One Way Ten Years of Homeschooling Has Paid Off

I’ve cried more times than I want to admit about this whole homeschooling thing. We’ve been doing it for ten years and each year has different tears, different fears, different joys.


It’s not easy. It’s not always fun. It challenges me and bothers me.

There have been years I’ve gotten so close to chunking the whole idea and sending them to school so mama can get a break.

I’ve never done it.

The guilt bag would be too heavy.

But, I can pack a guilt bag for anything. Not teaching them enough. They aren’t getting all they need. They won’t have the great memories I do. I’m a slacker. My schedule doesn’t look like hers. They aren’t going to be smart! They’ll never read!!


Ten years of wondering if I’m doing the right thing, while knowing I am. For our family, this is the right choice.

Ten years of looking at them in pajamas working on English and Math.

Ten years of taking long winter breaks and stopping school on a crisp, spring day to go play outside.

Funny thing is, I have twelve more years of this. And it will be my joy.


Then, last night, at Perspectives, a young mother of two comes up and with anticipation and some fear in her eyes, she starts asking me about homeschooling. I want to stop her right there and say, “Oh honey. Your babies are two and 7 months. Come back to me in three years.” But the look on her face said “Help!”

She shared with me her own education and how long she was in school to get a doctorate for a job she now hates. I could sense she didn’t want that for her kids. Also, there is a growing chance that she and her husband might pack up their little family and move to a foreign country to take the Gospel of Jesus out to the nations. That country won’t have class parties and PTA boards. They will have to do it.

This is where her wide eyes spoke to me saying, “I don’t think I can do it! How will they learn? I’m not able to teach them!”

I assured her an email was coming full of encouragement, links, and resources to start helping her bring her heart rate down and sigh some deeps sighs of relief. She hugged me and already seems to be relaxing.

Then it struck me…

All these years, all these years of tears and joy, anger and bliss, frustration and victory, I never once thought that my choice to teach my kids at home might be a catalyst of peace for families who are considering leaving the States. 

If you grew up in the public school system, it gives you the sense, because we know no other way, that if you don’t put your kids in the system, they will miss out on something or they will lack in something.

This simply isn’t true.

If you choose to not use the public system of education, then you have a wide open field of choices as to how you will educate your child. The resources available to you are so plentiful, it can actually be overwhelming. The support around the nation, and I’m sure, in your own community, is important and prevalent.

If you choose to uproot your family and leave the States, the choice to come out of the public school system is now no longer a choice. You’re leaving. Maybe where you’re going has it’s own system, but what about the language? What about the actual system? What about the environment? What if they don’t have a school system? What if you’re going remote?

Home education can trigger a whole new level of panic.

Home education outside of the States for missionaries can trigger not only a panic, but a burden that seems overwhelming.

This should not be.

I realized that my ten years of doing what I though was just for my family might be of some comfort to those leaving. That sweet mom at my class last night was reaching out to someone a decade ahead of her for confidence and assurance.


And I was able to give it to her. I was able to look at her and say, “You two can do it. You’re more than able and there is so much support out there.”

I was able to look at someone and give her assurance that her children will be just fine and she is more than capable of educating them. More than that, she and her husband are more than able to look beyond an American definition of education and give their children lives full of a Spiritual education that only they, as their parents, can give them.

I never dreamed that my years at home would one day be the confidence a young mom would need to take one more step to becoming a missionary.

Never think that what you do isn’t for His glory or someone else’s benefit.

What an honor to serve His servants this way. 

Why You Matter

From since before the earth and universe were created, there has been one theme, one triumphant sound coming from one constant orchestration of what has been and what will be.


From the first Spoken Word “Let there be Light” the Light spanned galaxies and time and space, turning the eyes and hearts of men toward one end point. The Light raced through history and screams past us on the Timeline of what is happening. We turn our heads and follow it, sometimes unknowingly, sometimes willingly, but all will eventually find where the Light comes to an end. At some point we will all stare at the End of the Light’s reach.


What will we be looking at?

What will hold us captive?

Where will the Light take us?

Once the Light reaches its final end of its journey, after it’s illuminated all it was called to illuminate; once it’s finished the work required of it over the earth and universe, the Light is absorbed by its Creator. It returns to the One who spoke it into existence, and is needed no more because its Creator is the Light.

The Light will return to the Beginning where the Theme of the Universe first started. What is this Theme? What is the orchestration? What is the purpose of the Light?

The Creator’s Glory

The only reason The Creator spoke the light into existence, and the rest of the creation, was to bring back to Himself worship and glory.

Then He sent a Second Light. The Second Light was the exact representation of His Creator. Sharing character, power, authority. He came to bring the Light into the hearts of Man. For centuries, men watched the Light move around them, come down among them, guide them, reveal itself to them. But now, the Light came to live in their hearts.

Nothing like that had ever been seen or comprehended. 

The Second Light, pure, holy, righteous, paid ransom for all the First Light revealed, exposed. The created light had in it a wickedness that came and tainted, faded the light of men in sin and darkness. Only the sacrifice of The Light of Men could redeem all that was lost. His sacrifice cracked open the darkness and the Light expanded to all men in all nations on earth.

Then, after He set free all from darkness, He offered the Light to be manifested internally, eternally.

The Light in us still has the same purpose as the First light…

To bring glory to our Creator by taking the light to all men. All nations. All people groups. Not just geographical boundaries on a map, but that the Gospel of this Light would penetrate each language group and family of men and women around the world.

We are Carriers of the Light, charged with the same task as both created light and The Light of the World, Jesus Christ. It is for His fame and glory, and our full satisfaction in the Light that we would labor for this Light to be made manifest in all the world.

Then, the end will come. 

He said it Himself.

We have work to do, dear Light Bearers.

How will you help extend the Light to the Nations?

You matter because you are a Light Bearer.

You have the power within you to extend the grace of our loving God into all the world.

It is not a burden, though those lost in darkness is a great burden, indeed. It is not a burden as though we have a task list of things we must accomplish in our own efforts and die with our lives broken and wasted. No, we are the Light in us, powered and upheld by the Holy Spirit of God. We have Him in us, to bring power and satisfaction to us, so that He is magnified in us, and the world will see.

We extend the Light in many ways:

Prayer. Prayer for the nations that they would see the Glory and Magnificence of God! This would make worshippers of Him, fulfilling the search for those who would worship him.

Help. Give your money. Reach out to the needy in our land. Give to the work in the Dark places so that they will be well-equipped and won’t worry about finances. Know the agencies and people you could support. How can you use your money for the advancement of the Light in your city, your nation and around the world?

Get Informed. Know what is left. If you don’t know, you won’t know how to help. Study. Read. Take Perspectives. Be informed. To be ignorant of what is left to do for the Grace, for the Light to be taken to Nations who have not even the chance to know Him, is irresponsible.

Know that many nations have access to the Gospel. But there are many, many who don’t. How can you help change that?

This is our call. This is His Directive. His Name taken to the nations is His plan, not ours.

You matter because He has equipped you with Light in you.

How will you let it shine?

And when the end of the age comes, and we are all standing under the Tree, gazing at the wonder of the Light of God, He will illuminate the room and the sea of colorful faces, the sounds of a thousand languages, the wave of indescribable worship, will rest upon us and we will be completely fulfilled and satisfied as He is completely glorified.






The Hebrew God I Choose

I’m an American.


I am white.

I am a woman.

I am a Christian.



I am a product of Greek philosophy, but have chosen Hebrew theology.


I no longer follow the way of my own desires. I have given up my American dreams.

This Hebrew God I have chosen to follow has a Way about Him that bumps and bullies my Greek philosophical ancestry in my way of doing life. My instinct is to run after things that make me happy, or make sense, or show I am successful and that I have made my way in the world. It crushes my need for individualism with a call that is inclusive and calls itself The Church.

Individual privileges are no longer the priority. There are others.

We call each other brothers and sisters.


My ancient Greek influences make me want to know the why of everything and wants to know the next step, the next goal, what the next season will hold. My Hebrew God smiles and reminds me that I won’t know every reason, but I will know His Name. He tells me that the next step is just illuminated by His Word and that in faith I take a step. He teaches me that there is a season for everything, and it’s not what I get out of it exactly, but how much glory He receives in my worship, honor and faith in Him.

Makes Him sound selfish, doesn’t it?

Rubs against our “God loves me for me” mantra.

There is no higher god or person above this Ancient One who gets any glory or honor, there is only He. From the Beginning to the End, His greatest passion is His own Glory. His own Name.

His fame.

His Happiness, if you will.

sunI, in my Greek, individualistic, self-absorbed knowledge of how humans should feel find this unnerving, but… I have chosen to follow this God.

I don’t get to say who gets the glory.

I chose to say, “I follow this God and His Word and His Son and His Holy Spirit.”

I don’t then get to say my dreams and happiness come first.

I am a Greek philosopher who has chosen to adhere to a Hebrew theology.

Which one will bow to which?

jerusalem-475110_640Is logic all bad? Of course not. My Hebrew God says in His son are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and that I can have depth of insight in Him. But He also says that He is a mystery, a consuming fire, one that has higher ways than me. Logic cannot touch.

Can’t I be myself? Indeed. Beautiful personality made in the image of my Creator…placed in the family, the faces, the sea of other humans who have turned their face and their posture to this Hebrew God.

We are One.


And we have purpose.

My Greek instinct is to find my own purpose. My Hebrew God says, “I AM and there is no other.” I must know His purpose.

It is His glory. 

There is no other purpose.

How? How do I fulfill that purpose?

That glory freed the Hebrew slaves of Egypt with plague and promise.

That glory fell in the wilderness on the tabernacle with Moses and the Israelites. It consumed the sacrifices and they fell to their faces.

That same glory fell on the temple of Solomon. Consuming sacrifice and they were undone, falling to the pavement with their faces to the floor, worshipping.

How do I bring glory to Glory?

I don’t.

I can’t.

He brings it to Himself…through me, in me, because of me, in spite of me.

That same Glory falls on me. In me. Consuming me.

He is Holy Spirit.

This Hebrew God needs not me to serve Him, though I want to. He needs nothing from me, other than my faith, my devotion, my worship. My yielding to His Indwelling.

Then He calls us. He calls us to take this Glory to the Nations. There is no other thing. There is no other purpose. This Glory brings salvation and full redemption. It brings with it hope and wholeness. Worship and honor of this great and mighty Hebrew God brings satisfaction and rest.

matchstick-20237_640So, I do what I can to see that happen. I pray for people I love. I pray for darkness to be pushed out of the lives and nations of the enemy. I pray that others go and then are protected, and unified, and rested, and more.

It is not just them to take the Glory to the nations. It is those of Us who work in the marketplace. Those of Us who sit at desks and look across our offices to those we know do not know the Glory.


It is Us who hold babies and raise small humans. It is also Us who work late nights and early mornings. It is Us who work in the schools and hospitals. We hold the hands of the aged. We bring new humans into the world. We cry with the world. We gasp at the horror. We can be extremely lovely. We drink our coffee and sigh as we ponder our lives. We smile at strangers. We hold the unlovable. We give water. We give food. We visit the sick. We talk to those in prison. We drive our cars and pass you on the street.


We are of The Way

Carriers of The Light

Revealers of The Glory.

We are frail. We are bold. We are united.

We are the nations going to the nations to reveal the great and holy Glory of this great and mighty Hebrew God. It is no small task. It cannot be all individualistic without a global unity. It cannot be a faceless mass of people either. We are called a Body for a reason. Individual parts working together to bring maximum health to ourselves and beauty to our Head, Jesus Christ.

To Him be the Glory through the ones who have said Yes.

trees in sun


I Wanted Us to Suffer a Little, Then I Saw a Tree and Changed My Mind.

IMG_7399Just above me is a giant tree in our backyard. Growing up in Oklahoma the giant trees were few and far between, and were put on display at Christmas and people drove from miles around to take a look. Here, in Tennessee the trees are quite different. The rise so tall that you hurt your neck looking up for too long. They cover the landscape like a blanket and provide shelter and shade for everything below them.

Trunks so large it takes arms and arms to reach around.

treehugThey sway in the breeze and climb the hills together to display their gold and orange change every fall.


They are wonderous.

There is a verse in Revelation that has been tucked in my heart for over a decade

On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

trees in sun

I sit under that tree in my backyard many times a week. I look up at it and that verse runs through my mind as I stare at the thousands of leaves whispering over my head. “How are the leaves the healing of the nations?” I don’t know, but I do know scripture says it. I also know that is Psalm 1 a righteous man is compared to a tree by living water. And although Jesus said he is the root of the vine, why not be the root of the trees? Would that not be a stretch to think that the leaves are….us? 

Are we the leaves that are to be the healing of the nations?

He is healer, no doubt, but we are the messengers, the ambassadors, the one reliant on the root of the vine, where we are admonished to be “root and established in love.” Rooted. Roots that go down into someone who provides all we need for life. Roots so deep that when they are threatened, they cannot be uprooted, even when storms shake and whip the tops.

tree in storm

What if when we are rooted and established in love, even though he slay us, we never stop trusting him? What if our roots were the only thing that kept us from dying in the worst of times? What if our roots in Christ, though we are pruned and changed, we grew stronger and more powerful as a whole collective?




I wanted, for awhile, to be really upset with the Church, not a particular church (notice the capital “C”) but at the church of America. I was even thinking “Bring on persecution! It will only cause us to grow! We deserve a little tough times. We don’t know what persecution is! Let the storms come and cut us down a bit. Let the lightning strike and strip us of our pride!”




Then I realized that the church of Acts, when persecuted was scattered. Scattered like ants when their little ant piles are messed with. Scattered like roaches when the lights come on. They, our first brothers and sisters, were forced out of homes and displaced by persecution. Much like what is happening even now to our brothers and sisters.

Then I looked at the tree and wondered, “So, what happened between the times of persecution?” What happened as they rebuilt their lives and started again? What did they do?”


They grew.

treepathShe discipled. She spread the gospel. She took care of her own. She fed the poor and took care of the sick. She supplied food and money to missionaries and housed them when they returned. She prayed for each other and encouraged them in Christ. She met for communion and eating, and I’m sure, laughter and tears.

She healed nations.

Now, we sit in a nation, one that is sick and dying, and I’ve wanted the Church of America to feel the pain our brothers and sisters around the world are experiencing, but have realized what an awful thing that is. I only meant it like how we talk to our kids “When I was your age!” as though our experiences might make them different. I wanted the experiences of others who were persecuted to guilt the American church into feeling bad about herself, and maybe even wanted us to “suffer” a little more and grow up.

There might be some truth in that. We have a tendency to be spoiled. Our freedom has made us comfortable and we can easily miss the suffering around the world, but that’s not true for all of us.



We have more than a great opportunity here. We have a great gift, obligation, responsibilty as the Church to be the turning tide of our Nation, and to be the ones who fund other other nations to take care of the displaced, the refugee, the poor, the homeless, the persecuted. We, as millions of believers in Jesus, have the time, resources, technology, and freedom to be those healing leaves, not only to the world, but to ourselves, to our neighbors, to our politicians, to our enemies.

No more do I say, “Bring on the persecution and watch us scatter!” No, I say,

Bring on the Holy Spirit and watch us explode!

I pray the prayer of the founding Church,

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant, Jesus.”

And I pray, that through our unity, the same thing will happen among us:

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

We still live in a free country. We still have the freedom to pray and gather and stand up in boldness. Not in anger, not out of guilt, but in a great unity of believers, full of love and hope and faith, so that we will be filled with the Spirit to expand the kingdom. While we are in this freedom, let us not squander it. I pray we take advantage of it.


And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Rev. 22


“God doesn’t need you, He wants you”… I Beg to Differ

IMG_7399You’ve heard the line, “God doesn’t need us.” It’s usually followed up with “God doesn’t need you, He can do anything He wants, but He wants you.” Sure, I get it. God wants me and loves me, but there is something in us that cries to be needed.

Look at the meanings for these words in the English language:



Wanted: “have a desire to possess or do (something): wish for”
Needed: “require something because it is essential or very important”

All of us want to be wanted. We want to be desired and wished for. But, when we just stop there and teach our people, our church, that God doesn’t “need” us, we are saying (unintentionally) that we aren’t essential to the plan or very important to what God can do.

I beg to differ. Ephesians 3:10 teaches us something different. It teaches that it is through the Church (that’s you and me) that the manifold wisdom of God (Christ) would be made known to the world (that’s everyone else). Eph. 3:10

We are essential to His plan.

We are very important. 

Read that a few times.

Not only are we wanted, wanted by God to be in His known-ness, to know His voice, to have His Spirit, to walk with His Word and live in His love, but we are needed. We are needed by God to pray for the nations, cry with one another, bless each other, spread the Gospel, tell of His greatness, to finish the task of taking Christ to all people, to feed the sick, spend ourselves on the needy, love the widows and orphans, and on and on.

We are needed by Him to be filled with Him to be the people through whom He can take His love to the rest of the world.

We are essential to His plan.

We are very important.

Never let yourself forget that. Never let the enemy tell you anything otherwise, and he does this to all of us. If we actually believed we were not just wanted by God, but needed, as a King needs His army, there would be no stopping us.

Let us, teachers and pastors, stop telling our people, our brothers and sisters that “God doesn’t need them, but wants them” and change that to a more empowering sentence that “God doesn’t just want you… He needs you!”

Empower your people to greatness! Give them the words that say “you are seen”, “you are loved”, “you are wanted”, and “you are needed”. 

Not just needed to volunteer to make Sundays run more smoothly, but needed to accomplish eternal works of God that He has made ready for them. And then help them discover what that is!

This is powerful stuff.

This makes the stay at home mom not feel like she is overlooked and forgotten. This gives the man who goes to the same job, day in and day out, a sense of Biblical and eternal awareness that he matters in the place he goes to every day. This gives the student the ability to see that her time in school is not in vain and not for earthly gain alone. This gives the woman who works those hard hours the kind of encouragement she needs to keep seeking her place in His Kingdom.

We are all wanted: God has a desire to possess us.

We are all needed: God sees us essential and very important.

We are essential to His plan.

We are very important.

Both of these truths will set us free from insecurity, fill us with strength, and give us purpose.

Do you feel essential and very important?
Why or why not?

Wanting a Pacifier God

paci“She’s lost her paci again.”

These words have been uttered who knows how many times in all the years we’ve been raising kids. The never-ending hunt for a paci plagues most parents with babies who love those darling, wonderful peace-saving pieces of rubber!

Whoever invented the paci should get a Nobel Peace Prize, or at least a firm slap on the back. We salute you, pacifier inventor.

A Paci is just that, a pacifier. These man-made wonders (probably mommy-made wonders) were designed to bring both comfort to the baby, and peace to the mommy, because mommy cannot be the pacifier, wee one. Momma need a shower! However, when time to say goodbye, these wonderful things become the most troublesome, we-are-the-worst-parents-ever, “yes, you can have it one more night”, complicated seasons of your young child’s three year old life!

What? What happened to easy bedtime filled with joy and singing and ease!? (None of that is true, but it felt true when we starting taking away said paci) The tears! The sadness! It was like the paci had a soul! It’s like we took away her best friend! What parent does that?

We did.


No “paci fairy”. No sending it to other kids who needed it. No lying. (Parents, stop doing that.) We just told her, “It’s time to stop using the paci now, baby.” And slowly, we worked it out of her little life.

Paci’s are good for a season. When that season is over, paci’s are from the devil.

A pacifier and comfort are two different things. A paci fixes a moment. Comfort goes with you through the moment. The difference is stark, especially when it comes to faith. 

Let’s focus on us grown-ups for a minute. Anyone here ever get angry at God? What about wish you knew the details to the future plan of His universe and was slightly irritated that He wasn’t telling you? What about when you demanded a sign from Him so that you would believe? Ever hold hate or anger in your heart toward someone and wish He would just change them? Ever want to throw yourself of the floor and kick and scream like a toddler because you weren’t getting your way? (Maybe, you’ve actually done that! Shhhh, I won’t tell, but seriously, get up. You look like a fool!)

I remember one afternoon I was in the car and took the opportunity to talk to God about some stuff. I was struggling with an issue in my life and I just needed Him to take it away and make me different. I was irritated and crying that He wasn’t fixing my problem. Then, I heard in a very clear voice in my heart:

“Natalie, I will not pacify your sin.”

I was stopped in my spiritual tracks. I knew exactly what He meant. God was telling me that He would not make me feel okay about what I was doing and that He would not just make me feel better and take away something that I needed to stop doing. It was a clear teaching that He would not pacify my sin, but would be more than willing to comfort me in my repentance.

  • You see, God will not pacify your sin, but He will comfort you through your repentance.
  • He will not pacify your rebellion, but will comfort you through your return.
  • He will not pacify your stubbornness, but will comfort you through your humility.
  • He will not pacify your unbelief with signs and wonders to prove Himself to you, but will comfort you through your faith with signs and wonders of His goodness and faithfulness to you.
  • He will not pacify your anger and tantrums, but will comfort you through your calming down, listening, and remembering He is good and He is God.
  • He will not pacify your blame game, but will comfort you through your ownership or your forgiveness of others.
  • He will not pacify your hate, but will comfort you through loving your enemies.
  • He will not pacify your judgmental nature, but will comfort you through your grace.
  • He will not pacify your “rights” and living for yourself, but will comfort you through your “cross” and dying to yourself.

Our God is not a giant paci to our me-centered faith. Instead, He is a God of grace, mercy, forgiveness, intimacy, fire, strength and comfort when we are humbled to Him and His Spirit. We have to be a humble people to a mighty and awesome God. I’m not saying we can’t be honest with God. I am saying we can’t be like tiny kids, angry that we aren’t getting our way, and expect God to fix it, pacify it. We don’t do it to our kids, He won’t do it to us. He wants a humble heart, a contrite heart, one yielded to Him.

There you will find all you need for all you need.


In what ways do you expect God to be a paci? 
In what areas do you need to humble yourself and let Him be the Prince of Peace in your life, the God of all Comfort?

What the American Church is Missing in Our Freedom

IMG_0506I have heard (and said) (and believed) (and still believe) that our freedom in this country is for these things:

1. So we can have a place to worship freely.
2. So we can have our own form of churches and buildings and no one can tell us otherwise.
3. So we can meet publicly and legally and not be arrested and/or persecuted.

Very beneficial. Very legit.

But, I wonder if we are missing something that, once we realize what we have, might send us running laughing like crazy people. I wonder if there is something in our freedom, that if we don’t take advantage of it in this day and age, could be taken from us by the time our grandchildren come around.

Is there something in this freedom that needs to change in us in order to make sure those coming behind us aren’t caught off guard, ill-equipped and unprepared for what might lie ahead?

I say there is.

My friend just told me a story about how her mom is a Kohl’s guru. We will call her Sharon. Sharon knows when the sales are, how much she can get off in coupons, and how to use the Kohl’s card faster than a gunslinger at noon. The woman knows Kohl’s. So, it was to her surprise when she went to scan a purse that was originally $100 and it came up $.50. She took the purse back to customer service, plopped it up on the counter and said, “Would you check this? It came up fifty cents and I’m just not sure that’s right.” The cashier checks the tag, scans it… $.50. The cashier then typed in the bazillion numbers on the tag and it came up $.50 again! They stood there stupefied. Calls to managers were made. CFO came in on a helicopter to check it out! A call to the White House and Secret Serve and low and behold it was $.50!

The cashier looks at Sharon and in sort of a question says, “Five dollars?” Now, I’m not sure what happened here, but Sharon said, “Okay!”

Wait a minute! The tag rang up $.50 and because it was too unbelievable, Sharon went with the five dollars. (Note: she had a 30% coupon so she only paid about $3 in the long run! But, back to the five dollars.) Sharon had them against the ropes. She had the advantage. It was not only for her benefit to see such a price, such freedom in shopping, but it was to her advantage! She could have called the shots and walked out of there with a pert-near free purse!

She didn’t see it. She paid the five dollars-ish and left feeling pretty good about herself. She didn’t take advantage of what was given to her. She didn’t leverage the situation.

And neither do we.

We have freedom in this country to do what we want within the reasonable boundaries of the law. We have been given a tag that reads “FREE!” and we only see it as to our benefit.

This is the missing component: We don’t leverage this freedom the way we could.

Not only do we have the gift of freedom for our benefit, we have the gift of freedom to really stick it to the spiritual enemy in our lives and the freedom to help the lives of others around the world. We are missing our chance to leverage this freedom. Missing. It.

Imagine with me:

What if we used our freedom, not to just build amazing buildings and fill them with lights and music and soft seats, but to spend hours in those wonderful buildings praying for our suffering brothers and sisters who meet in secret, in the dark?  

What if we used our freedom to not only be successful and make loads of money, but made as much as we could make in the freedom given to us that we could give millions and millions to those in need, not just here, but around the world? To send as many as possible. To fund every church and every ministry to it’s capacity. What if…..

What if we used our freedom, saw our freedom, not through the lens of our own benefits and pleasures, but through the lens of our freedom benefiting the world we live in? 

What if we no longer looked at our freedom as protection, or our right, and how it benefits us individually and as religious people, but what if we looked at our freedom as something we have been given that has given us the upper hand, the leverage to really change the world?

Our me-centered Christianity inside a me-centered country makes for an overall globally limping movement. We limp through our service to the nations and each other. We are always asking for more money in a country with money coming out it’s proverbial ears. We are always looking for volunteers when our seats are stuffed full of people every week. Our para-church organizations, although exhausted from it, are always coming to us with the need for more money, more support.


Because we view our lives, our freedom to come together and be the “church” as something we have the right to do and should get the benefit from.

This must change.

If we saw our freedom as the most precious, powerful, laughing-in-the-face-of-the-enemy advantage, there would be no stopping us.

But, we don’t.

We see our freedom as something here to serve us.

We complain about the smallest inconvenience and call it persecution rather than falling on our knees because we realize our “persecution” pales in comparison to our brothers and sisters around the world. Our persecution should drive us to prayer for them. But we let it drive us to anger, stomping our feet and saying “That’s not fair!”

“We can’t take our Bible’s to school!” Big deal. Hide the word in your heart so you don’t have to take the Bible to school. And pray for those who have no Word in their hands or they will be arrested, or killed. Use that persecution to wake us up to the fact that the Word of God has yet to reach millions of ears. Use the freedom we have to send the Bible around the world.

“They took the 10 Commandments down!” Come on. It is not up to “America” to honor God, it is up to the people in America to honor him, and a plaque with the 10 Commandments on it does nothing in the hearts of man. A plaque hung on a wall may honor the institution of Judeo-Christian beliefs, but honor to God is in the hearts of men. We do not make images of what we believe in and call it honor or worship. We honor and worship God in who we are and what we do to and with our fellow man. Use that irritation that you see our country changing to pray for those who have yet to hear of God and his love and grace. Pray for the people of our country to come back to honoring God, and then, live it out in your own life.

This is leveraging our freedom. This is not letting these small, progressive forms of persecution do anything but push us to our knees, pull out our debit cards, and use the freedom of speech to preach and teach.

Leverage this freedom to pray.
Leverage this freedom to give.
Leverage this freedom to go.
Leverage this freedom to send.
Leverage this freedom to learn and study.

Leverage this freedom to benefit the world. 

Could it get worse? You bet. Will it? No doubt.

But, our fight is not for America. America will come and go, but the Word of the Lord, the Church of God will last forever. Our freedom should be about His Kingdom, not ours. And when it gets worse, I pray we are ready to be prayer-filled and Spirit-filled people.


“The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”

Be in this land of freedom, use it hard against the enemy. May we hold our freedom and shake it in the face of our enemy and cry to God:

“We will not let this freedom make us drunk on self-centered needs and wants. We will use this freedom to intercede where he destroys, pray for those who are under his rule, and pray against the darkness in this land of light! We will not shrink back in our comforts and pleasure just to watch him ravage the world. We will shake off the hypnotic state of freedom and pleasure and fight with a savage war-like fight in us that he has yet to see. We now see our freedom as a mighty sword against him and we will leverage it like no other generation has done before us. We have Christ in us, on un, around us and before us. We have the Spirit of the living God prepared and ready to do explosive mighty powers and acts through us and we will not let his temptation of sin and self-indulgence blind us to Your power in us! Finally, this country and it’s freedom should be a tool for us to use well. This country and it’s freedom cause us to smile a in his face because we have him against the ropes. We have been given the most amazing gift and we will use it for Your Kingdom and not ours. When the day comes, it will not be America standing, it will be the great Son of God and our enemy’s day will come to an end.”

Let it be, King Jesus.

I Don’t Want My Kids to Be Their Best Self

IMG_7653Counter-cultural title isn’t it?

Sounds like I don’t want my kids to be awesome and amazing and stand out and be successful.


I don’t.

In a society where the best rises to the top and the others are left scrambling trying to gain altitude with those we see as successful, I, as a parent and someone who follows Christ, have to step back and ask, “Is this what the people of God should also be about?”

Should we be telling our kids to be the best version of themselves and go and be successful and “you can do anything you put your mind to’? 

I guess, if in the context of an American Dream society, that sounds pretty good.

However, in the context of people who believe in a God greater than them and has His own plans, those statements do not fit.

Let me clarify some things. I do want my kids to be successful, society contributing individuals that are secure and strong, loving and gracious. However, I do not want my kids to believe that they are the center of their universe and that their gifts and talents are a gift to the world.

I want them to know that the best version of themselves is the less version of themselves. Here, and only here, can they be available to be the best broken vessel for Christ.


What I want my kids to understand is this:

They are the “light of the world.” Not their own light, but a conduit of His great and marvelous light that brings people out of darkness. Their “light” is not their own. Matthew 5; Phil 2:12-16; John 1:3-9

They have access to the Almighty God who hears them when they pray, not just for their own asks, but for an intimate relationship with Him so that they know their role in His story, know His heart, and have the fullness of the Spirit. Matthew 6; John 17:3; Ephesians 2

Their humility leads to His greatness in them. A model of humility makes a greater impact than talking about it. These things I want for my children must first be what I want for myself. John 3:30

They are filled with the Holy Spirit to know Jesus and to have all they need in Him. Not for just giving them a sense of a better self, or that He died so they feel better about themselves, but so that they are a whole being, ready for their calling for His kingdom work, brave and true to the Truth. 1 Corinthians 2

There is no dream of God’s put in them that doesn’t not first give and bring Him all the glory, and second, would make them think they had the power to do it in and of themselves for their glory and success. 2 Thess. 1:11


Their life might not be so easy in the Church here in America as the years pass. Our concept and easy way of doing life here in America could see it’s last days in their lifetime. They will be equipped for a dark world and not ill-equipped because I inadvertently made them think this life was for their benefit and comfort or that I didn’t take what is happening around us seriously. 2 Tim. 1:8-12

Their weakness and failings are not something they should try and remedy. I’m not saying they should wallow in sin and weakness and be big, fat babies about stuff, but we tend to believe that if we have a weakness, we should get rid of it.


“Citius. Altius. Fortius.”

“Just Do It”

“If you believe, you can achieve”

“Be all that you can be”

The Word of God teaches to get rid of sin, but boast in weakness. That takes some training to know the difference between the two. One (sin) is covered by the blood of Jesus, the other (weaknesses) are empowered by the Spirit of Jesus to be and do what we cannot be and do ourselves. This is a far cry from being our “best self” when our “best self” is ridiculously weak and sinful. The more I teach my kids to rely in faith on the Holy Spirit to do and be all they need, the less they will work for themselves.
1 Thess 5:23; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Romans 8:26-27

When they spend themselves on behalf of others and not on themselves, they will find wholeness and healing. When the majority of their time and thoughts are about alleviating the suffering of others and not pacifying a need for more stuff or recognition, then they will know the heart of God. Isaiah 58


These are just a few of the things I see that is very counter-culture (even in the Church, albeit I think it’s not been on purpose) that I want my kids to know and understand and live out. I can be caught up in a world that says I deserve things and should have things and that if I have faith I will be wealthy (okay, some of this stuff is on purpose in the church), and that I should get what I want and be who I want and be the best at all of that.

This is not what Christ taught or even emulated.

This is not what his disciples taught or emulated.

This is not what the early church lived or perpetuated.

We have a gift of a great country (America) that has been given the gift of wealth and influence, not for ourselves to make castles for ourselves and drive the best and wear the best, but we are the extension of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12.

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

As the people of God, our blessings as a nation, but more importantly as a church, a wealthy and powerful church, we have been blessed to bless. We have been blessed to humbly give to the world the gospel of a great and gracious God. To teach our kids anything less, is to be counter-productive in the Kingdom and irresponsible with the Truth. 

To teach our kids these things, we, the parents, must live them first. These things I want for my kids aren’t always played out in my own life. May His mercy and grace train me as I train them. May we all ask God to show us His ways over our own, His culture beyond our own, His plans and goals, His heart, and then, ask Him to help us leverage the blessing so that He is glorified and the nations are stunned with His majesty.

We get a lot of stuff wrong, we get a lot of stuff right, and the more humble we are to the Word of God and the indwelling Spirit, the more powerful and effective we will be in this world.


He must become greater. We must become less. 





If You’re Going To Ask, Be Ready To Encourage

IMG_7231I popped in on a friend via text to ask her how she was doing after I saw an Instagram that sorta-kinda let us know she wasn’t great.

“How can I pray for you? Saw your Instagram.”

incoming text


Then she told me what was really going on. Nothing tragic. Nothing that would make me want to run over and hold her while she wept on her couch. But just enough that she needed some straight up encouragement.

Here’s the deal. You have truth. I have truth. There are days when you feel crappy and days when I feel crappy. I happened to catch her on a day where she was weak and I was strong. So I let her have it. Here’s what I sent her after she said she was discouraged.

I so get it. And you know the truth. Shut that enemy up and activate your faith. Rise up in the power given to you in faith and let the Spirit flow again to speak His truth. To think you have exhausted His testimony is a lie. You overcome the enemy by the blood of the lamb and your testimony. Stand firm. His fame and his name is your weapon and inspiration.

Let’s be honest, we don’t always talk to each other like that, but we should. We have been given very powerful truths and realities that we need to put in front of each other on a regular basis. It’s not easy being human and no one said faith was easy either. In fact, quite the opposite.

The Bible teaches that our faith will be tested and refined like gold in fire. #noteasy
It teaches that we are to stand firm over and over. Implying #noteasy
Jesus straight up said we will have trouble. #noteasy

This life of those who say they follow God is not easy. It’s not roses and rainbows. It’s tough and can wear us out and can make us fear and tremble and wonder, “What the heck am I doing?!”

This is where we come in for each other.

Others have done it for me. I’ll get texts with prayers, or something encouraging in an email.

I do it for others.

Don’t ever hold back from encouraging someone with the Word and Truth of God. Don’t just give people happy thoughts and atta-boy’s, use the Truth. (and if you don’t know the truth, then get your Bible out and learn it.)

In the end, she was blessed, and it really did encourage her and give her a spiritual boost.
I was blessed.
She was encouraged and my own faith was charged up!

That was the work and word of the truth and of the Spirit. 

So, don’t be afraid to encourage. When someone you trust and love asks you, “How are you?” be honest if you can. If you ask someone and they tell you, take a moment to pray and then let the Spirit minister to them through you. You might be the very thing they need at that moment. Use the Word of God valiantly and boldly. It is powerful, it is effective, it is truth.

How can you encourage someone today?

Three Easy Ways to Make Your Kids Feel Awesome

IMG_3153I have four kids whose ages span from 16 to 5. Three girls and one boy. It doesn’t matter their age or their gender, here are three things work to make my kids feel like they are special and unique. And they will work for you.

(Side note: I don’t have the corner market on these three things, and I don’t think I’m the first to think of it. Wait…. nope, not the first. So, consider this a reminder to things you have heard before.)

One: Touch

I’m not one for snuggling much after the age of about ten. Maybe it’s because once they become almost as big as me, the darling and sweet moments of holding them in my lap is replaced with trying to grasp for air while trying not to wince from the pain of a boney bottom on my femur. So, I adjust. I go from holding and snuggling and picking them up over and over, to sitting by them on the couch and putting my arm around them. I exchange the double-arm, double-leg wrap around my neck and waist, for a long hug in the hallway when they get home. I swap out sloppy kisses for gentle cheek kisses before bed.

IMG_4099Touch is tricky. Some of us love it, thrive on it, can’t wait to be touched by another human because it feeds a place in our spirit. Others of us can go for days without even so much as a handshake. But, let’s stick to the middle of the road here. God created us with nerve endings that talk to our brain and vice versa. We are created to respond to touch and those responses trigger emotions that then make a path in our mind that could either feel love or hate. We all know that not all touch is equal. Some is life-giving. Some is life-stealing. As parents, we have the awesome responsibility to give them the gift of touch that holds hands with the gift of security, love, and feeling awesome.

If you are someone who hands out hugs and touches like cake at a birthday party, keep it up…but don’t smother. If you are someone who doesn’t need to be touched all the time, chances are you gave birth to someone who does, so dish it out. We all need it at some level. And your kids need it most.

Use the gift of touch to make your kids feel awesome. Sometimes, it speaks louder than words. Sometimes, it should be our only words.

Two: Laughter

It’s no secret that laughter is good for you, so imagine using that gift with your kids. I know, there are as many scenarios with our kids are there are families, so some of you might feel like that teen just doesn’t like you and there is no way they are going to laugh. Others might have little ones that the giggles come easy. There is also those years from about eight to twelve where what they think is funny, well, isn’t. But, we must march on!

Finding the funny can take some trying. We might bust a move from our high school dance days and think we could get a good applause and we look and our kids are writhing in laughter. Okay, not the response you may have wanted, but let’s count that as a win. They thought it was funny. Sure, it was at your expense, but it’s worth it. Go with it. Be goofy. Laugh heartily. Be amused at how goofy they are. Watch those silly shows on TV and let it be funny to you.

IMG_7187Let’s just be real here and let those bodily noises be something that is hilarious. You know they are, so don’t be so weird about it. Laugh with them.

Tickle those little ones and let them tickle you. (This harkens back to the #1). Read silly books and make yourself giggle with your toddles and little kids. Make funny faces and act out characters from the books you have. My kids become captivated when I use different voices in their stories. It adds so much to the moment and fills their little love banks until they are overflowing.

With older kids, turn on an appropriate TV show, or an old TV show, turn down the volume just a little bit, and add your own lines. You will roar with laughter and you’ll be surprised how funny and creative they are.

Go to a park and race. That is for sure to bring some laughter. See a G-rated movie. Tell them funny stories from your childhood around the dinner table. Show them old pictures of you and let them roll with laughter. Try to do a full exercise routine with them because we all know this is a sure fire way to get some chuckles.

A shared experience that involves some true gut-wrenching laughs is one they will cherish forever.

Three: Listen

I have a five year old who likes to tell me every detail to his Lego Star Wars game. I have a sixteen year old who likes to tell me every detail of her night at youth group. I have a seven year old who likes to talk about gymnastics and what kind of new shoes she wants until she almost can’t breathe. I have a fifteen year old who likes to tell me what she learned at church and how it touched her.

photoAll of these require more of my ears than my mouth. All of these moments when I talk less and listen more does nothing but show my kids that they are valued and heard. Now, I’m not not talking and sending the signal that I don’t care. I’m reacting. Asking questions. Nodding my head. Trying not to cut them off so I can get back to whatever I was doing. I’m listening.

Listening is more than just hearing what they are saying. Listening is ingesting what they are saying so you’ll have something to grow on. What is important to them may not mean a hill of beans to you, and even though your decades of experience ahead of them makes you want to gently say, “Honey, all this does’t matter when you’re a grown up.” don’t do that. Listen and learn to resist the temptation to always give advice, or always remind them that things aren’t as important when you get older. They are important to them now. Sure, we know that we can give advice and we can help encourage them to see just beyond their circumstance, but the reality is, they just really can’t see that far. They are in their moment, their reality, and we have to meet them there with love, encouragement and patience.

IMG_7188Touching our kids, laughing with our kids, and listening to our kids are just three ways to make them feel awesome. It’s not money, it’s not always in our words and tweets and Facebook posts. It’s in our interaction and in the moments we have now that matter.