Sacrificial Love

“Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together.”

Genesis 22:8 NIV

Richard Bach is noted for saying “If you love someone set them free. If they come back they’re yours. If they don’t they never were.” Although internet investigators cannot substantiate this, they did find a similar quote by Jess Lair (1969): “If you want something very, very badly, let it go free.  If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever.  If it doesn’t, it was never yours to begin with.” (from the book, I Ain’t Much Baby—But I’m All I’ve Got) This concept of loving something or someone and setting it free forms a belief system based on fate. It’s about as effective as making a wish before blowing out your birthday candles or throwing a coin into a “wishing well.” It’s indecisive and inconclusive. It’s wishy-washy and neither practical nor stable. Love is not something to chalk up to fate, it is a gift and a promise from God. It’s a gift He freely gives but sometimes asks us to temporarily give up. Especially if our love for something or someone exceeds our love for Him or if He is testing our loyalty to Him.

The Greeks describe love seven different ways; eros which is romantic love, philia which defines friendship love, storge is unconditional familial love, agape which is an unconditional selfless love, ludus which describes playful or flirtatious love, pragma which is a long lasting, committed love, and philautia which is self love (from: The Bible also tells us what love is and what it is not. 1 Corinthians 13 is a famous reading at most weddings describing love as patient and kind, not envious, boastful, arrogant or rude. As the reading progresses we are reminded that love bears all things, hopes all things and endures all things. But right in the middle, just after love is kind and just before love bears all things, is this sentence: love is not self-seeking. Both the Bible and the Greeks can agree on the concept of love-it is unconditional and it is sacrificial. 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a glimpse at what sacrificial love looks like but let’s take a deeper look at what it is and is not.

Sacrificial love, is not sacrificing love. It is not falling in love with a person or a dream and then throwing them away to test if the dream or person were actually meant for you. It is not pushing people away because of fear or uncertainty either. In fact, 1 John 4:18 tell us: “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.” Do not run away from or close your heart off to love out of fear or confusion. Seek God’s help in overcoming your fears and allow His love to teach you how to truly love and freely accept others’ love. When we are walking in God’s calling of love, we should experience no fear or spirit of timidity. We should only know His peace that surpasses all understanding. But we know the devil uses fear to jerk us off the path of God’s calling. It’s why we read how “do not fear” or “do not be afraid” is written in the Bible approximately 365 times. That’s a reminder a day for an entire year. (from: When fear rears its ugly head, we need to squash it like a serpent under our feet reminding ourselves that there is no fear in love.

Sacrificial love is not sacrificing all of yourself for your family or dream either. In fact, sacrificial love is the opposite of completely losing yourself. It’s about stepping outside of yourself and sacrificing your own will because your love for God is greater than your love for yourself. Abraham is a prime example of this type of sacrificial love.

Abraham had a dream. All he ever hoped for was to be a father. God promised Abraham he would be a dad but he made Abraham wait 25 years before keeping that promise. Abraham trusted God but had a few moments of doubt during his time of waiting. Can you blame him? How many of us could believe we heard God correctly if we were still waiting on Him to keep His word for that long? At one point, Abraham tried to manufacture his own miracle having a son with Hagar, his wife’s maidservant. But God told Abraham, Ishmael, his son with Hagar was not the son God had promised him. Instead, Abraham’s wife Sarah, at the age of 90, would bare a son whom Abraham was to name Isaac. Did you know the name Isaac means “laughter”? Interestingly, both Abraham and Sarah laughed when God reminded them that Sarah would have a baby because they thought they were too old to be parents. How many of us, who have been waiting on God to fulfill His promise are at a point of that kind of laughter? More interesting than that is the fact that God’s covenant with Abraham, was the very definition of laughter. This tells me that God’s dream for you and me involves laughter too.

Isaac, not Ishmael would be God’s covenant with Abraham. God kept his word, and Isaac was born. Special note, God didn’t forget or throw Ishmael away. In spite of Abraham playing God by having a son with Hagar first, God still blessed Ishmael, making him fruitful and increasing his numbers. (Genesis 17:20) I believe God’s care for Ishmael shows that He will redeem any circumstance or at least uses every circumstance for His purpose, even when we get in His way and try to play God in our own lives.

The birth of Isaac isn’t Abraham’s story of sacrificial love. If you are familiar with any Sunday School Bible story, then you know what happens next. As if Abraham waiting on God for 25 years didn’t already show his trust in God’s word, God tests Abraham’s faithfulness too. He calls Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. (Disclaimer-this took place a bazillion years ago BC. Sacrificing children now is not only illegal but NOT at all what I believe God would ever call any of us to do. In other words, do not try this home.) Now I don’t know about you, but if I waited 25 years for God to fulfill His promise to me, to fulfill the one thing my heart truly desires, then turn around and say, “sacrifice if for me” I’d respond like cousin Eddie from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Hughes Entertainment, 1989). Only instead of saying, “Are you serious, Clark?” I would ask, “Are you serious God?!” To add to this, keep in mind Abraham had no warning, just a sudden calling from God to go and sacrifice the very promise He had waited on God to fulfill. Raise your hand if you don’t respond well to anything that happens suddenly, especially if you’re left feeling turned upside down and blind sided. Picture me typing with one hand right now because I’m flailing the other one up in the air.

Abraham however, doesn’t question God. The next day, he takes his son, a donkey, a few of his servants and all he needs to build an altar and heads up the mountain with an obedient heart. Can I stop here for just one moment? The Bible I read leaves no mention of what Abraham was feeling or thinking during this time but I can imagine Abraham was full of anguish, perhaps even a hint of confusion or despair. If nothing else, this had to be breaking Abraham’s heart. I point this out because I believe questioning God’s calling, especially when it feels contradictory to what we know He promised us is a natural human response, just as anguish, confusion, heartbreak and/or despair would be natural human feelings to process. I don’t think it’s a sin to feel any of these emotions. Sin occurs when we lose faith and allow these emotions to redirect us instead of walking in obedience with God. This could look like telling ourselves we heard God wrong or choosing a substitution to sacrifice instead. Abraham could have woke up the next morning and told himself he dreamt the whole thing or he could have convinced himself getting rid of Ishmael and Hagar, something he had already done, was what God really meant. He could have even tried to have another baby with Sarah and use that child as the sacrifice. Instead, he chose to obey and God honored his obedience by sending a substitution and sparing Isaac’s life.

Abraham’s story has an example of another sacrifice, which is Sarah’s sacrifice for Abraham. Women of the Bible were known to see their identity and worth through their ability to bear children. If they were barren they viewed themselves (and society also viewed them) to have little to no value. A moment of transparency, God has gifted me two children. Both of which I call my miracle babies because my chances of having them were lower than the average healthy woman. After having them, continued complications led to surgery that removed any chance of me ever bearing more children again. Like Sarah, I too, struggled with my identity as a woman, questioning my worth and my value after I could no longer bare children. I had to allow God to redefine me and show me who I am in through His eyes to be free from those thoughts and feelings. In the Bible, the barren ones would share their husbands with their maidservants and fulfill their identity through their maidservants’ children. Another disclaimer: this is not a socially accepted practice today nor am I recommending it. Why? Because, as in Sarah’s situation, this brought about jealousy and only increased the barren woman’s insecurity. Anything that brings about jealousy or insecurity is not a form of sacrificial love. God will never call us to make a sacrifice that creates either. God’s calling may hurt, and we may not want to let go of what He’s calling us to sacrifice, but just as He provided a ram for Abraham, if His calling is only a test, I believe He will provide a substitute sacrifice for you and me too. It will never leave you feeling jealous or insecure.

God put sacrificial love on my heart this morning as I was praying over circumstances beyond my control. As I poured out my heart out to Him today, I found myself asking Him to help me let go of my own pain and heart’s desire in order to focus on what really needed to be pray for. God called Abraham to sacrifice what he loved to prove to that he loved God more. He may call us to do the same. Sometimes, God isn’t calling us to let go, but His test may be to loosen the grip on what we love in order to trust Him more. Loosening our grip can be just as painful as letting go but as God showed me today, obeying Him and praying for His greatest good, in spite of our own pain, is a true act of sacrificial love. As you prepare to celebrate Christmas this weekend, reflect on the greatest sacrificial love of all-Mary gave birth to a son. A son who, 33 years later, demonstrated His great love for all of mankind by dying on a cross. While reflecting on this, don’t forget, even Jesus questioned God’s calling for this great sacrifice. Just before He was arrested, alone with His thoughts and two of His disciples, He prayed-““Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42 NIV) If God is calling you to walk in sacrificial love, I think it’s ok pray this very same prayer-Lord, take this cup from me. Yet not my will but yours be done. Remember this-a sacrifice is not a closed door. Abraham did not loose his son. The world did not loose Jesus. No sacrifice that God asks you to make will leave you empty. When the time is right, God will provide the ram to replace what He called you to sacrifice and let you keep all that He has promised you. Perhaps sacrificial love isn’t about sacrificing at all. Perhaps it’s merely walking in love, trusting and obeying God, no matter what He calls us to do.

A Spinal Tap, A Syrup Spile and the Slow Drip of Refinement

“For You, God, tested us, You refined us like silver.” Psalms 66:10

Toward the end of February I attended a high school basketball game. Sitting in the stands with a couple of friends, I turned to one of them and made a modest attempt at small talk with the universal opener of “What’s new?” Since we talk on the phone regularly, she chuckled hearing that question because I most likely already knew the answer to that question. However, she responded with, “Just waiting for syrup season.” Walking through a season of so much unknown personally, I quickly responded with, “I’m waiting for any other season than the one I’m in.” We both laughed at that statement and continued on with conversation amidst the varying levels of gymnasium sounds that were all around us.

A few days after that conversation, I felt drawn to research the process of making maple syrup. Specifically, I wondered what biblical aspects one could derive from the process. I called my friend who was more than willing to explain it all because producing maple syrup was not only her family’s small business adventure but it was something she was passionate about as well. She explained how the trees are tapped to draw out sap. When the bags are full they are taken to a building called the sugar shack where the sap is boiled down and made into syrup. She compared her family’s very traditional process to that of mass producers who don’t tap the trees but vacuum them in order to increase the amount of sap collected. She explained the comparison because the traditional/manual way of producing syrup was more timely but produced a richer and tastier product than anything the mass producers could make. I took plenty of notes but couldn’t quite pinpoint any key biblical aspects tied to maple syrup. So I prayed for insight and let the idea go.

Fast forward to last Friday, (five days ago from the date of this post and nearly two months after that phone call with my friend. Last Friday I found myself in a hospital emergency department, waiting on the outcome of my daughter’s spinal tap. For over a week she had developed symptoms of tingling in her hands and feet that moved into her legs and arms and was accompanied with excruiating pain. She was hospitalized for three days and screened for multiple sclerosis. All labs and scans came back clear so she was discharged. On the day of discharge she was unable to walk without the assistance of a walker. The following day she was seen by her primary care provider. She was told there was nothing physically wrong with her but that her condition was 100% psychological. At this point she was paralyzed but told it was “all in her head.” Thus, I took her to the local emergency room where we stayed for three days waiting for an inpatient mental health facility to accept her.

While in that ER, her condition continued to deteroriate. I was at a loss as to how to help her. I also couldn’t understand how her brain somehow had shutdown to the point that she convinced herself she couldn’t walk. Thankfully, one ER doctor and one neurologist kept digging for answers and after she had lost her leg reflexes, a spinal tap was ordered. The test results led to the diagnosis of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Turns out, there was 100% something physically wrong with my daughter and left untreated, could have quickly worsened or become fatal.

After the spinal tap was finished, my daughter had to lay flat for two hours. She had been given some medicine to sedate her in order to keep her still. To allow her time to rest, I stayed in the waiting room area. While in there, a nurse friend of mine, who just happened to be visiting my daughter at the time they decided to do the spinal tap and stayed with her during the procedure, came to visit me. When I mentioned I was surprised with how long the procedure took she explained that a spinal tap draws fluid off the spinal cord in the form of a slow drip. She further added, “It’s like harvesting maple syrup.” That statement was all I needed to recognize what God was speaking through the process of maple syrup.

God sees and knows everything about us, especially all the impurities we hold within us. These impurities can look like bad habits, self-destructive thinking, wrong friendships or relationships, etc. These things can weigh us down or even interfere with God’s calling for us. God longs to draw them out just as dross is drawn off of silver during the refinement process. At times, God draws things out of us suddenly. Every day someone wakes up and has a “sudden” realization that they need God, need to change or need to repent. God changed Saul into Paul through a “suddenly” moment. But more often than suddenly, God’s refinement process in us is like a slow drip similar to a tapped maple tree or the process of a drawing fluid off the spinal cord. David’s life is a prime example of God’s drawing out process. Time and time again, David found Himself in a situation that He had to wait on God to redeem. God didn’t do it suddenly, He did it in the form of a slow drip. But He always sustained David during the waiting providing him the strength needed to endure until God brought deliverance.

What God pulls out of us He can use to diagnose what’s crippling us spiritually. Depending on what He draws out, He can also “boil it down” into something more beneficial to us that ultimately brings Him glory. Most people liken refinement to that of being in a fire, melted down into the Jesus’ image. But another perspective of refinement is the act of the Holy Spirit tapping into us to draw out all that keeps us from being who God created us to be.

If you are in a refinement season, be encouraged that God is doing a new thing in you and your circumstances. If you’re not seeing His hand in your circumstances, He could still be drawing things out of you. If you’re feeling like your in the fire, it could be God boiling you down into the creation He made you to be. If you’re praying for God to change someone’s hardened heart, keep believing He will do it. God has already tapped that hardened heart and is drawing everything out that caused it to petrify. But just like the process of tapping maple trees or conducting a spinal tap, God’s refinement process happens at the pace of a slow drip. Just as a maple syrup producer covers the spile with a bag and walks away, trusting the spile to do its job, we must cover the person in prayer and walk away, trust God to do His job also.

Don’t grow impatient and try to vacuum all of it out of yourself or the person you’re praying for. Just as mass production produces a less quality product than traditional boiling, our attempts to manufacture our own miracles will not produce the outcome we are praying and hoping for. Trust God and trust His process. Just as a syrup maker has to keep a careful watch over the sap during its boiling process to ensure the product doesn’t burn, our Maker keeps a careful watch on us and will keep us from being burned up in His refinement process also.

You Have Already Been Chosen

“Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.” Ephesians 1:4

Everyone, at some point in their lives, waits to be chosen. In grade school this may have looked like raising your hand and waiting to be called on by the teacher or being the first selected for the playground dodgeball team. In high school this may have been waiting to be selected as the captain of an athletic team or the drum major in marching band. For me, it was making the varsity cheerleading squad when I was only a sophomore, landing the roles I would audition for in school plays and being asked out on a date by my latest crush. For me it also meant having a dad who chose me, who stepped in when my biological father had stepped out and opened his heart up to love me as if I was his very own flesh and blood. Each choosing provided me some value but my dad choosing me, that’s where I placed my value the most. That is, until my dad died. For many years of my life, losing him meant losing his choice and losing my value. Although I met God in the emergency room the night my dad died, I had no idea that He had already chosen me or that my true value came from God alone.

Recently, during an online Sunday morning sermon, I heard a pastor tell his parishioners that we are all a chosen people. He went on to quote someone who believed that if you exist, if there is breath in your lungs, then you have been chosen. Chosen for what? To be God’s minister and voice to the lost and the hurting. During my morning prayer time the following day, God reminded of this sermon. In my prayers I confessed that in this life, it really doesn’t matter who does and does not choose us because we are already chosen by God. Suddenly I remembered all the waiting I’ve endured throughout my adult life. Waiting for what? Waiting to be chosen again. My dad died 40 years ago and I’ve spent those years trying to replace the value he gave me. I also have tried to overcome the message of no value my biological father gave in his choice of walking away. This has ended in much heart break and too many opportunities for others to define my value. It’s led me down a slippery slope of morphing myself into someone I was not made to be simply to fit in or please the company I was with. This has included toxic and/or controlling relationships with employers, significant others, long term friendships and even with select family members. How often do many of us run after value through people, careers or material things?

What was God’s answer to what I told Him in prayer that morning? God showed me that my dad didn’t choose me. God chose my dad for me. God knew the man my biological father was and the dad he would never be. So God sent my dad, a man who loved and protected me, to gift me with a glimpse of just how my Heavenly Father loves me. This is true with every provision God has given me right down to my career, my children, even the modest home I have raised my family in. God chose me to love Him and to love others. He also chooses other people, circumstances and things to show His great love for me (and you.)

My dad loved me fiercely, but he was human and no human love can come close in comparison to God’s love for you or me. I once heard a true story about a father who gave his youngest child a very expensive watch. He did it in front of his oldest child. As he was gifting this watch to his youngest offspring, he looked at his first born and said, “When you make something out of your life, I will buy you an expensive watch too.” This father died before he could keep that “promise” leaving his oldest to believe his value was defined by his father’s definition of success and measured through the cost of an over priced arm ornament. This father missed out on seeing his oldest as the person God made them to be: a person who fiercely protects their family and friends, a business owner and provider for their family, a person who loves unconditionally and who works harder and more honestly than their father ever did. Also a person who plans to someday buy their own expensive watch as proof that they are not what their father saw in them.

God will never define our value through material things. He doesn’t define our value through a relationship status, body size, hair/skin color or job title either. God doesn’t even define our value through our ability to bare a child or not. This one is especially important to women because marriage and motherhood still seem to be determiners of value placed on women even in 2023. God defines our value one way: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8). How much does God value us? I know it sounds cliche but He thinks we’re too die for. to God, we are more valuable that the world’s most expensive watch. We are worth dying on a cross bearing all condemnation and sin. Like a shepherd cares for his sheep, we are worth leaving the 99 and going after the lost one. God’s love for us outweighs any measurement of human love and human value.

Are you waiting to be chosen? Are you chasing after people or success to prove your worth or replace the abandonment or judgement from your own father (or mother)? You can stop waiting and you can stop chasing. You are already chosen and more valuable to God than you will ever be able to understand or conceive. No watch, career, relationship status or other human definition of success will ever give you the value that God already gave you when He created you. His value isn’t meant to understand either. It’s simply meant for embracing and accepting even though it’s beyond human comprehension.

What Are You in a Hurry For?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

I have a friend who is training to be a life coach. Recently she invited me to join her in an online Bible study on the book of Ruth. Having never completed a study with her before, I quickly jumped at the opportunity. This six-week study consisted of daily readings from an app along with daily activities in a workbook. Not wanting to fall behind, I diligently read every daily reading and worked through every activity consistently. Near the end of the study, I missed a few days due to a business trip but spent the weekend catching up in order to finish the study on time. This study ended approximately three weeks ago. I am finished but my friend, is still working through week 3. This is partly because her schedule doesn’t have room to work through it daily. This is also partly because when she does the work she researches the concepts and takes a deeper look at the message each reading provides in order to get the most out of it. Me? I read it, responded to the questions but have a hard time recalling any of it. My completed workbook sits on my table, now just collecting dust. In the meantime, I am patiently waiting for her to finish so we can start our next study together. I’m neither stressed no worried about the timing. I have other devotionals I can read until she is ready for a new study. Other areas in my life however, I don’t wait so patiently or as worry free.

When we decided to read this plan together we discussed carving out weekly time to discuss the readings together. Living in separate states made it impossible to meet in person so we scheduled weekly zoom meetings. Although our meetings were meant to be about the content we were reading, being on different weeks of the study made it difficult to truly discuss it. Thus, our meetings turned into “life coaching” sessions. During our most recent discussion, I found myself unloading all of the things I have been worried about and wrestling with. God has just brought me through a pruning season and I anticipated my next season to be one filled with harvesting. Instead, I’ve found myself planted in a waiting season. When I finished laying it all out, my friend asked me one question; “What are you in a hurry for?” This question took me by surprise and I had to take a pause before I could answer her. I then responded with “I’m afraid I’m running out of time and I don’t want to miss the mark” (referencing God’s calling on my life.) My friend was quick to respond with assurance that when it comes to God’s calling, there is no “mark.” She reminded me that God’s general calling for all of us is to 1.) Love Him with all our hearts and 2.) Love our neighbors as ourselves. Everything else is detail that He handles and reveals in His time and in His way. This truth settled my spirit briefly but to be honest, it wasn’t long before I experienced the daily battle of anxiousness and impatience, once again growing tired and weary of waiting.

Waiting seasons can be very difficult seasons. Especially, if we do not know what we’re waiting for. For example, I have answers to prayers I believe God has given me, yet in real time perspective, the opposite seems to be happening. In fact, one situation appears to be a closed door. By answers, I mean, I believe God moved me to open my heart back up to a dream I had let go of over ten years ago. I did, with a reluctant mind telling God He was going to have to bring it to me because I was not chasing it. I believe He did a few months later only to have it end almost as quickly as He brought it. Which left me wondering, did I hear God correctly and if so, was what I had from Him or a just a decoy?

Now, every time I asked God these specific questions, He gave me four answers, none of which were a simple yes or no. The four answers came through receiving the same four scriptures multiple times daily.

1.) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

2.) Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patient for the Lord. (Psalms 27:14)

3.) Be still and know that I am God… (Psalms 46:10a)

4.) You do not understand now what I am doing, but some day you will. (John 13:7)

While I am seeking a direct and clear, plain as day answer from God, He repeatedly responds with telling me that what doesn’t make sense now, will all make sense someday. For now, I am to trust in Him, leaning not on my own understanding, to wait on Him and to simply be still. For someone who was recently told she has a type A personality, waiting and being still are not easily put into practice. Thus, the inevitable wrestling match with wanting God to hurry up and move already and fearing I’ve missed the mark.

If you believe you’re in a waiting season, pray and seek clarity first to ensure God is calling you to wait. Sometimes, indecision or own refusal to move in the direction God is leading can be viewed as “waiting on God” when in reality, He’s waiting on you. Seeking wisdom and discernment will assist in clearing up any confusion regarding what season God currently has you in.

Pay attention to the scriptures He sends you. When you start receiving the same ones repeatedly, seek His truth behind those scriptures and ask how God to show you how they apply to you and your circumstances. God will speak to you through scripture. It may be in a devotional you read, it may come from a random text from a friend. It may be spoken in a sermon you hear at church or watch online. God may even speak through a social media post or in my case, having Proverbs 3:5-6 painted on a food truck in a mall parking lot and changing my phone wall paper to the very same scripture just two days later!

Whatever message God has for you, He will make sure you receive it and He will keep speaking it until you fully understand what He’s saying to you. In the meantime, let go of the hurry, spend your waiting season loving Him and your neighbor and surrender your circumstances to Him. God already knows the outcome to everything we stress about. What may seem as an ending could just simply be a pause. What may feel like a closed door now may be the very door that opens in His next chapter for you. If it seems like His timing is taking too long, just remember, “…a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” Whatever your heart’s desire is that you’re waiting for God to fulfill, if it’s His will, He will bring it to pass and that “thousand years” will be worth the wait!

Dry Bones Rattling on Resurrection Sunday

“…I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.” Ezekiel 36:36b

“I’m dead inside.” Those were the words my friend read in a text received from me, after asking me “How are you doing?” I received this question and sent my response after a day’s worth of horrific events occurred and I was home alone, in such a state of shock that all of my emotions had shutdown. I cried myself to sleep that night and for many nights in the months that followed. For a series of days that led into months, I was a shell of a person. I couldn’t concentrate nor carry on any sort of coherent conversation. I tried functioning but those who knew me best knew they were not seeing a “live” version of me. The heaviness of that day and events that continued to occur for months after, felt as though I had been buried alive.

I thought I was leaning on God. I prayed every day. But I prayed angry prayers every day. When I say “angry”, I mean I screamed, I cried and I cussed at God. I wasn’t just angry with specific people, I was also angry at God. Every prayer included a demand for God to “DO SOMETHING” and “FIX THIS!” In fact, on at least one occasion, I recall yelling out, “You’d better fucking fix it RIGHT NOW, God!” Using the F-word in a prayer should have been an immediate wake up call for me but it wasn’t. It was the epitome of just how dead inside I was and how deep I had fallen into a pit of despair and hopelessness.

About six months after that horrible day, I realized I couldn’t go back and undo what had been done to my family. I knew I wasn’t handling the situation well and I was tired of feeling suffocated by all the darkness within me. I had allowed a root of bitterness to grow and it wasn’t just emotionally or spiritually killing me. It was effecting my physical health also. I had gained 20 pounds, I wasn’t sleeping well and had suffered two panic attacks in the middle of the night. By panic attacks I mean being awakened from a dead sleep by a racing/pounding heartbeat that caused me to sit straight up and question if I was having a heart attack. Using the “F-word” in prayer may not have been my wake up call, but that second panic attack made me realize that I was not physically, emotionally or spiritually healthy. Enough was enough. What had been done was done and although I couldn’t change evil, if I wanted to heal, I had change how I responded to it.

I couldn’t heal myself though. I didn’t even have the strength to stop hating the one(s) who had done evil to my family. To be honest, I wanted to heal, but I also wanted to keep hating the evil doers. Hate, however, doesn’t produce healing and I lacked the ability to stop hating my enemies. This meant relying on the very God I was angry with, the one I had been belligerent to for so many months. Although He hadn’t changed the circumstances, I knew He could change me in spite of these circumstances. I also knew, I needed His forgiveness of my own sins and His strength to forgive others. What I needed most, was His redeeming love and unending grace to resurrect all that had died within me.

Today is Easter. Today, churches all over the world will be flooded with increased attendance. In fact, for some people, today is the only day (or one of two days) they attend church annually. Some churches will put on theatrical shows that include at least one church member, dressed as Jesus, coming out of a cardboard”tomb” while their praise and worship team leads the congregation in “Glorious Day” by Casting Crowns (Bleeker, M., Mark Hall, J. 2009, Be Essential Songs/My Refuge Music) or an outdated hymn such as “Christ Arose” by Robert Lowry. (1874) Little girls may don pink chiffon ruffled dresses with delicate white sweaters and matching patent leather buckle shoes. Little boys may be dressed in cream or light blue colored suits that their mothers are praying they keep clean long enough to get that one family picture captured. Some little girls and women may wear flowery hats. Men may wear that one suit that hangs in their closet the rest of the year and only comes out for weddings, funerals or this one specific Sunday.

Sanctuaries will be decorated with fresh Easter lillies. If there is a wooden cross on display, it will likely have a white cloth draped across it. Communion will be offered during many services today. “He is not here, for He has risen” will most likely be spoken in at least 90% of the sermons preached today also. “He is risen” will also be posted and overload many social media sites. Afterall, from a Christian stand point, today isn’t just Easter, it’s Resurrection Sunday. Today is the day the stone was rolled away. This is the day Christians celebrate Jesus rising from His grave and conquering death. This is also the day some pastors rely on the Easter story to bring salvation to the unsaved.


Resurrection Sunday was not the first time Jesus had conquered death, nor is it the first resurrection mentioned in the Bible. In 1 Kings chapter 17, the prophet Elijah brings a woman’s son back to life. In the New Testament, Jesus brought Jarius’ daughter back to life and called Lazarus out of his grave after he had been dead for four days. Throughout the Bible, God has shown His resurrection power time again over human life and over our dead circumstances too. The book of Jeremiah prophesies His promise to restore or “resurrect” Jerusalem’s ruins. Daniel fasted for a promise from God that seemed “dead” but in Chapter 10 we read Gabriel telling Daniel that this promise will happen in “days yet to come.” (Daniel 10:14) Humanly speaking, Sarah, Hannah and even the woman who’s son Elijah resurrected all had “dead” wombs. Yet God brought life into them allowing each of them to become pregnant and bring sons into this world. All these situations seemed fatal and hopeless, yet God resurrected what was “dead” in each circumstance.

As grateful as I am for Christ’s death and resurrection, my favorite resurrection story comes from the book of Ezekiel. This is because it gives a visual of what a resurrection looks like. In chapter 37, we find the prophet walking amongst a valley of dry bones while engaging in conversation with God. During this conversation, God asks Ezekiel this question; “Son of man, can these bones live?” (verse 3a) Ezekiel responds with the perfect example of belief in God’s resurrecting power. Ezekiel replied; “…God, You know.” (verse 3b) God then tells Ezekiel to speak these bones. I’m just gonna get real for a minute and say, if I ever find myself walking in a valley of dry bones and hear God tell me to speak to them, I am confident I would ask “You want me to do what?” at least three times, just to ensure I heard God correctly. That’s of course after I got over being completely creeped out from walking in a valley of dry bones. (Feel free to insert a “laugh out loud” response now.)

Ezekiel, however, doesn’t question God nor is he bothered by what he’s walking through. He’s intent on listening to God and following His instructions, which is exactly how God continues the conversation. First, Ezekiel is instructed to prophesy over the bones telling them to “hear the word of the Lord.” (Verse 4). Then God declares He will give these bones breath, sinews (tissue), a covering of flesh and more breath so that these bones will live. Ezekiel’s response? Ezekiel tells his readers; “So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.” (verse 7) He obeyed God’s instructions.

So what do my emotional death, Resurrection Sunday and dry bones coming alive have in common? The healing God has done within me is my own personal resurrection experience. At some point I believe God asked me, “Can your dry bones live? and I had to answer with, “God, You know.” I also had to pray my own version of “Lord, if you’re willing, take this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) When I finally surrendered all of it to Him, He did not fail. In fact, every day that I surrender all of my “dead” circumstances to Him, God breathes new life and new hope into me. I feel most alive today because He was faithful in bringing me emotionally and spiritually back from the dead. God is a Man of His Word and He kept His promise to give me a new heart and a new spirit, removing from me a heart of stone and giving me a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26). He will be faithful to His promises to you as well.

Christ’s resurrection is not just a salvation story. It’s His promise to resurrect the dead inside each of us as well as bring life to circumstances and dreams that also seem dead to. If you’re struggling with believing this, just remember, that very power that Ezekiel experienced watching dry bones come to life, is the same power that Elijah used to resurrect a woman’s dead son. It is also the same power that opened up this woman’s, as well as Hannah and Sarah’s dead wombs. This is the same resurrecting power that raised up Jarius’ daughter, brought Lazarus out of the grave and raised Jesus from His tomb. We are not meant to live this life like emotional zombies; shutdown, detached, and having cut off our feelings to avoid pain. Jesus’s death and resurrection was for us to have life and to live it abundantly. (John 10:10) If, like me, you’ve felt dead inside, God wants to revive your dry bones and bring you back to life too.

Have you experienced an emotional or spiritual death recently? Have overwhelming and/or unfathomable circumstances beyond your control left you feeling buried alive? Are you especially at a point where you’re tired of feeling hopeless and desperate to live again? Then son (or daughter) of Man, prophesy to your dry bones. Call out in Jesus’ name and ask God to resurrect all that is dead inside of you. Prophesy over your dead circumstances. Easter isn’t about spring dresses, ham dinners or attending church once a year. It’s also not about having the only deacon with a beard portraying Jesus on a church stage performing some re-enactment that includes a fog machine and drum solo just for added special effects. Easter is about resurrection power. As Jeremy Camp would sing, it’s “the same power that rose Jesus from the grave, the same power that commands the dead to wake” that is living within us. (Camp, J., Ingraham, J., 2015, The Same Power, Essential Music Publishing)

May today be the day you call out to Jesus and have the dry bones inside of you resurrected too! When you do, don’t be surprise if you hear some rattling. To quote my favorite Resurrection Sunday song, that rattling sound is “praise, [that] makes a dead man walk again.” I pray for those reading this post, specifically those who are in desperate need of an emotional/spiritual resurrection, that today you cry out, “open the grave, I’m coming out, I’m gonna live, gonna live again.” For that kind of prayer “is the sound of dry bones rattling…” (Lake, B., Brown, C., Furtick, S., 2020, Rattle, Elevation Worship Publishing.)

You Just Need a Little Faith (the Size of a Mustard Seed to be Exact!)

“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move; and nothing will be impossible.” Matthew 17:20-21 NLT

Can I be raw with you right now? I am struggling with taking God at His word. At the beginning of this year I entered into a period of prayer and fasting. Each week I asked the Lord for a specific word to pray over various circumstances in my life and the lives of my closest friends/family. Each week He faithfully delivered. For seven weeks I prayed for breakthroughs, healing, delivery (of answers/direction), breaking (of chains, strongholds and soul ties), repentance, protection, surrender and of course, victory. I watched sermons about fasting and felt encouraged everytime the preacher vowed that fasting moved mountains and made the Jericho like walls fall down. By the end of my fast I felt I had grown deeper in my faith, fully surrendered to God’s ability to answer my prayers and trusting Him to do it in His time and in His way. But since ending the fast I have felt far away from God. In fact, since the last day of the fast, I found myself fighting battles in the flesh once again.

Fighting in the flesh has led me to ask God, “Where did my “big” faith go?” and “Did I just throw away all the prayers I exhausted by doubting Him now?” God’s answers to these questions came through the story of Ruth and scripture about faith the size of a mustard seed. I had frequently came across Matthew 17:20-21. I een purchased a bracelet with the verse on it. A mustard seed charm hung from the bracelet also but fell off about a month after I began wearing it. On my desk sits a small clear jar, no taller than one inch with a corked top. Inside it lies one tiny mustard seed. I look at it daily-especially in those moments that doubt and worry rear their ugly heads into my heart and mind. The seed is a reminder to take God at His word and trust in Him with all my heart, leaning not on my own understanding. But every day I wrestle with doubt and fear. I even visited a church one Sunday where the Pastor preached on faith and if you guessed that he used Matthew 17:20-21 in his sermon, you guessed correctly. With hearing this passage so many times, you would think it would have taken root, but a bigger root, that of rejection, that had been growing since I was just a toddler, had blocked any spiritual roots of faith from taking hold of me.

Toward the end of February, a lifetime friend invited me to join an online Bible study on the book of Ruth. Personally, I struggle with Ruth’s story because I believe, if misinterpreted, it can easily create a fantasy love story, especially for the single soul who believes love only comes through a romantic relationship or marriage. But I’ve never participated in a study with this friend so I happily accepted and ordered the workbook. The study inronically began on March 6th, the Monday after a very difficult weekend where a heap of angry feelings and bitterness emerged and I spent two days crying and yelling at God. Talk about perfect timing. I’m now three weeks into this study, seeing a whole new perspective of Ruth’s story. Ruth isn’t just a love story. Ruth and Naomi’s story is God answers our prayers and redeeming us, even after we grow about bitter and doubt His goodness. It’s also a reminder that what God ordains, He will make happen, even if we temporarily step out of His will and spend a few years walking in our own way.

I’ve read the book of Ruth multiple times and am thankful for these new discoveries. They include:

1.) Naomi and her family disobeyed God’s warning to His people to stay out of Moab. They moved there after a famine hit their hometown. However, Moab is where Ruth becomes a part of Naomi’s family. She marries one of Naomi’s sons. After losing her husband and both sons, and hearing the famine had ended, Naomi decides to return home. She urges her daughters-in-law to stay in their homeland but Ruth insists on going with Naomi. In her plea, she tells Naomi this: “your God shall be my God.” Although Moab was a place filled with false gods, somehow Ruth knew about the One true God. This leads me to believe that Naomi and her family moved to a place that did honor God, but must’ve continued to worship Him and shared their faith with Ruth also. This faith is what led to Ruth’s devotion to Naomi, even in spite of Naomi’s bittered grieving heart, and to the perseverance in Ruth to find work and care for both her mother-in-law and herself.

2.) God ordained Ruth and Boaz to marry in order to continue His bloodline, yet Naomi met Ruth in Moab-the very place God had forbidden His people to go. Instead of God sending Ruth to Naomi’s home country, Ruth meets God in her place of sin-a place where she most likely grew up worshipping many false gods. This should encourage us that God in our places of sin also and leads us out of the places and back to Him. He only asks us to surrender to cling to Him and obediently say, “where You go, I will go, Abba.” (Ruth 1:16)

3.) Ruth happened upon Boaz’s field (Ruth 2:3). Nowhere do we read that God instructed Ruth to go find work or travel to a specific wheat field. In fact, no where in the book of Ruth will you read that God audibly or spiritually spoke to Ruth, Naomi or Boaz. From a human perspective, Ruth’s story could be chalked up to happenstance and sheer luck. But God was acting, without audibly directing. Perhaps, knowing Ruth and Naomi’s obedient hearts, He didn’t have to direct them as much as He did with Abraham and Moses. Whether we hear God or not, He is acting on our behalf. Circumstances in our lives will change either through His audible direction, or through His divine intervention that looks more like events just suddenly “happened.”

3.) Naomi and her family left their homeland because they doubted God’s provision. After losing her husband and two sons, she returns home, bitter and believing that God was punishing her. Yet her joy was restored when she remembers Boaz is a kinsman redeemer. Her faith was renewed when Ruth gave birth to Obed. Naomi’s faith was based on her circumstances yet even in Her bitterness, I believe she still had faith the size of a mustard seed. In spite of her doubting God’s goodness and not trusting His perfect ways, , God used Naomi as an interceptor for His will and redeemed both her and Ruth.

It’s been 23 days since I completed fasting. Everyday is a struggle to not only remember the things God spoke to me during the fast, but to keep the faith that God always keeps His word. Times when I focus on what is seen instead of focusing on what is unseen bring about the worst feelings. Every day I find myself combatting the lies of the enemy through prayer and confession. I don’t fight my fears, I confess them to the Lord. He already knows the thoughts are there and the feelings are consuming me. Failure to confess them isn’t hiding anything from Him. Failure to confess is only lying to myself.

I beg for a word from Him daily. Some days He answers, other days He does not. On the days He seems silent, I have to remind myself to go back to the last word He gave me and cling to that message until He speaks again. Of the four areas in my own life that I fasted for, 23 days post fasting, none of the circumstances have changed. In fact, none of the circumstances of my friends and family that I prayed and fasted for have changed. Some have even worsened or grown more dire than before I began fasting. But I know God is faithful and is moving in each area and in each family, including my own.

When I lose my grip on the foundation of hope God called me to stand on, when I stumble or fall, and especially when I grow a root of bitterness, God doesn’t punish me. He helps me up, and helps me to stand firm on His solid ground once again. When I want to be my own interceptor, and manufacture miracles on my timeline instead of waiting on God, He gently asks me to surrender and reminds me that He is fighting these battles for me. How does this control freak surrender? With faith the size of a mustard seed-the tiniest inkling that holds enough power to move me to die to self daily, take up His cross and do life His way. If you’re struggling with trusting God, may this reading encourage you to know that God doesn’t expect you to have “big faith.” He calls you to take Him at His word and to have a little faith, the size of a mustard seed to be exact.

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! That’s this Christan Girl’s Battle Cry!

“But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory…”

2 Chronicles 20:17 (NLT)

In high school I was a varsity cheerleader. For two athletic seasons per year, I stood on the sidelines of games, dressed in an outfit that donned my school colors and matched seven to nine other girls. We shouted chants, performed stunts, jumps and pyramids, all while our athletic teams battled against their opponents for a winning score. Some games were blow-outs, with our team racking up the scoreboard all night. Other nights, the score ended in our opponent’s favor and we left the game feeling a little less “proud” and definitely not victorious. Some games were hard to watch and definitely hard to cheer for. Those were the games where our players were making error upon error and didn’t seem to have their heads in the game. But nonetheless, when called to duty, a faithful cheerleader can find the perfect words to chant because her job is to cheer for her team no matter what.

Do you know what a cheerleader’s job is not? It’s not her job to step onto the court or the football field and play the game. When the team is getting pummeled by a bigger opponent, a cheerleader cannot come off the sidelines, shove her players aside and say, “You guys stink. Let me handle this. I’ll get us that victory!” A cheerleader is also not allowed to tell the coach what plays to calls. She isn’t allowed to boo her team either! Her only job is to work with her fellow cheerleaders to pump up the team and the crowd and especially to keep the crowd engaged when their team is losing the game. Winning the games is not the cheerleaders’ battle. Those battles belong to the ones actually playing the game. Praising her team no matter their effort is a cheerleader’s call of duty.

We face many battles in life. Battles in life are definitely not a game that most of us would ever volunteer to play. Some battles are meant for us to fight, others however, only God, Himself can fight for us. For example, in the early days of his childhood, my son struggled with chronic ear and sinus infections. I “fought” these battles by seeking medical treatment and following his doctor’s orders. I also “fought” by reading up on preventative measures and the effects of long term antibiotic usage. He underwent minor surgeries having tubes placed in his ears. He also endure allergy testing and allergy shots for seven years.

Yet, my son’s illnesses worsened. A common cold for his body always turned into croup. When this happened he would undergo breathing treatments using a nebulizer machine. This went on until he was of age to manage his breathing with inhalers. Did I mention, he received a life sentence of “asthma” from a pediatric pulmonologist when he was still in elementary school? This came after he had a full blown asthma attack that landed him in the emergency room receiving epineprhine treatment. Sitting by his bedside, I found myself trying to breathe for him. Every breath I felt entering and exiting my own lungs felt useless because no matter how hard I tried, I could not breathe for my own son. It was after his asthma diagnosis that I realized, my human efforts could not heal him. The war on his lungs was a battle only God could win.

For three months, I prayed over my son’s lungs. These prayers were neither prophetic nor extraordinarily powerful. I simply laid my hand on his chest at bedtime and said, “Dear God, please heal my son’s lungs.” If ever I forgot, my son would gently ask, “Mommy, please pray over my lungs.” and I would do so. At his next pulminologist appointment, the doctor stumbled over his words trying to explain the improvement in his lungs. I don’t remember much of what this doctor said except that he informed us we did not need to come back and see him anymore. This doctor couldn’t explain the difference, but as my son and I got into my car to travel home, I reminded him that we knew what the difference was. God had answered our prayers and healed my son’s lungs.

Fast forward ten plus years later. My children are now young adults and my family is once again under attack. I have spent the last four years fighting these battles in my own strength and under the power of my own human will. I have cried myself to sleep many nights. I’ve experienced full blown panic attacks and been hit with moments of unforgiving anger. In the fall of 2021, my prayer life went from superficial to super irreverant. I didn’t ask God for anything. I demanded He give my family justice all the while really hoping for revenge. As situations worsened, so did my prayer life. I pretended to cling to my faith, even professing that God was in control. But behind the scenes, I was telling God what to do, how to do it and when I expected Him to get it done. When He didn’t do it my way, I decided I had to do it for Him. I even listened to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (2007, AIOS Publishing) gaining much battle strategy to use against the enemies I believed were hurting my family. I lost sight of who are real enemy is.

Ironically, during this time period, I bought a decorative sign for a friend, who’s youngest child had just received a devastating health diagnosis and who’s husband had underwent major heart surgery a few short months later. The sign read, “The battle is not yours, it belongs to God.” I was so hell bent on healing my family my way, I couldn’t even hear God say, “that sign belongs in your house too!” God had to bring my life to a complete halt and walk me through months of isolation and pruning for me to finally be still enough, broken enough and seeking Him enough to hear Him tell me, “these battles are not yours, they belong to me.”

At first, I believed I could easily surrender it all to God, just like I surrendered my son’s asthma diagnosis to Him so many years earlier. However, surrender doesn’t come naturally. Every day I would say I am laying it all down, trusting God will deliver what He’s promised in His way and in His time. Every day I picked it right back up, wrestling with fear, doubt, insecurity, and even anger all over again. Every day, God has reminded me to lay it back down, for the battle is not mine. I can no more breathe for my son than I can redeem my family. Once again, I am walking through a battle that belongs only to God.

When God spoke to me about today’s post, He reminded me of my cheerleading days. I’m a self proclaimed control freak, but not once do I ever recall wanting to run out on the field during a football game, shove the wide receiver out of the way, take the ball from the quarterback and run down the field attempting to make the touchdown myself. I trusted the game to football coach and his players, while cheering them on from the sidelines. I believe God asked me today, “When are you going to let me do my job, trust me with your family and start cheering for Me?” WOW! After spending a weekend battling with angry prayers and doubting God’s promises, He woke me up with a reminder that this season of life, this war on my family, isn’t my fight. Even though I can’t see the battle field, He is fighting for us and instead of complaining and basically saying, “God, you stink!”, He’s asked me to get off the field, trust the game to Him and cheer Him on! In high school, no matter the score, we would yell, “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! THAT’S THE VIKING BATTLE CRY!” Call it praise or worship if you want, but if God has sidelined you, He’s not placing you on the bench. He’s calling you to let Him fight this battle for you. Your job is to just be His cheerleader and yell, “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! THAT’S MY GOD’S BATTLE CRY!”

Waiting and Donating

“I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me.” Psalms 69:3

I have a few minor addictions. One is sugar-free vanilla iced coffee from a popular fast-food restaurant. The other is accumulating stuff. Both bring me temporary pleasure that lead to problems shortly after. The coffee-well it’s usually consumed after I’ve already had plenty of caffeine for the day, so it increases my heart rate and raises my anxiety. Accumulating stuff costs money. Not only does this addiction dwindle my savings, it also creates clutter in a house that is already lacking many storage options. That leads to spending an entire day, sometimes an entire weekend, de-cluttering. Which is exactly how I spent part of my weekend a month ago. After cleaning out my closet and dresser drawers, adding to the already accumulated pile on my couch, I loaded everything up in my truck in preparation to donate it all at a local second hand store.

Some mornings, I skip breakfast at home which means grabbing drive-thru on my way to work. Remember that iced coffee addiction I mentioned above, well, it led to me going to that popular fast-food restaurant for breakfast, just to satisfy that craving. I have a 40-minute commute to work. I have to pass this fast-food chain twice during that commute. The first causes me to leave the expressway and drive about five minutes out of my way. The second is located directly across from my job. Of course, for convenience reasons, I choose the latter. Here’s the kicker-that one almost always leads to a very lengthy wait. I’ve sat in that drive-thru for over 20 minutes before. Not because it had a long line either. I honestly don’t know the reasons behind the long wait. I could get frustrated each time, but I choose patience instead. I know at some point the line will move, I’ll get my food and iced coffee and be on my way.

One recent morning the wait in this drive-thru line seemed different. The parking lot was almost empty and there was only one vehicle in front of me. I felt a tinge of excitement believing I would buzz right through the line and get to work earlier than anticipated. After placing my order, I pulled around to the payment window only to find myself waiting for the car in front of me. This vehicle didn’t move for what seemed like eternity. After a few minutes, I put my truck in park and waited even longer. Finally I saw an exchange between the cashier and the customer and the customer finally pulled forward. They promptly received their food and drove away. I thought the wait was over but I was fooled again. For as I pulled up to the payment window, I found myself waiting again. This time for them to process my payment. After watching three other employees gather around the cashier and finagle with the cash register, I could easily draw the conclusion they were experiencing technical issues. Once the transaction finally went through, the cashier confirmed my suspicion. Another short wait, and I finally had my food, including that sugar-free cup of caffeinated addiction that was the reason I chose that specific restaurant in the first place.

Fast forward to the end of my work day on that very same day. I skipped the gym and drove to the second hand store. It took three trips to get all the donations out of my truck and inside the store. It felt exhilarating to unload all that stuff, not only knowing my house was a little less overstocked, but the backseat of my truck was also cleaned out. I thought for a minute how easy it was to unload everything. Although it did take three trips, I was able to park close which meant short walks in between the building and my truck. On my second trip, a woman coming out of the store, carrying a box of her own, stopped just to hold the door for me. Knowing her hands were just as full as mine and she still managed to get the door for me I couldn’t help but appreciate her kindness a little extra. Dropping everything off was also hassle free because no one from the store approached me. I was in and out of the store and had an empty back seat again in less than five minutes.

These things are normal routine moments in life. But today, two things occurred to me that left me asking myself two questions. Why is it, I could wait so patiently in line for an unhealthy beverage that would inevitably increase my heart rate but I am too impatient to wait on God’s timing in certain circumstances? Why also did it seem so easy to unload my “junk” to a second store yet so difficult to unload my burdens to Jesus? I think I know the answers, but I’m not going to write them here. Instead, I raise the same questions to you and challenge you to ask God. Don’t be surprised though, when God gives you the answers, He give you the assignment of a long overdue lesson in waiting also.

A Prayer to Heal a Delilah Heart

“…You have made a fool of me; you lied to me…” Judges 16:10

Father God, Abba Almighty,

I lift up every woman reading this prayer and ask for Your healing power to penetrate their hearts, minds, bodies, souls and spirits. Specifically, Father, I pray:

For the little girl who was rejected by her own biological parent, Lord heal her broken heart and free her from living the rest of her life as rejected. (Psalms 27:10)

For the pre-pubecent girl who is struggling with her own body image and fears she’s “too fat” to even make friends, Lord heal her broken heart and show her how beautiful she is in Your eyes. (Song of Solomon 4:7)

For the high school girl who has lost her virginity to a boy who promised to never leave but has already moved on to new interest, Lord heal her broken heart and show her how Your love never fails. (Lamentations 3:22)

For the young college woman who is facing an unknown world and struggling to make new friends/connections, Lord heal her broken heart. Remind her that she is never alone for You are always with her. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

For the 25-year-old woman living in a one bedroom apartment, working multiple jobs just to make ends meet, who’s kissed a series of “toads” and wonders if she will ever meet her prince charming, Lord heal her broken heart. Show her that You are her provider and protector always and that Your plans, not her own, define her life’s timeline. (Isaiah 60:22)

For the thirty-something single mom who feels abandoned, alone and that she can count on no one, Lord heal her broken heart and remind her this very day that she can always count on and trust in You. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

For the newly divorced forty or fifty something woman who is once again face-to-face with rejection only this time fearing she’s too old to ever find love again, Lord heal her broken heart. Remind her that she has always been loved by You. (Jeremiah 31:3)

For the sixty, seventy-year-old women and beyond who are preparing for eternity but possibly struggling with regrets, Lord heal their broken hearts. Rmind them of Your forgiveness and fill them with an outpour of grace and mercy so that they may be able to forgive themselves too. (Proverbs 28:13)

For the Delilah within all of us, Abba, that part of us that wrestles with rejection, betrayal, insecurity and fear, Lord heal this part of us and remind us this day that in You, we are accepted, loved, secure, valued and protected. (Ephesians 1:4)

Although our earthly parents may have failed us, we are forever Your daughters and You will never fail us. Where people may fail us, and we may fail others, Your word promises to redeem us and restore all we have lost. Where we have been made fools and lied to, Abba, remind us that You will never put us to shame and that always keep Your word. Free us this day from living as Delilahs, women who are insecure, controlling, manipulative and/or afraid. Free us this day from a victim mentality, believing we will forever be someone else’s prey.

Father God, for every girl, teen and woman that needs this prayer, I ask, that You remove the Delilah heart from within us and fill us this day with the royal tenacity and bravery of Queen Esther, the fervant loyalty and dilligence of Your daughter, Ruth, the courageous leadership of the Honorable Deborah, and the humble and obedient faith of Jesus’ mother, Mary. Daughters of the One true King were not born to live a peasant life. Today, raise each of us up to live Your calling for our lives. We are a part of Your royal preisthood, may we carry ourselves today walking as heiresses to Your royal bloodline. Shut the mouths of the lions whose roar is a mere act of intimidation to keep us small and reduce us to living in a futile state of despair. May we surrender our brokenness to You, Abba, trusting You to make each one of us whole once again.

Lastly Father, for the women who are homeless, behind bars or facing some other “hopeless” circumstance that seems unredeemable, send Your messengers or Jesus, Himself, to speak life, truth and hope into each of these women. Father, as long as we have breath in our lungs, there is nothing within us that You cannot change and there is no circumstance or situation that You cannot redeem. Heal their broken hearts and cover them with the shelter of Your wings. (Psalms 91:4) May they each know and experience, this very day, the power of Your redeeming love and Your ability to transform their hearts and their situations. Meet not only their physical needs of food, shelter, warmth and good health, but lean in and meet their emotional/spiritual needs also. Father, these needs include, freedom from mental illness and/or addiction, healing from abuse and violence, forgiveness of those who have hurt them and themselves and of course, Your salvation. Where restoration of relationships is possible, bring unity. May the trials and testing they are currently face be their breakthrough testimony in days to come.

All praise, glory and honor belong to You, Lord. For hearing this prayer, I give You thanks. For healing our broken hearts, I give You thanks. For transforming our lives, I give You thanks. For making us whole, I give You thanks. For creating women, Lord, and especially for making me one, I give You thanks. For redeeming us from Delilahs to daughters of the King, I give You thanks.

In Jesus’ name,


Gird Up or Armor Up, It’s Time to Suit Up!

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11 NIV

A giant poster of a kneeling football player with the face of Jesus looking down on him, hangs in my home. At the top of the poster are the words “Always with you.” I bought this poster in 2021. It hangs in my bedroom, where not all who enters my home can see it, but I am able to see it every day. It’s positioned in a place where, when needed, I can sit in front of it and pray, as if I am sitting at the very feet of Jesus. When I look at it, I am reminded of a few of certainties: God is always with me and He is always fighting for my family. It also reminds me of the war the enemy has waged against all of us and the best way we can protect ourselves is by putting on the full armor of God.

If you’re familiar with American football, you’re aware of the physical battle the game entails. Two teams go head to head vying to move a somewhat egg shaped ball into the end zone to outscore their opponent. If you’re on offense, your job is to protect those who are handling the ball by blocking the opponent. If you’re the ball handler, your job is to trust your teammates are protecting your blindside so you can move the ball out of the enemy’s way. If you’re on defense, your job is to tackle the ball handler and/or attack the opponent’s blindside. No matter which side of the line you’re on, if you’re on the field, you’re playing a game that consists of hard hits and getting taken to the ground. In an effort to prevent injury, players are provided gear that protects vital areas of their bodies. They’re required to wear a helmet, mouth guard and shield to protect their heads, teeth and face. They don padding across their shoulders and chest area that protects their back, neck and sternum. Hip and thigh pads are added to their uniform pants as protection from dislocation, broken bones and/or getting cut. No matter how girded these players are, injuries can still occur. When it happens, players are taken out of the game until they have recovered and are cleared to play again.

The Bible tells Christians about a different protective gear. This gear is not only essential but necessary when dealing with spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare is not a battle in the flesh and blood but occurs in a spiritual realm. It’s a battle for our souls, for our families, for our peace of mind and ultimately, for our lives. Although we may be able to identify a few human enemies in our world, the Bible continuously reminds of a universal enemy. Everyday we are at war and our enemy is invisible. That enemy strives daily to destroy every purpose and plan God designed for us. That enemy even has assignments over us that are centered around keeping us from living our God-given callings. Because we are a hunted people, God calls us to put on His armor daily in order to be protected against the ultimate predator. Although football padding doesn’t fully protect from injury, God guarantees victory everytime we suit up in His armor.

When it comes to the ideology of warfare, Sun Tzu tells his readers this: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” (The Art of War, 2010, Capstone Publishing) This can look like immobilizing the enemy before they attack or using the power of intimidation to push the enemy away. The Bible, however, tells readers that we are already at war and that we need to dress and arm ourselves for the enemy’s attacks. This is evident in Ephesians chapter 6 beginning with verse 11: “Put on the armor of God…” Throughout the next section of verses, Paul, the author of Ephesians, tells readers exactly what we need to wear. The full armor of God consists of a helmet of salvation, a breastplate of righteousness, a belt of truth, and shoes fitted for the readiness of peace. We are also instructed to carry the sword of the spirit and the shield of faith. Actually, a few translations say “take up” or “hold up” the shield of faith but does the wording make that much difference? I think so.

To carry something, you hold it in your arms or dangle it from your hands. To take up or hold up something you place it firmly in front of you as a preventative measure, similar to a stiff-arm position in football. In an effort to defend against a tackle, a wide receiver may carry the football in his arms but hold up his other arm, directly in front of his opponent. With his hand up and palm open in a “stop” position, the ball carrier is ready to block his enemy. In the same way, when we hold up our shields of faith, we block the devil from every fiery arrow he has aimed at us and our families. Afterall, faith is the our greatest defense against one of the enemy’s best weapons which is disbelief.

It’s one thing to know what to wear, and the weapons to arm ourselves with. It means something different, hopefully something more, when we understand the necessity of both and how to position ourselves for battle. The first piece of God’s armor mentioned in Ephesians chapter six is interestingly, not head gear or shoulder pads. It’s the belt of truth. Now I don’t know about you but when I’m getting dressed, my belt is typically the last thing I put on. Keep in mind, this armor is protective gear worn over one’s clothing, so it’s assumed you’re already dressed. Nonetheless, when suiting up, I don’t think I’d put the belt on first. So why does Paul tell his readers to belt up in truth first? Because he knows the enemy’s first attack typically comes in the form of a lie or some other falsehood.

To combat any lie of the enemy we must be girded in God’s truth. John 8:32 tells us when we know the truth, we will be set free. John 14:6 says Jesus is the truth and John 16:13 assures us that when the spirit of truth speaks to us, it’s not of his own words but what God has told Him to say. Just as a belt is made to hold up a pair of pants, the belt of truth holds us up and keeps us from buckling under the enemy’s lies. In Roman soldier times, the belt was the first article put on because “it held everything else together.” (Brown, G., 2016, God’s truth holds everything spiritually together also.

The second piece of armor mentioned is the breastplate of righteousness. A breastplate is made to protect the chest, heart and lungs. These organs are vital to our very existence. Puncture a lung or experience heart failure and doctors have only a few short minutes to repair the damage/get the heart pumping before you’re dead. In the spiritual realm, the enemy attacks this area through our emotions. Ever experience an emotional pain that left you unable to catch your breath or walk through circumstances where you physically felt your heart breaking? It’s an indescribable pain in your chest, a combination of an endless ache mixed with the sharpness of muscle tearing as if the circumstance is literally ripping your heart in half. Then there’s the paralyzing pressure of the enemy’s grip on your heart, squeezing tightly in an attempt to slowly crush it. Something that gets ripped in half is a lot easier to repair than something that gets crushed. Thus, feeling as though your heart is being crushed can invoke a cycle of high anxiety, chest pain and shortness of breath. This means, if we aren’t wearing a breastplate of righteousness, spiritual warfare can come in the form of emotional and physical ailments and they tend to target our most vulnerable and necessary organs.

Now, let’s talk about the helmet of salvation. This piece of armor resonates with me the most. Why? Because I am an overthinker and since a helmet is designed to protect the brain, the helmet of salvation is adorned to protect our thoughts. Just as our brains literally tell the rest of our bodies what to do, our thoughts direct our actions too. A helmet of salvation blocks the enemy from our minds. Confusion attacks when life’s storms blindside us. If we don’t guard our thoughts with the helmet of salvation, our minds will spiral and life altering decisions can be made that bring us no peace but only take us deeper into a world of darkness and confusion. We cannot control every thought that enters our mind but we do not have to entertain, believe or act on every thought either. We should test every thought by comparing it to God’s word. If it aligns with scripture, it is probably from God. If it does not, it’s definitely not from God. In case you’re wondering how to decipher your thoughts better, I believe 99% of our thoughts will either be from the enemy or our own humanness, not from God. God speaks to our spirits, not our heads.

Although Paul doesn’t mention this in Ephesians six , I believe there is one more essential piece of armor. I call it the mouth guard of trust. Our words hold more power than we know. If we speak of despair and insecurity, we will inevitably stir up both inside and around us. Don’t believe me, think of how emotionally draining it is to be around someone who is constantly complaining or speaking doomsday negativity all the time. If we speak God’s truth, we will be able to stand firm against every scheme of the enemy. This is where trust comes in to play. Have you ever felt like you were walking in God’s leading, praising Him for answered prayer only to be blindsided and have the very thing you prayed for ripped away suddenly? If you’re like me, you feel devastated and question if you even heard God correctly. Maybe you beg for God to restore it, or at least explain to you what in the world He is doing only to hear Him say, “Trust in me with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Trust is something I have always struggled with. Over the past several weeks, through Proverbs 3:5, God has revealed something to me regarding trust. God doesn’t call us to just trust Him. He calls us to trust Him with all of our hearts. Trusting with all your heart means posturing your own will in full surrender to God’s will because you trust His will is better than your own. This is neither easy nor natural. Especially if, like me, you prefer to be in the driver seat of your life. Trusting God with all our hearts is the equivalent of Peter getting out of the boat and believing he could walk on water. I’m just gonna get real for one minute and tell you that I have no intentions of trying to walk on water. I’m learning to trust God with all my heart, but walking on water was Peter’s gig and possibly not meant for all of us. So if ever there was a “don’t try this at home” disclaimer in any of these posts, it would be right now. Please don’t try walking on water as your method in trusting God with all your heart. Instead, simply pray, “God, I surrender. I trust You, I trust Your ways and I trust Your timing. Even when I don’t know what You’re doing and nothing makes sense, I will still choose to trust You.”

The enemy has waged a war on our lives and our families. It’s time to suit up and put on God’s armor. We have to gird our waists with the belt of truth, guard our hearts with the breast plate of righteousness and protect our minds with the helmet of salvation. To stand firm against all the devil’s strategies (Ephesians 6:11), we must also guard our mouths by speaking our trust in God out loud. We must arm ourselves with the sword of the spirit (God’s word) and take up our shields of faith. For it is faith that heals us and sets us free. Sun Tzu suggests avoiding battles altogether, but God says, the war is already on and already won. Not every battle is ours to fight. Exodus 14:14 is a reminder that God fights for us and we need only be still. He may not call us to fight every battle, but He does call us to put on our armor and prepare for battle daily. Are you willing to do that for your life and your family? I hope so, because whether you want to fight or not, you’re already standing on the gridiron of a battle field.

What’s Your Spiritual Heart Rate?

My heart throbs, my strength fails me; And the light of my eyes-it also has gone from me.

Psalms 38:10 (ESV)

Yesterday I sat in four hours of training learning how to assess emergency medical situations and provide assistance to those in life threatening circumstances. Topics discussed included, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), first aid and proper usage of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Although all of the information received was beneficial, the lesson on AEDs stood out the most. AEDs are portable machines that shock a person’s heart. They should be used, when available, during times when a person is displaying symptoms of cardiac distress or is found unresponsive and/or not breathing. When used properly, an AED will guide the person administering medical assistance in the exact steps that include when to apply the pads, when to not touch the person, and if needed, when to shock the person’s heart. Once a shock is administered, the machine then gives an instruction to begin CPR. To better explain how an AED works, I recall the instructor describing it like this: The AED does all the work for you. If you listen to its instructions, you will use it successfully and could inevitable save a person’s life.

This statement made me think of our spiritual heart conditions. What is guiding our spiritual heartbeat and what is our spiritual heart rate? What symptoms do we display when our spiritual hearts are in distress? What can we connect ourselves to when our spiritual hearts need shocked back into the rhythm of God’s heartbeat? When we walk in full surrender and align our hearts’ desires with God’s will, I believe our spiritual heart rate is equivalent to our physical resting heart rate. We feel steady and calm experiencing a level of peace that supersedes human comprehension. However, when we are not aligned with God, or when we focus on what we cannot control instead of surrendering our circumstances to God, our spiritual (and at times our physical) hearts go into distress, racing with worry, despair and confusion. When this happens we don’t tend to turn to the One who created our hearts. We turn to false lifelines like alcohol, medication or other means of escape and temporary fixes. Just like physical cardiac distress, when left untreated turns into full blown cardiac arrest and can quickly become fatal, when we fail to take care of our spiritual hearts, we inevitably find ourselves in a spiritual cardiac arrest also. Spiritual distress can look like an anxious mind and restless spirit. Spiritual arrest is a hardened heart and a bitter or closed off spirit.

CPR and AED techniques are very useful tools in keeping a person’s physical heart beating until they can receive intensive medical treatment from a licensed physician. What tools work to keep our spiritual hearts healthy and/or shock us spiritually to get us back into the rhythm of God’s heartbeat? First, we need to spend regular time in prayer. Just like a human relationship with no communication will not survive, our spiritual hearts need daily communication with God to stay in alignment with His will. Just like routine exercise keeps our physical hearts strong, prayer keeps our spiritual hearts pumping steadily. When we can’t pray, we should ask others to pray for us. Prayer is not only equivalent to chest compressions done in CPR, but moments God speaks to us during prayer is equivalent to the rescue breaths given in between chest compression sets. In CPR, the ratio of chest compressions to rescue breathing is 30 compressions to two breaths. From a spiritual aspect, this could mean we may pray 30 times and only hear God twice. Seeking Him regularly is more important than hearing from Him. Let me say that again. Seeking God is more important than hearing from God. This does not mean we should not seek to hear from God. This just means, God may not speak to us daily but He still requires that we pray daily.

God’s word promises that if we call on Him, He will listen and that if we seek Him, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:12-13). God does promise to answer us, He just doesn’t always answer us right away or in our timeline. Isaiah 55:8 reminds us that God doesn’t answer us through our own thoughts either. In fact, I believe 99% of our thoughts go against what God actually speaks to us. We hear God through our spirits only and when we speak from our spirits, at least when I speak from mine, it doesn’t ever align with my own thoughts. The next time you think you heard from God, test the word. Is it coming from your own thoughts or are you recognizing it through your spirit? Get out of your head and don’t listen to your thoughts. Instead, quiet your mind and get in tune with your spirit. That’s where you hear God best.

God’s word is also our one part of our spiritual AED. When we open our Bibles, we find them filled with scriptures that direct us, step by step, in every inch of our spiritual journeys. When we get into God’s word daily, we receive His instructions on how to handle every situation we face. Just like the AED guides users through the process of assessing a human heart condition, God’s word guides us in how to assess our spiritual heart conditions also. When we are intentional with applying His word daily, we keep our hearts in perfect rhythm and won’t need to be spiritually shocked. It’s when we ignore His instructions or we don’t read His word that we get out of rhythm and show signs of serious spiritual distress. In these times, we need the second part of our spiritual AED, prayers, encouragement and at times, even admonishment from God fearing and prayer warrior friends.

Just as a person in physical cardiac arrest cannot do CPR or operate an AED on themselves, we can experience times of spiritual arrest and are unable to save ourselves. This is when God sends in prayer warriors and God fearing friends to speak and pray His word into our circumstances. Some battles are just too severe for us to fight on our own. God’s creation of Eve for Adam, and even giving Aaron to Moses and Titus to Paul is proof that He did not intend for us to do life alone. Jesus commissioned 12 disciples because He couldn’t do His ministry alone and He was God in human form yet somehow we think we can handle all of our circumstances on our own. Just as Moses needed Aaron and Hur to hold up Moses arms when he was too weak to keep them up on his own, our God fearing friends can be our strength and fight for us when we are too weak or too distressed to pray and trust God to handle our circumstances for us. When we allow others to lean in and walk along side us through difficult times, when we lean on others and allow them to hold us up when we are too weak to carry on, we inevitably are allowing God to restore our spiritual heart rates return back to the rhythm of His heartbeat. If we shut people and God out, we put ourselves at risk of having a spiritual heart attack.

Speaking of spiritual heart attacks, Danny Gokey performs a song called, Tell Your Heart to Beat Again (BMG-Chrysalis, 2016). In one music video of this song, Danny gives an introduction to the meaning behind the lyrics of this song. ( The story depicts a woman undergoing heart surgery. To perform open heart surgery, physicians stop your heartbeat and have you hooked up to a machine that sustains your life while they operate on your heart. All goes well for this particular operation until the surgeon attempts to get the patient’s heart to beat again. With all medical efforts completed, the patient’s heart will not start beating on its own. The physician finally leans down and tells the patient he’s done all he can do for her, it’s up to her to tell her heart to beat again. Within moments, her heart is beating again.

Listeners of the song lyrics are reminded that at times when we feel shattered, we may go into a spiritual cardiac arrest. It’s in these moments we can be so immersed with pain and grief that we cannot feel God’s presence let alone His comfort or healing touch. These are the times we must be still, surrender our pain to Jesus trusting He is fixing our hearts. But even when Jesus fixes our hearts, if we still hold on to that pain, our spiritual pulses remain weak. It’s in these moments we have to surrender our painful pasts and tell our hearts to beat again.

What’s your spiritual heart rate right now? Are you aligned with God’s heartbeat or are you in need of some spiritual cardiac care? Has Jesus restored you from past wounds but holding on to that pain is making your spiritual heart rate erratic or non-existent? Check your spiritual pulse right now and take the steps needed to protect yourself from a spiritual heart attack. If you’re in a spiritual cardiac arrest, maybe it’s time to make a 911 call to your prayer warrior friends. If you’re holding on to old wounds, maybe it’s simply time to tell your heart to beat again. Whatever the source of your heart condition is, I pray you let God heal you, restore you and re-align your spiritual heart rate to the rhythm of His heartbeat.