On October 30th I went to sleep after a long day. We were tired after packing up and loading the UHaul truck with our boxes, appliances, and furniture. The next day we would say goodbye to our home of almost 7 years and embark on a new adventure.
The next morning at 4 am, I awoke to an audible voice say my name. “Tonya.” I was not scared. I had complete peace. (I would have freaked normally.)
When I heard my name I smiled. I was in awe. I crawled out of bed (literally because our 2-year-old was asleep next to me and my husband.)
I entered my “prayer closet” (my living room on my couch with a cup of coffee.)
I prayed to God, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Like Samuel did when he heard the Lord say his name 3 times in 1 Samuel chapter 3.
As I prayed, my husband joined me. He knelt on his knees beside my feet. Soon after, I felt a strong urge to pray for America.
We began to “stand in the gap” for America. Interceding for our Beautiful Country.
We began to ask God to forgive us as a nation. For hatred, divorce, cheating, lying, bitterness, killing our children, stealing, our pridefulness, our arrogance… Etc..
We began to worship and praise him. We told Him how much we need him and LOVE Him.
We prayed for America fervently. And it was like we weren’t alone in our living room. I had peace.
I just want to tell you, God has this election. He is in control.
No matter the outcome. He’s got us.
Since you have plundered many nations, all the peoples who remain will plunder you — because of human bloodshed and violence against lands, cities, and all who live in them. Woe to him who dishonestly makes wealth for his house to place his nest on high, to escape from the reach of disaster! You have planned shame for your house by wiping out many peoples and sinning against your own self. For the stones will cry out from the wall, and the rafters will answer them from the woodwork. Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with injustice! Is it not from the Lord of Hosts that the peoples labor only to fuel the fire and countries exhaust themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord ’s glory, as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:8-14 HCSB
Justice will be served. Sin will be exposed.
Our HOPE is in Jesus. He will reign. His Glory will be so brilliant in the world. God is going to pour out His Spirit like nothing we have ever seen before. And He’s going to do it through YOU and me as channels He can work through.
Jesus, help America come to your Light. Forgive our sin. Heal our land. In Your name we pray Amen.
May 2019, I went on a Ladies Heartwork trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota. On that trip God birthed a desire in me to start writing. 1 year later, I finally took the plunge and started this blog. Last week I went to another Heartwork trip in the Ozark mountains in Arkansas. It was so valuable to me on so many levels. I was happy my sister Tasha could join me this year.
It was such a refreshing escape away from the duties of motherhood, wife, homemaker, …. and chef, and maid, and teacher… And…. (I’m sure you mommas get it.)
It seems (to me at least) so much easier to get closer to God when you’re in the woods…Maybe not for everyone.
In the Ozarks, we hiked. We laughed. We cried. We sang. We prayed. We ate. We were true.
I felt so connected. I felt like a little girl again. I felt the excitement of meeting a new friends. There were no mean girls nor bullies. Life seemed as it was supposed to be. ALL TOGETHER. Hand in hand.
We spent time gathered around the warm campfire. It was quite chilly. We pondered about the God-inspired teachings we heard. What we took away from the lessons. These conversations naturally lead to deeper things we were all dealing with. “Life” things. “Messy” things. “Real” things.
I tend to desire a deeper relationship than just “surface” friends. Small talk kills me. It feels so shallow to me. I desire true, raw, authentic friendship.
My life isn’t perfect. My life is messy. I feel lonely at times. I feel like a failure some days. I feel like a bad mom on other days. I have lies float into my head that I must lasso and fling out of mind. “God can’t use me anymore.” “My season is over.” “I’m Unworthy”, “Unimportant”, “Unappreciated” ….. I could go on, but you get the point.
The best thing we can do is talk about our shortcomings to Jesus. He is our Savior. He is our Helper.
Also, find a SAFE friend to share your experiences with. (Let me tell you, they will be so relieved, and you will too! Because we are NOT alone!! and then, girl, let go of those lies from the enemy!
You are NOT a failure, He has mercy for you.
You are not a mistake, He has a plan for you.
You ARE good enough, with His grace.
You CAN have joy! Thanks, God.
Being true helps the other person overcome those same lies in their minds.
Be authentic. It’s a breath of fresh air in today’s world.
Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly. -Lee Stoneking
I encourage you to find someone you can trust and BE YOU. Don’t be fake, because that’s exhausting and people can tell! We have plenty of fake in this world.
Genuineness is as Gold!
So that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:7
I encourage you to find a true friend. It’s hard for me. It takes time. But it’s well worth it. Cherish her. She is valuable. We need each other.
Mercy. I need it. You need it. The world needs it.
Mercy means to extend help to the lowliest or the most undeserving.
It gives compassion instead of punishment, even when justice demands it.
His cup never runs out. His Word says He is rich in mercy.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us… Ephesians 2:4
Inside every mistake is the doorway of possibility. It can take you to another level that nothing else can.
There’s something hidden in mistakes you can find. You won’t make much progress without making mistakes.
There is no one beyond His saving power.
His mercy knows no limit.
His mercy flows from the highest mountain to the lowest valley.
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV
He’s not only the God of 2nd chances, but He is the God of ANOTHER chance. This is good news because most of us mess up on the 2nd chance fairly quickly.
One of the facets of God’s character is His incredible patience with us.
But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. Psalms 86:15
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. Micah 7:18
The Bible is full of people who had 2nd chances, and even 3rd and 4th chances. Peter, Jonah, Samson, David, and other. All trophies of God’s grace.
Just as God is patient and forgiving, he wants his children to be patient with and forgiving of others.
Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, Colossians 3:12
Jesus gives a stern warning to those who refuse to forgive.
But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing. Matthew 6:15
If someone is truly repentant, we are obligated to forgive.
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times? ” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven. Matthew 18:21-22
Don’t stop at dwelling on your mistakes. Receive the mercy God has for you and give it to others.
*Notes were taken from Jeff Arnold’s message “Your mistake is not Final.”
Thanks for reading. I hope this brings encouragement to you today. It did me. -Tonya
I felt God impress me with the word compassion in prayer yesterday. What exactly is compassion?
According to Google, it means to show pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
Joan Halifax, a speaker at a ted talk, put it this way. Everyone has the seeds of compassion in them. To activate the seeds (or to water them) it takes a time of suffering.
Studies show compassion strengthens our immune system. Rather than the idea of it draining us, it gives us energy.
Compassion is contagious. It makes us feel good.
Jesus taught us to love people. How? How do we truly love people? We show compassion.
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is compassionate. Psalms 116:5
We use the times where we suffer and turn it around to care for someone else. To have pity. To put ourselves in that persons shoes.
My mother was suffering from cancer. I had compassion on her then. Now years later, I can show compassion to people who are going through the same tragic loss I had to endure.
Without compassion this world would be much worse. With compassion this world is much greater.
God reached out to us with compassion. It’s up to us to grasp and hold on to Him tightly, accepting his loving-kindness and then pay it forward.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:1-5
We visited Milwaukee County Zoo last week. We entered the cat area where the gorgeous cheetah dwelled. She paced back and forth…Over and over. She had walked the same path so much that her paws had killed the grass and what was once soft green grass was now a smooth dusty thin pathway.
We read the facts sign about cheetahs. Did you know? Cheetahs can run up to 60 miles per hour!
My daughter asked me, “Is that fast? I want to see the cheetah run.”
Sadly, I realized the cheetah didn’t have enough room to even skip let alone run at 60 miles per hour.
This cheetah couldn’t run at all. She could only pace back and forth in front of the tall glass window where we stood waiting for her to do something interesting.
She was limited…
Only man can remove the limitations of the cheetah. Only God can remove our limitations.
God is an equipping God. He ALWAYS has more for us. He ALWAYS has better for us.
We just need the desire to be more.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Ephesians 3:20
The cheetah was at the mercy of man. She wasn’t equipped with what she needed TO BE ALL that she was meant to be.
We fall short. God enables and equips us to be what He has called us to be.
We are simply NOT enough.
We need the help of God, it’s called GRACE. We need Him to change us from the inside out. We need him to open our eyes to see ourselves the way HE sees us.
Once we are all in for Him, He’ll take you further than you ever thought possible.
He will equip you for what He has in store.
Don’t give up yet. He’s got You! Reach for Him!
Pray with me: God, I give you permission to work on me. Help me see the way You see me. Nobody’s idea of me matters except for how You view me. Enable me to be the person (mom, wife, friend, leader, employee) You want me to be. Equip me with the right character, integrity, honesty, and love I need to impact my world. I make you KING of my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.
I’m continuing Part 2 of the butterfly’s journey from last week.
I found something really cool. Did you know the monarch butterfly migrates north from Mexico? It can travel 3,000 miles in its short lifetime!
How do they know where they are going? Their wings are special they detect the ultraviolet rays from sunlight which gives them the direction to go to reach their destination.
Look up! Our help comes from the Lord!
He gives direction and guidance. He’s our counselor!
This special detector in the monarch’s wings is like the Holy Spirit.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:38-39
You can receive the Holy Spirit anywhere. I know people who have received it at their homes, in their bedrooms and living rooms. I even know someone who received the Holy Spirit in the shower!
If you believe and ask God for it, you SHALL receive it.
According to Acts 1:8 the Holy Spirit gives us power to overcome sin and to be witnesses.
An overcoming life comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s a promise!
People are seeking hope beyond this world. We have the answer. You have the answer. Jesus.
I just want to encourage you today. Let’s use this time to work on our relationship with Jesus.
That’s what the Lord is asking of us during our “chrysalis time.”
Wouldn’t it be sad if the Caterpillar went through the special time of darkness and isolation and came out as the same caterpillar instead of a beautiful butterfly?
Take time to grow closer to Jesus.
When you take one or 2 steps towards HIM. He takes about 25 steps toward you.
He loves you and He’s faithful.
And you’re going to come out of this a butterfly. And you will indeed fly.
If you desire to experience this Holy Spirit like the church did all throughout the book of Acts, I encourage you to seek out an Apostolic church where they teach Acts 2:38. The Holy Spirit gives us power to overcome the things we face and baptism in JESUS NAME washes away our sin.
It is a gift. And it’s available for EVERYONE!
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear from you. Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? Acts 19:2
I felt God spoke these words to me. I hope to bring you encouragement today.
“YOU are a butterfly” these words boomed inside my chest in the middle of the night.
Which made me study the caterpillar’s journey to become a butterfly.
The caterpillar encloses himself into chrysalis, in that cocoon the entire caterpillar is broken down into a soup like mixture.
All of the major structures, including the heart, are broken down and then rebuilt.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
You are in a process, my Friend. We all are! You are going to come out of this stronger than you were before. Right now it’s dark and lonely. You are isolated. It can be scary. The unknown surrounds us. But God is making you into something new. It’s not a waste. He’s changing our heart and He’s changing our mind. He’s preparing us to be greater for HIS glory. He’s creating in You and I a clean heart and a right spirit.
The bible says “Be still and know that HE is God.”
Just like the process of a growing baby inside of you there’s no way around it. Those growing pains are there. But you will never be the same after that baby is delivered. And neither will your baby for that matter!
“And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:27
He will give us HIS desires. And he will give you the ability and the POWER to do it.
The butterfly soon emerges from the chrysalis, just after 2 short weeks. The butterfly is free to fly.
He’s rebuilding you and shaping you into what he sees you can be.
He sees your potential. He sees your heart.
He gives us grace to be what HE wants us to be.
Butterflies and caterpillars don’t just look different — they behave differently, too. Caterpillars live in a tree. Butterflies must go through a time of isolation to get broken so they can fly!
When we lose our structure, when we lose our control, we are forced to be STILL inside the cocoon. It’s quiet. We have to remain comfortable with the quietness.
Caterpillars eat leaves, while butterflies feed on nectar.
It matters what we consume. What we read, watch, and listen to. If we listen and watch dark things, darkness will surround us. If we listen to positive things, like worship music, uplifting podcasts, and Bible reading, angels are drawn to worship. Angels can be in your home.
We are strengthened by the Words of the Lord. You can ask God to direct you in your bible reading. While you are reading, scriptures will jump out at you.
That’s not just you, that’s God saying this is for you, right now.
When he speaks to you write it down in a journal so you don’t forget. You can easily look back at the things God told you in different seasons of your life. We encourage ourselves in the Lord by keeping a Journal.
I’ll be talking more about the butterfly and caterpillar next week.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share some encouragement the Lord has placed on your heart. I’d love to hear from you!
God wants to renew your passion for the “elephant” prayers in your life. (The things that are huge or that seem impossible.)
I began working on this post last week. I had one particular “elephant” in mind.
Little did I know this prophetic word from the Lord was about to unfold in a matter of a few days.
These “Elephants” can be a God-given vision, dream, plan, or word which you feel inadequate or are losing the faith it takes to see it unfold.
I have called them elephants because they seem like huge prayers that you can’t accomplish yourself. It would only be achieved with the help of God.
I had a family member slip away from God for 9 years.
I would pray for her on repeat. I knew God was the only one who would bring her back.
2 weeks ago I had a nightmare that scared me so that I woke up and my entire body was covered in goosebumps. I was shaken with fear.
I knew this was not just a bad dream or “the pizza I ate before bed”. I was dealing with a demonic spirit.
My husband and I went on a 3 day fast that week.
I was carried through the fast. I had NO desire for food. Even when I was fixing meals and snacks for the 5 kids. That’s only happened 3 times in my life, (where I was given supernatural strength to make it through a multi-day fast.) Fasting is usually VERY difficult for me.
This time was EASY. It made me curious and ask the Lord, “Why are you carrying me through this fast?” I was nervous about what was coming ahead that I would NEED this time of sacrifice and the power it brought.
On the 3rd day of the fast, I had another nightmare. This time God revealed to me I was in spiritual warfare for my family member I mentioned earlier.
The enemy wanted ALL of her. He was plaguing her mind to cut off the one thing she had left that tied her to God. She was holding on by a thread.
The enemy wanted her, but so did we. There were people who stood in the gap. Interceeding for her. Fasting for her. Crying out for her. Believing for her.
I decided to tell her what I was dealing with. I told her specific details in my dreams. What did I have to lose? Why be intimidated of what she might think of me? I spoke to her the things I felt on my heart.
It was exactly was she needed to hear and the right time. She cried and thanked God that He cared enough for her to send her a message regarding specific things she was dealing with.
This Sunday she went to church and felt the presence of God again. She was renewed with His Spirit. I believe this is only the beginning!
Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us — Ephesians 3:20 HCSB
We never know what God is doing in someone’s heart. Only God knows that.
If God tells you to do something just do it!
God is still moving even when we can’t see it.
Don’t write off your “elephant” just yet. Ask God to renew your passion and faith you need to see it happen. Just make yourself available in willingness. God will use you where you are right now.
We need to be a vessel God can pour into and flow out of!
Go after your elephant! It is available!
Do you have a testimony of an “elephant” prayer God answered in your life? I’d love to hear from you!
It was morning. I opened my eyes, rolled over, looked at the clock on my nightstand, 5:15 am
I was debating in my mind. Get up now (before the kids) grab a cup of coffee and have some one-on-one time with Jesus OR “sleep in.” (just until 6:30 am. That’s when my kids come barreling into my bedroom letting me know they made it to the potty and they were ready for breakfast to be hot and ready on the table, right now… please mom?)
Thinking of the latter, I couldn’t help but despise the rude wake-up call. It made me eager to catch as many snoozes as I could before my day would begin.
So without further ado, I turned my head on the pillow and closed my eyes. I had made my decision.
Suddenly a voice inside of me loud and clear proclaimed,
“Serve the Lord with GLADNESS!”
It was so thunderous it was as if it shook me right out of bed. I got up to pray with a smile.
The Lord gave me the strength and encouragement I needed!
God knows what YOU need too!
Matthew 6:8 says…” for YOUR Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
Simply talk with Jesus when you are feeling low and drained from life’s errands. Cleaning up toys. Wiping messy hands and faces. Changing dirty diapers. Oh yeah, the laundry needs to be put away and those dishes need washing, and Oh it’s supper time… already? … I think I made my point.
Remember, His strength is abundant. He has unlimited resources for us. He isn’t going to go bankrupt. God’s got YOU. Ask Him for a double portion of strength. I know it’s available because I have received it.
“Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalms 100:2
Has God ever given you the energy you needed right on time?
Our Colorado vacation was phenomenal and very achievable, even with all the new restrictions. You need to put in your time planning for a successful visit. It’s more work, but you’ll be glad to did the extra planning.
First of all, Colorado has an all-state mask mandate. Though most of the places we visited were outdoors. We went out to eat one time which required us to wear face masks if we were not sitting at the table eating.
We had 13 people in our group. 6 kids ages 9, 5, 3, 2, 1, and 1!
We drove 2 vans. We decided to drive all night; 16 hours from Milwaukee to Denver. I drove 8 and then, my Dear Husband drove 8. My brothers and sisters joined us. It was so much fun because Tasha ( my sister) would call me when she felt tired and I would call her if I got bored. I was on the phone with her when she hit a flat tire from a semi-truck! It left a tire shaped dent in their front bumper. We were thankful they were fine and their van was driveable.
We drove straight to downtown Denver to see the “Big Blue Bear”. The 40-foot bear is peeking in the window of a museum. (Which was not open because of Covid) but we got a photo with the bear!
Coloradans I met at a park told me they stay clear of Denver because it’s not family-friendly with all the homeless people on the streets. (Although we walked around one block; we didn’t see any homeless or vandalism.)
We walked through the Garden of the gods. (No reservations needed) We saw the mysterious beautiful red rock structures in front of the mountains.
Next, we went to Cheyanne Mountain Zoo. (Reservations required) This zoo is in the top 5 zoos in the nation. The whole zoo is on the side of the mountain. The more animals you want to see the higher you climb the stairs. (They do have elevators and ramps)
We toured The Garden of the Gods, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and a playground! It was a full day. Everyone was tired and ready to nap for 3 hours in the car. Heading toward Great Sand Dunes National Park for the next day’s adventures.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park: The scenery is epic. We rented sandboards and sleds to go down the dunes. (Snowboards and snow sleds DO NOT work) you need to use the special sand sleds with wax.
Bring lots of water! We spent around 4 hours here. That’s including the time waiting in line for board rentals. (No mask no service.)
Next, we drove to Glenwood Springs, CO. 4 hour drive from Sand Dunes. We stopped at a free fish hatchery. There was a TINY hike in the forest with a beautiful lake. I recommend stopping there to stretch and let the kids out of the car.
We hiked at Saint Mary’s Glacier and boy, are we glad we did! Just make sure you take the trail IN THE WOODS instead of the rocky way all the way up like we did. We just followed everyone else. There were many people. It was almost impossible to park in the parking lots. We walked further to park on the side of the road.
The view was worth the trek. The glacier is always there. Some guys from the group hiked all the way to the tip-top.
I sent 8 from our group rafting. Roaring Upfork is a good rafting trip for kids. My daughter is 5, she enjoyed it. We went with Glenwood Rafting Company because we did the 8 person raft.
Next we went to Glenwood Caverns Amusement Park. You take a Gondola ride up the side of the mountain to get to the park. I definitely recommend the Cliffhanger Ride and the Alpine Coaster, they were worth the long wait in line! It was such a fun. Don’t forget your mask. (They enforce the mandate IF you are standing in line or in the caves.) Online Reservations required
We drove to Estes Park and stayed at an Airbnb with gorgeous views. We rented an entire house it was perfect for all the kids and adults!
We went horseback riding at Cowpoke Corner Corral. We went with them because they allowed the youngest ages to ride. We did the 2-hour ride tour for $80/person.
Let me tell you! These are mountain climbing horses! The horses we rode had 10+ years of experience! The horses were experts. Our guide was fun and down to earth as well. It was quite the adventure as the horses literally had to climb up and down boulders at times!
We tried to get into Rocky Mountain National Park, but you need reservations. They go on sale 2 days prior to the date you want to go. The tickets sell out in 3-4 mins at 8 am. I was unable to get early morning tickets ( what we preferred) but we made it work. Without reservations, you can still get into the park after 5 pm with a $25-day pass at the gate. We waiting in line for 50 mins just to get into the park.
We hiked to Dream Lake (at Bear Lake trailhead) we all agreed the wait and cost were worth the views!
Even though is started to pour rain when we reached the top. It was very windy and chilly by the lake. Bring sweaters and ponchos. Again we did this hike with 4 kids ages 3 and under!
We stopped at Stanley Park 3 times during our visit at Estes Park. It had the most gorgeous views. They had a new zipline swing that my kids loved! They had play grounds for older kids and one for younger toddlers. This park has rock structures too. Micah found a cave he didn’t want to leave. Cindee like climbing high on the rocks.
The best thing about vacations is the time spent with the people you love and care about most. We did some devotionals. Which were some of my favorite times. There’s just nothing like praying together and talking about the Lord. I’d definitely go back to Colorado someday.
I hope this helps you. Below are links to the websites we reserved online.