Devotionals

The Art of Letting Go

There are a million little moments I want to tuck away in my pocket to pull out and relive. But life doesn’t pause, leaving me to be content with the memories made. 

People. Places. Events. There are so many things God has used to shape the person I am and mature me into who He has created me to be. It’s a daily process. A daily surrendering. And a lifetime of growth. 

Recently I sat in my favorite spot of our house, looking around the room at the pictures hanging on our walls and my candle and books creating the centerpiece for our coffee table and I simply reminisced the gift of the past season. My heart ached at the upcoming goodbyes but was comforted by God’s reassuring Presence. In that moment, He reminded me that I didn’t have to say goodbye to Him. 

He has been with me in every move, every transition and every season. He is my constant and He is never leaving. An overwhelming peace and joy settled in my heart as I celebrated this part of the journey with Him. Releasing anything we love is hard but when we know God is moving us on, there is comfort in the change and strength in the letting go. 

God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Remembering this gives me courage to embrace each new horizon. I can let go of what I know and walk toward the unknown because I walk with the One who knows not only my current end but also my new beginning. 

Devotionals

Stress Relieved

I’m not sure what a panic attack actually looks like, but if it’s an overwhelming feeling of stress in my gut that leads to tears every time I think of a situation then I had a mini panic attack this morning. Even while I prepared my tea and excitedly sat down for my moments of quiet before the household woke up, it took every effort to still my pounding heart. 

I’m a pretty transparent person, but this morning I’m going to leave out the details of how I arrived at this moment because that is not the point. (However, if your curiosity gets the better of you, just ask and I’ll gladly share. I’m basically an open book.) 

What I want to focus on is what happened when I sat down. It’s cliche, I know, but it was as if Scripture came alive. The “peace of God that transcends all understanding” (check out Philippians 4:32 in the Bible if you aren’t familiar with this verse) settled in the room and gently took my stress. In the short time that I sat there, God worked on my heart, shifted my perspective and gave me joy for my upcoming day. 

I write this to encourage you in your struggles. Whatever burdens you wake up to, let Jesus carry the weight and teach you how to navigate them gracefully. It doesn’t have to take a long thought out action plan. It simply takes asking God for help. 

If you’re a list person, like myself, here are some bullet points to remember when you feel overwhelmed:

-Be still

-Ask God for help

-Open the Bible

-Let go

It’s that simple. 

So, I leave you with these thoughts and trust you have a wonderful week. Come good or bad – with Jesus’ help, YOU GOT THIS!

Devotionals

Never be content

I hate being satisfied and content. Before you think I’m turning into an egotistical gal, please read on. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the seemingly high speed motion picture that we live in and put our relationship with God into neutral, but I feel a tugging in my spirit to fight this tendency, to reach for more and to challenge you to do the same. I never want to be satisfied with how close I am to God. There is always more. There are more things to learn, more ways to change and more areas in which to grow. And God is desperately waiting for us to want this enough to do something about it.

Do you ever just look around and wonder at God’s handiwork? It’s in everything around us. The mountains, the ocean, the intricate detail of flowers, the variety of personalities, a child’s smile. And in the midst of His grandeur, His voice speaks when we are listening. He is drawing us to Himself. 

My heart’s cry is to know God more. I want to hear the whispers which can only be heard in the close moments of intimacy where His love is spoken over me and I feel the deep beatings of His heart. I want to see the brokenness in this world through His eyes causing me to throw away my comfort in order to do something about it. 

Sometimes we don’t want to listen because we are afraid of what it will cost us. And often times it will cost a lot. But what we will receive in return, both now and in eternity, will far outweigh anything we sacrifice.

Even as I write this, I feel an urgency. Wherever you find yourselves today, I dare you to abandon whatever is hindering you from surrender (fear, doubt, materialism, laziness, stress, busyness, etc.) and run after God like never before. 

You may say you have no idea where to start. Open the Bible, open your heart and watch what God will show you. It’s that simple. 

My prayer for us all:

“Lord, You said that if we draw near to You, You will draw near to us. Give us hearts that desire to know You more. Give us courage to let go of temporal things that hinder a relationship with You. Teach us to slow down. Help us surrender. Mold us into Your likeness. Take us to new levels of friendship with You. Show us Your glory.”

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.