It Starts Here

November is here! It’s a month that has become synonymous with the attitude of giving thanks. In a world where too often we hear complaints more than we hear admonition, having weeks of listening to people talk about being thankful is like a breath of fresh air! Yet, as Christians, a lifestyle of thankfulness should be a goal we are actively pursuing.


In Thessalonians 5:18, Paul admonishes us to live a life of giving thanks. As we read the passages connected to the well known verse, we see that he also is painting a picture of a life that walks in both joy and thanksgiving.


“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (v16-18)


This passage was written by a man who was beaten often and faced jail time repeatedly. But he still says, “Rejoice, pray and give thanks!” How can that be? He had found the key in his relationship with Jesus.
Imagine a person that is always rejoicing. Or that person who spends so much time in prayer that as they just walk in a room peace follows. It often is easier for those who are happy to show a heart of thanksgiving. And when you find a person who make prayer a part of their daily focus, you also find a person that walks in more peace and joy. It all ties together to complete an attitude of being grateful.


Last night I sat at a table with a family who had just walked through a devastating trial this weekend. Fighting back tears, the husband opened up with thankfulness of how God has carried them and has taught them so much about the body of Christ through this hurt. What is their key? They leaned on Him. They live a lifestyle of prayer. They chose to not push Him away but allow Him to hold them. Are they walking through some of the “why?” questions right now? Yes. Daily. It is literally one foot in front of the other, slowly, to get through each day. But they still are thankful for His amazing love. As we sat there surrounded by cousins, laughter was abundant in the midst of pain. It reminded me of Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart does good like a medicine.” That’s the beginning of thankfulness.


Like both this family and Paul, we are not promised a rosy path in this life. But as we choose time with Him over all other life events, we find a thankful heart for His promise to carry us through. That’s where it all starts….time with our Father.


Let’s start this thankful month with Him and watch joy and peace follow. He is worth it!

Childhood Reboot

“If I could only go back…..” How often have we heard this phrase spoken by someone who want a reboot?Yet none of us can actually move back the hands on the clock of time to an earlier moment of life. So why does God continue to encourage us to do just that?

In Genesis 35, God tells Jacob to go back to Bethel. Throughout Exodus and even into the New Testament, the Israelites are reminded of where they came from. What is so important about the past? It’s the experience. The past represents encounters we have with our Maker. God wanted Jacob to get back to when he had heard God’s voice. A time to remember the covenant he had made with God. To get back to what had been seeded into him years before.

Recently, God gave me a vivid dream. It was as if He culminated my church experience into one event. The buildings were a combination of the ones I had attended during childhood and people were from every season of my life. All around me, leaders and people were pushing their desires and way of ‘doing church’. It finally built up to where I had enough and passionately stopped it all. I took one person with me and, with tears and much passion, led him to the old church building. Passionately, through streaming tears, I voiced, “You want to draw people in, get back here. To the altar! I never needed any of the other things being talked about because the power that was here made me excited to attend church!” I awoke from the dream and was still feeling the heart of God crying out to His people, “Return to your passion for Me!”

My favorite memories of church was what happened at the altar. From our senior women dancing in the spirit up front to the people whose lives where changed as they prayed through. I can still see the night as an 8 year old when I received the baptism of the Spirit. I see the altar in the small white country church, us kids and youth kneeling in prayer with the adults around us. My life was forever changed. Communion as a family around the altar. Everything of value happened around that altar. And I know from my dream that God is crying out, “Get back to My altar!”

The words I heard from a local pastor a few weeks ago still is reverberating in my spirit. “God never visits an empty altar. You want the fire of God? Live at the altar.” (Lee Shipp) Think about it! Throughout scripture we see God visiting the altar. We see His purifying fire on the altar.

God Himself is the one who ordained the altar in the tabernacle. Moses understood the significance. David yearned for time at the altar and was called “a man after God’s own heart.” Yet today we heard people in and out of our buildings by groups. We offer people to pray where they are and then send a text to receive follow up. But what about leading a people to that altar of incense. Yes. It can happen at home. But for a people who have never experienced that amazing, heart changing encounter of altar time, who will lead them?

I am so thankful for my dad, and pastor, who taught me the importance of time spent at the altar. It’s time for a reboot in our spirit! It is time to go back to that ‘Bethel’ moment in our lives. Clear away the schisms and seek His face! To cry out saying, “Your face, Lord, I will seek!”

Where did He first change your heart? Have you drifted from that intimate time with Him and been distracted by life’s events? Let’s reboot today!

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!

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!

Treasure the Gift

I still remember the first Christmas spent around my mother-in-law. The joy of celebrating the birth of her Savior was contagious. One thing that stood out to me was the fact that she did not rush to take down the decorations or tree. She savored every aspect of celebrating Christ’s birth and was in no rush to put away it’s representation. She taught me to relish the season longer.

Often the gifts given at Christmas represent sacrifice in one form or another. The hours spent earning money to purchase gifts. The time to shop and wrap. Time to travel. Planning. Cooking. It all represents something we choose to give. We choose to give to others because we want them to know our love for them and to know they are special in our lives. But too often we watch others tear into a package, smile at what is inside, thank the giver, then toss the gift aside to rush to their next wrapped treasure. The sacrifice of the giver is at most a fleeting thought. And the giver is often left wondering why they went to such great efforts.

Are we guilty of the same actions with our heavenly Gift? We enjoy our nativities and Christmas plays. The Carol’s are sung and family surrounds us. But come December 26th we are ready to move on to the next holiday celebration and pack up the meaning of the nativity with each painted figurine and place the box on the shelf. And state that we had a good Christmas.

A good Christmas. What is that really? Hopefully it is the fact of grasping the truth that it is not about trees and lights, presents or candles. It’s about a Gift of love that remains past tossed wrappings and precious memories. It lasts eternal.

Treasure the gift! Let it continue to wrap it’s warmth around you and carry you into this next year. It’s value is eternal.

A Swaddled Gift

“And this will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

Such a familiar passage. And yet it actually speaks a different language. It was a language the shepherds understood. And the angles knew the shepherds could recognize the deeper meaning when they heard of Jesus’ birth that night. The message spoke of things both present and future. And as we so often find in Scripture, there was much more significant meaning to those words than most of us in our modern, western world understand. So let’s break it down.

Location of Christ’s birth was Bethlehem. The hills around Bethlehem were home to thousands of lambs. These were not just any lambs. Hundreds of these lambs were used for the daily and annual sacrifices. With two lambs per day in the span of one year, Bethlehem probably saw the birth of over 770 sacrificial lambs, plus hundreds more for Passover and other feasts. In that day, when someone said, “Bethlehem,” the person hearing this heard, “sacrificial lambs.” Knowing that King David was from Bethlehem, we understand that this would have been the same area he would have raised sheep.

Watching over the flocks in Bethlehem were not just any shepherds. In order for a lamb to be deemed as a sacrificial lamb, the shepherds had to be trained for this holy act. These shepherds were priests who probably had these duties designated to them from their youth. They understood the instructions given in the law of Moses about the qualifications of lambs offered on the altar. And it was their responsibility to daily keep watch over these flocks. During lambing season, these priests took the sheep to this manger which was called Migdal Edar, or “watch tower of the flock.” Micah foretold that the daughter of Zion would see the Messiah come from Migdal Edar. (Micah 4:8) This watch tower was the station where shepherds brought the flocks designated for Temple worship.

Swaddled. Christ was swaddled. But what was so important about swaddling that the angels gave this detail to the shepherds? Again, it was their language. Swaddling was a practice they used for preparing the sacrificial lambs. At birth, two lambs were placed in a double-hewn depression of a limestone rock known as a manger…. in Bethlehem….at the tower. Here they wrapped swaddling cloths around the lambs to prevent them from thrashing around in order to keep them from ‘spot or wrinkle.’ When the angels spoke the words, “swaddling cloths, lying in a manger,” those shepherd priests knew that a baby was just born in the birthplace of sacrificial lambs and was wrapped up as a sign of having no spot or wrinkle – prepared to give His life in sacrifice for all.

In my mind’s eye, I see each strip representing a piece of the entire story. It all tied in that night with His death, His resurrection, our life in Him, and His coming return! How like our God, the very Artistic Creator, to use common, every day imagery to paint a brilliant story that is woven with so much love!

It was all there that night. Both the present and the future. The present events were very real. A woman travailed in pain to bring forth a baby. And a baby was swaddled to become the future sacrifice. It was God’s gift of love given to us that day, wrapped in torn strips of cloth, held tenderly by a young woman who would one day shed tears on a hill of death. This place where shepherds raised lambs, The Shepherd of our souls was born. It was all very present that night. And it is still present today. No matter where we are today, His swaddled gift of love still speaks of future hope. And it is still wrapped in love for all who hear the message and go seek for this gift.

Let’s do that today! Embrace His wrapped up gift of love!

It really is such JOY!

Never Alone

Many times in life we feel alone. Whether we are just dealing with our own emotions or if the truth is we are in a desert place in life, it has left us needing a voice of encouragement. When we find ourselves in need of that person in the flesh to help us think things through clearly but we have no one at our side, we still have One constant in life. Our Father. 

Moses was on the backside of a desert when God called him. He gave his reasons why it was impossible to obey. But God reassured him.

Ex 4:12 “Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.”

Mentoring is about being there for each other. It’s teaching life lessons one on one and walking the visions out together. But when life’s road takes a different path than what out thoughts had painted in our minds, there is still that Mentor of our souls who is with us. He will teach us. Sometimes His teaching will come from our time spent with Him. Other times He will place in front of us tools for us to learn from. There have been many times in life where I was unsure how to accomplish a task before me. But then I saw someone else doing the same thing and I watched from a distance, took notes, and asked my heavenly Mentor how to adapt those tools for my personal task at hand.

We are to be walking in this life together. We should be actively involved in mentoring. But more importantly, we should always remember Who is to be our most important mentor of our hearts and souls. Our Father. Abba. God with us! Always our constant voice of encouragement. Take time to listen for Him today.