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.

Running on Empty

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.  Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.  But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint. –Isaiah 40:29-31

As a mom of two littles, my life feels like I am constantly running a race on exhausted all the time.  I have a 2-year-old son, Jude, and a 9-month-old daughter, Charlotte.  When Jude was born, he really was the perfect baby.  He slept through the night from the time he was born.  He was so easy to get on a schedule and he ate so well.  Life really was so easy with him.  I remember thinking this mommy thing really wasn’t that hard.  And then came my sweet princess Charlotte.  From the beginning of my pregnancy she was very clearly different than Jude.  The whole first trimester I was so miserably sick and nothing gave me relief.  I actually lost 10 pounds in the beginning because I couldn’t keep anything down.  It was horrible!!! After that, it was pretty smooth sailing from the second trimester all the way through labor and delivery.  Then she was born and I have been living at a level of exhaustion I didn’t even know existed. To this day she is still not on a schedule and, at 9 months, has decided she only wants to nurse, will not eat real food and sleeping longer than a 4 hour stretch is out of the question.  No matter what I do or what parenting method I try, this child refuses to conform.  Please hear me when I say I love that little girl to pieces.  I really do!!!  And through the crying and sleepless night, God has really been teaching me something.  He has been teaching me to rely on Him when it comes to my children. All I need to do is trust in him and listen when he speaks.

Being a mom is hard.  There are so many people, books and methods telling us to do this and do that.  And if our child doesn’t fit into a specific mold there must be something wrong with them or we are a bad mom.  Sometimes both.  I have relied so much on different methods or advice from others that I have forgotten to go back to the source.  I’m not saying that books or advice are bad.  They really can be helpful, but in the end, each child is unique and responds to different things.  What worked great for Jude does not work for Charlotte and there is no better place to go for advice on raising her than the One who formed her.

God designed her and Jude and He knows best what they need.  That’s why it is so important for me, as their mom, to be in continuous communication with Him.  I need to go to Him when I am weak and He will give me what I need to continue.  He loves my children more than I ever could.  The truth is they are His and He has allowed me the great privilege of partnering with Him in raising them.  That fact alone has brought new light to the way I raise my children.  I know that God has big plans for Jude and Charlotte.  I already see little glimpses right now and it blesses my socks off!  So now I am committing to not rely on my own strength, but on the strength of the Lord.  I am placing my children back in His hands and seeking Him daily (sometimes minute-by-minute) to show me how to best love each of my sweet babies how they need it.  Only He truly knows and only He can give me the strength, wisdom and rest that I truly need!

I don’t know if I am alone in this boat or if you are right there with me.  If you are then be encouraged!  There is no “perfect” way to raise the little ones you have been entrusted with except for His Way.  Remember that He is the one who knit them together in your womb (Psalms 139:13).  Go to Him daily. Ask for His guidance and He will answer.  He loves His children more than we could ever love them and He wants only the best for them.  He has created them to do great things.  He knows the plans He has for them.  He has blessed you with those sweet little ones and you have to make the choice to place them back into his hands and allow him to show you how to love them the way He loves them!

God, Thank you for allowing me the great privilege of raising my children.  Help me to remember what a blessing they are.  As I seek you, give me the strength to continue the race each day.  Show me how to love your little ones the way you do.  Continue to guide me in how to be a better mommy.  Thank you for loving me and loving them!

It’s All About the Love

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not an earthly kingdom.  If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leader.  But my kingdom is not of this world.”

Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king.  Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth.  All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” – John 18:36 (NLT)

Jesus left his heavenly kingdom to bring truth and light to our world.  This world is not his true kingdom and it is not our true home.  Just like Jesus, we are to bring truth to a world lost in deception.  But what does that actually mean? I believe that this is simply being love to a lost world.  We are to share what Jesus demonstrated on the cross.  His unconditional love.  We all know and probably can recite John 3:16.  God loves us so much that he gave the ultimate sacrifice in the death of his son.  His love for us is what has saved us from an eternal life of pain and suffering.  A life separated from him for all eternity.  LOVE!!!! This, I believe is a foundational aspect of our Christian walk.  Without love, we can do nothing.  We have not truly stepped into our true life with God until we love.

If we love our christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life.  But a person who has no love is still dead.  – 1 John 3:14 (NLT)

Until we can begin to love just like Jesus loved, we cannot be used by God.  We are here on earth to do two things: 1) Love God 2) Love people (Matthew 22:37-40).  All else will follow if we are living a life of love.

I do not believe that loving unconditionally means ignoring sin.  I do believe there is a difference in blatantly ignoring sin and seeing past the sin to the destiny that has been covered by it.  Ignoring sin is silently agreeing with the lie that there sin is justified.  Seeing past it is being able to love the person. To see them the way Jesus sees them.  It’s not about pointing out the sin, it’s about speaking truth and life into the deception that has clouded their heart.  It’s about speaking love through both our words and our actions.  This is what Jesus did.  He demonstrated love to those everyone he was around at all times.  Instead of speaking into the sin, he spoke into their true destiny.  He cared and loved people so much that he gave the ultimate sacrifice of his life.  He died so that we can experience true life at it’s fullest.  And it starts with LOVE!

If you were to take an honest inventory of your life right now, how would your love rate? Are you truly loving God and loving people or are you quick to jump to judgement?  I know this is an area of my life that could use a lot of work.  If you are like me, you can start to change with a simple prayer. Ask God to help you to love like Jesus.  To see his loved ones with new eyes.  Here is an example:

Dear Lord, Teach me to love like you.  Soften my heart to those around me.  Show me how to love through both my word and my actions.  Thank you for the love you have shown me.  Help me to share that same love to others.  Amen!

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.  So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.  – 1 John 3:16

Are you listening?

Growing up most of my life in church I have always felt very familiar with the topic of prayer.  I have heard many teachings, read books and spent time praying.  I have so many journals filled with prayers.  Over the last week God has really been speaking to me about an aspect of prayer that I feel most Christians are lacking in our prayer life.  At least I know I was.

Prayer is how we communicate with God and just like any conversation, it’s a two-way process.  We go to God and pray and share with him but what is often forgotten is the part where we stop and listen.  So many of us, me included, forget that second part.  We are so eager to go to God with our issues, problems and concerns and we forget to be still and listen.  I know so many times I go to God in prayer and feel like there is no answer.  I begin to wonder if God is even listening.  Does he even care? It’s in those moments that I have to pause and honestly ask myself, “Am I even listening?”

I believe there have been numerous times that I never hear an answer because I am to busy chatting.  God loves when we converse with him.  We are His children and it’s great to share our hearts with him.  It builds a stronger relationship with him, but unless we are also hearing from him, our relationship can only go so far.  You can’t be in true community with someone unless they are able to speak as well.

Listening to God is the secret to experiencing his presence in your life

If we truly want an authentic relationship with God we must be in constant communication with Him.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Never stop praying” (NLT).  Being in constant communication will in turn develop you as a person that ultimately God will be able to use for his glory.  It’s in the secret place that God is able to build us to be used to change the world.

“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.  Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:6 (NLT)

God has a plan and purpose for you (Jeremiah 29:11) but we cannot walk in our calling until we are willing to listening to the one who designed it.  Spend time with the One who created you.  He is longing to be with you and He is waiting with open arms to be in a deep relationship with you.  He wants to speak to you, you just have to be available to listen.

“You speak.  I’m listening.  In the secret place I find you waiting. In the secret place I find you waiting.  In silence.  In stillness. I hear you calling me to you.  I’m listening.” – “Listening” by Worship at the Rock

***You can purchase “Listening” here.***

Daydreaming Aloud

For 2 years now, God has been tugging at my heart to start something.  At first I wasn’t sure what it was but I spent the time in prayer and seeking Him.  I started to write everything down.  I had journal upon journal of thoughts, prayers and random ideas.  As the journals piled up God began tugging again.  What he was asking was a very scary request.  He was asking me to take a step of faith.  To take a leap to a level of vulnerability that , even as I write this post, make my stomach turn and I feel like I could throw up.  For the last 6 months I have fought this blog.  I had excuse after excuse of why it was a horrible idea.  The “What Ifs….” began to cloud my mind and I became content to ignore the request.  Life went on as usual and I felt like all was well.  Thankfully God would not allow me to forget.  I would have dreams, words spoken over me. Even random people comment about a blog.  To some it may have seemed like a coincidence  but I knew better.  God was still speaking to me through all avenues.  Reminding me of the dream he spoke to my heart.  Through countless tears and prayer and conversations, I decided to take the step.  I decided that God’s call is greater than the “What If’s…”.  I am taking a step away from fear and walking towards living a life of dreaming with God no matter what the cost.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt