The Power of Worship

My two youngest children woke up early one morning and asked to go swimming at our neighborhood pool which is about a mile from our house. It was early, before it was hot, and I was game for it. My husband was still home and heading out the door to workout before he went to the office. He told me his plan and mentioned that since the gym was next to the amenity center he could meet us. He suggested “why don’t you guys drive to the pool and start swimming. I’ll jog there, go to the work out room and lift some weights, and then I’ll join you for a few minutes in the pool when I’m done.” I nodded and he headed out the door.

The kids didn’t know the whole plan, just that daddy was heading to the gym.

A few minutes later we packed up our beach bag, headed off in the car, and as we pulled onto the main road we passed my husband. He was jogging steadily towards the amenity center.

“Daddy! Daddy!”

They pointed and waved as we passed him! You would have that thought they hadn’t seen him in a few days.

Just a minute later, we arrived at the pool, applied sunscreen, blew up inner tubes, put on the goggles, and started swimming. The kids were having a great time. A few minutes later they saw through the pool gates that daddy was jogging up the drive to the amenity center. They started waving wildly. “Daddy! Daddy! He’s coming! He’s gonna swim with us!” They kept yelling and waving even though daddy couldn’t hear them yet.

I didn’t tell them daddy was going to jog into the weight room and it would be a few more minutes. They could care less. They just wanted to make sure he saw them. But waving wasn’t enough. As he saw daddy nearing the gate, about to pass towards the door of the gym, my youngest jumped out of the pool and took off running to the gate of the pool fence!

“Daddy daddy! You’re here!”

My son smiled a big smile and opened the gate.

“Here ya go. Come on in!”

I wanted to tell him that daddy was going to be a few more minutes. Daddy, however, must have changed his mind. He smiled a huge smile back at the kids and walked through the gate into the pool area as if that was the plan all along. My husband told me as he approached:

“It’s ok, he’s so happy.”

He would put his workout on hold and join the kids.

I teared up a little at the gesture. He’s a great Dad. And it’s no coincidence that I’m posting this on Father’s Day. I honor my husband and he’s a GREAT father. But I had seen something else. I knew I was witnessing a spiritual principal in action. God was showing me how He views and prioritizes His children and how He chooses to respond when we worship and call out to Him.

God responds consistently to the faith shown when we shout

“Daddy, Daddy, you’re here! Come on in!”

In the spirit, those cries of worship and expectancy are what opens the gate to His presence!

You might think God is too busy for you. That He has His own big person “workout plan” and things to do that don’t involve you. You might think He is too busy for child’s play. That He can’t be interrupted.

But God is jogging towards you today.


He’s entering through the gate.

Willing to move His plans for you. Because, ultimately, you were his plan all along.


Letting Go – A letter to my daughter as you graduate

A letter to my daughter
as you graduate:My prayer for you, darling daughter, is that you would fly, far and high. You are letting go of childhood and starting a new season. I cherish you and I cherish the memories we have made with you. Some of the memories we made during these years were frivolous and fun, some were purposeful and intentional and some were just experiences we encountered, together, along the way. I pray you take all the good… The fun and the growing opportunities and the life lessons… and just let go of the rest. You will need your hands free to make more memories. You can only hold on to balloons for awhile. Just like when you were little and you were given a balloon at a birthday party or a character balloon to walk around with at DisneyWorld or at a celebration … Once you got home, or sometimes before you even left the activity, you had to let go of the balloon. You needed your hands free for real life.  

Had to brush your teeth.

Head to bed. 

Real life. 

Baby girl I want you to hold on to the memories – hold on to all the fun of life and the people you love and the values that center your life – but feel free to let go. As you graduate from high school – let go of childhood and walk freely into this next season… Let go of any childish 

 “not good enough” feelings, let go of stereotypes, let go of insecurities, let go And be free. 

Free to have fun! 

Free to choose when and how you study and work. Free to continue growing but in new ways. Begin college, meet new people … 

Use your talents to serve your world. 

You may be letting go of childhood but you can always keep your childlike spirit and your wonder for life. May you love God like never before and feel His love for you. You may be growing up and letting go of high school. You may be leaving childhood. Letting the balloons fly away with all that they represent… You need your hands free for real life! But as you let go… Look up! And see your beautiful, bright future in the sky.  

Just Run. Afraid. 

Today I have had to remind myself several times over that I am a woman of faith. I have been tired, busy, I’ve had several activities and appointments on my mind. I’ve felt nervous. Anxious, even. One of the things in the back of my mind? An upcoming radio interview I’m doing tomorrow. The irony: it’s on the subject of faith. Specifically on a subject that is the theme of our women’s ministry conference and… Oh my goodness! Why in the world would I be the spokeswoman for such an activity?? Oh wait! I’m hosting this activity! 😂Why is fear such a natural reaction? 

I speak to hundreds of people at a time… sometimes a thousand or so in an audience and I don’t feel as nervous as I do thinking about speaking into a radio microphone. Why? I am guessing it’s that I just don’t do interviews that often, so I’m not as used to it. Or maybe because it’s human nature to run away from big things. Even big opportunities. But the key (I tell myself) Is to run TOWARDS the same big things you’re scared of!!
I love that Bible story of David and Goliath. David was a young guy. Goliath a huge giant. David was a shepherd boy. Goliath a seasoned warrior. A killer. David didn’t look like the best person for the job. David, did, however, know that God was on his side. He put his whole life on the line for a cause bigger than himself. He fought Goliath (and won!) using only a sling shot and 5 stones (and the giant’s own sword against himself). And David won because his faith wasn’t in himself it was in God. He fought for a purpose greater than himself. And so the victory was something he won for more than just himself. 

David won a faith victory.  The bible says he RAN TOWARDS the giant. That is the part of the story that gets me. I mean, we don’t know. Maybe David had no fear. Buy maybe he did. He might have actually been afraid while he ran, but he ran anyways. Towards the giant. 

You may have to run even while you’re still afraid. In fact it is your faith that determines the direction you’re running. Faith means you’re running towards the subject of your fear and not away from it. 

I realize that I am still growing in my faith journey. STILL, to this day, I must remind myself that my faith is bigger than my fear. My faith isn’t in my ability. I may not feel good at interviews. But I have a reason to speak. I have a faith in Someone greater than me. My cause is greater than my own little life. And so the victory I win by overcoming my fear is a victory that I win for more than just myself. 
Maybe you can relate? There is always the potential for there to be a “giant” in front of you. There’s always some opportunity that might feel unknown. Some person… or obstacle…or interview… or activity… where you might want to run the other way. You may not feel like the best person for the job. You may only have 5 stones and a sling shot. But you can run towards the giant anyways if you have God on your side.  Just Run…afraid. Let your faith show you which direction. 

Because I’m so wonderful and Beautiful

“Mom why are you so wonderful and beautiful?” These are the questions I get at bedtime from my enamored little four year old son. 
How do I answer that? He loves me and so I am wonderful to him. 
It makes me want to BE wonderful for him. 
Today I brought home from a Target shopping trip, just a little token of fun for my kid. (And yes, something else from the dollar spot for Lydia, and for the rest of us: 70% -off-Easter-candy, as well, just to keep the stockpile filled 😜). 
For Timmy: it was just a $2 pair of nunchucks – two little sets attached with rope and foam on the ends so that it whips nicely through the air but doesn’t actually knock anyone out. I actually found the package in the party favor aisle. I bought the one set and in my mind I just called it a full fledged toy. But I did it knowing that my little guy routinely uses jump ropes, or two of daddy’s dress socks, or long pieces of rope candy – anything remotely whippable- to attack pretend ninjas. He was ready for the “real thing.”
And boy was he excited. He kept asking in disbelief: “Mom, why did you get this for me?” As if he couldn’t believe that he could receive something unasked for and yet so wished for. He didn’t even know such an object existed! 
I didn’t know such an object existed. I simply saw a very inexpensive way to validate my sons desire to be a defender of the home and beater-upper of the bad guys. 
And I think that must be what inspired the “mom …so wonderful and beautiful” talk at bedtime.  
And oh my! You can believe, after hearing such gratitude and having two solid hours of smiling entertainment with a fierce little wind- whipping martial arts expert strutting through the house… That clinched it for me:

I will keep my eyes peeled for the next opportunity to surprise him before he even asks… I’ll definitely be perusing that $2 party favor aisle again….because I like being “wonderful and beautiful.”


Equal in Value, Different in Function

Jesus’ message was radical in its inclusiveness. The fact that He even spoke with women during His earthly ministry, let alone, empowered them to be catalysts of change… as we see in New Testament examples of women in church leadership… this was unheard of. Every woman with whom Jesus had contact, whether they were old or young, in need of healing or forgiveness, each of these women was radically changed by the Truth. His was a message of love, acceptance and grace … that God could not only love and redeem all of mankind but that He held all of His creation … both men AND women with esteem and value. Yes, we are different. Many times it is a difference in function.  Sometimes  we are different in talents, ways of thinking, communicating and creativity. But we are 100% equal in VALUE. On International Women’s Day 2016 I want to encourage you to remember Who made you: for both male and female are made “in the image of God.” So I choose to honor and elevate the unique position of femininity in the earth. It takes both male and female to showcase the image of God in humanity. If only one gender is flourishing, then the image is not complete.  A woman, in love with Jesus Christ, secure in Her identity and wholly aligned with her mission in life, is a force to be reckoned with.
XoXo, Abigail

Before Things Blow Up…

Before Things Blow Up…

So proud of my Susannah writing her thoughts with wisdom and humor…

pearls of grace

One day a few summers ago, I decided I was going to grill some chicken for dinner. My dad wasn’t home, but I he taught me how to turn the grill on properly a few days earlier  “I remember how to do it,” I thought. So I go behind the grill and twist on the propane tank, then I stand up and twist every nob to start it up. I then grab the lighter and hold it down to start the fire and aim it toward the burners. *BAM!* I feel an insanely hot gush of hot flame on my face and jerk my head to the right. I jump back and pat my clothes to make sure I wasn’t burning. It took me a few seconds to actually realize that the grill had actually blown up in my face. My left eye’s eyelashes had singed at the tips and…

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Big goals. Big God.

So yesterday was a big day. I knew it was going to be a special Sunday. Something was shifting. We had been feeling it for weeks. I got the following in a text from my husband the night before:

“My heart is burning to share the 5,000 number in all 3 services.
I’m hesitant because I haven’t had a chance to even share it with the Carrizales, staff or other leadership.”

“You gotta go with what you’re hearing,” I texted back. “It’s a season of shift.”

And so he shared it.

Sometimes it’s Impossible to keep it in. When you’ve seen something exciting you want others to see it too.

Our vision as a church remains the same: to be and to make disciples of Jesus. Our motivation is simple: obedience. The next goal? 5000. Adding new members, seeing a harvest of NEW souls birthed out of personal evangelism..this would mean nearly doubling our weekend attendance. All of it.

How? Not simple addition.
But through the power of Multiplication.
When? How soon?
That’s in God’s hands. And ours. Ours, because we have a great opportunity to be obedient and faith- filled. We can’t be cowered down hiding the little that we have been able to harvest in the past (like Gideon hiding his grain in the wine presses). We have an opportunity to offer to God- to give back to Him -the grain that we have tried to protect and have feared would be stolen again.

As my husband shared yesterday, when Gideon offered a meal to the Angel of The Lord (including bread made from the very grain he was trying to hide and protect) God consumed it in a fire- received it as an offering -and turned Gideon into a mighty warrior instead of a doubting coward. God used Gideon’s small, incomplete, harvest to prophecy a greater, COMPLETE victory. A victory over Israel’s enemies. The guarantee of many, many harvests to come.

This 5000 number represents people. It’s a numerical goal that we will see because of God’s faithfulness- because disciples of Jesus, naturally make more disciples. But it is also representative of many areas of harvest that God wants to bring to His church. If we will lay down the fear & insecurity- Offering it to God- letting Him turn us into faith-filled warriors, we will see that harvest and that victory! As we learned yesterday, God can do more with 300 committed soldiers, who are not afraid, than He can do with an army of 32,000 mediocre men.

All we know is that God is showing us this vision. He is saying “soon.” And we need to get ready. The harvest is great… And so we pray for Laborers for that harvest, as Jesus showed us.

“Lord send more Laborers into the harvest. And let me be one of them.”