My Christmas tree is sideways. Kind of. Well, not really…but it’s seriously slanted.
After my son and husband spent all that time hooking the thing up to the top of the car and carrying it in the house, paying special attention to my request that they bring it through the back door and not the front so that pine needles would not get everywhere…I did not have the heart to tell them to straighten it.
So now it is slanted.
It is slanted when I glance at it from the kitchen.
It is slanted when I walk past it in the living room.
It is slanted when people knock on my front door and they walk in my house.
It is slanted when I adjust the presents just-right under it.
Part of me wants to hate the slant. It’s not perfect. The other part of me sees the slant for what it is: a reminder that Christmas imperfections are to be expected.
There will likely be moments when: People get upset. I feel overwhelmed. I go to my closet for my own time-out. I get annoyed. Family does something I don’t like.
Slants in Christmas don’t mean the whole holiday is wrecked, they just remind me that I have and need a Savior. They remind me — I’m human. They invite me to pray and to breathe deep.
Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? Imperfect people desperately in need of a perfect Savior. This is what Jesus came for.
With this sort of mentality, I can remember slants are only moments. They come and they go, but God’s love for me endures forever. I am not defined by a passing moment, I am defined wholly and completely by Jesus’ love. With this, imperfect happenings, traditions, and inflated expectations cannot take me down.
There is a Savior and He came for me — and changed everything.
I see slants, I pray, and then I carry on. I feel offense, I remember how much Jesus forgave me and I move on. I deal with hard people, I throw my hands up and say, “I surrender” to God and I entrust them in His hands.
How can you brush off slanted moments and carry on in His love and grace, both to others and yourself?
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)
Let me start off by saying…I’m starting something new (scroll down to the bottom if you have to know before I tell my story!).
There’s nothing I love more than to see God work in my devotional emails. At the same time, I want more…I want more live connection with you and deeper intimacy with God. Many of you have participated in The Journey Together Summit and/or read my three books…and while I hope these have blessed you…what I am talking about goes beyond this.
To uncover the more, I feel now is the time to pull together to go deeper and farther in Christ…WITH EACH OTHER. This is why today I’m launching a series of retreats called “Breakthrough Retreats”. My hope is to gather a tribe together — that sticks together and moves forward together. I’ll tell you more about all this in moment, but — before I do — let me say…
I didn’t get to where I am because I have something you don’t. For many years, I was — stuck. For a long time, I couldn’t move forward.
During these years, I was even reading God’s Word, asking God to help me and trying with all my will to change. Yet, internally, I was scared and immobilized. I didn’t believe in myself or in who God made me to be. I couldn’t quite access depth with God.
Ever been there? Ever felt unsure about yourself? Ever known what youshould do, but you still can’t do it…? Ever wanted (to take action, change, forgive, leave the past behind, draw closer to Him, get healthy or reach out to someone) but felt hindered? Maybe you start and then stop. Or, you just can’t seem to deepen your relationship with God.
Oh, I know all the defeatist feelings that say — you’ll never change, you’ll never do it, you can’t.
Oh, but — my friend, you can — change! And, this year? In 2021…I believe you will. Why? Because, perhaps what you are missing is not as hard or distant as it seems, but instead it’s — super simple (it was for me).
Hebrews 10:24 says, “and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…”
I found people who stirred me up. They encouraged me, inspired me, asked me tough questions, gave me the right scripture at the right time, and kept me accountable. This was my breakthrough.
Said another way, stirring-up means, “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:24 MSG)
My friend, do you want or need to be spurred on or stirred up?
Often, our breakthrough comes from the people, used by God, who make up the body of Christ. The simple-folk who just — believes in us. This helps us to walk into all God has, up and over the hill that blocks us. It’s not hard.
With this, I feel called to raise the bar higher…and higher still. Do you want to be part of tribe of women pressing in to all God has? Is God calling you to do this, even right now?
I want to invite you to a “Breakthrough Morning Retreat”, designed to stir-up faith, connection, resolve, rest, and passion.
During this Breakthrough Morning Retreat, my hope is that you will:
1. Worship and Connect with the Heart of God.
2. Hear from God about practical next-steps for this coming year.
3. Be encouraged with teaching that will inspire courage, hope and breakthrough.
4. Connect with sisters within a small group context post-event, helping you to forge new bonds, accountability and friendships. (My thought is as we do quarterly retreats this year, you can meet and encourage the same group)
5. Find yourself activated and uplifted via mountain-moving prayer.
***You will also get a 2021 Encouragement Post-up Sheet that includes key reminders and biblical declarations to keep you on your game.
The morning retreat cost is $29. The morning retreat cost is $29 (to cover costs, technology, logistics and more…) Beyond this, I believe that when people put something in, they get more out.
Don’t miss this heart-to-heart event, where you will learn to leave the past in the past so you can press ahead to all 2021 has for you! Now is the time to: do it with others, build a support group, get encouragement and revive hope.
Register today (via the button below) for the Breakthrough Retreat on January 9, 2021 from 10 AM ET to 1 PM ET.
Breakthrough Retreat 1/27
Make space to encounter God. Gain new strength for this year.
January 9, 2020 from 10 AM ET - 1 PM ET via Zoom.
“Kelly is a great encourager! Her greatest desire is that you should know who the Lord created you to be and who you are as a daughter.” – M.R.
“Kelly brought light into my very dark world by demonstrating what the true love of Jesus looks like!” – D.P.
“Kelly’s “realness”, no matter the cost has helped liberate me from all the masks I carried. Christ uses her to powerfully deliver freedom in every conversation.” – S.A.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will there be a recorded version?
If you are unable to attend, but you would like to be a part of the event on your own time, my plan is to create a recorded version. Simply buy a ticket for the retreat and let me know via email that you will be “watching at home”. I will send you the file after it is complete. For more information or if you have questions contact email@example.com
2. How will we have the meeting?
The event will be hosted on Zoom. Please check your Zoom account for updates prior to the event. Lines will be muted.
3. How often will you be having retreats?
I would like to have these retreats quarterly or every other month. My dream is that we can know each other. I would also like to place people into small groups that they can regularly meet with and form relationships. My dream is that we become even more of a tight-knit community. I will love to pray for the small groups at times and I hope this is something that can continue for a long time.
4. How can I continue to connect and build accountability?
I will be creating a dedicated page for your small group to meet, talk, encourage and support each other. I am looking for alternate locations to Facebook. Stay tuned. I hope to announce this during the retreat so that you can continue to meet with a small band of women. Additionally if I can set it up (depending on the retreat group size), I may even have you meet your small group during the event.
5. Is there more I can do with you?
On the retreat, I will share some more ways we can go deeper and grow in intimacy with God. Stay tuned.
6. Will I stay with my small group?
Yes, I hope to form a small group at the first event and to keep you connecting at future retreats. Let’s do life together!
7. Can I invite my friends to join this or is it only for Purposeful Faith readers?
Everyone is welcome!
Breakthrough Retreat 1/27
Make space to encounter God. Gain new strength for this year.
January 9, 2020 from 10 AM ET - 1 PM ET via Zoom.
For more information or if you have questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Ticket non-transferable/refundable.
“You are not listening. You don’t understand what I am saying.”
In some ways, the people who have said these very words to me — are right. Many times I don’t listen. Instead, I am thinking about what I am going to say next. Or, I am sizing up what their words convey. Or, I am deciding what to do when they are done speaking. Or, I’m thinking about what still needs to get done.
I can grow in hearing, listening and understanding others. At my worst, I completely miss what others are saying. When I try my best, I’ve — at times — even thrown out advice. None of these meet the needs of a heart.
And, what strikes my heart is — if I can’t hear mankind, how can I truly hear God? If I can’t understand the words of another person’s heart how can I understand the deep mysteries of God’s Word?
God wants to raise my bar on hearing, listening and understanding.
“…Let every person be quick to hear…” (Ja. 1:19)
What about you? Do you hear and understand or do you miss things?
Somehow, I think the greatest gift we can give others this season — is our ears. With all the competing voices, opinions and perspectives, what we most want is to be heard by those we love.
We want to be understood, at least — even if others don’t agree.
How do we do this?
Here are some practical ways to be a great listener:
One: Decide you will really hear what the other is saying, without allowing your mind to make a trail elsewhere.
Two: Choose to repeat back what the other person is saying, to make sure you captured their thoughts. Let them clarify, if need be.
Three: Clarify their response, ask questions and/or show interest.
Four: You don’t have to agree, but it can feel validating to someone to acknowledge their feelings. You do this by saying things like, “That must have been tough, “I can’t imagine how that would have felt”, “I get what you are saying.”
Five: Let them know that you appreciate their perspective.
These tips work if you are in arguments. The other person may not be right, but they can be loved and cared for along the way. They also work with contentious people. Likely, they want to be heard far more than they demand you agree with their ideas. They work with kids. Their eyes light up when they know that someone understands their unique perspective.
There is something healing, when people start hearing. Indeed, hearing takes humility, but God gives grace to the humble. You can do it!
Choose to be a hearer more than a speaker and you’ll find new connection with God and others.
***In other news, stay tuned…on Thursday I have some big news coming. I think it is going to bless you. I can’t wait to share it. Don’t miss this Thursday’s blog post.
Prayer: Father, help us to listen before we speak. May we trust you in all our ways and humble ourselves before you. Often this means we have to lay down our agendas, words and ways to see you come through. Thank you that listening clears a way for you, Jesus. We trust you to protect us, to lead us and to help us with all our words. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Throwing caution to the wind, our family decided to go to an amusement park this past weekend. As we headed in, they did a temperature check. All good.
The lines were long, on some of the rides. As I waited in one line, to go on a bus that would lift me up and down with other kids, I observed a family ahead of us. The boy’s hair was perfectly done. The girl’s braids were tightly tied together with bows. Their clothes were ironed and perfect. The moms face looked immaculate. There was no flaw with this crew…
“They must always dress like the perfect family,” I thought. “Everywhere they go, they look amazing. They only wear clothes that are brand new and they have it all together.”
Standing there, I felt like trash next to this woman, in my clunky sneakers and my wind-thrashed hair. Unable to control myself for a moment, my voice chimed up from within me. I started to speak to the woman.
I said, “You all are the picture of a perfect family. You must always dress amazingly.”
The mom replied back, “Oh no, I am in workout pants most days.” The son said, “And, I am so uncomfortable in this belt; I can’t wait to get it off.” Apparently, they just had their Christmas picture-shoot right before coming to the park.
Things are not always what they seem. Our inner stories and presumptions give us an outer snapshot of what we figure — must be true. But, our automatic truth does not equal autonomous God’s truth. For, what we see on the outside never explains the inner story, behind the walls of someone else’s life.
We see social media and the parties and think: we’re the only one watching movies at home…
We see the woman with the perfect Christmas tree by the fireplace and figure: her family must always be at peace.
We see those with close family and think: they have it made; their life is bliss.
Suddenly, our world is trash and everyone else has it better. But, things are not what they seem. Usually the inner stories we concoct about other people are half-truths, if not outright lies.
This is why Philippians 4:8 tells us to “Fix your thoughts on what is true.”
When we lay down things we figure must be true, we can more easily fix our mind where it is meant to dwell…
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…” (Heb. 12:2)
Who have you been comparing yourself too? How has this been stealing joy from you? Impacting your relationships? What would it look like for you to begin focusing on truth and on Jesus?
Have you ever been with a friend who constantly looks at their phone when they’re with you?
My pet peeve is when I meet someone for coffee and they keep looking at their phone. I can’t help but think…is it me? Is it something I’m saying? Am I not good enough to have their full attention?
This also happens on occasion at social gatherings when a person looks behind me or around me, rather than looking at me when I’m talking. I have to admit, I wonder why they’re so distracted.
It is hard to build a relationship with someone who is only half-in. Or, half-way listening. Or, half-way minding what they’re saying to you.
I couldn’t help but think about all this — this very morning, as I made coffee, while trying to pray…
I muttered some words, but as I got the grinds in the cup, I only half-way put my heart into what I was praying. I spoke some things that sounded good, but as I assembled the cups in the right place, I wasn’t much thinking about what I was saying. I tried to think about God, but I was much more thinking, “Where’s the cream?”
My attention was divided two ways. Looking at coffee, I couldn’t — in actuality, look at God. It’s like trying to drive ahead while looking out your rear window. You can’t look two places at once.
Good friends focus on each other. They are attentive and available, rather than distracted and double-minded.
“…But I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (Jo. 15:15)
Good friends set down their phones, their to-do lists, their mind, even — and hone in on what’s happening between them. They talk. They make room to listen. They aren’t trying to do 5 things at one time. They rest in each other’s company.
Are you a friend of Jesus or are you far-more a distracted doer? Are you following a million rabbit trails around you and in your mind — or are you attuned to God’s heart?
I’ve noticed as I’ve set things down, or given my thoughts a time-out, I’ve been able to make space for exceptional times with God and for His breakthrough. I’ve noticed as I’ve said no to other things — I have made space for my first love. With this, I’ve come to know Him on such a deeper heart level. I believe the same is available to you…
Prayer: Father, I want to know, love and be with you more. Will you give me focus? Will you help me be available to you? Will you pour out grace so that I can leave everything else behind as I read your Word? As I pray? You are my treasure of greatest measure. Please help me to treat you this way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The face on my 7 year-old, with her head jutting through my bedroom door, said it all… There was an issue.
Oh no…what happened?
Once I got to the living room, I knew: Bright red lipstick was striped all down the arm of my living room chair.
She looked up at me, “Mom, it is not just on that one chair, but it is on the other one too.”
At this point, she apologized profusely. But, my insides boiling and turning within me… I was angry! These weren’t just any chairs, but expensive chairs. If I hadn’t told her once, I’d told her 500 times not to sit on those chairs with food and not to put on my lipstick without asking. But, there she was — caught red-handed…
Yet, after a bit, I forgave her. Why? Because if I’ve learned anything from ministry it is that to hold unforgiveness — is to hold yourself in bondage. But, to let go — is to let go of bitter pain targeted to hit your hearth in the future.
I forgive you, Madison.
“Mom,” she said. “I’ll pay for those chairs.”
“You can’t afford them, Madison. The price I paid for them is far too high.”
The second these words came out of my mouth, the second it felt like Jesus’ sacrifice was talking straight to my heart….
The price I paid for you, Kelly… You could never afford it. The price I paid was far too high for you to pay. But, I paid it on your behalf and I still forgive you…for it all.
It was as if…just as I wiped Madison’s art-chair clean…Jesus was reminding me how He wiped my slate clean too. I deserved so much punishment… I still make mistakes — yet, Jesus. Jesus paid the complete (and expensive) price to wipe me clean. To make me whole. To mark me holy. To see me as righteous.
I am off-the-hook because Jesus hung on the cross.
He “bought (me) with a price…” (1 Cor. 7:23)
A price I could never pay on my own.
And, the price He paid still covers me. When I make a mistake… When I talk in a way that I shouldn’t… When I think that thought… When I don’t do what I want to do… Still, His grace and His love cover…my many I’m sorrys.
I spent a good amount of time washing those lipstick chairs. When I look at them now, I keep noticing the way they are matted-down, imperfect. But, you know what? I’m like those chairs, imperfect. And, Jesus loves me anyway. He still wants me too.
Despite my flaws, Jesus marks me more than enough, more than helped, and more than equipped, even though… Those imperfect chairs stand as reminders that His perfect price was more than enough to make imperfect me — white as snow!
Jesus’ love continually wipes the marks right off me. Now, I am clean, accepted and loved, always.
Glory to the King!
Prayer: Oh, how I thank you, Jesus, for the price you paid. Oh, how I praise you for how you wipe me clean again and again. You free me — not once, but all the time. You save me, not just for eternity, but for today. I cannot thank you enough Jesus. I cannot praise you enough. I receive all the grace and mercy I so desperately need. You are faithful. You love me and see me as righteous, holy and pure…all because of your blood, Jesus. Thank you. Amen.
This morning my husband laughed when he looked in his coffee cup. I had no idea why…
A little before the laughing, I had asked him, “Do you want cream?”
He said, “Yes.” So, while he was looking away, I poured the cream in. Then, I handed him the coffee, basically saying — here you go… But, when he looked down — he didn’t see anything, so he started laughing.
He pronounced, “Where’s my cream?” We stood there looking at the coffee.
And after a few seconds, the cream rose up to the top. Only then could my husband see what he couldn’t see before — the cream that was already there. He just had to wait for it.
Some of us — are nearly there. We just have to wait for it…just a little more.
There is something rising to the top.
Think of Jesus. Things looked dark in the tomb, but then he rose up to new light.
And Lazarus. Everything was dim when he was dead, but then there was life.
Or, David. He hid out in caves, only to later reign as King.
Even the Israelites were enslaved and, after a time, set free to head off to their Promised Land.
The best things — take time. Just as honey isn’t done before the bees have done their work, likewise — the sweetest things take time to make…
So, don’t give up hope on day 6 when God is coming on day 7. Don’t start cursing God when He is working together a greater glory for your life. Don’t think He won’t show up…when He is working things out.
Jesus told his disciples and friends to wait for a word, at one point. He said, ““And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.” (Lu. 12:12)
Jesus knew — at the proper time, they’d get proper words. But, they had to wait for him to show up. He’d give them what they need — at just the right time.
Do you trust God to give you what you need — at just the right time?
God’s timing is always right on time, no matter how you feel in the meantime. Keep hope and keep looking up. He loves you.
Prayer: God, give me the power to — wait well, to hope in you continually, and to trust you endlessly. Please bring breakthrough in my life. I don’t have the best way, but you do. In this, I surrender afresh. I die to my ways and agree with yours. I trust you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you try a craft and it becomes a hot-glue gun mess, do you keep going? If you phone someone and won’t pick up when you call, do you keep calling? If you communicate with a friend but they never listen, do you keep talking?
It is hard to continue something without results, isn’t it?
Many of us, for this reason, have given up on prayer. We haven’t seen the results we want. God hasn’t answered in time. We question if He’ll come through. So, we give up, before we’ve only just begun.
Are you there now?
Here’s how you know if you’ve given up: 1. You aren’t passionate about what you pray about. 2. Your mind drifts elsewhere when you pray. 3. You forget to pray. 4. You don’t believe your prayers will be answered. 5. You lob up words to some black abyss.
Jesus knows our mind. It’ why in Luke 1:8, it reads, “Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit.”
Jesus told the story about the persistent widow (Lu. 18:1-8). She kept asking. She kept “badgering”. She kept pursuing her cause. She did not give up until the answer was what she wanted.
How many of us pursue prayer in this way?
Jesus tells us: Don’t stop. Don’t quiet. Be persistent. Be consistent. It is necessary for us to do this.
You know, I’ve grown a little tired of praying. It seems like I may be talking to the air. Yet, I know this is a lie.
Why? Because of you. Because so many of you have sent me emails telling me that God answered prayers we prayed together in the past. He showed up. You requested, He answered.
You asked me to pray over a year ago. He showed up.
You needed His providence. He showed up.
You didn’t know how He’d do it. He showed up.
So many of your emails encouraged me. So, whether you are still waiting or He’s answered your prayer, let’s keep asking. Let’s lift every reader up today. Some need breakthrough with their kids, or with health, or in their marriage. Some need support, or help with an aging parent, or wisdom as to which direction to go.
Let’s all support each other today. Beyond this, feel free to email me your request. I will NOT be able to email you back (because of the sheer volume of emails I will get), however I will seek to pray for each one of you by name.
“Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.” (Is. 65:24)
“Pray without ceasing…” (1 Thess. 5:17)
“…pray one for another, that ye may be healed….” (Ja. 5:16)
Prayer: Father, you hear us. You care for us. You hear our prayers. We believe that “the heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].” (Ja. 5:16 AMP) We thank you that prayer is not a waste of words, but a move of God. We trust you to do what you think is best. We believe in your power to move mountains. We know that you are working out a best-end. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
There is one spiritual weapon many of us forget about. We don’t think to use it, to leverage it. It’s too bad, because this weapon keeps us strong. It prevents us from getting battle-weary and war-torn.
Before I tell you what it is, let me tell you a story…
My daughter, Madison, loves to fall. She will look at me and say, “Hey, Mommy, I am going to fall backwards. Catch me.”
She will make her body rock-hard and strong like a plank of wood and then she’ll fall backwards. Knowing I’m behind her, I catch her.
She calls it a “trust-fall.”
Again and again — she trust-falls. Everytime, she knows I will catch her. Because “I-have-her”, this INCREASES her joy. This adds to the fun. This makes her feel strong and taken care of.
How many of us are trusting God to catch our fall?
To trust-fall is to know that your All-in-All will save you. Will help you. Will strengthen you. Will be there for you. Will even — add to you…
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jer. 17:7-8)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)
Trust. It has promises and benefits tied to it.
Parents hopes their kid trusts them when they say not to have candy before dinner. There’s a good reason why…
In the same light, God has good reasons why He’s completely worthy of our trust. May we trust that He will make good even when in the bad. That He will help us, even when we don’t know how to change. That He will show us, even when we see no answers.
When we fall, we can trust God to catch us. He is the best trust-fall catcher, ever.
Rather than relying on our ability to catch ourselves — our understanding — we rely completely on Him and His better plan.
“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.” (Is. 40:31 NLT)
Prayer: Father, give me the grace to trust you more today. I want to trust you with all my heart, all my soul and all my strength. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Things are not what they seem. It’s like walking at night. You think you see a person, but it is only a shadow. In the light, you can see how the darkness fooled you.
There is more than meets the eye.
I love the story in 2 Kings 6:15-17 that illustrates this point…
“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.”
He was surrounded; it looked like there was no way out, no way to win and no hope. Maybe you’re in a place like that today…
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
“And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
Just because it looks like defeat, does not mean you’re defeated. Just because you feel all alone, doesn’t mean that you are. Just because you can’t see all that God is doing for you, doesn’t mean He isn’t doing anything.
Things are not always what they seem.
Darkness can easily trick us into seeing things or believing things… But, in God’s light, there is always more of Him and His forces with us, than against us.
Can you even imagine what you might see if God opened your eyes up the way He did Elisha’s? How might He be defending you, protecting you or fighting your battle?