All Inclusive

Highlights and disappoints. Both were seen this past weekend during Mother’s day. For me, it was a full weekend with family events. Yet sitting now and reflecting on our time, it is not just the activity with family that stands out to me. It is also posts and videos. Stories shared by others which left an impact. Family at times is complicated. Messy. Joyous and heartbreaking. But it all becomes a blanket of fabric that has been woven together and wrapped around us.

One post this weekend was from someone I admire, Tracey Mitchell. Tracey and her husband have a ministry headquartered in Dallas. Not only is she a powerhouse speaker, but she also has a writing style that grabs your heart and pulls you into the story. This weekend she had a post that spoke volumes:

As Mother’s Day approaches and pictures of smiling families fill my timeline my mind and emotions drift in countless directions. My heart goes out to the seven-year-old girl who will put on a brave face and battle through feelings of abandonment and rejection. She hasn’t seen her mother in years; may never see her again. My stomach feels tied in knots when I think of the young woman whose husband was unexpectedly killed last month. This will mark her first holiday as a single parent. She now carries the weight of being mom and dad all rolled into one. Tears begin to form as I think of my dear friend who will be unable to hug her incarcerated son. I cannot tell you the number of sleepless nights she has lost to grief …


Life is messy. Special days aren’t always special. For many, Mother’s Day is a complex time of reflection. It is a mixture of heartfelt memories and pain filled moments. What matters most is not what we have experienced but what we are yet to encounter. Maybe you need to experience the freedom of forgiving someone who wounded you or was simply never there for you. Trust me, the joy that comes with forgiveness is far better than a tear stained past. Maybe you need to bridge the gap in a distant or strained relationship. The initial step is always the hardest. Be brave. Be bold. Be daring enough to make the first move. Motherhood is not limited to birthrights or DNA. A mother is anyone who helped birth a better you. As you take a trip down memory lane pause and thank the women who supported you, defended you, created space for you and loved you unconditionally. Celebrate them. Love them. Honor them.

Such powerful truth! This is a Mother’s day message I have spoken on before. I can still see the faces of moms in one church I was speaking at who had lost kids to death. And the woman who was barren due to her husband’s cancer. Too often on Mother’s day we forget those women and they sit in our services hurting or feeling ‘not enough.’ But God makes His acceptance all inclusive and loves to show us creative ways bring this balance to our ministry.

“Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Proverbs 31:31 NIV

Another post that grabbed my heart was from my own daughter, Lauren Nelson. Although she has a son almost three and another who is just eight months old, God told her to go to Haiti. Alone. He was calling her to ‘come away’ with Him. After much struggle and tears to leave her babies, she obeyed. While planning the trip, she decided to surprise the other eleven kids that she has mothered in Haiti. The video of those surprised kids was priceless!

There were other posts that spoke as well. A niece who is a stepmom. A friend rejoicing over reconciled relationships. And the silent posts – those empty spaces where many hid from ‘mom notes’ which would be a reminder of abuse or neglect.

Yes. May has become a month for moms. But let’s not forget to minister to ALL women and recognize the spiritual moms among us. May our churches and lives be all inclusive when showing gratitude to those who serve among us. Honor the women who have chosen to foster, adopt, or just be that mom chosen by our hearts. And if that is who you are, we honor you as well for taking the step to mom whoever comes in your path.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxVSXEvHsjH/?igshid=1hddi7089q86b

Embrace the Moment

May has arrived! And with that comes thoughts of spring flowers, kids finishing their school year, and Mother’s day. For some, Mother’s day brings families together to share love and memories. For others, they feel the emptiness in their life due to losing their mom to eternity. Still others choose to hide on that day because their memories bring pain of an abusive or abandoned childhood. But in each situation, God chooses to hold us and teach us to make Him our first love – even above our earthly family.

One of the greatest joys I have had in life so far is that of being a mom. My outlook for raising my kids was to catch each possible moment I could with my children individually. I loved having them next to me while working in the garden. During those times I would teach about the death and burial of a seed in order for us to later enjoy the beauty of the flowers.

Now that they are adults starting their own families, it still amazes me how quickly it seems that time has passed by. But the memories we made as a family are treasures to hold.

When thinking back on the younger years of my kids, one of the sweetest moments that comes to mind was the evening my oldest son could no longer contain his true feelings. At the time we were on staff as youth/young adult pastors. One of the college age young men had come over to assist my husband in painting the house. After staying over for supper, my husband needed to drive him home as he had no car. Thinking of giving me a quiet moment and time to clean the kitchen, he decided to load our three kids in the car and take them along.

Once the door was shut, I turned to the dishes in the sink and began the task of seeing each one cleaned. Within minutes, our door flew open. In walked my 6-year-old son with alligator tears rolling down his cheeks. The door shut solidly behind him as he plopped down on the couch and continued crying.

My mind was whirling. What could possibly have happened to change him from laughter and smiles to tears so quickly? When he finally paused long enough to talk, all he could say was, “I like dad. But I love you!”

My heart melted. This young boy had found a way to let me know his heart for me was more than for dad or a ride in the car. He put aside time with his dad, who he enjoyed having fun with, because of his love for me. Dishes were forgotten. It was time to put aside the duty of cleaning and sit with my son enjoying a movie.

It is the same with God. He longs to hear us say, “But I love You more!” And as we make that statement and choose time with Him over other things, He, too, will shower us with His love and presence.

“Therefore, let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…….. Hebrews 12:1

Today, let’s embrace each possible moment with our Heavenly Father. That might mean putting other things aside – even good things – to show Him we love Him more. But every moment with Him will be a treasure held for eternity.

Our crazy family! Love each of them!

He Folded the Garment

“Where have they taken my Lord?”

Mary’s heart was broken at the loss of her teacher……the one who had changed her life. And now, not only had she watched Him die, but the guards at His tomb were gone…..and so was His body.

She had gotten to the tomb early and what she found left her wounded heart bleeding more. The body, the one earthly connection she still had to her Teacher was gone. In her grief, she didn’t notice the folded garment. In her Jewish roots, she knew this to be a sign that a person was coming again. But her grief shielded the truth that was so delicately folded before her.

But then she heard a voiced whisper, “Mary.” She knew that voice!!! And He called her name! What joy! What amazing realization that Jesus really had fulfilled every prophecy.

And He called her name. He gave her an assignment, “Go tell……”

It was a new assignment. A new season. It began the breaking forth of the early church.

Today, He is still calling our names. He still has an assignment for all who turn and recognize that Voice.

Don’t let the grief of your season block out the truth of His promises to you. His voice is whispering, and something new is about to be resurrected!!

He did it for me!

Dreamers

“Realists know where they are going. Dreamers have already been there. ” ~~ Robert Orben

I came across the above quote of Robert Orben and it stood out to me as being profound. To dream, to REALLY dream against all odds and not give up, takes faith. To believe that dreams can happen means you can already see it as if you have been there before. 

When someone has a dream, we have a choice to either speak life or death to their dream. Joseph had dreams and his brothers attempted to kill it. But God was the author of the dream so it couldn’t die. If God has birthed a dream within someone’s heart, let’s roll up our sleeves, look them in the face and ask, “Can I run along beside you to help build this dream?”

Disappointment. Hurt. Betrayal. Humiliation. Competition. Comparison. These are all able to kill dreams. 

Affirmation. Love. Acceptance. Believing in someone. These all breathe life into the dreams people carry within the heart. 

Let’s take the dream journey with people today. Let’s speak life until we see their dreams take flight. Agree with the dream God paints for yourself and for others. Speak it forth for the sake of others. 

Fresh Start

Warmer days. Cool nights. Brown turning to green. Vibrant colors bursting through the green. These all point to the season of Spring. Green and color representing fresh, new growth everywhere we look. The smell of fresh blossoms is in the air around us. And with it comes the excitement of a fresh start.


Spring. Just the word brings pictures to our minds of opening up the windows, letting fresh air in, while we sweep away the dust that had settled in our homes during the drab, cold months of winter. As if going from death to life. We box away the blankets and sweaters. We step outside to breathe the fresh air, while planning time to get with friends and family for fun activities. Windows are shined. Corners swept of cobwebs. And everything just seems to come back to life.


Our current ritual of spring cleaning is not too far removed from an ancient practice that God orchestrated with the first Passover. When the children of Israel came out of the dark, cold season in Egypt, God ordained the first feast of Passover as a continual reminder of how He had delivered them They were to remember the night which they had been told to box up all they had and prepare for a desert journey. As they prepared their food for traveling, the bread had to have no leaven – or yeast. It was to be simple and without any extra ingredients that added flavor.


When we read the account in Exodus 12, God made it clear how serious He was with the putting away of the leaven.
15 You will eat unleavened bread for seven days. On the first day you must remove yeast from your houses because anyone who eats leavened bread anytime during those seven days will be cut off from Israel.

19 For seven days no yeast should be found in your houses because whoever eats leavened bread will be cut off from the Israelite community, whether the person is an immigrant or a native of the land.

What was so significant about leaven that He would cut a person off? Besides that to ignore this act was disobedience to God, it also represented things in our lives that can pull us away from Him. This act was to teach the principle of dealing with the areas that war against our spiritual growth. He knew that if we did allowed ourselves one slip up, it would be easier to allow another…..and another…..and another. In time it could eventually effect every are of our lives. Just like the yeast.

I love the smell of warm yeast bread fresh out of the oven. And baking bread is a favorite past time for me. No matter how large of a recipe I am making, I trust that the dough will double in size while just sitting there. Even after I punch it down, it will rise again. Eventually it is large enough to make bread to feed a family because that yeast had effect every cup of flour I had added to the dough.

Just like the yeast in my bread, sin or complacency will effect our lives if we allow it to sit too long without cleaning away every spec of yeast in the hidden corners of our hearts. Sometimes ‘punching it down once’ is not enough. This cleaning away of anything ‘extra’ in our lives should be continual. A daily sacrifice. It was to be an example of the spiritual act of ‘laying aside every weight and sin’ that should govern our lives.

Every Passover, the Jews spent hours cleaning their homes. The goal was to make sure NO SPECnot a single drop – of leaven could possibly be found anywhere in their home. And they still do it to this day. And so should we. Each of us should spend time asking Him what needs to be swept away from our lives. Sometimes it’s a secret sin. Sometimes it can be just a weight that pulls us away from time with Him and gets our focus on other things.
Galatians 5:9 gives the warning:  A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
May we take time today to Spring clean our souls while spending time in His presence. The results? We may just find that He will breathe new life into old dreams!


2 Peter 3:14 “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” ESV

Setting the Stage

Team work. That’s what it takes to successfully pull off a theatrical performance. Each person, from stage crew, to lights, to costumes, needs to have a good understanding of their individual role. Each person has a different gift that will ultimately help the production team meet the desired effect by the end of each performance. It is the job of the director to clearly map out each detail of the performance for everyone involved. The director has to see the vision before even starting auditions. With each step forward, that vision has to be communicated clearly. And with the result of a successful performance, the name remembered most by others will probably be the most outstanding actor or vocalist of the night. Not the director.

For about six years I had the privilege of teaching music and drama at our church’s elementary school. When I had been away from that for a couple of years, someone asked me what I missed. It didn’t take long for me to answer. I missed helping the children discover gifts and talents that they may not have realized they had. I missed helping them become more confident in who they were. I missed loving on them and helping to set the stage of confidence that would build on a foundation for their future lives.

That’s what mentoring is about. It’s not a ‘help me build my kingdom’ mentality. Instead, it is a lifestyle of helping others grow personally and find their own voice. It’s being mindful of God’s kingdom and not our own. We search for the gifts and talents of each individual and help them follow their ‘part’ in this performance called life.

Parenting was such a joy to me. And now, so is being a grandparent. I adore my grandchildren with all my heart. But they are not mine to hold on to. They are not mine to control. They belong to their parents and God. Not me. Talking on the phone to a friend, I listened as she shared the possibility of her daughter and son-in-law moving across country. And that would mean her grandson would move as well. Her words were, “How can they take that little boy from me?”

As much as the statement shows her strong love for the child and her disappointment over the possibility of missing him, it made me think more about being kingdom minded. For years I have known the possibility of having my family eventually scattered, not just across the nation, but across the world. I don’t always like the thought. After all, shouldn’t they stay and help build our ministry with us? Isn’t that the norm? Kids growing up and taking over the family business/ministry is normal life, right? But to even allow my thoughts to drift in that direction, then that still small voice decides to whisper, “They are doing what you taught them to do. Following Me.”

Such true words. They have been taught not to follow my calling, but to find out who they are in Christ and follow His calling for them. Paul taught about the fact that each of us has a different calling. Some pastors. Some teachers. Some plant. Some water. Each is to seek direction from the Master Director and fulfill their role in order to have His vision successfully come to pass.

Years ago, there was a song by Joni Erickson Tada that became one of my own focuses. It spoke to me because of my passion for theater as well as my heart to follow His path for my life. One part of the song stood out to me the most:

‘You’ve given me the lines You showed the right reflection. You gave me a reflection of what I need to say. So many want to lead. And so many times I follow. Lord, let me not be hollow like men in those other plays. O Lord, dear Lord, great author of the play, may I in wisdom learn the only part I need to play is the part that You wrote for me. The part that You wrote for me.

As a mentor, it is not my place to decide the path those under me should follow. Just because I spend time pouring into them doesn’t mean they will stay by my side the rest of their lives. As I wanted to find MY part, I should want that for others as well. If I can grasp the concept of being kingdom minded, I can start to think on a larger scale. One from God’s view point. How did He put it?

Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

And He sent them out. That’s how we can reach a larger group. Send them out. And rejoice with them when they find the place He has called THEM to. When we are mentoring, we are teaching them tools for them to use in their place of ministry. We are setting the stage for their success story wherever God takes them.

Listen to that voice today and set the stage for someone else. Your harvest may actually come as you are backstage during lights on. But trust the Heavenly director who holds the details. And be prepared for the ultimate life performance to be completed right on schedule!

A Hush

This winter we have seen many pictures of snow covered roads throughout our country. Growing up in north Louisiana, our winters did not come with frequent snow storms. When snow or ice did come our way, everything was shut down as we did not have adequate equipment for treating roads, etc., in our area. What stands out to me of the few snow events we had is enjoying family time instead of going to school, making snow ice cream and having a fire in the fireplace.

Through the years since then, I have seen more snow events while living in both Maryland and Missouri. Although I am not a fan of living constantly in frigid temps as I can never seem to get warm, I enjoy a few days of the beautiful white blanket that will wrap our world. Not to mention that I love having a valid reason to curl up by a fire to read a good book while sipping on a mug of homemade hot cocoa. But the thing that stands out the most to me is that all seems still and quiet under the blanket of white.

The stillness. Just after the fresh snow has piled up, before the kids run out to start building snowmen or the adults start shoveling, all is quiet. In Missouri, I would step out onto our back deck and just listen. The quietness was beautiful and brought a blanket of peace that penetrated my being.

A hush. What if we felt that more often in our spirits? What if we felt that in our services? Like when the cloud fell in the temple. Can you imagine being among a group of believers who collectively sought that holy hush? One that clears away our agenda and lets God show up?

Raised in the church, I have seen many powerful services. I remember nightly revival services that saw salvations, healings, and more. I can still see the faces of people in our packed church as legs grew and hearing was restored. I remember the water baptisms at church and in the lake. I cannot begin to count how many of these types of services I have seen in my life. But a holy hush? Only twice. And I want more!

In college, I attended a service where David Wilkerson was speaking. I vividly recall the moment he fell to his face weeping, crying out, “I am undone!” The hush fell. And weeping could be heard throughout the building.

A few years ago, my husband was speaking to our church in Missouri. Half way through his message, God hit Raphael with His own love for His bride. As the feelings of God’s love washed over him, all my husband could do was fall on his face and weep. And the hush fell. Without words, people started coming to the altar. In time, he could speak but all he could do was express the Father’s love that was pursuing His bride. Time stood still We read of this happening in scripture, so why do we not expect it to happen today?

Ex 40:35 “Moses was unable to enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”1 Kings 8:11 “…..so that the priests could not stand there to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.”

Recently, my daughter told of a service at their church where someone had a prophetic word about a healing God wanted to do. No one responded at first. When the minister mentioned it again, a man spoke up for someone he knew who fit the description but was on the road traveling that day. They did something ‘nontraditional’ and called the young woman on her cell. With the entire church listening in, they heard as the woman pulled over while being prayed for by the minister. And they heard her excitement as she felt God’s healing touch. The church excitedly rejoiced. Then, as if on cue, the realization of what had just taken place hit those in attendance, and a holy hush fell. People started hitting the floor weeping over the incredible power of our holy God. It wasn’t random. It wasn’t orchestrated here on earth. It was a spontaneous, holy reverence experience by a group of people who shared the same hunger to see God move among His people.

Wrap me in your holy hush.

Like a child longing for that first blanket of snow to fall, my spirit longs for more ‘hushed moments’ in His presence. Not just in my personal alone time. But corporately. A shared time with a community that is seeking to know Him at a deeper level. A time when we are not rushed out the door in order for the next group to come in. A time when we allow Him to just sit and linger with us.

May I challenge you today? HUNGER for more of Him. It doesn’t just happen. There is a price to pay. And let me give a warning: it just might mess up your agenda!