Who Has Time To Rest?

I gently pulled Andrew’s door closed. I switched off the light in the hall making my way to the family room. The lights were off. The candles cast their dancing shadows across my new coffee table, which I’m in love with.

The table arrived, sat empty for a couple of hours, then I filled it with stacks of photo albums. The best time and money I’ve spent is creating these albums my family thumbs through frequently. They do not collect dust.

I, however, rarely sit long enough to enjoy. But this night would be different because I have received a wake up call. Similar to someone who has experienced that turning point in life where you are awakened to the gift of every breath you’ve been given. Mine wasn’t a near death experience. Rather a doctor’s stern warning that if something doesn’t change, my life will.

The couch reached out, wrapped me in a warm embrace, and settled me on its lap. I drew my legs under, hugging myself close. And I opened a photo album from 2010. 7 years ago.

Page after page of images that seem a lifetime ago.

Zachary came out of his room for water and caught me sitting. The surprise on his face stabbed my heart. I model a lot to them. Rest isn’t one.

Right there. That thought is the exact thing I’m aware of now. A constant critique of myself. How to be better. Guilt has been a tormentor for far too long. Guilt steals rest.

The couch has amazing arms I realize as I watched it reach for him and pull him next to me. We flipped, and smiled, and marveled.

Then another door creaked. Andrew tiptoed to the pantry I believe for a sneak food fueling for the night. We exchanged looks without reacting to each other. His look of surprise at finding me on the couch met my softened eyes and beaming smile at the remembrance of days to cherish.

“Mom, I love that smile that you are giving right now.” He expected my typical night time, irritable ‘get your butt back to bed’ reaction. He expected the furrowed brows and stiff shoulders. Instead he saw the mom that I work too hard to be.

Rest. It’s what God is speaking to me. Rest from your strive for perfection. Rest from your achievements. Rest from your striving life. My life verse has always been Psalm 46:10. Be still and know that I am God.

I gave a talk a couple of years ago called “Be Still”. It was based on my favorite translation of this verse which says “Cease striving”. I strive in my own strength. Eventually I tire out and have to let go. All the while God’s saying to me, “Cease striving. Let go now and let me carry you. Eventually you will have to let go, why not do it now without wearing yourself out. My burden is light. Let me carry you.”

So this is how my night ended last night. The boys catching me resting. And me allowing myself to enjoy the gift of rest free of guilt.

I began the evening the same way.

When Steve walked in the door from work, I imagine he startled a bit to find me sitting on the back porch reading a book. Dinner was waiting in the Instant Pot. The boys were playing with friends outside. And I sat. Relaxed. Not rushing around seeing how much more I could accomplish.

This is a new trend for me. Lifestyle change away from impossible standards and expectations I place on myself. A kind grace to me.

Since recovering from a recent ulcer, I’ve been working on being kinder to myself. I’ve tended towards the misconception that to think of self at all is to create patterns of selfishness. This can happen for sure.

In my case, I’ve gone so far in the opposite direction as to live in a state of constant stress, which I don’t see as stress. To me it’s simply become normal life. A visit to a new doctor came as a startling wake up call when he pointed out that I’m 40, and if I don’t start managing stress better then 60 won’t be pretty.

Managing stress better for me starts in my mind.

I thought this doctor’s appointment would be like all others. Instead, the nurse led me into his office. He began asking me questions about myself. He wanted to know my personality. My strengths and weaknesses. He wanted to know about my childhood, family relationships, how I do life. It felt like a counseling session.

The doctor nodded along. Wrote notes. Offered smiles of encouragement. No judgement. Just listened.

Before he began to discuss my ulcer, he said the words that opened up a surprise gate of tears. “I need you to hear the most important words I’ll say to you today. You will have to hear it here (pointing to his head) and receive it here (pointing to his heart).”

I nodded, bracing myself for the words. “You are a wonderful mom and God is pleased with you.”

That simple sentence. In all my talking about my stomach ailments and my life, his first sentence to me was that God was pleased. But he was setting me up to hear what that meant for me. God is pleased with me not based on how hard I parent or how hard I work in the home.

What I knew to be true of God, I wasn’t living out daily. And it’s dangerous for my body.

I can blame it on many things if I want to. Major change in a year. Cross country move. Homeschooling is me working a full time job, receiving no paycheck, and watching parts of me refined I didn’t know existed. It was a painfully, beautiful year. Learning to teach not only my own kids, but also teach to a learning disability. Deep hurts and wounds from relationships outside of our family I  want to be life-giving instead of life-depleting. Wounds from the past in relationships creating in me a drive to do things in a way as to not hurt others in my life like I’ve been hurt. Pressing, crushing circumstances. Not different from anyone else I tell myself. This is life.

The problem for me is how I handle the jabs, the rubs, the constant friction of life. I overcompensate by becoming more competent, more able, more of a problem solver, more productive, more good. Less forgiving toward myself, more critical toward myself. Less rest. Basically, I’m letting the enemy steal from me. And one day I want to share with you how God showed me 2 years ago I was allowing a thief into my life. Both in the physical and the spiritual world.

All along, He’s drawing me back in. Telling me to lift my eyes to that fixed position. That point that doesn’t move. To the One Who will never hurt me. To the One Who will never abandon me. To the One Who doesn’t expect me to be perfect because He did it for me. To the One Who is saying, “Come to me, you who are wearied, and I will give you rest.”

I’m accepting His invitation to rest in Him. This begins in my mind. Stilling my thoughts that can spin out of control. This is something I’m realizing I need to accept day by day, even moment by moment. A lifetime of habits won’t be corrected overnight. But there is hope. Day by day, He will help me to learn to rest in Him and to accept the gift of rest He offers.

It takes effort on my part. It’s easy for me to work. I’m a worker. Honestly, when I stopped working full-time as a CPA when my oldest was two, I think I feared so much the perception some people have of stay-at-home moms that I went into a mode of being the best mom and wife I could possibly be. That’ll kill a soul.

So to “work” less takes more effort for me than to “work” hard. My resting in God might be the best work I do all day. Especially for my family.

Rest is a gift. Rest isn’t a luxury like I’ve believed. Rest isn’t only for the ones who don’t have so much to do (laugh with me because you know we all think no one has it as hard as we do). Rest is about obedience. Rest isn’t selfish. Rest is a requirement for a life to be overflowing.

For my cup to overflow, I must rest. My cup has runneth on empty for far too long. This is a recipe for me to give the worst of me to the best of those in my life.

Today, I will rebuke the lies of the enemy that tell me resting is selfish. I will accept God’s invitation to rest in Him. I will obey God’s command to rest from my work each week. When I rest, may my eyes become fixed on Him, may my mind meditate on His Word. May I breath in and out of His Spirit. May I be filled by Him in rest so He can work through me in ways only He can.



Don’t Blink, Then I Blinked

#dontblink – a common hashtag when celebrating graduations, birthdays, a new school year, or a life change.

#theniblinked -it’s like a sudden realization that time actually does move at a pace that is frighteningly slow in real time yet megafast in the replay.

One day we are wiping smashed peas off chubby cheeks, then we seem to blink as we watch that same child wiping milk from our new grandbaby’s mouth.

One day we push a shopping cart holding our tantrum throwing toddler through the store as all eyes on us seem to be the cause of the sweat forming under our arms. Then we blink, and  one day we are by ourselves in a store. We look around in a panic for our child for a split second until the realization hits that we no longer have a toddler in tow.

One day we are longing for the nights we can curl up in our bed and read a book uninterrupted or watch a show without pausing every 3.5 minutes because someone wants a cup of water, someone is scared, someone remembered they can’t find their prized possession and are in full panic mode until we come to the rescue. Then we blink, and they are teenagers who become chatter boxes at the point of the night that are eyes are begging to close, our bodies desperate for rest. And we sit on beds and listen to dramas unfold, listen to aches no one else knows of. Then we blink again, and that room is empty except on weekends or holidays.

When in the dark depths of sleep-deprived infant days or knee-deep in the endless days of potty-training (or lack thereof), the moments of parenting can feel like we are living in slow-mo. Well-intentioned, seasoned parents offer smiles of encouragement and tell us to enjoy each drop because it will be over before we know it.

I’ll confess times of a cynical inner-self living inside me wanting to holler back, “Easy for you to say, I bet you didn’t have to….” Fill in the blank with whatever my thorn was for that day. Then I had the glowing moments of cherishing these words in my heart, desperately wanting to hold onto the time at hand. It is a tug of war between these two selves, one wanting to move forward, one terrified to leave the present because I want to never let go of the gift of now.

Scientists say we blink on average about 15-20 times a minute, which is about 28,800 times a day. In 18 years that is about 190,000,000 blinks.

While on the lookback it may feel a lifetime went by in a blink, we actually receive the gift of nearly 2 million blinks in 18 years with our kiddos, Lord willing. What sweet mercy to our souls.

“Mom, if we ever decide to stop homeschooling, the thing I would be most sad about is knowing how sad it would make you. I know you would miss us so much.”

I looked up to catch his tender gaze. “I would miss you. But I live season to season.”

Intrigued, he leaned in slightly. I went back to the task at hand while continuing, “You know God gives us life broken into seasons. I have chosen to embrace each season as God brings it and hold it with open hands. If I cling too tightly, I won’t be ready to release it when God says it’s time. So I try to keep my hands open, ready to release one season and receive the next.”

His eyebrows raised as he nodded. The answer seemed to relieve him of his worry.

“That is why it’s so important not to take any season for granted. Make the most of each moment. Cherish the relationships while you have them because you don’t know when the tide will change.”

It’s not a living in fear of the change of life. It’s living with the excited expectation of what is next on the horizon.

I remember when Jacob was an infant, an older mom saying to me, “This too shall pass.” I knew it was true. I saw moms who received a nightly 8 hours of sleep. It would happen again. All moments pass eventually. All seasons pass.

I’ve observed many in my life enter and exit various seasons and stages of their lives. I’ve gone through many of my own in 40 years. It seems there are the ones who joyfully accept the new while letting go of the old. And there are some who tend to become bitter and cynical even as they transition into new seasons.

It’s easier to release a season and receive another when we’ve made the most of the one we are leaving. But what happens when we squandered the time? What happens when we’ve made a wreck out of the relationships we should have cherished? Or what if we tried our hardest but surrounding situations or people cut in bringing sadness, destruction, or failures?

We can let regrets eat away at our soul. We can make excuses or blame others around us. This will surely create a bitter soul.

Or we can release the past to God. Confess our failures. Forgive others. Let go of resentments. Ask for a fresh vision. We can choose to not let our past define us and live with the truth that His mercies are new every day.

We can’t get time back, but we can choose to walk into the future with joy and hope. When we are in Christ, we are never a moment without hope. Feelings can lead us away from the truth. His Word is the unmoving point to fix our eyes on when we desperately want to enter the next season with a new vision.

My kids have taught me they remember more about the present than the past. In my own head, I may tend to stay in the past. They tend to live in today.

I replay times of failure to myself. They remember the times I was their hero. I’m my own worst enemy at times. They tend to be my champion cheerleaders.

When my boys were little, I played with them a lot. I’d run and chase outside. We’d sit on the floor and play cars. We’d read books for hours at a time. I invested heavily. Despite all the time I invested, Andrew said to me recently, “Why don’t you ever play with me?”

I immediately became defensive. All the years of floor playing, sweating in the yard, and reading until my eyes begged for sleep, and he thinks I don’t play with him enough? Then I realized that it’s today that matters to him. While I initially looked at the negative, I realized this is actually a blessing.

Yes, what I did in the early years is important. Vitally important. It built a foundation of memories and trust. However, it’s what I choose to do today that matters the most for today. He isn’t living in the past. He is living in today. And this is a healthy thing for him to do. And it’s a healthy thing for me to remember. Because I’ve regretted many moments in my past. But it’s what I choose to do with those moments today that matters going forward.

With my boys each day is a new day to grow in our relationship. Each season offers new and unique gifts. The letting go of one day is the preparation to receive the next day.

If yesterday was a disaster because of my incorrect perceptions or my negative attitude, Lord willing, I get a restart the next day. I am not a victim to the replay. I have the choice to create a new route. Often it begins in my own mindset. How I choose to view this life or this season holds quite a bit of power.

We are entering our second year of homeschool. We’ve mostly completed our summer. Summer #14 of 18 with my oldest. It’s time to release this season with a thankful heart and prepare my hands and heart to receive the new school year. He’s soon to be 14, which is hard for me to believe.

Didn’t I simply blink?

Yes. Yes, I did. About 143,000,000 so far actually.

For each blink, I thank Him. A blink is a gift.

Lord, You are the giver of all that is good. Today, we thank you for the gift of a blink of time. We thank you for the collection of blinks that create a life. We thank you for the blinks blurred by tears. We thank you for blinks happening unaware. We praise You that you are Creator of life. Your mercies are new with each blink. That hope is alive because of Christ. Today, may we receive each blink as the gift it is. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.


Do You Believe God Speaks Through Dreams?

Do you believe God speaks through dreams? I began to see God speaking to me through dreams 2 years ago, and I’ve come to treasure the messages He gives me. Many people think this is a far out there kind of thing. Like the God of today doesn’t do that. I’ve learned this as I’ve shared what God shows me and people look at me like I’ve lost my head.

The God of today is the same God of the Bible. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The Bible is filled with examples of Him speaking to His people through dreams (Genesis 37:5-10; 1 Kings 3:5-15; Daniel, chapters 2 and 7; Matthew 1:20; 2:13,19; and Acts 10:9-16; 16:9). I don’t know why we don’t quickly believe He can or would speak to us this way.

Is every dream a message from God? Absolutely not. Some are simply formed from something we saw before going to bed, something we ate, something on our minds.

Great caution must be taken before we decide if a dream or vision is from God or not. If it contradicts scripture, it is not from God. If it is opposed to the will of God, it’s not from Him. Before making determinations, we must take the dream to God and ask Him to speak to us. He will confirm through His Word His message to us.

The dreams I know are from God always line up with scripture. They often are tied directly to a passage of scripture. Often as I pray about a dream or vision, God will lead me directly to the scripture He wants me to see.

I had a dream this week that I know was a message from God to me. I can’t explain how I know when my dreams are from God except to say that when I wake up, there is this sense of knowing. A confidence. Not a fear. It’s like I simply wake and He is the first thing on my mind. The dream is vivid and I know it’s from Him. Then it lines up with scripture.

The dream this week was me sitting and watching something play out beside me. There were no surrounding images in this dream.  It was simple and clear.

A snake was coiled up near me. Jacob and Andrew approached the snake with caution and lightly placed a belt on top of the snake to secure him in place while they reached for a pantyhose type of net to scoop the snake and discard of him away from us. This exact scenario kept playing on repeat throughout the dream.

I would watch and think that the snake should easily be able to slither out from under that belt, but he didn’t. I couldn’t believe that a belt resting lightly on the snake could hold him back from striking me.

But on the last snake, the image was different. This snake looked scarier than the others. I thought that my children were lacking in power and authority in approaching that snake. Why were they coming at this one with such a casual demeanor? Why were they allowing so much time between placing the belt on it, and trapping and throwing it out. In fact, they were allowing the snake time to get mad and strike back. In this part of the dream, they placed the belt on the snake and seemed to move slower to get the net to trap the snake. I said to them, “Hurry up before he gets mad and away.”

Just as I said this, the snake hissed, it’s face flared like that of a cobra. It turned it’s body under the weight of the belt in an attempt to get out from under the belt and come with its bite towards me.

And I woke up. Sat straight up.

As I prayed and pondered the dream, God brought to mind several scriptures. The first was Ephesians 6: 10-18

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

The belt held that snake down in my dream. We are told to stand firm with the belt of truth on our waist. It’s the first piece of armor we are instructed to put on. In Roman warfare days, the belt held together the armor. Without the belt, the rest of the armor couldn’t do what it was intended to do. (Side note, I highly recommend The Armor of God study).

In my dream the belt held the snake down while the boys came to destroy the snake. For us to defeat the attacks of the enemy, truth is essential. Without truth, we have nothing, no armor. We must utilize all pieces of the armor.

How do we get truth? Only one way. Read. The. Bible. Read the Bible. That is truth. It will shape us, form our minds, guide us. Most importantly it reveals who God is. When we know who He is, we know we can trust Him.

When we have truth firmly around our waist, we can buckle our breastplate of righteousness securely to our belt of truth. We have a place to store our sword, which is our weapon to defeat the enemy. It’s offense and defense. We slay the enemy by using the very words of God. With our belt of truth on, we can gird up our loins. Imagine Roman soldiers, when advancing into battle, they tucked their cloth into the belt so their feet could move freely in battle.

It’s essential to remember that our entire life is a spiritual battle. But we aren’t victims. We are conquerors because Jesus won the ultimate war. We need to walk in the authority and power He has given us. We need not approach the enemy carelessly, lacking our authority. We approach like David approached Goliath. We come against our enemy in the name of the God Most High!!

Today I feel reminded by God that He has given me authority and power in His name. I will wage war through the power of prayer. All kinds of prayers. For all God’s people. Each day is one day closer to the return of Christ.

War on! In truth and love!



Believer, Stop Living Like a Victim and Live Like Who You Really Are

As I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, a picture grabbed my attention. She wore a weighted vest through an obstacle race challenge. I thought about how difficult that must have been. I know when I wear weighted gloves during a kickboxing class, I feel such relief when I take the gloves off at the end. A world of difference with weights off. In fact, I often think if I’d done the class without those weighted gloves, I could’ve gone much longer.

In our physical world, we add weights to add challenge to our workouts. But the minute we take the weights off, we sense the endurance available free of the weights.

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.”

Obviously, weights slow us down. They slow our pace, and they shorten the distance we can go. The writer of Hebrews makes the comparison of sin to weights. This life is a long distance race. To keep going, we have to maintain our focus on the end goal. We have to run with endurance.

What sins are you wearing daily that slow down your race? What is keeping you from running with endurance?

I’ve caught myself praying before asking God to take away this sin, or give me this fruit of the Spirit. I’ve found myself frustrated when I repeat the same patterns of sin over and over again. I’ve found myself praying that familiar prayer. “Give me more patience. Help me to be slow to anger.” Those prayers.

If I’m completely honest with you, I’ve found myself playing the victim or martyr role in my life as it relates to sins I allow in my life.

As I read my Bible, several verses began to call out for my attention. Key words demanded I pay close attention.

In the Hebrews passage above, I noticed that we are encouraged to lay aside the weight of sin that entangles us. How often am I taking an active role in taking this weight off? Or am I putting it on and simply asking God to take it off me?

It reminds me of my youngest son, who out of habit calls out to me to do things for him I’ve trained him to do himself. Sometimes I have to kneel down and remind him that I’ve taught him to do these things so that he can grow into a man one day. I’ve passed onto him the responsibility that lies with him now. I’m here to encourage him that he can do these things because I’ve shown him how. God’s Word has shown us how to run this race with endurance. He gives us the power to run the race, but He gives us the choice in how we run it.

Our life is full of choice. I have a choice to allow myself to become offended. I have a choice to allow myself to become irritated or frustrated. I have a choice if I scream out of anger. I have a choice to look on a friend with envy over a life that appears perfect. I am not a victim of life. I am not a victim of sin.

Christ defeated sin. As a believer, I live empowered by the Holy Spirit. I live with Christ in me, the hope of glory. I’m not a victim, I’m a conqueror because the One who conquered death lives in me.

So I have a choice. I don’t need to take on the victim role. That too is a choice.

Back to Hebrews. Lay aside the sin. Take it off. Choose to run life free of weights.

But there is a part 2 of equal importance. If we don’t pay attention to the next part, then we will inevitably pick the weights back up and put them on without realizing it.

When we remove something from our lives, we must replace it with something else. Something better. If we leave the space empty, something will move in eventually. When a smoker stops smoking, they typically replace the cigarette with something else. Often gum or food. When someone who spends hours a day watching television decides to end the habit, they have to fill that time with something else. If they don’t, they will fall right back into their tv watching habits.

Habits removed need to be replaced with better choices.

So when we decide to take off the weights of sin that easily ensnare us, we have to put something in place of those weights. Something better than weights. Something that won’t make it harder to run, but something that will actually increase our endurance and strength without causing stumbles, falls, bumps, and bruises.

Romans 13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desire.”

Pay attention to the choice we are to make. We don’t sit back and say, “Oh, well, God, I can’t do it. Do it for me. Make me stop speaking words of anger to my friends and family. Make me stop harboring jealously in my heart toward this person. Make me stop spending money on things I know I don’t need.” No, we aren’t victims. As believers we’ve been delivered and transferred from darkness into light.

Key words in this verse are ‘put on’. Put on the Lord Jesus. We do that. We choose to put on Christ when we choose to lay aside those weights. We put Jesus in place of the weights. We make the choice to not make plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

Just like we have free will to choose Christ as our Savior. We have that same free will to choose to live in the Spirit.

What does it mean to satisfy the fleshly desires? Well, when you think someone has intentionally hurt you and you want to hurt them back, you may choose to vent all your hurt and anger at them. That satisfies the fleshly desire. You can “defend” yourself. You can prove your case. But often what happens is wounds are inflicted and scars form that may remain for life. Relationships are ruined through words. Instead, if we had taken it to God first, prayed and received His perspective, we may have handled it differently. Our hearts may have changed. We may have saved relationships rather than ruining them.

When we live in a victim mentality that life is unfair and hard and we are victims, we tend to act out of this place. We place the weighted vest of sin on and we run. Then we fall under the weight of sin.

The fact is, life can be harshly cruel. People hurt us. Things happen in this fallen world that we wish we could undo. While I can’t control what happens to me on a daily basis, I can control how I choose to respond to situations and people.

Colossians 3:12-15 “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love-the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.”

This verse starts out by reminding who we are first. This is key. Don’t miss it. When we know who we are, we know how to act. We remember. When we are saved, we are called God’s chosen ones. We are holy. We are loved. Because of this and this alone, we have the power to choose to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We can forgive because of who we are because of what He did for us.

Do you notice all the choice in scipture that is in our hands. Not only is it our choice to put on these these attributes, but we have the choice to be controlled by Christ not ourselves. The end of that verse says “let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.”

Do we want peace and not strife in our life. Well, we have the choice to put off the sin of strife. We have the choice to put on Jesus Christ. To put on kindness and patience and gentleness. We have the choice to let the peace of Christ control us instead of letting ourselves be controlled by our fleshly desires.

One way or another, we are going to be controlled by something. But scripture shows us that when we are in Christ, we have a choice to let ourselves be controlled by Him. We aren’t victims. Don’t play that game. It’s the game the enemy wants you deeply invested in. In this game, he will use shame, manipulation, guilt, fear, all kinds of weapons to hold you in the game.

Choose wisely.

Remember who God says you are. Lay aside the weights of sin. Put on Christ. Put on the fruits of the Spirit. Surrender to His Ways and say, “I’m fully yours, God. Let Your peace control me.”

Be a victim to grace. Be a victim to peace. Be a victim to goodness, kindness, compassion.

We can’t do it in our own strength. We must turn into Christ, ask Him to strengthen us, then we make the choice to walk in His ways not in the ways of our flesh. He gives us power, but He gives us the choice with what we do and how we act.

What a different place the world would be if we lived and walked in the power we’ve been given.


Want to experience miracles? Try this.

A portion of The Hiding Place is forever cemented in my brain. Before I share what God has been showing me, let’s start here. Corrie Ten Boom, along with her sister and other family members,  were christians hiding Jews during WWII. They were discovered and imprisoned.

Excerpt from The Hiding Place.

“‘Fleas!’ I cried. ‘Betsie, the place is swarming with them!’

“We scrambled across the intervening platforms, heads low to avoid another bump, dropped down to the aisle and hedged our way to a patch of light.

“‘Here! And here another one!’ I wailed. ‘Betsie, how can we live in such a place!’

“‘Show us. Show us how.’ It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.

“‘Corrie!’ she said excitedly. ‘He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!’

“I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. ‘It was in First Thessalonians,’ I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen.

“In the feeble light I turned the pages. ‘Here it is: “Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all…'” It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.

“‘Go on,’ said Betsie. ‘That wasn’t all.’

“‘Oh yes:’…“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.'”

“‘That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. “Give thanks in all circumstances!” That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!’ I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.

“‘Such as?’ I said.

“‘Such as being assigned here together.’

“I bit my lip. ‘Oh yes, Lord Jesus!’

“‘Such as what you’re holding in your hands.’ I looked down at the Bible.

“‘Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all these women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages.’

“‘Yes,’ said Betsie, ‘Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!’ She looked at me expectantly. ‘Corrie!’ she prodded.

“‘Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds.’

“‘Thank You,’ Betsie went on serenely, ‘for the fleas and for–‘

“The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’

“‘Give thanks in all circumstances,’ she quoted. It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.

“And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”

*****For the sake of moving the story along, I’ll skip forward to the passage I want you to see. They obediently gave thanks for something as miserable as fleas. They gave thanks in ALL circumstances. Now watch for the miracle.********

“Back at the barracks we formed yet another line–would there never be an end to columns and waits?–to receive our ladle of turnip soup in the center room. Then, as quickly as we could for the press of people, Betsie and I made our way to the rear of the dormitory room where we held our worship “service.” Around our own platform area there was not enough light to read the Bible, but back here a small light bulb cast a wan yellow circle on the wall, and here an ever larger group of women gathered.

“They were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28.

“At first Betsie and I called these meetings with great timidity. But as night after night went by and no guard ever came near us, we grew bolder. So many now wanted to join us that we held a second service after evening roll call. There on the Lagerstrasse we were under rigid surveillance, guards in their warm wool capes marching constantly up and down. It was the same in the center room of the barracks: half a dozen guards or camp police always present. Yet in the large dormitory room there was almost no supervision at all. We did not understand it.

“One evening I got back to the barracks late from a wood-gathering foray outside the walls. A light snow lay on the ground and it was hard to find the sticks and twigs with which a small stove was kept going in each room. Betsie was waiting for me, as always, so that we could wait through the food line together. Her eyes were twinkling.

“‘You’re looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself,’ I told her.

“‘You know, we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room,’ she said. ‘Well–I’ve found out.’

“That afternoon, she said, there’d been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they’d asked the supervisor to come and settle it.

“But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?”

“Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: ‘Because of the fleas! That’s what she said, “That place is crawling with fleas!'”

“My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”


How many miracles are we missing because we fail to consider His ways are not our ways? Or we are so focused on ourselves, we can’t see up? Or….we fail to offer thanks?

Now let me share how God has been teaching me this.  In church a few weeks ago, the pastor pointed out something I’ve never noticed in 16 years of Bible reading. 2 small words.

Sacrificial thanks.

Psalm 116:17 “I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.”

Psalm 50:14-15 “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”

A sacrifice costs something. It’s easy to thank God when life is going our way. But when it’s not, thanking Him becomes a sacrificial offering. Whoa.

Ya’ll I can’t move past this one.

Now it’s about obedience. I must offer thanks, sacrificially, as an act of obedience.

While sitting on the beach, it’s easy to whisper thanks to God. But when hunkered down by pelting rain and high winds? I typically thank God for the things I like. What I FEEL thankful for. The good things.

Or when life feels difficult, I find everything except the difficult thing and thank Him for those good things. I look for the good outside the bad. But what about the bad things?

I attended a women’s event this week that again had me hearing this idea of sacrificial thanks. It was explained that we aren’t saying this thing is good. Instead we are agreeing that God is good and Sovereign. We are aligning with His will.

Some of the “bad” things in my life have produced fruit that could only come from the difficult. I’ve paid attention to my thoughts. My quickness to complain when I dislike something.

Our new house has a ridiculous amount of light switches. We’ve lived here 3 months, and I still find myself hitting 10 switches before I find the right one. “I hate hitting 10 switches to find the light.”

Steve glanced my way, “How about being thankful you have 10 switches to hit.”

Well, that’ll stop the complaining. You see, God continues to show me how I’m prone to complain. How I want life to be my way. I want peace in my home. I want my kids to stop fighting for the love of all things holy. I want my kids to be kinder, and I’m mad they aren’t and I can’t make them. I want. I want. I want.

But this sacrificial thanks thing. It’s pretty much a wrecking ball right now. Knocking down habits and patterns of destruction in my life.

I woke today planning a glorious surprise for my boys. As I finished my coffee, I slipped quietly to the laundry room to throw a load of towels in. A smile dawned as I thought how perfect the morning would be. I envisioned excited and thankful boys who would be delighted to partake in my plans.

Then God said, “Let go of your expectations.”

I heard it ya’ll. In my spirit. I heard God speak. Clearly.

I set down the laundry basket. The smile slowly faded. And I said quietly, “Ok, Lord.”

The boys awoke. I shared bits of my plan. Life began to happen. I don’t know what mornings look like in your home. But we have 3 boys and 2 aren’t morning people. Things can get ugly fast. Like spinning out of control, and the control freak in me goes into overdrive and God is whispering…. Stop. Stop. Let me.

So I stopped. I ran to my bathroom. My hideaway. And I prayed. God, I need you. In the name of Jesus I cast out pride in the hearts inside this home. Give us new hearts. Plant kindness and patience inside each of us. Help me to not parent out of anger or impatience. Amen.

I had about 20 seconds for a help me prayer.

I walked back to the battle zone. Nothing had changed immediately after praying. Except my heart. I was submitted to the work of the Holy Spirit. Surrendered to the fact that I’m not God. I can’t make these young men into any image I want. Praise God for that!

My boys loaded into the car. I listened to the words exchanged among them I wanted to erase. I wanted to get in there and shush them up right then. Stop them from warring with words. But I’ve tried that, and it doesn’t change their hearts. So before I entered the car, I prayed. “Thank you God for bickering kids that exhaust me. Thank you for unkind words thrown carelessly around. Thank you for disappointed expectations. Thank you for every bit of all of this.”

The miracles began to happen. For the sake of privacy I will not share the details. But I will say what happened in the minutes and hours after in the hearts of these children and me was miraculous.

I remember reading One Thousand Gifts many years ago and a line has remained with me. Ann Voskamp wrote “Thanksgiving precedes the miracle.”

I guess I’m a slow learner. I agree with Ann now. More importantly, I agree with God. He is good. I will obey because I trust Him. If He sacrificed His own son for me, can I not sacrifice an offering of thanks to Him?

Miracles do happen. The greatest miracles happen when the Holy Spirit gets a hold of a heart and massages it, shapes it, forms it. When we obediently thank Him for the things that aren’t lovely, we lay down our expectations at the foot of the cross. We lay down our need to control. We lay down our pride that thinks we know best. We lay it all down and simply say, “Thank you, Lord.”

Open your hands in surrender. Keep them open to receive the miracles that can only come from a place of obedient surrender.

Thank you, God for your Word. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who brings us revelation. Thank you for who you are. Thank you for loving us relentlessly.


What You Can’t See On Social Media

Most of us are on social media to some extent. Some of us share much of our life there, some offer little. No matter how much is shared in the course of a day, it is only a mere snapshot. We all know that, but I think we forget.

After receiving many messages from friends, family, and readers that it appeared we were adjusting well to our recent move, I felt the need to address that what you see online is the tiniest, tiniest glimpse into our lives.

I’m transparent, a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of gal. But as my kids have gotten older, I’ve needed to guard their lives and our moments tighter in what I share. My writing isn’t the same as it was a few short years ago. When they were little, I shared the sweet, or not so sweet, things they said to me- how these impacted my life. I shared the moments God used parenting to refine all of us. But now- not as much.

First, their lives are their stories primarily. Yes, our lives are intertwined. But do I have the right to post about a child’s heart struggle? Do I have a right to share the things he might write or whisper to me in the secret spaces? When he leaves me a tender message, my heart swells and the moment is beautiful, but shouldn’t I keep that moment between us? When he lashes out in a moment of weakness only to come back repentant as we watch restoration give birth- as much as that could possibly encourage another parent, do I have a right to post that? When my kids lose it (and I want to), do I have a right to vent online about how they wear me out? Would my sons be ok with it at this stage of life?

At this age, the answer is no. No they are not ok with it. Even if they were ok with me sharing more of our stories, their online image will follow them for life, far beyond the age they are right now. What I share could be used against them by ones who mean harm.

This is THE reason I’ve shared little about our move.

If Steve and I didn’t have children, the transition would be hard, but not this hard. We love change, we love adventure. And in our past moves, our kids were so young, it barely impacted them. Plus we were still close enough to family and friends that our move didn’t significantly alter our lives.

But this move has taken us 15-17 hours away from friends and family. That isn’t a car ride many are willing to make or a plane ride that some could make.

God is good. His hand has been on us, and we have seen miracle after miracle. Everything in me wants to shout from the rooftops what we’ve seen God do. But there is another part of me that is cautious right now. Mainly because our family has been in an intense spiritual battle since arriving in Omaha.

Something amazing is happening in this city. A revival happening and more on the horizon. Churches in Omaha have locked arms and are operating in unity for one purpose- to make the gospel known. The churches aren’t boasting in their numbers and programs. Pastors are coming together to pray for this city. It’s amazing.

For reasons I don’t know, I believe with everything in me, God sent us to Omaha. Not long after arrival, the enemy’s darts began. How I wish I could share with you some of the battles we’ve faced. No matter how fiery the arrows have been, God is our shield and our strength. He is strengthening us in the battle. He’s teaching us how to war with love and grace.

We’ve faced attacks on our health. We’ve faced attacks of the heart. We’ve faced bizarre attacks sent straight from the pit of hell. We’ve had attacks on many fronts. But we stand on solid rock. We know who we are in Christ. We are children of God. Nothing can pluck us from His hand. We are covered by the blood of Jesus.

I have felt the presence of evil, and I do not fear because God, who is in me, is greater than the one in the world. Satan is a liar, accuser, and a thief.

Since moving, God has taught us how to pray in a way to shatter enemy strongholds and to stand firm in the stronghold of God. How to use praise as a secret weapon the enemy can’t stand against.

We know a little about why these attacks have been what they’ve been. I can’t share for the sake of the privacy of others. But what I can say is God revealed to us something unknown and hidden to us that opened up eternity in Heaven for a soul. That stronghold came crashing down. Then God revealed something to Steve and I that needed to come into the light. That stronghold came crashing down. Then we saw another soul go from bondage of sin to freedom in Christ. Praise God! That stronghold came crashing down. Our lives, mixed with the lives of others, through prayer, petition, and praise have been riding the ups and downs from storm to calm waters, storm to calm waters. But God is faithful. He is true. He is love.

One day I may be granted permission to share the beautiful stories of God’s miraculous power. But for now I wanted to simply update you all and thank you for your prayers. Our family feels so loved and covered by the prayers you are praying for us.

What you see online is the beauty I see in my day. Or it’s a joyous moment, something funny or unique about my kids, something God has shown me in my day, something I’ve read that I want to pass along. When you put these snapshots together, it appears my life is beating to nothing but beauty. But the truth is we struggle just like you do.

I’m not attempting to portray a life that is not genuine or authentic. I’m simply sharing the moments of my day that are beautiful, joyful, restful, peaceful, encouraging, or humorous.

We have homesick hearts. We miss relationships deeply. We miss our ministries. We are still grieving what we left. BUT. God is good and faithful. We are not discouraged. We know with no doubt that God will bless us with deep and lasting relationships again. He is a relational God and desires us to come together with others in ways that glorify Him. Of course, He will do this.

If you are in a season of pain, struggle, or heartache, and scrolling social media is painful, maybe it’s time to retreat away from the online world and hide under His wings. Maybe it’s time to curl into Him and let Him tenderly care for you quietly, secretly. It’s beautiful in His shadow and under His wings.  Tuck in, hold fast and tight to Him alone. He will never leave you. He is the giver of good gifts, but sometimes His best gifts come packaged in a way we don’t expect. Be open to Him in new ways. He’s surprising and delightful.



Do Not Worry- But How Can I Not?

He sat across the table sipping his orange juice. He ordered a man-sized breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, and bacon. I patiently awaited my whole wheat toast, sipping water, while dying at the smell of coffee all around me.

The night before I’d spent in the emergency room. The verdict? A stomach ulcer. My medical diet became no citrus, coffee, alcohol, high fat or fried foods, no chocolate, no tomato based anything, nothing spicy. Basically they said eat small and bland. This was meal one on medicine to help with the symptoms while I await further tests and begin the process of healing.

“Mom, wanna play tic-tac-toe?”

“Yep, but I’m hard to beat.”

He grinned at the challenge. A boy is competitive by nature.

He placed the X. I placed the O while planning out my next O marking. I was strategizing 2 possibilities as he placed his next X. I went with my initial strategy to secure myself a sure win. The smirk began to give birth on my face as his 3rd X came down forming a 3 in a row. Smirk gone. Disbelief moved in its place.

He looked up at me incredulously. “Mom, what were you thinking?”

“Oh my goodness. I have never lost to one of y’all like this. I really can’t believe that happened.”

It was 3 across the top. Plain as day. Not many X’s and O’s to crowd the board. Simply that I wasn’t focused on the step right in front of me. I was laser-visioned steps ahead- planning, plotting, and thinking so far out that I failed to see the very next move to keep me in the game.

Our walk of faith is a moment by moment game. One that requires our eyes set on the next step set before us. No need to worry and fret when our Savior simply says, “Take my hand and walk with me. Let me guide you, strengthen you, provide for you, protect you, pick you up when you stumble, comfort you when the aches and pains overwhelm you.”

Matthew 6:25-34

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

You see. I do worry though. I’m constantly thinking not only steps ahead, but weeks, months, and years. Maybe the reason I now have an ulcer?

The ER sent me home with two medications. Day one and two I still had pain but less intense. I found myself all day those first two days fearing the next bout of pain. Finding myself scared to go exercise or plan anything for fear the pain would hit when I was away from home unable to curl up and stare at the walls until the pain passed.

At the end of the 2nd day, I began thinking about a dinner invitation we received for one week away. I felt the anxiety over the what-if’s of pain striking while we were at a new friend’s house. Could I manage to get through an evening?

That’s when I heard God’s soft whisper. Do not worry.

How can I not worry? This hurts intensely. I can’t function through the pain when it hits. There is no rhyme or reason to when it comes.

But worry doesn’t change anything. I can’t figure this out. I can’t heal this. I’ve been praying. I have lots of people praying. So why am I worrying about something 7 days away?

God brought to mind the Israelites in the desert. How He brought them daily manna. He didn’t provide a week at a time. He was teaching them to rely on Him day by day, moment by moment. One meal to the next.

I needed to rely on Him for this moment only. This day only. One meal at a time.

My mentor always reminds me that God’s grace is for right now in this very moment. She says, “Christmas grace arrives on Christmas morning. Grace to handle the next thing doesn’t arrive ahead of time, it arrives the day you need it.”

I was attempting to think 7 days away in fear and near panic but God hasn’t given me the grace for that day yet. My daily grace for 7 days away arrives in 7 days. Worrying about the future is me relying on my own strength and not God’s strength.

I went back to God’s whispering and listened closely. He was speaking. In my spirit I heard Him. Trust me. Let me care for your daily needs. Bring them to me. Cast your cares on me because I care for you.

A friend sent me a text in response to my prayer request for healing that read, “I stand in agreement with you that you are being healed. He paid too high of a price for you to be anything but totally restored, whole and without pain. I command the pain to leave in Jesus’ name.”

A key in her text that struck me was “you are being healed.” Not that healing would come instantaneously. All at one time in a miraculous kind of  ‘it’s gone in an instant’. It could because God is God. However, healing could take time and likely would. I couldn’t lose faith. I couldn’t let fear grow.

The next morning I didn’t think about my ulcer the same way. I didn’t think about pain that may come down the road. Instead I prayed, “Lord, I trust you. I’m healed by Your stripes. By my faith, I am healed. You are good, faithful, true, kind, loving, and compassionate. You tenderly take care of me. You love me to the point of death and back. I pray for healing and will trust you moment by moment while it comes.”

Then at each step of my day, I asked Him for what I needed. I wanted to go exercise. I didn’t stay home (which I had planned to do for fear of pain hitting in the middle of the class). I asked Him to strengthen me to exercise. I told the teacher I would be modifying my exercise while my ulcer is being healed. I thanked God when I left having completed the class.

The next meal I asked God to help me through it. He did. And the next and the next. I wanted a date night with my husband, but for the last several weeks I’d spent every evening on the couch or in bed in pain. On this new day of asking God step by step, I asked Him to keep me pain free for a date night. He did.

This ulcer is teaching me how to hold His hand step by step. How to place my worries on Him and keep my eyes on the step right in front of me. I won’t look at 2 moves ahead. Eyes right here. On my Savior, then my next step. On my Savior, then my next step.

God is good and works all things for His glory and our good. He takes the schemes of the enemy against us and turns them into something beautiful.