The Cross

A few weekends ago, I had the absolute honor of leading worship at a women’s conference called Wildfire, all about encountering God and realizing that you can’t be too on fire for Him.  The leaders weren’t messing around because during the first session we dove headfirst into watching the scene in the movie The Passion of the Christ when Jesus was being nailed to the cross, and they encouraged us to not shield our eyes from looking at any part of what He went through.  My honest first thought was: “I know what Jesus did for me, and I’ve seen this movie before,” but my heart was open and I wanted to hear Him speak.  Sure enough, as I watched this representation of His crucifixion, He began speaking to me so clearly…


  • As I watched the nails being hammered into His hands, He reminded me that He restrained Himself for me.  He did not have to stay on the cross.  He is the King of the Universe and no one and nothing can restrain Him – especially inanimate objects as simple and powerless as wood and nails.  Yet, the One Who created the world was held and restrained by two wooden beams and three nails for me.  With all the power in and outside of the world at His disposal, with all of heaven and hell waiting to see what He would do, with all those to whom He showed Himself to, and who saw the miracles He could perform, waiting to see how and why He would allow Himself to be brutally murdered in this way though innocent, He allowed Himself to be restrained out of love for me.


  • As I watched the centurions curse Him, mock Him, and look on Him with disdain, I became angry towards the ones who historically did this to the King of the Universe.  However, He spoke to me that He formed them and knit them in their mother’s womb just like me.  He loved them just as much as He loves me.  And the hardest word of all?  I am as bad as they are.  The Lord spoke kindly and gently to me: “You are as bad as they are, and you need a Savior as much as they do.”  My sins are just as horrible and dark as physically nailing Jesus to a cross – as spitting on, flogging Him, mocking Him, piercing Him.  He chose to die a horrible and brutal death for MY sins just as much as anyone else’s.  I was as bad as the worst sinner in history due to the blackness of my heart and my inability to purify myself to come near Him Who is Pure.  I needed a Savior, and He came for me.  If I was the only person who ever lived on this earth, He still would have chosen to give His life for me because that still would have been the only way I could be saved.  I am that bad.  I am that sinful.  I am that in need of a Savior, and I am truly that loved by Him.


  • As I watched (and imagined) the horrific shame of my King hanging weak, beaten, and bleeding on a cross with my eyes wide open, Jesus spoke to me that there is a reason why I would have shielded my eyes if the leaders of the conference hadn’t encouraged me not to.  Violence is hideously ugly and it is not a part of what God said was “very good” when He made man.  I was not made to enjoy it or to take part in it.  However, because of the severe violence of my sin, the violence of a perfect sacrifice was necessary.  Because of the gruesome, evil, dark, and detestable things that happen in this world, and that originate from our hearts, He Who is the Light chose to take the darkness on Himself in order to eradicate it once and for all.  We were incapable of doing this on our own, and we can’t do anything to earn it because it is already done.  If we believe He did this for us and receive His salvation, we don’t have to rack up good deeds in order to be saved, although we will want to do good for Him and others.  We also don’t have to fear losing our salvation, although we will not want to do anything that displeases Him because we love Him.  We can know we are saved because He has purchased us with His love by a violent sacrifice that cannot be taken back.  It is His perfection that makes us holy, not our own; otherwise, this violent sacrifice would not have been necessary.  He chose to come and die for us in our imperfection, before we believed Him, chose Him, loved Him, or even heard of Him.  We were – I was – full of sin, and yet He believed in us, chose us, and loved us at our worst.


After watching this part of the movie, we then each went outside one at a time to pray and confess our sins to Jesus, as well as to place our hands on a wooden cross wet with red paint, and reflect on the personal nature of His sacrifice.


As I went out on this cold night, I placed my hands on the face of the cross now wet and red with paint, and stood there praying and praising Him until out of nowhere, I began to hear the song Pieces by Amanda Cook quietly playing in the background.  The second I heard this song, my mind was instantly flooded with memories of the fall that it came out, and how God taught me through it that He doesn’t give His heart in pieces when I didn’t know I was worthy of a love like that.  He put back together the pieces of my broken heart and healed me in my past, but as I listened to the song with gratitude, He then began to reveal to me the greater significance of the moment. I was standing and worshiping Him at the foot of a cross that symbolized the love sacrifice He made for me 2,000 years ago…and He was with me singing this song and declaring His love to me at that very moment!  He was showing me that His love didn’t stop short for me back then.  He is still passionately and personally pursuing me today!  He has never given His heart in pieces!


Jesus doesn’t want the cross to become commonplace to us.  He wants us to know that His sacrifice was and still is personal for Him.  He is the One who died on the cross for my salvation 2,000 years ago, and yet He is still full of love and willing to show His intimate kindness to me DAILY in hundreds of ways.  He longs to give us endless, personal encounters with Him, and I for one, can’t get enough…


The Lord showed me the week after this in Exodus 15:26 that His Name is Jehovah Rapha – the Lord Who heals you.  This is what makes the cross personal.  Jesus loves YOU so much that He would stop at nothing for YOU to be healed by Him.  He never intended for darkness, or pain, or suffering to enter into your life, but when we inherited sin and chose it ourselves, there was nothing He could do except choose to take the required punishment on the cross for us.  That alone was enough, but His sacrifice didn’t just take our punishment…it gave us healing.


“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5


If you have been through pain, no matter how large or small, believing in His act on the cross for you not only guarantees your salvation, but it also guarantees your healing.  God spoke to me through this verse and experience: You live to be healed by Me.  That’s what His death on the cross means.  It is not just a spiritual symbol that Christians carry, or a cliché thing that we talk about in church.  The cross is truly the proof of His love, and the proof of our healing.  Because of His death on the cross and His resurrection, we never have to give into despair.  We are promised resurrection from death, and full and total healing, no matter what happens to us in this life.


We live to be healed by Him.


Do you have a memory of encountering the Lord like this?  Do you recall when His sacrifice became personal to you?  If you don’t know Him in this way yet but desire to, as long as you’re alive, it’s not too late.  Stir up your heart to ask questions and seek Him.  You will find Him because He did not die to not be found by you!  And for those of you who have experienced Him in this way, don’t minimize or forget what He’s done.  His sacrifice on the cross means everything.  To think that we are chosen by Him…that we are special enough that the God of the Universe would come down to claim us, and continue to prove His love for us in the most personal of ways every day.  May we never get over it.  🙂


Blog Pic: A cross at sunset at Dallas Baptist University

Receiving from Heaven

When I was in L.A. for Bethel’s Heaven Come Conference, I received some encouragement during an afternoon session from someone on the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry Team.  She said many things to me, but part of it was about receiving from God in the season that I’m in.  Now, almost every time I get into a corporate time of worship, it still rings at the forefront of my mind!


Sometimes as Christians, we can fall prey to mindsets that prevent us from receiving more that God wants to say and do in our lives without even realizing it.  They may be sinful, or simply distractions from the enemy, but either way, they are never God’s will!  Being aware of these mindsets and doing what we can to change them makes us so much more sensitive to receive from Him, and to hear what He wants to say to us.  All it takes is being open.  🙂


So, with that being said, I would love to share some ways that my BSSM friend encouraged me on how to stay in the mode of receiving from Heaven:


  1. First, you must kill comparison:

God wants a relationship with YOU – not the person you look up to, and not the person you’re trying to be.  If you can believe that God loves you the way you are right now, you’ll be able to lay everything down to become who He wants you to be, and receive what He wants to give you.  It’s that easy!  Don’t look around during worship thinking, “Oh, that person seems so close to God” or, “I wonder what they think of me right now.”  Focus on God.  You CAN be close to Him, and what He thinks of you is more important.

The enemy wants to keep you distracted focusing on others’ lives, all the while missing out on what God is doing in yours!  It may be sly, but don’t take the bait.  🙂  As you become more aware of what God is doing in YOUR life, you will become more joyful, confident, effective in ministry, and actually available to celebrate what God is doing in their lives as well!

Encouragement from my BSSM friend:

 “It is for YOUR freedom that Jesus went to the cross.  For you, not for anyone else, because only you fulfill His dreams for you…Comparison is evil.  It’s wicked.  God didn’t create you to be someone else.  He wants you the way you are.  He loves you the way you are.  Steward the identity of who you are, just be you.


  1. Second, you must never settle:

I used to try so hard to wrap my brain around what God was JUST previously doing and saying, so much so that I sometimes missed what fresh thing He was trying to do and say IN THE MOMENT!  Instead, I believe God wants our posture to be that of a people who are always searching for new things and don’t put a cap on what He wants to say or do.  If it is His will to enable us to discover more about Him, His Word, and ourselves, then He is the One who will give us the capacity to understand and actually retain it all.  I don’t have to strive to get there on my own, but if He intends to take me from glory to glory, I also don’t intend to stay where I am!  May we live like children who are constantly curious and who simply seek Him and let Him teach us.  May we always be excited for new adventures with God.

Encouragement from my BSSM friend:

 “It’s like we’re traveling and we see a mountain.  The more our spirits bond, the more we connect, and the more we see new things together.  God is saying, come on, let’s go further, let’s see more, and you’re saying, ‘But what about this morning?’  God is doing something new.  Don’t try to capture what God did this morning only and miss what He’s doing right now.  That’s boring to God and a very human attitude.  Always go for new things.  No matter what happens, even if it’s not what you want or what you prayed for; it’s an opportunity for a new level.  Flip it like a coin and you will see amazing things, even if it’s not what you expect.


  1. Third, you must give yourself permission to be wild and free:

Open your heart so wide that you can’t even see the walls and receive whatever He has for you.  It’s not just a nice metaphor, but an honest, open posture before God that is unconcerned with the things of this world, and concerned with Him.  He encourages us to think and feel, but also wants to expand the ways in which we think and feel because it is only a part of the picture!  When we read His Word, we must lay down our previous opinions, thoughts, feelings, and expectations, and pick up His.  He will challenge our mindsets in love, but it takes us giving up control for Him to change us for the better!  Being open and free to whatever the God of the Universe may say is the best possible way of living.  It is my job to stop analyzing everything and to trust Him.  It is His Spirit’s job to guide me into all truth and to lead me into what is best for me!

Encouragement from my BSSM friend:

 “Open your heart so wide that you can’t even see the walls of your heart, and receive whatever He has new for youGive your heart permission to be free.  Give your spirit permission to go wild.  Be set free beyond all paradigms and all human thinking according to His Word.”


I believe that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), but we also need to make sure we do not hinder our growth in any way due to faulty mindsets.  Receiving from heaven looks like killing comparison so you don’t miss what God is doing in YOUR life by focusing on someone else’s, not settling or putting a cap on how much God can speak to you, and giving full control to God in whatever He has for you, even if it challenges you and doesn’t look like what you expected.  🙂


Blog Pic: Standing with arms wide open (obviously, like Creed) at the top of McCullough Gulch Trail in Breckenridge, CO

Talking to God

I am learning that nothing is too small to talk to God about.  If I ever have the conscious thought that, “Oh, that’s not that big of a deal – I don’t have to ask Him about that,” then I must ask myself whose voice I’m actually listening to; that of the enemy or the Lord.


That may seem really intense, but I believe that God has shown me a few times recently I could have easily moved forward with things that were not His will for me…if I hadn’t asked Him about it in advance!  You see, God desires us to know His will, but we have to ask to know it.  He won’t force us to make the best decisions as much as He knows they are best for us, but He also won’t hide them from us if we ask.  He wants us to seek Him first and listen to His voice so much so that we are able to discern and choose the best out of obedience and love for Him, even if we don’t see the full picture yet.  This is why it is so important to open ourselves up to constant dialogue and communion with Him so that we don’t convince ourselves of things without consulting with Him and through His Word first.


This has really been on my mind recently because just a few weeks ago, my best friend of ten years and I had a beautiful sit down chat in which we discovered something absolutely hilarious about our friendship.  Like I said, we’ve been friends for ten years, but it was only a few weeks ago that we both finally realized that when it comes to our friendship, she has always been the one to call me, and I have always been the one to text her!  It’s not actually that I don’t like talking on the phone – I absolutely love it, but if I’m really busy throughout my day, it helps me to stop and quietly think through things I want to say through a text instead of a phone call (internally processing instead of externally processing).  She however, feels it is way easier to talk on the phone instead of having to stop and type everything out as she goes about her day (externally processing instead of internally processing).  What is so funny about this is, I always thought she was more in favor of texting like me, and she always thought I was more in favor of calling like her!  That is why, in the last few weeks since we discovered this, we have both made a point to text AND talk on the phone – communicating her way and mine!  Both are continual; it’s just a different method of communication.  🙂


Why do I share this?


I feel that God has been showing me through this that many people, whether it’s through comparing themselves to others’ way of communicating with God, or simply not having enough time in their day to stop for as long as they want to, they have neglected talking to Him altogether.  You see, whether you need to talk out loud with God, or whether you feel you need to stop and process things in a quiet place with Him – both are valid.  God birthed you with the personality you have for a reason.  You do not have to feel that you are less of a Christian for not following someone else’s method of spending time with God each day.  If you want to talk to God, just talk.  Don’t be concerned with what others are doing or how they are doing it – how long they get in the Word, or how long they pray; begin to grow in those ways yourself and believe that truly as much as you want from the Lord is available to you.  God is concerned with His relationship with YOU, so you can likewise be concerned about your relationship with Him – not someone else’s.


Confession: God did not make me to necessarily enjoy lists, but I used to feel that I needed to be more organized and list-oriented in order to pray over something fully.  If you are a list person and that is how you enjoy keeping track of your prayers with the Lord, be free and make those lists!  Enjoy fully the way that God has made your personality to communicate with Him.  If not however, do not feel condemnation that you are not as spiritual because you do not follow a certain method that may come easily to others.  There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus and as Christians we do not live under religion, but in relationship with Him!  Grow in your relationship with God the way that you would with a friend.  If you feel led to write your prayers down, write them down.  If you are a “phone” person who needs to externally process with God, do that.  And if you are a “text” person, who needs to internally pray in the quiet, do that.


The way you communicate and process things is a part of how God made you.  That being said, we ALWAYS have room to grow in our communication (hence, my story with my best friend and I), but the Lord accepts you the way you are, and wants to hear your voice no matter the method.  Don’t hold back from talking to God or from a deeper relationship with Him because you are thinking that you need to somehow grow some sort of “spiritual personality” or way of praying or reading the Word that is like someone else’s or somehow more powerful.  The power of your time with God comes from you simply believing that it is worth it, and from His Spirit guiding and teaching you.  🙂  So, let Him increase your faith to constantly communicate with Him in the way you were born to.  Your seasons and methods may change, but the Lord stays the same.


“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Blog Pic: Glasgow Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland

Confidence and Contentment

I’m realizing more and more how God has made me to be confident and content in Him.  Things that used to seriously drag me down simply no longer do.  Obviously, I am imperfect, and there are times when this is harder than others, but for the most part, I truly feel that there has been a shift in my life and my personal relationship with the Lord towards a deep confidence and contentment that I am beyond grateful for – not that anything has changed outside of me, but it has changed in my heart!


As I thought about how this has changed in me, specifically over this last year, I realized that it has actually come from a process I’ve been in for many years:


“Why are you cast down, O my inner self?  And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me?  Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God.” – Psalm 42:11


When I was in my first years of college, I wrote this verse in cursive on a pretty piece of paper and pasted it to my wall so I could see and speak it over myself every time I was discouraged.  I found that if I truly allowed myself to reflect on “why” I was upset, contrasted with God’s goodness towards me, I didn’t have to stay there for long.  It just ended up feeling small compared to Who He is to me, and the plans I know He has for me – not that it was ever unimportant or wrong to feel; just small.  I learned how to shut down the natural negative tendencies in my heart and to hope, wait, praise, and not be cast down into discouragement, even though discouraging things may be happening.  I really believe that the foundation of confidence, contentment, and joy in my life has come from processing things this way…processing all of my thoughts and emotions with God – the help of my countenance – through His Word.  I leave nothing untouched and rest in His Presence because the alternative is not an option now that I know His freedom.


True confidence, contentment, and JOY can’t be faked.  It’s not just an outward smile that only happens in public or at church.  It is a profound, irreplaceable surety that can only come from knowing God and His promises.  You can’t strive for it.  It is not something that is earned or achieved once you get to a certain place in life because if that’s the case, it’s not true confidence – it’s only circumstantial, and who’s to say you will ever even get there?!  It has to come from a place of acceptance of what already is – who you already are and what you already have in Him, so that no matter what happens in your life, you can stand confident, content, and at peace.  It has to come from a personal relationship with Jesus in which you know Him and His kindness and goodness for YOURSELF.


When we receive our confidence and contentment from God directly, we don’t have to compare ourselves to others or their stories, or to be completely distraught when things don’t go the way we planned.  As easy as that can be, there is a better way in the Spirit!  When you know Jesus, you can know with confidence and without a shadow of a doubt that even though things aren’t working out according to your plan, they are still working out in His.  You have a unique story that is different than the rest!


The Lord dealt with me in this earlier this year when I didn’t realize that I was comparing my story and timeline to that of others at my age and in my life.  He woke me up one morning and spoke to me:

“Do you not think I have the best for you, too?”


This stopped me dead in my tracks and made me to think: Why would I ever want someone else’s story or experience or timeline when I can fall in love with my own?  You see, if I can believe that God has the absolute BEST for me, and I’m not seeing it all play out yet, then whatever I’m envisioning and expecting must not be good yet!  It may be best for someone else, their season, and their situation, but me, I’m on a different path…and IT’S called the BEST.  It is not to be compared to anyone else’s, but it is mine.


“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.” – Jeremiah 29:13-14


When we seek Him, God promises that He will be found by us, but this verse also shows that sometimes – whether it’s by our own actions or not (ex: Jesus being led by the Spirit into the wilderness), He will lead us into places that have the potential of captivity.  God does not tempt us with evil, but He is going to allow us to be put into difficult places/seasons that test or prove our confidence and contentment in Him.  I’ve come to learn that this is not a spitefulness, but a kindness from God.  If He didn’t allow us to go through this process, we would never realize how much we need Him, and never actually be fully confident and content.  When we feel our confidence is breaking down, that is a gift and an opportunity to explore the fullness of Who He is, and who we truly are.


If you don’t know this kind of confidence or contentment yet, there’s nothing wrong with you!  In fact, that is the most natural state of our lives.  The good news is, you simply need to allow yourself the time and space to press into Jesus to receive it!  Ask Him what He has for YOU.  Cut old things out of your life that don’t need to be there – things that take your time and energy away from being truly filled up by Him, and that don’t make sense with the confident and content life you say you really want.  Such things can be spending too much time with people, too much time on social media (talking to myself here!), and in general, too much time distracted and unable to stop and think!  If you allow yourself to slow down for a second and realize that you are not confident or content, you don’t have to let it fester and continue.  Seek the Lord for confidence, contentment, and FREEDOM from discouragement and depression.  Ask Him for the eyes to see your current situation through His joy.


I am so thankful that I have learned a contentment that is separate from everything going according to my plan.  Now, no matter what happens, I’ll be okay, because I trust the better plans God has for me.  I encourage you to not look at a season of discontentment as what will always be.  Look at it as a doorway of possibility into beginning to explore the confidence and contentment that has always been available for you through Jesus.  Just because you don’t see it all right now does not mean that you can’t still be confident and content with what you already have.  When you’re tempted to compare yourself to others, or to think that you’re somehow missing something in your current situation, remember:

“Do you not think He has the best for you, too?”


You can be confident and content wherever you are, knowing what He has promised.


Blog Pic: Hiking McCullough Gulch Trail in Breckenridge, Colorado

Looking back from 25

Today is my birthday (October 21)!  Some people say they hate birthdays, but I absolutely LOVE them and I always will.  Why?  It’s like my own personal New Year!  I choose to look at it as another year of the Lord walking with me and leading me into new territory, another year of growth and comparison to no one other than my past self, and another year of greater revelation of the love of God for ME.


I can truly say that I love the Lord more than I loved Him last year.  Even though last year He blessed me so much and did so much in my life, this year He did more.  🙂  This became extremely clear to me the other day when I was driving on a country road and noticed something that I hadn’t seen in well over a year.  It was a place where I had cried, worshiped, and experienced deep healing from the Lord.  I hadn’t been back since and had actually completely forgotten about it, but when I saw it again, so many memories flooded back to my mind that I simply had to turn around and get out of the car.


Doing so caused me to remember what God has done in my life since that moment – how He has healed my heart and truly given me beauty for ashes in every sense of the phrase.  The last time I was here, I had just graduated from college and was unsure about my future.  I was unsure about His plans for me, and how He was going to provide for me and connect me with new friends and the church I was officially becoming a part of.  How was I going to be able to fit in and assimilate to life back in my hometown – a place I hadn’t stayed in for much time since college, and which I felt I had completely moved on from?  How was I going to start over in a new place with people who didn’t know me?  Was I going to be perpetually lonely?  Was it going to feel like I was back in high school all over again?  I was terrified, but knew I was in His will.


Looking back, I can see how He has provided for me…

He has blessed me in more ways than I can count, and I have seen His goodness everywhere I have turned gently molding, shaping, and guiding my life.

I have made the most incredible, lifelong friends through my church and through my travels.

The Lord gave me favor at church that was unexpected and almost immediate, and I now have the absolute honor of assisting leading worship at Church Eleven32’s very first satellite campus – a church that has blessed me for years that I now get to serve at and bless!

He has awakened new dreams inside of me – writing being one of them – and has enhanced and brought clarity to old dreams.

He has given me confidence in areas I didn’t even know I lacked confidence in.

He has blessed me with the ability to travel all over the world including Scotland (with layovers in Paris, Dublin, and London), New Jersey, New York, Honduras, Colorado, and Los Angeles, alone and with family and friends.

I have truly had more experiences than I knew I was capable of having in one year!


Over a year ago, the last time I was in this place, I saw the clearest lake I had ever seen.  It was glistening in the sun and I was completely awestruck by the beauty of it.  I prayed for clarity and felt the Lord giving me peace that He would give it.  Now, looking back, I can see how that lake was a prophetic indication that He was answering that prayer, and how He is still answering it in ways in which I can’t even understand right now.  I can however, see the uncertainty, confusion, and lack of clarity as a gift because it forces me to rely on Him.  He is truly my God, and in Him I lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10).


So, honestly, here’s to 25 and my best birthday thus far.  🙂


“He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen.” – Deuteronomy 10:21


Blog Pic: The small lake and gazebo at Restoration Church in Wylie, TX, which is the city where Church Eleven32’s first satellite campus is also based.  Coincidence?  I think not.  🙂

Exposing the tactics of the enemy

God put it on my heart to write this blog well over a month ago, but He didn’t give me the ability to complete it until now.  It’s not just about the writing or reading of information, but the retaining of it, so hopefully this blesses you and sets you free as much as it has me in processing through it for myself.  🙂


I really believe that most of the tactics of the enemy against God’s people can be brought down to these two categories:

  1. Stealing the encouragement God has already given you.
  2. Preventing you from receiving the encouragement God wants to give you.


Stealing encouragement

Here are a couple of personal examples of how the enemy has tried to immediately steal the encouragement God has given me this year:

  • God gave me the sweetest encounter with a friend who cried as they told me how much my blog was blessing them.  I didn’t even know they were reading!  The very next day however, while having a conversation with someone else about it, they kind of minimized the impact of it, which bothered me more than the encouragement blessed me!
  • I had just received a prophetic word about my future marriage.  The very next day, I was walking in a crowd with a friend and a guy began walking in tandem with us and smiling at me.  I smiled back.  Later that day however, he came up to my friend asked her out!  (I will say I now find this hilarious, but in the moment it was truly terrible timing…which I also realize is a great example of alliteration, thank you very much.)


Preventing encouragement

Now, here are a couple of personal examples of how the enemy has tried to prevent the encouragement God was wanting to give me this year:

  • I had just processed a ton of emotional stuff with the Lord and was feeling like I was on the verge of breakthrough.  The next thing I know, two things happened in one day that had the potential to spin me right back into even more discouragement than before!
  • On a simpler, but possibly more relatable note, I was in a very busy season and stressing myself out so much about all of the things I had to do that I “couldn’t even think” or pray about it.


Why does this happen?

Have you ever been in any of these situations?  Both scenarios cause you to focus on what is happening right now – stealing your encouragement from the faithfulness of God in the past, and preventing the encouragement that would ultimately come in the future if you reached out to Him.  They cause you to ask: “God, why are you allowing me to experience all of this unnecessary stress, sorrow, and heartache?”


I want to flip the question however…why WOULDN’T a God who loves us allow us to go through emotional things that force us to get to the root of the real problems we’ve been having?  Roots of insecurity, anxiety, doubting God’s goodness, and fear that things will never change for the better.  If God didn’t allow us to go through these things, we would never realize the sin patterns that are naturally inside of us and would constantly be forced to go through the same cycles over and over.  If we never realize them, we will never truly be free; we will only be in denial!  God wants us to intelligently understand why we feel the things we feel and what we are genuinely struggling with so we can have authority over it!


“Know the truth and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32


I want to propose to you that the enemy’s attacks of stealing or preventing your encouragement/growth in God are not random!  Especially for the believer who is trying to do God’s will and making progress, both of these tactics are straight out of the first page of the enemy’s handbook.  Most of the time, you can actually track the most random attacks of discouragement back to a season or moment where you had just experienced huge freedom and breakthrough in God!  You were reaching new levels that you had never reached before in your spiritual walk and, out of nowhere, the moment that you began to really walk out your faith in a powerful way, the enemy came at you with everything he could to tempt you to give up and take the easy route of disbelief, discouragement, and sin.


What do you do in those moments?  How do you cope?

You realize that the Word of the Lord is ALWAYS true.

Circumstances bow to the truth of His Word!

Feelings bow to the truth of His Word!

Lies bow to the truth of His Word!

I bow to the truth of His Word, and even more importantly, no matter what he tries to throw, the devil bows to Jesus – the Truth and the Word!


We do not have to consistently be dragged down by the enemy’s tactics when we submit all of our struggles to the Spirit of God for help.  If we can submit and surrender, God will make us aware of the tactics of the enemy so we can recognize their source, and they can therefore have no power over us.  We are not to be aware of the enemy over God, but aware of God enough to be able to immediately dismiss things that don’t come from Him! 


“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” – Zechariah 4:6


Come on somebody!  If you’re struggling with discouragement, why not try to ask the God of Heaven’s Armies what is true instead?


Know the Truth

Something my mom says all the time is: “You just have to know it, and then you’re set free from it.”  This comes from John 8:32 which says, “Know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  Knowing what you’re struggling with and being able to name it gives you the ability to be set free from it, because when you realize it is a lie you’ve been believing, you won’t want to believe it anymore!


However, even though this may be true, you still have the choice whether you want to be or not.  So, with all of that being said, I wanted to share some practical ways to combat whatever the enemy is trying to throw at you:

  1. Think of the encouragement: What did God say to me right before this?
  • In my first example, I had JUST received a huge amount of encouragement the literal day before this happened, which makes me realize that God gave that to me in advance for a reason!  The moment the atmosphere of your heart begins to change from fear to faith, the enemy will try to throw discouragement your way.  However, nobody can make you feel inferior unless you allow them to.  All you have to do is recognize it, and then you’re set free from it.  🙂  Remember how God has encouraged you.


  1. Test the spirit: Is this causing peace or chaos inside of me?
  • When I received those two forms of discouragement on the same day, it was tempting to think that I was being too emotional, and to then feel ashamed.  However, this was only until I realized that this wasn’t random.  I had just come so far in my emotional healing, and this caused chaos in my spirit and tested my faith in the goodness of God.  Therefore, this was none other than an attack from the enemy on my progress in the Lord!  Some of us, when we experience something really hurtful, we accept it as coming from God, and walk right into periods of depression and confusion that are even more hurtful.  However, when you go to the Lord about it, He will give you the insight to recognize it for what it is and where it came from in order to SHUT IT DOWN.  You were created to need Jesus, and He is not angry with you for needing Him!


  1. Take a moment: Slow down, think it through, write things down.
  • So many times, if I would just give myself the time and space to get away and receive from the Lord, I would never have gotten so overwhelmed.  He is a merciful and kind Father, and He does not want His children to suffer without His comfort.  You may be going through a hard time, but the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who come to Him humbly, desperate for Him.  Times like those are the best times to rest.  You may not see a light at the end of the tunnel yet, but God sees you struggling and knows that it puts you in the perfect place to be loved by Him.  Pray through your thoughts to God, or if you can’t think to pray, write out your thoughts to Him.  Don’t let the enemy have a heyday with your emotions when the Lord is closer than your breath!  Give yourself the time to think things over in the current season you’re in and what God is doing in it.


There will always be a fight against what God is saying in your spirit, but He has ALREADY given you the victory through Christ Jesus!  You can therefore laugh in the face of whatever discouragement the enemy tries to throws at you because you know the encouragement God has already given you.


It starts by simply looking up.  Like in a busy city when all of the people and cars and high rises surround you, fight for your attention, and make you feel small, when you look up, you see that the sky hasn’t changed.  It is clear and calm.  So too will looking up and seeking God clear things up and calm you down…no matter what you may be facing.


Blog Pic: Looking up at the sky above Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, CA

The Authority to Bless

This blog is more of a testimony than a lesson, but Bethel’s Heaven Come Conference in Los Angeles, California was one of the most special and beautiful weekends of experiencing God’s presence, favor, and blessing in my life.  This entire year for me has been such a whirlwind of adventure through travel and new experiences, but I will say that the two trips that marked me this year as far as growing deeper in my relationship with God and in who I am in Him were the bookends of my first independent trip out of the country (without my family) to Scotland in March, and my first trip completely alone to this conference in Los Angeles this weekend – both of which happened to fall on super special days for me (the anniversary of my baptism in the Holy Spirit and Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year).  I went on faith that God would bless me with friends and give me words of direction for my future and He did so much more than that.  Here are just a few stories of God’s faithfulness to me this weekend, and what He is teaching me that is now going to carry me from here on out:


God had been speaking to me for the conference that He wanted me to read a book called the Esther Anointing by Michelle McClain-Walters.  I bought it months ago, but never felt led to read it…until this weekend.  I took it on the plane with me and was amazed at how much revelation God was giving me about how I am called to be an Esther for His Name – a queen to a generous and benevolent King who serves and loves Him, bows before Him, and who uses the authority she’s been given to bless His Kingdom.  This revelation stuck with me as I went to the conference, and I knew that God was calling me to be a light to whomever I met.  Well, it just turns out that even though I assumed that I would be the only one who went to L.A. by myself for this purpose – praise God, I assumed wrong!  By the end of the conference, I was seated smack dab in the middle of a row of seven women of all ages, including myself, who were single and had come by themselves from all around the world simply to receive from God.  It truly blew me away to realize that there were so many other people who were in the exact same season as I am with the exact same heart to seek and serve God with everything they have.  It was so beautiful to see women confident enough to travel alone and grab a hold of whatever God had for them by faith.  I didn’t know I needed to see it, but I will never forget it.


This began to really intrigue me and cause me to ask the Lord: “What is it You’re trying to teach me through this?”  He showed me that He wanted me to see that one, I was not alone, and two, I have something to offer.  You see, God spoke to me this weekend through this book and in general at this conference that, as His daughter, His princess, His queen, or whatever you want to call it, when people see me, they’re not just seeing me.  Since I am filled with God, when people meet me, they’re not just meeting me – they’re meeting the presence of God inside of me!  When people encounter me, they have the opportunity to encounter God.  I am not just me!  I have His signet ring – His authority!  Because I am planted by streams of living water – planted in Him by staying true to His Word and in tune with His Spirit – I have the authority to bless others in His Name!  As I started to meet all of these women who came alone, even though I did as well, the thought rose up inside of me: “Lord, how can I bless THEM?”  Little did I know that He was going to turn it all around and bless ME!


First example of a blessing given and received:

I met most of the ladies next to me on the first night of the conference, and the next morning I got there pretty early.  As I was looking around and wishing someone would come and talk to me, I saw a girl sitting alone and writing in her journal.  Because I was doing that the previous night, before anyone else showed up, I knew that she must be lonely.  I went up to go talk to her and we immediately hit it off!  I ended up inviting her to lunch with me and my friend, and she brought a friend and ended up paying for our entire meal!  We all hung out for the rest of the weekend and each of us were beyond blessed and encouraged.

I realized through this that I used to be so shy, but now that I know who and Whose I am, I don’t have to hide and wait for someone to come and talk to me…I can be that person for somebody else!  I have the authority through Jesus’ love and confidence to bless other people, not in order to get a blessing, but with the full willingness to GIVE, and knowing that God will bless in return!  🙂


Second example of a blessing given and received:

In addition to making some of the most incredible friends from Australia, South Africa (living in Thailand), Kansas, Georgia, Denver, and Seattle and hanging out with them all weekend at the conference (the absolute sweetest surprise from God), I received a powerful confirming word from a woman on the BSSM Ministry Team!  It made me cry with the peace and love of God, however, I still felt that I needed more prayer and encouragement from the Lord on one specific subject.  I told the Lord about it and had faith that even at my last moment in L.A., He could surprise me with even a word from a stranger on the street!  🙂

On Sunday, after my friends had all left, I decided to go to Expression58 – a church that Shawn Bolz started ten years ago in Glendale.  Little did I know that he had gone to the conference and would actually be speaking there that morning!  I obviously wanted him to give me a word, but when that didn’t happen, I was determined to still make friends and be a blessing to others.  I went over to the coffee bar (where the cool people hang ;)), and initiated a conversation with a really nice guy getting coffee next to me.  Before he left, I realized I hadn’t introduced myself or asked what his name was.  It was Emmanuel.


Emmanuel.  God with us.


I felt God speaking to me: “Amanda, that’s your word.  I am telling you that I am with you.”  Talk about the love of God towards you.  I mean, come on – seriously?!  What was even sweeter about this is that I did not realize that the song we were singing that morning sang the beautiful name Emmanuel over and over in the chorus.  As I was reaching out to be kind and make a friend, God spoke to me…but He didn’t stop there.


Third example of a blessing given and received:

I went to the first AND second service of church that Sunday, because no matter how much I wanted to, I could not seem to leave.  I felt really strongly that I needed to stay – even though I wasn’t sure why yet.  I followed the Holy Spirit in obedience, and went back in for worship again.  The usher then seated a girl next to me, and as we got to talking, I discovered that she was also single, from Boston, and had also gone to the Heaven Come Conference by herself (the seventh person I met like this)!  I definitely wanted to make a new friend, but I also knew that God was the One leading me to take her to lunch.  She came, and we had the most wonderful time talking and sharing about God’s goodness in our lives for 2 hours!  🙂  God spoke through me into her life, and I was so grateful to have the opportunity to bless her, but then, something happened that I did not expect.

Out of nowhere as we were walking back to the car, this girl straight up spoke the word of the Lord to me in the exact area I had been privately praying for.  I was in shock and almost speechless, and if you know me, you know that’s next to impossible (your girl’s got words).  😉  I realized in that moment that none of this would have ever happened if I had not chosen to step out in faith in coming to this conference, trusted in God where He was leading me, and looked for specific people that He was leading me to. 


God showed me this weekend that all of the blessings I received came to me simply because, even though I came looking for a blessing, I did not wait around and do nothing, but sought out others to bless!  You may think that if you give to others, you will lack yourself, but the Bible says:


“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” – Luke 6:38


I am definitely still growing in the area of extravagant generosity, but I just want to encourage all of the women reading this who may feel that they don’t have much to offer.  You are a woman of God and you have been given an inheritance from Him that well compensates for any inadequacies you may have or even shyness in your personality!  Even if you’re alone, you can bless others because you have been blessed.  You have so much to give because you are not truly alone, and you’re not simply giving yourself.  You’re giving Jesus, who has already blessed you immensely!  He is your Constant Source, and in Him you lack no good thing.  So rise up, women!  Rise up, Esther’s, who know their Father’s heart and use the authority they have from Him to bless those around them!  Let all those around you see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven…and wait and see how He might even turn it all around to provide for and bless you in return.  🙂


If you want to read more on this subject, check out my other blogs: Hiddenness about being hidden in God, and The Flip-Side to Hiddenness about loving the ones trying to hide from Him.


Blog Pic: Driving on my way to the second day of Heaven Come Conference at Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California (the sky is so clear in the city of angels!)