I’ve spent my life as a mom building traditions into our family. Even wrote a Christmas devotion to help families do the same.
So you can imagine why it shocked me to my core when I heard one of my children answer the question, “What Christmas traditions does your family have?” with “We don’t really have any traditions.”
We have so many traditions I actually have a notebook dedicated to all things Christmas. It holds Christmas traditions, recipes, menus, etc.
I slept on that comment and woke with it still front and center. It was bothering me because I’ve worked so hard to create in our family memories, experiences, and traditions.
As casually as I could muster, I asked my son why he answered that way. He didn’t remember giving the answer he gave. I tried jarring his memory.
“Remember, they said this. You said that.”
He looked at me quizzically. After a moment he responded, “Well, we don’t really have any do we?”
“What? Are you serious? Let me remind you and see if you recall them.”
I continued to list them all.
“Mom, why are you so upset? Those aren’t really traditions are they? I thought traditions were big things?”
“No, it’s a repeated experience. It can be something small like we have Pioneer Woman Blueberry French Toast Casserole every Christmas morning.”
“Oh, well, I wasn’t thinking that way.”
“Well, how about these? We have a gingerbread house competition every year. Or we make Rolo cookies every year. We have a competition before the baking begins to see who can unroll and stack their Rolos the fastest.”
His response, “We didn’t do it last year.”
I felt myself get defensive all over again. “Yes we did!! I even have it on video.”
I spent the next 5 minutes searching for the videos and made him watch them with me. It all came back. He remembered it clearly.
Yet, until I forced him to recall, he’d forgotten.
If we don’t practice the art of remembering, we forget.
We forget easier than we remember. And we don’t all remember the same way or the same things. We must practice how to remember well.
The Bible is full of this call to remember.
“Aware of this, Jesus said, “You of little faith! Why are you discussing among yourselves that you do not have bread? Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the 5,000 and how many baskets you collected? Or the seven loaves for the 4,000 and how many large baskets you collected?’”
In 2017 the word God continued to speak to me was Remember. In 2018 the word was Simple.
And today I continue to hear these words together. Simply remember.
Remember Me. Remember My works. Remember My faithfulness. Simply practice the art of remembering.
It was the days leading up to Christmas I felt called, inspired, and driven by God to write Illuminate. The inspiration came after a time away at a writer’s retreat and after months of Him stirring a theme in my heart. One of remembrance.
This year has been a challenge for me in many ways as I’ve attempted to homeschool a high schooler, middle schooler, and a delayed learner in elementary school. All while writing and launching 2 businesses at the same time. I’ve cried many tears over all of it and the overwhelm.
Do you know when I’ve hit my wall or felt completely overwhelmed, the Lord has asked me to remember. Every. Single. Time.
It’s like He whispered, “My child, you are forgetting again. Remember. Simply remember.”
I have personally gone through Illuminate multiple times over this last year. God has used it to minister to my soul. He’s used it to restore my hope and put the tools in my hands to defeat the discouragement the enemy attempted to bury me in.
You, my precious and faithful readers, are always on my mind. When the Lord shows me something, you are the first to come to my mind. I begin to think, “I have to share this with my readers. I know they will be as encouraged as I’ve been.”
I realized some people simply aren’t audio. And some people get stuck at the 14 day piece thinking they need to carve out 14 days (you don’t).
So I packaged Illuminate in 1 complete eBook.
You can now purchase the eBook and get the entire 14 day collection as one book. You can view it on any device or computer. Or print it off. I’m a paper kind of gal and printing at an office supply store is super inexpensive.
While the audio version comes with the transcript as well, there’s something about getting it all at once that some people really want.
Now you can have it both ways!
What God does flows out of who He is.
When we begin to practice the art of remembering and establish this habit, everything changes. Suddenly fear fades, anxiety shrinks, and worries wither.
Illuminate will provide the light your soul is longing for to see the path toward a deeper intimacy with God. For 14 days you will practice seeing the character of God like never before.
What will Illuminate do for you?
Illuminate will teach you how to truly rest and be still like never before.
No more living overwhelmed by life.
At the end of 14 days you will have a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Creator of your soul. It’s exactly what your soul is longing for.
Who is Illuminate for?
For the one ready to:
- live free of fear
- release anxiety and worry once and for all
- learn to rest even in chaos
- grow in knowledge and love of God
Looking for a last minute gift?
Give Illuminate. No shipping. No runs to the store. No lines. And best of all, no more adding to the gift clutter. It’s a simple gift that will appeal to all.
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Recently I panicked. Completely. Everything I worked so hard to do seemed to be more than I could handle. Everywhere I turned I felt I was failing someone or somewhere. I couldn’t return phone calls, follow up on important tasks.
The weight of homeschooling, running 2 businesses, writing, and simply being wife, mom, friend, volunteer, etc seemed to come down on me like a heavy weight. The pace I’d been running was unsustainable.
Here’s what I started to do. Find my escape route. My reason out. My excuse to quit everything. This is what happens when my margin narrows. It pushes on my soul, and I feel I’m suffocating.
I asked Steve and one friend to pray with me. After my panic settled over me, His peace flooded my soul. He began to speak. The rest of the week, I took it in. I continued moving forward. I didn’t actually quit anything. I just moved slowly.
God showed me 2 things.
I’m addicted to the high moments, the spiritual mountain tops, the big wins. I love change and challenges. I feed on the adrenaline rush in these times. I need newness, and when the new wears down and the hard kicks in, I begin to squirm.
I’m afraid of success. This sounded ridiculous to me the first time I heard it listening to The Secret Code of Success. In fact I retold that part of the book to Steve pridefully. “That is NOT me.”
Turns out I have some unidentified fears. It wasn’t that I actually feared success exactly. It is that when I reach a point that feels like success, I become scared of the higher expectations I’ll need to live up to. I’m afraid of failing at yet another thing. Yet, I claim I’m not afraid to try and fail.
Here’s what I discovered. I reach a point of success, and I want the control. So if I back out gracefully, it is on my own terms. I didn’t actually fail. The pride runs deep, my friends. I’m so grateful God’s not through with me yet.
The entire week God held me in a state of peace. One evening I read The Tortoise and the Hare to Andrew. We have the version from a Chick-fil-A kids meal so many years ago. I could just sense God reminding me to keep that steady pace. It’s ok if I don’t run a sprint. I just need to keep going at a pace I can manage.
When I faced resistance I began to doubt God’s direction to me. I began asking God if He was sure.
I don’t know if you do this too. But I will know I’ve heard God. I follow the direction He’s leading, but then I want continued reassurance every few steps. When I trip or stumble I immediately believe I heard wrong. I begin to question everything I thought I knew.
When we moved to Nebraska in 2017, a friend told me to journal everything God told me during the preparation and transition. She said I would need the reminders when we settled in. We’d begin to question why we found ourselves in the middle of the country so far from everything we’ve ever known. She was right. I referred to my prayer journal often in those first 6 months.
I need to spend more time remembering and less time second guessing. It’s not that God changed what He said. I’ve just forgotten. The more time I spend in His Word, the quicker I am to distinguish His voice from the bellowing of the world.
|I spend a little less time writing these days since I’ve followed God’s direction in starting 2 businesses. One is right here on the blog. If you click on Shop you can find much of what’s been keeping me busy.
I would be so appreciative if you supported me by sharing my shop with your friends and family.
Christmas is around the corner. Maybe your gift list includes people in need of reminders of God’s goodness and faithfulness.
My newest addition is my favorite to this point. It’s a luxurious, velveteen, zipper-closured pillowcase. The only problem is you may find it harder to get out of bed in the morning.
A few of my favorite items to help you journal your thoughts, prayers, ideas, lists and all the things.
You are so often in my thoughts and prayers. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed at the community, friendship, and loyalty you offer me. It’s a noisy online world and you are still here with me. This blog is the only thing I didn’t consider quitting.
Thank you for the notes you send. And thank you for sharing with your friends and family and social media.
Have you ever said there is something you will never do only to find yourself doing that exact thing at some point in your life?
These nevers sometimes are spoken only inside the quiet of our own hearts. Yet, the Lord hears them.
I wonder if it’s His kindness towards us that draws us to face the nevers we proclaim with such staunch boldness.
I wonder if the nevers I proclaim are sometimes the voice of my own fear? My pride? My will? My way? My desires and likes.
I forget He is so good. When He stands me face to face with my spoken or heart-muttered “I’ll never”, it’s because He is good beyond my wildest ponderings.
Let me share some of my nevers with you.
“I’ll never speak in public. Thank you, Lord, you called me to writing and not speaking.” I uttered this prayer of thanksgiving as a manipulation tactic to the Creator of my soul. 3 months later guess where I stood? You got it. At a MOPS group speaking on enjoying the journey of life.
You know what happened that day? Something inside me came alive. Like alive in a way I’d never experienced. I’d spent years leading women online. But standing in front of their precious faces, speaking with them, connecting eye to eye, changed my ministry.
That first speaking event my voice shook and cracked, I stood on trembly legs, my sweaty hands clung to the microphone as a lifeline. But the Lord knew I needed to stand face to face with my fear. He knew I couldn’t live life bullied by fear. He needed to see I left gifts He had for me on the table if I allowed fear to keep me behind a screen only.
Here’s another. “I’ll never homeschool my kids. Thank the Lord we have a school we love that loves our kids right back.” Guess what happened? Yes, again. We are entering year 3 of homeschooling. I specifically said I could never homeschool my youngest because his strong will and his learning challenges. I felt sure I’d ruin our relationship forever.
The Lord saw more at stake than I could ever know. In this post, I can’t even begin to tell you all the Lord has done in our family by this act of obedience to homeschool when He led us this direction. But I can say it’s changed everything. I believe one day I’ll look back and shudder to wonder what life would have been like if we’d not listened to God and done what we wanted instead.
I wanted to write and speak more. The Lord wanted me to lay down my dreams and desires at the cross. He wanted me to submit those plans to Him and trust Him to keep them safe for me. He wanted me to know that He wouldn’t take a dream away from me for the sake of taking away a dream. He had bigger dreams. I dreamed too small. I needed to trust and wait.
Sometimes the biggest dreams come true from the smallest of daily sacrifices.
I needed to learn to let God shape my dreams. I needed to allow Him to break my own strong will so He could use me more fully.
“I’ll never write another book again.” I wrote Seeking Christmas naive to the publishing world. I thought I was obedient to write the book and the Lord would do the rest. I had no idea how much marketing would be involved. It was incredibly challenging and I never ever ever wanted to do that again. So I told the Lord in the secret space of my heart to count me out.
Here’s some smaller nevers.
- I’ll never stop drinking Coke
- I’ll never lose my sweet tooth and intense love of desserts.
Ya’ll these two right here came from a place of wanting to hang tightly to my own likes and fleshly desire. I gripped so tight and said I’d never let go.
The Lord knew how tight I clung and with the most gentle touch I’ve ever received He removed my Coke addiction before I ever realized it was gone. This is an entirely separate post altogether and I will write out more of this journey soon.
But there is one more thing I said I’d never do again and I think you can guess the outcome. I’m doing it.
A little backstory first….
In 2005, after 2 years of praying for a way for me to stay home with our kids and help me find a way to replace my income as a CPA, God brought an opportunity. It took work. Money didn’t fall in my lap. I went for it, worked hard, and in 5 months I replaced my salary, earned a car, and 3 months later began staying at home with our 2 year old and newborn.
You know what I was doing during those months? Leading a team of women. I’d never been in a leadership role before. Suddenly, I found myself with all these women looking to me for guidance, encouragement, and motivation. I fell in love with this team of women. I fell in love with leadership.
Saying yes to that opportunity changed the trajectory of our entire lives. Financially for sure. But serving in that role prepared me to lead women spiritually in the years to come. I never guessed God had bigger assignments down the road to lead women closer to Him.
After the season of working with this company, building a successful business, life got busy. We moved states. I started writing and stopped working my business. I looked at it as having served its role and time in my life. I thanked God from the bottom of my heart. Then secretly said, “That was awesome. I’ll never do that again.” Because, well, it’s work.
Back to the point. I said I’d never do it again. The first time around we desperately needed the finances. As it stands today we are in a different place financially than 13 years ago. But over the last 9 months, God has been drawing me towards something. I started plugging my ears initially.
“God, I don’t hear you. Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah.”
Then He brought me face to face with two things. One is bringing all my experiences with health issues in our family, all the research over the last 13 years I’ve done in this area, my passion for helping people, my desire to share all good things all the time, and then something so unexpected in a doctor’s office. But all these things came together and the Lord said, “Look. Pay attention.”
I sat with my husband in the office of an eye specialist. Andrew had weeks of testing done to determine the level of his visual processing disorders. It was clear we were about to spend the next year in weekly therapy to train his brain and eyes to communicate and process properly.
This therapy could change his life forever.
It’s expensive. Incredibly expensive. The Lord provided the money via the sale of our home in North Carolina last year. I began to wonder, how does the average person who didn’t just sell a home pay for this type of therapy?
I’d read an article recently about the percentage of children who have these disorders who never receive therapy services. Many are in low income situations and have no access. The statistics were frightening about the children who without intervention would go on to become involved in drugs, gangs, serve time in prison, etc. I felt that familiar movement in my heart. The one that says, “We have to do something about this!”
As we sat in the doctor’s office, God began speaking to me. He showed me the why behind what He was drawing me into.
I’d felt God drawing me toward a particular business. But it made zero sense at all. None. Not an ounce. I homeschool, which is full time. I write. I just launched an e-commerce business. Nope. Didn’t want to hear it.
The Holy Spirit is quite persistent though.
As we left the office I asked one of the staff members if there were scholarship opportunities for these children who need services and can’t afford them. The answer. No.
I stood at a point of intersection. All of my experiences of leading women, leading a business team, researching and learning so much about health over a 13 year period that all began when I began having unexplained stomach issues, hosting orphans causing my heart to never be able to ignore the hurts of children again, watching God shape me into a person who wants to help people all the live long day. And then there was this extended hand of opportunity waiting. All while I’m leading a bible study by Priscilla Schirer, Discerning the Voice of God, in my home.
I got in my car and began to cry. The Lord has grown, changed, shaped, and molded me since the very first I never was uttered by my heart. Each never He’s pushed me towards has turned into blessings I can’t bear to think about having missed. And yet, here is another one. I have a choice. I can go my way. Or I can take the road of opportunity. I can release fear. I can live freely in Him. I can receive all He has. Or I can walk the “safe” road. But oh what we miss on that path of “safety”.
I stepped into another “I’ll never”. I said yes to building another business. Not because I have extra time. But because when I saw how the products were changing me and I saw the potential I had to use this business to change the course of the lives of others, I simply couldn’t say no.
My big why is that I want to live free in the abundant life He promises. I want to live a healthy and whole life so I can pour out my healthy life for the sake of others. I want to create a scholarship fund for kids who can’t afford vision therapy that can change the rest of their lives. I want to watch my friends and family gain their health back because that is the life we were intended to live. Abundantly. Bearing fruit.
Why do I share all this with you? Because I process my heart as I write. Because my desire is to encourage and inspire you. And because I trust as I share my stories with you, you are finding your own stories tucked inside mine.
So what “I nevers” are you carrying in your back pocket? Might it be time to lay them at the foot of the cross?
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When I call out instructions to my kids before I’ve said their names or properly gotten their attention, there is about a 75% chance what I’m saying won’t be received by them. Instead, if I call their name, grab their attention, then speak, I’ve engaged them, and they are ready to receive my words.
Now they still might not follow the instructions well, but I know they’ve heard me.
In 1 Samuel 3:1-21 we read the familiar story of God calling Samuel. 3 times God calls Samuel’s name. Samuel ran to Eli believing Eli was calling him. When Eli realized it was God calling, he instructed Samuel to go back and respond, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
When God called Samuel, He called and waited for His call to be received by Samuel.
Am I ready to listen when God speaks?
Do I live my life listening for God’s call? Am I postured ready to receive a word from Him?
Or am I like my children, busy running after my pursuits and failing to hear the calls for my attention?
Lord, may my heart always be listening for You calling my name.
Verse 7: “Now Samuel had not yet experienced the LORD, because the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.”
To recognize the voice of the Lord, we have to be acquainted with it through His Word. His voice speaks through His Word. Then once we learn what He sounds like, and who He is, we are ready to recognize Him when He calls out to us as we move about our lives.
Do you struggle to hear God speaking?
I’ve had people write to me that they desperately want to hear God, but they don’t know how.
It starts by quietly sitting with Him in His Word. It’s one tiny step. It’s making one change in your life. Just one. It’s small.
In this fast-paced world, sitting with an open Bible takes discipline and patience. If we don’t take the time to sit with God and read His Word, we don’t truly know Him. We know “about” Him, but we don’t actually know His character and heart. We will be tempted to form our opinions about who God is through Sunday School lessons, sermons, podcasts, and blog posts. While these are all wonderful supplements, they don’t put us one-to-one with God.
One of my love languages is quality time. I have to spend time with people to feel loved by them. When I sit with one of my children, we begin to talk about nothing at first. This nothing leads to a funny story, which leads to a random thought, which sometimes leads to this revelation, but sometimes just leaves us laughing. Regardless of what we do together in that time, we walk away feeling reconnected to each other.
It is the same in our time with God. He actually wants to be our friend. He genuinely wants to spend time with us. He is always calling out to us, but like Samuel we might miss His voice because it’s unfamiliar to us. Or like my kids, I’m not actively engaged with His voice and will miss His call.
[Tweet “When we are familiar with God’s Word, we know His Voice.”]
When we encounter His Presence in life we recognize Him immediately.
Some of us are looking for an experience or touch from God while skipping the foundational step – sitting at His feet.
What if God speaks what you don’t want to hear?
It’s going to happen. God will speak at times a word you don’t want to hear. Sometimes the time with Him is sweet and soothing. Sometimes it’s calming. Sometimes it’s convicting.
His Word is total truth. Our lives are not. This means we will encounter a truth that will make us feel uncomfortable at times.
When we encounter truth, we have a choice to make in how we handle His Word.
God spoke to Samuel a message to share with Eli. Judgement was coming because Eli had been disobedient. Eli allowed His family to live in sin. Eli had tried to stop his sons, but he’d let their sinful lives continue far too long. He’d lost his opportunity to properly train his children to follow the Lord.
When Samuel heard from God, he was scared to share the message. At the same time, Samuel learned that God takes obedience seriously. Eli wasn’t obedient in leading His family to follow God. Therefore, Samuel knew he needed to obediently speak the truth to Eli.
Samuel had a prophetic gift from God. He’d been entrusted to speak the truth of God’s Word no matter what.
Samuel proved himself obedient. He passed the test. Samuel was willing to receive God’s Word to him. Therefore, the Lord continued revealing to Him.
Are we willing to receive the Word of God? Or do we hold up a hand to God telling Him we don’t want to hear that?
Is there something God has been speaking to you that you find yourself half plugging your ears to Him?
God speaks. If we are willing to listen and receive, He begins to entrust more to us. We grow in our friendship and relationship with Him one tiny step at a time.
God is so often misunderstood. Many believers struggle to properly understand who God is. They’ve formed thoughts and opinions that aren’t based on God’s very own Word. This leads us toward a shaky faith. When life becomes bumpy, we reach for who we “think” God is rather than claiming victoriously the truth of who He is to hold us firm.
One question to ask yourself today.
Are you willing to receive God’s words when He speaks to you?
If you don’t answer yes, ask yourself why that is.
Sometimes the reason we don’t allow ourselves to hear Him is that lies about Him are hidden in our hearts.
God calls us to live a life of remembrance. This culture is pushing us forward. It’s progressive. It’s tolerant. It’s far from godly. In order to withstand what lies ahead, we have to firmly plant ourselves in God’s truth.
I believe we’ve reached a major turning point and we are heading in a direction that will require more than Sunday School knowledge of God.
God is good. He’s infinite. We never know enough about Him. And if we think we don’t need to learn more, it’s a sure sign that we do. No matter how intimate we are with Him or advanced our Bible knowledge is, we’ve never arrived on this side of eternity. There is always room to grow and know Him deeper.
|I’ve prayerfully created a resource for you to guide you as you journey more intimately with God.
Our souls long for us to tenderly care for them. Take a 14 day journey with me through Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word. I’ve created it in such a way that you will receive 14 emails, one per day. Each day will include an audio and a print link. You can simply hit play and allow yourself to relax and listen. Or you can read if you aren’t an audio lover.
I’ve heard from many Illuminate listeners that it’s become their favorite part of the day. It’s a break from the race and a redirect to the One who desires to walk with us intimately.
Purchase your copy today. And then buy a copy for a friend.
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One of my favorite things is to hear from you. I deeply love my readers. We have a loyal community here that I absolutely treasure. Some of you have been here for years. Some are brand new. The Lord is growing this community and my heart is filled with joy. When you take the time to send me your messages about how God has spoken to you, it encourages me more than you know. I love you and thank you.