What we call coincidence….<3


It is a beautiful sunny day here, and yet I am mindful that the southern states are experiencing horrendous flooding. A Texan friend of ours was headed to Beaumont LA and received pictures of streets that had become rivers and so turned around and headed home. It is devastating to think of what some are dealing with and our prayers are lifted for them. 

I started a study based on the life of Joseph by Kelly Minter this week and as God would plan it, the readings are overlapping the current readings for our all-church series. 

As I have gone through various portions of Genesis this week, I am once again alarmingly amazed at the dysfunction of humanity and the grace of God to not just throw us all in the scrap heap and start over. 

But He doesn’t. 

He works redemption in spite of and, curiously enough, through the flaws and failings of His creation.

Just this morning as I read the account of a young Joseph being dispatched out into the countryside to check on his shepherd brothers, I had a new discovery I had never noticed in these passages. 

Kelly suggested reading them with an eye that was looking out for how God was working in the story. 

Having preceded the study with a short devotional reading that pointed out how often we mistake God’s timing for “coincidence”, I read the passage with the intentional eye of God-sightings and here is what I jotted down from Genesis 37:12-18

* Joseph is wandering around in the middle of nowhere and a man, who happened to not only see his brothers when they were tending flocks in the area, but overheard them say where they were going next just happens to run into him. Kelly adds Jewish tradition holds that the “man” was an angel – but whether an angel or a man, it was incredibly helpful that he happened to be there for Joseph

* Reuben happened to be amongst the group when Joseph appeared in the distance and was able to thwart the “let’s just kill him” plan

* The cistern they threw him in was empty…so he didn’t drown

* The location and timing of the Midianites passing by in conjunction with where they happened to have settled to pasture, Joseph finding his brothers, Reuben interceding and then wandering off for a bit.

* The caravan was headed to Egypt, which is where Joseph would need to end up

I have read this story many times but I had never stopped to think about how God was orchestrating the whole thing. What seemed to be just one awful event on top of the next was being allowed under the direction and protection of a master plan. 

Could it be then, that what seems to be interruptions and dead ends and frustrations, the times we are misunderstood, side-lined, dismissed…that these too fall under the permissive will of our God who does all things well? 

I pray that I would increase in faith to believe that the things that seem so out of the blue disruptive to my plans are being carefully watched over by the Master of all plans. His ways are not my ways. They are higher than I could think to ask or imagine. 

Praise Him <3

Oh Esther…you still have lessons to teach me <3


Everywhere I turn the past week I am running into studies of Esther. 

I selected it as my next reading plan on the YouVersion Bible app (and the way I stumbled across reading plans is because I was trying to sign up for the all-church study we are doing and I have yet to find it on my phone…but I have been enjoying a couple of good ones in the meanwhile…)

About Day 4 of it, I realized I was seeing posts from other people on Instagram based on the same study and I realized it was from Love God Greatly and there is study in progress for those who order through them. 

Today it popped up in another devotional email and so I am thinking God is speaking out into the cosmos about Esther right now and I don’t want to miss an opportunity for sharing some nuggets I have uncovered and have you miss out on the refining of His word in YOUR life so…

Here is one gem I got that hit me fresh from a book of the Bible that I would have thought I had read and studied to the point that I could say I got all there was to get out of it…but as the donkey would say to Shrek…it’s like an onion….there are many, many, many layers to all people but more importantly to God’s Word and there is no end to learning that we can find when we take time to sit at His feet and let His Spirit teach us. 

In the second day of the study, I found this perspective on the King that gave me a new angle on what God is showing us about us and about Himself in the book of Esther:

Based on the opening passages in Chapter 1, we see the King hosting a huge and luxurious and extended banquet and in the midst of all the partying he calls for the Queen to be brought out and displayed. 

She refused. 

And all the empowered women of the modern world shouted “Amen sister!” but please, as we label this King a male chauvinist pig, don’t miss the lesson about our own humanity and struggle with pride that can play out in equally ugly ways.

The King responds with fury and then adds to his inappropriate response the seeking out of poor counsel and the whole thing ends with a complete banishment of this queen from his presence. 

The study sheds light on what happened:

“The King wanted what he wanted, and when he didn’t get it, he became furious and burned with anger.”

Love God Greatly: Esther, Day 2 devotional

As I pondered the study and the Scriptures and looked at that phrase and let it sink in, I wrote in my journal

“Selfish motives that respond in anger are indications of a need for repentance.”

The devotion points out that instead of overlooking the insult, the King responded with anger. Anger fueled by pride in who he was and what he possessed. Pride in his reputation and his status.

His wants had been denied and his pride and selfishness overruled his reason and wisdom. 

If we get past the whole debauchery of the party and the men and the thought of parading his wife in front of a bunch of frat boys gone wild…and we just focus on that phrase for a minute…

and fill it in with our own name..so here, I will go first….

Laura wanted what she wanted and when she didn’t get it, she became furious and burned with anger.

How about a real life application?

Laura wanted to receive an apology from the company who slightly overcharged her for an item, even after she had been honest about the fact that they had sent it without knowing and then they charged her the full amount and not the discount and didn’t even thank her for her integrity. And when they, instead, insulted her for being petty about such a small overcharge…she became furious and burned with anger. 


That’s what we are talking about here.

We are talking about the rehearsing of an insult and the growing anger as we plan the rebuttal, or the letter, or the actions we will take to justify ourselves to the one we feel wronged us. 

Because it’s easy to look at the King in Esther’s story and see what a jerk he is.

But the point of Scripture is to turn that spotlight back on our own hearts and let God show us who we really are so we can worship Him for who He is.

His example through Christ was to overlook an insult. To forgive those who have not even asked for forgiveness. This is our model for life and our desired response when we sense anger is burning within us <3 

Speaking of sky-writing <3


Yesterday was spent up north tending the fab four and their new puppy. 

After school, we were scheduled to go to a local pumpkin patch/play area and so we navigated the car pool lane and survived and made our way out into the country. 

As we were driving, the clouds in the sky were so incredibly beautiful I was marveling at God’s handiwork and thought I would attempt to draw my passengers into my love of our creative Creator. 

I started to make a comment that sounded almost like a Sunday School cliche and so rather than go with my first observation, I simply told them to be sure and look past the video screen production of Veggie Tales and observe how the clouds appeared to be almost like a water color painting across the blue sky.

Behind me came the voice of that firstborn boy who has been penetrating my eyes, thoughts and heart for over eight years now. 


In the softest voice he said, “Lola, can you believe God painted that with His own hand?”

My thoughts exactly.

Coming out of the mouth of the offspring of our offspring. 

I could only manage to whisper…yes Graham. Yes I can believe He did that. 

And then I just let my heart bow in worship to the One who paints such beautiful pictures in the sky and over mankind. 


Best. Day. Ever. 


Pruning may be necessary but is never fun <3

As you may remember, I have been blessed to attend some conferences for writers and speakers the past few years. 

My first was She Speaks and out of it this blog was birthed. A couple of years later I returned with my cousin Betty and that was fun and led me to sharing the blog on Facebook. 

Two years ago Russ asked if I wanted to attend another conference and after doing some research I found one in Texas called Declare. I contacted a blogger I met at my first She Speaks and we decided to sign up and room together. 

I share a lot of her wonderful podcasts that she does at The Warrior She. 

The following year, I returned to this conference with plans to room again with Lisa and the added bonus of taking my friend from home, Melanie Brown, who has a fitness ministry. While there we reconnected with a friend of Lisa’s named Shelly Templin. I share a lot of her posts as well because they are wonderful. 

And this is the heart of the Declare Conference. 

To bring women who write and speak and podcast together so we can connect with people who understand the challenges and struggles and temptations and failures and victories and all the technology issues that accompany the call to use words, whether spoken or written, to communicate and encourage others. 

The first conference was held nine years ago and has grown and expanded. The founders have added an online community and a podcast. They have developed Connection groups that meet throughout the year and they have formed a team of leaders who are cohesive and focused and full of energy and ideas. 

They also serve faithfully in obedience. 

And obedience comes with a cost at times.

Because while the annual conference has been gaining steam and could just continue to grow a larger capacity to draw more and more attendees, they have heard the voice of their Shepherd and He is saying…no. 

Next year will be their last conference. 

What they have done with excellence and have improved on and poured into and tended with faithfulness, is coming to an end. 

They will continue in the capacity that God is directing them, but they will no longer host this successful conference. 

This is so in character for the women who lead this community. 

In all the years, they limited the attendance to a number that would allow for fellowship and an intimate and safe environment where we were allowed to gather and worship, talk, learn, encourage and grow. 

In our culture, and even in the culture of the Church, so often we are geared for increasing our reach instead of our depth. 

We ask: How can we get more and more people to come to what we are hosting? 

When maybe we should be asking: How can we best serve the ones You are inviting to come?

Bigger is not always better. 

In the words of founder Eryn Hall, they believe God is not calling them to host a conference any longer and so they are ending it next year on their 10th anniversary. She delivered this message with a beautiful smile…and eyes brimming with tears.  

It would be so much easier to continue doing what has been working…it would be so tempting to keep adding seats and seeking out speakers who would draw a crowd…but it takes courage to listen to God and silence the voices that ask what will people think…to step forward into the unknown even when our hearts are hurting and we have to end something that was so sweet for us and for others. 

In their obedience, I am encouraged again to listen carefully to the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

We who follow Christ are simply vessels of His voice and His touch and His ministry to others in the world. 

We follow Him and His example. 

I think of how Jesus did ministry. 

He moved from town to town. He left crowds unhealed and untouched to move on at the direction of His Father. He was where He was supposed to be, doing what He was supposed to be doing and leaving the 99 to seek the 1. 

He didn’t always act the way the people wanted Him to, or expected Him to and He calls us to the same level of obedience. 

In closing I want to share with you some of the wonderful women I have met through the Declare Community and give you their links to check out. There are a lot of women who are speaking out life and truth in this world in small ways…doing big things for God quietly…promoting Jesus instead of themselves…building places of growth and learning through the technology available to us in these times…so check a few out for yourself:

#1 The Declare Conference is a wonderful event where you can connect with other writers, podcasters and speakers to be encouraged and to build a network for support in fulfilling your calling:

Lisa Wagner shares a weekly 20 minuted podcast featuring women in Scripture and how we can apply the lessons and examples of their stories to our every day faith struggles. She also provides a free downloadable pdf to enhance learning and help you apply the word of God to what she has shared on the podcast https://thewarriorshe.com

With humor and wisdom, Shelly shares stories that both entertain and instruct. https://www.shellydtemplin.com

Shelly also writes frequently for a group that provides love and support for those who have experienced infant loss. You can find this community at https://hopemommies.org/about-us#

Melanie Brown leads local fitness ministries in the Decatur community as well as provides excellent coaching available online through Faster way To Fat Loss. She is a bundle of joy and energy and just makes me smile. You can find her at https://www.motivatedbymore.net

Shontell Brewer has a passion for freeing victims of human trafficking and reaching people of all ages through opening her heart and home…and Taco Tuesdays….she is just fun and wrote “Missionary Mom” and I only met her in person one time in a prayer room at Declare, but she has found a home in my heart. You can find her here http://shontellbrewer.com

Oh there are so many more…but that’s probably enough for today.

Be blessed.

Be as big or small as God designed you to be and just trust Him with all of it <3

The great ones typically come disguised as quiet and gentle servants <3


We lost another good one this past weekend. Another prayer warrior who slipped quietly into the arms of Jesus. 

He left us after a long and painful surrender to the devastations a stroke left behind and supported and loved by a family and friends and a community who all have stories of how he quietly touched our lives. 

We first got to know him when our John was a young kid in junior high.

He had the divine appointment to be randomly assigned to Curtis that school year under a prayer initiative we used to do. 

Parents signed up their students…people signed up to pray for them…names were paired and letters were sent and our John landed a faithful prayer warrior that never stopped praying for him all these years since. 

Nor did he stop praying for all the other names he received assignments for. 

And he didn’t just pray. He showed up.

For every sport John played all the way through his senior year…and believe me…he played them all…Curtis would show up at at least one game. 

After high school, he followed his activities in college and always knew what year he was in and prayed him through some rough times with health and adjusting to being on his own.

He always knew what job he was currently in, what town he was living in and delighted to hear how he was doing with rec league games now that he’s all grown up. 

When the stroke held him captive and he couldn’t get out and go to games and be out in the community he loved, he signed up to be on the Intercessory Prayer Team and I can tell you right now…there is a void in the battle and we are missing him in the trenches. 

I don’t know of any Scripture that says Curtis will be praying for us in heaven. 

From what I read, Jesus intercedes for us…so thankful for that…but Curtis will be praising God with all the saints.

He did his praying and his showing up and his caring for people and his remembering things because we mattered to him here on earth. 

People are sometimes surprised when we show up at a ball game to see some kid play that we know from church or we attend a concert or a musical because some young person we pray for is in it. 

We learned it from Curtis. 

We remember what it felt like for us and for our son to have someone who didn’t really have to come just show up because he wanted to. 

Well done, Curtis…well done <3