Our mission at REFRESH is to create intentional opportunities for connection to the Lord with the desire to awaken dreams and activate purpose. There are many of these opportunities but one of the newest ways is through REFRESH Stories here on the blog. What is REFRESH Stories you may be wondering? We're so glad you asked!
Have you ever received “a word” from God, gotten excited, and then lost steam when the momentum faded with the everyday demands of life? This is where we want REFRESH Stories to come in for you. We want to hear your word, and then to hear about the process you're on. What's the journey been like for you? What exciting things have happened? What are some of the challenges you've faced and how have you walked through those? Sharing these stories with our REFRESH community will provide encouragement, strength and hopefully fan a spark back into flame to keep you going in the "walking-it-out" stage of your own deams, no matter where you are on that journey.
The more stories we hear from each other, the more each one of us will be excited to continue with our own race! This is not for comparison, but rather a way to see that we can do it together, each of us in our own lane. Our individual platforms and influence will look different. Friends, that’s the beauty of the kingdom! We want to work together, so others will see the kingdom living inside of us.
Each month we will feature someone walking out her story. These stories will help to spur us on, together. We will see the trials and triumphs. We will witness the heartaches and victories. We will be reminded of God's faithfulness and that "in Him all the promises of God are 'yes.'" That "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." And remember: God dreams don’t die…
Refresh Stories: Sarah Birkbeck
Sarah Birkbeck is the founder and leader of REFRESH. She’s not perfect, but she loves the Lord with all her heart. We want you to hear from her, because when God gives us a word, it’s not really for us. It’s for Him to do in and through us what we could never do in our own strength. She is such a strong example of what REFRESH means to all of us: Dreaming unlimited, big, God dreams.
I met with Sarah on a warm September day and our time together was full of life, just like her.
Give us a short testimony of how you came to know Jesus.
I grew up in a Christian home, but when I was a senior in high school I had my Jesus moment at church camp. I felt like it was the first personal encounter I had with the Lord. From there, everything changed. I wasn’t really thinking about the future or college, but after this decision to follow Jesus I decided to go to Bible school. In Bible school I really started hearing from the Lord, but I still felt very small on the inside and did not think I could do much for God. I met my husband James in Bible school and from there we went to Oral Roberts University to pursue degrees in business. James was one of the first people in my life that started calling things out in me and telling me how the Lord felt about me. We married after graduation, and I was still very content with living small. I worked in ministry for a few years and then we started having kids. We moved to Dallas and something inside of me shifted. I became discontent and God started speaking to me in visions. Big visions.
Do you feel like God has given you a specific dream or purpose for you life?
Yes! But, it has been a long process of frustration. In the beginning I didn’t know why I was frustrated, but I knew there was a big empty piece of my life missing. I found myself feeling constantly pissed, because I knew there was something I was supposed to be doing, but I had no idea what. It birthed a deep need within me for a challenge and out of the frustration, I knew I needed more. Then, one night the Lord spoke to me one word: REFRESH.
What steps have you taken to pursue this dream?
I spent about three to six months journaling and having conversations with the Lord. I looked up the definition of REFRESH: to enliven, stimulate, awaken, fortify, freshen, energize, revive. I held those words before the Lord. Then, the ideas started to come in a flood. I wrote them all down and stayed faithful to writing them as they came. I would find myself writing out schedules and through these ideas came the idea for a Living Room. I wanted to gather women in my home and use my gift of hospitality to have an intentionally deep time together. And that’s how it all started. A simple time to gather, worship, learn and dream big.
Have you had moments in the journey that have set you back or made you want to quit?
Yes, I felt discouraged in the lull - the area when the word given was so long ago. I was doing a lot but not seeing a lot of fruit. There were so many exit ramps during this time. I especially felt discouraged leading up to big events; when things couldn’t stay the same and had to change. Growth requires change and that is uncomfortable.
What has kept you going?
The Lord and wanting to fulfill what He has asked of me. For me, quitting is no longer an option. I know I heard the Lord.
What areas, in walking out this purpose, do you wish you had more support?
I need support in the daily struggles, the doubts, and the different feelings I come up against. It can feel so isolating when you are in leadership and sometimes I want someone to just tell me how I’m doing. It’s important to ask people, how am I doing, how do I go forward and having a mentor who has already been through something similar.
Do you ever get discouraged by people not understanding what you are trying to do?
Absolutely. I remember almost not doing REFRESH because I felt like no one got it. It’s a unique calling and you want people to latch on to the calling with you from the start, when they don’t really understand it in theory format. They have not been given the same vision. I felt like an idiot with some of their responses, like nobody gets me. It’s like the Joseph story - you get so excited to tell people the word you received from the Lord when you really just need to tell the people close to you until the word starts coming into fruition. When the Lord gives you something, it is new. New is hard to explain, it is unique. When you are called to pioneer something, He requires you to step out in what you can see even if there aren’t others around you that see it yet. You are blazing a trail.
How did you turn this discouragement around?
Two words: push through. Just keep going. You have to stand on the word you hear and not the doubts that come against it. It’s important to find your core people who can give you the encouragement you need and speak the life back into you when you are down. Also, stay connected to the Lord daily, through his word. We cannot move forward without our relationship with the Dream Giver connected. Moving forward in our own strength will leave us tired and off course.
Where are you at in the journey and where do you hope to be?
We are just now getting over the whiney toddler stage. We are definitely still growing, developing and figuring things out, but I think we are almost through the foundation stage and ready for the building stage. YAY!
What kind of advice or encouragement do you have for other women trying to pursue their own purpose in God?
First of all, if you feel like you don’t have purpose from God, you need to make space to be able to hear from God. You need margin in your life. If the Lord has spoken to you and you are asking “How do I get there?”, it’s a lot of discipline and yielding and pushing forward. Waiting and moving. It is living in the tension of both. I love Lisa Bevere’s quote, “Lovely one if you dare to dream, you must be brave enough to fight.”
The first chapter in Jeremiah is about God giving Jeremiah a specific word and calling. Jeremiah assured God he couldn’t do that. The Lord reassures him, “…for I am with you to deliver you.” Don’t disqualify yourself when the Lord has qualified you. It’s in His works, not yours. AMEN!!!
Written by Kelli Sommers
Kelli Sommers comes from a long line of storytellers and comedians. Through her stories she hopes to inspire others to know how much God loves them.
Kelli is married to a complete opposite who loves to watch her fly. She has 5 beautiful kids and serving her family is one of her greatest joys in life, but bedtime is one of her favorite times of day.
Kelli loves to read the word and that’s the only book she has time for right now. If she is not at home picking up messes, you will find her out with a friend, having a long talk and some good food (probably tacos). She is passionate about unifying women. We are better together. You can find her on her blog and instagram.