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.

  • Giving God The Heavy Stuff

    “Ping”. There it is. Another notification, another status update and late breaking news report. With the advent of social media and instant access to what’s happening all around the world, we are flooded daily with knowledge of more information than we are truly capable of processing. Major world-wide events, politics, and local tragedies stream in real time through a tiny hand-held screen. Sometimes for me it feels as though the never ending flood of information is inescapable.

    During the week, I work as an on-air personality, reporting the daily news for a couple of local radio stations. Before I go to bed each night, I brush up on what’s happening out in the great, big world. Then when I wake up in the morning, I check in again to catch any of the late breaking stuff I may have missed while we were sleeping. I’ve rejoiced at seeing God at work in some of the stories I read, of neighbors helping neighbors and churches serving in their communities. The sad reality is that the majority of stories I read in the news are bad. That’s how the news machine works. I have to try to compartmentalize things and stay objective, keeping the negativity and suffering at an arm’s length and focus on the positive when I can. Some days though, a certain headline, or detail of a story will literally bring me to my knees.

    One morning, as I was sitting at my computer, scrolling through the headlines, my eyes fell upon a story of a driveby shooting that injured several local teenagers. The article included an eyewitness account of a local mom who ran to the scene to help. I read her words and how she cared for these wounded kids, praying over them and speaking love and comfort to them in their moment of terror, and I found myself weeping uncontrollably. It was all just too much. I turned off my mic and held my head in my hands and sobbed.

    As the tears rolled down my face, I worried that I might not be able to pull myself together in time for the next broadcast just minutes away. I knew that my shoulders were not broad enough, or strong enough to carry the weight of all the feelings flooding in that morning, and I began to pray. I prayed for the families that lost children that day, I prayed for the mom who stopped to minister to the wounded, for the group of young people who did the shooting, and for my fragile heart that only my Heavenly Father could restore from this overwhelming ache. When I whispered a weak ‘amen’, I breathed deeply and felt at peace. Even though I could not reach directly into these difficult situations in the world, I knew my prayers could. I let God carry the heavy for me, turned my mic back on, and finished the morning news.

    You see, we are not meant to carry this much. Because of technology, we are privy to every tragedy that unfolds in almost every corner of the world. Our news feeds are full of them, stirring in us a sense of helplessness, hopelessness and profound anxiety. As fellow humans, we feel compelled to act, to speak out to do something. But what can we do? We can’t be everywhere at once and even if we could, we have limited resources, strength and wisdom to fix all the things.

    But God can.

    Isaiah 40:12-14 says “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding”

    God is truly Omniscient, knowing every detail of every situation before it even happens. He can see the past, present and future all in one view and knows exactly what to do. He is Omnipresent, able to be everywhere at once, reaching into situations that I cannot. He sees each and every person in their need and is closer to them than the air they breathe. He is Omnipotent, strong enough to carry the heavy. He commands the wind and the waves and will bring justice like a river. He lifts up the weary and gives us His strength, and brings down the oppressors, and one day He will set all things right again.

    I think I sometimes buy into the lie that to be effective in the world, I must be all these things too. All-knowing, all-powerful and everywhere at once. When I find myself overwhelmed by the concerns and weight of the world, and I turn to God in prayer, the pressure fades and I am reminded of the truth. God did not create me to carry the world, He is already doing that.

    God created me with a different task in mind. The truth is, while my influence and power are limited, God’s is not. I saw this best explained by a friend of mine, who shared the idea of 3 concentric circles. It gave me a great visual reminder of what I am called to carry and what must be given to God.

    The center circle represents my circle of influence. Our circle of concern will always be bigger than our circle of influence. But when facing a problem or crisis in the world, it can be helpful to discern where we actually have direct influence.

    For example, I cannot solve the evil that is racism. But I can have influence over my children and in my household. I can teach them that all are created in the image of God, and to see the belovedness and beauty in everyone. I cannot solve hunger around the world by myself, but I can feed my neighbor or volunteer at my local food bank. I can’t stop depression and anxiety for every person that suffers, but I can be intentional about caring for my own mental health, or call and check in on a friend and care for theirs.

    God is glorified in all of these things. He has placed you exactly where you are, in this season, for a reason. He has good works prepared for you (Eph. 2:10)and has given you influence to make a difference.

    Sometimes the big things happening aren’t so far removed. They are happening right under our own roof. Loss and grief, financial stress or difficult relationships. They all have the potential at any moment to feel too heavy to bear. It might seem easy to compartmentalize things we see out in the world, but how do we handle it when it’s right in our own family?

    In Matthew 10:29-31 we find reassurance that no detail, need or concern is beneath God’s notice and care. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

    Dear one, the very same God that can carry the weight of the world, sees you and can carry you too. It may even be that someone else’s circle of influence will overlap into your situation, and they will be bearers of blessing, comfort and relief.

    We can go to God with every concern (1 Peter 5:7). It is in prayer that God meets us where we are, shoulders our burdens and equips us for good work in every season. He is faithful and kind and big enough to handle anything life throws our way. God is the One that gave us hearts that care deeply in the first place. And then He placed us in positions of influence where He can guide us and shape our lives and the lives of others. Sometimes we can’t see it in the moment, but God is working through you right where you are.

    If the world feels like a bit too much to bear right now, take stock of your circles. It’s ok for your heart to break over what breaks the Lord’s heart too. There are real and heavy things happening in the world. But God has already overcome the world! Ask Him to show you what you can and can’t influence, write it down, and then wrap all of it up in prayer. God is all knowing, all powerful and working in every detail. He’s got this, and He’s got you too.

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  • Finding Purpose in the Midst of a Pandemic

    Have you ever watched a movie that is so quotable that it seems like there’s a quip for every situation in life? One of my all time favorite movies is the comedy Legally Blonde. It makes me laugh every time and never gets old. And there is always a quote that I can pull out of it that will apply to almost anything. I mean, who hasn’t done the “Bend & Snap” in a department store dressing room just to be silly? 

    There’s one scene that keeps running through my mind lately, that seems to sum up pandemic life right now. It’s just after the main character, Elle Woods, goes through a bit of a crisis in the form of an unexpected breakup. While Elle sits in an aimless funk, her best friends discuss the sad state in which they find their friend:

    “She had eight grilled cheese sandwiches. She stuffed them in her mouth all at once. It was so sad. We thought she’d be the first to walk down the aisle…and now she’s totally adrift.” To which her other friend agrees, “Totally.”

    Totally adrift. This is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately as we idle in this prolonged state of pandemic-induced isolation. Every day looks like the one before it, starting early with working from home. The rest of the day, despite having a to-do list a mile long, I struggle to get motivated as the demands of household chores and “What’s for dinner?” interrupt any momentum I’ve gained. By the time evening comes, I am exhausted and feel like I have nothing to show for it. It feels like all the things I am passionate about and that fuel my purpose, have been put on hold in this pandemic.

    Maybe you feel like I do, “totally adrift” and struggling to find clear purpose or vision, or to get any traction on your goals. Your job may look different or your role may have shifted. Maybe you aren’t able to volunteer or use your gifts in the ways you once did, like coaching for a sports team or having people over for a home cooked meal. 

    What I am realizing is that our purpose may look totally different than it did before the pandemic. In every situation, God invites us to use our gifts and talents to bless others and to glorify Him. When seasons of life change, our immediate purpose may also change and it can be challenging to discern what that might look like when we are limited by our own perspective. 

    In times like this, it is especially important to see things from an eternal perspective. In order to do that, we must be in communication with God, spending time with Him and listening to the Holy Spirit. When we do, God helps us realign our perspective and vision with His. We begin to understand that He can do wonderful things through us right where we are, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. Who we are, our gifts and talents, may not change dramatically from season to season, but how God uses them can! And it just might blow our minds what He can do.

    In my own times of sitting still with God and listening recently, He reminded me of a few truths that have fortified my relationship with Him and given me a clearer sense of His presence, of my purpose and how I fit into His greater story. Spending time with God and intentionally focusing on the following things became a discipline that helped me regain my bearings and anchor purpose again in Christ. I would pick one thing to focus on for a while, and talk with God about it as we went through our day together. 

    1) Pay Attention. God is Present, God is Working powerfully through this. God is close at hand. Don’t miss it.  (Philippians 2:13)
    It’s easy to slip into autopilot mode, adopting a “hunker down and wait it out” mentality. But if you stay on autopilot too long, you just might miss some of the amazing things God is doing all around you. God will feel more and more distant as you miss seeing some of His best work through His people, as they care for the elderly, feed the hungry and help sustain communities and one another. How might you fit into that? 

    God can use your gift of encouragement to send a text message to lift the spirits of someone who is lonely. God may inspire you to check in with a friend who can’t leave home, and bring her something from the store. God may prompt you to smile at the stranger who looks weary and worn down and that smile may be what saves them that day. God is working! Pay attention to the opportunities He presents to you to make an impact great or small as you go through your day. And watch how He is working through others as well. You’ll find He is much closer than you may have thought. 

    2) Remember God’s works of the past, how He has redeemed you over and over. He has done it before, He will do it again. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
    Sometimes despite my best efforts it is hard to see God at work, especially if I am suffering personally. Our human nature tends to turn inward, and seeing the bigger picture can feel impossible. Looking back on how God has redeemed my story over and over, helps me to experience His love in my present difficulties. Remembering God’s faithfulness, how He has never left my side, and has walked with me each step of the way, helps me to have hope for the future. He has never failed me yet, and He won’t fail you either.

    3) Worship. (Psalm 138:1-3) Sit in the presence of God as He meets you in your need. Leaning on Him to find comfort, strength and peace. Take a look at the rhythms of worship in your daily life. What takes priority in your day? Maybe you have a dedicated time to sit with God, or maybe you check in with Him throughout the day, walking through it together as you would a friend. Living prayer is talking with God about what you are doing together. Take time to be aware of His nearness, observing His hand of providence and provision in all things great and small.

    4) Recognize God is sovereign and powerful. (Isaiah 40:25-31)  God is sufficient to meet our every need. God sees further than we can, and knows more about our situation than we ever will. Recognize that God is God and you are not. Don’t for one second forget just how big He is.

    It can be easy sometimes, if we are not careful, to underestimate the Lord. Especially when turmoil seems to surround us, we can sometimes transfer our own feelings of helplessness onto God. But God is neither weak nor helpless, He is not absent, indifferent or incapable. He can hold the sea in the cup of His hand and calls the stars out one by one. And this giant God, cares deeply for the everyday details of our lives. He will sustain us and see us through. Do not mistake His gentleness for weakness. His power, goodness and might are incomparable and undeniable. And He is working powerfully on our behalf, even this very moment. 

    5) Realign your value, perspective and peace in who Christ is and the unshakable Kingdom you have access to because of Him. (1 Peter 2:9)

    When we are more isolated, it’s easy to get in our own heads and our perspective becomes narrowed. It is important to realign our perspective with what God says about us. Our worth does not lie solely in our roles, relationships, or appearance, but in our unwavering status as a Daughters of the King. We have access to all the privileges, resources and benefits of His Kingdom. So stop for a moment and zoom out to see the big picture of God at work. As He cares for people and works through them around the world, making the sun rise and set each day, and sustaining the whole of the world with ease. Then zoom in to see Him caring about and providing for every tiny detail of our lives. There is no detail beneath His attention. No situation in which He will not enter to save you. Our hope and our peace comes from the love we experience from God and the fact that we are safe, significant and strong in His Kingdom.

    While we couldn’t plan ahead for all that 2020 would bring, God did. We don’t have to feel totally adrift, wondering when all of this will end. We can have a renewed sense of purpose right here, right now, when we remember the truth about who God is and who we are in Him.

    It is His voice of comfort, wisdom, perspective and peace that will lead us through the mess and into victory. If we cling to what we know to be true about God, we will not be shaken by circumstance, and our purpose, while it may look different, still stands. God will faithfully lead us through any season and give us renewed strength and purpose to make an impact, right now, right where we are. Each day has new opportunities to use our gifts in new ways to bless others. Don’t underestimate what God can do through the simplest acts of love in His name. We just might change the world. 

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  • Believing God Loves Me

    “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…We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:15-16,19 (NIV)

    Do you know and believe that God loves you? I know that can be a tough question. It’s one that’s worth asking because it’s where our identity in Christ begins–with us believing in, and relying on His love for us. 

    For a long time, I didn’t really grasp just how much God loves me. I knew it in my head, but somehow I imagined there would have to be part of me that was worthy of it to really experience it. I felt blessed just to be in the room with Him, and rarely felt worthy of a place next to Him at the table. After all, who am I that He should take notice of me, let alone esteem me as a beloved friend? 

    As I grew in my relationship with God, He gave me a sense of belonging with Him. He showed me through his faithfulness that He loves me truly and fiercely. It’s then that I began to see evidence of His love in everyday things, great and small.  Because of Christ, I started to see myself through His eyes and gained confidence as His beloved daughter, redeemed and made whole. 

    I continue to be inspired and encouraged by the story of apostle John in the Bible. He was someone who really embraced his identity as one whom God loved. In fact, John more than once describes himself throughout the gospels as “The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved”. 

    That bold of a statement might seem a little strange and maybe even a bit self-important. But in reality, when John talked about himself as the disciple whom God loved, he was carefully choosing words to describe what was most important about him.

    John’s core identity, how he saw himself and interacted with the world, was completely founded on His relationship with Jesus. We will always surrender our lives to whatever the defining love or influence is in our life, and for John, Jesus was the defining influence in his life. 

    One example of this is in John 13:23, where Jesus is talking with the disciples. We read that John was sitting right next to Jesus, which at a glance could have seemed a bit bold perhaps. But John was confidently sitting at the feet of Jesus because he knows he belongs there. He believes and relies on the love Jesus has for him. John is secure in where his identity is. He picks the seat closest to Jesus because it’s where he belongs as one loved by Jesus. 

    I recently learned something really cool about the phrase “The disciple whom Jesus loved”.  The Greek for loved here can literally be translated as the disciple whom Jesus keeps on loving. His love for us isn’t conditional. It’s not past tense, it is new every morning. It is evergreen and unwavering. 

    Whether we overcommit and underdeliver, whether we say yes or no, if we get it all right or if we get it all wrong, we are the ones that Jesus keeps on loving. We don’t have to wonder everyday, “does he still love me?” The answer will always be, “Yes! Now get on over there and sit next to Jesus because you are someone whom Jesus keeps on loving. There’s nothing we can do to change His love, nothing we can do to lose it. God is love, and we are His beloved. 

    As we begin to see ourselves this way, as one that Jesus keeps on loving, everything changes. When our relationship with Jesus is the defining influence in our lives, every other decision, big or little, all passes through that filter. 

    John 4:19 says “we love because He first loved us.” Our love for God begins with letting Him love us. When we allow God’s love to sink into our very being, it transforms us. When we believe in and rely on His love, we find a peace and joy that transcends our circumstances. It defines and shapes our identity and how we move in the world. It gives us security and confidence. It is a firm foundation upon which to build our lives. When we experience God’s radical love, it changes everything. 

    You are God’s beloved. It is who you are. He created you, He sees you and He loves you so much. Believe in that, spend time with God and learn to trust in His love and rely on it. He will never fail you or abandon you. He has planned ahead every detail of your life and will provide for you. Take your spot at the table next to Him, as one loved by God. He is happy to have you close to Him, right where you will always belong. 

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  • The God of Details

    “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whoa] have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:27-29

    Life can be so messy sometimes. No one is exempt, trials and struggles land across the shoulders of good and bad people. It can be easy to start believing that God is disconnected, removed, and distant.

    But what if God is really the One who sees every detail of our lives from start to finish, and plans ahead, knowing just what we will need, right when we need it? What if God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth could step into your situation and redeem it beyond anything you dare to dream? What if He is doing that in your life right now?

    We catch a glimpse of God doing exactly that in the story of Ruth. You can read the whole story in the Bible in the book of Ruth, but I’ll give you a sort of condensed summary below. 

    Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi was living in Moab with her husband Elimilek (say that 5 times fast) and two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, and their wives, Orpah and Ruth. Originally, Naomi hailed from Bethlehem, but famine in the land had prompted their move to Moab.

    In just a short time, tragedy strikes and Naomi loses her husband and both of her sons,  leaving Naomi to fend for herself along with her widowed daughters-in-law. Naomi hears that there is food back in her hometown of Bethlehem, and having nothing left, she decides to go there. Naomi loves Orpah and Ruth and is concerned for them, so she encourages them to go back home to their families, so they can remarry and have some hope of security. Eventually, Orpah agrees and tearily heads home, but Ruth doubles down and makes one of the most famous covenant promises in the Bible in verses 16 & 17:

    Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

    The bereaved pair go on to Bethlehem and arrive at the beginning of the barley harvest. To Naomi’s surprise, she realizes she has a relative there on her late husband’s side. He was by reputation a “man of good standing”, whose name was Boaz. (You’ll want to remember his name.) 

    During that time, it was the practice of harvesters to allow strangers, widows, and impoverished people to come after the day’s work and glean grain that had been missed or fallen to the ground. So Ruth asks Naomi to let her go glean in the fields to bring them back some grain. 

    This is where Ruth’s story could be a Hallmark movie. The field Ruth just happens to go to winds up being one of Boaz’s fields! Boaz, of course, notices her working there and invites Ruth to stay and work alongside the other women in his household, giving her food, water, and safety.

    Ruth is blown away by Boaz’s generosity and asks why he would show her such generosity, especially as a foreigner. Boaz, being all dreamy like he is, says her reputation has preceded her. He heard about what she did for Naomi and was, frankly, impressed. He blesses her saying “ May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” 

    Ruth is flooded with relief and Boaz invites her to eat with the harvesters and instructs them to let her glean and to even take some grain out of the bundles for her. She keeps working until evening and goes home with about 30 pounds of grain that day!

    When Ruth tells Naomi what happened she’s shocked! She explains to Ruth that Boaz is a relative and a kinsman-redeemer. It was a tradition in their culture that when a man died and was childless, a close relative could marry his widow. Then, the first son born from that marriage would be given the name of the deceased husband and inherit his estate.

    So under Naomi’s wise advice, Ruth continues to work every day in Boaz’s fields until the harvest is over. Then at the right time, Naomi prompts Ruth to go to Boaz and seek him as her kinsman-redeemer.

    Following Naomi’s instructions, Ruth sees where Boaz was sleeping, sneaks up, pulls the blanket off his feet, and lays down at his feet. It’s a strange custom to us in this day and age, but it’s important to know that this was not an act of seduction, but one of submission. She took a service posture at his feet, not at his side. She was requesting that Boaz take her under his protection as his wife. Boaz understood the assignment and happily agreed.

    Like every good Hallmark movie, there was one hiccup. Boaz knew there was another man besides him that was an even closer relative and had the right to be kinsman redeemer first. It was Boaz’s duty to ask him if he wanted to claim that right, knowing that he may not get to marry Ruth. After some suspense, the other relative does not claim his right, freeing Boaz to finally marry Ruth! Roll Credits!

    It is incredible to see all of the “divine coincidences” that happen in Ruth’s story. Each step of the way, we see God’s loving provision and plan unfold, meeting Ruth & Naomi’s every need and then some. 

    Are you ready for the mind-blowing bit? After Ruth & Boaz were married, they had a son and that son would become grandfather to King David, and an ancestor of Jesus Christ. Let that sink in for a sec. God was actively working in every detail of Ruth’s story, redeeming her pain and laying the groundwork for the redemption of all humanity.

    There was no way for Ruth to know that when she was at the crossroads, choosing whether to go home to her family or follow Naomi into unfamiliar territory, her decision would one day make her grandmother to a king, and an ancestor to the long-awaited Messiah.

    But God in His infinite wisdom guided their steps. Ruth and Naomi focused on Him and stayed steadfast in their faith, even when life looked impossibly difficult and painful. They stepped out in faith and God provided for their every need and worked in every detail.

    It might be tempting to think that God was just working things out for Ruth because of who would later be born in her line of ancestry. But Ruth’s story is there for us to get a clearer picture of how God works and see what faith in action looks like. 

    We all have our own story, with twists and turns, some good, some bad. God is actively working in our stories too. He is already present in the details of our lives and gives us the same love and attention He gave to Ruth and Naomi. He sees us, cares for us and provides for us in our present need, and plans ahead for our future ones.

    Through the story of Ruth, we learn that God is not distant and disinterested, He is interested and invested. He plans ahead for us and puts plans in motion on our behalf that will come together at just the right time, and in just the right way.

    I know there have been times that I’ve felt overwhelmed, knocked flat by life’s blows, not knowing what my next step should be. Without fail, when I focus on God, I begin to recognize all the ways He has already been working to meet me in the middle of the mess. 

    Shifting my focus from my turmoil to His provision allows me to zoom out, and instead of grieving my circumstances, I’m left feeling unbelievably loved that He would plan ahead for me with such love and care. God is faithful and unrelenting in His love for us. And there is not a single detail in our lives that is beneath His notice.

    When Naomi and Ruth followed God faithfully in the circumstances that were right in front of them, God used them to help establish a lineage of the coming Messiah that would change the world forever. What if our being faithful in our own circumstances could have a kingdom effect in the world? 

    We are all invited to be a part of God’s greater story of unfailing love and redemption. He weaves our story into His, paying careful attention to every detail and guiding our every step, even the ones that seem mundane. All we need to do is keep our eyes fixed on Him. When we lean in and seek shelter and protection at His feet, he never fails to give it. When we give Him our whole hearts, we can have peace and wisdom in any situation, good or bad, knowing that He is there and will lead us through. The road may be rough at patches, but ultimately, He works all things for the good of those who love Him.

    What area of your life do you see God planning ahead for you? How can you zoom out to an eternal perspective to see Him at work? I invite you to jot some things down and don’t leave out the little “coincidences”. Our God pays attention to detail and if you are looking for Him, you just might see His fingerprints on the details of your life too.

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  • Merciful God And Father, Hear Our Prayer…

    Merciful God and Father,

    You are good, you are mighty and you are just. Our hearts break with our brothers and sisters in the black community as we grieve the tragic and unjust loss of yet another soul. Our hearts ache for our friends and family who are not just grieving, but also shouldering the weight of fear, misunderstanding, bias, discrimination and hate. 

    We come to you in lament, Lord, eyes straining to see your face, and thankful that we can call upon your name. We draw near to your throne, hearts in our hands. 

    God, we call upon your goodness. May your Holy Spirit stir in our hearts compassion, love, kindness, and gentleness. Show us how to help carry the weight of our neighbors’ sorrow and share in their tears. Break our hearts wide open over what breaks yours. Open our eyes to see as you see, and our hearts to love as you love. Lord, instill in us your goodness and mercy. May every word we utter, every action we take glorify you and and point to Christ, so true healing and transformation may take place. May the light of your love shine so brightly through your people that there is no room for darkness to take hold.

    Father, we call upon your might. You sacrificed your own Son that we might live. Lord we are all created in your image, with no one person better than any other. By your son’s sacrifice we are saved under one blood making us brothers and sisters. Let there be no divide in our minds, hearts, and actions. Mighty God, let the power of your presence defeat hatred, racism, injustice, and evil. Reconstruct our hearts and our humanity through the lens of the sacrifice of your Son. Come near to us Lord, and do your mighty work in us and through us today. 

    Lord, we long for righteous justice. Our hearts burn with a desire to see to wrongs made right and justice delivered. But first Father, examine our hearts, and fix what is broken within us. Realign our vision not just to recognize injustice, but to speak boldly and to put love into action. Work in the hearts and minds of our leaders-in government, in our churches and communities and in our very own families. Please grant us wisdom and discernment, and boldness to not be silent, but instead to stand for what is right. You did not give us a spirit of timidity but your Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. Help us in all circumstances to do what is right and just. Please forgive us when we fall short.

    In all things Lord, you are God and you are good. Help us to really love one another, to hate what is wrong, and to hold tightly to what is good. 

    In Jesus’ Name, 


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  • A Blessing in the Waiting

    We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22

    The days all seem to run together lately. While there are so many things to be thankful for, I’m also feeling a bit like a caged animal, wearing a track in my carpet from walking the same path day in and day out. It can be hard to hang on to optimism when it feels like there’s no true end in sight. I long for open roads to bustling cities where I can pop into a local cafe, and nestle into a window-seat with my lavender latte and write and work and visit with people. The things I took for granted like health and safety and community are now rare and precious commodities, locked away for another day.

    Hopefully that day is not far off, but we’re two months in and I’m standing face-to-face with my real self, with my weaknesses and wounds laid bare before me. Ordinarily I’d hop in the car for a long drive, music blaring, pouring my heart out to God, while He helped me reconcile the fact that He knows my weakness and loves me still. But instead, I am surrounded by kids that need my help, in a house that needs twice the maintenance now that we are living in it 24-7, and extra time to be stuck in my own head to stew about it.

    It’s sometimes discouraging to hop on social media and see the moms that seem to be crushing quarantine life like domestic goddesses, cooking Pinterest worthy meals and rocking craft time like they were born for it. Meanwhile I’m heating up corn dogs, loading yet another load of dishes, and praying that my kids will finish their school work before 7:00 pm.

    But here’s the thing: We are each uniquely gifted and equipped for such a time as this. There are talents and traits that I possess that make a difference in my family, my community and in the world around me. Just like my talented “domestic goddess” friends have their own set of skills and gifts that impact the people in their circles. Why should I feel bad about them just because I’m overwhelmed during this season and they are in their sweet spot?

    So shine on, you quarantine-rocking mamas! I know you have your hard days too. And it’s okay that I have mine. You are keeping your head up and inspiring others to do the same. We are all in the same sea, fighting the waves, looking to the skies and praying for a blessing.

    And that’s what I want to give to you now–a blessing. The Biblical definition of a blessing is a gift from God or to ask God’s favor upon a person. So here is a blessing for you, the weary mama, the lonely soul, the weary worker, the contented heart, and the restless one:

    I pray, dear friend, that God himself would draw near to you this very moment. May you turn your face toward the heavenly sunlight of our Lord and Father and feel the radiance of His love fall gently on your cheek like sunbeams on a summer day. With each cool breeze, may He breathe new life into your lungs and whisper comfort, peace and renewal to your heart. May you rest in the strong arms of the Savior and stand tall in the knowledge that He loves you simply because you are who He created you to be, a masterpiece, His beloved, a cherished treasure. May your heart be filled to overflowing with how He delights in you. May this knowledge that is too wonderful to comprehend, begin to settle in your heart until it makes its home there and you can’t help but believe it. May His grace be sufficient for you, filling every empty or wounded place in your heart. As deep cries out to deep, may the love of Christ fill you with joy and peace and confidence as co-heirs with Him and Daughters of the Most High. May you see yourself the way God sees you, radiant and unashamed, made righteous through Jesus’ willing sacrifice. And when you lift your gaze and rise today, may you see God at work in every detail, walking beside you at every moment, proud to call you His.

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  • The God Who Meets Us

    As crazy as this might sound, I miss commuting to work. I used to drive about an hour to work each way and it was time I often spent in worship, thinking, praying and just being with Jesus. These days, I commute from my hometown of My Bed, to the City of Office, just past Kitchen, not far from the Couch.

    While the coffee here is better than drive-through, I find myself longing for those drives, where I could be still and quiet and pour out my heart to God. I could meet Him there in worship and tell Him what was on my mind, the good, the bad and the ugly. Some days I feel like I’m quarantined from Him too since I no longer have my built in time with Him.

    It’s hard to feel like I can go to meet Him there, when I’m stuck here, elbow deep in homeschooling, housework, packing for a move, and working from home 40+ hours a week. I’m busier at home than I ever was commuting an hour away and it’s tough to get away to meet with God.

    I find myself feeling envious of the surreal moments in the Bible, when God reached down to Moses, Abraham, or to the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah in such tangible and sensational ways. It seems like God stopped all of time and space to get their attention, to speak to them and to direct them. I started wishing that He would reach down into my monotony and speak to me and guide me too.

    But as I read God’s Word, I’m reminded of the truth of His character and the many, many ways He pursues us. There are so many examples of God meeting us in our need, right where we are, reminding us “I am with you, always.”He is not waiting safely from the shore until the storms pass, He walks out on to the water to calm our hearts and still the wind and the waves. We don’t have to travel or drive or even strive to be with God. He is right in front of us, heart wide open, ready to hear whatever is on our hearts.

    I love the story of Mary Magdalene in John 20:11-16. She goes to Jesus’ tomb early Easter morning, just 3 days after His crucifixion, only to find the stone rolled away and Jesus’ body gone. She assumes that He has moved or worse, that His body has been stolen. She finds herself stuck between death and a miracle that she has no idea is coming. An angel appears to ask her why she is crying and she sadly proclaims that someone has taken Jesus away. When she turns around, she finds Jesus is standing right next to her. He too asks her why she is crying, but she is so consumed by grief, that she mistakes him for the gardener…until He says her name. Her eyes were opened and she saw Jesus there before her, risen and alive.

    I love the tenderness and honor Jesus shows her in this moment. He came to her first, before anyone else. She didn’t have to go up on a mountain or travel miles and miles to catch a glimpse of Him. He saw her grief and pain, went to meet her in her need and comforted her.

    Jesus meets us in our need now too. Whether we are doing the dishes, caring for kids, working from home, or wondering how we’ll make ends meet. He sees our pain and our struggles and our weaknesses. Jesus sees it all and stands beside us. He calls us by name and comforts us. You don’t have to go to great lengths to meet with Jesus, because He’s already there with you.

    One of my favorite authors and speakers, Jill Briscoe once said, “Sit on the steps of your soul, in the deep place where nobody goes, and talk with Jesus. You can always go there, anytime, anyplace in the world.” She talked about sitting on the front steps of her childhood home in England and talking with Jesus about whatever was on her heart. It was her place to go and be with Him, and even if she wasn’t physically there on those steps, in her mind she would return to the “steps of her soul, in the deep place where nobody goes, to talk with Jesus.”

    I feel like I live now more than ever, on the “steps of my soul”. In this strange season of isolation, I’m more aware of the quiet corner of my heart where my deepest thoughts and feelings reside. And the miracle of it, is that Jesus is there too.

    I realized that I don’t have to get away to spend time with Him. As much as I love my long drives and unhurried conversations with Jesus, He walks beside me in everything I do. When I close my eyes in a moment of stillness, He is there. When I’m doing my 3rd load of laundry and second load of dishes in a day, He sustains me and gives me a sense of purpose. When I feel stir-crazy and anxious, it’s His hand on my shoulder calming me. When I grieve over our “new normal”, He consoles me. When a harsh word from a loved one stings, He is there to comfort me and build me back up. When the harsh words would be mine, He gives me wisdom to hold my tongue or the courage to humbly apologize.

    When we allow our Savior into our mess, when we meet Him in prayer, suddenly we are not alone. We have a sanctuary in the madness, a quiet place in the midst of chaos, and a friend when we need it the most. Just like Jesus saw Mary in her moment of need at the tomb, He sees us now. We don’t have to fight to get to Him, we just need to listen for His voice and look up. He’s right here, ready to love and comfort us and sustain us.

    I pray that you can carve out a little time to meet Him today. Spend a moment on the “steps of your soul” and just be with Him. Read Psalm 139:1-10 and be reminded of the God who created you, and sees you and loves you. May His peace wash over your heart and His love reach the furthest corners of your mind. May you experience the comfort of His presence, and the joy that comes from knowing Him.

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  • Unstoppable Love

    I had a quiet moment to myself last Saturday, which is a rare gift during these days of living in close quarters with my quaran-team. It was the day after Good Friday and the day before Easter Sunday. It was an “in-between” day that often gets lost in Easter egg hunts and grocery shopping for a big dinner the next day. 

    But this year, in the stillness of the world around me, Saturday tugged at my heart strings in a different way. I pondered how the disciples felt on that “in-between” Saturday so long ago. They had loved Jesus and left everything to follow Him. His crucifixion shook their confidence and understanding of God’s plan as they were surely overwhelmed by grief and disorienting uncertainty. In less than 24 hours their whole world had gone dark. And yet, on the other end of the story, we know the dawn is coming. The Son will rise again. But in between darkness and light, time seems to simultaneously stand still and pass before you like water through your fingers. 

    I can’t help but feel like we are also currently living in the “in-between” time right now. It’s been a few weeks since we had to start staying at home, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We’re hopeful and eagerly awaiting the time when we can all be together again, but we don’t know exactly when that will be. 

    We strain our ears for good news and try to cheer one another with memes and Zoom calls and e-hugs. Our hearts cling to the hope that this will soon be over and that God is near. 

    The story of Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection spurs on that hope. It helps us to trust that God is at work and that just as Jesus’ story did not end in the tomb, our story doesn’t end in our present circumstances either. 

    However, I see even more than hope for the future in the story of Jesus. I see a God who loves and pursues us in the here and now. A God who went to greater lengths than I could ever fathom, just to be near to us. A God whose ultimate priority was to make a way for us to be with Him, to right our wrongs and welcome us home like prodigal children. 

    Because of Jesus, our status as God’s beloved children is secure. It cannot be undone. There is nothing that will keep God from loving us. We are adopted into the Kingdom, co-heirs with Christ, a royal priesthood. Not from our own merit, but on the merit of Jesus Christ who redeemed us. 

    It is through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, that one of my favorite Bible verses gets it’s awe-inspiring power.

    I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Romans 8:38-39 NLT

    Did you catch that? Nothing can separate us from the love of God! He gives us beautiful contrasting language to describe His love and it’s limitless tenacity. Neither angels nor demons, fears for today or worries for tomorrow, nothing in heaven or below–not even the coronavirus, economic strife or social isolation, can separate us from His love that is revealed in Christ Jesus! Jesus is living proof of God’s unstoppable love for us.

    In one single act on the cross, anything and everything that could have ever separated us from God was defeated. God saw us in our helplessness, in our striving and failing and knew He had to intervene on our behalf. He left His throne to become one of us, a helpless baby, dependent on his parents. He experienced everything we experience, He can relate to our joys and cares, better than anyone. He loves us so much that He willingly gave himself up to die and was raised to life again three days later. And the very same Holy Spirit empowers us to no longer live as victims of our circumstances, but as empowered citizens of God’s Kingdom. If God can do all of that-surely He is able to love us right where we are, in the middle of any mess. 

    The disciples had no idea on Saturday what was coming on Sunday. Just like we can’t see what’s on the other side of our present situation. But we have seen the power and might and goodness of God. We have God’s Word, His character revealed to us through His Son, and the power of The Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us. We have living proof of the lengths to which our Heavenly Father will go to love us. And we can set our watch by this truth: God loves us with a love that never ends and there is nothing that can separate us from His love. He loves us today, tomorrow, and every moment in-between. Sweet friend, rest in that truth, lean on His promises, and let His love wrap you up like a warm blanket. God loves you and He’s not going anywhere.

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  • Everlasting God

    Wow, what a week. I heard someone joke that they feel like a 4th grader is writing life right now: “and there was this virus and everyone was scared, and then the world ran out of toilet paper…yeah and then there was no school for like a month and then it snowed!”

    In light of recent events, this “new normal” may have you feeling isolated or afraid and wondering where God is. It is hard to see how and where He is working in this when an itty-bitty virus manages to bring our entire world to a grinding halt. 

    It might feel like God is disinterested in our plight, or that He is absent in our time of need. I understand that. You may be feeling torn between alternating waves of faith and fear of the unknown, combined with guilt that the wave of faith didn’t completely wash away the fear. 

    My sweet friend, God is not only present and active in our situation, He is big enough to love us through all our fears and doubts. In Isaiah 40:26-28, God is responding to the Israleites who were feeling weary and afraid too, and they are reminded just how big God really is.

    “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.”

    This scripture paints such a beautiful picture of God’s sovereignty and power, but also His attention to detail. I couldn’t tell you the name of more than five stars, let alone all of them. In fact, I can’t even see all of the stars from my limited perspective. I certainly couldn’t tell each one where to go and how to shine, night after night, without fail. 

    But God can behold the entire universe in one glance. He created each star in every galaxy and knows each one’s name. He pays attention to every single detail. Nothing escapes His notice and care. 

    Scripture then goes on to remind the Israelites that God gives the same close care and attention to the details of their own lives. 

    O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.”

    God sees their troubles. He pays attention to them and cares deeply for their needs. Then He calls them to a deeper understanding of who He is.

    We have exactly the same opportunity that the Israleites did. God sees our troubles now. He pays attention to us and cares deeply for our needs. He is calling us to a deeper understanding of who He is: strong, capable, constant, present, attentive, powerful, creative, caring and just. He is big and strong enough to carry the oceans in the cup of his hand and yet He wants us to know Him and be in a personal relationship with Him.

    He is here now, walking through these bizarre times with us. He holds us when we are lonely and is patient with us when we are unsure and fret. Later in the book of Isaiah, God reminds us that He will give us strength and power when we are weak and weary. 

    So even if we feel isolated or powerless and small in the wake of current events, remember that we are not alone. Our Heavenly Father is right by our side, working powerfully in the world. Look up, keep your eyes on Him. Then look for glimpses of Him working in the world around you. 

    He is working through the person serving their neighbor, and the family putting together free lunches for kids in need. He is working through the kindness shown to the grocery store clerk and gas station attendant. He is working through the creativity and brilliance of the scientists looking for ways to cure this illness. He works through the nurses and doctors caring for their patients, and through parents as they comfort their children. He hears every single prayer of praise and concern, and takes them all to heart. He is present and active this very moment, both in the world and in your life. Because of His great power and incomparable strength, there is not a detail he misses, nor a care that gets overlooked.

    He is the Everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. Before there was anything else, God was there, as He is now, and will be tomorrow. Let’s continue to look up and follow him, so that we may remember His character and experience His peace. May God may work through us to bring joy and hope to those around us, in any circumstance. 

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  • Letting Go of Busyness

    For a long time, I struggled with a feeling of weariness that I just couldn’t shake. No matter how much I slept, I was still tired. No matter how much I tried to create margin in my life, I was still spread too thin. I wasn’t happy and neither was my family. We were perpetually in survival mode. It wasn’t until I read Isaiah 41:26-31 recently, that I realized I had forgotten God’s vastness and sovereignty. I needed to be reminded of His perspective and power and stop trying to survive on my own strength alone. 

    My optimistic nature, which is usually one of my strengths, had become my weakness. I had convinced myself that I could balance working multiple jobs with crazy hours, all while still excelling as a wife, mom, friend, church member, etc. I wanted to believe I could do it all because I felt useless if I couldn’t. I love serving people and being helpful, and that is not a bad thing. But my identity and worth got tied up in that, and my self-esteem started to feed off of the pats on the back and the “atta-girl” compliments. I wouldn’t go skydiving for a million dollars, but I would jam-pack my schedule to get the rush of accomplishment and to hear someone say in admiration, “I don’t know how you do it!”

    This brand of busyness is just as idolatrous as worshipping a beautiful, handcrafted, golden statue of a day-planner. I valued the approval of others more than the approval of God. I put the rush of accomplishment above the priorities that I knew God had called me to first. I was hustling so hard, that I burned out and no one was getting my best. I had placed my identity in being the “Girl who Gets Things Done”, instead of in being the “Daughter of a King.” 

    My misplaced identity had me sidestepping God’s perfect plan and priorities and following my own plan, which was leading nowhere fast. 

    My eyes were opened one day when I almost collapsed from exhaustion. I had been working a long shift and had not taken the time to eat or take a break. Suddenly, the room started to spin and my legs buckled under me. I caught myself on the counter before I fell to the ground, and tried to act like it was nothing, but inside I was scared. My body had never given out like that before. There was always a reserve, I had always been able to push a little further. I clearly remember thinking, “This is not good. It’s time to stop.” 

    I went home and slept for what seemed like days. I spent time resting and recuperating. During that time, I had to be honest with myself. I asked God to forgive me for relying on my own strength, and for not taking better care of myself. I repented of intentionally tuning out His voice, when I knew He was trying to lead me toward a better way. 

    I could not continue the way I had been living. I poured all my hopes and dreams out to God in prayer and started seeking wise counsel. I decided to turn down a big job opportunity that I had been agonizing over. It would have fast tracked my career, but it also would have locked me into the same schedule that had me struggling to take care of myself, my family and my ministry–the very things I felt convicted to better prioritize. 

    I slowly started saying no to other things too. I would block off whole days on my calendar where I wasn’t allowed to plan anything but rest and family time. I started to pray about my commitments before I made them so that I could give my best, or at least have the wisdom to know when saying yes would result in spreading myself too thin.

    It was hard to let go of some things, but in letting go, I was acknowledging God as Lord of my life again-not me. He began to restore my heart, and remind me of the things that were truly important and not just the things that seemed urgent. 

    I took myself off the throne and made room for the Rightful King. And in doing that, blessing was not far behind in the form of peace, clarity of mind and God’s perfect provision. He was not holding good things back from me-I was holding Him back from giving them. 

    Another job opportunity came, and this time the schedule fit perfectly into balance with where God was directing me. He was faithful to provide, and by trusting Him, I did not have to engineer my future. It was secure in His hands.

    I share this in love, in case you are weary from pushing yourself to the limit and running on empty.  I tell you this in case you are like me—too busy, and feeling like you can’t put anything down. It can be done, it must be done. Together we can do it. God loves us too much to stand idly by while we run ourselves ragged on a hamster wheel. Time to hop off, and start experiencing God’s love and abundant life for real. 

    If you are feeling weary and struggling with knowing what to put down, I want to encourage you to take a few minutes today to write down everything you do in a given day. Then pray over each thing on your list. Ask God to give you the right perspective and to soften your heart to His wisdom. Talk with a trusted friend or family member who knows your strengths and weaknesses and can offer helpful insight. It’s hard to lay down our pride and ask for help sometimes, but I’ve found the relief and peace you experience when you finally do is profound.

    I know there are seasons of life that are just busy and sometimes that is truly beyond our control. But if you find yourself saying “things should calm down in a couple more weeks” and years go by without it ever calming down, it might just be time to reevaluate things. 

    Give God your schedule and your weariness and let Him restore your strength and your hope. May he renew you and bring you peace.

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