I recently had the opportunity to speak at a women’s retreat. My prayer is that I left the women there half as blessed as they left me. It was apparent as the sessions, days and time together continued that there were many women facing giants in their lives. Giant challenges, trials, sins, and situations that were consuming them, draining them, frightening them and filling them with doubt.

It reminded me of this picture my son and I took while we were at the beach this summer. The sun was setting and cast an unusual twist on our shadows. It made us look ten times taller than we actually are. Two things stand out to me after my weekend and looking at this picture.

One, when we are looking to ourselves to solve a problem or correct it on our own, those terrifying situations seem unsurmountable and too big to take on. But when we realize God is with us, it can put our fears and the situation back into its proper place. There is no problem too big for God, but all of them are too big for us.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”Matthew 17:20

Two, we forget the God we serve is better and stronger than we could ever imagine. He is bigger than any problem, sin, situation, and trial that comes our way and we can count on Him for our rescue and strength.

The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, Zechariah 12:1

What giant(s) are you facing today? No matter how big and overpowering they seem, God is bigger. I pray you will feel His presence, love, wisdom and courage in ways you never have before. I pray your trust in Him grows with each step you take and that you lean on Him for all the heavy lifting. He can move mountains!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Dust It Off


All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Incorporating scripture into our lives and conversations is something we should do, but I believe over time, when we use/hear a scripture to often, the words can become dull to us. Sometimes, we have to pick it up and dust off the cobwebs. So, I will often study scripture by picking apart one or two scriptures that I hear or use often. This week I did just that with 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

First, I began by pulling out the key words and defining them.

Teach – to impart knowledge or make known

Rebuke – to take someone to task, show sharp disapproval because of someone’s actions or behaviors

Correct – to alter or adjust so it can be set right

Train – practice and instruction over a period of time

Complete – having all necessary parts, elements or steps

Equipped – to make ready for service or action

Second, I rewrite the scripture using the definitions in place of the words.

All scripture was given to us by God to impart us with knowledge, reprimand us for inappropriate behaviors, alter our course for success and instruct us over time (I LOVE THIS part! Notice we aren’t supposed to get it all right once we become Christians. We continue to receive instruction and practice over time) so that as children of God we can have all the necessary parts needed and be ready for action when God calls us to accomplish His plan and good works.

These first two steps slow us down and help us look at scripture in a deliberate way.

Third, I reread the scripture(s) and let it come to life in a new way. Allowing it to reawaken with meaning and hopefully pierce my heart in a new and profound way. Meditating on it, sending up prayers of gratitude for it and now (most recently) capturing an image from my daily life that ties it together visually for me.

What scripture do you cling to, have on your wall, bumper sticker, t-shirt or dish towel that you need to grab and dust off?

Holy Ground


As I read through Acts 7, I was reminded about Moses and his encounter with God in the burning bush as Stephen recounted it in his speech to the Sanhedrin. I would have loved to have been in the crowd for that one.

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. Acts 7:33

The only two times in my life I have felt as if I was on holy ground (and expressed it exactly that way) was by the death beds of two young people I loved dearly and lost way to early within just a few years of each other. When someone is dying the veil between heaven and earth seems so willowy and slight . . . it’s almost nonexistent.

I’ve often said that God doesn’t need to yell. He only whispers because He is close to us. We don’t yell in someone’s ear! We whisper in it. But here is what crossed my mind . . . Because God is always near us, mustn’t all the ground we walk be holy ground?

My mind is pondering this concept. It’s turning over and over in my heart and mind and giving me a new perspective on what I see around me, do and say.

He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created. Acts 17:28 MSG

Christ in us . . . Just as God was in the burning bush so long ago calling out to Moses. Does that take a hold of your heart in a new and tender way? I pray this thought and image begins to take over my heart with each day and that we begin to slowly realize how close God really is to us. And maybe, just maybe we will kick off our shoes in recognition of the Holy Ground we are on.

The Mind is a Corn Maze


Yep! I know they usually say it’s a battlefield, but that felt to dramatic today and the corn maze seems like a more appropriate fall theme. That’s a glimpse of all the random thoughts going on in my corn maze.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the thoughts, fears, insecurities, memories and chatter that swirl around in our minds for the past few weeks. There are several reasons for this, but mostly because the beginning of a new school year always brings about conversations of uncertainty, worry and maybe a little dread in our house. I’ve been repeating the phases, “Tell me one thing great that happened in your day, what is one thing you can look forward to today or what is the good news?”

Keeping tabs on the wild maze of the mind is a skill I’m trying to learn about and focus more on. I’m learning that the mind really can’t be trusted. Scripture gives us a lot of details on the mind. The Bible tells us (or should I say warns us) that the mind is wicked, sinful, depraved, deceived, easily led astray and worldly. Check out these verses for yourself – Romans 1:28, 12:2, 7:21-23, Ephesians 4:23 and 2 Cor. 11:3. If you described a person to me with those same words, I would surely put up a defense when I was around them and they would not be top of my cookout invite list.

When you enter into a corn maze, it can be scary and intimidating if you go into it with no knowledge of what to expect or how to maneuver it. However, if you enter it with specific expectations, a map or prior experience/knowledge it is much less discouraging or unnerving.

The same is true of our minds, but there is a way out of the corn maze.

1. Recognizing the thoughts that churn around in the mind are not from God is vital to overcoming the oppression, discouragement, negativity, and fear that can arise within us.

2. Filling your mind with the truth of who you are in Christ and what He has promised you through His scriptures. This week, I hope you will take some time to look up the following scriptures that remind us of who we really are and not who our mind often tries to trick us into believing.

Romans 5:8, 15:7, Psalm 138:7, 45:11, 83:3, Malachi 3:17, Ephesians 1:7-8, 1 Peter 2:9, Matthew 26:28

There are so many more . . . Never stop searching and filling your mind with truth so you can overcome the wild maze of lies that like to hide and echo through your mind.

I captured these images of the corn maze at the NC Museum of Art on my morning walk when God spoke this message to my heart.

Switch It Up


I took a new path on my walk the other day and discovered this playful art. I tend to take the same route when I walk because it’s comfortable and known. But this time I heard God whisper, “It’s ok if you have never gone this way. You discover new things when you step outside your routine.”

The unknown is scary but we have to try it sometimes to seek a fresh view. That fresh view can help us discover God’s incredible peace in the midst of a mighty storm, grace in a hostile situation and joy when not even a glimmer of light seems to be hiding in the corners of our world.

Like me, maybe your Bible study, prayer life, quiet time or spiritual meditation has gotten a little too routine. Is it time to switch it up? To open your eyes to something new the Lord has for you?

Some ideas: Buy a new study Bible or Bible translation, go on a prayer walk, create a picture/drawing to go along with the scripture you are studying, do a Bible study from an author you have never read before, cook food from the Bible stories you are studying (Food At the Time of the Bible or The Food and Feasts of Jesus), take an online class (, listen to the Bible instead of reading it, get 3 or 4 women together once a week for a walk and discuss a passage of scripture or simply begin journaling each day where you saw God at work in your life that day.

Let me know what you try! I pray God will honor our obedience and awaken our souls with His presence and wisdom.



Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!


Over the summer, I experienced an overwhelming feeling to slow down and let go of some responsibilities I had taken on. I needed more margin in my life – AGAIN. I go through phases like this. I simplify for a while, then slowly begin to take on more and more until I reach critical mass and have to start all over again.

My body, mind and spirit were sending up a flare. And honestly, I wonder how long God had been nudging at my heart and trying to get my attention before I finally noticed?

I talked about what I could let go of and walk away from. I thought about it too, but it didn’t feel as if I was making any progress. My desire to enter into a deeper more meaningful relationship with God was still on my heart and tugging at me inwardly, but I couldn’t tell if anything had changed on the outside.

Then I read this:

“The experience of awakening can become so fragile and crystal thin at this point [the point when we realize we need God front and center again], we are likely to look right through it and see nothing.” Sue Monk Kidd

I had been looking right into this awakening and had not even taken notice of how my slowing down process had begun. . . Just in a way I didn’t expect or realize.

I loved this imagery and decided to seek it out in God’s creation this week. This is what He gave me.

I pray that we all become more in tune and responsive to God’s whispers, nudges and presence as we embark on a new season (fall). May we “be still and know” more of Him, His ways and His love for us with each passing day. And even if His presence in our lives is so tender and light right now, we can’t recognize He is there, may we find peace and comfort in knowing we will recognize His footprint later if not now.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

When the Same Old, Same Old is a Good Thing


Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

I wasn’t sure what the exact message from this image was going to be, but I knew it was meant to be captured, pondered and meditated on. It has been life-giving to begin finding God not just in circumstances and in words, but in my every day surroundings.

Seeing these two beautiful butterflies sipping the tiny bit of water they could find on a scorching day, by our trash on the street, created such a grand contrast. Maybe it’s from my ministry and work at the church combined with having two teenage children, but things in this world seem so messy, complicated and challenging. Sometimes, I think we can become so overwhelmed with the mess we face that the burden seems as if it might break us.

It can feel lonely, as if we are the only ones facing the giants of the day. We can lose the sense that God is even with us and the noise of worry, busyness, fear and isolation overtakes His tender and gentle presence. I think if we are honest, we will even admit that we sometimes think He has stopped talking to us.

I have certainly expressed the desire for God to speak to me the same way He did in the Old Testament. “I might be able to discern what to do faster if He would speak to me from a burning bush (Exodus 3), float around before me everyday as a cloud so I would know which way He wanted me to go (Numbers 14), send a dove (Genesis 8), speak from the clouds (Matthew 3:17), send some angels (all through the Bible), or prophets like Zechariah.” I would say exasperated.

But God hasn’t stopped speaking to us. He has proven that to me over the past several weeks in my exercise to seek Him in the world around me . . . His world. I think our hearts and minds have gotten more cluttered and we don’t find the time to sit quietly and seek Him.

It’s us that have changed . . . Not God!

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Hebrews 13:8 (HSB)

As I’ve taken more time to be alone with God outside I’ve found His pulse running through everything. When we seek Him, His gentle nudges become clearer, we sense His heart beating within our own pulling ours closer to Him, and His still small voice becomes one that we desire to hear above any other.

There are days my heart and soul feel as dry and thirsty as these two butterflies. Days I’m seeking His living water wherever I can possibly find it because I feel lost in a dry and weary landscape. And if I stop, slow down and linger, there He is . . . In a song, a sunset, scripture on my wall, the smile of a stranger, a quick prayer lifted up in carpool or the tears of a friend grieving their child’s mistakes.

God is with us! He has not left us. He is still speaking to us. God doesn’t need the hearing aids, we do.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

You Have Never Been This Way


In Joshua 3:3-4 God basically says to the Israelites, follow the ark of the covenant but don’t get to close to it so you can see which way to go because . . . you have never been this way before.

. . . giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.” Joshua 3:3-4

Picture 1

I’ve been sensing this theme in my day-to-day. I’m in a new stage of life with aging parents, two teenagers, my firstborn looking at colleges and the reality that she will begin her life away from us in just two short years. These are all new things (new paths) and I’ve never been this way before. It was as if this tender reminder from God in Joshua 3 was highlighted in neon, flashing and in font seven times bigger than the other text. 

I had no idea how these things were weighing on me until I began to process this scripture through a walk. I’m so grateful for God’s tender lessons and ways because the tears that stream down my face as I type are tears of acknowledgment, understanding, and trust that God is with me and not of fear and trepidation. Tears of understanding that this is just a new way and it doesn’t have to be a scary or overwhelming way,
just a new way and God is with me.

Picture 2

I can hear His tender whisper, “
You have never been this way before, so follow me Allison and I will show you the way. But remember to step back (reflect and listen) so you know what is ahead because I will show and prepare you.” Through my pictures, you will see a close up of a rocky path (1st picture) that God used to illustrate how difficult it is to know where you are going if you don’t stop to look up and ahead with an abiding trust and faith of the path before you (2nd picture). However, if we look ahead we can prepare for the fork in the road, the change of terrain, obstacles and even beauty that lies before us. I am in awe of how taking this scripture and putting it into a visual deepened my understanding and the power of it. 

This week, maybe you will feel led to do the same. I would love to hear about your experience if you do. God has been teaching me so much through quiet walks. I’m learning how the intricacies of His Word tie into His creation in stunning ways.

Seed and Soil


This is a picture I captured this morning when I went out to my garden. Clearly the seeds of this flower had taken root in fertile soil to produce this beautiful flower, but that does not always happen.

While reading and reflecting on Mark 4:1-20 this week, I was reminded of when Jesus compared His Word to the seeds that a farmer scatters around his land. However, the outcome (or fruit produced) depends on the ground in which the seed falls.

I realized that there have been times in my life that I’ve fallen into every one of the categories mentioned. George Guthrie describes them so well here:

Seed on the path: the thud of a hard-packed heart

Seed in rocky soil: the withering of a shallow heart

Seed in thorny soil: the congestion of a weed-choked heart

Seed in good soil: the productivity of a receptive heart

What soil do you relate to right now?

I’m thankful for each person, experience, challenge, and opportunity for growth the Lord has given me on my journey so far. . . .I’ve come a long way. . . . A very long way, but still have so far to go.

It occurred to me, that growing in that grace and knowledge of Christ is a formula that consists of a few things.

One, understanding, accepting and realizing my journey to live more like Christ will never be complete is essential to continued growth. Without that understanding and acceptance, I would grow frustrated, weary and defeated. Two, if I don’t extend myself grace when I have set backs I will become discouraged and distance myself from God. Three, continued growth won’t happen without a daily connection to His living Word. And four, never stop looking for ways for God’s Word to come alive.

What step are you struggling with today?

1. I need to accept learning about God and being more Christlike will never be perfected in my life here.

2. I need to give myself a little grace when I don’t understand, follow through or feel a close connection with God.

3. I need to open up my Bible and read scripture.

4. I need to look for a new and creative way to seek God through the scriptures to awaken my heart and passion for Him (again).

Wherever you are today, I pray God places people in your path to encourage or teach you, that you feel His presence as you prayerfully approach Him for guidance and that He shows up and shows off for you in new and amazing ways.

The Prayer Walk


It’s been a while . . . . I’ve been writing like crazy for conferences, classes and books, but on a sabbatical from my blog. However, the Lord is calling me back. Sometimes, we just need to quit things for a while. We need to take time to recharge, renew and find inspiration in new ways. I recently took an online photography/prayer journaling class that has done those things for me. Thank you, Polly & Val!

One of our assignments suggested we take a prayer walk and see what God placed on our hearts. I had never done that with a camera and wasn’t sure what to expect, but God showed up in an incredible and visual way.

As I began to walk, my heart immediately went into prayer for a young woman who had recently made a life-changing decision that will forever leave a scar on her heart. I looked for her story in God’s creation as I walked and prayed for her and her family. 

This is what the Lord showed me as I walked. . .

Sometimes we make decisions in life that make us feel so dry, broken and pruned we feel as if we may never recover or produce fruit again. Just like this brittle stump that was clearly devoid of life, but nestled among an arboretum filled with colorful and living flowers and plants.  

I prayed God would work in this young woman’s heart, use her pain for His glory, give her a deep trust in His unconditional love and forgiveness for all things. As I walked, my eyes looked up and God gently reminded me that He covers us with His love and protection just like the draping arms of this tree.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shade of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; Psalm 91:1-4

And just like the butterfly who starts as a caterpillar, God can take our mess and turn it into a message. He can bring beauty from the ashes and create in a us a new thing through His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. 

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8

I pray that as we finish up the first part of 2019 you are experiencing God in a new way. If you need a little inspiration or kick start, try something new. Register for a women’s conference, try a new Bible study from someone you have never studied before, take a local or online class that will challenge you to see God in new ways or simply say no to some tasks so you have more time to sit and savor the Word of God and our Heavenly Father’s gentle nudges.