The Heart of a Mother

I was blessed to attend a baby shower the other day. A long-awaited miracle baby. A baby of promise.  The air was thick with celebration. It’s as if we all let out a collective sigh of relief that this prayer had been answered. Finally.

As we began a blessing and prayer time,  I looked around the room of women and choked back a sob.

This was holy ground.

There were so many stories. Some had no children of their own. Others had birthed children. Many had miscarried babies. A couple of women grieved babies lost through abortion. Several had adopted children. Some had glowing little toddlers, some had heart-wrenching prodigals.

Despite these stories, our own hurts, and sorrows, we still rose up to prophesy over this new mama.

But what to pray?

Why pray some pie in the sky future that every woman present already knew would not happen?

There would be terrible, sleepless nights in the beginning.
And in the elementary years
And in the teen years.

The child would rend her heart over the years as much as he would rend her body in delivery.

The road would be blissfully filled with hand-drawn art and sloppy kisses. But the road most assuredly would also be filled with broken dreams and promises as this mother, like all mothers, weathered her child developing and testing his free will.

What to pray?

Do we pray for God to shield her and her child from all hardship?
We know that trials and hardships drive us into Him more deeply.

Do we pray for a fairytale birth story and golden child reality?
We know full well that our enemy thrashes our faith with a weapon called disappointment, so why fill her head with unrealistic expectations?

And tell me what on earth does God have to say about all this?

Enter the Heart of a Mother.

If you are a woman, you know what it means to be a mother. Child or no child, there is an innate God-given fiber of your very being that rises up around the weak and defenseless. We somehow don’t have to be taught to nurture, teach, tend, or protect.

Some women are warm hugs and soft places to land. Some women are more like fierce pioneers who cut a new path for others to follow. Regardless of the varied expressions of a woman, one common thing to watch is what she does if her loved ones are at risk. Think mama bear with cubs.

I have been walking out a beautiful revelation from the Lord about the feminine side of God. I am writing a book on it actually.

But for today—because it is nearly Mother’s Day—because of the days we live in, when many already-born persons want to debate the validity of un-born persons—I want to speak truth.

God is a God of Life.

God, even uniquely expressed in the Holy Spirit, holds all the tenderness and nurturing we need to exist but also to model. The Holy Spirit contains and holds our sorrow, strengthens and undergirds our weakness, teaches and leads us into Truth. The Holy Spirit defends and protects. The Bible draws so many parallels of the Holy Spirit to women that finally, FINALLY,  we find our feminine place in the Godhead.

And because we find our place in the Godhead, the beautiful, powerful, life-giving God, we find our place in the world. We are life-givers. We are life protectors.

Would you like to know the theme that formed in our prayer time for this new mama, and actually every woman present? That we would come to embrace the overwhelming love of God.

This baby shower was a God shower. Reminding us that the Holy Three of Them created each one of us and delights to sing over us in every season, heartache, milestone, success or weakness. That’s what we prayed.

May each of us receive the love of God as fully as this new mama loves her baby.

Too Good To Be True?

If I am being really honest…I mean shockingly honest…the story of the cross sounds crazy to me. I’ve heard different iterations of it all my life. 

One man. A world of Sin. My debt. His sacrifice.

Then there is the part about rising from the dead. I mean, what even? 

And then I met Him. Really met this Beautiful King. Heart to heart and Spirit to spirit. 

Suddenly,  all of the pieces of this God sized, crazy-to-my-brain puzzle came in to place. I was reshaped. Or maybe, I became uncontorted by the world. Either way I found home and peace and this deep satisfying love.

The unbelievers say it’s a religion and a weakness of the masses.
The unbelieving believers say He is confined to a book and put in a box.

But the believing believers, the ones who “yāḏa” Him, who know Him intimately, are surely aliens in this world. Transformed by His love, we pour out our lives advancing an Eternal Kingdom and living for an Unseen King.

We are supernaturally alive in a natural world. Just like the power of love raised Jesus, He has raised us.

We have been raised to life again. Sound crazy? There are millions of witnesses, millions of miracles, millions of redemption stories that make crazy look like the sanest, truest thing ever.

“You will know the truth and truth will set you free.”

We celebrate you today Beautiful Jesus. Be honored in our hearts this Resurrection Sunday. 

Singing, how marvelous! how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be
How marvelous! how wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!

Prepare the Way

I have a deep call from my spirit to yours. This Holy Day season, don’t get lost in the bunnies and eggs, and spring flings, proms and Final Four.

Instead, remember the call of Mary and Joseph to make room in the inn. Take to heart the call of John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord.”  Now. Today. This moment is the moment to see the Coming King.  Prepare your heart for His embrace, His affection—bow in reverence for His sacrifice. Point your families in the direction of  Mercy poured out on an unprepared, unaware, and even unwilling world.

How great the Father’s love for us…

This is no religious or political dictator. There is no gold star for pious duty.

This is His Holy eyes locked on mine, and yours, so that all our sin is washed in His love. But we are not just free of sin, but we are finally free to be all that He created us to be. How creation groans under the weight our slow revealing.

To know and be known by Eternal Love is the true meaning of Resurrection Sunday.

The Veil was rent. For me. For you.

Will you prepare your heart, your attention and step into this True Living with a Loving God?

Burn the Root. Just Do It.

It was a beautiful sacred moment. We women sat around a fire asking Holy Spirit to reveal what was the mountain between us and His love. What were we hiding behind, holding on to, or avoiding that was hindering the flow of His life into our lives. That’s when the Lord pricked my memories.

I’m listening, Lord.

You have burnt a root before, do you remember?

The Spirit flashed scenes of my early relationship with God. It was like a movie trailer, moments of a story being unfolded. Yes, I did remember.

Chuck and I had moved to a country estate. The former owners had divorced and the property was likewise tired and neglected. I had a vision of resurrecting it. What I didn’t know is that God had the same idea about me.

So much deep heart work happened there with Jesus.  Dreams, visions, counsel in the night. I discovered my gifts and calling; I was embraced by His intimacy; I was equipped for warfare.

But before all of this was The Root.

We noticed a hairline crack across a sidewalk. Thinking nothing of it, we walked over it. For months.  Until we noticed the hairline was wider and deeper. And yet we walked over it without action. Years passed and now the hairline was a gaping crack and the concrete bulged up from the unseen issue underneath.

We tried the lazy man method first and dug out the flower bed beside the sidewalk to get a view of the culprit. Sure enough, it was a tree root. Just a tender slip of a thing, the width of two fingers, had caused extensive damage. Even so, the repair seemed too big, too much effort, and no further action was taken.

As you can imagine, it became a huge point of contention in my marriage. I wanted it fixed, Chuck did not. However, my heart shifted the day I walked over it and saw crocus blooming right by the root in the flower bed. I told the Lord I was sick of fighting about this with Chuck, and sick of complaining about it to Him. Turns out God was sick of both too.

I’m bringing beauty even out of this ugly. So bless it instead of curse it.

Okaaaaaay, I said. So instead of cussing Chuck and that damn root, I started blessing the story God would reveal in the process. Needless to say, all the while the root continued to grow.

One unexpected day, Chuck said, “I am going to dig up that root today.” I almost fell out of my chair. And dig he did. He pulled up the concrete step, shoveled the dirt out and we stood aghast at the root.

It was now the size of a man’s thigh.

‘I’m listening, Lord, I’m listening,’ I whispered in my spirit.

To Chuck’s credit, he cut and hacked and dug until the root was out. He filled the hole and replaced the concrete step, everything was back to normal. He took the gnarly, mud-covered root and threw it on the burn pile.

And there it lay. Ugly and exposed.  For weeks. I couldn’t stop looking at it.

The Lord was up to something and I avoided His dissection almost as much as Chuck had avoided digging up the root.

Finally one day it bubbled out. I had run aground relationally, again.  When I asked the Lord about what my problem was He just kept repeating the same thing, take care of The Root.

Honestly, at this point in my relationship with Him, I felt like a blind person groping around with my hands stretched out in front of me. Oh, but how He used this root to tutor me for the rest of my life.

To take care of my root, first I had to name it. To name it, I had to let Him search me and reveal the hurt and heartache I had experienced. They all had a common theme or root. For me it was rejection. What’s yours? That sting or ache or reaction that keeps getting triggered over and over.

The second step after naming it was literally giving it to Lord until I meant it. God wanted to know if I actually wanted it gone, or if I wanted to say I wanted it gone. There is a big difference.

This got flushed up when we went to burn the root. We stacked other wood around the root and started a fire. We had a beer, laughed and talked, and went to bed. When we got up the next day everything was ashes EXCEPT the root.

Okay God, I said. What is happening here?

I am not playing games. I am changing you. Do you actually want to be different?

Yes, Lord. Yes.

I remember I went out alone to the firepit and sat and looked at the root, acknowledged its sheer ugly, now-charred existence.  I confessed all the ways rejection had made me bitter, small, and hard-hearted. I acknowledged all the damage that had been caused by my unwillingness to address it. I forgave all the people who had rejected me. I forgave myself for all the people I had hurt through my rejection of them.

I sat in the presence of this ugly thing in me— with my God.

I finally, finally got to the place with God that I didn’t want this root anymore and asked for something better instead.

Burn the root, He said.

That night we went out again, but instead of roasting marshmallows, we took lighter fluid. We watched the root burn long and slow. When we got up the next morning for church, I went to the window to see the firepit. The root was gone.

I ran barefooted outside and stood over the pile of ashes. For some unknown reason, I started crying.

“What is happening Lord. Something is different.” I prayed out loud.

This is what freedom feels like. The root is gone.

That was 25 years ago. It is a profound spiritual marker of my journey. Every time rejection has raised its head, I have this place with God to return to, where beauty came from ashes. For real.

Do the hard work. Dig up the root. But don’t just leave it there. Burn it.



Let the Lion Roar

I still remember it. I took my daughter to the zoo. No big deal. I had been there so many times.  It was almost a ho-hum parent box to tick off.  But this day, this particular day was very different. We came up to the big cat area and we heard this sound that shook the ground. Literally— it shook us. We didn’t see the source but we felt the presence of the lion.  As we rounded the corner, there he was. He roared again. My daughter covered her ears and pressed closed to me. I just started crying.

That moment is fixed in my spirit.  The irony of this majestic creature inside a cage. The realization of “why” lions are called the king of the jungle, that mere roar invokes fear 5 miles away. The tears, however, were spiritual tears. The reality of the presence of Jesus hitting me as powerfully as the sound of the lion shook the ground.

CONQUERING LION.  This is who we love. This is who loves us.

Not a weak, passive, meowing kind of love.
But a fierce roar kind of love that breaks every chain.
Breaks the bones of the enemy.
Shakes the ground we walk on.
Shakes the hearts of those who fear Him and comforts every heart protected by Him.

Do you know what we are going after at the Roar Encounter? A deep spiritual wake up for believers and not yet believers alike. We want to get near enough to the Lion of Judah to feel our fears and lies and apathy shake to the ground as His presence washes over us.

Let the Lion Roar.

Shook out of Slumber

That is the word that keeps reverberating through my spirit. I have been Shook. Chuck and I got away for a few days and in our attempts to unplug I took a “random” book that brought me to tears. Then to sobbing. Then to repentance for small thinking and living. The next day, we watched a “suggested” movie that Crystal had sent me a while ago. It was hanging out on my To Do list and kept grabbing my attention. This movie, like the book, had me sitting in the Lord’s presence in tears.


The stories of radical love and radical faith shook me. Shook my comfort zones, shook my lagging faith and actions, shook my weak love for God and others.

Here is only one story out of many.

A Christian husband and wife left Iran to find refuge in the US. After just a short period in the states, this wife pleads with her husband to return to Iran. The husband was incredulous. Why would she want to return when it was so hard to even live and they faced the threat of death, rape, prison, and other horrible things just for sharing their faith?   Her response was sobering.

“There is a satanic lullaby here and all the Christians are sleepy. And I am feeling sleepy.”

I trust those words shake you like they shook me.

Are we awake to our Living Jesus?
Are we willing to convert our rights and comforts into devotion and obedience to God so that others might see Jesus lifted up?

I am asking myself these same hard questions. It boils down to this. Christ’s life is the role model of sacrifice. Why then does my life look so self-absorbed? How about yours? How do we rouse ourselves from the satanic lullaby to respond to His voice of life-giving love?

The Spirit shook me awake. I can know no longer be satisfied with lukewarm living. Everything is under review.

Father, help us spur one another on to truly live for heaven’s purposes. Amen

*Pictured: a brick & mortar Church that never took root, as seen in the “Sheep Among Wolves” movie. It is now a popular tourist destination for many Muslims.

What’s In It for Me?

What’s in it for me?

If we are honest that is an engine that is always humming in the background of our lives. It is, after all, part of what helps us survive.

So let me get straight to it. The Restore Intensive is Feb 19. What’s in it for you is a long pause with the Lord. Maybe you have done the hard work in your heart and now is the question, what’s next? Restore is next. You will have opportunity to explore how you can rethink and rebuild places in your life the look a lot like ruins, or underdeveloped landscapes.

Soar is March 5, 2022. May I be candid? In our staff retreat yesterday we identified that our annual women’s encounter is for kittens and lions, and everything in between. It is for women who have been shut down, shut up and shut out of their own voice for so long that they don’t recognize themselves, or God.  And it is for lions who have grown in their love and life with God so that when they roar the enemy shakes.

We gather all these women, different ages and stages of life, different walks with God, churched and unchurched, and then we do the most important thing together. We seek His face.

There are real women telling real stories of real mess and how God showed up. It gets honest around here real fast.

So if your starving, stone cold, or white hot, both of these offerings actually are for you.

Ready to go deep!

Is Grace Enough?

My 92-year-old dad’s health is rapidly declining. My dog just had surgery and we are awaiting test results to see if it’s cancer. My kids are each going through their own wrenching challenges. My husband’s job has been erratic. And on and on it goes. What’s your list look like?

This is just the obvious stuff. The next layer is even more tender. There’s the grief of losing my mom and the anticipated grief of losing my dad soon. The fear and helplessness of not being able to influence my children can take my breath away. The decision fatigue of managing so many things at the same time sometimes leaves me wanting to run away at best, or zone out and binge a show at worst.

And underneath all of this is my love for God. And the love from God.
I have to stop and pause. I have to stop and remember. He is the way maker.

More than a great song lyric, He really is the one who makes rough places smooth. His light leads through the darkness. He takes me on well-worn paths and to uncharted trails. He guides me through the fire, through the flood. He sets me high upon a rock.

He leads me to green pasture. To rest. To settle. To focus again.

Since I know that nothing is a surprise to Him,
since I know He plans ahead for me,
since I know that He is always with me,
I can turn to Him, see His face, hear His voice, and understand what He wants to show me in these very harried moments.

Today, He says that life is a gift. Don’t waste it by complaining about what is wrong but look for the good, His goodness in the moments.

Today He says that my faith in His provision is my gift to Him. Regardless of the swirl, He has already provided for me and I “get to” watch and anticipate His movement in my life.

Today He says that grace is a reality for me to pull on, to expect, to stand on. It is a divine presence in every situation. I can bank on it.

Last year, God gave me this beautiful revelation about the word grace as represented in Hebrew letters. Hebrew letters are pictures that reveal a much deeper meaning. The word “grace” is literally the letters that mean “beautiful camp.”

The Israelites were a nomadic people so they would travel and then set up tents in a circle close to each other. They would overlap the tent cords on the outside circle of the tents to form a barricade from animals and invaders. Then they would open up their tents to the inside of the circle so that they could freely visit, the children would play safely inside the tent circle. More on this later.  However, God gave me the phrases:

Protection from without.
Provision from within.

That is what I can expect and hope and trust and rely on when I say I need grace. His grace.

God’s protection from without. God’s provision from within. He’s got me, and you, fully covered in grace. I truly am in good hands. And so are you.



Thanks, Mom.

Today I licked the icing off the beaters and said out loud to no one, “Thanks, Mom.”

Thanks for letting me lick the beaters from so many cakes and icings as a child. It’s one of those traditions I passed on. And there are no children around me to fight over who gets the spatula and who gets the beater, but still, I remember.

Thanks, Mom, for teaching me the “why” to cook.  I had to learn the “how” to cook after a left her home, but what I learned was the love expressed through a homemade spread of favorite dishes. To be honest, I know I don’t cook the way she did.  In fact, her frequent thing to say when eating the Jana version of her dishes was “well, it’s different.”

Yes, that is a kiss of death from the judges. Smile.

But now, making my dishes, still differently than hers and laughing as I hear her kiss of death comment, I am grateful. To know that more than one way can still be the right way. To know that I can honor her recipes and methods on some die-hard dishes like Thanksgiving dressing and cornbread, and to know that I can discover my own flair with equal success.

Thanks, Mom for the beauty of folks gathered around a table. These days my table is filled with friends more than family. It is a happy and a sad reality.  The changing seasons take getting used to, but she taught me, without ever saying a word, that Jesus loves to hang out and dine with friends. Some of my hardest and most tender conversations have been over a well-prepared meal.

I wonder sometimes if every time we dine, we re-enact the Lord’s supper. Bread, drink, friends.

Thanks, Mom. I understand better why you cried when you made Granny’s coconut cake the first Christmas without her. I did the same thing with your beef stew and oatmeal cookies. And yet we cook. Because we love. Because we remember. Because it’s worth the effort.

Thanks, Mom.


Look Full on His Wonderful Face

Jesus Christ is the great leveler.
He creates a level playing field regardless of who you are and where you are.
The shepherds had very little regard or wealth.
The devout carpenter and virgin teenager were simply willing to believe.
The Wise Men knew how to use their intellect and science to follow signs.
The Angels knew the greatest miracle of all was happening
What they all had in common is they personally encountered Jesus.
Not just know about him, or sign a card, or put him in a line up of greatest teachers, they encountered Him.
Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceived Jesus, then went on to deliver her deliverer.
Joseph was led in a dream to not only receive Jesus as the Son of God, but also to protect his new family in a second dream.
The shepherds had the gift of interacting with the heavenly host singing great news.
Wisemen were led by stars in the sky and also in a dream to find Jesus.
All of these God-breathed moments led them to Jesus the person.
The King. The Life changer
God moving into flesh.
I have the seed that’s been planted in my heart in recent weeks.
The notion first came from author Baxter Kruger who talks about what it meant for Jesus to come to earth. We sometimes reduce it to the forgiveness of sin. I know that language, the forgiveness of my sin and your sin, is monumental, earth-shattering.
But Kruger explains how the man in the woman in the garden, when they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they lost their sight of the loving Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They lost the reality of Presence they had enjoyed up to that moment.
Now blinded, they groped for something to put in place of the true, beautiful, loving, joy-filled, all-providing God. Kruger calls their feeble but deadly replacement, Adam’s god.
Little “g” god.
With increased knowledge of good and evil, they also discovered selfishness, consumerism, hatred, evil, division, deception, lust hopelessness hiding, shame.
Truly they had “fallen” so far from the place of total love, total adoration, the total provision in the presence of the living God, the beauty of the Son, and the power of the Spirit.
God’s solution to disrupted love was to repair our sight through a newborn king. However, Jesus coming in human form did not mean that he was unscathed. God in flesh did not somehow give him a magic bullet to dodge or minimize real life on planet earth.
Our lives on painful planet earth.
Quite the opposite. He walked in our flesh and blood, he experienced our broken emotions, he was tempted to minimize and criticize, he was rejected and scorned, abandoned, wounded, all the things that you and I walk around with every single day, and yet.
The one distinction that Jesus made as his aim and intention was to experience our human brokenness and yet maintain eye contact with his loving Father.
When Jesus says “I only do what I see my father doing,” I think that means far more than we’ve ever considered. Certainly, more than I have ever considered.
Jesus stared down Adam’s little “g” god, stood in the face of all of the brokenness. By doing so, Jesus opened the way for us also to restore our ability to see, restore our connection to the loving Father. Jesus fixed our eyes so that we might maintain our connection with God, locking eyes with the one who made us, loves us, perfects us, heals, and changes us.
Kruger’s notion of Adam’s god sent me diving into the Spirit. I’ve been just swimming around in the spirit trying to unpack and ask for more understanding and revelation.
I just had to laugh because the Spirit brought me a scripture that he showed me years and years ago.
16 But the moment one turns to the Lord[a]with an open heart, the veil is lifted and they see.[b]17 Now, the “Lord” I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit,[c]and wherever he is Lord, there is freedom.
18 We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil, we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus.[d]We are being transfigured[e]into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another.[f]And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.[g]
2 Corinthians 3
We, with unveiled faces, all reflect the Lord’s glory.
You, like me, have probably heard this verse many times. Heck, I have taught on it many times…
But today I want to share with you the different angle the Lord is sharing with me. We know when Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the holy of holy‘s was rent from heaven to earth. Top to bottom, the veil was torn open so that we have access to the holy of holy‘s with God: intimate access, intimate connection, intimate proximity.
I love that reality and I also love the visual picture. But this scripture from Corinthian’s has awakened something different for me recently.
I previously thought that God put up that veil.
When I look through the eyes of Adam, seeing Adam’s god, I see all these fears, formalities and legalisms and rules and laws and efforts and pressure and performance.
Even in the middle of my love for God, I still see how that I sometimes put on God that he is not being who I think he should be.
As I have been listening in the spirit, I realize the veil is what I allow to come over my eyes.
When I experience fear and panic and anxiety and hatred and disgust and disappointment, I have allowed a veil to come between me and the true God.
The moment, the very instant, I turn my eyes on Jesus and look full in His wonderful face, the veil is gone and so are all of the distortions associated with Adam’s god.
The bitterness. The hatred. The smallness. The limitations.
The “I can’t, I won’t, I don’t” fades in the light of the glory of Christ.
The glory of his face, the glory of his love and connection to the Father shines through his face to me, to us.
As 2 Corinthians says, the moment one turns to the Lord with an open heart, the veil is lifted and we see. The moment we look for his face with an open heart we see the Lord and where you see the Lord, there is freedom.
Jesus prayed in John 17:
May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Since Jesus gave us His glory, the glory the Father gave him, why don’t we experience more glory?
Why are we not looking for glory?
Perhaps our eyes are veiled by Adam’s god?
Whenever we see the Holy They for who they really are, the veil is taken away and we see and share their glory and we become bright like stars in a dark and perverse generation.
My invitation to you this Christmas and going forward is will you look on the face of Christ?
Lock on his eyes.
His look of love.
His look of belonging.
His look at acceptance.
His look of compassion.
I’ve been doing this little exercise with the Spirit of God as I try to embrace this revelation down in my own heart. When I feel angry or anxious or forgotten or unloved or abandoned or fearful I just hear in my heart “this is Adam’s god” and I turn back in prayer.
“Spirit lead me back to the face of Jesus.”
Chuck was praying the other morning for God to replace judging and condemning with forgiveness and generosity.
This is the stark reality between Adam’s god and the Living God.
Adam’s god is all about judging and condemning ourselves and others.
The Loving God is all about forgiving and blessing ourselves and others.
We have the opportunity to turn with an open heart, to remove the veil, and see the Lord for who he is and who he wants to be for us. All that we desire, all that our heart can stand, and all that we were born for, Jesus has revealed his glory. He has placed eternity in our hearts and eternity we will have with him. Come, Lord Jesus.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full on his wonderful face.