Devotionals

Influencers

I’m in the middle of a great book, Refiner’s Fire. It’s a compilation of ODGs’ (Old Dead Guys’, as we call them) words, written down by members of their congregations and unedited.  Every time I pick it up I walk away with a challenge whether I read for ten minutes or thirty. Here is an excerpt from my morning reading and some thoughts it evoked. 

“God forbid that the sheep of His pasture should ever cling to any word that proceeds from our mouth that did not first of all proceed out of the mouth of God. God forbid that any of His sheep should willfully follow any one of God’s ministers in any manner of behavior or teaching, that did not originate in the heart of God.”

It is through union with Christ and a daily infilling of the Holy Spirit that we can truly walk and live and work in His power and anointing. I’m reminded of the Scripture in Isaiah 50:4 that says, “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.”

As a parent, a minister, a musician, a writer and whatever other title I’m carrying in a day, I desire to be led by the Holy Spirit in every ounce of my communication. I pray that my words and actions are empowered by the presence of Jesus and that out of that flows change, encouragement and Kingdom advancement. I desire that my life glorifies the One – Jesus – who loves me immeasurably.

What could change if we all walked with the knowledge in the forefront of our minds that within the mundane of the day to day God has equipped us with a purpose that is so much greater than ourselves? We are light bearers called to illuminate the darkness. What could happen if we all woke up and lived out this Scripture? An equally crucial question can be asked. What if we don’t? 

Either way we answer these questions for ourselves, someone’s life will be changed, along with our own. 

I feel so passionate about the fact that there are people waiting for the hope we possess and we have the responsibility to share it. We must daily stay connected to the Source in order to properly portray His character and His life to the hurting.

To all my readers, I hope you will chew on these thoughts along with me and let God speak to you in the place you are at. If you’d like to share, leave me a comment below and I’d love to dialogue about what God is doing in your heart through these ideas and this verse. 

Devotionals

Trusting in the Dark

When we speak of our relationship with God, trust and surrender are so intertwined that we can’t really have one without the other. I’ve grown up hearing the Scripture, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight,” so many times that it’s easy to skip over it while reading, forgetting the impact of what that really means. 

To trust means to have a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something. Other definitions include 1 – allowing someone to have, use or look after (someone or something of importance or value) with confidence 2 – commit (someone or something) to the safekeeping of  3 – have faith or confidence in.

This past year I can think of three major moments in my life where I had to choose to trust. One regarded our uncertain future, another was when God asked me to give something up and the last was something that was taken from us. Each moment required a conscious decision to trust preceded by the decision to surrender. 

We cannot trust God with something that we are still holding onto. It’s only when we get to a place where we come with open hands that we can say we trust Him with all of our heart. Our heart is home to our dreams, hurts, hopes, fears and the deep, hidden thoughts that surround these things. So trusting God with our heart is trusting Him with everything dear to us. 

Learning to trust has not been a one time lesson for me but a lifetime of allowing God to teach me how to let go in each season. 

There’s a kids’ show, Daniel Tiger, that has an episode where the children are afraid of a shadow in the dark and the parents come in to show them what it actually is. They start singing this song, “See what it is, you might feel better. See what it is, you won’t be so afraid…” This is great advice in the natural sense but we don’t always get this luxury in the spiritual realm. 

I love the moments when I can look back and see why God did something a certain way, but the definition “firm belief in” comes strongly into play in the moments when we have no idea why He did what He did. 

As hard as it is sometimes to accept things that have happened in my life, I would rather be at rest by the peace God gives when I surrender than live with a striving spirit, trying to have things my own selfish way.

If any of you are in a season of needing to surrender and trust, I encourage you to just let go of what you are clinging to. Sometimes it’s easier than others and, honestly, at times it’s a daily choice. There have been moments in my life where I have told God, “I choose to obey today. Tomorrow, You will have to help me say it again.” Fill in the blank for what you need to pray. Then choose to obey, trust, surrender or follow in this moment and He will give you strength to do it again in the next.

I imagine Father God takes great delight in our trusting as well as in seeing us walk in peace. Certainly the peace that follows surrender will far outweigh the stress of trying to hold on to anything. 

Devotionals

Don’t Forget to Remember

After getting our oldest son off to school this morning, my husband said he’d watch the other boys so I could grab a little quiet time. He is so sweet and knows what I need! I’m grateful for the coffee shop 5 minutes from our house – and that it’s open inside! I’m sitting near a window watching the snow fall and loving this moment of stillness in between my sweet life of rowdy boys and non stop talking. 

Unexpected interruption…three hours later…let’s try this again. 

The following is a thought I jotted down forever ago and set aside. I found it today and decided to post it.

This morning, over a cup of tea, I read Deuteronomy 8. The caption in my Bible reads, Do Not Forget the Lord. The Lord is reminding the Israelites to remember Him when they make it through to victory. Here are some snapshots of the chapter: “Remember how the Lord your God led you…When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God…Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God…He led you through the vast and dreadful desert…He brought you water out of the hard rock…He gave you manna to eat…You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability…”

Today I’m reminiscing on my life with God, the good times as well as the difficult ones. I’m reflecting on His faithfulness, discipline and deep, deep love for me.

God never wastes anything in our lives when we surrender ourselves to Him. So whether we’re learning lessons in the desert or in the promised land, He is always working to draw us closer to Himself and to transform our imperfect nature into characters that reflects His own. 

As different ones of you read this, you will find yourselves in various situations. Some are probably struggling, others are enjoying the reward of hard work paid off, still others are in a season of trusting as you have no idea what comes next. Whatever point in the journey you find yourselves in, I challenge you, as I do myself, never forget to remember the Lord and recognize His hand in each season. 

Devotionals

I Need Help

It’s been a while since I’ve written (confession, I’m in the middle of a historical fiction series that I’m having a hard time putting down) so since my husband is watching the boys this afternoon, I decided to make use of the time and share something that’s been on my mind lately – God as our helper.

This isn’t some new revelation for me because I was taught from a young age that the Holy Spirit was given to be our helper and I have experienced Him more times than I can count. But God has a beautiful way of taking something old and making the fact come alive in a new, fresh and deeply personal way. And He’s done that for me recently so I wanted to share what’s on my heart. He’s been making me keenly aware of His help in the everyday moments of life.

This awareness has been life-giving. It has yielded a renewed closeness and partnership with God as we’ve journeyed this crazy life together. 

When we look at this on a deeper than surface level, it is powerful. For me, this has produced a molding of my character and I’ve experienced growth in certain spiritual fruits that I was lacking. I’ve found myself responding in ways that were clearly not my natural instincts. I’ve been mindful to ask God for wisdom and discernment in seemingly insignificant moments that have actually been steps in forming our history and memories. 

I challenge you to take an honest look at yourself and ask God to unveil things in which you need His help. I’m talking anything and everything from big decisions to daily moments interacting with your family. 

My prayer for all of us: 

God, give us teachable spirits and make us aware of Your readiness to help in every area of our lives. As we rely on You for the little, daily things that add up to life changing moments, teach us to act and react in ways that reflect You and bring You honor.  

Devotionals

Underlined Memories

My parents gave me a Bible for Christmas during my senior year of high school. Twenty years later, it’s marked with dates in the margins and underlined passages as it’s journeyed with me through school, college, adulthood, marriage and children. I love flipping through the pages and reminiscing moments with God in various seasons. I thought I’d share a random list of verses with you that I like and, hopefully, encourage your day. (I’ve included the references so you can read the context if you’d like.)

“Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.’”Exodus 33:15

“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” Jude 1:24-25

“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” Jude 1:20

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27

“…they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13b

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Luke 1:45

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

“He tunnels through the rock; his eyes see all its treasures. He searches the sources of the rivers and brings hidden things to light.” Job 28:10-11

“They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’” Nehemiah 6:9

“…The Lord is Peace…” Judges 6:24

“Be careful that you do not forget the Lord…”Deuteronomy 6:12a

“But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves…” Luke 7:30a

“She did what she could…” Mark 14:8a

“…And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.” Matthew 8:34b

“He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17b

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Jonah 2:8

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:19-22

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.” Isaiah 42:6a

“you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:3b-4

What are some of your go to passages?

Devotionals

Welcoming 2021

We have all heard the phrase, “Because of Covid…” many times and each of us could finish this sentence with our own stories. For me, 2020 has canceled a lot of plans, rearranged my schedules and challenged me to, as Paul wrote, “learn the secret of being content in any and every situation (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me).” 

Who would have guessed 12 months ago all the things that would transpire and where we would be on this New Years Eve. Wow – what a year! And yet, here we are.

I make a family photo album every year and as I’ve looked back at this year’s memories, it is marked with so many joys amidst the challenges. And I’m grateful. I’m grateful for the “ups” but I’m also grateful for the growth I’ve made in the “downs.” 

During days of question and tears, Jesus has drawn me closer to Himself as He’s taken me to places in my heart that needed to be surrendered. 

In his article, Last Days Ministries: Free As A Slave, Winkie Pratney talks about yielded versus unyielded rights. We have ideas of how life should look and how we want our plans to unfold but if we hold too tightly to these ideas, we will find ourselves in a place wrestling between God’s peace and life’s anxieties. God wants us to surrender everything to His loving care – our plans, dreams, fears, hopes, failures, expectations and so on – and trust Him. 

I’ll never forget what Pastor Shull said at a conference last summer, “Peace is the reward of surrender.”

As we close out this crazy year and enter into the unknowns of 2021, I pray that we will walk with confidence knowing that if we are journeying with Jesus, we are not alone no matter what lies ahead. He is already there. 

So…2021…welcome.

Wishing all of my readers a very Happy New Year. 

Devotionals

What would we change?

I’m still a year and a couple months shy of 40 but when my husband hit the big 4-0, it threw me into a couple days of introspection. I’m already quite obsessed with reflecting on life but somehow this moment took me for a deeper dive. 

I found myself asking, “If I could go back and change anything in my life up to this point, what would it be?” I added some things to my mental list and then began to ruminate on what could still be changed and what would stay in the category of “I wish I had…” 

I know that none of us know our futures and we are not even promised tomorrow but in the event that I die of old age, my life could possibly be half over, which led me to my second question. If in forty years I’m on my death bed, what will I regret if I don’t change now?    

So I wanted to pose the same question to you. I’m talking anything – a major life decision, a hobby you’ve wanted to tackle, a character issue you’ve wanted to overcome.

This has been good for me. It’s helped keep me focused when the mundane has tried to distract. As long as we have life and breath, there is possibility and opportunity. 

When I look back on my life, I want to know that I’ve spoken kindly, loved deeply, followed Jesus faithfully and pursued every dream God has placed in my heart with 100% of my efforts.

I encourage you, don’t live under the burden of regret but rather the peace of surrender. Then trust God enough to show you how to live so your future doesn’t contain regrets. 

We cannot change our past. We can, however, still change our future’s past.   

Devotionals

A few of my favorite things…

“Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, silver white winters that melt into springs, these are a few of my favorite things….” 

Although it’s been years since I’ve seen The Sound of Music, I think of this song and it makes me want to add this musical to my holiday movie list.

My sister and I started a tradition years ago that Christmas music was officially allowed on November 1st. In fact, it was practically mandated. 

Now before some of you start hating on me for jumping to Christmas before Thanksgiving Day, let me explain. Thanksgiving is still a huge deal in our family. For us, Christmas music is an ushering in of the holiday season. It’s like opening the door to sweaters, boots and peppermint hot chocolate. And that in itself is something to be thankful for. 

I love holidays (do you see the italics here?)! I guess I’m still a kid at heart. I love family time. I love holiday shopping. I love traditional turkey dinners and my mom’s homemade caramel squares. I love walking into the house and smelling festive candles. I love Christmas parties and trees and lights. I love getting together with friends and reflecting on what Christ has done. I love baking cookies, cold weather and traditions. I love this season. 

And that’s it. There are no confessions or deep thoughts in this post, just a little glimpse into a few of my favorite things. 

So with that said, I’m off to introduce our boys to our tradition that must be carried on.

What are you enjoying this season?  

Devotionals

Wonder

This morning I watched huge smiles emerge between giggles as one by one our three kids woke up, peeked through the blinds and saw the first snowfall of the year. Little fingers pressed against the windows and dancing eyes begged to go out and play. 

I poured cereal and divided out pumpkin bread (It’s still October and suppose to be fall, y’all – who’s with me?) but of course excitement trumped hunger and it wasn’t long before they were back on the couch peering outside. So I sat down with a fuzzy blanket and a cup of tea and simply watched them, savoring the moment. 

Oh to see the world with childlike wonder. 

I’m determined to pause the mundane more often to marvel at God’s intricate handiwork. Nature. Personalities. Relationships. Love. The changing seasons. The mysteries of God. Beauty. 

I know being attentive will take discipline and practice but it’s something worth striving for. Each new day lies before us like an adventure ready to be explored. So much can be learned, enjoyed and experienced if we will embrace the day as such and step away from becoming emotionally stagnant in the daily routine. 

Regardless of how age has labeled us, let’s be children of wonder! 

PS…In case you were curious, the day turned out to be a “school is canceled” snow day which included snowball fights, multiple cups of hot chocolate, cartoons and family dinner. I’m going to bed one exhausted but happy momma.

Devotionals

Faithfulness, Perspective & Changing Seasons

Our relationship with God cannot be based on emotions because emotions come and go like the tide. A real relationship requires commitment and faithfulness regardless of feelings. But there are seasons when God gifts us with the nearness of His presence. These times are like oases giving us strength to keep moving through our deserts. 

Lately I’ve found myself in such a place. And on the contrast of times when I simply trust His silence, I am hearing His voice like a shout. I’m keenly aware of the absolute passion of our Savior, Jesus, and lover of our souls. His friendship, His love, His peace, His words are life. I think of David when he wrote, “As the deer pants for water, so my soul pants for you.” The more I’m in His presence, the more I want to be there. I’m desperate for Him. 

In the midst of this awesome place, I’m getting a fresh view of God’s heart for His people. I see sadness in eyes and hear hopelessness in voices. And I can’t keep silent. I know the answer. 

My challenge to you and me is to be faithful in every season, trust the season that He is taking us through and share Him with everyone we can along the way. We have a voice and a testimony – let’s use it.