Open your Hands

Like a knife slicing through butter, I stepped out of my house and into the crisp yet somehow damp with humidity morning. It’s not abnormal for Texas to provide such paradoxical weather. I clomped over to my car door and noticed a butterfly perched on the handle with outstretched wings. Instinctively I froze and gently eased my hand in front of the butterfly. It slowly placed one spindly leg after onto my hand. Time seemed to pause as I held the butterfly in the palm of my hand. Every now and then the little guy (maybe girl?) would flutter its wings as it explored the newfound territory. I tried to put him on a nearby shrub. but he was quite content to sit on my hand. The moment was so beautiful. Still I was itching to grab my phone out of the purse slung on my arm to catch a picture. At the same time I didn’t want to scare off the butterfly with my movements. I forced myself to wait and be in the moment. Yet the ridiculous internal battle raged on. After several agonizing minutes, I slowly maneuvered my other arm and pulled out my phone for the picture. As I looked through my phone’s screen and readied myself to take the photo, the butterfly fluttered away.

Of course there was a lesson to be learned in this for me. As I watched the butterfly float away on the thick air, I immediately heard the tender whisper from Abba, Father, “Don’t be distracted with holding onto things- I will provide more tomorrow.” My desire to take a picture of the beauty in my hands was birthed out of my want to hold on to the moment for longer than the fleeting minutes I thought it would be. I knew the butterfly would not stay there forever, and I wanted to keep the moment. I wanted to show my kids, show my friends, maybe even put a pretty quote on it and feature it in a blog. Whatever my good intentions were, the thoughts of physically hanging on to this beautiful encounter were distracting me from the moment itself. And not only that,  but my obsession put a damper on the beauty of the fleeting gift that the visit from the butterfly was. You see the gifts, the moments, the people, the material possessions, part of what makes them so special is that they are momentary. From a macro level of viewing this in my own life, I will not be on this earth forever. One day this body will die and become new with Jesus. In the grand scheme of eternity, my time here is short. Therefore I want to run as fast as I can in pursuit of my forerunner Jesus. Even if it means falling and scraping my knees. By grace, I rise and press on. Following every God-given dream, saying, “Yes”, to every calling, and passionately utilizing ever gift planted by the Lord within my soul. I want to love deeply out of the wellspring of love crashing into me from the Lord. To bring Him glory from my surrender, to make Him known through my life. His voice guides me on, “Come, child.”

If you are new to my blog, then you don’t know that my family is planning to become full-time missionaries and are moving to Norway in March, God-willing. There are so many baby steps to even getting the change to take this giant leap of faith. There is a daily surrendering to the Lord’s ability to accomplish the task of provision and endurance for us to get there. And despite the challenge, it has been amazing for our family. Our faith is swelling, our flame burning bright, and our family is becoming closer to God and one another than I thought possible. Yesterday started out so well, and then something in me shifted. Granted, being on the phone with an internet company for an hour and a half to troubleshoot a work issue probably played a role in my mood. But regardless, a heaviness began to fall on me. I knew why the entire time but I fought it. I had just had a crazy intensely miraculous week. Every day was full of stretching and miraculous provision. So much good. And still, I was tired. “Rest, child“, the Lord whispered to me over and over again. I fought it. I was frustrated with my relationships for a list of conjured up reasons, angry that my voice was hoarse and I couldn’t even sing to worship my way out. I was tired. I was desperately hanging on to every thing but the Lord. I cleaned my house and posted pictures of my couch on the internet to be sold for our missions fund. Not long afterwards my kids asked to build a tent, and I obliged. I began to rearrange the very furniture that we planned to sell in my living room and I built the coolest blanket fort around. In that action, I even thought to myself that I would miss having the furniture that our family had made so many memories with. As any parent probably knows, the next request from my children came as no surprise, “Come hang out in our tent with us, Mommy!” Isn’t is so like our children to cry out to us the very things our souls cry out to the Lord? I crawled inside the plush fortress like a swaddled giant and at last the Lord beautifully wrecked me. Wrecked my walls, anyways. “Open your hands“, Abba whispered.

Surrender the plans, the future, the giftings, the possessions, the people. Surrender the moments. Surrender my life. Every day the Lord wants me to have open palms. This is the same posture that allowed a beautiful butterfly to rest on my hand. Open palms to release what I have already obtained and to receive new, fresh manna. Not to grip on to things so hard that I have no room for newness. God wants you and I to live with open palms to constantly receive His fullness, His beauty, His goodness. We cannot create eternity, it has already been written on our hearts. We need only to lean into Him, giving up ourselves, trusting that He is enough, and receiving all that He has for us. So open up your hands today. Give up your life. Give the Lord your good and your bad. Trust that He will provide you more. He is a good Dad.


A Wretch Like Me

Failure.

That seems to be the most recent lie fighting to claim the forefront of my mind. Failure as a mom. Failure as a friend. Failure as a human. Failure as a follower of Christ. The standard I have for myself gradually creeps up so high, whether by my own expectations or by the words I have warped from the people around me. Despite the intentions of criticism and advice, it doesn’t always feel constructive. Especially when you are an overcoming shame puppet. I used to feed off my own mental self-destruction prior to surrendering to Jesus. Shortly after true salvation and marrying Brenner, I decided to read and then destroy all of my old journals from middle school to college. The common theme throughout each journal was hopelessness. Yet a small glimmer of the light of Christ still shined through the dark cracks. Back in those times in my life, depression and anxiety ate me alive. After a time I didn’t really want to leave that pit. It became comforting to never hope for anything, to never be let down. But see I was missing one small whisper, one massive truth..my hope was in the wrong things.

In the present, my flesh still constantly fights to place myself on the throne of my life. Though I wouldn’t say this at first glance, when I dig to the root of my shame and fear, the root of feeling hopeless or feeling like a failure is this: I can easily idolize myself and other people. Though I should have no other gods before the One True God, I can easily place other things before Him and sugar coat the sin by calling it a ‘prioritization issue’ . It’s a sin nonetheless, and confession and repentance are needed for real change.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)

Now I’m sure by now you’ve just had several sharp intakes of breath and you’re either relating one hundred percent or your trying not to judge me. That’s okay, I’m just sharing my heart and it is a broken thing. But it’s being made whole by the God who rebuilds the ancient ruins (Isaiah 61:4). He is creating in me a pure heart. I started praying that consistently over myself  two years ago. In the beginning it sounded sweet, it sounded like I would feel pure and righteous as God was doing it, pink skies and fluffy white clouds. I’m sure there was an angel baby floating somewhere playing a harp in that imagination.  But as He has truly began to shine truth and love into my innermost being, I have never felt more dirty. I have never felt more small than as the sheer weight of the glory of God has entered into my hovel of a soul. Not because God’s judgement has pierced me and minimized me due to my sin. No quite the contrary, I recognize my own faultiness, my own finite humanity because it is only in these broken weaknesses that I am seeing the depths of God’s love for me and the extreme heights of His strength. He is creating in me a pure heart. With every speck of dirt removed He is telling me I am loved, that I am worthy of this love. He is reaching the deepest, lonely glaciers of my soul. I see the speck in my own eye, first. This is helping me to love God, myself, my family, my friends, strangers, and my enemies more genuinely. Love is coming out of the destruction, a temple for the living God is being made out of the ancient ruins. Again, I will confess that my mundane mind can not make sense of it. Still His grace is sufficient for even that. Jesus tells me that I’m not a failure, that He has chosen me (Ephesians 1). That He has made me righteous. (Romans 3:22) I can’t be both a failure and also righteous. I chose Jesus.

Every time I let God in a little deeper, every time I release clenched fists over all He’s given me to gain a posture of open palms, every time I surrender myself to His plan, every time I say yes to Him, I am transformed. The journey can feel like a back and forth emotional/physical/spiritual roller coaster. And it is when we look horizontally, as Paul said,

 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15 NIV)

Which is why a few lines down, Romans 8, tells us there is no condemnation for those of us who live in Christ! We must keep our eyes fixed on the vertical, on Jesus. We are dying to our flesh and living by the spirit. That is what this roller coaster is. And God doesn’t just throw us to the wolves, He chips away the dirt and grime over time. He takes away the shame of our sins completely. Like the white shirt I wore in hopes of my toddlers staying tidy, but they’re kids and tidy just isn’t happening realistically yet. Lazarus came up from behind me, jumped up and “Hulk squished” me. That white shirt was soon marred with whatever substance was on his hands. God tells us that even then, He makes us white as snow.

I am becoming more like Jesus. I am learning to trust Him, to love..truly love. He is faithful to complete the good work He has begun. So now I face the chaos with hope, I tell the wind to “Be still.” And when I don’t have the strength to sing the words, when praise takes everything in me to conjure up a note, still there He hears my silent rock of a heart’s cry and He responds with a melody that He sings over me. He is love. He is better than we know, His love, deeper than we realize. It feels intense, because it is.

Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
but now I’m found
was blind
but now I see.

Thank you, Lord, for Your love. It is enough. You are enough. Be my compass today, Be my peace. You are Jehovah Shalom (The Lord my Peace). Make me whole with, Your shalom peace. I pray this in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.


This song “P E A C E” covered by Amanda Cook has been renewing my mind daily over the past week. Check it out!

July’s Worship Playlist

I said I would start sending out my monthly recommended worship playlist, and here I am following through. I’m currently patting myself on the back for finally gaining some maturity in commitment; and slightly kidding….slightly.

All jokes aside, here is July’s worship playlist “Faith Increase” I compiled on my YouTube channel filled with worship songs from churches and worship groups all over the world including Hillsong, Bethel, United Pursuit and Housefires . This worship playlist is a seesaw of songs from centering on who God is, to fanning into the flame of faith within us to persevere and trust. As I have been singing these songs to the Lord, my posture towards God has moved into a deeper reverence and trust. With every new possibility and present struggle in my life right now, I confess my weaknesses and need of the Lord’s grace. I could use an extra daily dose of praise and an increase of faith. Maybe you could too. So I pray as you praise and worship God with these songs, you have a surge of increased faith. Take a journey deeper into faith with this music and be blessed in Christ!


  • “Emptiness” by United Pursuit (Will Reagan & Brock Human)

This is the first song on the list because it is the first one I heard in the midst of an emotional pit I was stuck in for a few days whilst the end of June transitioned into July. As I’ve previously mentioned in my post Journey to the Center of Me,  I have been reading a book filled with testimonies and scriptures that help usher the reader into true rest for their soul. It’s been a real journey full of valleys and mountains and lots and lots of God’s healing, reviving, renewing love. This song was a rope extending to the lowest of lows I laid curled up in and helped me climb out.

  • “This Love (Spontaneous)” by Housefires II (ft. Pat Barrett)

God’s love is so much deeper than we know. Our mundane brains just can’t fathom the endless levels of His pure and overwhelming love. As Barrett sings in the Holy Spirit a new song, you catch a glimpse of the height, width and depth of God’s never-ending love though even here we are barely scratching the surface. This song is full of truth that can counter any lie the enemy would try to whisper in your mind.

  • “Pieces (Spontaneous)” by Amanda Cook (Bethel Music)

In the previous song we are faced with God’s ever-present love. God is love (1 John 4:8). This song amplifies the nature of God and tells our soul the truth of who He really is. It’s so beautiful. Amanda’s first words sung in this incredible spontaneous version of the song are “You’re giving us new memories, You’re giving us new memories. To all the places shame wrote our story, You’re giving us new memories. It’s not just perspective, it’s innocence restored

  • “Into Faith I Go” by Pat Barrett

If I had one song I could share with you in hopes of fanning into your inner flame it would be this one. I saw Pat’s new album and this was the one that stuck out. I was wrecked by the words as this song washed over me and met me exactly where I was (and continues to do so). Verses 1 & 2 “I’ve never been good at change/If I’m honest it’s always scared me/ But I can’t deny this stirring deep inside me/Now it’s time to stop resisting”

  • “Abba, I Belong to You” by Jonathan David Helser

As I journeyed deeper within myself and therefore deeper with God, this song vocalized what I felt internally. The Father relationship we have with God is such an important part of our intimacy with Him, and it’s again one I’ve barely scratched the surface with. The song plunges me into the my heavenly Daddy’s arms.

  • “Speak to Me| Defender | Closer” by Bethel Church (ft. Kari Jobe Carnes)

“Defender” by Rita Springer and “Closer” by Steffany Gretzinger are two songs that have been true heart cries of mine over the passed several days. So to find this wildly anointed medley of three intense worship songs was just a knock out of the ballpark for me.

  • “Way Maker” by Sinach

Why did I hear this song for the very first time last week? I don’t know, but it came at the perfect time. Wow. My husband and I were at a worship night led by Leeland from Bethel and I was working through some things that just weren’t sitting well with me spiritually. At the beginning of the worship night I kept asking God to show all of us who He really is. To make His true Self known. I sang it over and over. A hairsbreadth of a second later, Leeland begins singing this song, “Way Maker, Miracle Worker/ Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness/ my God, that is who You are“. Needless to say, I lost it. My body took over and I jumped like a fool, totally wrecked by the enormity of who God is.

  • Hidden” by United Pursuit (ft. Will Reagan)

This song is a declaration song. Though I don’t always feel in my heart the words of praise I am singing to God, this one brought me into the place of finally feeling it. The truth of the Gospel of Jesus in this song brought about the change in perspective I needed.

  • “Bitter/Sweet (Spontaneous)” by Bethel Music (ft. Amanda Cook)

Here we switch gears into facing the truth of who God is and what He does. This song speaks truth over the lies that would try to drown us. In Mark 9:24 a man tells Jesus,“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”. As I sing this song I experience the transformation of any hidden unbelief dissolving into pure belief. That’s just what happens when you meditate on who God is, and that’s exactly what this song does.

  • “Getting There” by Steffany Gretzinger

Another song to perfectly proclaim faith in the process of getting to the promise. I love this song! Steffany is one of the most inspiring women of Christ and I absolutely love her album “The Undoing“. These lyrics are nothing but raw truth as we all journey through the process of life, “But there’s a reason for the journey/ There is purpose in the learning/ That not everything in life comes naturally/ No, not everything in life comes easily/ But we’re getting there”

  • “Hidden” by Mosaic MSC

I almost put the well known song “Oceans” by Hillsong United on this list because it really does usher us into a place of faith and trust in God as we walk on the water, but this song does as well and it’s different! This song is so good; it’s by Mosaic whom I have fallen in love with for their unique style of declaring truth and victory in Christ.

  • “Psalm 46” by Shane & Shane

Last but by no means least, this song I have newly discover will totally rock your world. You have to have to HAVE TO listen to this. And then listen again. And again. Until you know the words and can scream them with your deepest heart cry! This is one of those songs that you hear and think you have heard it before because it just feels like home in your spirit. You will love this one!


And there you have it folks, July’s worship playlist! I hope you not only enjoy the incredibly creative and anointed music in this playlist, but also are taken deeper with the Lord as you worship Him. May your faith be increased!