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Following the Trailmarkers

“Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” -Habakkuk 2:2

I have been a proponent of writing down the revelation (i.e. dreams) for many years. Yet, sometimes I forget to look back on those dreams so that I may run with that revelation. Writing down your dreams is a good way to practice obedience. It also shows a willingness to listen to these secrets in the night, and is a valuable resource for running our race with endurance. We are called to be good stewards of our finances and to use them wisely. We are also called to be good stewards of the revelations, words of wisdom, and dreams that God speaks to us. But why? What is the purpose of writing these things down?

Wait for It

Often dreams are not literal, and at least in my experience dreams need time to incubate. The exception to this is warning dreams, which typically speak to something more immediate. It is prudent to seek out the meaning and pay attention to these dreams. For the purpose here I am not referring to warning dreams, that is a post all on its own!

When God gives this revelation to Habakkuk it is more long-term in nature. God is speaking of what is to come, meaning, this won’t happen right away. As you wait for it, you will face discouragement. Writing down the revelation so you can look back on it will prove to be a valuable source of encouragement in the wait. Right after God tells Habakkuk to write down the vision in verse 2, verse 3 says;

“For the revelation awaits for an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it tarry (or take longer than you want), wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” -Habakkuk 2:3

Delay is a Gift

Our idea of delay and God’s idea of delay are two very different things! His timing is different than ours and He knows we tend to be impatient and have memory problems. Waiting for His timing brings joy and excitement that is indescribable. Our family is embarking on a dream journey with God that I am still waiting to see the fulfillment of. I’m starting to see glimpses of the fulfillment and it’s exhilarating! In his book, Dream, Mark Rutland has this to say about the waiting time in dreaming:

“The delay, common to dreamers, from dream to fulfillment can be absolutely excruciating. No spiritual discipline is as taxing or, for that matter, so close to the heart of holiness as waiting, but that does not mean it is a pleasant experience. That very season of delay which we find so distasteful, may, however, be crucial to the plan and purpose of God. Such delays give God time to prepare us for the opportunity and the opportunity for us. While we wait, God is working to remove obstacles before us, which if allowed to remain, would hinder or limit the dream.”

Mark Rutland, Dream

God’s timing is absolutely vital in these dreams becoming reality. Have you ever stopped to consider the concept that while you are waiting, God is not only preparing YOU, but He is preparing the opportunity that you will step into. His timing is impeccable!

Trail Markers

Being a good steward of dreams can look a lot like hurry up and wait. Dreams can fade from our memory quickly, and we have to develop a habit of writing them down in those few moments after we awake. Often, details like colors, numbers, and people’s names can have a very specific meaning. Yet in my experience, those are the first things to fade from my memory after I wake up. Being diligent to write down the dream is one way to be a good steward. I’ve found the dreams I write down have been like guideposts in this journey with Jesus that I am on.

If you’ve ever been hiking you know just how important a well-marked trail is. When you’re on a trail sometimes suddenly you have no idea where the trail began or where it’s going. My walk with God feels like this at times. I’m so thankful for the trail markers He gives me along the way. His word is the best trail marker, but there are also other markers such as dreams, visions, words of wisdom from other believers, even signs in the heavens, and confirmations that are given through people and experiences. These “trail markers” bring encouragement when the trail is long. In following Jesus on this trail of life, looking back on dreams gives me strength and endurance to keep moving forward.

Looking Back Brings Strength

What we see is like looking at only one piece of the puzzle. God has a higher vantage point and can see the whole picture. This week I was looking back on some dreams I have had in the past two years. When I discovered that I lived out portions of a dream I had back in October it gave me such encouragement. I had completely forgotten about this particular dream, but Oh how glad I am that I wrote it down!

When I went back to re-read it, God used that dream and my experience this week to breathe fresh air into my dreaming heart. It was the encouragement I needed to continue following Him on this trail. The hardest climbs often result in the greatest view. So keep climbing! Keep chasing those dreams, and write it down so that you can run with endurance because the trail is often longer with more twists and turns than we think it will have, but the view from the top is worth it.

Get Oil and Take Flight

Be like a duck. This is something I’ve taught my children from a very young age. I realized this week it’s something I wasn’t doing myself. Ducks live in the water, and in the sky. They are a bird that swims but also flies. They have a special oil on their feathers that prevents water from absorbing and weighing them down. This oil is a protection for the bird, as there are many more dangers to them on the ground and in the pond than there are in the sky. They need the ability to take flight at a moment’s notice!

When I tell my children to be like a duck I mean, be sure to daily coat yourself in the oil of joy that comes from God. The oil comes from spending time daily in His Word and building your own personal relationship with Him through prayer and worship. Keep your lamps full, and your feathers coated so when it’s time to take off, you are not weighed down by the things of this world and you can fly wherever God is calling you. I’ve been telling my children this for years, but this week I realized I haven’t been doing this consistently. I’ve let the murk and yuck from the world seep in and weigh down my own feathers. This question began to echo in my mind, “How can I teach them to fly, if I’m so weighed down, that I can’t get off the ground?”

Be Set Apart

I’m talking metaphorically of course. I”m not actually flying in the sky, but when it comes to following Jesus and going where He has called, we have to keep our mind, will, and emotions light. Following Jesus requires us to stay somewhat unattached to the world so we can say Yes to Him when he calls. Like the disciples who dropped their fishing nets and followed when He called to them. We too must be willing to leave some things behind in order to step into our destiny and become fishers of men. How do we do this? How do we live in the world, but not be of the world as scripture warns us in Romans 12:2.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We live in this world, but we don’t have to look like this world. We are called to be, set apart from the world. It is easy to let the hurts, disappointments, and temptations of this world soak in and weigh us down. We need the protective oil coating us so we have take flight. This is our home (for now) and it is hard to live here and keep a Heavenly perspective. We live with broken people in a broken world in need of Jesus, but if we don’t keep our feathers coated with oil the yuck and sin will weigh us down and prevent us from flying.

Let it Roll

Ducks live in ponds, that are not always the cleanest of water. It can be murky, dirty, have trash floating in it, and ducks will swim there. But they don’t let that murky water soak in. It rolls off their backs allowing them to fly at a moment’s notice. When I talk to my kids and tell them to be like ducks and let the water roll off, most of the time it’s in reference to an offense. Often, our first response when unkind words are spoken is to take offense. We can’t take flight if we’re heavy from holding offense in our hearts. It will lead to anger and bitterness over time. What we need, and even more exciting, what God desires for us, is that we will be light and free. Not held back by the bondage of sin, hurt, bitterness, and offense.

It’s not as hard as you may think to dry off your feathers, apply oil, and prepare to take flight, but it does take acknowledging that there is a problem. SO shake off that murky water, dry your feathers, and get ready to take flight! Soar into what God created you to do. Get that good protective oil. Apply it to the feathers of your heart, and soar!

Leaning into Rest

Rest. The word conjures up many ideas and pictures of what rest looks like. It is different for everyone. What do you think of when you hear the word? Lounging on a beach? Is it a quiet walk in the woods just listening to the sounds of nature? Taking a nap in a boat? Stealing away to a quiet place with a book? Swinging in a hammock? These are all excellent ways to rest.

If we look at scripture as our sure foundation and Jesus as our teacher we don’t have to look very hard to find times when even He rested. Jesus was often stealing away to “quiet places”. He would slip away from the crowds after preaching and healing the people. One time in particular He took a nap in a boat. In that instance, He was in such a place of rest, that even when a mighty storm blew in, it did not wake Him. Oh to find that kind of rest!

Resting During the Storm

In Matthew 8:23-27, we see the benefit of rest, AND how to rest well even in the midst of great turmoil. In this story, Jesus has gotten into a boat with His disciples after preaching the gospel and healing many. Serving in ministry can be quite exhausting.

My husband and I lead a Pro-life Prayer ministry called Bound4LIFE. Once a month we host a prayer meeting, which I lead. Every month when I leave that meeting I am full of joy, yet exhausted. This is not a worn-out kind of tired because I didn’t want to be there leading the meeting. I leave feeling fulfilled and exhilarated, yet tired because I gave it my all. I imagine it was this kind of tiredness that Jesus was feeling after a long day of preaching and healing the sick.

The verse says they got into the boat and “suddenly” a great storm arose on the water. The very next verse says, “BUT Jesus was sleeping.” To have fallen into such a deep sleep so quickly after getting onto the boat and not waking when the storm started raging, He must have been tired. Well, that and Jesus understood REST! He knew how necessary rest is, but also how to rest well because He knew who His father was and He knew that He could trust Him.

The disciples obviously did not know this kind of rest, not yet. The very first thing they say to rouse Him is, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” These men are experienced fishermen. They have been out in boats on this lake many times and I”m sure have seen their fair share of storms. Yet, this one was enough to make them think they wouldn’t make it out alive. In the end, Jesus calms the storm and they are amazed.

I’ve always heard this passage taught from the perspective of Jesus calming the storm, but the more I look into it the more I see another perspective. When you look at it from Jesus’ perspective it looks a lot more like a lesson on rest. Yes, Jesus calmed the storm, but in my opinion, He did something more for those men that day. He saved them from drowning that day, and He taught them how to rest. Jesus was teaching His disciples that it doesn’t matter what storm may be swirling around you, rest.

It is in our nature to fight the storms. When I face a storm I immediately go into problem-solving mode. I try to figure my way out. I usually end up beaten down, exhausted, and burnt out by the end. Sometimes I even get to the point where I feel disillusioned with God and ask where He was and why He didn’t break in and make it stop. I Expect Jesus to calm every storm as soon as it starts even as I”m trying to make it stop on my own. Jesus still calms storms, but sometimes we have to rest in the boat as it’s being tossed about.

Burnt Out and Exhausted

Just because Jesus CAN calm storms, doesn’t mean He will calm them in our time table. His ways are not our ways and we don’t always see the whole picture. Not trusting God or leaning into His rest has brought me to a place of feeling weak, and burnt out. This recently came to the forefront during a cry session I was having with my husband. I was lamenting how very tired I was after years of intercession for our nation.

I’m looking at what with human eyes looks to be a steep and steady moral decline in our nation. The destruction of the traditional family, the roles of male and female, and even gender itself. Not to mention the injustices of abortion and human trafficking. In the midst of this little vent session, I told him I didn’t know if I could keep doing this. This standing as an intercessor for the nation. Asking God to come in with mercy and heal our land. I told him I was tired and didn’t think I could stand. I was ready to lay this assignment down. To tell God, sorry, I can’t anymore. Find someone else to carry this burden. I’m done.

My husband is very logical and most of the time when I’m crying about something I just want listening ears, not for him to “fix it”. But, in this case, he offered a solution that stopped me in my tracks and I actually said, “Oh, I never thought of that.” He simply said, “Then rest.” What a simple, yet complicated solution.

I’ve been warring hard for a decade-plus hoping for a shift in our nation towards righteousness. There have been glimpses, but they always seem to fall short of a full turn. I’ve put all the pressure on myself to turn this ship, and I’ve forgotten how to rest in Him. The God we serve is so good! And He is always faithful. While He delights in partnering with us as intercessors, ultimately He is still in control. We can and should engage, but we can not forget to rest in Him.

Learning How to Rest

Isaiah 40:29-31 has brought me comfort and a game plan in this season as I’m learning how to rest.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; BUT those who hope in the Lord WILL renew their strength. They WILL soar like eagles; they WILL run and not grow weary, they WILL walk and not faint.” (Emphasis mine)

Even youths grow tired. What a relief! So it’s not simply from age. But here’s the promise, as we lean into Him, and REST, He WILL renew our strength. I don’t know about you, but I need my strength renewed. I need to soar like an eagle and run without getting tired.

These things can not be accomplished by my sheer will to keep going. They are only accomplished when I hope in the Lord. I must remain connected to Him, my ability to run and do all that He has called me to relies on that fact. I will be starting the new year from a place of rest. And as I learn to shift my perspective I will see that even though the storm rages and Jesus can and does calm storms, I can also have peace DURING the storm as long as I keep my eyes fixed on Him.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Today we begin a new year. A lot could be said about 2020, a few words to describe it are challenging, hard, difficult, sad, joyful, slow, and full of breakthrough. The word “breakthrough” may not seem like it fits in that list, but it does! And Here’s why; before 2020 even began, I felt the need to ask for encouragement from the Lord. I am glad I did. Prior to December of 2019 I had never asked God for a “word for the new year”. I was soon to find out, this was the year I would need one! I am thankful I had this phrase throughout 2020 because it became a sure foundation during the many times I felt like I was on shaky ground. This phrase and the scripture that went with it brought me through many trying seasons throughout the year.

Impossible Breakthrough

My theme for 2020 was The year of Impossible Breakthrough. My idea of what this would look like was a lot different than what reality had in store for the year. To start, In December of 2019, I turned 40. It’s a big milestone in life to have reached 40, and it felt hugely significant to me. There are several Biblical examples of great change and breakthroughs coming to pass after a period of forty days or even forty years! So naturally, I felt God was speaking of this type of breakthrough. After Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness for 40 years, they crossed over into the promised land. In many ways, I was expecting this kind of breakthrough moment this year. Although there were some big victories and hard-fought battles won in prayer during 2020. It was not the kind of overwhelming breakthrough I was hoping for.

2020 was challenging and stretched me in numerous ways. Change seemed to be the only constant throughout the year. Even little things upset my apple cart. Like the time Wal-Mart changed their store hours, and I felt like I had been betrayed by a trusted friend. Wal-Mart had always been there, even if it was the middle of the night, but not anymore. Now they closed at 8:00 pm and if I needed something at 9:00 I would have to wait until morning. How could they do this to me? What if I need something after I put the kids in bed? Now what? Now what? became the question of the hour for much of 2020. This year was full of shifting and changes. I was looking forward to a crossing over into a promise, instead, I kept changing course and turning in what felt like endless circles.


An unwillingness to bend and embrace change stunted my growth for much of 2020. Every time things did not go as planned I was ready to throw the whole planner in the trash. Thankfully, I restrained myself. I have no idea what 2021 has in store. But I know this, God is faithful to His promises and He keeps His word. I may interpret His word incorrectly, or get impatient and think that things should happen in my timing. This is a fault in me, not Him. If I’ve learned anything in 2020 it is that I place far too much trust in myself, and not enough in almighty God.

What are you carrying into 2021? I highly recommend spending some time this month asking and seeking God about what your word or phrase and accompanying scripture is for you this year. One year ago I had no idea how much benefit this can provide. Today I can say with certainty, you need to know what the word of the Lord is for YOU, for this year. I wish I had a magic formula or a worksheet to make it easy. I don’t, and that’s because this is a highly personal time between you and God. There are times we just need to be still and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us. This revelation can come through a passage of scripture, a dream, or through a message from your pastor on Sunday morning. After you receive it, ask God to confirm it through another source. What God speaks will always align with His word. He will not contradict Himself.

Crossing Over

This is what I’m carrying into 2021:

Trust in God’s faithfulness.

He has been faithful

He will be faithful.

I waver and waffle. I get disappointed and easily give up. My thoughts and emotions deceive me and can not be trusted. I must lean into and trust in God alone! He must be my rock.

Here’s to a new year with fulfilled promises. My promise from God for 2021 is: this is the year of fulfilled promises. I am placing no other requirements on the year, or on God (as if I could make such demands). He makes promises and He fulfills His promises. 2021 is the year of fulfilled promises. Whatever promises He chooses to fulfill. And therein lies the difference. Although, it looks subtle on the surface, when you look deeper this is a huge shift. I am choosing to trust in God and not myself.

As we transition into a new year, I will be spending the month of January focusing on resting and leaning on my beloved. 2020 has left me tired. My natural response is to deny that and fight it. What I’m learning is that He is the only one who can restore and refresh. Admitting I need Him to restore and refresh is foundational to everything else I am called to do and accomplish this year. So, Happy New Year! Go in the confidence you can only have as a child of the Most High!

Here are some of the scriptures I”m leaning on in this New Year for encouragement and refreshing, I pray you are blessed and encouraged by them as well.

Rest: Isaiah 40:26-31, Isaiah 41: 1,10, and 17-18


Run: Hebrews 12:1-3 This year I’m asking God to help me become a “long distance runner” …….Stay tuned, More on this in the next blog.

A Weak Yes

If you know our story, then you know we have seven children and our youngest is adopted. That’s the short version. The longer version involves years of arguing with God about surrender, complaining about why His timeline was different than mine, and finally submitting to Him because His ways are better.

I didn’t set out to have a large family, in fact, I only really wanted three children. My husband and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary this year and I have to tell you a secret…… The last twenty years have NOT gone according to my plans. As I reflect on twenty years of marriage and more children than I intended on having I have to say this life has been better than anything I could have imagined. Follow Jesus and you’ll never be bored has become my motto. I am certainly NEVER bored! Most days there is so much do to that I don’t know where to begin. I will be the first to tell anyone how unqualified I feel to teach and train these little people in my care. Yet, God has seen fit to call me to this monumental task called motherhood.

Being a mom is a hard and often thankless job. Our work feels endless and monotonous. Moms do the hidden things that no one sees, and certainly don’t think to give thanks for. We do them out of obligation, but also out of love. Preparing and cleaning up from meals is not an easy task when there are nine hungry mouths to feed! Any mother who tells you her favorite part of the day is scrubbing the toilets and doing laundry and dishes is either delusional (Please rescue her and take her on a coffee date!) Or, she’s learned that as much as some tasks are unpleasant, they are a gift to her family and so she does them with joy.

We’ve forgotten that hard things can be full of joy. The lie of the culture is that the only way to find joy is to do the things that bring YOU fulfillment. The truth is, we can find joy in the most mundane and unpleasant tasks when we shift our gaze and change our perspective. I have this little decorative plate propped up by my kitchen sink. Engraved on it is this phrase; “You were made for this”. With seven children, I spend a LOT of time at that sink looking at that plate. I’ve learned that I have a choice in how I view my time there. It can be full of complaining, or full of thankfulness, and joy. A simple phrase sometimes isn’t enough to remind me of that calling. But, I’m glad it’s there because it brings me back every time to the weak yes I’ve given to Jesus over the years.

“You were made for this” and a cameo by our beta fish, ‘Doug’ He’s hiding in the coral.

Washing dishes can be an act of love. Making and serving a meal can show how thankful we are for the family God has surrounded us with. Even mounds and mounds of laundry can be a chance to remind ourselves how blessed we are, (thank God we have clothes to wear!). But in all seriousness, it is all about perspective. When I said “yes” to the Lord in the area of family size, I wasn’t thinking about the laundry, or dishes, or how much food I would have to keep on hand (at this moment we have four teenagers living here! They are like bottomless pits and consume a ton of food!). When I said yes to the Lord, sometimes reluctantly, I was saying yes to His ways, and plans which are higher than mine. I was saying, even though it won’t always be fun, I want to do all You have called me to.

Motherhood is a calling. One I stepped into with just a weak yes, but God has taken that weak yes and blessed me beyond anything I ever dreamed. Sometimes all He’s asking is for a weak yes. For us as daughters of the King to step out of our comfort zone and step into the very thing He made us for. For me, it’s raising world changers. Maybe for you, it’s some other task you feel ill-prepared and unqualified for. If I’ve learned one thing in this journey it’s that God doesn’t call the qualified, but He certainly qualifies those He calls. He’s just waiting for us to say Yes.

Great Reward

My husband is my favorite cheerleader! Today is our 20th anniversary and I have to brag on him a bit. If you’ve taken a look at the website, or ordered a book and noticed the logo stamped on the bag or envelope, you are seeing the fruit of his labors. He is the graphics guy, I can take zero credit for those things.

Writing the book was his idea. He knew it would be a challenging project, but he also never doubted my ability to finish it. He doesn’t just push, he encourages along the way. Every time I wanted to give up, he gave me space to process my emotions on the subject. Every time I got stuck in the process he helped me find a way out. Last week we got away for a few days and did some hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Road Less Traveled

On the last full day of our trip, we hiked a trail that was marked “Strenuous”. It started out fine, but before we even reached the halfway point I was ready to turn back. He encouraged me to keep going. He gave me time to rest, He found chocolate in his bag (a snack he had brought for himself) and gave it to me. All in an effort to encourage me to keep going even when it was hard. He has been this way since the beginning of our marriage. He can be intense at times, but even in his intensity, he is kind.

Similar to this hike, in our journey with God, there will be times it feels easier to give up and turn around. To go back to the smooth, flat, paved path of life. But Oh the things we will miss if we do that! If we turned back in our journey when it got hard we would have missed meeting our daughter, we would not have some of the incredible friendships we have today, and we would not have seen victories through prayer that we have seen over the years.

Following Jesus

In life, there will be times when sacrifice is required to keep following Jesus and where He leads. He never promised it would be an easy, smooth, path. In fact, He says there will be hard things to walk through. It’s basically a guarantee that life won’t be smooth sailing.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you WILL have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

John 16:33 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Because it is so true and I”ve seen it play out in my life over and over again! Rarely is life smooth and easy. It’s often hard and full of difficult circumstances to navigate. But, we are not without hope! Jesus has overcome the world. There is nothing we face that He is not able to help us through. There is never a time when He leaves us to figure it out on our own. He is with us through it all. Not everyone we meet will be up to this challenge of taking the less traveled road. It can seem lonely because taking the harder path sometimes means taking it alone, but the reward for sticking with it in the hard times is great! Even if we don’t recognize it until later.

Streams of Refreshing

When we finally made it to the halfway point of our hike there was this sweet reward. A beautiful and serene waterfall. It was secluded off the beaten path. There were few people who made the trek. So we had a few moments to just rest and take in the beauty all around us. It was quiet except for the sound of the water rushing over the edge. We found a rock to sit on at the edge of the waterfall. We ate a snack and soaked our tired feet in the cool, refreshing water. But the journey wasn’t over. This was only the halfway point. We still had to make it back up to the trailhead. We had descended 1300 feet to get to the waterfall, and now we had to make our way back up.

The Promise

The trail was narrow, and difficult in spots. It was steep and rocky, but along the way, there were these sections of flat, wide trail. In those sections the ground under our feet was soft and we had a chance to catch our breath before going back to the hard. During the hike, I just wanted to get back to the car. When we finally made it back, I started looking through the pictures I had taken along the way. I was surprised to see a rainbow across the bottom of the waterfall. I didn’t see a rainbow when we were there, but somehow my phone had captured it. A rainbow is a reminder of God’s promises.

Jesus never promised an easy life. He does promise to lead us to streams of refreshing and be with us along the way. Keep pushing forward in your journey with God. Keep pursuing Him even when the trail is difficult. The reward for staying the course is great! I am so thankful my Jesus loves me enough to stay by my side even when I want to give up. And I am so thankful my husband takes me on difficult paths to beautiful waterfalls. The reward is great! Stay the course!

Battered and Bruised

Last night I fell down the stairs at home.  Now before you get concerned and wonder if this is a cry for help, let me assure you…It’s not.  I’m just terribly clumsy.  I was wearing socks, and my socks slipped, I missed the first step and I proceeded to slide down the next 5 bumping along as I went.  My tailbone (which I fractured as a child during an unfortunate trampoline incident) took the brunt of the fall.  Thanks, tailbone!  I was a little shaken after the tumble and knew I would be sore in the morning.  This morning I woke up and everything hurts; back, shoulders, and yes tailbone.  Sitting today will be a challenge, but so will standing, cooking, and laundry.  As I began to look at the day ahead and start to complain to God for my weakness and lack of coordination I was quickly reminded of a time when someone I had yet to meet was willingly battered and bruised for me. 

Jesus went to the cross for me.  For my sins, because of His great love.  I don’t know that there is anyone I would willingly fall down a set of stairs for, except maybe my own children.  Yet, what Jesus endured was much more painful than some slight soreness from a little tumble.  Then it hit me like a slap in the face, yet this revelation had been there all along.  Jesus did that for me, and for you because family is His desire.  The kind of love that I would only show to my children, Jesus has shown to all humanity because His desire is that we become family.  This concept of being a daughter of the King of Kings is something I’ve been taught in church my whole life but didn’t really grasp until I brought home my adopted daughter. 

Galatians 4:4-7 says: “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are his sons, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” 

A friend recently asked me, “How did adoption change your faith?”  Adoption has opened my eyes to a love that before was only theoretical but now has become my daily reality.  Every morning I greet my sweet daughter who did not grow in my womb and ask her, “How was your sleep?”  I don’t for a second look at her and think that she is somehow less than or that she isn’t a full member of our family.  She may look different but in my eyes, she is a full heir.  Before we adopted, my husband and I worked on some things with a local estate planner just to make sure everything was in order.  One of those things was a living will.  Even before we brought home Hadassah we made sure there was language in that legal document that would guarantee any children added to our family whether biological or adopted would receive a full share of any inheritance we might have.  Not only in our hearts but in the eyes of the law she is a “full heir”.  So when we brought her home and I read that passage from Galatians 4, I was overwhelmed with the revelation that I too am a full heir with Christ. 

I am adopted!  This is not a negative.  Many times throughout history adoption has been looked at as a negative.  It’s been something that has hidden in the shadows.  Adoptive parents sought children who were the same race and they purposely kept the child’s true identity a secret from those children.  This lead to feelings of being an outsider or outcast by those children when they became adults and found the truth.  I am thankful that much of the old way of doing adoption has changed, but I feel the negative connotations persist.  If we look with the eyes and heart of the Father we can very clearly see, adoption is anything but negative!  Jesus was battered and bruised, and ultimately died in the most excruciatingly painful of ways simply to bring us into his family.  Adoption is costly!  For us that looked like time and money, for Jesus it was His life.  Adoption is redemption.  Simply put, the Gospel is an adoption story.  God loves humanity so much that he gave His only son to take the punishment for us so we can come close.  We are not second best, but full heirs with Christ.  Adopted means chosen, loved, and valued.  Jesus paid a high price to rescue me, and I will spend my life pouring out my love for Him.  I can think of no better way to spend my days.  I am adopted and loved.  I am a daughter of the King. 

What Kind of Slavery Have you Been Freed From?

Here we are April 2020.  Most of the world has been on lockdown for the last 6-8 weeks.  We’ve been fighting an invisible enemy that has completely changed our way of life.  We don’t know when this will end, or what the new normal will look like.  This invisible enemy is attacking not just our physical bodies, but our very way of life.  There are now two distinct and very different worlds, the one before the virus, and the one we now live in. 

That sounds like the beginning of some dystopian novel right?  Some work of fiction, or one of those movies about zombies come to take over the world, and you don’t know who will fall victim next.  In many ways daily life hasn’t changed.  I still get up at about the same time everyday.  We eat three meals a day.  We do school, we cut the grass.  I bought plants and pots to put them in today at the hardware store.  In many ways life hasn’t changed, but then again everything has changed.  We’re told to keep our distance from others when we’re out.  Many people are wearing masks.  The store is out of toilet paper and Clorox wipes and has been for a while.  You see a friend at the store, in the pre-virus world you would instinctively give this friend a hug.  Now there’s a pause and distance is kept.   Sports are canceled, vacations too.  I was supposed to be out of town on a retreat with my husband this weekend, instead we stayed home. 

I’ve found myself stuck lately.  There are many voices talking about a “reset”.  People are saying things like, God is going to use this to draw us back to Him.  I’ve even said, “He’s allowed all the distractions to be removed, so we have no excuses.”  Even with that knowing I’ve been like the Israelites in the desert looking back at Egypt.  Missing all the things left behind.  Today as I was looking back at what’s been left I felt the Lord issue a caution to me;  “don’t get so distracted by what’s been left behind that you forget to look at where I’m is taking you.”  I’ve been working my way through the final minor changes of Livin’ the Dream and making sure it’s ready to go to the printer.  This week as I was busy looking back at my Egypt I felt the Lord whisper, “You need to read your book.”  I want to share a short excerpt from Chapter 10.  This excerpt is a commentary on Exodus 16:1-3.

Book Stack on Wood

Except from Livin’ the Dream, Chapter 10: Overcoming Doubt

“The Israelites are hangry. They’ve been traveling for two months, and they are just tired of being in the desert. They are hungry, it’s taking too long, and they are thirsty. I’m sure the children are getting just a little bit whiny at this point, and they’ve had enough of this ordeal. They have forgotten what life was like in Egypt. Instead of remembering their slavery, all they can think of is how good the food was. They are so consumed with their current suffering that they can’t look ahead to what God has promised them: a land and home of their own, flowing with milk and honey, where they will live freely without taskmasters. They are looking behind at what they left to come here. Their doubt is so bright they’re nearly blinded by it. But what does God do to clear their sight? He sends manna, bread from heaven to comfort His people and draw them back to Himself. He satisfies their hunger. Can I get an amen? With that one miraculous act, He reminds them of all the miracles He performed in Egypt that brought them to this place. When doubt kicks in, it’s time to ask God to send help. Send the manna we need to get over that hurdle, send a reminder of your goodness and promises.”  

We as a culture have been enslaved to many things prior to Covid19.  Those things that had become like gods in our lives are being exposed and removed.  We need to be aware of what God is highlighting in our own lives that had us caught in slavery.  Don’t be quick to return to those things.  Recognize they are gone, mourn if you must, but leave them behind because they are baggage and you can’t take them with you if you want to enter your Promise Land.  It’s time to move forward in our walk with Jesus.  What things is He highlighting that are baggage?  Maybe they were even cozy at one time like a soft blanket, but even cozy blankets can be heavy and take up a lot of room.  If this is truly a divine reset and God is preparing us to move into a new season we must be willing to leave things behind that will be a hindrance to us.  I’m not even saying those things are necessarily sinful, some are, but some are just heavy weights that need to be left behind.  I know for me God is revealing a lot of areas in my life that are just baggage.  He wants to set us free from bondage so we can go where He is taking us.  In the passage above the line that hits me right in the gut is this “Their doubt is so bright they’re nearly blinded by it.”  Oh God that you would open my eyes to see clearly that I wouldn’t be blinded by my own doubt, my own longing to return to Egypt. 

He came to set us free!  He won’t do it by force, it’s up to us to surrender. 

Worship is Warfare

We are living in uncertain times.  If I can be completely honest, I have had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in the past week.  As a mom, friend, wife of a small business owner and daughter of the King, I feel in the past week I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions and they can vary from hour to hour.  There are moments where I’m completely fine, joyful even; and then I have moments of complete despair where I find myself asking, “Is this how the world ends?”  Yes, I know that the last one is probably a bit dramatic.  This is what I’m talking about though, each day holds a new level of uncertainty.  I don’t know what tomorrow brings.  We have pushed pause on all of our long term plans.  We were talking about trips this summer, things that normally we would have already bought airline tickets for, yet here we are still planning these trips, but unsure what the future holds and waiting to make firm plans because we just don’t know what the prices will look like in a month.  I am a planner and I don’t like change.  I’m not one to easily adjust when things change quickly, and I don’t like feeling out of control. 

But, I know the one who is in control.  None of this is a surprise to God.  He who is sovereign over the whole earth, He who holds us in the palm of His hand.  He isn’t taken by surprise when schools close, or sporting events have to be postponed.  The markets dropping don’t cause Him to bite his nails with uncertainty and He is FAITHFUL!  ALWAYS!  In all circumstances.  We are in a sifting moment of time where the church has a great opportunity to BE the church.  Maybe we can’t gather together in our buildings, but we can BE Jesus to our neighbors and we can use this opportunity to strengthen our own faith.  If you believe, as I do, that we are living in the last days, then this latest crisis is simply a training ground for what is to come.  David had the faith to defeat Goliath because he had gained strength and faith in God by defeating lions and bears while working as a shepherd.  You can read the story in 1 Samuel 17.  David who is known for writing much of the book of Psalms defeated giants.  Goliath is the one we think of, but he defeated many other smaller giants first.  The training ground for defeating Goliath, is in the place of solitude, watching the sheep and keeping smaller attacks at bay, all the while writing worship songs to God. What we are facing right now is that place of solitude.  As many are working from home, we are being forced in a way to confront giants in our own lives and make them obedient to the word of God and what He says. 

For me a big giant I am having to confront is fear, and my own desire to be in control.  These are unseen giants.  The battle is largely spiritual, mental, and emotional.  The fact that the battle is unseen doesn’t make it any less real.  It’s in the place of hiddenness and fighting these personal battles that God is training us, His bride to fight the bigger more visible battles.  I want to encourage you as we are all in this together and I’m sure you have battles you are fighting as well, whether you are facing fear, or feeling alone due to lack of social gatherings, or depression over the current crisis.  There is a strategy to combat these enemies.  In 2 chronicles 20:22-24 we read about a time when Israel went to war against the Moabites and the Ammonites.  They were a formidable foe, and King Jehoshaphat didn’t know how to proceed.  He inquired of the Lord and said, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”  Later in verses 21-24, we see the Lord’s strategy revealed.  Send the worshippers first!  When the worshippers go out with praise, the Lord sets ambushes against Ammon and Moab and the army of Israel is victorious.  A virus may seem like a different foe than an invading army, but I assure you, it is no different. Even today President Trump referred to this as a “war”.  This is a battle, just like any other.  Worship is still a powerful weapon in our arsenal.  Let’s use it.  Not only will this improve your mood and your own peace in trusting in God, but I believe if we turn to God in this time as a nation we will see the Lord break in and move on our behalf and we will see this giant fall.  Look back at 2 Chron. 7:14.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I WILL hear from heaven, and I WILL forgive their sin and WILL heal their land.”

God gives a Holy prescription in times of uncertainty.  Worship.  Pray.  Repent. Turn from wickedness.  Let’s turn to God, who knows; maybe he will relent from sending calamity to our shores.  As the Ecclesia, we have a role to play.  Spend time in worship, humble yourself before the Lord, don’t give in to fear, and step into your authority to speak calm and peace into the storm.  God, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you! 

I’ve put together a YouTube playlist of some of my favorite songs that minister to me when I’m fighting battles and need to speak peace over the storms that rage.  You can find the link to that below. 

Top Ten Homeschool Tips

With so many schools closing in the coming weeks Here are my top tips and encouragement for schooling the kids at home.

I’ve been homeschooling our kids for over a decade. It’s not always easy and I’ve often eyed the school bus as it drove by my house longing for it to take my children too, but in the decade-plus that I”ve done this, I can honestly say there have been more good days than bad. I’ve grown closer to my children than I would have if they were away 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. We’ve made memories, and learned things together that I would have never known if they were away.

I know this is kind of a sudden thing for those of you who have never homeschooled before, but if we look at this short term minor inconvenience as a gift we can use these weeks to build relationships with our kids. I know it’s a struggle if you still have to go to work, or if you’re facing lost pay because you have to stay home. I see you mama, and I’m praying for you. We will get through this together! If you need encouragement, ideas, or help of any kind please don’t hesitate to send me a message. I am happy to chat or talk over the phone.

For now, here is my best homeschool mom advice:

1. establish some sort of routine or schedule. It’s easy for the day to turn to chaos and video games if you don’t do this from day 1. It doesn’t even have to be rigid.  Your day doesn’t have to start as early as the school day normally starts.  If you have young kids, or boys, I have found when planning my schedule it helps if I plan for breaks and active times.  I always try to alternate a quieter, sitting subject or lesson, with a more active, and somewhat less structured activity.

2. Homeschool doesn’t have to look like a classroom! Please don’t sit your kids at the kitchen table with worksheets all day, I promise that will not foster relationships between you and them and it will likely lead to a mutiny! Don’t do it! Learning can look like following a recipe together, reading the Bible and talking about the passage, or if you need a break pop on an audio book (you can get them from the library, or an online service, you have so many options!)  Also, GO OUTSIDE!  At least once a day if the weather allows go outside walk around play, get some vitamin D (Bonus Vitamin D helps strengthen your immune system!)

3. YouTube is your friend! There are countless history, science, and even math instructional videos. Disclaimer: You may want to screen them first to make sure you agree with the content.

4. Snuggle on the couch together and watch a movie or read a story.

5. The store may be low on some items, but now is the perfect time to plant seeds. You can get potting soil, seeds, and seed starter kits at the hardware store or Walmart. Plant your own food. Lettuces and radishes grow well in early spring and they will be ready to harvest in 30-40 days. For kids a quick crop is great to hold their interest.   This is a great science lesson, if you want to tie in a history lesson to this you can look up “victory gardens” maybe even find a YouTube video on it.  Our grandmothers and great grandmothers planted gardens to help during times of war and other national crisis.  We can do the same today.  Some crops are easier than others in my experience, lettuce, spinach, peas, and radishes grow well, don’t require any special soil or fertilizers and are insect resistant. 

6. Have a sing-a-long (My kids are actually doing this right now in the other room) 

7. Learn a new card game together, or pull out the board games and have a game day

8.  Go on a nature walk.  If there is a nice day you can make a scavenger hunt for your kids and then go outside together and try to find the things on your hunt here are some ideas of things you can look for this time of year: a brown leaf, a bud, a flower in bloom, a song bird, a turtle, a frog (if you are near some sort of water), Mushrooms, animal foot prints, moss, Animal scat (that’s poo, yes I know it’s gross, but trust me boys LOVE this one!), an interesting rock. 

9.  Reach out for help from others.  I’m here for you, if you need ideas or prayer or a kind word of encouragement, we live in the one of the most connected times in history, even though we’re all in our own homes we can still connect.  Just this morning I had a video chat with one of my children who is currently living overseas.  If I can connect with her, we can connect through the magic of the internet! 

10.  You are not alone in this!  This isn’t a homeschool tip per se, but at the beginning of each school I spend time seeking the Lord and asking for a special verse from His word for our Homeschool.  This is our verse for this school year.  The Lord gave me this verse back in August 2019 before any of this craziness hit.  He is sovereign and He knows what we need before we ask.  We’ve been praying and standing on this verse long before a pandemic.  God’s word is true and He is unchanging!  Cling to Him in these uncertain times.

“But now, this is what the Lord says- he who created you Jacob, he who formed you Israel: DO NOT FEAR, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  Isaiah 43: 1-3  

All of Is. 43 is an encouraging passage to read, but this promise right here has gotten me through many challenging days this school year.  God’s word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.