Next Steps

Last week Brandon and I made a decision that was a huge step for our family.  Over the past few months, we have been praying about Brandon quitting his full time job and raising support for him to work at our church.  After going back and forth God opened some doors and we decided to take a step of faith.  Brandon put in his 2 week notice and we have begun the process of raising support.

I am so proud of Brandon for taking a step of faith and I am so excited for this next season, but with two children, a house, a car payment and the fact that he is the main provider for our family, I can’t help but look into our situation with some uncertainty (and maybe a little fear).

In my heart I know this is the next step for our family.  I know this is where God has us. The hardest part about this transition is that I can’t see how this is all going to work.  I am a planner.  I like to know the plan of action and how everything is going to play out.  I find it hard to put my fear aside when I can’t see road.  I have actually found myself making my own plan.  What I think this should all look like and how we are going to make everything work.  The truth is that no matter how much I plan, God’s plan is always greater.  He will always make a way when it seems like there is no way.

I am reminded of the story where God parts the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross.  You can read it in Exodus 14 but I will give you the short version.   God leads the Israelites to a place where they are trapped between the Red Sea and a mountain.  They are being chased by Pharaoh and all his chariots and they are out to kill the Israelites.  They are stuck between a rock and hard place (literally).  The Israelites start to fear for their lives and begin to question God’s plan.  They panic and wonder why God would lead them here to die.  Through all of this panic and chaos, Moses takes a stand and speaks.

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid.  Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.  The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.  THE LORD HIMSELF WILL FIGHT FOR YOU.  JUST STAY CALM.”  – Exodus 14:13-14

In the end, God made a way.  He parted the Red Sea and the Israelites crossed through the sea on dry ground.  God wiped away the Egyptians and the Israelites won the battle without even fighting.

I don’t know where this transition is leading.  I don’t know how it’s all going to work out but I do know the One who does.  God knows.  As we begin this new journey, I am learning to trust God to make a way.  I am believing that the same God who parted the Red Sea is still at work in my life. I am ready to do nothing.  I am ready to stand still and watch as God unfolds a new chapter in my story.  Nothing is impossible for Him.  I am learning to trust that God’s plans are far greater than anything I could ever come up with.  That my fears are not greater than my God.  He has set the path before me and now He is asking, “Will you let me lead you, even when you don’t know?”.  I know it’s not going to be easy but I know it’s going to be worth every step.

During Glady’s harrowing journey out of war-torn Yancheng… she grappled with despair as never before.  After passing a sleepless night, she faced the morning with no hope of reaching safety.  A thirteen-year-old girl in the group reminded her of their much loved story of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.

“But I am not Moses,” Gladys cried in desperation.

“Of course your aren’t,” the girl said, “but Jehovah is still God!”

– From the book The Hidden Price of Greatness by Ray Beeson and Ranelda Mack Hunsicker

The God Who Sees Me

Who is God to you? This question and prompted me to look at my relationship with God.  In Genesis 16, the Bible tells the story of Hagar.  In her story we see that she is a servant to Sarai, Abram’s wife.  After finding our she was pregnant with Abram’s child, she ran away.  While in the wilderness, the Bible says, “the angel of the Lord FOUND Hagar” (Genesis 16:7 NLT). He met with her and comforted her.  He gave her instruction on what to do next.

This story has never really struck me as anything special until a few days ago. As I was reading, I felt God draw me to certain points in Hagar’s story.  When she ran away we see that the angel of the Lord found her.  What I love about this is that he was looking for her.  In a time of distress, God was seeking Hagar.  The best part about this is that God seeks for us as well.  God wants to walk beside us in every moment of our lives.  In our distress and in our joy.  He is looking to be with us, His beloved ones but we need to make ourselves available to Him.  Hagar was found at a spring of water where she was probably stopping to rest and drink.  In our lives we often forget to do the same.  When chaos arises we tend to panic and forget to stop and receive from the Lord.  It’s in the rest that we can hear clearly and it’s in the refreshment of God’s word that we can find answers.  It’s in this way we can make ourselves available to be found by the Lord.

It’s after this encounter Hagar sees God in a new way.  Verse 16 says, “Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord” (NLT). It tells us from that moment on, she referred to the Lord as “El-roi” which means “You are the God who sees me”. It was this encounter that I believe changed the way Hagar saw God.  He was no longer just the God of her master’s husband.  Her relationship was more intimate than that.  To her, He was the God who came to her in a time of need.  Her saw her, a servant girl, and gave her comfort in her sorrow.  He sought out to find her, to show her just how much he loved and cared for her.  From that one encounter He was the God who saw her when no one else did.

Who is God to you?  God wants to have a deeper relationship with you.  His desire is to be more than a God in a book.  He wants to meet with you right where you are at.  He wants to have a lifelong encounter with you.  He wants to redefine how you see Him and how you see yourself.  You are worthy, set apart and loved.  Allow God to find you. I encourage you today to find some time to rest in his presence.  Read His word and allow Him to reveal his unconditional love for you.  God sees you right here, right now.  Let yourself be found by Him.

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” – Genesis 16:13 (NLT)

Quiet Retreat

“You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait of your Word to renew me” – Psalm 119:114 (MSG)

As I was doing my quiet time today I read this verse and it really spoke to my heart this afternoon.  I love the image of God being my place of quiet retreat.  As a mom I have really learned to appreciate my quiet time.  Don’t get me wrong, I love playing with my children but I really do love when nap time comes around.  Usually by the time nap time comes I am so exhausted both mentally and physically. I usually spend nap time responding to emails and paying bills but before I even begin any of that I get a cup of coffee and sit with my Bible and notebook on our couch.  Before I can begin the rest of my day, I take time to sit with God and allow Him to be my quiet retreat.  I spend time in His Word and meditate on what it says.  As I do, His Word to renews me.  It speaks to my life and sinks deep into my soul.  God desires to spend time with us.  He is waiting for us to take refuge in Him and find hope in His everlasting Word.  The NLT version of the verse says, “You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope”.  We can find hope in God’s word.  God’s word is a firm foundation on which we can build our lives.  I have found that in my quiet times with God, I am refreshed.  My spirit is revived and as I cling to the revelation of His Word, I can tackle anything life would bring my way because I have a hope that I can anchor my soul to (Hebrews 6:19).  It’s kind of like my half time pep talk with God.

I don’t know what your daily life looks like but I would encourage you to find some time to spend with God.  Read His Word, pray or just sit in the stillness.  It doesn’t matter what your quiet time looks like,  What matters is that you allow God to renew you.  Allow yourself to be willing to let God refresh you.  Let His words wash over you, renewing you from the inside out.  The hardest part is taking the time but once you take that step, God will meet you there.  He is already waiting for you to come to Him.  He desires to be with you.  Do you desire to be with Him?

The Dream Child

Today we are celebrating Jude’s 3rd birthday.  I can’t believe how fast three years have gone and today I am reminded to take in every second because they go so fast.  As we begin our week of celebration I can’t help but to look back to before I was even pregnant with Jude.

It was exactly one year before I found out I was pregnant.  Brandon and I had been married a little over a year.  We had just decided to expand our family.  One night I had a dream about my future baby.  I was pregnant with a child and God was telling me he had his hand on that baby.  I took that as a sign that we were going to get pregnant quickly but to my dismay that first month went by and there was no baby.  After about five months of disappointment I began to get discouraged.  Why would God allow me to dream of my child when he wasn’t willing to give me one?  I remember one night, through tear filled prayers, God led me to 1 Samuel 1.  In this passage, Hannah has gone years without children.  She was in “deep anguish” (1 Samuel 1:10) as she cried out this prayer:

And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you.  he will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.” – 1 Samuel 1:11 (NIV)

Through Eli, God promised to give Hannah a child and He did.  Hannah gave birth to a son who she named Samuel.  As time went on, I clung to this scripture and the promise in my dream that I was going to have a child.  Exactly one year from the time I had my dream, we found out I was finally pregnant!  We were so excited and I entered into a journey that has led me to this very moment.  During my pregnancy God has shown me who my baby was.  That they were called to be a prophet and through prophetic words from outsiders, God confirmed that truth.  Even before I knew our baby was a boy, I had received a prophetic word that my baby was a Samuel.  Not only was my baby a fulfilled promise but he was called to be a prophet and a voice to the nations.

Over the last three years I have witnessed that to be true.  Jude has always loved to pray not just for food and at night, but for others at all times.  He loves to read God’s word and sing His praises.  His passion for God is truly unmatched and it challenges me every day.  I know that God has a big plan for my sweet boy and I know that God speaks to him while he sleeps.  When Jude wakes up in the morning, he is usually not shy about sharing his dreams of God with us.  Jude never ceases to amaze me and I am so thankful for him each day.  I can see God’s hand on his life.  I can see God shaping him and molding him.  I am so unbelievably honored that he calls me his mommy.  I consider each day a blessing, even when they are hard.  I pray that God would continue to give me wisdom on how to love Jude more.  How to speak life into him and call out the destiny within him.  Most importantly, I pray that I would be a good steward of the privilege of being his mommy.

Today I am thankful for the past three years.  Thankful for the privilege of partnering with God in raising this amazing man.  As I look at him and a reminded of that dream years ago.  I am reminded of God’s faithfulness to keep His promises.  I am reminded that God can use anyone, even a 3-year-old boy.  As I prepare our home for my sweet boy’s birthday, I can’t help but to cry.  Not just because he is getting older, but because he is so amazing.  The Lord has called Jude by name long before I did and I am so excited to see the many journeys God takes him on!


You also will command nations you do not know, and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey because I, the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious. – Isaiah 55:5

I Choose JOY

This week has really been a test of my choice of Joy in all situations.  Jude has really been testing my patience and Charlotte has been teething which makes her upset and cranky most days.  On top of the normal chaos in our house, my husband’s car broke down Thursday night while he was on his way to a prayer conference.  This is bad for two reason.  #1 He needs his car for work and #2 we don’t have money to fix the repair that needs to be done or buy him another car.  I found myself in tears this weekend and I allowed the stress of the car and our finances rob me of my joy.  I wish I could say that when all of this happened I ran to God and His word and had complete peace and joy in the circumstance but honestly I didn’t.  I not only got upset at the situation but I took most of my anger out on those closest to me. I was short with my kids and Brandon and even yelled at my mom right before a baby shower we were throwing for my best friend.  Before any of this had started I had begun planning and studying for this blog about joy.  It’s funny how God works sometimes.  Really putting what I was discovering into practice except I failed this test.  Thankfully God is a God of forgiveness and do-overs.

After asking for forgiveness from God and my family I was able to understand more how joy is a daily choice.  When life happens and when things don’t go my way, I have the choice to either allow my circumstance to define my character or to choose joy and trust that God is in control.  Philippians 4:4 sums it up perfectly.

Always be full of JOY in the Lord.  I say it again – REJOICE! – Philippians 4:4 (NLT)

We are to be full of joy all the time, everyday, no matter what.  Even when our cars break down and our kids are driving us crazy. Joy is changing our perspective and seeing our circumstances as God sees them. James 1:2 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider is an opportunity for great JOY.” (NLT) When you are in a situation where joy may not be your first reaction think to yourself, “What an opportunity!”.  This is a phrase we tell our students when we are on missions trips. Usually 2 days into the trip everyone is tired, stinky and grumpy and it is hard to be excited about digging another ditch or singing more songs but it’s in those moments that we tell them “What an opportunity to serve and love these people”, “What an opportunity to share God’s love”.  Every situation is an opportunity for joy.

So how do we find joy in our circumstances? We first must recognize where our true joy comes from. Joy isn’t found in things or people.  We can be joyful about those things but that joy is fleeting. True, never fleeting joy is found in knowing God.  That is where our true source of joy is.  We are not joyful because or our circumstances but instead are joyful in spite of them.  No matter what our circumstances might be, we must continue to pursue Him and seek His face.  It’s then that we will experience true everlasting joy.  Psalm 119:1-2 says, “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.  Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.” These are the actions of joyful people.  Walk in integrity, obey God and seek Him with all your heart.

I don’t know what your circumstances are.  Maybe you are dealing with more than just a car breaking down.  Maybe you are dealing with the loss of a job, or the loss of a loved one.  Maybe you are having financial struggles.  Whatever it is, don’t allow it to rob you of your joy.  Don’t allow your circumstances define your character.  Run to God and there you will find your joy.  Seek Him with all of your heart and he will lift you up.  It doesn’t always mean your circumstances will change but instead you will find a new perspective and a joy that will withstand anything.

“Joy is choosing to see the goodness of God in the midst of my circumstances” – Stephanie Shouse (Leading & Loving It)

Talking with God

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming” Psalm 27:8 (NLT)

We are all designed to desire the Lord.  Our inner most being yearns for His presence and our hearts desire to seek Him.  I love how simply David puts it in this verse.  He says his heart has heard the Lord’s call to talk with Him.  It’s so simple.  God just wants to talk with us.  He wants us to come to him with everything.   To talk with Him about our lives, our joys, our fears and our concerns.  Even though He already knows everything, He still desires for us to come to Him  and simply talk just like we would with a close friend.

My friend Kelly and I have been best friends for almost 5 years now.  3 of those 5 years we have lived in different states.  The distance is hard but when we get the chance to hang out or talk on the phone it’s like we were never apart.  We seem to always be able to pick up where we left off.  It’s the same way with God.  Now matter how long it’s been since the last time you talked with God, He is always waiting to pick up where you left off.  He loves us and wants us to spend time with Him, but He gives us the choice.  At the end of verse 8, David responds “Lord I am coming.” We must choose to take the time and go to God.

As a stay-at-home-mom, I have found that is easier said than done.  Having two littles both under the age of 3, I am constantly busy.  Between breakfast, lunch, dinner, cleaning the house, laundry, diaper changes, playing horsey and peek-a-boo, I barely have time to think let alone pray.  I love having the opportunity to stay home with my children but it is exhausting most days.  By the time nap time rolls around, the last thing I want to do spend time in the word.  I know!  What kind of Christian would admit to not wanting to spend time with God?  I am just being real ladies! We have all been there whether you want to admit it or not.  Rest is a wonderful thing and God does want us to take times of rest but He still wants us to spend time with us.

As a mom, my heart would be crushed kids didn’t want to spend time with me.  Just think how much more it hurts God’s heart when we don’t want to make time with Him.  He isn’t demanding a ritual or a ceremony.  He simple wants to hear our hearts.  He wants to hear what’s going on.  He wants to converse with us and, most importantly, He want to tell us how much He loves us.  He wants to impart wisdom into our situations and renew our spirits.  It’s in the quiet times with God that we can find rest.

It brings God so much joy when we run to Him.  When my husband, Brandon, comes home from work each day, Jude insists on sitting on his lap and telling him all about his day.  The joy I see on Brandon’s face is the same joy I think God has when we spend time with him.

It is so important to take time and go to our Papa God.  Allow yourself time to rest in Him and speak into who we are.  As a mom and a wife it is especially important.  It’s in that time we will find the strength, wisdom and encouragement to pour out into our family.

I want to encourage you this week to set aside time to be with God.  Whatever and whenever that looks like for you.  For me it’s during nap time.  I have friends who doodle or paint in their time with God.  Look at your daily life and see where you can make time for God.  It might only be 5 minutes to start and that’s okay.  Ask God to show you where you can make time.  It will radically change your life.  The Lord is calling out to you.  How will you respond?

Dare to Dream

He will cover you with his feathers.  He will shelter you with his wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection.  Psalm 91:4 (NLT)

Over the years God has planted dreams in my heart.  Some of them small and some of them huge.  Many times I was able to cling to those dreams and trust the Lord to fulfill them but so often I have allowed lies to take root and choke out the dreams before they were even able to take root.  This passage has reminded that God is faithful to keep His promise.  It’s in those promises that I can find protection from the storms that come to uproot what he planted within me.  Another version of this passage says, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (NIV).  The Hebrew word used here for refuge is “chacah”.  It means to put trust in, confide in or hope in.  When the enemy comes to rob us from the dreams God has given us, we can put our hope in what the Lord says.  Hebrews 6:19 says, “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls”(NLT).  We can anchor ourselves to the truth that God speaks.  In the book “Dreaming With God”, James Goll says, “God is a dreamer and He is looking for people who will dream His dreams with Him”.  We were created to dream with God.  He has created us for some much more than we could ever imagine and He has placed dreams inside of each one of us, not because we are worthy of them but because He loves us so much he wants to share His dreams with us.  So many times we allow lies of insecurities and doubt to creep into our lives.  We allow those lies to overshadow the truth the Lord has spoken and so many times our dreams are forgotten.  I have seen so many Christians, myself included, walk away from their dreams and toward a life of mediocracy.  God did not design us to live a life of mediocracy but a life at its fullest alongside Him.  It’s in His promises that we can find protection from the “arrows that fly in the day” (verse 5).  When we allow His truth to be our protection and our shield, we are able to continue to walk in the dreams He has given us.  To walk out in the destiny that we were born to live.  Walking in His promises is a choice.  Psalm 91:9-10 says, “If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you” (NLT).  If we chose to allow Him to be our refuge and our shelter, the enemy cannot overcome us.  Also, not that it does not say the enemy will not try to conquer us, it says he will not conquer us.  The enemy wants to kill the dreams that God has given you and he will stop at nothing to keep you from walking in your destiny.  The battle over the enemy has already been won with the death of Jesus on the cross.  It’s in that truth that we can walk in victory over the lies that come against us.

So how do we take up our shield and our armor?  It’s through prayer and His word that we can find truth to stand on each day.  Running to the creator of our dreams and taking refuge in what He says about us will give us the protection to guard what God has given us.  It’s in the secret place with God that he can speak into who we truly are. Who He created us to be.

What dreams has God planted in your heart?  What are the promises He has shown you that you can anchor your soul to?  I want to challenge you today to seek Him and ask Him to show you those dreams.  Ask Him to show you His promise.  Maybe you have dreams that have been  forgotten.  Ask God to breathe new life back into those dreams.  He loves you and wants to share His dreams with you.  He will give you what you need to walk them out.  Run to Him and he will be your refuge, your shelter in the storm.