On this Thursday afternoon, I was cleaning my kitchen. I was thinking about something the Lord put on my heart earlier this week.
Something that was keeping me from becoming all who He created me to be.
I didn’t even know how to change this characteristic of my personality, but as God showed me this. I was sorrowful and repented. I realized I was oblivious. I wanted help. I was miserable in my own flesh.
Some things seem daunting to try to change on our own. But I do know that all things are possible with God.
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26
I am grateful for the conviction to change and the grace of God to help me become what He wants me to be.
He never gives up on us. We are in a process. We are on a journey. We will always have something to work on in this life.
I was cleaning my kitchen… everyday I clean my kitchen and every day I still need to clean it.
Anyway, I went to wipe down the dining room table. While I used elbow grease on the messy spots from lunchtime (right where all the kids sit) I noticed a notebook my kids had pulled out to color on.
On the note book page was a prayer request from my sister. Her handwriting revealed she had written this prayer when she was much younger. I turned the page around and smiled at her thoughtfulness of others as she listed family and friends’ names. I decided to flip the page over.
To my surprise, was a note of encouragement, penned in my Mother’s beautiful handwriting.
During one of the most mundane tasks… cleaning my kitchen… It surprised me so!
It’s been nearly 10 years since my Mom’s passing and somehow my kids had come across this notebook. The page may be a little stained, but the message she wrote over a decade ago was just what I needed TODAY.
The words she was inspired to write then, ministered to me now. God knows your future. He is for YOU! He will be there when you call on Him. So make the call!
The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. Exodus 14:14
My heart is glad. My hope is in the Lord. I can be who God wants me to be.
He will be with me through all the hard times. He is our Hope.
My phone rang on the counter top. A sweet friend (my mother-in-law) asked if I needed anything from the grocery store.
Off the top of my head I listed milk and bananas. I thanked her as we said goodbye. (I’m so very grateful for her random acts of kindness.)
She stopped by with a box filled with quite more than milk and bananas. She said, “I felt to bring you bread”.
I thanked her as we chatted. I didn’t think much of the loaf of bread and I continued on with my day.
After a fun Saturday with freinds, Rob and I were taking some time writing down some goals we felt were God-inspired. They were many dreams on that list. Our lists were quite similar. As we went over our lists I was feeling overwhelmed and unqualified, and not enough.
I was feeling tired. My husband let me take a cat nap with our youngest son. (20 minutes, I’ll take it.)
When I woke up I was thinking of the simple ways God can communicate with us.
We only need to pay attention.
Sometimes His Voice doesn’t come with a “feeling”.
Sometimes it’s a quite whisper or a gentle nudge. And if we aren’t paying attention we’ll miss it.
As these thoughts filled my mind I remembered the bread that was given to me. I thought it was a nice gesture. It was thoughtful.
Then I felt impressed with the words “Go read the label”.
I carefully climbed out from under my soft downy comforter, as my sleeping toddler was tucked beside me. I made my way down the stairs into my kitchen.
I reached for the loaf of bread turned it around and read Specially Selected on the clear package.
A smile came across my face.
I looked up synonyms for these words: Hand-picked, chosen, invited, preferred, carefully-chosen, favored, appointed, designated.
Whatever the Lord has laid on your heart to do. He chose you and He never makes a mistake.
YOU are “specially selected” for such a time as this.
There is much work to do. The harvest is great. You can be a channel God can flow into and out of as He demonstrates His power of His Spirit.
The time is now. Ask God to give you ears to hear, eyes to see, and a mind to know the things that he has for us.
Each person on this planet is designed with a God-given purpose.
YOU are enough. YOU are “Specially Selected.”
“They will be Mine,” says the Lord of Hosts, “a special possession on the day I am preparing. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him. Malachi 3:17
“Rest” this word kept coming up in my days recently.
I was helping my toddler open up to a scribble-free page in his Winnie the Pooh Coloring Book.
Tigger was King of the Forest. Tigger was telling his followers (Piglet and Rabbit) to follow him and he would lead them to a place of “REST” in the Heffalump forest.
Tigger, Rabbit, and Piglet arrived to their destination. Rabbit said to Piglet, “There isn’t enough room for resting here, unless we make room. Let’s make room Piglet!”
Resting in God’s presence doesn’t happen accidentally. It will happen intentionally.
Genesis chapter two tells us even God rested on the seventh day.
Make room for rest or it won’t happen.
Cindee colored a scripture and showed me as she clipped it on the refrigerator.
Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
The rest we find in Jesus is better than shopping the sales rack (or online.)
The rest we find in Jesus is better than sugar. (Yes, even coffee creamer and chocolate!)
Linger in God’s presence. Stay awhile. Listen. He will speak.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Matthew 11:15
I have 5 children during the day. Ages 5 and under. Oh, how I NEED to be reminded of this daily!
The hustle and bustle of the day seems to have no end in sight.
The dishes, the messes, the laundry, and cooking meals, and making sure to engage with the children, and…. (Oh so much to do. How can I possibly REST???)
I NEED to rest.
Even if it’s just 30 minutes upstairs in my locked bedroom meditating on Scripture while my husband plays hide and seek with the kids.
Which could then turn into a 10 minute cat nap!
Find what works for you. Rest your mind from the things of this world to focus on Jesus. For He is the only thing that can satisfy.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6
Does rest mean laziness? No way! It means to break away from ALL the things and spend time with Jesus. Being raw. Being real. Being still. In His presence. Not rushing anything.
Some nights I feel a drawing at 2 am or 3 am to just go sit in my rocking chair and worship God and just sit and listen. While my heart is quiet. While my kids are fast asleep. It allows my spirit be tuned in.
And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. Exodus 33:14
Go ahead. Rest a while. Make it a habit.
Thanks for reading. How do you find rest in your day? I’d love to hear any tips you’ve found.
June 18th, 2013. Exactly 6 months after my sweet mother went to be with the Lord. I had a vivid dream I’ll never forget. It seemed more real than life.
The last days of her life she was shorter than me. ( she always stood about 3 inches taller than me) The cancer had worn her body so that she was significantly shorter than me. Her frail little 87-pound body was tired and weak.
She died 3 days before her 42nd birthday.
6 months after her death. I saw her.
She was vibrant in energy and she was glowing like through sunshine. Her skin was rejuvenated. Her hair was lush golden red. Her eyes were bright blue and clear, they were sparkling. Her smile was perfect. Everything about her was wonderful.
All I could ask her in the dream was “How are you here? I know she died, but yet she was standing there alive and well. She just looked down with her head tilted sideways with her crooked smile.
In my dream, I had my little brother, who was only 2 at the time.
I was wanting just to be with my beautiful mother. I didn’t want to waste a single moment.
I was waiting for her answer my question, “how are you here?” But she didn’t answer. She just looked down and smiled at my brother playng at our feet. I was astonished.
It was then that I changed my question. “How is it?” I asked. Somehow we instantly knew we were both talking about heaven.
She said, “Oh Tonya it’s beautiful.”
Then she began to cry and tears filled her eyes.
She told me she went past hell.
She could hear the screams of people being tortured. It was darkness.
Wiping away her tears, she said “but I went past all that,” as she shook her head.
And then she began to smile vibrantly. She began to describe heaven. “Heaven is so beautiful, Tonya. You have to come here. It is so beautiful. It’s nothing like you’ve ever seen. Just come. Just come.”
I asked her, “Mom I thought you were going to be healed.
She replied: “God asked me if I wanted to come back, I told Him I want to stay.”
I could hardly believe her statement.
I remember grabbing my forehead. Her words surprised me so. I said (in a voice of shock and disappointment), “mom really you didn’t want to come back?” But yet somehow I knew why she chose to stay.
Because I felt the love and peace of God all around me and it was magnificent.
She urged me saying: “You just have to come. Oh, Tonya, you’ll love it. It more than anything you can imagine. It’s so beautiful here.”
I remember looking down, picking my brother up a d bouncing him on my hip. He was getting antsy and impatient.
“I have to stay here”, I replied.
Then I woke up and I felt God all around in my bedroom. All I could do was worship God and cry. It was so real.
This experience happened in 2013. I’ll never forget it. It was the love of God I felt. It was as if God gave me just a taste of what she is experiencing.
I hope someone is encouraged today.
Last month, I read Heaven is Beyond Your Wildest Expectations by Sid Roth. Such an incredible book. Everyone of the people who had supernatural experiences of heaven in the book were either told to come back and tell your story or were asked if they wanted to stay.
So I believe She wanted to stay.
I had high hopes for my mother’s healing. It wasn’t a lack of faith. It wasn’t a lack of trust in god. God can move the day in which we cross into eternity up or move it back. That’s up to Him because He is sovereign. It’s what He wanted.
Submission is choosing to trust God even when you don’t understand.
A month before she died she prayed over her family. She was the one that needed prayer, but she was the one being courageous and strong in that moment. There wasn’t a dry eye in that hospital room. She was praying a blessing on all of her brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews. It was so touching seeing someone struggling to be so thoughtful at the same time.
She prayed an anointed prayer.
I remember that last night in the hospital room at her bedside. I was playing worship music and I felt God’s presence there. It was such a sacred moment. I had peace. It’s not what I wanted, but I submitted to His will.
It wasn’t what I imagined, but that’s when true relationship with Jesus shines through. When you don’t understand, but you trust Him regardless.
To die is gain. In the eyes of the lord precious is the death of his saints.
Live life purposefully and meaningful.
Live your life with eternity in view.
It’s not what we expected or wanted. Many other family members prayed the same prayers, but it was God’s appointed time.
It wasn’t a failure of our prayers.
It wasn’t a lack of faith.
I was praying she would be able to live longer, but God moved her time up. It’s like He said, “This is a time that I have chosen that you have to accept.”
I had to trust Him and say “Ok. I’m still going to worship you, even though I don’t understand. I’m still going to praise you, but I don’t know what you’re doing. I’m still going to live for you, but I don’t like this.”
When we see another pass over into eternity we realize how thin the line is between here and there. It constantly reprioritzes our priorities to what matters most.
We remember how important eternity is. We don’t know what a day will bring. What a month, or year, or decade will bring.
We must be grateful for the moments we have.
When we live with eternity in view We value everyone and everything around us. We don’t have time to live with bitterness. Holding grudges. Being mad at the world. Resentfulness.
We must love while we can. We must work while it is yet day. We must pray with eternity in view. We must live with eternity in view. – Rev. Jason Scisco.
There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing; a time to search and a time to count as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace. I have seen the task that God has given people to keep them occupied. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him. Whatever is, has already been, and whatever will be, already is. God repeats what has passed. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
I wrote a song in 2010 (during the hardest season of my life.) My mother was going through cancer.
🎶 “If our God is for us, who can be against us? He will keep His promise, even in the darkness. He’ll wipe away your tears and say, it’s going to be ok. I know His love will never fade away, so lift your hands and say… I will cry unto the God most High, my heart is fixed, my heart is fixed on You. I’m moving closer, closer, closer to you, God. 🎶
My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Psalms 57:7
It’s fitting for this year, 11 years later.
Fix your heart on Jesus. He is our HOPE.
Situations happen … sometimes really bad situations. God uses them to reveal Himself in a way that we didn’t know Him before.
If we’ve never been through the rough times, we wouldn’t know Him to be our Healer. Deliverer. Waymaker. Provider. Protector. Strength. Peacemaker.
We don’t know the value of the Light until we’ve walked in darkness.
When the Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians, God told Moses to go and tell Pharaoh to let His people go. Moses asked: “Who should I say sent me?”
God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:14
I AM means I will be whatever you need me to be whenever you need me.
Isn’t God so amazing?
If you need a friend, He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. If you need love, He is the Everlasting Father. If you need a miracle, He is the miracle worker. If you need strength, He is the Mighty God. If you need peace, He is the Prince of Peace. If you need guidance, He is the Counselor. If you need joy, He is Wonderful. If you need provision, He is the provider.
He is your “I AM”. He will be whatever you need Him to be when you need Him.
In the new testament, He revealed His name, Jesus! God came to earth as a baby. He was born to save us from our sin. Yes, God is ONE.
“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Deuteronomy 6:4
You can find rest in Jesus, my friend. He is unchanging. He is faithful. He is good. Always good.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Hebrews 13:8
Thanks for reading. I hope this brings encouragement to you today. -Tonya
During my prayer time this morning, my 3-year-old son came to sit out in the room with me and my husband.
When I heard his body wrestle out of bed and then his little footsteps coming my way, I initially thought, “oh no, now my prayer time is going to be cut short, I should’ve stayed in bed.”
To my surprise, he didn’t ask for a snack, he didn’t ask me to get him dressed, he didn’t ask anything!
He was content just being close to me. Listening to us pray.
He melted my heart. He reminded me that God loves a grateful heart.
We melt the heart of God when we choose to wake up early and tell Him how wonderful He is.
I tend to complicate things. I need to set more time aside where I just sit in the room mediatating on Him. In the quiet. In the stillness.
O give thanks unto the Lord , for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalms 107:1
Come to him with a thankful heart and know that just being in God’s presence brings peace.
Just to be close to Him satisfies our souls.
Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well:
Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. John 4:13-14
He was talking about spiritual thirst. Not physical. Earthly things do not make us happy, except for a couple of days after we purchase them and the rush we get when we hit the purchase now button online.
He is Joy. He is Peace. He is Love. He is Good. He alone brings TRUE contentment.
Eventually, my son did ask me for a drink of water. And I was more than happy and more than ready to grant his request.
I’m not saying we will always get what we want, because that’s false, but God will be ready to pour out his blessings on his children when we keep a grateful heart.
…Blessing and glory and majesty and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might belong to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 7:12
This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my family, friends, and freedom.
What’s something you’re grateful for? I’d love to hear from you.
This weekend my brothers were over at our place. They arrived with excitement to see our new home and my kids were happy to give them a tour.
So, my daughter has been asking us to go to a trampoline park since her birthday. COVID happened and that was the end of schedules, parties, and things.
Next, it was summer. I teach Cindee how it is nice to use the free parks and lakes to play in the sand in the summer to enjoy the nice weather outside.
So we held off going to the “jumpy” park until fall. With a lot of kids, the price quickly adds up. So we wanted to make it a special occasion when we visited.
We thought it was a good time to visit while my brothers were in town on a rainy day. And Groupon.com was offering a special discount! Hey, I’ll take it!
Skyzone was a thrill. Even my 2 and 3-year-olds had a blast.
Then, nearing the end of their jump time, the unfortunate happened. Teyt twisted his ankle.
He hobbled (with the help of my sister) to the bench and laid down. His time of bouncing came to an end. He was in tears. The poor kid.
When we arrived back home he ate some supper and went to sleep.
Later he awoke and slid down the stairway to tell me his ankle hurt. He was in tears again. I asked him if he wanted pain medication. I was glad when he responded yes. I brought him some water with Tylenol pills. He refused to take them. I tried to bribe and coach him how to take the little, tiny, easy -to -swallow pills. He cried and said no.
Then I said, “Well, I don’t know what else to do for you teyt.”
Then I thought pray. (DUH! Of course.)
We got some olive oil from our kitchen cupboard to pray for his little ankle. Just like the apostles prayed for the sick people in the Bible.
And they were driving out many demons, anointing many sick people with olive oil, and healing them. Mark 6:13
I started by asking him if he believed he would be healed when we prayed. In broken tears, he replied, “yes.”
I led him through a simple prayer. We asked God to heal his muscles, tendons, bones, anything that wasn’t normal to be placed back and that the pain would stop because by his stripes we are healed.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
When we finished he wiped his tears and he was thinking. I asked how does your foot feel? He said, “It doesn’t hurt anymore.”
We lifted our hands and thanked God. This time I led him through a prayer of thanksgiving. Afterward he walked up the stairs to the bedroom.
In a few minutes, he yelled to me from his bed to come to him. This time he said his head hurt. (Probably from crying hard for too long.)
I asked if he wanted prayer for his head. He nodded yes.
We prayed again and God answered our prayer again! He stopped and thought for a moment. He said, “my headache is gone. It’s gone.”
We praised and thanked God some more. God is our healer!
When Jesus became aware of this, He withdrew from there. Huge crowds followed Him, and He healed them all. Matthew 12:15
God built his faith. I’m thankful for the impact this experience had on us. It was faith-building for me too!
Nobody can talk you out of an experience you have with God. You just know that you know that you know!
This root of faith is now a part of his foundation in Jesus.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4
Have you experienced a miracle in your life that you will never forget? I’d love to hear about it.
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