Jeffrey and I wrote this Christmas devotional book together and called it “The Sounds of Christmas.” It is a beautiful hardbound book that has 25 stories and meditations themed around 25 different Christmas songs that ring forth the joy of our Savior’s birth.
This is perfect personal devotional or a family devotional. Isn’t it time to start a new Christmas family tradition?
Bring the “sounds of Christmas” to life with this wonderful book. It makes a great gift that is both personal and affordable at only $7.99!
My life is busy!! My brain is full and to be honest— I’m easily distracted!! Is anyone else like that?
So— I have learned to use lists! If I go shopping or have a busy day planned…I make a list. When I have an upcoming birthday or at Christmas time I make a list! WhenI pack a ministry trip or vacation—yep, I make lists to keep me on track and so that I don’t miss something important. When we moved cross country in January…A LONG CHECK LIST WAS ESSENTIAL!
What about with prayer? Yes— I make prayer lists!! Not for every prayer time since I like to live a lifestyle of continuous prayer. But for my focused daily prayer time I have a list. My list includes prayer points that I bring before the “Throne of Grace” and as I bring each point before our Lord, I then wait for His Spirit to lead me in His intercession for that person or subject. It is not dry or legalistic but rather it keeps me focused and at the same time leaves room to be led by the Spirit to go deeper and spend more time on what He reveals needs more attention.
My prayer list is also an ongoing testimony book of answers! I always leave space to add notes and the testimonies of answers to those prayers. It becomes the spirit of prophesy to the prayers yet to be answered.
For instance— I pray for all of our ministry supporters each day. As I mention them by name, I wait and I am sensitive to the Spirit giving me insight and His heart to press in deeper day by day for specific ones. I do the same thing with our children. I bring each one before Him and wait…always asking Holy Spirit to lead me and pray through me for what He knows they need; not just what I want for them.
Usually my list includes prayers for our nations leaders, our local church leaders, our city and nation. Again, as I bring these before His throne of grace— I pause and listen for His voice and to feel His heart. Some days it’s merely mentioning these things and other days it become deep intercession. He leads— I follow!
I also pray His Word. Praying aloud the scriptures over your loved ones, leaders and nation will never come back void! For instance, yesterday I had Ephesians 3:17-19 on my heart. It reads,
“I ask that out of the riches of His glory He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Then you, being rooted and grounded in love, will have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
I began to pray these verses aloud over my children, my husband, our ministry supporters, our leaders and our nation. That they (we) would be rooted and grounded in love and the knowledge and fullness of God. His Word is always better than my words!
Far too often the church will view anything planned as “religious or legalistic.” That is not true! We can make lists and still yield and submit to the leading and flow of His Spirit. Often the church is not getting things accomplished due to distraction and the desire to be freely led— but think of how much is accomplished when you do both. You make a plan and you yield to the Lord directing and establishing your steps— even in prayer.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD directs and establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
So—as the Christmas song goes, “He’s making a list, checking it twice…” During this time of heightened distraction in the spiritual atmosphere it might be good to make a list! Then bring your prayer points before the throne of grace and where Jesus will meet with you.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16
WE ARE NOT 25 ANYMORE!! As much as we feel young…the reality is that we must embrace all the beauty (grey hairs & wrinkles) that comes with “age.” Wisdom gained is one great reward of living through many stages of life. Time has been a patient teacher to train us how to live, how to embrace dependency in all of God’s ways and how peace leads us into joy.
One of the greatest rewards of aging is watching the fruitfulness in our “now grown” children’s lives. It is like watching the best home movie ever! Our youngest is about to be married in August and for the first time ever- we have an empty nest (which is both heart wrenching and beautiful). Watching and walking alongside of our children’s struggles and triumphs is such an honor. Seeing them blossoming into all that God created them to be takes our breath away and causes us to declare, “It’s all been worth it!” That being said, we do have one prodigal that we will never stop fighting for…we believe and declare her identity in Christ every day; expectantly awaiting this prodigal to run home to her Father one day very soon. We wait in peace and joy…because He is faithful. If you have a prodigal then praise over them! Declare the goodness of God over them and wait in joyful expectation until you see them run home.
In June I turn 56…how? Yet, I can say that it’s been a life well-lived and still, there is so much more to live and so many more to love. This past week marked 37 years since my 25 year old boyfriend asked me to marry him and I said yes. We had so many big dreams and yet so little understanding of the mountains and valleys that we’d have to walk through to see those dreams come to pass. And, of course…those 25 year old dreams didn’t include the struggles or waiting that would be required to see them come to fruition. But it was in the struggles that character, integrity, perseverance and faith was built in our lives. God has truly exceeded our dreams in every way. We’ve only just begun! You have only just begun!
Whether you are old or young–DREAM BIG! I’d rather reach high and come up short then reach low and see nothing! I’d rather try and fail then never risk and never learn. Yes, there have been shortcomings and failed attempts but there has been great victories and flags of victory planted on the tops of mountains that were conquered! We have had seasons of tears but reaped a harvest of joy at the end of each one. Our tears watered the seeds planted in our hearts.
So…no, we are not 25 anymore. Our memories and stamina isn’t what they once were but He has renewed our strength and so we continue to run! Our independent ways have turned into absolute dependency and surrender. Our love has grown from a fluttering butterfly into a eagle that is full of strength and undivided focus! Wisdom has crowned us with grace and peace has wrapped us in a robe of rest.
Wherever you are in life, be sure to embrace the journey. Scale high mountains and then plant flags of victory when you reach the top. Walk through valleys of tears and let them water the seeds of the dreams that God has planted within you. Find water in desert seasons and miracles in impossible situations.
Let every season yield a harvest of fruit and wheat. Holy Spirit descend upon us through every year and every season so that we have no regrets but the testimony of Jesus is written upon our lives!
Once again I want to extend a huge “Thank You” to my readers who have stood with us in prayer and financial support during this time! No words can properly express our gratitude. We are praying for you and your families daily.
Every morning when I wake up my amazing husband brings me a latte while I’m still in bed and for the next hour I sit with Jesus— worship music awakens my soul, His presence becomes my sunrise and peace prepares my heart to “be still and know that He is God!”
My routine was changed a bit today when I answered a text and my eyes were drawn to a notification on my phone from a page called, “View from my window.” It’s a FB page that has almost 2M followers that is dedicated to this quarantine time. People from all across the world send in photos of the view from their windows at home. I began to look at the photos from people’s homes and was captured by the beauty of creation! I was so drawn into each unique setting— both the ones with profound views of mountain peaks as well as the ones with simple views of a swing set that their children play on. They spoke of such personal beauty and the stories of the lives that look out upon these scenes.
I began to be overcome by His love for each life and each family that these “window views” represented. He see such beauty in each one. Like an adoring Father, He sees the beauty that the rest of the world may just walk by and miss. He sees through the windows of their souls and knows each one so intimately— even if they’ve forgotten Him. Their beauty–and your beauty–takes His breath away! The view of you is His favorite thing to look upon! You ravish Him!
Here in Virginia we’ve been blessed with such a beautiful spring! Most days have been sunny and have provided breathtaking sunsets that keep this quarantine time kissed by beauty. But yesterday grey skies rolled in and I had one of those day where my whole focus had to be on “business” work— which always drains me. As I began to feel the depletion of joy (because I need daily visual and spiritual beauty), I heard the Spirit whisper to me, “Just stop for an hour and come see Me.”
I set my laptop aside, my phone aside and my work aside. Then I closed my eyes to “behold His beauty.” Time with Him is like a stroll through a garden of fragrant beauty— flowers, spices, light, color and intimacy.
“My lover has gone down to his garden, to his spice beds, to browse in the gardens and gather the lilies. I am my lover’s, and my lover is mine. He browses among the lilies.” Song of Songs 6:2-3
I want to encourage each of you to not get stuck in the mundane! Yes— here in quarantine there is still work to be done, children to be raised, meals to be prepared, messed to be cleaned and problems to be solved. But do not forsake time that is set aside to behold beauty; behold His beauty and behold the beauty that surrounds you. Search for Him and search for places that refresh and restore your soul. Go find a simple flower and gaze at it until you see His face appear in creation.
As a child, before I knew the Lord, I was growing up in one of the most beautiful settings in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. My family was often in chaos and turmoil but I remember that in the midst of an overwhelming atmosphere I would often walk outside and lay on our grass under the towering pine trees and just look up at the vibrant blue sky and breathe in the mountain air— it would reset me and enable me to go on. I didn’t realize that it was God who had set me in a “cathedral of His creation” that I could escape to and be restored. What a gift.
Today my family lives on what was once a Civil War battlefield in Virginia. Sometimes when I walk the battlefield trail I think about those that were there experiencing such despair in the midst of so much natural beauty. I wonder if at times they stopped and looked up at the very trees that I am gazing upon and found a moment of beauty that reminded them that there was something more?
I don’t know what you are facing in the midst of this time of a global crisis but whatever it is— be sure to stop and find beauty. I remind myself each day that the sun still rises and sets with all of its brilliance, the wind still blows through the tall grasses causing it to dance, the waves still crash upon the shores, the birds still sing the songs of creation and the colors still reveal the vibrancy of a beautiful Creator. Find His face, His beauty and His garden. Go taste and see— it is His banqueting table set before you; even in the midst of your enemies.
Beauty waits to have you come behold it.
Thank you to all of my readers who have prayed for us and supported us through financial gifts through this time! You are beautiful!
As I was reading through Job 5, I felt the Lord ask me to rewrite it to make it into a personal declaration prayer for you to declare over your lives and your homes today. His Word does not return “empty or void” but accomplished all that He desires (Isaiah 55:11).
“God, I present my case to you.
You do great things too marvelous to understand. You perform countless miracles. You give rain for the earth and water for the fields.
You give prosperity to the poor and protect those who suffer. You frustrates the plans of schemers so the work of their hands will not succeed. You trap the wise in their own cleverness so their cunning schemes are thwarted. They will find it is dark in the daytime, and they will grope at noon as if it were night.
You rescue the poor from the cutting words of the strong, and rescue them from the clutches of the powerful. And so at last the poor have hope, and the snapping jaws of the wicked are shut.
You will save us from death in time of famine, from the power of the sword in time of war. We will be safe from slander and have no fear when destruction comes. We will laugh at destruction and famine; wild animals will not terrify us. We will be at peace with the stones of the field, and its wild animals will be at peace with us.
We will know that our homes are safe. When we survey our possessions, nothing will be missing.
We will have many children; our descendants will be as plentiful as grass!
We will go to the grave at a ripe old age, like a sheaf of grain harvested at the proper time!” Job 5:8-26 NLT
He is faithful and true and His Word goes forth with power and authority. Let hope arise and confidence in God give your inner man strength!
We are declaring these words over you as well as over our home and our family— you are our family!
Many of us have this verse highlighted in our Bibles, hung on the walls in our homes and written in our journals— but do we live it?
It is interesting to me that God began speaking to me right before the outbreak of this virus (or at least it coming upon the shores of our nation) that He was going to rightly align “beliefs and actions.” He began to show me areas of my life where I believe one of His truths (even have a strong conviction in that belief) but my actions have not aligned with it. Therefore, in that area I live in conflict with my own beliefs and in contradiction to my own convictions. God began to help me “take inventory” of the areas where these contradictions exist.
I understand that Psalm 46:10 is more of a “stillness from worry/anxiety (striving)” and an invitation into trust but how much of our busyness and restlessness comes from avoiding stopping? If we stop it causes us to look and see what is behind the veil of all our activity. When we can do nothing (physically or naturally) to resolve a situation we must come face to face with the truth of this verse and enter into the invitation to be still and watch Him move.
For the past year I’ve been hearing so many talking about the theme of a “Sabbath Rest” for God’s people. God has been speaking it to me as well. In the Jewish culture the Sabbath is set aside from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday evening. It is a time to focus attention on God and to abstain from work.
Is God using this quarantine and closures of airlines, public places and even group gatherings as an invitation into a Sabbath rest? Though Sabbath is only a day this call to a “Sabbath rest” may take a bit longer. But we can press in to it and see what the enemy has meant for evil become a spiritual reset into fully apprehending a stillness in our souls where we “cease striving and know that He is God”; even when the entire world is in crisis.
We may be in a spiritual Friday evening sunset where we take the time to allow God to align our beliefs and our action. It may be a time to allow God to wash our “garments” and it may be a time to return to first love.
In our 36 years of marriage, my husband and I find it very crucial to occasionally just stop everything and take a day or two away together. It is usually to the ocean where we can sit together and watch the sunset and rise with just the two of us. It is in those times that we rest, reset and stop long enough to recognize the areas that activity and busyness have been veiling. We get to go behind the veil of our ministry and parenting and working to see “us.” We see how we are actually doing as a couple and were our love is— and it gives us an opportunity to rekindle first love.
Though I do not know how long this “shut in” will last, I do want to take this opportunity to “be still.” By nature I am restless and my mind is constantly active with ideas and spiritual things; but I must learn to have a Sabbath rest. God took one and yet rarely do His people (especially since Sundays are often one of our busiest days!). Even on our days off we make plans of how to fill it with activities for getting things done that have been unattended to our or having fun as a family. Though these things are important— where is our actual Sabbath rest where we focus on God and abstain from work?
Yes, need to be praying during this time and we need to be His hands and feet to a hurting and fearful world during these hours, but we need to understand the times and seasons and this may be a call to a Sabbath rest.
Let’s discern well and respond well. What if our greatest form of intercession is the postures of, “Cease striving know that He is God?”
It may shift the atmosphere! The enemy seeks to wear out the saints of God and yet God calls us into rest. As we refocus and reset our affection upon Him we let the battle belong to Him.
I submit to you this word; this invitation to be still. Turn your gaze toward God and stop your works. Take a Sabbath rest. It may be dark but that is because the Sabbath begins at sundown. The dawn will awaken and we will spend a day resting in Him.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Please consider giving a financial gift at this time when many are “withholding” due to fear. We want to continue to be an encouragement to many during this critical hour. To give— go to: https://www.inscribeministries.com/
There is so much fear right now and for the first time in my lifetime— it’s global! But rather than focusing on whether the fear and reactions to those fears are warranted or not, let’s respond to the reality that much of the world has become very afraid. There are those who feel alone and there are those who have real health issues or children (loved ones) that are vulnerable to illnesses– they feel afraid! There are people out there who have experienced traumas that have left them more susceptible to gripping fear and those who have never been shown true love. It really doesn’t matter what our opinions are regarding the source of the fear– what matters is our response as those who are to carry the love of Jesus to the world.
Right now a lot of people who are in fear are watching social media but will they merely see the body of Christ making light or even “mocking” their fear. Again, it doesn’t matter what your opinion is but what does matter is that the fear that many are experiencing is real and is paralyzing. So let’s be light, be hope, be compassion— be Jesus to them!
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
I’d like to draw your attention to the second half of this verse, “…but a spirit of power, love and of a sound mind.” I believe it’s time to arise during this time that so many have come under a spirit of fear and release the power of love and use the “sound mind” given to us to minister peace and hope in a world that is gripped with fear.
I saw a post today where someone was offering to go to the store or bring food or visit those who feel that they cannot leave their home (do to fear or who are elderly or fighting flu symptoms, etc.). What a great response!
What if part of the great harvest begins with His people loving a world that has been infected; not only by a virus but by a true spirit of fear? What if we respectfully offer to sit with them (even with a mask on if that is what helps them). What if we offer to run an errand or bring a meal or pray for them?
Or; even if all you can do is post words of love, peace, hope and encouragement on social media or through a personal email— let’s do that!
We can be Jesus in this and release a pandemic of love. Maybe if the churches have to close their doors then instead of being behind the doors of the church this Sunday we begin to visit the places that fear has been visiting? Why should fear get to have the last word when love can be offered like a cup of cool water on a scorching day?
We can joke about toilet paper shortages but let’s not mock those that are truly afraid. This is an opportunity to show love; what does love look like?
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
It does not dishonor. We need to walk and present a love that honors. Be sure that both in person and on social media that we are not dishonoring of those who are fearful. I read a post from a lady who lives nearby to our city saying that she wore a mask and gloves to the grocery store yesterday and people were mocking her, making comments about over-reacting and shaking their heads at her. Well, what people didn’t know is that she has a seriously ill child at home who’s immune system is highly compromised and she has to be extraordinarily careful to not bring home any virus! Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if someone had walked up to her and offered to pray for her or help carry her groceries? If just one person had stopped to offer love they would have seen seen the tears behind her mask.
We have an incredible opportunity to love right now. Let’s stop completely focusing on what the enemy is doing and ask Jesus what He would do. Of course we need to pray and take spiritual authority over sickness and fear but we also need to be the love of God to those in need at this time. Let’s band together as churches, as caring human beings, as communities, as Christians and ask Him what we can do and then go do it!
Fear may be an open door for love to come in! Go—>
When you stand in the direct sun on a clear day it will cast your shadow onto the ground with vivid and vast definition. Why? Because you are blocking the sun that is shining directly upon you. Yet, on a cloudy or stormy day, you rarely see your own shadow as there is no sun for you to block.
Sometimes in a “stormy season” of life I find that I actually see the shadow of His wing covering me more than on the clear days that are absent of storms. When I am in full dependency because circumstances are beyond my control I become so aware that I am being kept and covered by my Heavenly Father’s love and protection. Yet, occasionally on clear days (days absent of great need) I will find myself beginning to walk in “my own shadow” and begin to venture outside the shadow of abiding in Him.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalms 91:1
There is something that is within human nature (or sin nature) that is prone to wander, to go our own way, to be independent, to give into the desires of the flesh. Yes, even within Christians! Though we learn through experience and spiritual maturity not to give into these temptations; still they call to us and there are still times that we give in.
For me, those times come most often when my life is “carefree” and the sun is shining— when all my skies are clear. I think that it’s just that when we don’t “feel” the urgent need for dependency or divine intervention we can begin to dwell in our own shadow. I don’t actually believe that I can ever truly leave the shadow of His wing, because I am His daughter, but my focus can leave the place of abiding and I can begin to focus on my own shadow (which is just “me”).
I remember a season in my life many years ago that was months of “clear skies!” Spiritual and circumstantial summer had come. Our family was thriving, relationships were thriving, finances were thriving, our ministry was thriving, business was thriving, and even my physical being was thriving. What a glorious beginning to that summer season it was! I woke up rejoicing and went to bed rejoicing. But as that season moved from days to months I began to unconsciously abide in and “glory in” the freedom from storms more than in the rest of the Almighty. I found myself beginning to follow my own shadow rather than abiding in His. It all looked spiritual and good but I had begun to venture out of abiding in His shadow and into enjoying the shade of my own shadow because the sun was shining so brightly in my life. Toward the end of that season (which was to be a gift from God) I found myself feeling disoriented, disconnected from God, careless in my decisions and utterly aware of the faults within the lines of my shadow. My security and rest had shifted from Him to striving to seize the days of “more than enough” (as I knew that like every season, this one would be limited in its duration).
That time in my life was a wonderful lesson on how to remember to remain (abide) and rest in His shelter rather than find my security in the “lack of storms.” I think that there is such an emphasis on circumstantial “breakthrough” in the lives of believers that we forget that He is our breakthrough! He is our dwelling place, our hope, our warmth, our light, our portion, our refuge, our abiding place and our rest. This must be established in every season.
People often focus on achieving breakthrough from adverse circumstances, but we don’t prepare to live in it when it arrives. The poverty spirit can live in prosperity as much as it can in scarcity, but it manifests as greed and independence. We know how to live in need but do we know how to live in abundance? Wealth and riches can be a far greater burden than poverty because a greater responsibility and accountability is required. I believe that God wants to entrust His people with abundance but we must be prepared to remain in Him (fully dependent, sober, humble, at rest and prayerful) or our breakthrough can become our breaking. It’s so easy to find comfort in the fullness of our flesh and soul but our spirits will always long to be satisfied with Christ alone. We must remain living out of our spirits and to train our flesh and soul to find fulfillment in God.
Let us be a people who can live abundantly in every circumstance because we live in the never-changing fullness of our Savior. We live in the constant breakthrough of His love, His grace, and His victory. We live in the shadow of His wing which gives us rest.
He is breaking us out of the mindsets of “feast or famine,” because it is there that we splurge or starve rather than abide and thrive in the constant abundance of a never changing God whose promises are true and kept in every season and every circumstance.
One last thought; when the sun is in front of me, my shadow is behind me but when the sun is behind me my shadow goes before me. Let us keep the Son in front of us and not behind us!
In every season, sunshine or storm, let us say,
“I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”” Psalms 91:2
If these articles and encouragementhave been ablessing in your life, will you consider sowing into this ministry with a financial gift? To give a gift go to: https://www.inscribeministries.com/
As you know we made a cross country move in early January to relocate our home and ministry from Oregon to the Washington DC region (specifically Fredericksburg, Virginia). When the Lord asked us to make this move it was an impossible request in the natural. But when God’s people say, “Yes!” it releases the fullness of His faithfulness and makes the impossible possible. We watched countless miracles happen in such a short period of time.
As soon as we unpacked our new home we were right back in the air traveling for an extended period of time. We hosted a gathering of leaders from the Pacific Northwest of the USA and the Pacific Northwest of Canada in Washington State. It was a time of unity and birthing God’s purposes for both nations. Then we returned to Oregon to be a part of a 20 year ministry anniversary and then onto California for the remainder of the trip.
We are now back in Virginia to fulfill all that He has asked us to do for our nation and “the nations.” We will be spending time in Washington DC, partnering with what God is doing on the East Coast and connecting East and West. We will also continue to labor to see unity established in North America as we work with leaders in Canada and the US.
As Spring approaches we will be moving into more travel throughout this region as we connect with what God is desiring to do in our nation. He has also asked us to take on a home that provides a large suite for those coming through the DC area to pray, equip and strategize for this critical year. The upcoming travel season and setting up a suite to host leaders and those passing through has increased our monthly costs greatly. But once again we know that our “yes” is met with His faithfulness.
We want to invite you into our YES!
This is your opportunity to partner with us in 2020 as we partner with God for the sake of our nation and all the nations. In Psalm 2:8 God says these words,
Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.
We have asked Him for nations and for His will to be made manifest in all nations, tongues and tribes. And— in our nation! Will you partner with us to inherit nations and see Jesus’ full inheritance given to Him? It takes a family; working together, investing together and joining together to see the nations saved.
If you would like to partner with us by committing to give a monthly financial gift and committing to pray for us please write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org