Him in the face and shout with utter joy ‘I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT WAS YOU THE WHOLE TIME!’ Or I give it my best go, nothing happens, I stay the same person I have been for the past 25 years and when it’s my time, my body crumbles away with the earth…So I took my chances.

I started this journey of RECESS with many other women experiencing the same struggles, fears and heartache I did. And through the process, I encountered the tender love of the One who calls me His daughter. He helped me to see that my scars are beautiful and represent a fight well fought – that they don’t illustrate anything other than the sweet victory that was to come and still is to come until the day I get to shout ‘I KNEW IT!’” – Megan, 25

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“When I think of RECESS, two big words come to mind: Freedom and Joy. For me, September 2017 was the month when my freedom began. I don’t remember the exact day, but I remember what I felt. I physically felt lighter, like a weight had been lifted off of me. The desire I had my whole life for control was gone.

Before RECESS, I was stuck in chains I didn’t even know about. I was chained to the idea of perfection, a constant desire for control, and the ruthless anxiety they caused. I was constantly striving for control and perfection, and spiraling out when I failed — always feeling unfulfilled. Little did I know that our faithful, faithful Father was guiding me to this journey all along. Little did I know that the fulfillment I was seeking could only be found in His arms.

Knowing Him, and beginning to find myself in Him, has been one of the greatest gifts He has blessed me with. I know that my relationship with Him is a FOREVER one, and that I will continue to grow in Him. This journey has brought me the most joy because it led me to Him. He knew I was coming all along, and that those loving, strong arms I ran to had been open since the moment He created me.

As a person I am completely changed. There is still a long way to go on my journey, but I do not fear the future like my old control-obsessed self would. I welcome the future because I know He has gone in front of me, is behind me, and is right beside me always.” – Ellie, 23

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“When I began the process of RECESS, I had anticipated Jesus reckoning me to myself, a pulling of stitches so to speak. I knew He was going to call me to go to deep and hurt places. I knew it was coming so I was hesitant, I was afraid and I was tempted to flee.

However, the things that He had me deal with through RECESS were not the ones I had anticipated. Rather than focusing on the ‘events’ of my life, He brought me face to face with the ‘beliefs’ in my life. He brought every lie, every fear, every doubt, and every insecurity to the surface. And rather than discipline me and scold me for having such a perverse view if His love and provision in my life…He held me, He spoke tenderly to me, He proved himself trustworthy.

He didn’t tell me to ‘get better,’ rather He asked me, ‘What do you want, My beloved?’ Rather than point His finger, He sat on His throne with tear-stained cheeks and asked, ‘Don’t you know you are worth it to Me?’ He promised to never leave me, to give me joy in the confusion, and He called me to a life of abundant living…casting off my legalism, my perfectionism and my insecurity.

This is the season in which He redeemed and restored. This is the season where I died and was resurrected into glory, goodness and joy. A season where I did more than just survive. This is the season in which I learned to fully trust Jesus even when the natural doesn’t match the supernatural.

This is the season I learned to abandon all logic and listen to love. This is the season that I learned that losing my heart and soul to the King of Kings is where I am found, secure, loved, and adventure awaits. It’s the season that I was able to declare Him worthy of it all, knowing there is grace to make a mistake, there is freedom in falling and that the process is what makes me worthy of His love. It’s the reckoning, the growing, and the surrender that makes me His, not the striving, perfecting or trying. It’s just loving Him and being with Him…..It’s all about Him.” – Kaley, 23

“God did it again. He came, He saw, He conquered my heart. Once. Again.

Through this six month journey of going deeper with the Lord, I’ve learned to be confident in seeking Him. I know that I can seek Him and find Him and know Him. RECESS’ tagline is appropriate because it’s true for anyone who comes willing. Anyone who’s willing to open their minds, hands and heart to receive the mystery, power, joy, healing, and LOVE from God CAN experience change.

Walking out in faith that what the Bible says about us is true now and not just for the saints-of-old has given me a fresh excitement for what’s to come. I felt like I had hit the glass ceiling of ‘spiritual maturing,’ and I couldn’t get to other side until I was in heaven. The women in RECESS set an example for me of what it looks like to shatter the lie of a glass ceiling and to continue deepening my relationship with the Lord. Through their leadership and example, I have experienced the Lord on my own, and I am now excitedly going forward, knowing the depths and length I can run in freedom. I have discovered the more willing I am, the deeper my worship is. And all I have to do is say yes.” – Abigail, 23

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“When I initially began RECESS, I was lonely and on the brink of checking out of life…But I have learned that life is worth living because it is a gift from God and life holds so much power. RECESS has shown me that I am worth being loved and that God truly cares for me. I have learned that NOTHING is impossible with God. I have also learned that God can speak through me and that He listens to me, which I never thought He did. Lastly, I learned that I am capable of praising and worshiping God unashamedly.” – Arryss, 26

“In September, I had no idea what RECESS really was other than it was about learning the Holy Spirit and I was hungry to learn about Him. I felt like I kept striving to ask God for directions in life with no real way of understanding what His answers would look like and how to hear Him. I struggled with confidence that He would even bother to talk to me of all people. Also just before RECESS, I felt convicted to quit my job teaching piano. I have never not worked and I was really struggling with a sense of identity in who I was. I had no idea what direction I was going next or what other talents I had.

When RECESS started, I learned how distorted my views of relationships were: father, husband, friend, counselor, teacher, comforter. I had terrible examples all my life in just about every department and it severely distorted my view of God. No wonder I held Him at a distance and felt like I couldn’t get answers. I didn’t even realize how much I didn’t trust Him. But knowing in your head is so much different from knowing in your heart and I still had to experience that.

As RECESS went on, I started feeling skeptical, especially because last year was a hard year of wave after wave of obstacles. I was starting to become bitter and not trust God. I felt like every time I stood up, something else knocked me down, so there was almost no point in getting back up anymore. I truly didn’t think I was going to finish RECESS and that I was just in a different season than everyone else because I felt forgotten, betrayed, and unloved by God. I was giving up. My emotions ran so deep I literally had dull, aching pain in my hands and my hips that kept me from being able to play piano, work out, or even sleep at night.

I hadn’t told anyone what I was really going through when I ‘coincidentally’ decided to go back to RECESS for one final try the week they were teaching on the gifts of the Spirit and how they build up the church. At the end of the lesson, some of the leaders got up to demonstrate what these gifts look like. One of them said when she prayed, she saw an image of a woman with her hand hurting and that God wanted to heal it, but she had to give Him her hand in trust and let Him escort her where He wanted to lead. I raised my hand and said that was for me, and the WHOLE GROUP prayed over me.

I felt embarrassed, but I also felt really loved and seen for the first time in a long time. I went home that night feeling different. The physical pain was gone. And that night, I had a dream where I took a muzzle off of my face and I addressed with authority the spirit of fear that had held me in captivity for so long – he no longer had power over my life!

The following week I performed with a band with NO ANXIETY! I have performed and recorded before, but I always stuck with teaching piano because my anxiety would get so bad I would be physically ill and lose my vision. This was HUGE. I also had NO PAIN whatsoever in my hands or hips. Where I could maybe play an hour or two before pain kicked in, I could now play for 5-6 hours and there was nothing! Not even fatigue.

Right after that performance, I had another dream where essentially was God telling me to stop going it alone. I had breakthrough BECAUSE of those at RECESS who prayed over me. I had healing and help BECAUSE of those women. I had my guard up for so long, not sharing anything, thinking I was protecting myself, when really I was holding myself in bondage.

I experienced God’s love through RECESS, and my relationship with Him today is radically different than it was before. It’s no longer theology for me and a striving to know Him. It’s not head knowledge. It is a living, breathing difference.” – Laura, 30

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“About a year ago, my friend Jenalee started posting about a ministry she’d become a part of in Houston called RECESS. At the time, I had been in the city for a little under a year and was dealing with a lot of things, but I didn’t have too many friends in that city that I felt I could talk to. I reached out to Jenalee and signed up for the upcoming session starting the following Fall. That following September, right after the city had been demolished by Hurricane Harvey, I attended the first night of what was about to be the most life changing 6 months of my life.

All summer long, I wrestled with experiences of my past and issues of anxiety that I had been dealing with for the past 10 years. I kept telling myself, ‘just make it to September. In September you’ll find more answers,’ which now I know was from God. I knew that I needed God and that He was the only thing that would heal these wounds that I was burying so deep down and not talking about, but I told myself that this was going to be my last resort.

That first night, we talked about the city rebuilding after the storm, and I learned right there that’s exactly what I was going to be doing. Just like the hurricane, so many things from my past had tried to extinguish my light and demolish who I was, but now it was time to rebuild and I was ready.

In the next 6 months, God began to do just that – in ways that I had no idea were possible. On the first Thursday, I met with my small group, and during a get to know you question, I was asked, ‘If you could go back to one year of your life what would it be?’ I naively answered, ‘Sixteen. I think I really liked life that year.’ That night I went home and couldn’t stop thinking about that answer. Why did I say that? That was so random. Why was 16 even special? I went to sleep and the following week while journaling and spending, honestly my first in a VERY long time, quiet time with God it all clicked.

Sixteen was my last year of innocence. Before I had my first sip of alcohol, before I went from sleepover parties to parties with Svedka and cigarettes and smoking weed for the first time in my friend’s parent’s pool house, before I let go of a promise that I gave to God and stepped into promiscuity and something that was going to be years of emotional pain brought on by men.

I thought to myself, all of these girls seem to have it together – how would they ever relate to me? I decided that maybe I wouldn’t open up about my past or experiences with anxiety and panic attacks so bad that I have actually passed out. At that moment, I had no idea that God had other plans for me. God intended to fully open me up and let all of those pieces completely unravel in front of this group of girls, and boy did they unravel.

A few years ago, a very close friend of mine showed me the song, ‘Out of Hiding’ by Steffany Gretzinger. This is a song that I held onto when things were really tough, when my anxiety was crippling, and for years of my life I came to this song when I was at my absolute lowest. The entire album talks about the process of letting go and coming out of hiding because God sees all of your hurt and ‘there’s no need to cover what I already see.’ I started early on in RECESS to see why God put this album on me during those times but also to finally truly interpret what it all means.

It all happened one night at RECESS when we were talking about strongholds. We all sat in smaller groups and talked with each other about the things that we hold onto and the things we have a hard time letting go of. I wasn’t ready to talk about my past, but for weeks I had been asking God, ‘When I need to know that you are there the most, play “Out of Hiding,”’ which seems silly and like a strange request. And as we are sitting in this circle talking about what we hold onto, I was crying to myself and so afraid to talk about my past and the shame that I held onto. No one would ever understand me or relate to how I felt. Men had hurt me. I had given myself to people who weren’t good to me and hated myself for it, how was I supposed to just open up about the one thing that I was so ashamed of?

And as I was sitting there, out of the corner of the room I hear the song. The song I had been asking for this whole journey. One of the leaders was playing it on the guitar in another room and I began to bawl. When I needed Him the most, He saved that song to let me know it was okay. I could come out of hiding, I could open up and let it all be heard and no one was going to judge me because I was forgiven and made brand new.

There is truly so much more that I could say about this process, but through ​it ​all, I have learned to speak with God like I can a friend and my life has completely changed. I now know that I hold authority over anxiety because Jesus is peace and Jesus is in me so there is peace in me. I no longer harbor anger or anxiety or guilt about my past. I’ve learned that I am made new, completely 100% brand new. You hear this so much in church, and it is something that I heard my entire life but didn’t believe until now.

Are there still times when I slip up and things are really hard to say no to or anxiety tries to creep in and tell me I am not capable? Absolutely. But I have authority in something SO much bigger and so much more real than all of those things. God is love and love is truly real. And I make it my life goal to share that in the best way I can.

I am thankful for RECESS and for this life-altering season and for the community I had inherited when I was searching for a friend. I live my life now in a completely different way. I walk with a different light and a new outlook, and I am happy to share any more of that story with anyone who is interested in experiencing it.” – Lauren, 28