Houston Fall 2018 Small Group

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“Coming into RECESS, I was desperate for rest. Being a teacher, you frequently hear the phrase, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It was a motto I had adopted for my life, and I was continually thinking, coming up with extravagant plans of how life would go and figuring out ways to execute my plans. Just before RECESS, my plans were shaken. I was desperate, trying to grasp and grab hold of my elaborate plans that were being carried away. I’d pray, quote Scripture, and feel peace in that moment. But it was fleeting, for I quickly returned to my scheming.

Through RECESS, God broke the chains of perfection and planning and my Type A label. The doubts of “Are you really good God? Are you really faithful?” were silenced. The Lord revealed truth to me that His goodness and faithful is not dependent on my planning, and I don’t have to have it all together. He is bigger than my plans. He filled my heart with hope and peace. And He has taught me how to remain there.

I’ve found that being in His presence and resting there is so much more powerful and effective than any of my planning sessions. By learning how to rest in Him, I’ve learned to relinquish my grasp of worry and control and instead hold tight to the hope and joy He brings.”- Andrea, 25

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“I think when I first started RECESS, I was so exhausted. I was worn out. Felt unseen. Overlooked. Reserved. I was tired of trying. I felt like I kept missing out on what God had for me. I had the idea that God was only good when He was proud of me—that He only blessed me and rewarded me when I had it all together. I knew He loved me because He loved everyone. He cared about me because, of course, He cared about everyone. I felt like I was just another grain in the sand. I felt like seasons were going to shift for so long, but nothing changed. So I thought this was just going to be another thing. Another bandaid on the heartbreak. But nothing would really change.

I walked in on that first night of RECESS and in our first reflection time, God began to speak to me. He started to answer questions in my depths. Before I even had words for what I needed, He knew. He spoke against any lie that I believed. He began to chisel away the walls and the lies that I believed. He started to loosen my grip on what I was holding onto so tightly. Instead of being angry and upset and disappointed, He kindly showed me the better way. He didn’t point out my sin to shame me or to make a mockery of me, but He showed me how I could have something so much better.

He has shown me how He has loved me. Just me. Not me because He loves every person. But the things that are just for me. He has showed me that in the midst of my mess, He is there, He sees me, and His love for me is still so deep.

I have begun to see His kindness for me everywhere. In the traffic. In the running late. In the mistakes. In even the playing the sweet songs on the radio. He sees me. Every part of me. He sees every part of who I have been until this point, and He loves me still. I have learned that being seen isn’t a bad thing—that I can let Him shine a light into every crevice of me, and He doesn’t want to expose me, but He wants to redeem every ounce of darkness and deception.

Just before RECESS, I felt like I was walking into to the Promised Land, like the Israelites. I knew for a long time that I was about to step into something good, but I felt that for months and nothing changed. My circumstances were still hard, and I felt so drained. But a few weeks into RECESS, I heard God say, ‘This is it. This is what you’ve been waiting for.’

The closeness and intimacy with Him has been so different than what I have felt before. The earthly Promise Land has been so much more than what I could have imagined or hoped for. God has shown me that He is God who gives and gives abundantly, and I love that this is only a glimpse to what the eternal Promise Land is like.” – Donika, 29

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“I’m still processing much of what I have learned the past few months in RECESS. However, from what I can gather, I think one of the recurring threads that strings many of the pieces together is learning who the Spirit is, believing He can do what He says He can, and learning how to be sensitive and obedient instead of leaning on myself and my own strength.

It reminds me of my pole vaulting days back in high school. I remember I would get so frustrated because some girls who unable to run as fast or do as many pull-ups as me would beat me because they had better form. While I was leaning on my own strength, they were leaning on physics and the mechanics of the sport. Strength is no match for proper technique and physics.

In the same way, for so long I’ve tried to muscle my way through my relationship with God. And I think that God is saying, ‘Why do you make it harder than it needs to be? Why do you settle for self and lean on your own strength when you have the Spirit?’ No amount of knowledge or strength can hold a candle to the Holy Spirit.

Because of RECESS, I now crave to learn more how to worship in truth and spirit, I yearn to learn how to collide child-like faith and wisdom, and I desire to be with Father more than to just simply know about Him. I hope and pray that I will never be the same.”
– Katherine, 23

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“God has done amazing things in my life these past 10 weeks through RECESS. I went from having a rock-hard heart to having my child-like faith restored. Thank you, God. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Holy Spirit! He helped me open up about wounds from my past. He broke through the strongholds and helped me see those wounds no longer define me. He broke through the lie of being unworthy to praise Him. Through Jesus, I am worthy. I am worthy to worship and to talk to Him freely.

He showed me that I’m loved by Him and that the only love I need is His love. I am satisfied with His love. He showed me what it looks like to hear Him. I’m still learning what His voice sounds like, but I trust Him to teach me. I trust in the Holy Spirit to judge my thoughts and actions and the earthly things. Praise you, Jesus. He is making me stronger to fight against earthly pleasures. It’s hard sometimes to fight temptation, but I’ve learned it is worth the fight because He is greater. His love is better than life. I chose to lay down my goals and ways because I only want to live the life He wants me to live.

He has given me wisdom. Thank you, Jesus, for that. Thank You for wisdom. Thank You for giving me the opportunity to come to RECESS and to meet these amazing women who love You. Your love for me is intimate. I want to keep growing this intimacy with You, Lord. You took fear away from me. You gave me confidence in Your strength against the enemy. You are deep inside of me, looking back at me and telling me how worthy I am. You are pouring out love and grace into me. My love for You is so strong. Your presence is very overwhelming, but gives me peace.” – Kelly, 25

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“Before RECESS, I knew God on a very surface level. The best way I know how to describe my relationship with Him would be that we were just acquaintances. He was someone that I occasionally asked for help or guidance. I never knew that a person like me could develop a closeness so deep and personal with the Holy Spirit. Little did I know a season of RECESS would change my heart forever.

I was hesitant to start our RECESS group in the fall of 2018. I was skeptical because in the past I always envied those who left an experience changed, and I had NEVER been one of THOSE people. As the weeks went by, I learned so much. I started realizing that I’m not just some random person, but a daughter in Christ who He says is WORTHY, loved fully and perfect in His eyes. I started to feel and see things differently. I could feel my heart becoming more tender and my anxiety and fears start to fade away. Even my parents noticed a huge change in me, and they commented that they could see a newer, lighter version of the person I once was.

Learning that God spoke to me and how to hear from Him for myself was what made my relationship with Him go from 0 to 100. I had always talked to and at God, but I never knew He could respond to me and that it was as simple as just inviting Him in. Accepting that He’s made me worthy to hear from Him, and see Him, and experience life with Him right by my side made for a much more personal and intimate relationship with God and strengthened the foundation of my faith forever.” – Natalie, 28

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“Before starting RECESS, I desperately craved a true encounter with the Lord. I had just moved back to Houston, when a friend told me about an amazing ministry that had impacted her more than words could describe. I signed up for RECESS, not knowing that this process was one that I now truly believe was the reason God brought me back to Houston. Even though I’ve been a Christian since I was a teenager, there are truths that I was exposed to in RECESS that I’ve never really understood, let alone practiced—like authentic worship, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

To be honest, I’ve had a history of mental health issues that have manifested themselves as what seemed like spiritual encounters with God, but were actually manic episodes. This left me very confused about what I believed about the Holy Spirit and hearing from God. Prior to RECESS, I lived what I would call a very safe Christian life since, more defined by religious practices than by true intimacy with the Lord. I truly believe RECESS pushed me and challenged me in a new and refreshing way, allowing me to experience God in a way that is fully founded in Scripture, yet drenched in the Spirit. I’ve found true deliverance from the bondage of fear that I lived in that was impacted by my past.

I’ve also discovered the higher call I have on my life. I’m so incredibly grateful for the group of women that walked alongside me in this journey, and the space that RECESS created to be vulnerable and honest before God. I feel like I’ve been awakened to what a life abiding with Jesus really looks like, and I can say I’m now living in it. The Gospel has become real to me, and RECESS has provided the tools to continue walking in these truths and falling in love with Jesus more and more every day. God’s unending love for me, something I’m learning to grasp through my time in RECESS, has sparked my new perspective. It’s given me true freedom and an unceasing joy, no longer defined by my circumstances.” – Brittany, 28

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“God has done so much for me in this time I almost don’t even know where to begin. I came into RECESS broken, lost in my understanding of Him, confused and feeling hopeless. But He reminded me of who He is because I so easily forget just how deep His love is for me. He’s taken my broken heart and made it new in His love. He’s delivered me from the grip of darkness that fought to consume my purpose and identity. He reminded me that I am a daughter—that I have been adopted in my brokenness and that He walks with me day-by-day, making my path straight and showing me what Light and Love really is.

The most special night of my RECESS journey was the night He delivered me. I felt the darkness all around me. I felt Him speaking to me, ‘My daughter, you have fallen asleep. Will you release this darkness? The fear, the anxiety, the hurt, and unforgiveness? Will you have Me instead? Open up the pathway to your heart for Me.’ As I did, I began to step into depths of Him that I didn’t know I had access to. I heard His voice. I experienced Him intimately in worship like I never had before.

I have stepped into the certainty of Him—that He is with me. And my prayer has become this: ‘God, I just want You. I don’t want to fall into my stupid fleshly impulses. I need You. And I want You. More than I want to gratify my flesh. I don’t want the bandaid; I want Your depth. And I am so thankful that you’ve used RECESS to help me find it.'” – Christina, 22

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“I think back to September and PRAISE God with my whole heart for all that HE—and HE alone—has done in this season of my life. I started this journey timid, not remembering or sure of the love that my Savior has for me. I often felt worthless and undeserving—always thinking back and focusing on the moments during my walk that I let the Father down. Though I knew and loved Jesus, I was not living in the FREEDOM that Christ bought for me on the cross, I was pursuing knowledge of Him but not intimacy with him, and I sure was not walking in the POWER of His Spirit.

But today, I feel His LOVE surround me, I have peace in the deepest parts of my bones, I HEAR specifically from Him, and I know His VOICE.

Right before I started RECESS, the Lord placed Matthew 6:33 on my heart: ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all else will be added unto you,’ and now I believe He was showing me through that verse what was coming into my life—intimacy with Him.

In order to bring me closer into intimacy with Him, the Father first taught me that I am the most holy of holies. When reading from Hebrews 10, my eyes were OPENED. If God was only able to enter into the most holy of holy places, and His spirit lives within me, that means I am holy. I am truly washed clean. The resurrection of Jesus CLEANSED me so I cannot only be near Him, but HE can live within me. We are truly the Spirit’s tabernacle. Oh, how that truth made me view myself differently. When God accomplished His mission through Jesus, He allowed us to be near Him. He made us HOLY, so that He could live within us. The peace, strength, power and thanksgiving that comes with the knowledge of that truth is indescribable.” – Kamri, 23