Kingdom Living


Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

The arrival of Fall, kicks off several months of traditions for people around the globe. There are harvest festivals to attend, traditional family meals, trick-or-treating to do with the kids (if we’re honest though, some of us get more excited about Halloween than the kids do), gatherings and celebrations with friends, and of course the ultimate end-of-year holiday traditions surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Eve. 

For some, these are the most exciting and magical months in the year. Trees begin to change their coloring. Children squeal with delight at the piles of leaves to jump in and illuminated trees (Who are we kidding? Some adults do too). And the smells of cider and pumpkin spice bring back pleasant memories of fireside chats or visiting grandma’s house. For those that love the autumn and start of winter, the traditions they hold with the ones they love are cherished, making memories worth far more than the most extravagant present. 

However, for others, the beginning of Fall signals a time of sorrow or loneliness. In some cases, treasured family traditions once enjoyed have ended as loved ones have passed on or as relationships were severed. Every pleasant memory that comes to mind at the smell of a wood burning fireplace or hot apple cider is chased away by the reality of loss. Parties are hard to attend, the laughter and merriment surrounding them becomes a sharp reminder of what they don’t have, and even in some cases perhaps never had.

These have long been my favorite holidays and season of the year as far back as I can remember. However, in the past few years I’ve found my heart in a tug of war between the joys of traditions and magical memories versus the pain of loss. For the first time I moved beyond empathy for those who experience pain during the holidays, into sympathy as I walked through my own pain brought front and center with reminders of how so many things now are forever different. I’ve also been keenly aware of how frequently people talk about the end of the year with exhaustion, pain, and the desire to leave it behind. 

However, the truth that I’m re-learning in a new way, is that every year holds both pain … and joy, but we may have to put in some effort to find and remember the joy. 

A few years ago I went through the toughest season in my life. I cried loud tears when no one was around. I attended functions but felt disconnected. I recognized my sorrow was from wrecked dreams and empty traditions all lacquered with a happy veneer that some would say they envied. Meanwhile, I felt like I was drowning in hidden sorrow and pain. But I did my best to have fun and not be a buzz-kill. That year I started some new “traditions” (can it be a tradition if it’s the first time you’ve done it?), but still in the back of my heart was keen awareness of loss. It was no way to “celebrate” the holidays. It really wasn’t a great way to “make it through” the holidays either. I wondered how so many people could be happy and joyful around me when I was so hurt and afraid and sorrowful.  As I look back on it, I’m certain it was God’s grace and infusion of strength that got me through all of those broken dreams, but the details of how He did it all seem a blur. The only thing I remember with clarity is the feeling of heaviness.

This year has also had it’s struggles. There have been inner battles, wrestling with deep fears and anxieties, cancer scares, and saying an earthly good-bye to a dear family member just to name a few. However, this year I’m resolved to enter the holiday season with true thanksgiving and joy (not just happiness). I want to cultivate, live in, and record good memories and meaningful traditions. 

I am in no way trying to Pollyanna my way through the end of the year as if nothing hard or challenging has happened. On the contrary, it is the honesty of acknowledging the hardships that helps me to find and catalog true joys. A truth I have considered more times this year than in prior years is that what the enemy intended for evil in my life, God intends for good. This is not a religious platitude. This truth is much more empowering and emboldening. It means that I don’t have to shellac everything with “hard-earned happiness”, but that I can go through the hard stuff and be on the watch for The Father’s goodness toward me specifically.

Here are some things I know for sure as we enter this holiday season: 

  • Isolation isn’t better
  • A wandering, unoccupied mind is dangerous
  • A day lacking gratitude is guaranteed to be hard
  • Dwelling on the yesterdays with no thoughts for the tomorrows is living death

This year I want to be intentional about enjoying and using the time I have. I want to continue the traditions I’ve started with my kids: decorating cookies, attending Christmas festivals (maybe even ice skating), and making ornaments. And I want to look for things that I can do to feed my soul and strengthen my mind. Perhaps some of these are a good starting point:

  • Reading for enjoyment while having a fire on the tv and a cup of hot cider or cocoa in hand (Florida is a bit short on real fireplaces)
  • Indulge in one favorite holiday movie per weekend with a bag of popcorn and a soft blanket on my comfy couch
  • Meet a friend for a hot cup of our favorite whatever and have a nice long, laid back conversation about all our favorite topics
  • Make something special for someone else, like a blanket, or some cookies for the neighbors, or gifts for children who may have none
  • Create a list of scriptures and books and podcasts to keep my mind occupied and learning
  • Start new traditions with the ones I love
  • Write down at least three real things to be grateful for every day
  • Prayerfully give thought to the future and number my days rightly so that I can live and make the best use of the purpose for which God made me

And in all of this, when I feel heavy weight begin to creep (because it will), I will stop and actively look for what is good and reasons to give thanks. I know from personal experience that there is an unexplained peace and joy that replaces my sorrow when I begin to list as many things as I can think of that I’m thankful for.

There will undoubtedly still be moments of grief (this life isn’t perfect after all), but it is to my benefit (and yours) to grieve appropriately and move forward so that at the end of every year I can re-joy-ce. 

I have a friend who introduced me to this perspective by living it out in front of me. At the end of each year, there is no dwelling on or hiding from the hard days. There is no attention given to exalting the coming new year as a way to “get rid of” this one. Instead, we look back at all the good things that have happened and things we’ve accomplished and rejoice in that! How much sweeter is the peace and joy that accompany a posture of praise and thanksgiving. And this is the posture and perspective I want to have always.

I pray for you also, dear reader, that The Father’s Holy Spirit comforts and strengthens you with the joy of the Lord as He reminds you of all of His goodness and loving kindness towards you even in your darkest and hardest days.

Kingdom Living

Banquet at The Father’s House

My most favorite memories are those around the holidays. Every gathering with beloved friends and family lights me up inside. Yes, there are some sad memories around this time, but the sweetness of good “old” memories and being surrounded by people I love overrides the bitterness of sorrow. I started imagining what a holiday gathering might be like at The Father’s house.

“Is there anything I can help with?” I ask The Father. He is making all the final preparations for our feast and there are lots of other people there helping as well.

The Father welcomes me in and gives me a big hug before inviting me to participate with Him in preparing for the feast (kids always want to help).

You can help set the table, daughter.” He gives me a purpose, and points me to the gold and silver dishes and utensils we will be using for our feast. 

I finish setting the table just in time for the food to start coming out. Finally, the table is fully set and the food is bountiful. There isn’t a single favorite missing! Turkey, ham, lamb, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and mashed, green bean casserole, casseroles of every kind, corn (we need a reminder), bread, even homemade cranberry sauce (don’t judge – my Grandma had the best recipe and I loved it!), and the list goes on! Drinks have been poured. We’re all ready to dive in.

The banquet room is warmly lit. Not from a fire, but by the glory radiating from The Father. The room is intimate, but big enough to hold all the people I know and love and the people they know and love and so on. Dimensions are a weird thing at The Father’s house.

The head of the table comes to His seat – Jesus. Looking at The Father, Jesus expresses His thanks for the feast we are salivating over and then proceeds to carve the turkey. He serves each person Himself before sitting down to begin eating from His own plate.

Conversations around the table are sweet and the food unimaginably good. I stop for a minute to listen – it sounds like the whole room is singing. Though all the conversations are different, the song that is being made from it all sounds melodious! It’s not overwhelmingly loud either because no one has to yell to be heard. I realize I’ve been smiling since I got to The Father’s house. I pause for a moment to take it all in. The glow of the room. The beautiful decor. The “background music” from the humming conversations. And all these wonderful people. I look over and see The Father looking at me with a smile on His face.

All of this is for you, my beloved one. I am glad you came to sit and fellowship with me. I love watching you enjoy all that I have provided.

My heart is full (and my stomach too). 

But it’s time for desert and coffee! Not sure how I could fit more into my stomach, but this is one of the best times of fellowship.  I pull the comfy chair up next to Jesus who is sitting by The Father. Coffee steaming on the end table, dessert in hand, we talk for hours. I listen again to old stories I know, but there is always something new The Father tells me in those stories. Jesus patiently listens as I pour out my heart. I tell Him everything on my mind but nothing phases Him. He listens intently as if He didn’t already know all these things I’m talking about. And when I finally give Him space to speak, His voice and instruction are gentle and loving. I always learn so much from Him.

I’m grateful to be sitting right here, right now. There’s nothing better than feast-day at The Father’s house. I don’t want to say good-bye or good-night. I want to hold on to this beautiful thought. The Father reminds me that there are even more wonderful things, things beyond my imagination, in store for me in eternity.

This small imagination of mine surely pales in comparison to what it will really be like when we finally get to feast at the banquet table in Heaven. Would you sit for a moment and imagine with me? What does your perfect feast have that mine doesn’t? Who is at the table with you? One thing is certain, God The Father, and Jesus His Son will be there welcoming us with open arms and it will always be the best feast ever.


And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken. And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land.
– Ezekiel 34:23-24,26-27



I am a pretty analytical person. I think a lot about things. I probably think too much about some things. Last week I had one of those thinking days. I was analyzing my thoughts in fact! I was struggling with my love language, words of affirmation. I was trying to understand why I had a stronger draw to help someone who affirmed me than I even wanted to be in the same room with someone who hadn’t. I was a little disgusted with myself because I knew the feelings creeping in to my heart had been poisoned with pride.

I grappled with the questions “Why am I like this? Why is this my love language?”

Father, can’t you just take away this driving desire for affirmation from people? Why can’t my primary love language be something else that isn’t driven by such pride?

That last one was kind of a silly question because anything that deals with feeling like I’m loved has the potential to be twisted by pride, even acts of service.

The Father had an answer already prepared for me.

I put that desire for affirmation in you, it is a piece of myself that I put in you too. Come to me when you feel that desire for affirmation go unfulfilled. I love you and am always cheering you on, loving you perfectly and completely. Listen for my affirmation, especially when you need it the most.”

I want all of my affirmation to come from The Father…so why do I struggle with this? Why do I still feel this longing for people to acknowledge or appreciate what I’ve done? I feel wrong or broken, like I’m not doing something right…

The Father tenderly takes my hand and leads me. We are walking through large hallways with marble floors and high ceilings that looked like they went on forever. This was a museum of the great things The Father had done! There were mini replicas of the story of Abraham and Sarah, Jacob fighting with the Lord, Moses, Noah, David… so much to see! But we kept right on walking. When The Father’s pace slowed I was able to see some of the names of people He created and clearly delighted in along with little notes of their accomplishments and proud moments, like a mini scrapbook. I glanced up at The Father. He was smiling, as if He were recalling the notes He’d written about each person. When we finally came to a stop, The Father told me to come look at what He was standing in front of. I noticed there was a frame around it just like the others and some of those notes too. I looked up and I saw … me. The Father wanted to show me something He created, that He was proud of, and it was me.

Kneeling down to make His eyes level with mine, He placed His hands on my shoulders.

You are my very own amazing creation.

That desire to be affirmed – I put that in you. I made that a deep part of who you are. I know you are wondering why I made you this way because you don’t see it as good – but I do.

I gave you this specific desire to be affirmed so that you could enjoy my affirmation and so you could use it to affirm others. People need encouragement and to feel loved, especially when they don’t feel lovable or acceptable. As someone uniquely created to be filled up by affirmation and encouragement, you are specially qualified to give it and receive it when it is given.

I don’t do anything by mistake, precious one. Creating you this way is just one of the great things I’ve given you out of myself. There are even more great things still to come, little one. You are my prized and treasured creation and I’m still writing these notes of wonderful things you are doing and have yet to do.”

By now I was wiping tears from my face and threw my arms around The Father’s neck. He did it again – He showed me His love for me.


Precious reader, I’ve shared a little glimpse of my heart and conversation with The Father but I know this message is not just for me. There is a place in His museum where your picture hangs. You are His prized and treasured creation. That thing in you that gets ugly when pride leaks in has a more beautiful purpose. What is The Father whispering to you? Let Him show you your place in His museum. Let Him tell you the story of how He wants to use that piece of who you are for His more beautiful purpose.


Who Am I?

Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.
And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
Galatians 4:7


Who am I, really?

What am I doing?

Why am I here?

I can’t seem to do anything right. I’m just failing all over the place. What good am I?

These are thoughts I struggle with far too frequently. I am my own worst critic, especially when things aren’t going according to plan (specifically my plan). This morning, after what feels like a very long week couple of weeks, I was definitely down on myself again. I was thinking about all the things I’m not doing well – I’m not being a great mom, or a great wife, or excelling at work, or keeping my house clean… the list just seemed to go on forever.

I pulled out my Bible to find help and encouragement and read just a few short verses in Galatians chapter four, and paused on verse 7. “What does a good, well-rounded (not stuck up) heir to a wealthy fortune look like? How does someone like that behave every day?”, I asked myself. I came up with a few things: confident, secure, they know who they are, they know how their father is respected.

But right now, I don’t feel like I look or act that way at all. I feel like I’m “failing all over the place”, not measuring up. So I asked The Father, “What does this mean – that I am Your heir? How should I be acting?” I started to write down what came to mind: strong, loved, confident, teacher, encourager, learner, studier, held, wise, helped, capable…img_5407

This mindset shift reminded me of who my Father is which then helped me begin to remember who I really am. All that muck and self-guilt that I started my morning with – that is not what my Daddy-God says about me. That’s not who I am. “Failure” is not one of my labels. I am not a failure, because my Daddy-God is not a failure. I still have things to work on. I’m an heir, not a perfect heir. But I’m not useless, purposeless, or a “failure all over the place”.

Sitting on my couch with my coffee in hand, I thought “Yup. I do know this. Got it.”

I was thankful for the reminders and did have more peace, but I had an almost casual response. I still wrestled a little with my thoughts.

And then came the tap on my shoulder.

I was listening to the radio in my car (I rarely do that these days) and a brand new song by Lauren Daigle was playing. It was about what God says about us. It was exactly the things my Daddy-God had been speaking to me earlier this morning!

Tap. Tap.

“Are you listening to what I’m telling you, little one?”, says The Father. “You are MY child. My child is not defined by averages, successes, or feelings. You are my very own Daughter. There is nothing we can’t do together and I’m always right here to help you, to hold you, to give you exactly what you need to do all the things you need to do. Who are you? -You are loved, you are strong, you are held, you are able. You are Mine.”

To the Precious Ones reading this, if you are struggling with your thoughts today, know that you are His. You are held closely by The Father, who loves you so dearly, without condition. You are helped by Him. He is able to do anything you need Him to because you are His child. Who you are is not defined by the measurements of the world around you. Who you are is declared by your Daddy-God. You are priceless to Him. You are His very own precious, beloved child and all He has is yours.

What do you hear The Father say about you?