Learning to Skip

“How was school today?” I asked.

“It was good. But did you know I can’t skip, mommy? We did skipping in motor skills and I can’t do it.”

“Well, that’s okay, baby. You’ll learn. We can work on it … Do other people in your class know how to skip yet?”

“Yes mommy. Everybody can skip. But me. I can’t do it.”


“Um hmm. All the other kids.”

My heart dropped. How could every other kid in Pre-K skip but Mary? Did their moms get a secret memo to teach skipping lessons? The child walked at ten months and is an animal on the soccer field – why in the world can’t she skip? My mommy worries started to spiral out of control. I was sad for her.

None of these thoughts seemed to enter Mary’s mind.

The teacher said she was just overthinking it. Mary is definitely a thinker! About a week later, the teacher was very touched to tell me that all of the children were taking turns helping Mary learn to skip. She would talk about it every day at pick up. “I practiced my skipping with Daisy! I had fun skipping with Valen! Lane is teaching me how to skip!”

And then one day – she got it! She now skips alongside her classmates on the lawn after school in complete joy. They love showing off together. She skips around our yard in glee. She introduces herself to perfect strangers by saying, “Hi. I’m Mary and I can skip. Wanna see?”

This was a heartwarming experience that made me realize I can learn from Mary. Because when I can’t do things others can, my tendency is to retreat. I hide out in shame. I avoid that thing, or write it off as dumb and elevate myself above it. I seldom ask for help when I’m the last to learn something. I pretend. And despite my outward strength or nonchalance, I inwardly care deeply and feel inadequate.

Next time I can’t do something, I simply want to ask for help. I don’t know how to curl hair, properly install a carseat, iron a wrinkle, tie pretty a bow or sew a button. These are things I feel like I should be able to do, so I don’t ask for help. I have never played the piano and wonder if I’m too old to learn. A few years ago someone asked me to pray out loud and I couldn’t do it. I felt inadequate. Others graciously helped me overcome that, and God did too. It was an awesome breakthrough!

As as adult, I often feel the need to have it all figured out, but now I see that as a trap to keep me from a being life-long learner. I pray for the humility to step into that blessing and off the sidelines!

Mary’s classmates didn’t like her any less because she couldn’t skip. She invited them into her challenge and they became cheerleaders and encouragers who were proud to see their friend learn. It bonded them closer. When we admit our needs and help one another, it ties us together, not apart. Love unites, shame divides.

God says His power is made perfect in our weakness. In this world of hiding weaknesses and pretending, it can be so hard to embrace them and ask for help, from each other and from our Father.

I think Mary knew deep down her inability to skip did not define her in any way. She reminded me we are loved unconditionally regardless of the things we can’t do or have done. And never for a minute did she think she wouldn’t get it. There’s no time for shame when we are becoming! Like Mary, I want have the courage and humility to reach out for help. Because when we do, it’s as joyful as this:

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Just Like Her

This is a piece I wrote a couple of years ago. I have never put it on my blog, mainly because I didn’t want to offend anyone who has chosen a different path. I am a strong believer that women should encourage one another as much as we possibly can and not judge each other. I also believe everyone has good, thoughtful reasons for the path they choose and that God moves people in different ways. Whatever your lane, go Momma! But, in light of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share this to honor my own Mom. It’s called “Just Like Her.”


When I grow up I want to be…just like him. My dad was my hero. The teacher asked in 6th grade what we wanted to be and I wrote, “a banker.” He wore a suit, he worked in a very tall building, he did important things with important people and he carried a very cool briefcase.

Mom was the wind beneath my wings. She cheered me on and shared my dreams. She was so smart, but all she offered seemed to stay within the four walls of our home. Things were different for me. I could be anything, and I wanted to be…just like him.

And so I was. Not at a bank, but in another business. She cheered me on with pride. She was my biggest fan. My dreams were coming true. I was important with an important salary.

Then, one day I saw my child’s face looking up at me. One who said, “Help me, Momma.” How could such a tiny baby need so much? Oh sweet child, you will fit into my life just fine. And others can help while Mama does the things Mama needs to do. And even though she couldn’t talk, her eyes screamed, “I want YOU, Mama. You are the most important…to me.”

The world said one thing, my heart said another. So many options made things confusing. And even Mom, my great source of wisdom, couldn’t empathize. The wind beneath my wings never knew what it felt like to fly over her babies looking up from a distance.

And during this time, I met Him. I began to understand His grace and who He says I am in Christ. He says “if any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5) Every woman has her own story, calling and wisdom. I am simply sharing mine. And wisdom came to me in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus says, “the son of man did not come to be served but to serve.” (Mark 10:45) I thought of Jesus, the servant King. I thought of how he bent low to be lifted high. How he washed feet. How he said the last would be first. How the world didn’t understand him. How he stopped in his tracks for children and said “let them come to me and do not hinder them.” (Mark 10:14) And then, I thought about her.

I thought about the long waits in the doctor’s offices, the lunch box notes, the face in the carpool line that brought me comfort even when I was too old to admit it. If something was wrong, she knew…because she was always there. I thought of the endless laundry, the talks and giggles in the kitchen, the messes, the times in the yard picking flowers. She taught me how to pump my legs on the swings, how to count, how to read…she made the mundane fun too, and deep down we found comfort knowing there was nowhere else she’d rather be.

I thought of all the homework, the rides in the van, the questions she answered. She was the referee, the encourager, the cook, the nurse, the photographer, the counselor, the teacher. She was so smart; she taught me everything. It’s no wonder Dad made it look so fun. He had her, the one tirelessly working behind the scenes. She was the invisible glue who held our family together.

My dad has so honorably worked hard to provide for us and accomplished much. I am so proud of him and the way he has led our family. But the bank building, like my office, will go on just fine when he leaves. And she has poured her life into me, life that will go forward to generations that will long outlive her. Her invisible job has produced fruit that will last well beyond her time. The world may overlook her, but she is most important…to me. Dad was my hero but God has opened my eyes that there were two heroes in my home.

In trying to fly, I found a higher calling. I can be anything, and I want to be…just like her.



When an Achiever Becomes a Believer

When an Achiever Becomes a Believer

Here is a picture of two very different half marathon finishes.


The first is of me six years ago and the second is last week. The Bible often refers to life as a race, and I thank God for how He transforms us along the journey and loves us every step of the way. Three kids and six years later, my race looks very different now…and so does my face! Because somewhere along life’s road, this achiever has been transformed into a believer. I am not afraid of my weaknesses anymore; they have been overcome by Grace!

One difference in these finishes is the extra 18 minutes it took to complete 13 miles. You could say I am a weaker runner now. But on this journey, God has shown me a different kind of strength. When I look at the first picture, I am so proud of her ability! When I look at the second, I am in awe of His ability to overcome. I see new things. I see:


Failure in my first race was going slower than a 10-minute mile. And sure enough, I beat it! But, as soon as I started training this time around, I realized my body could not run at that pace any more. So I had to redefine failure as allowing my expectations to drive me to quit. Releasing them set me free! Pride can so often shut us down from stepping into the abundant life. There was peace in embracing where I actually was instead of where I thought I should be. Weakness opens the door for His power to be made perfect. This mama can’t run fast in anything right now, but if I am willing to be humble, I can go to distance.


These pictures were supposed to be of the same race. I signed up to run in Nashville again but it didn’t work out with the kids. So I had to switch to a race in my own town three weeks earlier. This cut three weeks off training plus I caught the stomach bug and never-ending cough from my kids. The fight was not just to the finish line, but to the start. Six years of raising little ones has taught me to adjust and roll with curve balls. I do not have this mastered, but am learning I am not in control. Rather than quitting when things don’t go as planned, I am learning the strength of embracing the new plan and showing up for it just the same.


There was no training without teamwork. Unlike before, each time I went for a long run, it took teamwork from my husband and readjusting our family’s day. And rather than running the race too like originally planned, Will sat this one out to watch the kids. I am so thankful for my teammate in life!

I am also thankful for my friend Katie, who runs alongside me in ministry and motherhood, and showed up to run this race with me! We are not meant to run alone. God gives us the gift of co-laborers and encouragers to carry us when we can’t carry ourselves. And there was a moment in this race when I couldn’t carry myself. I hit a wall at mile ten and the gray road and sky started to blur together into what looked like a static tv channel. My legs felt cold and I wondered if I might collapse on the side of road. I tried to fight it, but knew I was shutting down.

And somewhere along life’s journey, I hit that wall too and came to an end of myself. The entanglement of my sin and flesh brought me to a place where I could not go on. I needed help. So on the run, I started praying through that fuzzy gray. Lord, help me. Please just help me see. And there in front of me was this sign “Church.”


It was not just any church; it was THE church where I came to Christ five years ago through a Bible study on Freedom. Seeing it made me know I was going to be okay and that this was a turning point.

The church is not just a building; it is God’s people. And right there in that moment was Katie. I told her I needed help and asked her to lead me. She reminded me to eat some jelly beans :), and that sunshiny shirt and ponytail bouncing to the worship music she was singing out loud pulled me through until I could see again! I am so thankful for all of God’s people who have helped me see and find my way.



This race was a reminder that we don’t have to be fully trained to go the distance; we just have to have the courage to show up. A special part of the run was passing by Hudson Alpha where Will works and was called out of the corporate world to be a part of an entrepreneurial enterprise. It was a leap of faith that the unknown would be better than the known. I am thankful for the risks we’ve taken along the journey, especially the ones for God. The achiever fears failure; the believer fears not doing the hard thing in light of the failure that has been overcome.



The Nashville race had a band at every mile, which was awesome! The ever-changing music encouraged me. There were no bands on this race; the soundtrack came from the never-changing Truth I played to myself.

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2

“Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame..” Romans 5:3


This race was different because of who I would see at the finish line.

There was nothing like hearing Will with these little voices cheering “Go Mommy!” at the end. While giving birth to them has made me slower, knowing I would see their faces pushed me to the finish. And embracing them reminded me that at the end of my race, their footprints will extend generations beyond my time here. And that’s how it is in this race of life. When we believe in Jesus, it’s different because of who we will see at the finish line. We may look weaker by the world’s standards, but the life He births in us is a gift that will extend beyond our time. And knowing the One we’ll embrace at the finish makes it worth the fight.


I treasure these race pictures and the amazing love God has for us every step of the way. He is writing a story in each of our lives, and lets us in on the best secret…no matter what we achieve, we’re made perfect when we believe. And that’s worth smiling for!



We were made for this!

We were made for this!


My alma mater, UNC, won in the NCAA Final Four game last night. Seeing this picture of Chapel Hill made me so thrilled that I cried a happy tear. My team won! It reminds me of that awesome day in 2005 when I was one of those people in a Carolina blue shirt on Franklin Street. I gave hugs and high fives to perfect strangers and even people I didn’t like. It didn’t matter because in that moment we were all united in victory!!!

There is a passion that comes out of people in sporting events.

I think it is because we were made for victory and uniting in praise. I believe it’s a small preview of what’s to come. Rather than a few thousand people on Franklin Street, John describes the scene in Revelation as “a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language.” He hears the voices of “thousands and millions of angels around the throne singing in a mighty chorus.” (Rev 7:9, 5:12) Can you even imagine how awesome this is going to be?!

Rather than a wearing a team color, we will all wear white, the robes of righteousness that he graciously gives us in exchange for our dirty clothes. And more than a game dog and nachos, we will be included as guests of honor in a royal wedding supper.  And just like the spectators of the game, our victory will not be won by us but the champion of our team. He may not seem like a champion by the world’s standards, but He is the King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords. The same one who wore the thorn of crowns will return wearing many crowns, the one pierced by the sword will have a sword coming out of his mouth to strike down the nations, the eyes that wept at the tomb of Lazarus will be like blazing fire (Rev 19)…those same eyes that made the world and overcame the world still somehow see…us. And endured the unthinkable to rescue us into victory.  

Are there things that break your heart?

Injustices you long to see made right?

Situations that seem helpless?

Fears you can’t shake?

Loved ones you miss?

When our team wins, it strikes an emotional chord, and evokes a deeper hope that what opposes us has been defeated. It’s a taste of beautiful unity and the celebration that is to come. It reminds we belong to the Champion…and that His victory belongs to us. We were made to win!

Freedom Writing & Rhyming

A wise friend once told me to run after God with all you have and then look at the people on your right and left; those are the people with you on your faith journey. God has led me to a group of writers at Lincoln Village Ministries called Freedom Writers. Each week, I go with three beautiful sisters to write with middle school girls. It’s a time the girls can have a safe place to share what’s on their hearts. We write together, pray together, get real and help each other experience freedom in the Lord. I learn as much from these middle school girls as they do from me. They are awesome! My friend Katie Wilson founded Freedom Writers, inspired by the movie, and you can read more about it here.

We recently took a field trip to Rhymer’s for the Lord, a ministry founded by my dear friend and fellow freedom writer, Toya Poplar, and her husband, Melvin. Melvin is a gospel rapper and lyrical genius! Rhymer’s invites kids and adults to the Inner City Learning Center to rhyme for God’s glory. It takes an art that can used to share harmful words, and transforms it into something life-giving and amazing!

Speaking on a mic in rhyme is new to me (haha!), but I love new things because they break me out of my comfort zone. The cool thing about running after God is when you look to your right and left, you won’t see people who look exactly like you. I have found in all of the places He has led me, He brings people of different color, backgrounds and age into my life. This makes HIM bigger, extends the facets of His glory, and stretches me to experience Him in different ways!  

Toya asked me to read “The Pavement” (my rhyme about running below) without my notes. That’s not my style, but I did it! At her suggestion, I dressed in my running clothes and acted it out. And isn’t that how it should be with God’s word too? We don’t just read it, but write it on our hearts, dress in it and act it out? This freedom writer experienced freedom in a new way tonight at the Inner City Learning Center!  


I wanted to share “The Pavement” with you and hope you enjoy it! And if you haven’t experienced spoken word, rhyming for the Lord or God in a new way, I highly recommend it! We have a Creative Creator who delights in bringing His people together and inviting us into His creativity.

The Pavement

Running is a gift
It’s hard but it teaches
I think the pavement listens
I also think it preaches.

I know I’m not alone
When I wrestle hopes and fears
Does the pavement see me?
Does the pavement have ears?

It calls me out to try again
To wrestle and to fight
To run my race with all I am
To battle dark with light.

My envy, fear and anger
I talk them out so freely
We work it out together
I know the pavement sees me.

And yet it never changes
Or pushes me away
My darkest thoughts are fully known
And yet I get to stay.

It reminds me to be humble
It reminds me to be brave
It reminds me that I stumble
But in failure I am safe.

It reminds me that comparison
Blinds us to our light
We choose to win or lose
By choosing who to fight

Our struggle is never against
Another runner in the hood
But powers of darkness that lie to us
And tell us we’re no good.

There is no hill too high
And I never climb alone
The pavement feels my every step
And always brings me home.

So, when I’m sad and hurting
Or feel I might explode
I go and tell the pavement
That ever-listening road.

The pavement never judges
I don’t have to show restraint
The pavement never rejects
True colors I can paint.

It shows me I’m not stuck
And that I get to keep going
It reminds me I have freedom
And a hope that’s always growing.

God, thank You for the race
For trials and triumphs true
In Christ, we have the victory
And on the pavement,

Fighting Expectations: The Battle at the Salon

Have you ever thought things were going to go one way and they ended up another? For those of you who need a laugh, I wanted to share this picture:


The title: “Nightmare at Salon SoVain.” It was indeed a nightmare! I didn’t intend to bring John and Anna on this long-awaited hair appointment, but my sitter cancelled and little John faked sick, something he has done a handful of times since getting a train table for Christmas. So, there we were. All three of us in a tiny, fancy space.

At one point, John was pressing his tongue on the fragile, clean mirror while Anna was bouncing up and down on my lap screeching. I wanted to hide under my cape. Then, when I went to get shampooed, Anna crawled up on my chest and stuck her fingers in the water. As I wrestled her down, John had a meltdown because his movie ended and he wondered where his mommy went. He had to be escorted back by another stylist, and there I was with both children on top of my chest during the shampoo. I held them and looked around and thought, “this just doesn’t fit.”

My expectations for what the salon should be and the reality of my experience collided in two very different pictures. I had a clear image for how this was going to go, and this was not it. And, as I held tightly onto my expectations for the day, they were making me crazy and literally wanting to pull my hair out! So I had a choice to make; keep fighting for them or let them go. I gave up the fight, stepped the reality of the day and gave myself grace to take a nap after the salon.

As a mom of three young kids, my days rarely go as planned. And I often find myself in this battle with the formidable opponent of expectations. Ones I put on myself and ones I (probably falsely) believe others put on me.

There are expectations for how much I can do in a day, how many people I can serve outside my home, how fast I can run after having three kids, how my house should look, how a “good mom” should parent her children, how domestic I should be, how quickly I can cultivate friendships in this stage of life, the list goes on. And in all of these, my expectations and reality paint two different pictures. When I insist on the first, I miss the real life in the other.

Expectations have a way of inviting the intruders of entitlement and comparison into the territory of thanksgiving and joy that has been won for us. When we hold onto them, they put an ugly frame around the gift of the present. They push away the honesty that ushers in grace. Expectations of who and how we should be lead us to pretend…pretend with God, others and ourselves. And this pretending blinds us to the grace that’s available to us in the present.

Expectations can be a prison and I’m learning to break free of them! Rather than holding onto them tightly, I am learning to hold tightly onto grace. Because expectations are about striving, and grace is about surrender. Expectations say “I’ll be enough when,” but grace says “I’m enough in Him.” Expectations are often rooted in fear, but grace is always rooted in love.

Expectations see “imperfection.” Grace sees “I’m perfection.”

Expectations come from the world, but grace comes from God. And He is teaching me how to freely embrace my messy life as it is. Rather than strive to change it, I am inviting grace in to change me. And from that scandalous grace in the midst of chaos and unmet expectations comes a peace that surpasses even the quietest salon experience.

Proof of Citizenship

I was going through airport security in Mexico last week and the woman who scanned my password looked at me, then my passport, then back up at me. She looked me up and down with cold eyes, and the authority of whether or not I could pass through appeared to be in her hands. Her hesitation made me think, “Oh no…I am going to be found out.” I smiled big just to look inconspicuous and then wondered if that made it worse. Was I trying too hard? What if she discovered I was a fake, a terrorist and capable of major harm to others. Could she see it?

Sometimes that is how I feel around people. I falsely place the truth of my identity in the hands of others. I shake in my bones at their scrutinizing glances and pray they will give me a pass when all along, I am approved. The truth in the security of my identity is in the seal on my passport, not their opinion. When held up to the LIGHT, the seal is authentic because of the authority of who stamped it. I am a citizen of heaven. I have nothing to fear because the seal of the Living God is on me. My identity is in Him, approved, accepted, true.

Sometimes people in the church can act like airport security people scrutinizing people’s outer appearance and wondering if they belong. But Jesus pursued the foreigner and the outsider and brought them in. His grace is sufficient. And those in the judgement seat are often the ones who most need to see its extravagance.

When judged, may we remember our security in the seal of the Living God and our citizenship in heaven – and through the power of the Holy Spirit, extend grace. And when we find ourselves in a place where people are entering, may we remember to offer them a welcoming smile and tell them to have a wonderful trip home.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Philippians 3:20 NIV

“He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit…” 2 Corinthians 1:22 NIV

The God of Breakthrough

Have you ever experienced a breakthrough in your life?  Or are you praying for one right now?

I was running this morning for the first time in a long time, and was reminded of a big breakthrough that got me fired up. Truths discovered in running often remind me of spiritual truths, and I think that’s why there are many references to running in the Bible.

Several years ago, I was a “three miler runner.” I had about five different three-mile routes from our house, and ran in a few 5ks. As a 28-year-old who had passed her athletic “prime,” I did not think I was capable of running more than three miles any more. My husband challenged me on this.  He told me I was capable of so much more if I could just break through the “three mile wall” in my mind. He encouraged me this was a mental wall, not a present reality. It’s a wall he had broken through and he kindly offered to help me.

Rather than running one of my normal routes and adding to it, he drove me somewhere far away from our neighborhood.  He didn’t want me thinking through the route.  He didn’t want me to think about anything but finishing. When we got there, he did something really wise.  He told me I had to leave my watch in the car.  I wanted to know how fast we were going, but he told me that wasn’t necessary.  He said that pace doesn’t matter when you’re going a new distance. I thought that was a neat reminder that in order to experience breakthrough with God, we have to throw off our performance measures. Not seeing my mile time was so freeing. I didn’t have to run fast – I just had to run.

Will and I ran that afternoon, side by side, step by step for what seemed like an eternity.  I set the pace and he just was there to keep me from stopping. It’s as if there was an imaginary thread between us and he was pulling me along one step and one breath at a time for four long miles.

When the parking lot of our finish line was in close distance, I was so happy to see it that I sprinted the rest of the way toward it. I ran my heart out, freedom of breakthrough in every step.  Will let me go ahead as he cheered me on.  I did it! I broke through the three mile wall.  Three weeks later, I ran my first 10k.  And a month after that I finished my first half marathon.  Once I realized that wall was indeed a lie, I was ready to embrace the once impossible with everything I had.

Remembering this today made me reflect on spiritual breakthroughs and how they’ve looked a lot like that day with Will. Breaking through the walls built by fears, hurts, and lies has looked like:

Running together –  When we let a trusted person into the hurting and often secret places of our lives, breakthrough happens.  Sometimes they carry us through, sometimes they just run beside us.  Sharing my dark places and weakness with others is probably the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. But bringing others into my journey has led to true healing, freedom and amazing breakthrough.  It’s in those moments I’ve seen God’s light overcome darkness.  

Taking off the watch – As someone who loves to perform well, this is challenging for me.  But breakthroughs are never about what I can do well! They are only what He can do through me when I take my eyes off my abilities and put them on His promises. Also, breakthroughs often don’t happen as fast as we’d like them to.  They are not on our time; they are on His time. Taking off the watch helps us release that and not give up too soon.

Explosive Growth – Each time I have discovered that wall was not a present reality in light of God’s word and who I am in Christ, there has been explosive growth beyond what I could have asked or imagine.  Breakthroughs don’t just get us out; they send us soaring, walls in the dust. His divine power demolishes strongholds and sets us free indeed!

Seeing and being someone new – Today I am starting over in running after having a baby.  I can only go 1.2 miles and boy, does it hurt.  However, I don’t see myself as someone who can only run 1.2 miles.  I see myself as a half marathon (potentially more) runner who is a little out of shape. This is a huge difference! Once we see who we are in Christ, we can operate out of the strength and truth of our new identity.

Our God is a God who breaks through for us. He leads us to break through our fears, unbelief and the places where we feel stuck and defeated. He breaks through the walls built by hurt and the lies telling us change is not possible for us. He overcomes, He rescues and He delivers.

“The LORD did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”).  2 Sam 5:20

He sees the walls in our hearts and our minds, and wants us to burst through to freedom like a raging flood!  The same God who burst through for David is for us and can burst through for you and me today. He is no different and our battles are no less important. Isn’t that awesome!?

As the New Year begins, I have been journaling the places I pray God can break through in 2016. There are specific places I am stuck and need freedom. I am so amazed at all He has done, and it gives me great hope to know He is not nearly finished with me! A friend gave me the advice to journal my prayers years ago, and I am so thankful. Writing them out is an amazing way to later look back and see how He is faithful to answer.  Our hearts are always full of prayers, and journals are a great reminder that He hears them.

What is the place that at the end of 2016 you would like to name Baal-perazim?  The place in your mind, heart, life?  The place you want to see Him burst through that doesn’t look possible right now? The relationship that’s still broken, the fear that paralyzes, the sin that still lingers, the pattern that continues, the dream that has lost its spark of hope, the unbelief that only the Holy Spirit can break through. What are the New Year’s hopes that can only be accomplished with the help a powerful God? I dare you to write them down!  

Each run begins with one new step. Each breakthrough begins with one new prayer.  Each year begins with one new day. It’s time for walls to fall. Let’s run our hearts out!

“Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way…” Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG

Baby Jesus


Each year, I feel like something new strikes me at Christmas.  I’ve read the story of baby Jesus hundreds of times, but it seems each year something pops out that I never saw before. This year, it is baby Jesus.

I was listening to a Christmas song about baby Jesus during a night of worship, and I pictured him crying out to his mother. A helpless little cry from the King of the Universe. I pictured her holding him. I pictured him cooing. Tears streamed down my face as I was overwhelmed by the reality of these images!  He was indeed a little baby just like my baby Anna.

Anna is six months old and one of my favorite things about her are these little hands that are attached to the rolls of her arms with no wrist. It is the most precious thing to me!

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I smile wondering if baby Jesus had little rolls like this. I wonder what his expression was the first time he sat up. What did it look like when the one who would walk on water took his first wobbly steps? Or sound like when the living Word babbled his first little noises?

The humanity and frailty of him is overwhelming. Such a powerful person and yet his entrance into the world was a baby.  Completely helpless, completely powerless, completely dependent on us. Wow.

Like all of us, I have a million things to do this time of year.  But when Anna is awake, I can’t get anything done.  It’s impossible! And when she falls asleep on my chest, it is just heaven. I know how fast these babies grow. The rest of the world can wait.

There’s just something about babies. If they’re in a room, they become the central focus without even saying a word. They draw us in, they make us feel loved, they disarm us with their vulnerability.  We want to hold them, we want to let the world stand still and hold that precious innocence in our arms.  They make us forget our fears and our struggles, if only for a moment.

I was holding Anna today and feeling her little breaths go up on and down on my chest as I thought about that baby Jesus.  Often when I picture him, I picture me sitting on his lap. I picture him putting the broken pieces of me back together. I picture me safe and resting in his strong and capable arms.  I picture him wiping away every tear.

But when Jesus came into the world, He needed someone to hold him, to comfort him, to wipe away his little tears, and make sure he was safe.  He needed someone to carry him, to care for him, to stop what they were doing and let him rest on their shoulder.

This year, will you join me in loving on the baby Jesus?  In throwing away your to do list for a moment and holding him in your arms. In enjoying that sweetness while we can. Christmas is here and will be gone so soon! The rest can wait. It’s time to enjoy our baby Jesus.

**This wonderful post “Three Ways to Love on Baby Jesus” by my dear friend Suzanne Matthews has inspired me this season. Precious ways we can love on our baby Jesus.  I hope it blesses you too!

See the Oak Tree Inside the Acorn

See the Oak Tree inside the Acorn

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:3

A friend sent me a devotion about raising boys and one of the points was to “see the oak tree inside the acorn.” As the mother of this little boy who is two-years old, I deeply cherish those words.

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John is such a little acorn! A small, silly, precious child full of potential and wonder. But God sees him as an oak tree. God doesn’t live in time and sees John as an eternal being, made in His image. Inside this little child is a strong man, a protector, a provider, a warrior, a pillar of righteousness. Inside this little child is a potential father and generations of others to come.

Ever since I read that devotion, I have done my best to call forth the oak tree inside my little acorn. When he fights invisible sea monsters with his swords, I tell him he is strong and courageous, and that he will be a warrior one day. When he pushes curious onlookers away from his baby sister, even when they are twice his size, I tell him he is brave and that God has made him a protector. When he plays his Elmo guitar and spins and dances, I tell him he has a natural heart for worship and I can see him leading it one day. When he hits his older sister and doesn’t share, I tell him that’s not who he is in Christ. When I pray for John, I pray for him as a husband and a father…I try to speak to the oak tree inside my little acorn.

Has anyone ever seen potential or spoken life into you? Words can be very powerful. I’ll never forget the first time someone asked me to lead a Bible study. I remember it so well. She called on the phone and I know exactly the road I was driving on in my car. She told me she thought I was a light and a leader. Who me? I can’t lead people in a Bible study! Do you know what kind of mistakes I’ve made in my life? I am absolutely unworthy!

But she saw something else. She saw who God saw. She reminded me that I am a new creation, much like the acorn that is no longer an acorn when it becomes a tree. She spoke HIS words of life into me and reminded me of who I am in Christ; righteous, forgiven and new…a display of His splendor. He used her to paint a picture of who He saw and then she asked if I would step out in agreement.

I said yes. I have been blessed to lead several Bible studies since then. My branches have reached higher and my roots have grown deeper than I could have ever imagined…and I am still growing! But without her words, I may have never experienced the fullness of life He put inside me.

Once someone sees the oak tree in you and shows you what it looks like, God opens your eyes to see it in others. A few months ago, I was in a similar conversation. Only this time, I was on the other end. It makes me smile from ear to ear to see a friend leading her first Bible study this fall. She is not unworthy, and God is using her to speak life into others each week. When we speak potential into others, it has life that goes forward beyond what we can see. Inside each acorn is an oak tree, and inside each oak tree is an entire forest.

Each time we speak, we can either advance the kingdom of life or the kingdom of death. God spoke the entire universe into existence with His words. Eve was led to eat the apple by words from the enemy. Condemning words have the power to destroy us while life-giving words have the power to revive us. They free us to become who we really are to our Maker.

The enemy works hard to snuff out potential, but the Body of Christ illuminates it. Jesus sees and calls forth the saint in the sinner, the righteous in the wicked, the Paul in the Saul, the lovely in the unlovely, the life in the death, the perfect in the imperfect, the spotless bride in the unfaithful, the royal in the common, the eternal in the now.

It is a miracle who we become in Christ. As Sally Lloyd-Jones writes, “a whole forest is inside a single acorn. And the Bible says because of Jesus, all the riches of God – all of heaven’s vast resources, all the power in the universe – have come to live inside you.”

We can’t fathom what a tiny acorn is capable of becoming until we see the oak tree. And we can’t fathom who we are capable of becoming until we look at Jesus…and believe His words.

Father, thank you for transforming us into new creations with your grace. Open our eyes to see the oak tree of righteousness in all of your children. Lead us to use our words to speak abundant life and call forth your Kingdom.