The busy physician has a pediatrics practice in Dallas, Texas, and meeting and falling in love with surgeon Tom Peterson is adding a rich layer to her life. She's sorting out how to introduce Tom to her family--she's the youngest of seven--and thinking about marriage.
She's falling in love with Jesus too, and knows God is good. But that faith is about to be tested, and in a way she didn't expect. The results will soon transform her entire family.
We asked Dee a few questions about her new book:
Dee, you have had a lot of fans voice interest in the continuation of the O’Malley Series. With the up-coming release of Jennifer, are you excited to get feedback from your readers to this new title?
The best part of my day is reader mail, and the most popular request I get is that readers want to know more about Jennifer O’Malley. So I am very excited that Bethany House is bringing out this novella. Jennifer and Tom are engaged in the first book of the O’Malley series, and this novella lets me go back and share their personal story in the year before book one of the series, The Negotiator. They had a wonderful romance, and a significant challenge to face together. I am eager to hear feedback from readers.
How did it feel to bring back the O’Malley family?
The O’Malley stories resonate because they are about Jesus, family, and falling in love – they’ve got a timeless quality to them which made returning to this series a wonderful opportunity. I’ve had the desire to go back and revisit this series for several years. After 18 books, Marcus O’Malley is still one of my favorite characters, and Lisa and Quinn one of my favorite couples. It was a personal pleasure to write this novella. It’s my hope Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story allows another generation of readers to fall in love with this family.
Do you have a special connection to a particular character in Jennifer? If so, who and why?
Jennifer herself. Jennifer’s relationship with Jesus, her marriage to Tom, formed the core spine of the O’Malley series. Getting to now write her personal story was a wonderful joy. I admire her ability to cope with a crisis, and see it from the perspective of believing in God, to keep her faith, and her love for Tom. It’s a short and powerful story.
Have any of the characters in the O’Malley series mirrored anyone, related or non-related, that has been a part of your life, past or present?
I know a few guys like Jennifer’s choice in Tom, husbands who love their wives deeply and build a great life and marriage even through adversity. They stick when life is hard, and it’s a blessing to know them.
Would you ever like to see one of your novels made into a movie? If so which one, and who would you want to star in it?
My fans debate this question with great intensity so I will leave the choice of who should play which person to my readers. I would love to see one of my stories on the big screen, most writers would. The story most easily translated to film would be Full Disclosure, and I hope it does make it to the big screen one day soon.
Music lovers worldwide are captivated, swept up in the surging wave of modern folk as heard in the likes of Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers, Neon Trees, The Civil Wars and others. Organic, acoustic and packed with live energy and freedom, it’s the unpolished imperfection and open invitation to sing along that has catapulted these artists into the spotlight and up the charts.
Unpolished. Imperfect. Freedom.
For All Sons & Daughters’ Leslie Jordan and David Leonard, these qualities are even more keenly experienced in music that connects broken people with their God. Worship leaders at Journey Church in Franklin, TN, their critically acclaimed EPs, Brokenness Aside, Reason To Sing and The Longing, along with their first full length feature album, Season One, bear witness to the power of worship by the people, for the people and of the people. In the truest sense, the mesmerizing, soul-baring lyrics and acoustic styling of this unlikely duo are beginning to make an impact...inside and outside the church.
Now, with their first-ever live recording, Jordan and Leonard give listeners a chance to experience God in the context of confession and doubt, with an open invitation to be completely transparent and human. Produced by Paul Mabury (Brandon Heath, Hillsong), All Sons & Daughters LIVE, which was recorded with a live studio congregation in one continuous take at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville, captures the spirit and truth of transparent worship.
“We always begin by saying ‘This is a place of freedom,’ Jordan says of their approach to every concert and every Sunday morning service. “We want people to feel complete freedom to worship as they feel called to because Scripture says, ‘What we bring to the Lord is enough for Him.’ And we trust that the Spirit lives in that freedom.”
With a sensitivity and Scriptural grounding beyond their years, All Sons & Daughters’ Jordan—who began leading worship in high school while still wrestling with the idea of church ministry—embraces the tension between worship and real life. “When I came to Journey in 2007, we as a church were in a pretty heavy season of lament. This town is so churched, and this is an artist driven community, and yet so many people here are living with shattered dreams...”
“The demographic here, similar to the people we meet on the road, are broken people, people making their last ditch attempt at church or their first attempt at coming back,” says Leonard, who grew up in church but had never written for worship before meeting Jordan in 2009. “Most of our songs have been written with that healing season in mind. We’ve all thought, ‘Will God leave us if we leave him?’ its just that most of us were never given permission to feel and express those feelings of brokenness in church. That’s the most beautiful part of doing what we do, helping people find that freedom.”
From the opening song of confession, “Brokenness Aside,” to “Oh How I Need You” and “Reason to Sing,” songs for when life doesn’t make sense, All Sons & Daughters LIVE showcases 13 transparent invitations—including the unforgettable “All the Poor and Powerless”—to get real and accept that you are loved. Standards in the making like “Reason to Sing” and “Wake Up” give people hope to cling to when life, even among the faithful, doesn’t make sense.
Nothing hits closer to home for Leonard than “Your Glory,” a song of total surrender. “Being a new father, I’m seeing more than ever how much I need God. When the song says, ‘My life is yours/my hope is in you only, and my heart you hold ‘cause you made this sinner holy...’ it is a constant reminder that I can’t be the best father or the best husband, but there is a God who can help me be the man I need to be. It’s a vulnerable moment for me, every time we sing it.”
The album also introduces two new compositions: “God With Us” and “Great Are You Lord.”
“Both songs came out of writing sessions with Jason Ingram (Chris Tomlin, Brandon Heath),” Jordan says. “For ‘Great Are You Lord,’ Jason had this line, ‘It’s your breath in our lungs so we pour out our praise,’ and we felt such a sweetness and depth in it, we just ran with it. When the duo dropped in on Passion 2013 to hear founder Louie Giglio speak, the song received a sort of punctuation. “‘Worship is when we give God his breath back,’ Giglio said, having never heard the new song. That image has stayed front and center with the duo, a reminder that our acts of worship originate with the One we worship. It is His gift.”
“God With Us,” a song about the power and presence of God... “has an easy melody and felt singable and congregational,” Jordan continues, “which has always been important to us.”
All Sons & Daughters, who take great care to make music that meets people where they are, are equally intent on serving and resourcing musicians and worship leaders. As always, their song charts are free online, and they take advantage of any opportunity to start new conversations about what worship might look like... if approached with an open heart and mind.
“We’ve been given an atmosphere of freedom at Journey,” says Jordan of the All Sons & Daughters’ approach to the people who come to hear their music, many of whom experience something completely outside the worship norm. “We’ve been given the freedom to try new things and fail, to consider how different worship can look from what it has looked like. We really believe that the spirit of the room is based on the spirit of the people in the room, so that’s how we approach what we do, by asking ‘How can we serve that spirit?’”
Duo Appears Live Coast-To-Coast
Following the four critically acclaimed projects All Sons & Daughters release its first live, full-length recording, LIVE, today from Integrity Music. Receiving widespread critical acclaim, the CD/DVD was recorded in the chapel at Oceanway Studios in Nashville and features members Leslie Jordan and David Leonard sharing their best-loved songs, such as “All The Poor and Powerless” and “Reason to Sing,” as well as new songs, all delivered in a congregationally-friendly, organic worship setting.
Debuting the new music for the first time at a packed out DVD screening event at the historic Franklin Theatre in Franklin, TN, the video for All Sons & Daughters’ new song, “Great Are You Lord,” was also premiered online by RELEVANT Magazine as its “Video of the Day.”
"Great Are You Lord" from All Sons and Daughters LIVE
Here is just the latest round of critical acclaim for the duo and LIVE:
“I don’t take it lightly in saying this, but I feel I can truly say that this is the best live worship album I’ve heard in many years. It’s an album for not only worshippers, but for music lovers who want something different to listen and worship along to than the norm…All Sons & Daughters present a gorgeous outing in Live. This talented duo continue to turn out excellent pieces of artful worship and this latest venture is their best yet.” – JesusFreakHideout.com (First 5-Star-rated album of 2013)
“This project is a potential game-changer in the area of live corporate worship. Intimate and deeply personal, it still carries the weight of a heavy-hitting worship album recorded in a packed out church or arena…On the musicianship front, David and Leslie’s vocals are near perfect the entire album, which speaks volumes to their talent as vocalists…a sparklingly rugged piece of worshipful artistry. For those seeking the perfect album for soul soaking moments of praise and seeking God, All Sons & Daughters’ LIVE is just what you’ve been looking for.” – NewReleaseTuesday.com
“With the band redefining and possibly even reinventing the worship genre...the band has taken modern worship music and stretched it, placing it on its head to remind listeners that worship music can still be fun and enjoyable, unique and different, compelling, emotive and encouraging all at once....such a hopeful and inspiring album, one of my favorite in April 2013!” – IndieVisionMusic.com
“There is something about these guys - something pure, something natural, something incredible about the way they write and deliver worship songs. This new LIVE release from All Sons & Daughters made me think two main things: 1) it is one of the most concentrated albums of great worship songs I’ve ever heard; and 2) it is a very natural live album - there is a completeness to the set.” – LouderThanTheMusic.com (5-Star review)
“Comprising of Leslie Ann Jordan (on vocals and guitar) and David Leonard (on vocals and piano), they have much to teach us about bringing an organic diversity (in incorporating elements of folk, jazz, country, Celtic and hymns) in their worship… Of all the copious worship bands out there, there is something different about All Sons & Daughters. They are a gracious duo who not only took time to enrich their worship with nuances of various stripes, but they come across as organic, embracing and so heartfelt.” – Breathecast.com
Beginning today in Cape Girardeau, MO, All Sons & Daughters will bring the music and message of LIVE to audiences across North America in cities like Atlanta, GA; San Francisco, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Toronto, Canada; St. Louis, MO; Rochester, NY; and numerous others. Additional tour dates will be announced soon as the duo readies its first headline tour this fall. For the latest tour detail, go to http://allsonsanddaughters.com/dates/.
The story of All Sons & Daughters begins in 2010 with artist David Leonard (Jackson Waters, NEEDTOBREATHE) wanting to spend less time traveling and more of it in real relationship with his local spiritual community at Journey Church. David connected with Leslie Jordan, part of the creative staff at the church, and the two began writing songs together, including the popular “All the Poor and Powerless.”
Quickly realizing that they shared a similar style of leadership and desire to foster authentic connections in the church through a transparent form of worship, David and Leslie adopted the name All Sons & Daughters in reference to each other and the listeners who are vital to this active fellowship process. As worship leaders at Franklin’s The Journey Church, All Sons & Daughters see their music as an extension of their church. They are known for writing songs that focus squarely on Jesus while embracing the tension of the Christian walk.
Drawing comparisons to The Civil Wars and The Swell Season for their harmonies and organic instrumentation, the duo has been named Worship Leader Magazine’s “most enchanting sound emerging in the worship genre.” They were also recently featured on tours with Chris Tomlin and Kari Jobe.
"Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions." 1 John 3:18 (NLT)
She held out the soft white blanket scalloped in pink ribbon. "I'm not sure I want to give it to her," my mom said. The stitches were a bit looser than my mother's past handiwork, but I could see love in every crocheted inch.
I held her hands in my own. Her once slender fingers were bent and swollen at the joints. I imagined her holding the crochet needles and weaving the yarn in and out for hours and days, until the blanket was complete. It is an heirloom for her first great-grandchild, one created with pain and love.
I think I take my mother's hands for granted. They have caressed my cheek. They have made me wear a coat (even when I protested that I was a mother of three grown children). They have dialed the cell phone she loves, and hates, so she could talk to "her Suzie." Her hands have penned cards that showed up in my mailbox saying "I love you."
An old 70s song says, "Time keeps on slipping, slipping, into the future." There is truth in those lyrics. I see the passage of time in my mother's hands. I also see it as moments pass into hours and then into days in a whirl.
Life is always busy, like this month when the white board on the refrigerator lists church events, dentist visits, showers and weddings and graduations, as well as other details like pay the bills, mow the lawn, clean the house.
Recently I realized that my mother was moving further down on that list. A week passed. A month flew by. The phone calls came. "Hey, Suz, just calling to say I miss you."
One day I received an email from a friend. Her mom was sick. For the next few weeks I prayed, reading every update. One night I read the email from my beautiful friend that expressed her love for her ailing mom, and prayer for strength to say goodbye.
Suddenly it hit me how little time I actually devoted to my mother. I looked at the email and wept. The next day I made a date with my mom. She was like a girl; she laughed on the phone as we made plans.
My mom and I had the best time at lunch and I was inspired to make a point to love on her more frequently. So I came up with "Love Points" which include a few things I try to do each week.
Write. Leave a note in an unexpected place.
Give. Spend time with no strings attached (help work in the garden, go to lunch, sit and chat).
Touch. Especially if your loved one is older or widowed and they are not touched in positive ways any more. (Massage their hands. Hold their hand. Touch their face or hair.)
Affirm. Tell them one encouraging thing that you believe about them.
I pray I stay committed to showing my mom love. And that I have many more opportunities to hang out with her. But more than that I pray I don't take her for granted.
Life most likely won't slow down. But as I devote time to worthwhile endeavors, I don't want to forget that in the grand scheme of things, holding my mother's hands is one of the most priceless investments I'll ever make.
Dear Lord, thank You for my loved ones. Life gets so hectic, and sometimes it's hard to slow down long enough to show them how much I care. Please help me to slow down and recognize what is of little value so that I can invest in people with immense value. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian? Acts 26:28
Wishes come from a naive delight to become something one day. I wish to be a movie star, astronaut, teacher, fireman, engineer or preacher. “I wish” originates from a romanticism that makes me feel good about going there; but a nice desire without a committed will is wishful thinking. However, my wants have a way of bending my will towards a clearly defined outcome. My will follows my wants until the goal is accomplished. Agrippa may have wished to be a Christian one day, but clearly he did not want to be converted in the moment. Wants work to engage the will.
So, how can we move our wishes to wants? It is the motivation of our heart that makes mere wishes freely submit to the reality of wants. Moreover, it is more than just learning a principle; we can understand a truth and still have our will unmoved. But when we encounter the Truth, the Lord Jesus Christ, He compels us to want what He wants. A close encounter with Christ moves a wishful feeling to a prayerful plan which then blends our will with God’s will.
If anyone is willing to do His will. John 7:17, NASB
When your heart wills to do the will of your Heavenly Father, He works with you at your place of faith. Indeed, as you worship and praise Him in the splendor of His glory, you see Him high and lifted up. Worship takes your wandering heart and brings it back home to do His bidding. The more the Lord increases in stature and the less you are concerned with your cares, Christ takes your wants and molds them into His desires. Your desires and God’s desires become one.
So delight in the One who is the most delightful. Rest in the reassurance that your righteous God has got it, whatever “it” may mean for you. Be wise to not wish away this season of life with self pity or regret, rather see this parenthesis in time as a prayerful process, in which the Lord converts your creative ideas into His action plan. Look into the eyes of Jesus with your eyes of faith and say yes to Him. God gives you what you want, when it's what He wants for you!
You have given him his heart’s desire, And You have not withheld the request of his lips.
Prayer: Heavenly Father make my wants and desires, Your wants and desires for me.
Related Readings: Deuteronomy 14:26; Psalm 37:4; Matthew 16:24; Romans 10:1
Post/Tweet today: Worship takes our wandering heart and brings it back home to do His bidding. #worship
The brand new record from Josh Wilson, Carry Me, his fourth project with Sparrow Records, finds Wilson opening up his heart more than ever. Sharing about a very personal health issue dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, these new songs ultimately spread the message that through life’s difficult trials, it is only God who can carry us through it all. Released April 9th to much acclaim, numerous reviews and fan comments are pouring in, showing there’s no doubt that people love the music of this multi-talented singer, songwriter, musician and storyteller.
With comments such as "rich with truth," "authentic," and "effortless," the feedback and reviews have only been outstanding when it comes to talking about Carry Me.
"...An engaging, thought-provoking, and ultimately uplifting collection of songs that should, if there's any justice in the world, go great lengths toward earning its talented creator an evening's worth of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep." - Jesus Freak Hideout
"These songs are so rich with truth and full of life and God's grace....One of the best and well-rounded records I have heard in a long time." - Worship Leader
"In a genre where many contemporary Christian music artists recycle hooks and regurgitate lines without any plagiaristic shame, Wilson knows how to pierce through boredom with his ingenuity." - Breathecast
" Josh's poignant song writing is coupled with musical excellence...This album is sure to connect with all listeners who like catchy songs filled with truth and yearning for God. Josh invites you into his life in such an authentic and relatable way, you’ll feel like you are a lifelong friend after you hear this album. - New Release Tuesday
In the midst of writing songs for Carry Me, Wilson began experiencing severe chest and shoulder pain as well as difficulty breathing, believing he was actually having a heart attack. Yet after numerous negative tests, he tried to get back to his normal life but soon began waking up frantic in the middle of the night, even canceling scheduled performances out of fear. Reconciling these unexpected emotions with his long held beliefs defines Wilson’s intentionally joyful and honestly raw new record. Carry Me was produced by Matt Bronleewe (Chris Tomlin).
“Philippians 4 says, ‘Do not be anxious about anything . . . the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,’” Wilson shares. “I prayed for that and each day would say, ‘God, I can’t make it without you. I need you to carry me.’ And He did, and He still does. He carried me through each day even before I experienced the anxiety, but I just didn't realize it. It took these difficult moments for me to realize how much I need Jesus.”
To support the new album, Josh Wilson is currently touring with Third Day and Colton Dixon on The Miracle Tour through the spring. In the coming weeks the tour is hitting the midwest. For the most recent tour schedule and to connect with Wilson, please visit:
"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Galatians 5:6b (NIV)
My daughter Hope is one of those people who knows how to dress.
She'll put on a blue and white striped shirt, throw on an army jacket and black pants, finish the look with brown ankle boots and look like a fashionista.
Me on the other hand, I get all stuck in a "Garanimals" state of mind. Did you ever wear Garanimals, the pants and shirts that match perfectly? It made me resistant to the delight of the unexpected.
Matchy-matchy became the curse of my closet.
Until Hope set me straight one day. "Mom, your outfits need a little pop!"
She started whipping my outfits together in a way I'd never dreamed.
An orange necklace with an outfit that had not a stitch of orange.
Leopard flats with a dark blue shirt, teal necklace, and black skinny jeans.
Are you sure?
She was more than sure. With great confidence she introduced me to the world of adding a pop-a little something unexpected. A new way of expressing myself. And it has been delightful.
So, I started thinking, what if I did this with other areas of my life? Other places where I've slipped into the "same old, same old" ruts.
Might the delight of the unexpected make other aspects of my life more fun?
Our key verse Galatians 5:6b says, "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
Might this be an invitation to discover another new way to express myself? Express my faith? Through acts of love?
Yes. I think so.
So, I did a little experiment. I started reading Bible verses by adding on a little question/challenge to myself at the end: "... so that I can love who?"
For example, Romans 12:2a, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (NIV) ... so that I can love who?
There is someone in my life who needs my love but I'll only be able to do it if I let God change my mindset. I need to add this little pop - a new expression of my faith through love.
Philippians 4:19, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus" (NIV) ... so that I can love who?
There is someone in my life who needs something that I don't think I can give. My time. An emotional investment. A financial gift. Things I sometimes feel are in limited supply. But I can freely give those things when I realize God supplies all of my needs. I just have to open my hand and send some of my blessing in this person's direction. I need to add this little pop - a new expression of my faith through love.
Why not try this yourself? No, not the leopard flats and teal necklace ... although that is quite the charming combination. But rather adding the question, "... so that I can love who?" to the end of the verses you read today.
It will certainly give you a new way to express your faith. A way that God says is the only thing that counts.
Dear Lord, thank You for showing me how to express my faith in a fresh way. Help me to love others with the same love and compassion You so freely lavish upon me. You are my rock and my redeemer. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Is there a young woman in your life who could use a fresh way to look at her faith? Check out Lysa TerKeurst's new book What Happens When Young Women Say Yes to God, co-written with her teenage daughter Hope. Filled with interactive sections and ways to get into God's Word, this book will leave any young woman feeling encouraged and equipped for her walk with the Lord. Click here to purchase your copy!
Reflect and Respond:
Who can you love today?
Choose someone to really bless. Commit to pray for and reach out to that person often. Do things that will make them feel loved. For example, surprise a friend with her favorite coffee drink one morning.
Ephesians 5:1-2, "Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (NIV)
1 John 4:7-8, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (NIV)
I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
2 Timothy 1:5
Your parents’ faith is a gift from God and is not to be taken for granted. What a rock of reassurance you have in a legacy of love for the Lord. They stand for the truth of God and they live it with humility and grace. It is because of their faith that you have faith. They instilled the fear and love of God in you early on. Their awe and respect of God inspired your soul to do the same. Your parents’ faith has been a flame of passion lighting the path of your own walk with Christ. You watched them pray, so you pray; you watched them trust God, so you trust God; you watched them love people, so you love people; you watched them forgive, so you forgive; you watched them do the right things, so you do the right things; you witnessed their generosity, so you are generous. Your parents are models of faithfulness in the ways of God. What a gift! What a reason for joy, thanksgiving, and celebration.
Have you loved your parents and thanked them lately for their gift of sincere faith? Take the time to tell them how grateful you are for your upbringing in the faith. Thank them and God for your training and teaching in the great truths of the Bible all those years. Their faithful teaching and modeling of truth made it easy for you to embrace truth. Now you have the opportunity to do the same for your children. The Bible says, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). Model for your children what has been modeled for you: service, selflessness, confession and repentance of sin, faithfulness, and forgiveness. Keep the faith alive by putting to death the devil’s attempts to derail your legacy of love for the Lord. Be a legacy builder not a legacy killer.
If you have failed in your role as a parent of faith, now is the time to return to your roots. It is never too late to pick up your parental baton of faith. In your heart, you know it’s the right thing to do. You have explored the other road most traveled. That faithless road is full of sin and deception, hurt and harm. It is a passageway of pride and ego. This unrighteous road is so crowded that you learn quickly that it is filled with peril and life accidents. Now you are back on a search for your father’s faith. Your mother’s prayers have wooed you back and encouraged you to pray for your own children.
It is time to put away foolish and immature ways. Your deep desire is to imitate the sincere faith of your parents. They were smarter than you realized, so unleash the faith of your childhood that was endowed by your parents. Appreciate and accept their indoctrination of God’s wisdom and allow it to serve you well in your adult responsibilities. However, do not lament your lot in life if your parents lacked faith. Instead, apply the faith of surrogate spiritual parents. You are positioned on a faith walk for your kids, so walk wisely. Keep giving the gift of faith to your family. Sincere faith can be passed on from one generation to another. So, by God’s grace, be relentless, passionate, and disciplined to keep the faith alive.
Post/Tweet: Thank your parents whose faith is a flame of passion lighting the path of your walk with Christ. #parents
“To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability” (Matthew 25:15).
Capacity is the ability Christ gives me to carry out His commands. And capacity varies from person to person. Some people can get by on five to six hours of sleep while I require seven to eight. Where I get out of balance is when I compare my capacity with someone of greater capacity. Indeed, capacity is meant to provide guardrails, not guilt.
So how can we use capacity to our advantage instead of our disadvantage? How can we understand our limitations and trust the Lord with the results? It starts by being honest about how God has made us. If we can only execute one project with excellence, then we limit ourselves to one. If we only have the time, money, and love for two children, then we accept this as the responsible decision. Honesty about capacity is freeing for parents.
But isn’t there a way to build capacity at work, at home, and in relationships? Yes, indeed! As you remain faithful with small responsibilities, the Lord and others can trust you with additional tasks. When you manage a small amount of money on a budget, you can be trusted with more resources to steward well. When you treat one individual with a full complement of grace and truth, you build relational capacity for more quality friendships.
Furthermore, you are over capacity when cash in your bank account is overdrawn or when you have written a relational check your emotions cannot cash. Therefore, monitor your capacity in prayer before Jesus. Ask Him for courage to say no to something new so you can say yes to current obligations. As in weight lifting, you can increase your mental, emotional, financial, and relational capacity, but it takes time, focus, and discipline.
The Lord has unlimited capacity for empathy, wisdom, and character. So go to Him for your character-capacity building. Make sure your character capacity keeps up with your success, and you will be able to handle success. Does your heart have the same capacity for humility as your mind does for truth? Build capacity around Christ’s gifts to you.
“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you” (2 Corinthians 10:12–13).
Prayer: What capacities do I have that Christ wants to grow? To whom do I need to say no?
Related Readings: Job 15:18; Psalm 147:5; John 3:34; 1 Corinthians 10:23
Post/Tweet: Our character capacity needs to keep up with our success for us to handle success. #charactercapacity
Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of Godlike?What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree,and the birds perched in its branches. Luke 13:18-19
The Lord loves to take a little and make it big for His Kingdom’s purposes. He takes a little faith in His provision and produces an ongoing supply, possibly even surplus. He takes a little love of family and grows a lasting legacy for the Lord. He takes little, but consistent financial investments and compounds them into recurring support for those who steward wisely. He takes a little obedience and multiples His influence globally. He takes a little vision and grows it into a God-size idea.
However, to grow something for God takes disciplined faith and obedience on our part. We can’t quit in the middle of the maturation process, otherwise we miss out on the Lord’s lasting outcome. Like a beautiful baby takes nine months to come full term, so the blessings of God gestate by grace, mature by prayerful obedience and are birthed by trust in His timing. Thus, we stay in the process with Jesus. In His good time, He grows our big vision that brings Him glory!
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36
Will you run away when things get rough? Or will you stay in the game by God’s grace? Anyone can quit, few are the faithful. The process is as important as the progress and the end product. Therefore, stay engaged with Jesus and enjoy Him as you journey though stages of life. Your consistent acts of obedience, as little as they might seem, lead to the Lord’s bigger opportunities.
Most of all, take a little time each day to spend with your Heavenly Father. The tap root of your trust in God deepens and expands, so the trunk of your life becomes like a broad and bold Sequoia. The sturdy branches of your beliefs are a safe place to sit and rest for those who need the sanctuary of your encouragement. Yes, you may have just started with an acorn of salvation, but God will grow you into His bigger oak tree of blessing. Grace keeps you growing in Him!
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
Prayer: Heavenly Father grow me into Your big blessing for those I meet day to day.
Related Readings: Daniel 4:21; Zechariah 4:10; Luke 17:6; 2 Corinthians 2:14; Colossians 1:6
Post/Tweet today: Consistent acts of obedience, as little as they might seem, lead to the Lord’s bigger opportunities. #obey
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." John 15:9-10 (ESV)
Miss Emma's wrinkled hands cupped my chin—her palm a reservoir for my tears. I walked down the hallways saying tearless goodbyes to 119 other residents, and yet my farewell with her released a levy of emotions.
The scattered pieces of my heart felt like they were blown about by the scurrying of nurses' footsteps and doctors' orders resounding off the walls of the nursing home.
It felt wrong to leave her alone, forsaken in this dark place.
Her family, or lack thereof, had rendered her anchorless; adrift in the lonely sea of a 120 bed facility. A drab place where my Activities Department team and I were brought in to dispel the dreariness. My job at "The Brick" would have been more bleak if not for Miss Emma and a few others.
I didn't allow many details of this place to sink in further than the surface of my heart. Stories repeated ten times each day rolled off my back. Routines of medicine and meals and the wandering of hallways became mundane tasks. Yet one name, one person, chiseled deep into my heart: Miss Emma.
I perched on the edge of our goodbye, on the edge of her bed, hesitant to leave her. "Who'll sit in the sunshine with you? Who'll listen? Who'll sing hymns with you?"
Worry wrung my heart. Visions of Miss Emma, alone ... lonely ... made my jaw tense and ache with pain for her. A square punch by sadness will do that to a girl.
But not her. Beautiful brown saucers brimmed with confidence. I waded in the refreshing waters of her eyes, rich pools of wisdom.
"I'll be fine sugar ... I'm never alone. Don't you realize the One who created the sun sits with me? He listens always, hearing my prayers and needs. His presence is in the very praises we sing to Him. Child, we're never alone."
Tucked away from the world, Miss Emma changed mine. She lived tightly knit to the Vine. Abided in Jesus' love through His Word and worship and prayer. Miss Emma dwelled in this truth:
Christ beside me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me. ~St. Patrick
Though abandoned by her earthly family, she rested in the knowledge that her Heavenly Father never would leave her. Indeed, He made a home in her so she could nestle in Him.
Her solid assurance lifted my chin, calmed my heart. The strength she found in the truth that Christ never leaves us left a lasting impression on me. I began looking for ways He was with me: by giving me the wisdom to hold my tongue, or helping me sleep at night, or steadying me when anxious.
Might we find hope in Him today as well? Curl up in His love by writing a Scripture verse on our heart. Lean into God's sure presence through lifting our voice in praise. Abide in His peace with a time of prayer ... sharing and listening.
Christ is within us, before us, behind us. And as Miss Emma so confidently knew, He will never leave or forsake us. We're never alone.
Dear Lord, thank You for calling us Your children. And for making a home within us, so we may rest secure in You. Because You are our dwelling place, we are never alone. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
We’d love to be a "Miss Emma" for you! Our team’s daily devotions are sprinkled throughout our brand new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women, explaining passages a bit more and relating them to your real life.
Reflect and Respond:
Spend time today in our dwelling place, Jesus, through studying of the Bible, worship and prayer.
Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." (ESV)
Matthew 28:20b, "...and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (NAS)