"Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14)

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

(I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1864)

I read the tragic and beautiful story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and how this classic song of the Christmas season came to be, and it was another timeless reminder of what keeps us going in the most horrific times: Hope.

He experienced the terrible loss of his wife to an accidental fire in their home, and his son was severely injured in battle during the American Civil War. His journal writings that first year or two after losing his wife, were somber, sad and of despair. The timing of the writing of this hymn which was originally a poem called “Christmas Bells” came on Christmas Day of 1864. Speculation as to the timing of it points to the re-election of Abraham Lincoln or the end of a terrible war. The poem was eventually put into song by John Baptiste Calkin in 1872 with some minor changes to the stanzas included in the hymn as we know it. I can’t help feeling a deep connection to that generation’s experiences during that time of war in our country, and how similar the state of mind is now with the upheaval and chaos we are living in today. There is such a need for hope, for peace, as much now as any time in our nation’s history. As I reflect back on this past year and what our family has experienced, our accomplishments, our failures, everything God has allowed to happen…I have hope.

I have hope, because I have Jesus.
I have hope, because I know I am loved.
I have hope, because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I am truly blessed.
I have hope, because God is faithful.
I have hope, because as this world crumbles I know the coming of my Lord is near.
I have hope, and I will share it with others.

Why am I so overwrought?
Why am I so disturbed?
Why can’t I just hope in God?
Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One
who saves me and is my life.
(Psalm 42:5)

Merry Christmas and Blessed Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Hallelujah, He's Here....

Look at your hands, they're still so small
Someday you’re going to stretch them out and save us all…..

Emmanuel. God is with us. Somehow, it is sinking deep in me this season, this present season more so than ever before. Perhaps because it is in my lifetime the ugliest I’ve seen our world. I’m astounded how far we have all fallen from the focus God intends not just during the Christmas season, but every day of this blessed life He has given us.

He has given so much, and He could take it all away in a split second. He did it in the Bible, we read about more than one account of God wiping the earth clean in one fell swoop of epic proportions. I can’t help wondering why He hasn’t done it yet again. Because truth be told, we deserve it and nothing less.

Life was far more simple, less complicated when I was my Chloe’s age. 4 years old. Nothing more important on her mind than the simple joys of an after school snack, dress up and singing Ariel’s song from “The Little Mermaid” in front of our family on a Tuesday night for the umpteenth time as if it is the first time she’s sung it and eagerly anticipating what we think of her performance. She doesn’t have to face the anxiety and burdens of life, because she is taken care of and can simply focus on being 4 years old. Watching her last night, the expression of sheer bliss on her face as she sang for us, thinking about how nice it must be to be completely unaware of the anxiety and burdens of this life……it’s something that left me feeling enormous relief for her.

Sunday night Ryan and I brought a beautiful song to worship about the coming of Jesus, from Mary’s perspective: “You’re Here” by Francesca Battistelli. I found myself completely enveloped by the song in the days leading up to it, and even today just thinking about it. How overwhelming it had to be for her. So much she did not know, and yet so much she hoped and prayed for this child she had been blessed to bare for mankind. I cannot imagine a greater burden and blessing than this. I look at the world today, what we are being hit with through social media and all other forms of media, whether on tv or in written form, that we have to sort through. I’m deeply convicted, burdened, to seek the truth and lean into the Father for consolation. We need to be grounded in our faith in God, trust Him to continue making all things work together for our good. We do not need to be the loudest voice, and often miss the opportunity we have to shut up and listen. We have to stop acting so surprised the direction the world is going in, and spend more time loving others and praying with/for them.

As I look at my Chloe, like Mary looked at the baby Jesus, I wonder how she will handle what is happening in the world around her when she comes of age. I hope and pray she’ll use her hands to help others regardless of all the ideas and pressures of the world around her. I hope and pray she is not limited even more than we are today by what she can actually do to help others. I hope and pray she always has a compassionate heart for the worst of humanity, who are no less deserving of it than the best of humanity. I hope and pray she simply loves as Jesus loved. Somehow in the course of this life and the turn the world has taken, the Message of Christ is no longer enough. I am heartbroken and frustrated watching, hearing, reading about how some Christians are behaving today. They claim to know Jesus, they say they speak for Him and ultimately for me, but I am putting my foot down here. You do not speak for me. Not when your words, your actions, result in making us all look nothing like Jesus. How disappointed He must be when this happens. I don’t want that to ever be said of me. I want to live every moment of this life, proclaiming the love and truth of Christ but also seating myself in humility. I will not boast in what I can do, but always and only in what my God can do through me.

He is here, and He is such a loving, patient, merciful God. I am thankful for that promise. I am thankful He is here…..

Count it all joy....

The holidays are approaching, and I am watching our schedule spin nearly out of control with so much to do and so many things to accomplish before another year comes to an end. This year has been brutal, not gonna candy coat it here. There is purpose in the process—I am learning to be more content with that statement and the depth of its meaning for my life. I am learning to find greater confidence, joy in seating myself firmly in what God has for me in this present season. And I believe wholeheartedly that is precisely what He intends for my focus to be at all times. There are lessons I have learned, wisdom gained from what I experienced in the past. Now and then, in conversation with others I find God plants nuggets in my mind and heart to share from something good I gained from past experience. But I don’t dwell on my past. I won’t. It doesn’t benefit me in any way, and it defeats me in many ways if I allow it. Satan is good at doing that to us, if we let him.

When I consider what we’ve experienced in life thus far, the good, the bad and the downright freakishly ugly—I count it all joy. I can say that far more confidently today than I used to. I can remember a time in my life when I wondered when I’d find that joy, that contentment because it seemed so far gone with all the muck I was trying to climb out of. My heart breaks when I watch dear friends struggle with this very thing. Life’s good for a time, then something hits, and the chaotic state suddenly has found its home again, and sets up shop for a time. We rally around and pray, pour out our support and encouragement, stand beside them as we walk with them through it, and see them begin to find their footing once again because of our foundation in Christ. That is what community in Christ, fellowship in the body of Christ is all about. It is cyclical, it is always available, it is not judgmental, it is unconditional, it is abundant at all times because that is how God is with us.

How do we find ourselves finally in this state of joy, contentment? Some of you are in a place today and reading that going, “What the heck is she talking about?” and feel as if you can’t relate in any way to what I’m saying because of the state you are in right now. Here’s the way to it: choose it. Because God has it for you. At.all.times.

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19 NKJV

Did you catch that word? SHALL. There’s incredible power in seating ourselves in that scripture, especially that word. SHALL. It doesn’t say He might, or He’ll consider your state of being compared to others who are in a much worse situation than yours. He SHALL supply ALL your need according to HIS riches in glory by Christ Jesus. His intent is for you to be ENTIRELY strengthened by HIS supply! I heard something in a message by Steven Furtick this morning that caught me:

….invisible strength, unlimited supply…..

So it points to this: how far are we willing to trust God in our most desperate hour of need? Are we suddenly thrust into the chaos of our situation so much so that it clouds our ability to trust our God? Do we realize who is getting the upper hand in this moment? Oh don’t let him have it! Don’t let Satan win at yet another one of his games in your life, his pathetic attempt to throw off your powerful and purposeful course because of our great God.

We all deal with this fear, of somehow I may not have enough or be enough…..

What is that about and why are we allowing a moment of our energy to be wasted on that? Life is guaranteed to be hard, and we are certainly threatened on all sides by fear, doubt, despair, but…..

My God SHALL supply…..

Our confidence comes from seating ourselves firmly in a holy contentment in Christ.

Are we choosing it? Even when we don’t feel like it, when we are telling God and as a result telling everyone around us when they ask us how we are doing, “Well, I’ll be better and our lives will be easier if A, B, C,…….”

When we do that, we’ve made our choice. Who’s got our joy then?

The challenge, the choice we have daily is to simply seat ourselves firmly in this present moment declaring over ourselves through the power of His name JESUS, through the foundation of His Word, and because of the overflow of the Holy Spirit residing in us, that we count it all joy!

I’m speaking this to myself as much as to anyone else who may be reading this. I don’t claim any of this is easy and never will. It is a process, it is divine and purposeful process. So how about we choose it and step into it, rather than being sucked into anything less than what God intends?

I promise it will be a game changer for you, every single day of your life! When stress and chaos threaten to take captive your heart and mind, remind yourself of the strength, the supply that God promises you SHALL have! Call upon Him, lean into Him, release your grip and choose to be held by Him.


Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5 NIV

There is a resonating message I’ve been hearing God speak over the past week and weekend. I’m learning at this 40something age and as I am challenged day to day to balance my time between my Father God, my family, my friends, school and church schedules, work projects, and volunteer projects, the decision to say no and find time to simply rest is crucial, imperative, and absolutely vital to my physical, mental, spiritual health. Ryan and I have found ourselves this year in a season of waiting. Many doors we have walked toward, have closed. Some are still open, but just a crack it seems. Others are opportunities we are open to but realize it is not something we are ready to step into fully at this point along the pathway of life. So, what’s the resonating message I’ve been receiving?


My entire being screams for order and predictability, and I am much more at ease if in fact things go according to plan or very close to it. I have dreams, goals, plans and I get focused very quickly on what makes the most sense for my life, for my family. There have been sections of my life when I relied more on my vision that God’s vision for my life. It was easier because I had it all in my mind, and on paper, and on my computer, and on my calendar that this is how it should go to meet a successful end. I found my prayer time predominantly shaped by something like this, “God I know the plans you have for me are good and perfect, and I just know you are going to agree with what I have in mind because it just makes so much sense!” Been there? I get ahead of myself, and as a result in my excited state of what could be and what feels right, quickly snowballs into a perspective that is heavily mine and very little of what God intends for me. When it doesn’t work out the way I’d hoped and dreamed and predicted God would bless, my perspective can be smashed to pieces. Crash and burn. And the immediate questions flood my heart, and I’m thrown into the realization that in fact I failed to start with the simple necessity to rest in my Father’s presence. No agenda, no plan of my own creation, but simply accepting the invitation He has open to me every single moment of my life to reside in Him. When we choose to release it all and start with this simple but powerful position of faith, we will be filled and fully capable of receiving what God has for us.

I am deeply convicted in my life now more than ever, to insert a new balance. Some of you have been faithfully praying for me and encouraging me through this season, and I am so thankful for your willingness to support me in this way. It takes time to find a new balance, and it takes sacrifice. It means saying no to certain things to make room for that which God has imprinted upon the heart to follow in obedience. I don’t ever want it to be said of me that I didn’t turn toward God’s specific call upon my heart to go and do something. There will always be things in my life that threaten to distract and ultimately destroy me. There are so many things that could weigh me down, hold me back from being fully in the presence of my Father God and in His good and perfect will. How much time did I waste, how much time have you wasted, being busy for anything other than what our Father God intends for our lives? I need a God perspective, every day, I have a choice to simply reside in Him and adopt that focus.

When I come to Him, offer up what has wrecked my day or what has blessed my day, it is all for the same good He has purposed for my life. I am thankful I have a faithful Father God who is ready to receive me, the good, the bad, the ugly, and continue shaping and directing my life as only He can.

Heart of Worship

As worship leaders, we are called, passionate about sharing the love of Christ through music. It is our tool, gifted by God to us to express His deep love for us and to move us to abide fully and wholeheartedly in His perfect presence. How do we develop a heart of worship? I believe it comes with time and practice. Here’s a few points on my view of what it takes to develop a heart of worship.

Die to self-

Parable of the Good Samaritan Luke 10:29-37

When I consider what comes first before I decide what song to sing in coordination with the message being spoken, recognizing the purpose for what I am doing points 100% to Christ----it is simple. Die to self. Become selfless. It starts with a focus free from all distractions, the biggest distraction of them all is ME. One of the greatest acts of selflessness we find in the Bible is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Here on this road, a man lies wounded, beaten down and probably close to death because of a crime committed against him. As time goes by, several people pass by him on the road. But one person stopped, had compassion on him and helped him. The Samaritan chose to do precisely what God calls us to as a Christ follower.

Love your neighbor as yourself…..(Mark 12:31)

How is what I am planning to bring to the worship experience a reflection of God’s compassion and love for others? The world is a harsh place, and it’s getting worse as time passes. The worship experience should set us apart from that environment as we enter into the Presence of our God. It’s all about Him, not about anything we bring.

Rise to excellence

I know a number of perfectionists who are musicians. I happen to be one of them and well, I’m also married to one. And we both just happen to be first born in our families. I know my children would tell you there are moments when Ryan and I butt heads as much or perhaps more often than when the birds are singing sweetly in our house. We love what we have been called to, and it is an amazing process to go through as we come together to plan a song list for any particular event. I have to give my husband credit though in this area because he has a natural and keenly sensitive approach to coordinating music. You know how an artist prepares to paint, to dive into a work of art, and so often they are in this depth of thought and process that is hard to understand? I see that in Ryan. I watch as he pulls a group of songs together, orchestrates a balance to a set that marries well with the purpose of a gathering whether it is a worship service, a community event, or even a wedding. I often find myself wishing I could somehow pop his head open like a soda can and see how his mind is working in these moments! This is the point in the process of developing a heart of worship, we recognize the drive, the striving toward becoming excellent in Christ. We truly desire for what comes out of our mouths to be a reflection of Christ and His deep love for us.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things……(Philippians 6:3)

For some musicians it is a natural part of this passion to enjoy the limelight, the stage, the opportunity to show off the talents we’ve been given and developed over time. The difference for a worship leader with the heart of worship, is that is contrary to why we do what we do. As we consider the role we have been given to lead worship, that it is all about God and not about us, as distraction dies and our focus on Christ intensifies, we find the process of preparation moving effortlessly into the necessity for excellence. As we begin to put the songs into order, rehearse and adopt the songs into our minds and hearts, the practice is precisely what worship is intended to be: a steady, daily delivery of praise and glory to our God! If what I am doing on the platform is different from what I am doing every single day of my life, then I’ve missed the point completely. There is no excellence there. We can’t afford to miss this, or what we are doing is only what we are doing, and we have completely missed step one of the entire process.

Excellence comes throughout the process, beginning, middle and even after a set list is complete. I’ve had occasions in many worship gatherings where songs were changed out at the last moment or cut completely because of the direction the Holy Spirit directed. The process of rising to excellence is a cyclical one. It never really ends, it continues as we are willing to be shaped in the Father’s hands and guided by the moving of the Holy Spirit.

Lead with humility

Pride. It is a difficult thing to manage as human beings isn’t it? Pride is not easily tamed for the majority of us. Humility is difficult to attain, but vital as worship leaders. When we are rocked to our core by something God has spoken into our spirit, we are moved to do something that gives no credit whatsoever to ourselves, something that points directly to our great big God….that’s when we find humility at last. To lead with humility, is to leave ourselves at the door, find our way to the floor, and direct our passions toward the furthering of God’s kingdom. I’m reminded of a Susan Ashton song, “Hunger and Thirst” in which she sings these words:

I hunger and thirst for mercy
I hunger and thirst for your name
If I hunger and thirst for anything but You
I hunger and thirst in vain…

Scripture in Matthew 5:6 tells us: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness-they will be filled.

The center of what we are doing is to be humbled, found precisely and deeply in the realization that we need God. I am no good to the purpose of worship leadership if I have any other agenda but God’s before I step on that platform. Humility does not come easily or naturally, and so we must find our way to relinquishing ourselves wholeheartedly to the Father’s care every single day. As we grow in the loving and purposeful knowledge of Christ, we decrease and He increases in us. When we recognize our need for Him and let our own vulnerability shine through the worship experience, then God is able to work through us as worship leaders more effectively. If we come into the worship preparation process without humility, we miss the very thing Jesus modeled for us.

Live intentionally

Worship is a daily habit for all of us, or at least it should be. Worship of the Father in all that we do, living our walk with Christ purposefully and intentionally is the best witness we can have. Our words are powerful but our actions often have an effect on those around we do not realize until long after. I like to make lists, do you? I like to get things done in a certain order, check it off the list and all is right with my world when I can see what all I have accomplished on any given day and breathe a sigh of relief. What can happen though when we get so caught up in what we decide we have to accomplish and set our minds on this “bulldozer” mentality, we can so easily miss a spontaneous, blessed surprise in our lives that God intends for our betterment. This is that moment in the worship preparation process, when we are set, the list is good, we’ve found a flow to the service for a particular Sunday, prayed and know deeply that the Father has taken hold of this so we can follow Him into it……then the Holy Spirit speaks and moves us in a new direction without warning. Are you ready to embrace it? Are you ready to make a split second change because of how the Lord is moving in that particular moment of the entire worship experience? It is moments like this as worship leaders we are reminded we are not in control, and God can speak through us far more effectively. There is purpose in all that we do as worship leaders, and often God sprinkles our pathway with spontaneous opportunity to improve upon what we have planned. His abundance flows more freely when we relinquish our grip on what we think needs to be completed, and simply live in those spontaneous moments as intentionally as the ones we have on our check list. As we live intentionally, we are perfected in Christ and He is able to receive the honor and glory He deserves from us.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:11-13

There is a burden upon our hearts as worship leaders to bring the truth, love and light of Christ to the hearts of others through music, and it is often one that brings us to our knees. I hope something in this blog entry has inspired you to consider how you can improve upon your approach to your next opportunity to lead worship. The education, experience and passion we each bring to the process is so diverse, extraordinary and amazing. I am inspired by the new music, the authentic and powerful direction that artists have taken to bring a wider range of song styles to the worship experience. I believe it is an incredible way to connect others with Christ and it is so important we don’t decide at any point the way we are doing it is the best way or the only way. We need to encourage and empower each other in our endeavors to keep doing what we are doing with deep conviction and deep love for the Father. The heart of worship, it is an ever evolving thing, because after all we are not there yet and will not be fully perfected until the day we stand before our great God and participate in the most incredible worship experience ever! Can you imagine what that is going to be like?! What a gift we’ve been given! Let’s make the most of it for HIS glory!

Step off your mat....

What’s keeping you from getting up off of your mat today? What is paralyzing you?

My devotional time this morning took me to the story of the lame man, the one whose friends brought him to see Jesus and went so far as to climb on the top of the home where he was teaching, remove sections of the ceiling and lowering their friend right down smack in the middle of the room. I can’t imagine the reaction of the people crowded into that meeting place with Jesus, and then to see the look on Jesus’ face. What a moment, if only to be a fly on the wall in that room! Amazing what his friends were willing to do to help the lame man-the love, the fiercely loyal friendship and commitment to see their friend healed and whole. I can’t imagine what that must have been like for this man. No sooner was he in the room with Jesus, laying there on his mat, then Jesus was speaking words of healing over this lame man. “Get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, he walked, and he went home praising God the whole way and the people who witnessed it gave God praise too that day for the miracle they had witnessed. What an amazing moment.

As I prayed this morning, I immediately asked God, “What’s keeping me on my mat? What is it that keeps my toe, my one foot from stepping off and walking on, trusting You in full and complete obedience and abundant faith?” I could think of a few things that I am sure you are too.

Fear. Doubt. Uncertainty. The unknown. So many questions. So few answers.

Is it a head issue or a heart issue? Perhaps it is a little of both? There are days my head is full of racing thoughts, what I have to get done today, what I have to deal with at work, with my family, with relationships, with church, and it very well sets me on a path toward near spontaneous combustion. At least it feels like it, some days I think my head is literally going to spin right off my shoulders from how dizzying life can be to keep up with. So how do I match my head and my heart with what I know to be true from the day I first committed my life to Christ? I don’t have an easy or quick answer. Simply put, it is a choice I have to make every single moment of every single day. And some days I really suck at it. Other days I am filled with a confidence that practically bursts out of my chest and comes out of my mouth in a glorious shout of victory! The in between days, when I’m somewhere in the middle, caught between the crap of life and the confidence of Christ---well, those are often the most difficult days. That’s when I must realize God’s seemingly slow response is in fact an opportunity He is allowing for me to see the benefit of growing my faith in Him. I don’t like it. I want an answer. And I want a good answer. And often I am guilty of going so far as asking God for an answer I have dreamed up as the solution to my problem. There’s a measure of faith we often do not allow to take place in us when we tell God what we want Him to do based on what we think is the solution. Bottom line: we don’t know what is best for us in that very moment. We come up with some really sweet ideas, but ultimately we haven’t even bothered to start by asking, “God, what is your perfect will and purpose for me in this moment?”

It starts with getting rid of every distraction—even if we ourselves are the distraction—and focusing first on the glory and perfect presence of our God in our lives. We acknowledge His glory and power, we recognize and confess our weakness, we ask and accept His loving forgiveness, and we lay our hearts bare before Him. Then we wait. Why do we wait? Because by choosing to be quiet, still and focused on our God, He is able to do His work in our lives. Remember what Paul talked about in the New Testament? That thorn. That darn thorn in his side. What was it exactly? Don’t know. But God didn’t remove it, no matter how many times Paul asked. God chose to teach him, speak to him and remind him that He had a good purpose for allowing it. I’m sure it wasn’t the answer Paul wanted, but as we read through the New Testament, we see how Paul continually leans into God, teaches us how these trials, these struggles, these challenges are far better endured when we choose to give God glory in spite of it. That’s hard to hear, hard to read, a big pill to swallow depending on what your “thorn” is.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, NLT)

What is keeping you from stepping off your mat today? What is keeping you from walking in confidence in spite of what life has handed you, and declaring God’s glorious purpose over your life? I’m praying this for you today. I’m praying you choose to do more than simply “hang in there”. It is something we tell each other more often than any other phrase. How about another phrase? Hang on to God. Lean into Him. Give him all of your burdens, and change your thought process right this moment by declaring, “I have faith in you God, to do your perfect will in my life!” Make an effort today to spend more time seeking Him, reading His Word, praying and crying out to Him, letting some powerful worship music wash over you and your faith will be strengthened. Don’t give up, because He never gives up on you!

Join me in stepping off that mat and walk toward God’s greater purpose. You can do it. Let’s do it together.

Live "sent"

I am a child of God. I am a missionary. I have purpose and power because of the Holy Spirit residing in me! God has revealed His greatness, saved me, and proclaimed His glory so that I may live a life that says I am sent by God!

Are we truly living “sent”? Are we truly embracing the calling God placed upon each of our lives from the day we first gave our hearts and lives to Him?
I know the feeling, I know the struggle, because I deal with it every single day of my life. And I say this to put it in perspective for all of us: No matter our position in this life, working in full time ministry or as a career missionary or in the secular workforce from a high executive level all the way down to those of us working in some of the most stressful, and at times seemingly pointless jobs, we have been called to be the light of Jesus and share the gospel precisely where we are! By choosing to live a life of excellence in Christ both personally and professionally, we are able to fully grasp the fact that we are all missionaries no matter our position in this life. Do we get that? I don’t think so. How often do you have a conversation with someone who is frustrated with their job, finds it unfulfilling and wishing so much to get into a career that is more of their passion, their area of interest, their calling? And how often do we find ourselves chiming in and relating to this person’s struggle? What would change the perspective of that conversation, if we chose to insert this truth: how do you see God using you where you are right now? What if you chose to reset your perspective, and before arriving at work remind yourself that your workplace is God’s mission field and you are a missionary? What if you chose to speak words of life and hope and healing, rather than chime in with the majority about how it’s just another day at the office and how you are just living for Friday? What if we decided to simply be better than we were the day before? How do we get it, live it, share it? It is unavoidable, at some point we all have got to come to the realization that our time on this earth is so brief and no matter how good or bad life is for each of us, we have the best Reason of all to live it to the fullest!

I am a child of God. I am His missionary. I have purpose and power because of the Holy Spirit residing in me! God has revealed His greatness, saved me, and proclaimed His glory so that I may live a life that says I am sent by God!

Listen to what He has spoken over His people, then and now:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Isaiah 43:1-3 NIV

What are we waiting for? Let’s choose today to make it a better day, be better than we were the day before, find our best in Him and let it shine for all to see. I want to be known by His love, don’t you?

He is never far away.....

Some days I feel like the stress is enough to suffocate me. Yesterday was one of those days. I found myself intermittently speaking to God through my day, “Give me peace, give me peace, give me peace….”

It’s hard when the burden is primarily for others. I’m at the bottom of the burden I carry, because I find the bulk of the burden I carry is for my family. Yesterday was brutal. If I’m honest, for some time I’ve been wearied by burden and soaking up every ounce of time just sitting quiet in the presence of God, needing His love and freedom to wash over me. I don’t say a whole lot, just find myself humming, singing, sighing, whispering His name, or saying nothing at all as I smile in my soul at the sense of His presence coming in to my being precisely when I need it. I want that for others, but I struggle to understand how to help others when they can’t seem to break through their current struggle.

Where is God when I need Him most? I just don’t feel Him right now. Why?

This struggle leaves many of us feeling so guilty, desperate to have some tangible evidence that He is here. It leaves us feeling inadequate, unmotivated, empty, heartbroken. We know what scripture says, we hear what others tell us that He is here with you right now. But it doesn’t help. Prayers are offered up, encouragement is laid out to step confidently into time with God reading His word, pouring it all out for Him to hear. What do we do when we see someone we love crippled by this, and unable to help them get beyond it? We love them and we pray for them. That’s what we do. We embrace them with the scriptures, the prayers, the encouraging and challenging words they need to hear, and we release them into God’s hands. We trust God will complete the work that needs to take place in them. We cannot fix anyone and we cannot save anyone. We have to be okay with not being okay. We have to be okay with knowing we’ve done what God called us to do in that moment, in that relationship, in that situation that person is struggling to get through. This is trust. This is love. This is obedience.

I want to be more and do more for my God in this life, but I cannot do anything without acknowledging first that He is in control, He will carry out every person’s purpose according to His will and in His perfect timing. Sometimes that means we have to be okay with watching those we love deeply make terrible decisions. That’s hard because for many of us, the instinct is to step in and rescue. I’m here to tell you sometimes rescue is okay, but sometimes it is not. Sometimes we have to watch as someone we love falls flat on their face, and finds their footing again so they can fully experience the struggle and its intended purpose for their lives. God has purpose in every single thing that we experience. Yes, it means we choose in the worst moments to praise Him instead of launching into our “Woe is me!” monologue for everyone to hear. It is not easy, it is not natural, but it is necessary for us to find closure and complete maturity on the others side of a difficult circumstance.

I challenge you today and every day, to set your mind and your mouth on God things: decide to speak life, hope, love! Start your day with the mindset that God is on His throne, He is not moved by anything that you will face today and He will be with you every step of the way.

He is never far away, He has not abandoned you. All too often without realizing it, we are the ones who have distanced ourselves from Him. We put what we are dealing with, what we are passionate about, what has upset us in a higher priority status than Him. Truth hurts, doesn’t it? Well, I love you my brother, my sister, but get over it and speak the name of Jesus and claim His abundant power for your life right now! Tap into the freedom that resides in you since the day you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior!

I’m praying for you today to find it every day, reach for the God who knows you best, loves you unconditionally and makes all things new. He loves you. How He loves you!

There's a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness
Where all the love I've ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down, Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You save my life
Here I bow down, Here I bow down

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I'm in awe of You
I'm in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
and my sin washed white
I owe all to You
I owe all to You Jesus

(“At the Cross” Chris Tomlin)

That moment He stepped in....

Back to school. I’ve been done with school for a long time, but as I watch my kids grow up and enjoy what little summer they get compared to what I had as a kid, I join them in cringing as August has come and school is starting soon. Really? It is like as soon as we pass July 4 everyone dives right in to, “Well, summer’s over, school is starting soon!” No. It just doesn’t make sense to me to even utter the words “back to school” in the month of August. It just doesn’t seem right. I love summer! I wish life could be an extended, never ending version of summer. Even though I have to work outside the home in addition to being Mom to four amazing children, and I really don’t get much of a summer, I just simply don’t want it to end. Can you relate? So, the battle to balance our schedules between work, school, church and all of our activities is about to hit us square in the face. Are you ready?

This year I’ve felt compelled, called to embrace the balance of finding rest. Breathing in and leaning into the presence of God, being content to simply rest and listen. I don’t have an agenda when I pray each day, throughout the day, when I come to my time with the Father. I could easily come to Him with my Bible, my devotional, my journal, my notepad, my notes and reminders of who and what to pray for and how to be inspired, etc. all laid out around me and let out a sigh when everything is in its place, perfect order, and I am settled into my position of rest. Nope. It simply won’t do. I have purposefully been teaching myself to drop my preconceived idea of what my time with Him should be like and how I should prepare myself for it, and instead simply stop and sit and rest. No agenda. Yes, my Bible. Yes, something to write with and write on along with daily prayer requests. But simply getting myself in position, my basic tools nearby, but most importantly I’ve closed the door on every distraction and my own idea of how it should be done….instead coming to Him with open hands, open heart, open mind…..

Father, here I am….

I want to know Him more, seek Him more, love Him more, live His light more abundantly in my life today than I did yesterday. I want to literally vomit when I think about time I wasted yesterday allowing that “black cloud” to hover over me because of some things I was dealing with in my heart and mind. It is a horrible feeling when the realization hits me that I allowed that thing, that stress, that burden crowd out my abundant praise and thanks to my Father God! How dare I place any one particular thing I am struggling with above my focus on Him and His promise to never leave me, never fail me.

He is for me. He is for me. He is for me. He is for me. He is for me! I can and will do all things through Christ who strengthens me! He is for me! I know that He is for me! I believe He has done great things for me and will continue to do amazing things in my life and through me, so I will praise Him! So I will be thankful! So I will give Him glory even when I do not feel like it! He is worthy of far more than I am capable of giving simply because I don’t feel like making the effort. Every single day I have the choice to make the effort. Recognize my inability, and grasp tightly to His ability!

The moment I called out, YOU stepped in;
YOU MADE my life LARGE with STRENGTH. Psalm 138:3 The Message

Powerful scripture that stuck with me today after reading this chapter in Psalm. Check it:

The moment I called out……

Approach #1: I know in this moment right here right now, the crap has hit the fan. I am doomed. This situation I just came from is simply the worst. I don’t know how to recover from it. I don’t know how I am going to make this work. I don’t know how to make it to next week. I don’t understand how to make this better. What in the world am I going to do?

Approach #2: I know this moment right here right now, the crap has hit the fan. God, you are higher, greater, bigger, and better than anything I am facing right now. I give it all to you, Father. I can’t do this on my own and I will not drive myself crazy trying to figure it out or understand it. I won’t give up and dwell on the worst outcome. I won’t allow myself to get sucked into depression, fear, doubt, anger, frustration but will choose right here and right now to stand on the promise that you will never fail me! You are good and faithful, and I trust You with every aspect of my life. Teach me to rest in You now and trust You will provide!
What approach is yours? What approach will be yours from this day forward? I guarantee you when you choose #2, your burden will be lighter and you will find freedom you’ve never known before in Christ! The hard part is knowing you must choose this daily, and sometimes more than once during your day. The battle for your mind, your attention, your focus is constant and unrelenting. Make the right choice even if every ounce of you is screaming in revolt and you’d much rather sit and sulk in your tears, in your misery, in your doubt, in your fear. Don’t give in to it. Don’t allow your life to be defined by crappy circumstances. You are better than that because…..

YOU (God) stepped in……

You’re Father God, when you call out to Him, He is there, beside you, embracing you, carrying you, nudging you forward. He steps in precisely when we need Him to and He gives STRENGTH and POWER to the weak and weary. He renews us…..He will. So watch and be ready to embrace His presence more fully when He steps in.

When is the last time you expected God’s presence to step in and make your life LARGE with STRENGTH?! For some reason that verse went “KAPOW!” in my face today when I read it! The key is our complete surrender and willingness to trust Him to do it. How often do we approach our trust in God with conditions? How often do we approach our God saying we trust Him but we have this list of conditions, things He has to do to completely win us over? I’ll trust You fully God and here’s my list of things I’m going to do with my life to prove I am committed to you BUT if I don’t see Your abundance in my life in 3 months as a result, well, then I don’t know if I’m ready for this all out trust thing. I’m just not sure. Two words for you here: How lame! God has done so much more for you and me than we ever deserved and we certainly can never earn! We fail Him miserably when we hold Him to a set of standards, expectations we have conceived in our minds as somehow perfect. How dare we limit God to what we can conceive in our minds?! He is God, He is inconceivably, unimaginably amazing and powerful, and for all He has done for us we cannot dare refuse Him the love and trust He deserves! It is heartbreaking to me when someone I know and love has allowed themselves to become so sunk in what has taken them down in life. It is in these moments of helplessness, when I’ve prayed and poured out my heart for them to God, I realize the greatest thing I can do in that moment is release it to Him and to His perfect loving care. That’s hard! But God knows far better than I do what is needed and what is best. And so I will trust Him. Not because I have to, but because I know I’m helpless, and it has always been the simple truth engrained in my spiritual understanding from the moment I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, to just let go and trust Him! I struggle with it, wrestle with it, but I do it anyway. We try to teach this in our churches, we live it out as best we can, but nobody can be trained or programmed to completely grasp this. It has to be discovered for each one on their own. I know I need to trust You God, but why is it so hard?! Why can’t I get an easy button just once?

I’m compelled to embrace this choice to trust, to surrender to my God, in the face of what seems to be insurmountable odds, a perfectly impossible situation for which I cannot find a way out. I embrace this choice because of something in me that is not of me, but is the spirit of a Mighty God, the Holy Spirit living in me! He will do it. He will make my life LARGE with STRENGTH! Just gotta trust Him and surrender simply because of Who He is. That’s enough. He is enough!

Thank you, Father God, for reminding me and reminding someone who may be reading this today that no matter what they are dealing with at this very moment, You are here, You will step in, and You will make their life LARGE with Your STRENGTH! I believe it for me, for my family, for those who are in desperate need of You today.

Believe and Reside in Me

"Don’t just believe in Me, reside in Me….."

Meet me in the middle of my mess, my chaos and bring order, restoration, peace, joy divine.
Wreck my heart and soul with deep conviction when I fail to regularly settle into the quiet, rest of Your presence, Lord....

Day by day, I’m squeezed from all sides to accomplish what is required of me by others and what I require of myself. It can be suffocating. To the point my time with You could be squeezed out altogether. What’s the priority? How do I keep up this maddening pace? I don’t. It starts with priority #1: You, Lord! Everything else is secondary. It requires me to be okay with not being okay. It requires that I settle into regularly carving out my time alone with You, my Sabbath time with You, and walking away from what is not done. That basket of laundry can wait. Sink full of dishes, whatever. Papers and crumbs on the dining table, let it sit. Toys on the living room floor from the night before, oh well. It can all wait, it all matters not when I’ve chosen to take care of it before I sit down with my God and let Him teach me once again the powerful and healing peace that only rest in Him can bring. Funny how I have to learn this over and over again. My human condition, my incessant need to have things just right, in order, perfectly in place, has softened over the years somewhat but it still continues to be a bit of a battle. I’m sorry, Lord, that I’ve allowed any of that come between us. You are my highest Priority. And truly nothing on this earth is ever going to be in perfect order. So teach me to be at rest in Your heavenly Presence, even when my earthly domain is such a mess.

A new season is approaching, as we prepare for a new school year and some new experiences in my family I am praying God breathes a fresh breeze of motivation and inspiration into my heart. My job has hit a new level of stress and a challenging season currently, and Ryan and I continue to prayerfully consider what new opportunities God has for us in worship ministry. We are thankful and abundantly blessed by what He is doing right now, but keeping our minds and hearts open to what He is doing in the days ahead. We have been experiencing for some months now a very unsettled feeling, a restlessness in our hearts for what more God could have for us to do for the sake of His kingdom. What is interesting to me about this experience, is that it is lingering and I am finding as I lean into the Father, sense His peace beyond understanding, it is precisely where He intends for me to be. It would be easy to brainstorm and ponder all the directions He could intend for us to go, but why? It is far more important for us to be content residing in the certainty of His presence. His timing, His purpose for us is best. Trusting in Him and following Him in obedience is hard when so much is unknown, but it is worth it. I’ve found it to be true in my past, and so it will be for me in the days ahead.

I’m praying for you today, my friend. Whatever you are doing today, whatever you are facing, stop right now and tell Him, “I trust You, Jesus!” and then simply stop what you are doing or what you think you have to accomplish today, and rest in Him. Get comfortable with being undone, and invite Him into your current chaos. Recognize Him for Who He is and that You are His child. He loves you, He wants what is best for you, and sometimes it is simply to stop and rest in Him. How long has it been since you did that?

“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30, The Message translation)

How do we know The Way?

My devotional and study this morning brought some renewal to my spirit that I needed today. I’m finding in my pursuit of the Father this year, there is freedom I had not yet tapped into in my faith journey and it is providing a new burst of peace to my heart and mind. John 14 is my focus today and I’m trying to picture the scene, the Disciples asking Jesus for a better understand of Who He is and Where He is going to prepare a place for us in heaven. It is truly a frozen moment in time, causes me to stop in my own faith journey and consider, “How well do I know the Father and do I fully trust and believe He has a place for me in Heaven?” What an incredible thing to consider, Jesus was with them in the flesh, spent years with His disciples. They knew Jesus in a way we never will, and yet….they couldn’t grasp Who He was, not completely. How could they not know and believe Who He was when He was right there with them, in the flesh? To consider this struggle, in comparison with our own is just not something I think can be compared. I can’t get past it. He was with them, in the flesh, speaking, performing miracles, healing, raising the dead, bringing sight to the blind, healing the sick, and yet they didn’t get Who He truly was. We don’t have Jesus in the flesh like the disciples did, but we have the Word of God, the written account of His life and its impact on so many and the Holy Spirit residing in us. Why is it such a difficult thing to grasp? Why is it so hard, day to day, to know the Father is always with us and is always for us? We have an opportunity every single day to live out our faith, be an example to others, because He is busy preparing Heaven for each and every one of us as we come to know Him and commit our lives to Him. His timing is not our timing, and is in fact something we cannot possibly comprehend. So, the only way we can possibly understand any of this, the point of our time on this earth, believing even though we cannot see with our eyes, hear with our ears, touch with our hands……He has loved us so deeply and because of what He allowed His Son to endure for our sake, we can most certainly wait a little longer and believe beyond our own understanding that He is Who He says that He is.

Faith is what keeps us going, keeps us motivated, keeps us hoping, believing in something far beyond this pitiful and miserable world. There’s a lot this world can offer that seems perfect and good, but ultimately nothing we find here will last. It is all going to fade, wither, and blow away in the wind. What we know to be lasting and worth hoping for, waiting for, making the best of this life for, is eternity with our Father God. I can’t explain it, and there is still so much I don’t know, but I know the God who has all the answers. I believe He loves me, has purposed me for far better than what I can dream up for myself, and I will choose to live my life well today knowing He is taking care of it all for me.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:1-3, NIV).

Shepherd of my heart....

Freedom....joy...peace....abundant peace.....

How long has it been since you fully experienced any one of the things I just mentioned? I dare say many of you either can't or simply won't answer that. Reality is likely not often or you simply can't think of the last time you experienced any of them.

As a Christ follower, I can tell you my journey thus far these 43 years has had its share of ups and downs. I am truly thankful, blessed and amazed by the constant flow of hope, encouragement and love that I have experienced in my life simply because I chose not to give in to fear and doubt after a whole lot of time listening to my Father God, leaning into Him, and then relying on the wisdom and advice, counsel and leadership in my life by family, friends, colleagues and ministry partners throughout my life. Let's face it, life is never going to be easy and will promise us a neverending flow of stress. We can count on it. But because of the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, we have hope to overcome it all! When is the last time you tapped into that? When is the last time you spent a measurable amount of time simply sitting in the quiet, asking the Father to envelop you, and enjoy listening to Him? That doesn't mean you go into it with any expectation for a quick answer or rescue. We have to remember that God gave us free will, we are not puppets in his hands. Bad things are going to happen, so how are we going to choose to deal with it? Are we going to immediately go into a tantrum, wallow in our pity party, decide it can't possibly get any better and give up? Or, are we going to see it for what it is, work through the pain and struggle of it, shake it off, step out of it and move forward in spite of it with hope? What are you going to do about it? It is not human nature to take bad news happily. It is not human nature to respond to tragic circumstances with a smile on our faces. It is not human nature to respond well to something surprising and painful. It is in fact completely normal to respond with upset, rage, disappointment, frustration, fear. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in to help us.

The Holy Spirit infuses us with life abundant, and not life as we know it on this earth, but life on an spiritual level that we will not fully experience until we are with Him in heaven one day. Not long ago, I shared on facebook a wonderful lesson I read by Joyce Meyer about the Shepherd, our Father God, and what we can learn from the shepherds on this earth as it parallels to our heavenly Shepherd. We often expect him to hook us, rescue us from the edge of a cliff that we may approach at any given time in our lives. But how often does He allow us to linger there? Do you ever wonder, question, agonize in those cliff moments, those frustrating and terrifying moments of life when there seems to be no way out and no good ending to what has occurred? These are the moments He is truly ready to rescue us if we will simply stop struggling, stand on the edge of that cliff not with terror, but with heightened expectation of what He is about to do! The shepherd's role is to guard, watch after, protect and care for his flock. All too often one strays away from the flock, and needs some form of intervention to guide them back to the fold. Those of us who are extremely strong willed and level headed, so certain that we know what is best, without realizing it may find ourselves going about things in life based more strongly upon this plan we've got all worked out because it makes sense to us, it is a sound plan, sure to succeed. At what point in our planning did we stop to ask the Father's will be done and shape what is best? Or did we do that but only for a split second in the midst of it after we had already begun mapping out this great plan on our own? Living a life abundantly free requires we start with our Source, our good and loving Father God. There are a great many things in this life that bring me a mountain of uncertainty, fear, doubt, anxiety and downright depression. But all that is not mine to experience when I choose to begin by focusing first on my Father God and His good and perfect will for my life. Another aspect of that sheep teetering on the edge of the cliff, waiting for rescue is this....nobody forced that sheep to wander to the edge. Free will. We are responsible for our wandering. We are responsible to make things right for what is wrong in our lives. Stop playing the blame game and settling into the victim game. Get over this thing that has you on the edge, stuck in a rut, laying motionless in that pit, because you have the strength and the power to get out of it! It won't be easy, but it will be better when you choose to do it. I have watched as some very dear people in my life have teetered on that edge and gone over. I don't have an explanation for it except that even when help was offered, prayers were poured out, tears were spilled over and we agonized over how to help, even then, for some reason it wasn't the ending we'd hoped for. But I have watched as God provided out of it. Testimony after testimony of how God used the worst of circumstances to make something better, something truly remarkable.

Your story is still being written. I am not your shepherd, nobody on this earth is equipped or fully qualified to be your shepherd, but I know Who is. He is always near, He is your rescue, your strength, your peace, your connection to freedom you have yet to experience. Don't give up, don't give in. What you are seeing with your eyes, hearing with your ears, sensing with every bit of your physical being, it is not the end. It is the beginning of something new if you choose to see it that way. I am praying for you as you teeter on the edge of that cliff. The Shepherd is ready to pull you into His arms and guide you into something better. Prepare yourself for His love, expect it will not come with answers you think are best, but simply for the sake of the moment to rest and listen to Him. He will speak, He will guide you, when the time is right. Learn to lean into Him in those moments and He'll reveal His will for you. I trust Him, and I am believing you will come to this knowledge as well.

You make my footsteps and my path secure
So walking on water is just the beginning
Cause my faith to arise, stand at attention
For You are calling me to greater things
(Shepherd, Amanda Cook and Bethel Music)

Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness,
I am not overcome by fear.
Because You are with me in those dark moments,
near with Your protection and guidance,
I am comforted.
(Psalm 23:4)

His love is Deep....

My morning drive into work today I was praying, asking God to break us open, renew us, restore us to who we are intended to be and that we will truly seek to be holy, set apart from this world as He expects us to be. Immediately after I prayed these words, I felt His presence pour love upon me and I immediately prayed His love be poured out upon those who are desperate need of Him today. Do you know how deep the Father’s love is for you? To the point He will discipline us when necessary and I promise you it will not be easy to bear. His discipline is necessary, but He is a good and loving Father who promises to love and care for us deeply. Are we ready for what’s coming?

My devotional this morning was spot on with what God was speaking to me this morning on the way in to work. Numbers 12:1-15 we find Moses, Miriam and Aaron immediately thrust into the reality of God’s expectation of us to be obedient, and when we are not, He will show Himself to be a just God by providing His discipline. Miriam and Aaron didn’t understand and talked among themselves about how God seemed to only speak to Moses, as if they weren’t in as great a position of authority as Moses was that they felt they deserved. God knew, and He called them out on it. He immediately told the 3 of them, (as if God is required to explain it to us! He owes us nothing!) that He spoke to and appeared to Moses because he was called, a prophet of the Most High God. God was angry with them and He made His discipline clear. Miriam was struck immediately with leprosy, and even though Moses pleaded with God to spare her, God made it very clear that the choice had been made so the punishment had been dealt as He intended.

None of us likes to be punished, but why are we surprised when we choose to act upon our weak, selfish and prideful humanity that God allows us to deal with the consequences? What’s your excuse?

“I’ve just done so many bad things in my life, why bother changing now? How could God forgive or even love someone like me after what I’ve done?”

“Life is life, right? I’m already on a roll, leaving a path of destruction wherever I go so what’s the point of changing now? There’s no hope for me.”

“I like living this way. I do what I want, go where I want, do whatever I want to do, and I don’t care who gets run over in the process. As long as I get what I want, I could care less what anyone thinks.”

“Who do you think you are? Telling me things would be so much better for me if I simply accept that this God of yours actually cares about me and loves me? Look at my life! He doesn’t know me or care about me, or He’d reach down and stop the madness that is happening in this world and give me whatever I need right now!”

How far will we go to push God away? How incredibly selfish we are to think that God would meet us only according to our idea of Who He is? What is it going to take to convince you that there is more to life than what you are doing with it right now? Take a good, hard look at yourself right now and hear the words I am speaking to you now: God loves you, God will forgive you, and God will provide for you precisely what you need! He will not pluck you out of whatever circumstance you are in because He is not some puppet master in the sky. You have free will, and therefore you have the power and ability to take hold of your life and make it better! He will allow whatever you are experiencing to play out because He is teaching you something through it. I say this from experience my friend, and I know what it is like to hit the bottom of that pit thinking there is no way out, it is not going to get better, it is hopeless. There is only one way out when you are at the bottom and that is up. I promise you, if you are willing to see Him, His hands are stretched down to you and ready to scoop you out and up into the light of life lived fully and completely in Him! It is hard, but it is worth the climb out of that pit, the effort you will have to make to improve your life and it will be a life long journey. I know, I’m living it too. Life is hard, it doesn’t get easier when you choose a life in Christ. It is very hard. But He is good, and He is faithful, and He will be with you every step of the way.

We have to choose to live life better, and many days the choice is near impossible. So we have to choose it even when in our minds and our hearts we simply don’t feel like it. Look at what Christ did for you and for me, and I don’t think you’ll have to consider very long whether or not it is worth it to live life better. He endured the worst, so we could experience His best.

I know what my choice is, so what is yours?

I am praying for you, not sure where your heart is today but I believe God is going to do a mighty work in you that will change you forever. I promise you’ll be so glad you did!

Comfy Couch of Chaos

Last night I had trouble going to sleep despite being so incredibly tired. I’ve been so burdened for several people in my life who are hurting, struggling, living in bondage, in chaos. I love them dearly but my heart breaks as the words are on the edge of my mind, my prayers crying out to God for them to be free, to choose the freedom Christ has given them! I can’t do it for them, they’ve got to choose it for themselves. Why is it so hard to do that? Why do so many of us allow ourselves to keep living in this bondage we’ve essentially put upon ourselves? There is a Name above every other name, Jesus, and He came to seek and to save the lost, to redeem and restore us! So why do we come together on Sunday and find out way to the altar after pouring out our most recent drama to someone, and then turn back around during the week and let ourselves get weighed down, pulled into the next drama? I don’t understand, and I try very hard to find a consistently loving and firm way to live out the freedom Christ has given me so that others would choose to live the same way.

God spoke into my heart and mind last night about the image of the Shepherd taking care of His flock, and the realization in Isaiah 53:6 that we have all gone astray, turning to our own way. But….

The Good Shepherd knows His sheep….even though we are scattered, wandering (Ezekiel 34:6)….He knows His sheep. He knows me. He knows you. He will take loving care of His flock (Isaiah 40:11), gather all of them in his arms, carry them, lead them. He is always there, never far. We are never alone!

So what has you sitting in your misery, your chaos today wondering where God is? That right there my friend is a lie, deceit that the guy downstairs would love for you to embrace, sink into like a comfy couch that will turn out to be a whole lot harder to get out of the longer you sit in it. Misery loves company, hate to say that phrase but it’s true. Conversation tends to flow a whole lot easier and longer when we have something to complain about and a group around us willing to listen and stand by and not say anything different.

How’s your relationship with God? Are you a believer, saved by Grace and yet you find life just hasn’t been fair, things just keep turning out badly for you, you can’t figure out why? Here’s a news flash for you my friend: Life is not fair most of the time, but you have a choice to live it like Christ in spite of that! As your sister in Christ, I am compelled by the power of God to implore you to get up out of that pit that honestly you have dug for yourself, and stand firm! You are a child of the Most Awesome and Powerful God and He lives in you so get up, get out and get a new perspective! The next thing you do is what is hardest I think….keep it up.

Choose to step out and live like Christ, live in His freedom every single day! I can’t imagine how heartbroken God is when He sees us acting one way on Sunday, maybe early into the week but by Tuesday night we are slumped back into that pit, that comfy couch of chaos. You don’t deserve it, and for goodness sake our great big God doesn’t….He has compelled us, empowered us to live life better and bigger! It doesn’t come naturally for any of us to live life in Christ, because we are human. But because of Christ living in us, we can choose to live life in Christ by drawing our strength, shaping our focus around that which does not come naturally to us.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” Jesus (John 10:10)

The guy downstairs is always going to find a weakness in you to play upon, dig a little deeper, bring more chaos, more strife, more division into your life, your marriage, your family and especially in our churches! If we let him have the power he doesn’t deserve, he will most certainly do what he is here to do…steal, kill and destroy. But we are better than that because we have Christ in us. We are overcomers because of the blood of the Lamb!

We can do all things through Christ who is our strength! (Philippians 4:13)

So what are you going to do about it? How are you going to choose to live daily in the freedom of Christ? Don’t go to the altar on Sunday if you don’t mean it. By mean it, I mean that you are truly leaving it at the feet of Jesus. If you are bringing it back the next week, and the month after that, and the year after that, then you haven’t really let it go to the Father. I can’t do it for you, nobody can. But let’s get real okay? He has promised to be with you, to care for you, to carry you when you can’t take another step. He is faithful, even when you don’t feel like He is there. He will never leave you, He is always with you. So, I’m praying without ceasing, it is my daily prayer with my Father God to be better than I was yesterday, to love without hesitation, to speak words of kindness, to reflect Christ in every single thing I do because my life is going to leave some sort of mark on someone else’s life today whether I realize it or not.

I’m choosing to live like Christ even when I don’t feel like it. What about you?

Wrapping up this blog entry with words from an inspiring song I am listening to now by Bryan and Katie Torwalt called “Shores”. I hope it resonates for you today as you consider your choice to live in Christ, live in His freedom.

Freedom, take hold of my heart
Spirit of God, come fill this place
Jesus, You're all that I want
Have your way

Live in Freedom, Live in His Purpose!

Psalm 37:23 If you are right with God, He strengthens you for the journey; the Eternal will be pleased with your life.

He came. He died. He rose. He lives in us. Are we living in Him?

Praying this week for so many needs, burdened by what is happening to friends close by and our communities in our country, and in our world. Suffering, struggling, wandering and perhaps wondering if and when life is ever going to get any better. I have an answer. If you keep going at this pace...

NO. It will not.

We are given this thing called life, such a blessing to have this life and live it out as best we can. Are we doing that? Who are you living it for? Succeeding in life is wonderful, we all want that on some level personally and professionally. The sense of accomplishment when we have met a goal we set for ourselves, well, it’s an amazing feeling isn’t it? What do we do when we fail? How do we handle disappointment? How are we living beyond our past, our struggles, our mistakes? New life in Christ gives us the greatest reason of all to make the most and the best of this life we have been given.

When is the last time you spoke positive, affirming words over someone you love? Your spouse, your child, your friends, your coworkers? Or are you content to keep going at this pace of hammering everyone around you with the attitude of my way is not necessarily the right way but I’m going to make it known anyway, for all to hear, leaving an impact on people’s lives that cannot be repaired? When is the last time you stopped and thought before you spoke, realizing what you speak will leave an impression on someone’s life permanently? Negative thinking, acting, living can be very comfortable and easy and it can be infectious to those whom you have an influence on whether you realize it or not. Positive thinking, acting, living can have an even greater impact on others. Consider the benefits….longer life, better health, and an ability to reach further in your goals and purpose in life because you take what happens in life for what it’s worth, learn from it and move on!
Don’t let your choice be to live life ‘as is’, assuming it is not going to get any better than this present season and if it is, well it’s just sheer dumb luck or what you may not realize you’ve mentally labeled as a short term blessing. Let the self-pity party, self-loathing, downward spiral that is depression, despair and anguish win. What a horrible way to live the life that God has given you!

Child of God, you have no excuse! Stand firm, shake it off and determine that God has greater purpose for you far beyond what you can conceive in this very moment! You have a choice, you always have a choice especially because of Christ, to step into a life of freedom and live it! If you are stuck, if you are struggling, then for goodness sake call upon the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to deliver you and prosper you as He fully intends to! You have a whole lot of reasons around you to live this life greater than you are today. I am ashamed to admit how many days, months, years I wasted wallowing in seasons in doubt, fear and anger because I had the audacity to think my God wasn’t there or wasn’t big enough to take care of me and my family. It nearly makes me sick at my stomach to consider the time I wasted. I know this breaks the Father’s heart, and I am so thankful He never left me, that He forgave me and was there all along waiting for me to return to Him.

You are His Masterpiece, You shall be strengthened and shielded throughout this life to overcome and live victoriously!

So where do you stand today? Are you living fully in the freedom He has given you from the day you said yes to Him? If not, I want to pray for you! I believe He has great things planned for every single one of you. What is stopping you? No matter what you are facing today, stop right now and ask God to meet you where you are, to release this oppression from your life, and to strengthen you to step out and live in the freedom He has given you! The key here is you have to choose it. When you choose to live in a mindset of expectation that God deeply loves and cares for you and has purpose for every single thing that happens, you will be a much healthier, happier, eternally wealthier person than before. We have an opportunity every single day to be better than we feel like being. Be loving even when you don’t feel like it. Speak words of life instead of words of gossip and negativity. We are never truly going to be our best, complete and whole until we stand before the Father in heaven. This life is a journey, so choose right now to make the best of it and live it well.

Don’t just live life on purpose. Live it in His purpose.

You are His Masterpiece

“Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways.” (John 13:34 The Voice Translation)

How amazing, how GOOD is our God?! So good, I am practically falling down in the middle of my office today at His incredible presence precisely when we need it!
What are you facing today? Well, let’s take a good hard look at ourselves in the mirror. God, you’ve given me life, breath in these lungs and a purpose today to accomplish. I’ve got to get up, get ready for work, make sure the kids are up and out the door to the bus, and I’m on my way to accomplishing whatever tasks lay before me when I arrive at work. But first….

Lord, have I told you how much I love you today? Have I chosen the first words from my mouth to be words of gratitude? Have I checked my focus to allow what I know to be true about the being you’ve created me to be, prioritize everything that comes after this very moment around You? I hope and pray I didn’t miss it. The first, precious, waking moments of my day, wholeheartedly and securely centered on You, Almighty God.

God created each one of us to be a uniquely woven Masterpiece. No two are alike, and some are more frayed and torn than others. Something good happens, and we see a new, vibrant color weave its way into the pattern. Something bad happens, and that color dulls, perhaps thins and for some completely frays apart and ultimately breaks, causing a gaping hole to begin forming. I was working on mending a pair of Ryan’s pants the other night, and I was a bit frustrated to look at it and wonder how I was going to mend it, and mend it well enough to last. It was a place that had been caught on a chair or something, and it was not a clean tear, it was rough edged and not going to be easy to mend. But I realized as I examined it, considered how to mend it well, and then began to work on it, it was going to be okay. It was going to be complete.

God is not quick to give up on us: His Masterpiece. He sees the wounds, the bruises and scrapes, the deep tears in our flesh, and He knows what we need and provides it as perfectly as only our Father God can. He loves us so deeply and fully, so much more than we can comprehend even within our own human mind’s comparison to love as we know it on this earth. Take a look at yourself right now. What has you tied up in knots today? What pain are you simply choosing to live with because perhaps you feel there is no other option? What is keeping you from moving forward to what God truly intends for your life today?

Stop and ask yourself now: Will I choose to trust God completely, even in the middle of this horrific storm? There is power in that choice, because it is not a choice powered by our humanity; it is absolutely powered by His Divinity!

Embrace what He has purposed you to be today, and don’t look back at who you were before. Watch as He weaves a new and vibrant color into the Masterpiece that He has created your life to be!

Blessed Assurance....

In spite of how busy our lives are, trying to manage 4 jobs between the two of us, our 4 children’s schedules (our son Bailey just wrapped up his amazing performance in his school play “Into the Woods Jr” as the Wolf!) and getting our daughter Rylee ready to graduate high school in a matter of weeks, projects, events, gatherings, family time, etc. the last week I have found in particular three precious moments in time that are resonating in my heart and mind this morning after my devotional. God is good, so good. No matter what life throws at us, we will say it loud and say it proud, OUR GOD IS SO GOOD! The day we stop saying it, is the day that bitterness, despair and hopelessness begins to reign. It is truly heartbreaking to me when I think of people in my life who are struggling with this very issue.
In Colossians 3, Paul is speaking to a group and reminding them, encouraging them, challenging them to be filled and overflowing with thanks daily, to clothe themselves with a holy way of life:

Since you are all set apart by God, made holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a holy way of life: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act in kind. 14 But above all these, put on love! Love is the perfect tie to bind these together. 15 Let your hearts fall under the rule of the Anointed’s peace (the peace you were called to as one body), and be thankful.
16 Let the word of the Anointed One richly inhabit your lives. With all wisdom teach, counsel, and instruct one another. Sing the psalms, compose hymns and songs inspired by the Spirit, and keep on singing—sing to God from hearts full and spilling over with thankfulness. 17 Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing, or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father. (Colossians 3:12-17, The Voice Translation)

It isn’t enough to simply believe the right things.
Right belief always produces right living. The gift of salvation demands that we put into practice the character of our King. (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians%203&version=VOICE)

Last Wednesday evening, knowing our week would be non-stop with rehearsals and performances for Bailey, we had some one on one time at home while the rest of the family went to church. It was time I will hold precious for my entire life because we had such a precious evening of devotional together. My amazing, kind hearted 14 year old shared how badly he felt because he had not been consistent with his daily devotional time and neglected his time with the Lord. This Mama’s heart swelled to hear his heartache, but I poured on the love and encouragement immediately as we read a familiar passage together and talked about what spoke to each of us through it. I am so thankful to have been witness to the maturity, the growth taking place in my son’s life and to hear him share how concerned he was and how inspired he was by what we studied together to become stronger and more consistent in his walk with Christ. It was a real moment for me to share with him likewise how we all are human, we fail far more often than we succeed in being consistent with our time with the Father, but it is in those moments when we are pressed into His presence and know He hasn’t forgotten us or will hold it against us, and is ready to welcome us into His loving arms. What a good God!

Last night was #2 moment for my reflection over the past week. Ryan and I talked about the message at church yesterday, I missed it as I was serving in the nursery, but he shared how good it was and how important it was to recognize our prayer life begins by simply fellowship with our Father God. Before we begin to rattle off our list of confessions, requests, etc. we simply begin by fellowship with Him. For some, prayer comes very naturally, it is a beautiful ebb and flow we find ourselves weaving effortlessly through, day in and day out. For others, it is difficult, and it is a new experience. As we prayed together last night, I was blessed, inspired, freed, rested. Again I say it, What a good God!

And #3, I had some time yesterday afternoon to spend with my parents, to once again learn from their wisdom on some difficult issues, and agree wholeheartedly with them that God has been so good and we have a lot to be thankful for, a true abundance.

So I’m pausing today to consider, how abundantly God has provided for me and my family. At the same time, I am considering carefully any moments I have allowed to be stolen away with words or actions out of something difficult the day has thrown at me. I am thankful for what I know today, for what God has given me and my family. It is sad to consider how often I hear people in my life waste a single moment in time, hours, days, weeks, years, frustrated because life isn’t great, seems to be going in no real direction and they are simply getting by. I urge you if you are reading this right now, to stop that thinking now! I call upon the mighty name of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit to free you from this form of bondage in your life! Consider right now, this very moment that your life does not have to be defined by your past. You have an amazing present moment, right now, right here, to CHOOSE to live a life of freedom, a life God has always purposed for YOU!

I am praying for you today, to step out of the gunk, the filth, the sad thinking and living life to simply get by, and believe God has an abundance for you every single day! It may not happen as you think it should, but that is because He is refining you, preparing you as you wait on Him patiently, for what His perfect purpose is in your life! Don’t give up, dive deep into the blessed assurance He has provided to you the day you became HIS and no matter what—live with joy in Him!

Life is hard, it always will be BUT God is good, and always will be! That is the greater reality we need to not only BELIEVE, but LIVE!

Hopeful, Broken, Waiting....Lord, Move Us!

Don't let the title of this blog entry send any of you into panic mode. We are not moving anywhere and are in fact content to stay put, right where we are, for the rest of our lives. If....that is what the Lord has purposed for us. Did you catch that? There is a message to be heard from that statement I just made.

Life is good. Most of us can say that, because hopefully we have put the experiences of life we have had thus far or are enduring this very moment, into perspective because quite simply God works it all together for our good! All of it! The crap you are putting up with in your family, whether is simply struggling to get along with your spouse and work out issues in your marriage, with your children, with your job, in your circle of friends, etc. Whatever it is, stop right now and consider in the grand scheme of things you are blessed! I guarantee you have at least 3 things you can point to right now in your life that you are thankful for. So, with that, are you resigned at this point that you are simply going to settle that whatever struggle you are facing, whatever pace your life has taken, is okay and you are satisfied with the status quo? Or do you find at the bottom of it all, when you take time out to simply sit and focus on what matters most to you in this moment, are you left with a desire for something more?

Check your pulse in a few areas right now:
1. Family/Home life
2. Church life
3. Work life

What's your pulse right now? How is God shining through these areas of your life? Are you growing in these areas? Or do you need to ask God to break you down and do some pruning, perhaps start something fresh, breathe new life into an area that is currently unsettled?

Many of you know my story, our story. Ryan and I have been on an amazing journey for years now. We have learned from both the good and the bad, and I believe we are both stronger because of it. When God opens a door to an opportunity, we have to be prepared for some unexpected hiccups to occur. Often it is not God causing the hiccup, it is man. Remember, we are human. For every single church, pride and complacency can be the downfall for a pastor and for a leadership team. The appointment of any pastor or leadership team, deacon, elder, whatever your church's "system" is, comes with great expectation. It starts with having the highest expectation on themselves. That means being available to your church for support, commitment to a lifegroup beside the people you are committed to serve/lead, and being available outside the church schedule. Ministry work is blessed and burdensome work. I saw my Dad go through it, my father in law, and now my husband. I am sad to say I've heard more stories of failure than success in the lives of pastors I've known personally or read about in the social media publications the last 10 years. It is truly unsettling. Ministry work is not what it was 10, 20, 30 years ago. The message has not changed, we are committed to furthering the Kingdom of God and the salvation of Christ to be shared with everyone in our community, in our country, in our world. The methods and the handlers of the methods we use are what is screwing it up. We have got to get out of our own way, that is where it has to start. We have got to realize that this thing God has called us to, gifted us to do, has nothing to do with us but all to do with Him! We cannot do any of this, this ministry work without first and always acknowledging that the purpose for which we are doing this is our Great God!

For a number of months now, Ryan and I have been feeling very unsettled, broken and aware of God's preparing the way for us to serve in new ministry opportunities. We aren't sure what, where, when, how...but we feel very strongly His hand is moving in our hearts, in our lives. Would you pray for us, as we listen and wait upon the Lord? I was inspired to blog today after reading Psalm 27. I can't stop reading through it, reminders of God's provision for us, to shield us and protect us from anything that would come against us, cause us harm or distract us from being in this present moment with our Father God.

We will not give up, we will wait with great expectation upon our God, we are strong because He resides in us and will take us into His arms in our weakest moments. (Psalm 27:14/The Voice translation)

Sinking or Seeking?

Having one of those days, and they seem to be hitting me in groups of several days in a row lately. Just sinking dangerously close to a place that seems harder to climb out sometimes. If I didn't have the amazing force of love and encouragement around me in my family, my inspiring friends, key women in my life who are truly mentors to me, well, I'd simply let myself be sunk and probably settle there comfortably for awhile. The vicious cycle of life, a brutally busy schedule, and no choice but to keep moving forward or get run over is staggering most days because I would quite simply prefer to roll over under my cozy comforter than to force myself to stumble step by step out of my bed at around 6:00am-ish in the morning. The startling truth though of my reality is that the "hard" of life, is well, just what I need. And not only do I know it, but God knows it because He allows it. He has a purpose for this regardless of my understanding it. So I have a choice, every single day. Choose it. Live it. Stumble into it and simply live it the best I know how because.....I am Him. He is me. I have the Father living inside me and therefore I reflect Him to this world. So instead of sinking into what I am feeling or prefer at any given moment, I will seek Him instead.

Whatever our condition today, we are all geared toward our own creature comforts that will typically get us going, get the engine humming so to speak. I love this scripture that was delivered to me via email today. Just what I needed and what I know several friends need today so catch this, soak in it and let it ripple off of you to someone else:

And when people thirst, when those poor souls with parched tongues
look in vain for something to drink,
I, the Eternal, the God of Israel, won’t leave them to suffer. I will respond
By making the hard, brown hills sparkle with streams of fresh water
and causing valleys to come alive with springs.
I will see that gentle pools wait on the desert floor for the weary traveler,
and great fountains bubble up from dry ground; (Isaiah 41:17-18 The Voice translation)

I don't know about you, but I am gonna be thirsty and hungry every single day for not only what my physical condition needs, but what my spiritual conditions needs. Not just needs, REQUIRES! Father God speaks here to us and PROMISES us He will not leave us to SUFFER, but He will RESPOND by refreshing our dried, cracked, hardened lives with a refreshing, infusing what once was barren to something alive, flourishing and bubbling over like a fountain coming up out of the ground. Can you envision it? Do this right now for yourself. He is ready to provide this to me, and to you. He is steady, we are not. He can be trusted, even when life is letting us down. We cannot expect Him to speak or meet our need based on what we perceive as best for us; we should expect Him to be patient, allowing us to linger in seasons of waiting and silence, because those are the seasons He intends for our maturing and nurturing to take place. Remember, He is the Author and Perfector of our faith who took our place in the most horrible way imaginable but as this scripture states '....He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him;' (Hebrews 12:2 The Voice translation)

He IGNORED the shame.....IGNORED it and FOCUSED ON THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM! How can we possibly ALLOW any circumstance we face in our lives to DISTRACT us from that promise?

Look up, my friend, look up today from your current state of being and see how the Father sees you. He loves you, how He loves you! I've had this song on repeat this morning because it fits so beautifully with what God has been speaking to me this morning. I hope it does the same for you. I'm praying for you. I don't have all the answers, but hope something I've said causes you to look to the One who loves you most and best.


(Steady Heart by Steffany Gretzinger and Amanda Cook)
Another Monday, it's upon me whether I'm ready for it or not. I gotta do this, I have responsibilities, and God how I'd much rather stay in bed and sleep because it is freaking bitterly cold outside and my bed is really soft and warm but I get it. You're right. I can do this, I need to this, and somehow You give me the strength I need to face it and make the best of it. Thanks God. But if I'm being honest here, I'm just not up for it. Routine Monday morning, got Chloe to daycare and myself settled in at work. Or so I thought. I am not settling in. In fact, I have this almost tangible feeling of well, simply feeling unsettled today. Why is that? I immediately went to the Father in prayer asking His presence to fill my life, the lives of others today who are in need of simply knowing He is there, and to trust Him fully, and then He gave it to me.....Psalm 46.

Be still and know that I am God. Just be still, be calm.

It hasn't sunk in yet, so perhaps this simply statement, this simple phrase, this truth from God's Word, is meant for me to mull over all day long. Be still. I haven't had a enough coffee yet today, but okay, I'm gonna lean into Him, I'm gonna let Him have it all because for some reason I feel like I forgot something or something is just undone in me today and I can't put my finger on it.

Song came to mind and I looked it up online and listened to it while meditating on what He's speaking to me today, His word in Psalm 46. Be still and know Me. That's all you need today. Calm, still, and simply know Me.

Be still my soul
The Lord is on your side
Bear patiently
The cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God
To order and provide
In every change
He faithful will remain.
(Be Still My Soul (What a Friend We Have in Jesus, by Selah)

Whatever this thing is that's got me unsettled today, I know as the words hit me, the scripture, the song, the knowledge that He is enough and I can rest in Him, I should let go and do just that.

Be still, be calm, and know that I am God. Then, I can do the work in you that I intend to do.

I hear Him saying it, in my heart I do, so I'll keep my mind and my heart focused on Him today, this week, however long He intends to do this thing in me until I'm completely unraveled and completely still.

I know I should be thankful to be in this place today because it means God is working. I wonder what He is up to? Prayers appreciated for Ryan and I. Thankful for this season and hopeful for what has for us in the days ahead. We are praying for you.....

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...