Summer Shore

Summer Shore is co-founder of Revive Ministries, a writer, speaker, and co-host of the Experience Revival podcast. She has been an on-air personality in Christian radio for the past 6 years and has been speaking and teaching for 18 years, using humor and real-life experiences to connect with women, speak to their hearts and draw them closer to God. She also enjoys singing and leading worship whenever she can. Summer and her husband, Jake, have been married for almost 20 years and have 3 boys that keep her on her toes! Summer loves spending time traveling and going on adventures with her family, especially if it involves going to her favorite Cuban restaurant. When she’s not on the air or working with Revive, you’ll find her curled up in a fuzzy blanket with a mug of chai tea and, you guessed it, a Hallmark movie. You can connect with her on Instagram @summer_shore.

  • Our Prayer For You

    “So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

    We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”

    Colossians 1:9-14

    Did you know that we pray for you? Every time we sit down to write, we pray that God would use our words, our stories, and above all, His Word to reach right into your situation and show you His love that never, ever fails.

    If we were to sum up all our prayers for you, it would be this prayer from the book of Colossians. It is our heart’s desire that you will grow in your faith, in your purpose and in wisdom and understanding of God and His word.

    We pray that you will hold steadfast to your identity as God’s beloved one, and know without a shadow of a doubt that you are deeply loved. As His child, God has given you the Kingdom of Light. He will strengthen you and empower you so that you can live a life of purpose and love. May the world see Christ’s love through you as you allow God to work in your life.

    All this month we will be focusing on the power of prayer to transform our lives and shape us to be more like Christ. Stay tuned for more devotionals about prayer and what that looks like in real life as daughters of the King. Also, if you feel like your prayer life could use a jump start, we’ll be revisiting a special podcast episode with Revive! Conference speaker Amanda Swick on how to Revive Your Prayer Life.

    Finally, if there is something specific we can be praying about with you, please email us and let us know. We want to link arms and pray for you, friend.

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  • God Is Always At Work

    “MOMMY! I HAD A BAD DREAM!” I could hear my 4 year old calling to me from his room and the fear in his voice was palpable. His little frame was shaking as the scary scenes from his dream were still fresh in his mind. I scooped him up in my arms and stroked his soft curls as I whispered, “It’s ok. Mama’s got you. You’re safe.” I repeated the words until slowly, his little body began to relax and his strained expression faded as a look of peace washed over his face. After a while, I tucked him back into bed with his favorite blanket, and as I began to rise to go back to my own bed, he looked up at me pleadingly and asked if I would stay with him, “just until he falls asleep.” I agreed, and within moments he was sound asleep, without a trace of distress left on his sweet little face, trusting that I was at work, watching over him. 

    Mom or not, we have likely all experienced a scenario similar to this. Perhaps you were the little one, pleading with a parent to watch over you while you slept. Maybe someone close to you just felt safer and more at peace having you there with them. Maybe you long to have that same sense of safety, peace and rest in your own life, knowing that someone is at work watching over you. 

    A couple nights ago before bed, I was feeling especially anxious. I always do my best worrying at night and true to form, as I tried to sleep, one thing after another kept popping up in my mind. 

    “That dental bill was expensive and there’s more work to be done. How much is that going to cost us?”

    “I have so much to do tomorrow. Call the repair guy for the grout, schedule appointments for the kids, plan a birthday party and schedule playdates…oh and I can’t forget to call back my friend that called me over a week ago. I hope she’s not mad at me…”

    “A lot of people are getting sick with this new Delta variant of covid…what if the baby gets sick? What if we all get sick?” 

    “What is school going to look like for the kids this year? Will anything ever feel normal again?”

    “I don’t think I’m spending enough quality time with the kids, I need to find ways for us to get more quality time in.”

    “Man, my hubby and I need a date night without the kids.”

    “I should go check on the baby.”

    And around and around I went. So I started making plans. 

    I lay there wide awake, troubleshooting plans A, B and C, hoping to engineer the best possible outcomes for all the things. In the back of my mind, I knew I trusted that God was working, but because it’s sometimes hard to see exactly how, I came up with plans X, Y and Z, “just in case”. 

    Now I’m not knocking a good plan, I think that’s part of responsible adulting and a normal instinct when things start to stack up and get overwhelming. But in that moment, my planning was a feeble grab for control in a world in which I have very little. It was coming from a place of self-reliance instead of prayerful dependence on God. 

    After a short while, I found myself wishing I could just put everything down and give my brain a rest from its ceaseless planning and fretting. I wanted someone else to stand watch over my fears and anxious thoughts and work through the problems of the world, so I could just close my eyes and sleep peacefully.

    I picked up my Bible. I had been reading the book of John and had just gotten to chapter 5 where Jesus heals a paralyzed man by the pool in Bethesda. The miracle happened on the Sabbath and when the Jewish leaders found out about it and began harassing Jesus for breaking Sabbath rules. Jesus’ reply to them in verse 17 commanded my attention:

    But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” (John 5:17 NLT)

    As I slowly repeated His words in my mind over and over, the weight of their meaning began to sink in and my shoulders began to relax for what felt like the first time all week. In that one sentence from Jesus, I was reminded of two very important things. 

    First, Jesus is stating with authority that He is the Son of God. As the Son of God, Jesus is much better equipped to solve life’s problems than I am. He has an eternal perspective greater than anything I can conceive, and it is His wisdom I should be depending on instead of my own. Through Jesus, I have direct access to the Father, and all the power and resources of a child of God. When I pray I have a personal audience with Him and the very best plans always start in a conversation with God. 

    Second, I was reminded that God is always at work. Not just part-time, not whenever He can get to it or when He remembers. Always! He is constantly at work, healing us, forgiving us and providing for us. He doesn’t phone it in or do anything halfway. He gives us His very best, putting into place detail after loving detail. God never tires or wearies. His strength is boundless and His stamina endless.  

    And because God is always at work, I don’t have to be. 

    My mind doesn’t have to churn out solutions to all of the problems in one night. I can hand God my worries, my stresses and my best laid plans and He will go to work. He will stand watch over my fears and anxious thoughts, so I can just close my eyes and sleep peacefully. I can trust Him to stay with me, and remind me that He’s got me, and that I’m safe. 

    And while I sleep He continues to work. He goes before me and makes plans and provisions. He works powerfully on my behalf, but He doesn’t stop there. Because God can see the bigger picture of all our lives, His plans always bring about the most benefit to the most people. If He works something out in my life, I guarantee that it will bring blessing to others as well. His goodness and love ripple out like waves in the water, touching many hearts and lives all at once. He truly is a good, good Father. 

    Dear friend, if you are like me and struggling with whatever is swirling around in your head today, know that you can set it all into the capable hands of Jesus. If you want, play the song at the link below and imagine Jesus right there beside you, gently whispering words of comfort to you. Picture God wrapping you up in His strong embrace as He lifts the weight of the world off of your shoulders and exchanges it for a peace that passes all understanding. You are safe and you can rest, because God is always working. 

    Cecie’s Lullaby song, by Steffany Gretzinger

    Read the lyrics here

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  • Learning To Trust

    Have you ever had that feeling in life like the bottom is going to drop out? Like if one more thing goes wrong you will just crumple like a pile of yesterday’s laundry?

    Some years ago I had a season like that. Everything seemed to be going wrong. Unexpected job transitions, health problems, super tight finances, and family conflict on top of trying to raise the kiddos, keep our marriage afloat and somehow not lose my mind completely.

    It seemed like life wouldn’t slow down enough for me to catch my breath, let alone gather my strength. When I did catch a moment of peace, I spent it frantically writing lists, trying to plan my next move and anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop. Again.

    On top of that, I wasn’t taking good care of myself. I had completely packed my schedule, so I was always on the go and sometimes double booked myself thinking I could somehow bend time to my will. I wasn’t getting enough sleep and was constantly eating on the way to or from someplace. I found myself needing to drink coffee all day to stay sharp and try to keep all the plates spinning. Then in the evening, I was so tired, wired and anxious that I would find myself turning to a glass of wine to relax and dull the anxiety pains in my chest, hoping that my brain would let me sleep that night.

    I would pray throughout the day, but it was more of a distracted cry to God to help me get from one task to the next. “Lord, give me strength.” I’d mutter under my breath as I refilled my coffee and reviewed my never ending to-do list.

    One day, in the midst of this particularly messy season, I had spent the morning pouring over my planning notebook, venti coffee in hand, stressing and brainstorming how to get through another week. I knew God was just waiting for me to stop and turn to Him and really spend time with Him, but it felt like one more demand on my time that I couldn’t afford. Oh, how the devil loves to make us believe that lie when we are running on empty. The reality was that time with God was the one thing I couldn’t afford to miss!

    But that morning, for some reason I remembered Jesus and how when the crowds were pressing in, and the demands on His time and resources were at a zenith, He often withdrew to lonely places to pray (Luke 5:15-16). Spending time with the Father was how Jesus recharged and realigned His perspective. I knew it was long past time to sit down with God and recharge.

    I put down my planning notebook, picked up my Bible and found Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT):

    Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

    I sat quietly with His words in front of me, took a deep breath and said, “Hey God.”

    My walls were still up, with a fierce independence in my heart. I hadn’t slowed down like this in so long, it was hard to let my guard down. I was fearful that letting Him in meant letting all of my emotions out and I wasn’t sure I could handle that.

    After several minutes of silence, just sitting in His presence, I remembered who I was dealing with. This was the God who has been with me all along. He has pursued me in my darkest moments only to show me love and kindness. His very nature is love. He has set His heart on me, why shouldn’t I lay my whole heart before Him?

    My shoulders started to relax, my breathing slowed down and I began to pour out my heart to Him. I sat on the floor, spilling my guts, and leaned against the edge of my bed as though they were His arms and cried. I told Him all I had been feeling and thinking, all that I needed and hoped for.

    A couple of things happened in that moment, as I began to pour out my heart to the Lord.

    First, my trust in Him was renewed. As I prayed, He reminded me that He was the God of all my moments, the One who has seen me through the best and worst of life. I could come to Him with anything, anytime. He would not only understand, He would hold me up and reign over every detail in my life with attention, love and kindness. He reminded me that He would provide for my every need, physical, spiritual and emotional. He would be my rock and my refuge, my redeemer and the ultimate source of my victory.

    Secondly, my heart began to change. Spending time with God and praying to Him was not just an opportunity to get some things off my chest and make my requests. It was a time to renew my heart and my mind. For Him to show me where I was wrong and where I needed to change.

    In His loving kindness, He brought my sins to light so that I could hand them right back to Him, asking for His forgiveness and for His help. I wanted to live in a right relationship with Him and in the abundance that He calls His children to, regardless of my circumstances.

    That meant I had to trust in Him at all times. Not just when it fit into my schedule and I had the bandwidth for it, or when I had run out of other options. I had to adopt a rhythm of consistent and intentional relationship with Him. No more stubborn self-reliance and winging it on a latte and a prayer. It was time for real help and real transformation. Time to trust the One who could be trusted with everything.

    Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I began to make changes. I started creating margin in my schedule for rest and for God. I sought wise counsel and stopped relying on my own strength and the coping mechanisms of the world. No longer would I be ruled by my to-do lists and calendar. No longer would I be a slave to my stress and anxiety. I would trust God with all of it and allow Him to work in and around me in all situations.

    While all of these changes are good things, they alone didn’t immediately alter my circumstances. The stresses would still be there for a while longer. But because of God, I had changed. My perspective had changed. My trust in God had changed. And in trusting God with my heart, I found peace that passed understanding and a strength that surpassed my own.

    In God’s perfect timing, jobs eventually stabilized, family conflict resolved and relationships healed. Our marriage and kiddos thrived and we never went without anything we truly needed. Even when things worked out differently than we had imagined, God provided for us beyond all we could ask or imagine, and my faith was bolstered once again by God’s faithfulness and love.

    We have all had seasons in life that felt like it brought way more than our fair share of hardship. Those times when we feel all we can do is wave the white flag and cry out to God for rescue. Sometimes there isn’t even anything in your heart that needs to change, you are just weathering what feels like an impossibly difficult season.

    In these times, to hear “Pour out your heart to God and trust in Him at all times” can sound like such a platitude. But the truth is, God is faithful, yesterday, today and tomorrow. He does not fail, He sees us in our mess and is not idle. He works powerfully on behalf of His people and when we remember that we are His children, nothing can shake us! Trusting in Him will never leave us empty handed or unfulfilled. Even if things turn out differently than we imagine, we can be assured that God sees us, hears us and loves us so very much.

    So be still before Him, let your guard down. With God, you are safe. He will never be careless with your heart. You can trust Him to hold you up and sustain you. Let Him lovingly show you if you are relying on anything other than Him to get by. Maybe it’s deep diving on social media or binge watching Netflix to escape. You could be leaning on staying busy (even with good things) to avoid turning to God and trusting in Him. I invite you today, instead, to ask God if there’s anything you need to change, and then step out in faith to ask for help when you need it.

    We aren’t meant to navigate the struggles of life alone, and trusting in God is no different. We can encourage one another with our stories of God’s faithfulness and spur one another on to a deeper faith and trust in God. Chances are there is someone you know right now who is struggling to trust God with something and your story might just be what encourages them!

    We want to be here for you as well. If you could use some prayer, encouragement or just someone to listen, drop us an email or comment and we will pray for you. God can be trusted with whatever you have going on in your life and He is there right beside you. Allow yourself to fall into His loving embrace, knowing that He will never let you down.

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  • Approaching God with Freedom & Confidence

    I cannot wait to see Jesus. Not because I need an escape from the troubles of this life–though I totally get that and have been there before. I just can’t wait to finally see Jesus face to face after all that we’ve been through together. 

    In my mind it plays out like one of those old cheesy movies where two people who haven’t seen each other in ages run in slow-motion toward one another. Tears of joy stream without shame and my face is radiant as I look into the eyes of my Savior that has loved me through it all-the good, the bad and the ugly. I won’t slow down as I get closer, instead I’ll throw myself into the best hug I’ll ever know, wearing the biggest smile I’ll ever smile. 

    It wasn’t always that way though. For a long time, even though I knew God loved me, and knew that He had sacrificed everything for me, I only felt guilty and undeserving of His love and sacrifice. I hadn’t yet experienced the love of Jesus in a way that I felt free to approach Him with confidence. I felt like I was perpetually on shaky ground, with the memory of my most recent screw-up fresh in my mind. I didn’t feel excited to talk to Jesus in my prayer time, let alone see Him face to face.

    I think a lot of us have felt like that, holding our breath each time we stumble and fall, waiting for God’s grace to finally run out. 

    Dear friend, making us second-guess God’s love is one of the devil’s oldest tricks. He will twist our thoughts and parade our failings before us until we shrink away in shame and self-doubt. He’ll tie us up in knots, until we are prisoners of self-loathing. He wants to make us forget who we are, and believe that we’ve wandered beyond God’s reach.

    It’s the biggest lie ever. 

    Eph 1:5-8 reminds us of the truth:

    “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” (NLT)

    God is the God of freedom and grace, not used up chances and unforgiveness. It makes Him happy to bring us to Him through Jesus, and make us part of His family unconditionally, forgiving our sins and lavishing His love upon us.

    Ephesians 3:12 says “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

    Because of this truth, we can run right up to God, heart in hand, and let Him scoop us up into His arms like a beloved daughter. We can be confident when we go to God, not because of our own strength or goodness, but because of Christ’s faithfulness. Not because we are perfect, but because we are forgiven and loved. When we make mistakes, we can go to Him and ask for forgiveness and He gives it tirelessly because He delights in us as His children. 

    So my dear friend, if you have been shying away because of past mistakes, or feeling unconfident in His love, please let these truths settle deep into your heart: 

    You are never too far that He won’t run to meet you in the middle of your mess. 

    He loves you and has planned all along to adopt you as His own. It is His desire and His delight to call you His daughter.

    Because of Jesus, you can throw off the shackles of fear, shame and inadequacy, and live in the freedom that His love provides this very moment. You can come to Him in prayer today without hesitation or doubt, confident in His faithfulness and love. 

    And when the day comes that you see Him face to face, you can run straight toward Him, into the best hug you’ve ever known, with the biggest smile you’ve ever smiled, confident in your identity as a daughter of the King.

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  • Hope Set High

    “Don’t get your hopes set too high.” I can still hear my mom’s voice gently teaching me at a young age how to manage my hopes and expectations. She was great at planning fun things for me and my brother growing up and on several occasions, she told us about fun family outings or vacations ahead of time so we could prepare and share in the excitement as a family. Now, she would only do that if she was 98% sure that things were going to go to plan, but sometimes if she suspected there was even the slightest risk of disappointment, she would remind us “not to get our hopes set too high” until we were 100% sure. It was a way to help us look forward to something, while still being at least a little prepared in case something didn’t work out. As a parent now myself, I see the wisdom in that, since sometimes life gets messy and we can’t always control the outcomes (try as we might). 

    Getting our hopes up is a natural tendency all throughout life. We hope we get what we want for Christmas, we hope that we’ll do well on our final exams in school, we hope for a job that is fulfilling and pays the bills, or to take that dream vacation. Yet as life twists and turns, we learn to manage our expectations and adjust our hopes to match the reality of the possible outcomes. You might not get exactly what you want for Christmas, but it’s the thought that counts. And the job may not be as fulfilling as you had hoped, but it pays most of the bills. 

    You’ve probably heard the expression “Plan for the worst and hope for the best.” I think it perfectly reflects our pragmatic acceptance that life will have its high points and its disappointments, and we will experience both. 

    The risk of this practical outlook is that sometimes we try to manage our expectations of God the same way we do the rest of life. We start to hold back parts of our heart, wary of disappointment. We hesitate to pray expensive prayers and downplay our expectations, just in case things don’t work out the way we imagined or hoped. Without even meaning to, we can end up placing our hope in the outcomes that our limited imaginations can conceive, instead of God himself, who is our ultimate Hope. 

    The thing is, God isn’t “practical” as we understand it. He doesn’t need to plan for the worst possible outcome, He is Lord in every outcome. His view is unlimited, His power unmatched, and His imagination is infinitely better than ours. He will blow our minds with what He can and will do for us. We don’t need to temper our expectations with God–He is able to do immeasurably more than anything we ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20-21) 

    Romans 12:12 encourages us to “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” (NLT)

    Biblical hope is based on God’s unchanging character and unwavering faithfulness to keep His promises. When we remember the true nature of God, His faithfulness, love and power, we experience true hope and can have confidence in it. 

    Remembering who God is also makes it possible to be patient in times of trouble. It allows us to more readily trust that God is working in all things, and that regardless of the circumstances or their outcomes, our hope stands secure. 

    Prayer is the common denominator in both confident hope and patience in times of trouble. Talking to our Heavenly Father bolsters our confidence in Him and broadens our view to see things from His eternal perspective. It allows us to hope as we might never have before–not merely that things will work out just how we imagined, but hope that no matter what, we are safe and secure as in God’s Kingdom. 

    When I first started my career in radio, I felt called by God to step out in faith and apply for a full-time morning show host position. It came down to me and one other candidate and I prayed earnestly that I would get the job. I could envision every detail of what having this job would look like, and was excited and hopeful that it would all work out at least close to how I imagined. Instead, the other candidate was chosen and I was hired for a different position in the marketing department, with the opportunity to do some training to work part-time on the air in a different role. It was not at all what I had envisioned, in fact it felt like a total side-step to what I thought were my goals at the time. But in taking the marketing position, I learned skills and gained invaluable experience that I otherwise would not have. I got to be close friends with my supervisor, a friendship that has blessed me beyond words. And I still got to be on the air part-time which as it turns out, suited my family schedule even better! From my limited perspective, I never could have imagined all the blessings that were waiting for me. All I could do was pray and lean on my hope in God. 

    That is our role in hope, to pray and lean into God. He does all the rest. We don’t have to plot or plan or engineer our fate, we need only to pray hard, and lean on Him. Then, instead of feeling stuck in the waiting, we begin to look for where He is working. We can believe that He is in every detail, working things together for good. Even if an answer to prayer seems long in coming, do not give up hope. God is still there. It is through our times in prayer that we find communion with Him that allows us to see the bigger picture and trust that He will use even the hard times to ultimately bless us and shape us to be more like Him.

    So lean in hard sister, don’t give up hope. Take heart and be confident that God is faithful and keeps His promises. Our Heavenly Father does all things well, so set your hope high on Him, keep on praying, and let God do the rest.

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  • Strength for the Weary

    It’s 10:30 pm and for the first time since sunrise, the house is still, peaceful and quiet. I can feel the muscles in my shoulders slowly start to let go of the stresses of the day as I melt into the corner of the living room sectional couch that fits me like my favorite sweatshirt. The day is done, or at least I’ve done all that I am going to do. Another long day down, with another long day tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. 

    We all experience weariness at some time or another, whether from life’s circumstances, events beyond our control, or just running ourselves ragged. Day-to-day stuff like job demands, kids sports schedules, appointments, and day-to-day responsibilities and obligations can eat up any margin we may have had in our daily routine. Life left to its own devices can exhaust our physical and mental strength and make us feel weary. And it’s all too easy to rely on our own strength and ingenuity when we are working hard to keep all our plates spinning. Even youths (the people we would least suspect of being weary) get tired and weak when they are running on their own strength.

    But in Isaiah 40:29-31, we are given the antidote to weariness…HOPE!

    He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” 

    Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength! Renewing my strength sounds fabulous, but what does it look like to hope in the Lord? In Hebrew, the word for hope is quavah and is defined as the anticipation of a future that is better than the present. Biblical hope is not based on circumstances but on trusting in God’s character. Helping the weary and helpless is part of God’s character!

    In the same way that God was faithful to save the Israelites in the days of Isaiah, He is faithful today to work on our behalf. Hope is being confident, knowing that God’s character does not disappoint and He never abandons us. When we lean in and hope in the Lord, it allows Him to breathe new life into our lungs. His Spirit stirs in our hearts and we can begin to imagine how it just might be possible to have a better day ahead. Even when we are powerless, we miraculously find the strength to stand, and then to step forward by His strength and power!

    We can tap into that power by doing what Jesus did: spending time with God. In His presence, we are renewed, our strength is restored, and we become more and more like Him. In the presence of His Spirit, He brings order to our chaos.

    Spend time with Him, pray to Him, bring your cares and worries and fears. Lay them at His feet and He will give you His perspective and wisdom about what is truly important.

    I can imagine Him whispering in our weakness…

    Your power is limited, but mine is infinite.

    Your perspective is shortsighted, but I can see the whole big picture in one view–have hope!

    Your heart can only take so much, but I am here and can carry it all for you.

    I love you infinitely more than you can fathom.

    You may stumble and fall but I will pick you back up again. Over and over.

    You don’t have to be perfect because I am and my grace/love/favor is enough.

    You don’t have to struggle and strive to engineer your future. I know every step you have taken and will take and I have great plans for you.

    Stop pushing past your limits. You don’t have to manufacture strength, instead draw near to me and my presence will give you strength and peace.

    Spend time with me, learn to recognize my voice and how I move in the world. Get to know me and I can lead you through anything.

    Stick close to me, have hope and together we will SOAR.

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  • God’s Faithfulness in the Unexpected

    “Okay Lord.”

    As life has taken its twists and turns over the years, this phrase has woven its way into my everyday conversation with God, with a wide variety of intonation depending on the situation. Sometimes I’ll proclaim the words confidently in full agreement with where He is leading me next. “Okay Lord!!!”

    Other times there’s a hesitation in my voice, as I strain to see what lies ahead, cautiously inching one toe forward into the unknown. “Okaaay…Lord.”

    Still other times I’m downright bewildered as I am blindsided by an unexpected situation. In the unexpected, it can feel impossible to guess how God is working. While I trust God, my voice still forms the phrase into a question wondering what He is up to. “Okay. {Big sigh} But…Lord?”

    Regardless of the scenario before me, there is one common thing that enables me to say “okay” to my Heavenly Father: His unwavering faithfulness.

    In Scripture and in my own life, I see evidence of His faithfulness everywhere. When I look back over seasons of uncertainty or difficulty or unexpected transition, I can see His fingerprints in every detail, carefully and lovingly guiding me through. It is God’s faithfulness in the past that anchors my faith in the present, and gives me hope for the future.

    This past year, my husband and I found ourselves in the middle of the unexpected. We discovered that we would be adding a third baby to our family, eleven years after our last kiddo had been born!

    I can still remember staring at those two pink lines in total bewilderment. A rush of emotions flooded in. I felt shocked, happy, scared, excited and anxious all at once. Having another baby wasn’t on my radar at all! Our older boys were 11 and 15 and we were loving this stage of life with older kids. This was going to be a huge adjustment!

    My brain went into overdrive grasping for any shred of a plan. We had just bought a bigger house, so we had the room for another baby. My husband had a great teaching job that he loved. Plus, I love being a mama and we always dreamed of three kids, it just had never happened. I felt slightly reassured and so I nervously said, “Okay Lord”.

    With all my emotions still swirling around in my brain, I walked downstairs to tell my husband the news. As soon as I saw him, I knew something was wrong. His shoulders shrugged forward and his head was down and I could see a crease of worry and stress across his forehead. Before I could share my big news, he told me he had just found out he had been laid off from his teaching position because of COVID cutbacks. The great job and a way to pay for our big new house was gone in a flash. My nervous “okay Lord” turned into a stunned silence. This was definitely not our plan.

    I told my husband about our upcoming new addition and we sat together quietly wondering what God might be up to, wishing we could get a sneak peek at how this was all supposed to work out. After what felt like forever sitting there in shock, we started praying about what our new life might look like moving forward, trusting that God indeed had a plan. So, we said, “Okay Lord”.

    I began to do the math on when our bonus baby would arrive. I discovered that my C-section would be scheduled for the same weekend as the Revive! Conference. Revive Ministries is an extension of my own heart and our annual conference was a decades-long dream come to life. Not only was I one of the keynote speakers, but I needed to be there to help as the co-founder of the ministry and co-planner of the event! I had been pouring my heart into my talk for months, excited about the message I felt God had given me to share with the ladies who would attend.

    While I was absolutely thrilled about the baby, I was also heartbroken that I may not get to speak or even be at the conference at all. I desperately tried to make sense of the timing and as the conference got closer, I decided to record my sessions ahead of time, so that I could still speak even if I couldn’t be there in person. I thought I had figured out a way to have my cake and eat it too. After all, God had called me to speak, why wouldn’t He allow me to do this good thing for Him?

    The night before I was scheduled to record my keynote message, I started having contractions. I had been having false contractions for a while, so I didn’t think much of it since we were still a couple weeks out. As we headed to the hospital for a checkup, I told our oldest son that we’d probably be home in an hour. While my husband drove, I was busy mentally rearranging my schedule in case I was going to be late to record later that day. I was not prepared for the nurse to tell me that my water had broken and we were having a baby…like, right now! “Uh, okaaay, Lord?!”

    I couldn’t wait to meet my baby boy, but I also needed those last two weeks! I was still tying up loose ends at work getting ready for maternity leave. I began to realize that I definitely wouldn’t be able to do the conference now, even with all my careful planning. Then, I remembered that the older kids didn’t have anyone coming to stay with them for another 2 weeks! My mind was frantic as I struggled to hold on to the control I foolishly thought I had.

    Usually I pride myself on being able to roll with the punches, but this final huge change of plan left me feeling like I was stuck on a roller coaster, slowly click-clacking up a big hill, just before careening down the other side. It felt scary and precarious, until I remembered the Lord.

    Psalm 145:13-17 says, “The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.”

    As I turned my eyes to the Lord, He helped me to stop striving to control my plans, and helped me submit instead to His. My husband and I prayed and the pieces started to fall into place, because even though we hadn’t planned ahead for an early delivery, the Lord did. The thing I worried about the most was that my doctor wouldn’t be available since we weren’t scheduled to have a baby that day. We had barely said “amen” and the nurse announced that my doctor would be here shortly and just happened to be on shift today. Praise God! My parents went to stay with the kids until another family member could arrive. The delivery went smoothly and a half hour later I was holding our little miracle in my arms.

    When the conference came, I watched it online from home, with my precious baby boy sleeping peacefully by my side. I let the tears fall as I prayed for everyone there, and again surrendered my will to God’s with a quiet whisper, “okay Lord.” I still couldn’t understand why the timing had worked out the way it did and why I didn’t get to be a part of the conference, but I believed that God’s faithfulness was sure, and that I could trust Him.

    My best friend and ministry co-founder, Melissa, spoke in my place at the conference, and within a day, emails started to come in from women who had been impacted by her message. They needed to hear exactly what God had put on her heart to say, in the way that only she could say it. In God’s faithfulness, He had spoken to the hearts of His beloved daughters so they could experience His love and grow in their faith.

    Not only did God provide spiritually, he provided for our physical needs as well. My husband received a call a couple days after we got home from the hospital offering him a long-term sub job that would last the rest of the school year. The job would start a couple of weeks later, just long enough for him to be home with me while I recovered. As amazing as that was, God gave me even more reason to marvel at His goodness.

    At a postpartum appointment with my doctor, I found out that if I had carried the baby until my due date, or even stayed home from the hospital and continued to labor, I would’ve been at risk for some very serious, potentially life-threatening complications that none of us could have known about. But God knew. In His faithfulness, He allowed me to miss the conference, so that I could deliver my baby boy safely and without complication. His total faithfulness in every possible area both humbled me and bolstered my own faith.

    Now when I look at my little one, I can’t imagine life without him. Our family has been blessed beyond what I ever could have dreamed with the addition of Daniel Jacob. In his short two months with us, he has brought more joy and laughter (and maybe a little less sleep 😉) to our lives. The Lord continues to strengthen our relationships with one another as we navigate life together as a family of five. God’s faithfulness transformed our nervous “okay” to a joyful one.

    The only reason I could keep saying “okay Lord” time and time again throughout this whole journey was because I knew without a doubt that God could be trusted to know what lay ahead and believed that He had me firmly in His grasp. I could trust where He was leading, knowing that His faithfulness in the past would see me through anything I might be facing now.

    God is not just faithful in the huge, life-changing details. He is faithful a thousand times a day with the little things too. We can’t always see it in the moment, but God is there. He is working on our behalf, because He loves us so very much. When we hurt, He is faithful to comfort us. When we are discouraged, He is faithful to cheer us. When we pray, He is faithful to listen and meet us in our need. He does what He says He will do. He can’t help it. His goodness and faithfulness are part of His character. You can trust and rely on Him in every way.

    As you finish out your week, look around for ways that He has been faithful, big and small. You might be surprised to see His loving touch in the details of your life too.

    One of my favorite songs, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, has been an anthem of praise when I clearly see God’s faithfulness displayed in my life, as well as a prayer of remembrance & trust when I can’t see Him clearly in my circumstances. These lyrics echo my hearts cry:

    Great is Thy faithfulness!
    Great is Thy faithfulness!
    Morning by morning,
    New mercies I see.
    All I have needed,
    Thy hand has provided.
    Great is Thy faithfulness,
    Lord unto me.

    Wherever you find yourself today, whether singing God’s praise, or praying for Him to reveal His faithfulness to you, I pray that God will meet you right where you are and fill you with a sense of His loving and faithful presence, so you can joyfully say, “Okay Lord!”

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  • You Are a Daughter of The King

    As I hold my sweet, 6 week old baby boy, I can’t help but smile and chuckle at the fact that as a boy-mom (now times three) I am completely outnumbered. The only other female in the house is our diva chihuahua Lucy.  My oldest boys are fifteen and eleven so my house is often home base for noisy hang sessions playing Xbox, making reaction videos on YouTube, and eating tons of pizza. Family movie night usually involves an action/adventure or alien movie, so catching a good rom-com happens on my own time. I absolutely love being a boy-mom and look forward to more noisy days with trains, trucks and Legos with our new baby boy.

    Recently though, I got to babysit my 3 year old niece and she LOVES all the girly princess movies. My time had come. She was getting over a cold, so the prescription for the day was to lay low and watch some princess movies, take a nap–totally my kind of day. As a boy-mom, I’ve never seen Frozen, or Moana or Brave or any of the fun princess movies. She showed me all her favorites while we snuggled on the couch. It was so much fun.

    As we watched and talked about our favorite princesses, I realized they all had something in common. While they were all royalty, they also struggled at times to live fully into their identity as princesses. It felt oddly relatable.

    We are children of God, daughters of the Most High King. 1 John 3:1 says “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”  Romans 8:14-17 tells us that God loves us so much he calls us his children and co-heirs with Christ. We are in a sense, princesses. I’m not talking about Disney princesses (although if I can get woodland critters to clean my house while I sing, I will count it as a total win). But like the Disney princesses, it can be hard to live fully into that identity.

    On my best days, I embrace my calling to live in relationship with my Heavenly Father, the King of Kings. I get lost in His grace and love, and marvel that He chooses me, just as I am. He shapes me to be more like him, to represent Him as a member of His family. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I walk and talk like a Daughter of the King.

    It’s harder to live this out when I am feeling tired, busy, hangry or anxious. When I’m hard-pressed for patience, it’s challenging to walk and talk like a daughter of the King. My husband and kids do not always get my best, in fact on my worst days they get the distracted, distant or short-tempered version of me. If I’m not careful, I’ll begin to operate on my own strength and my own discernment. Then I find that I can’t muster grace when it is needed and I carry myself in a manner that is less than what God has invited me to–because I’m trying to do it all on my own.

    But when I intentionally slow down and spend time with the One who made me, I remember the Princess that I am in Him. I remember that I have access to all the resources and power of the Kingdom of God. He fills my heart with peace and wisdom so that I can discern between what seems urgent and what is truly important. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I can speak life to my family and friends. Not only does my outlook change but even my countenance is lifted. Allowing God’s love to permeate my mind, restores my soul and my true identity in Christ. I can once again see the great love that He lavishes on me as his child. And I believe once again, that is who I am.

    As you go once more into the fray, and the day seems to be running you instead of the other way around, when you find you struggling to lean into your identity as God’s princess, stop and reevaluate. Are you leaning on your own strength and wisdom or on the infinite love and wisdom of the Most High King? Are you tapping into Kingdom resources or operating on your own limited supply?

    Dear friend, slow down and let Him care for you. Spend time with Him in prayer and worship and be reminded of who you are in Him. And when your cup is full, share it with others. Let Jesus be seen in your joy, in how you walk and talk, as a co-heir with Christ and daughter of a King.

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  • You Are Loved

    Do you know and believe that God loves you? It can be a tough question but it’s one that bears answering honestly.

    So many of us are walking around acknowledging in our minds that God loves us, but not fully believing it. We want God to love us, but believing that He already does, is a whole different exercise. Much of believing and experiencing God’s love, is affected by our own limited human perspective.

    “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”

    1 John 4:15-19

    HE. LOVED. US. FIRST.

    Not “we said all the right things, did all the right stuff, used all the right spiritual hashtags on Instagram and volunteered at all the right charity events, and THEN God loved us.”

    Before we did a thing, He loved us first. Breathe that in a sec. Look at Jesus as an example–when He was about to be baptized at the very beginning of His ministry, before he had done any official ministry, God’s voice from heaven claims Jesus as His own and declares that He is pleased with Him. He hasn’t even gotten out of the water, let alone healed anyone, yet God declares that he loves Jesus and is pleased with him, simply because He is His Son.

    And His love for us is no different. We are His children and before we ever do a thing, God loves us first. That is a love we can rely on.

    I love reading the book of John because we see the confidence John had in God’s love. Throughout the gospel of John, he has the audacity to describe himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved”. I must admit that for years I found this off putting because it seemed so bizarre for him to speak about himself in 3rd person. To be honest, it even sounded a bit arrogant to me.

    In reality, John was simply stating that he was God’s beloved. When he talked about himself as the disciple whom God loved, he was carefully choosing words to describe his core identity. His identity was completely founded on His relationship with Jesus. Jesus was the defining relationship in his life.

    Often we flip it don’t we? We describe ourselves not as the disciple whom Jesus loved, but as the disciple who loves Jesus. We strive to earn His love based on how much we love Him. In our striving, we miss the bigger picture. When we focus instead on Jesus’ love for us, it’s no longer all about us but about Him. When we describe ourselves as one loved by God, it is a truth about who we are, defined by God, not by us. We no longer have to prove our love, our value or our worth.

    It gets even better. In an episode of the More To Be podcast, we recently learned something really cool about the phrase “The disciple whom Jesus loved”. Jennifer Dukes Lee tells us in this podcast that the Greek can literally be translated as “the disciple whom Jesus keeps on loving”.

    His love for us isn’t conditional. That’s why John could be so confident and assured of his own identity in Christ. He knew there was nothing He could do to earn Jesus’ love, and yet love was perpetually given. As John spent time with Jesus, he observed and learned that Jesus is love. And that he is one loved by Jesus. Period.

    In just a sweep through the gospels, we can see time and time again how much Jesus loved the people he came to save. Through the story of Mary and her sister Martha as he stood with them in their grief, with the woman with on-going bleeding, who he took the time to heal, even though he was busy, to bring restoration to her physically as well as emotionally. For Mary Magdalene who he came alongside at the grave to call out her name in her grief and give her great purpose. Jesus wasn’t concerned with appearance or what was most efficient, he was concerned about each and every person he encountered. He wanted them to walk away feeling like they were the most precious person in the world and he would do anything for them.

    This verse in Ephesians captures this idea of fully experiencing Christ’s love:

    May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

    Ephesians 3:19

    As I see Jesus interact with women in the Bible, I see Him relating to me as well. Tender, patient, kind and cherishing me not as just a person who is loved, but as one of His beloved. Set apart and precious, worthy and treasured. More than liked or tolerated, but worth dying for. A deeper love than I could ever imagine, just like the Bible says, “too great to understand fully”.

    His love has been made known to me in so many ways. In the lean times, when money was tight and He provided for us, in the times when blessing seemed to overflow beyond anything I could imagine, through the friend who just “had me on her heart” and thought to reach out, only to discover it’s what I desperately needed in that very moment. He has loved me through His Word, singing over me with love.

    You don’t have to wonder everyday, does he still love me? Because the answer is always “Yes!” Before you get out of bed, before you speak a word, He loves you. In every moment, in every circumstance he KEEPS ON LOVING YOU. That is your core identity. That is my identity. We can have total and complete confidence in that.

    Once you truly believe God’s love for you and embrace your identity as the wonderful, beautiful, chosen, daughter of the King whom Jesus died for because of His great love for you, it changes you at your very core. Every other decision, big or little, all our plans, and prayers and dreams all pass through that filter. It changes how we view the world and those around us, and it ripples out into every aspect of our lives.

    Today my dear friend, that is our prayer for you. That you may experience the love of Christ, even though it can feel like a bit of a mystery, so that you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Lean into His love, make your home there and let your identity as His beloved be the source of your joy!

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  • Experiencing Belovedness

    It had been one of those days. You know when you just feel like you can’t do anything right and everyone is mad, or at best, annoyed with you? One of those days when my insecurity seems to have me firmly by the reigns, controlling my every thought and word. The kind of day when tears sting behind my eyes, blinking with sheer will-power not to lose it completely, at least not before lunchtime. “Let me get through half the day without a meltdown, Lord” I silently pray.

    I would love to blame it all on tiredness and hormones, as nursing mama with young baby, but the truth is I woke up not feeling very beloved that day. And it felt like everything around me was confirming that lie. My husband was running late that morning and barely had time to inhale breakfast and head out the door with a distracted goodbye. The kids with whom I had spent at least two hours the night before doing homework with, were cranky and tired and complaining about more school work ahead today.

    As my cheerfulness faded to irritation, and feelings of being unappreciated surfaced, the tension in the room rose. I sulked at my husband and was short with the kids, because honestly, I felt like they were all sucking the joy out of the room. I barely had any reserves and they were zapping the last of them with all their negativity and distractedness. I got the kids out the door and off to school, all of us a little worse for wear, and as I sat in my now quiet car, the nagging sensation of conviction set in.

    In the stillness, I began to reflect over the truth of how the morning had really unfolded, separate from my tiredness and fragile emotions, and began to see things more clearly. When my husband was in a rush and hollered “bye, love you” on his way out the door, he wasn’t loving me less by neglecting to swoop in and embrace me Gone-with-the-Wind-style, he was just running late. When my kids were frustrated about school and homework, they weren’t unappreciative of the help I had given them, they were sharing their real feelings about school and homework being a drag. It had nothing to do with me, but somehow, I internalized everything hard that day. And just like that, the enemy had me right where he wanted me–feeling invisible and doubting my own belovedness, and neglecting the belovedness of those around me.

    When I start to doubt my own belovedness, my focus turns wholly on me. The temptation is great to stay powerless in that place, feeling pitiful and dangerously justified because, yes, families should appreciate and love one another and show it. But they are also human and ultimately not responsible for my happiness, confidence or sense of belovedness. That, my dear friend, is an inside job.

    I drove slowly home and offered a meek prayer to God. “Lord, I feel small and powerless and discouraged. How can I feel “beloved” when it feels like the enemy and the world around me is trying to strip me of my belovedness at every opportunity? I need you to take care of me and remind me that I am loved and cherished and precious. Help the kids have an okay day today, and help this afternoon to go better. Amen”

    It felt like a selfish prayer, with more uttered on my own behalf, than that of the ones I had been cross with that morning. But there it was, simple and honest.

    I got home and opened my Bible app, only half believing that I would stumble across a verse that would lift my spirits a bit. Ephesians 3:19 jumped up and smacked me right between the eyes. 

    May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

    Ephesians 3:19 NLT

    I mouthed the verse softly aloud a few times, thinking about the ways I’ve experienced the love of Christ. His love has been made known to me in so many ways. In the lean times, when money was tight and He provided for us, in the times when blessing seemed to overflow beyond anything I could imagine, through the friend who just “had me on her heart” and thought to reach out, only to discover it’s what I desperately needed in that very moment. He has loved me through His Word, pouring out His words of love.

    As I remembered how Jesus interacted with others in the Bible, I see Him relating to me as well. Tender, patient, kind and cherishing me not as just a person who is loved, but as one of His beloved. Set apart and precious, worthy and treasured. More than liked or tolerated, but worth dying for. A deeper love than I could ever imagine, just like the Bible says, “too great to understand fully”. I was experiencing the love of Christ in that very moment as I reflected on Him, instead of me.

    It was then that I felt my worth return, then that I began to feel truly beloved again, because it is from experiencing the love of Christ that all-sufficient grace flows. It is the place from where I draw my reserves, where I find contentment and peace that passes understanding, and where I find the strength and patience to plod ahead on tough days.

    The love of Christ sustains me when I am weak and restores me when I am weary. And true to God’s promise, it was then that I felt complete and content. Refilled and ready to live in the fullness of life again, instead of the empty place where the enemy would have left me. It was then that the power of the Holy Spirit that comes from God, lifted me out of my funk and set my feet back on solid ground.

    I picked up my kids with a different attitude that afternoon. My circumstances had not changed one bit, but my perspective and the source of my power had shifted dramatically. Instead of feeling small and powerless against my own emotions and the emotions of others, I felt steady and secure. God had reminded me of who I am and that He alone determines my worth and my belovedness. And when I stopped to remember how I have experienced the love of Christ, and who I am because of it, it changed everything.

    We went on to have a lovely day after that and by God’s power, I was able not only to be content in my own belovedness, but I was able to affirm to my family that they are God’s beloved as well. The change in the air was palpable.

    While I have shared about a situation with my family, any of us can find ourselves in the same murky waters in any season or circumstance of life. There are plenty of opportunities out in the great big world that can easily wear on our sense of belovedness. A harsh word from a friend or co-worker, wrestling with loneliness, insecurity or heartache, being overworked and burned out, or just plain waking up on the wrong side of the bed. The devil is always on the lookout for ways to get us stuck feeling less than beloved. But Jesus is ever present, all powerful and faithful to pluck us up out of our despair, and restore us to wholeness in His love.

    Today my dear friend, that is my prayer for you. That you may experience the love of Christ, even though it can feel like a bit of a mystery, so that you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Lean into His love, make your home there and let His joy and peace fill you to overflowing.

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