What Does It Mean to Be in the Presence of God?


Christians have this weird language. Some of it is birthed out of tradition and culture but some of the words we use are actually found in the Bible. Those, especially those require interpretation. Many people (including ourselves) have no idea what we are talking about when we say certain words or phrases and it’s important for us to know what we mean so we can mean what we say.

Recently, a dear friend asked me to explain what it means to be “in the presence of God.” She knew the answer but was asked by a new believer and wanted to process how to explain it. I was so thankful to have been asked. Because although it’s something I talk about and pray about, it’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down to think about it means.

Immediately Psalm 139 came to mind. King David speaks about the presence of God being inescapable. He is everywhere at all times. Not only is he in every physical space, he is in our thoughts and knows them from a place that transcends space and time, before a word is even on our tongues.

In my words, this presence of God is when we are awakened to the reality of Jesus in our lives.

It could be a sweet awakening or a swift smack upside the head that begins with some sort of crisis. Regardless of how, the presence of God awakens us to something bigger than ourselves and leaves us longing for that bigger thing. A longing that is Jesus and a longing he desires to meet with himself.

It is awareness of grace and mercy. It is found in the love of a friend, the forgiveness offered to us, or the unexplained forgiveness we have to offer those who have hurt us.

It is peace. At times an unexplainable peace that makes no sense considering the situation we find ourselves in.

The presence of God can also explained in John 4 with the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well. As the conversation progresses Jesus reveals himself to her.

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:26)

The presence of God reveals the person of Jesus as God and man, meanwhile revealing who we are without him and who we are meant to be with him.

We are often aware of it in the company of others which is why we are encouraged to gather together. It is sensed in the awe of his creation when you drive into places like the valley floor of Yosemite or the central coast of California, or surf the big waves of Hawaii. Yet we can become acutely aware of it in the silence of our loneliness, on our knees or in the darkest hours of the night.

Yes, the presence of God is being awakened to all of this. The reality that Jesus lives, breathes life and moves among us. Not just one time, one Sunday morning, one tearful night, but anytime you suddenly know that He is here and in the depths of your soul you know can no longer ignore Him.

Our journey of understanding, like so much our faith, grows deeper as we walk forward together. I would like to learn from you…How would you explain it?

Trusting What’s In You

You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” – John 14:15-17

Several years ago, a dear woman I look up to was listening to me lament about my fears over my children not loving Jesus. She looked at me with that look that older and wiser women have when they realize you are freaking out over something you have no reason to at the time. Her words have stayed with me since.

“Your son has Jesus in Him and the Spirit of God is going to convict him, lead him and comfort him throughout his life. You can trust that.”

The words have stayed close, but I often forget the truth behind them. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

My kids stories are not my stories. Though they will always feel like a part of me they are apart from me and have their own path to walk. Whether they make the same mistakes I did or not is out of my hands. I can’t orchestrate their love for the Lord and their choice to live the life God has for them or go their own way. I can only live that way myself and guide them and encourage them to do the same.

As my boys get older, the more I realize this is so true. The less I want to control and the more I want to pray (in theory – let’s be honest). I guess a better way to say it is that I’m realizing my prayers and the way I live my own life with them is more powerful than any perceived control I have.

If our children have confessed Christ as Savior, then according the Jesus, His Spirit, the Helper, dwells within them just as He does in us. None of us will ever love Jesus perfectly and keep His commandments perfectly and yet by His grace and incredible mercy, He remains within us forever. His words, not mine.

May we trust the Spirit of God within us and those whom we love.

He is near.


Processing Racial Tension and Reconciliation

Do yourself a favor if you haven’t already, and ask an African American person you have a friendship with (or are acquainted with, because this could lead to a meaningful friendship) how they have been experiencing the recent events in our country, particularly the last couple of weeks.

Don’t try to relate, or justify anything or tell them what you think… that all matters of course, but if you just simply ask someone how they feel and what they have experienced, you might be surprised. Don’t get defensive and don’t try to “not see the color” because we all see the color and color is what is beautiful and different colors express the beauty and various facets of our Creator… just listen.

Listen to their passion and the emotion and try to practice empathy. You may think you understand already and maybe you do, but perhaps part of what our problem is that we don’t really take the time to listen and appreciate experiences and perspectives that are not our own. God is bigger and He is near.

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’
as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.” – Acts 17:26-28

Maybe the weight of all this darkness we’ve all been feeling has a greater and more divine purpose of causing us to feel our way towards him, as though we are groping in the dark to find something…some shred of hope…some sense of progress, but ultimately, we are feeling our way towards him and we WILL find him because he has promised us so.

I have always considered myself someone who “doesn’t see color,” but as of late my vernacular is going to change. I’m lying to myself if I don’t see color. It didn’t hit me until last week when my son walked out the door at 9:30pm with his best friend in the world who is black. They went to a movie and my heart sank. It was then I realized, the conversations my friends who are raising African-American sons are having are different than the ones we have at home. They have to learn behavior for different reasons than mine do. To say I don’t see the color is a disservice to myself and those around me.

Things may be getting worse. They may be getting better. They may actually not be much different but because of social media we are more aware. Whatever the case it doesn’t matter. God has determined this time and space where you and I live for a reason much bigger than ourselves. The whole point of everything is for us to feel our way toward him. These too are the trials James 1 talks about that produce a steadfastness of faith. As our faith gets stronger, our works will be more meaningful and the way we love will be more pure and Christ like.

It’s a simple and loving thing we can all do to be part of the solution in a very broken world that is groaning for salvation.

Just ask, “how has your experience been?” and listen.

He is near.

Let not your heart be troubled: He is Present and Will Prepare You

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“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to were I am going.” {John 14:1-4}

The imperative is to believe.

Believe in the person of Christ knowing He is the way. The way to where He is going and the way to everything else before us.

Jesus is always preparing for us. He is preparing us for what is next in our lives. He is preparing us  and preparing for us an eternity full of His presence.

Two things we should remember today: He is fully present and He will fully prepare us.

In light of these two things, He is saying we can trust Him for what we can’t see. Our only part in this is to believe.

What do you need to believe God for today?

Things We Should Remind Ourselves of Every Morning

MAKES (1)There are mornings I wake up with my mind so full there isn’t room for whatever else may come that day. If I allow my thoughts to stay on those things rather than the Author of my life, the Creator of all things, I tend to pull the covers over my head and quit before I start.

There are some practical things about who God is that have grown deeper roots in my soul as of late.

I’m trying to figure out his spiritual art of staying in the day. Being fully present, right where I am.

The downside of being a dreamer, visionary, big-picture-person is that I have a really hard time just enjoying where I am, who I am with and what I am doing today. Sure there is something really great about being forward thinking, a planner, etc. but the other side of that is getting too far ahead of what is or what might even be.

My friend Kathy Simms told me she wakes up each day and declares:

“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

The first part is a declaration, the second part is the imperative.

But what if you can’t even get there?

One writer often had to self talk his way out of bed as well:

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

And Jesus… His prayer went like this:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.

This morning, remember:

God is near.

He is providing what we need today.

His mercies and compassions are new every morning and they fail not.

So when our thoughts go to “what if” and “how,” let’s remember because He loves us… we are not consumed.

We are not consumed.

Because of the Lord’s great love.

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Have a great day.

Waiting with Confidence

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” {Psalm 27:14}

It is said waiting is one of the hardest things to do. Perhaps you are waiting for:

Plans to unfold
A job to come through
A healing to come about
A prodigal to come home
A soul mate to love
A baby to hold
A promise fulfilled
An apology towards reconciliation
A friend to walk with

Whatever IT is you are waiting for, let’s ask God to make us aware of HIS presence in the waiting.

Psalm 27 speaks of:

C O N F I D E N T  E X P E C T A T I O N

Described as strength and courage, waiting, searching and expecting God to BE God.

What are you waiting for?

Take courage… He is near.

On Quitting and Healing

Do you

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.  In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”  Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”  And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.  Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews  said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.”   But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’  They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?”  Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.  Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”  The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.  And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.  But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

{John 5:1-17}

On a Sabbath morning and I read these words following a mind dump/journaling session/crying out to the Lord in prayer time. Morning pages of long hand writing, with tears blurring the pages of every lament for God’s provision, the hearts of my sons, strained relationships, jobs, college planning, caring for my parents, all of it.

My confession today and really every day this week is that this low lying sad undertone in my heart is because I have been living in disappointment. Disappointment rather than gratitude when the reasons for gratitude are solid and tangible and the disappointment is in the fleeting ideals that were never real or may never come to pass.

The last few years have been wrought with uncertainty and my response at times has been full of faith but also marred with fear. The combination of faith and fear led me to try hard to find another way, another job, to change the circumstances on my own. Some of that was good and much has been unhealthy. I figured if I tried to knock, turn the handles and pick the locks, God would open the doors he chose to but I was at least doing my part in trying.

The man laying by the pool, who lived with his illness for 38 years tried hard to get himself into the stirring waters of the pool. The waters called to him daily and each ripple was a visible reminder of unmet expectations and the pain of trying hard to get somewhere to no avail. Then Jesus asks a simple question, “Do you want to be healed?”

The man’s response wasn’t about being healed, but how he was to get into the pool in order to get healed. His answer to the Savior of the world was focused on his situation, the obstacles and disappointment with everything and everyone and the way he thought it should all go.

It’s true, life is a journey, but  like the man at Bethesda I often lose sight of the ultimate goal: to encounter Christ and let Him bring full on healing to my life. As it turns out, for all those years the man was trying to get in the water, he didn’t need the water at all.

All he needed was Jesus.

Jesus directed him to get up, take the bed and walk. Don’t look back, do things differently but under HIS direction, not the way he thought he should go. In the back of my mind as I consider this, I’m reminded:

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

So, I’ve decided to quit. I’m quitting trying so hard.

I’m quitting trying to be the best mom to these boys because it easily becomes more about me rather than the path unfolding before each of them.

I’m quitting thinking through my vocation and calling and wondering how they will reconcile because they actually are and it is so easy to miss that and what’s more… I end up finding my identity in what I do rather than who I am.

I’m quitting thinking through the “what if’s” that may never come to pass because today has enough trouble of it’s own.

I’m quitting trying to impress, inspire and prove myself because I am fully loved and have already been fully welcomed by a God who has plans for my life that are good and meant to prosper me towards Himself.

At this point in life, if it’s not Jesus that directs me to get up and go, I’m going to stay put. Stay put in this day, with these people and hopefully my ears attentive to how it all unfolds. I don’t need to work so hard because Jesus plainly says, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

I’m pretty sure they are doing a better job than I ever could. Also, this post is more of a prayer of declaration and not saying I’m going to be awesome at any of this quite yet. It’s a journey, right?

Do you need to quit something as well?

Peace be with you.

When Home Becomes Less About a Place and More About God’s Presence


Sometimes you write a post for a Blog and then time passes and you forget… you forget about what you wrote and even some of the things that welled up so high in your heart you couldn’t help but write them down. I write to process and to make sense of things. I write because it helps me see the presence of Christ through said process. With my writing, I pray that sharing allows me to offer some kind of encouragement to you.

As I read this post today, I ached all over again. I ached because some things are still really hard and yet that longing in the ache, that longing for Jesus, is becoming more and more real as time moves on.


It was late 2013, and I was walking to dinner at a conference when my eyes caught a glimpse of these artfully written words:

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19

My heart leapt with excitement as I thought about the things God is able to do when he does a new thing. In their context these words tell the story of God bringing the Jews out of captivity. As it was with their forefathers, this new thing would come with a promise of hope and deliverance alongside hints that it would certainly not be easy.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;  and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
 and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2, ESV)

The year following that conference was the beginning of an unearthing. My entire world shook with upheaval and many times I felt my circumstances overwhelming and consuming me.


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Focusing On The Right Words

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed says the LORD who has compassion on you.” {Isaiah 54:10}

I read these words this morning and the eyes of my heart immediately rested on the mountains departing and the hills being removed. Whatever that looks like is different for everyone. For me, they provide an image of this continual finding of footing in a season of change. They represent the unmet expectations of what I thought would be in place and is not. However as I kept meditating and praying through these words, I realized the point of the whole sentence written by Isaiah from the LORD wasn’t about the pesky mountains and the annoying hills that take your breath away as you climb. The point of his statement is for the reader, the hearer, to know God’s love is indeed steadfast. Never changing. These words were lovingly spoken to remind us no matter what we do, or what happens in life, God  L O V E S us and his love will never depart from us. This is more breathtaking than any hill or mountain can ever be. The God of all creation thinks this much of us. Better yet,  we don’t ignore the mountains and hills because God certainly has not. Isaiah tells us the LORD has compassion on us. By definition, compassion implies He has to see us and know what we are in. Compassion, defined as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

God is not just sitting high up and looking down wishing we would pull it together. He sees. He knows. He feels. He loves. He is sorrowful for the mountains and hills caused by our own selves or the circumstances around us and is literally in it with us. He has a desire to alleviate the suffering but that will often look differently than we think it should.

So often I miss the truth and the joy of being in God’s presence when I read the Bible. I want to focus on what the mountains and hills are and why He won’t just move them and put them where they belong because He can. The truth is, many scriptures like the one above say more about who God is and His presence with us and love for us than anything else. Scripture is a good teacher.

Today, let us shift our focus like the word of God teaches us to and acknowledge the mountains and hills, but keep our eyes on the ever present nature of God. His love. His compassion. May we have the grace to see it and believe it.

What mountains and hills are you facing? How have you been shown the love and compassion of God though it? Has he sent someone to show you? Has he provided something to remind you?

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Lately I’ve Been Learning to Say Yes Daily



Eighteen years ago today on a cliff overlooking the San Francisco Bay, a seemingly cool, calm and collected Steve Lind invited me into ever after.

I’m glad I said yes.

What I didn’t realize then that I am learning now is marriage isn’t as much about the initial “Yes!” or “I do,” but more about a daily yes. The purpose of marriage is oneness and every single day is a choice to say yes to that oneness or to something else that has the potential to divide.

Every day I get to choose to say yes to Steve, yes to our marriage and yes to our ever after which helps determine just how “happily” it will be.

Unfortunately, sometimes I say yes to other things. 

I say yes to my iPhone.

I say yes to my boys when they should see my first yes belongs to their dad.

I say yes to work.

I say yes to the tyranny of the urgent.

I say yes to the fear of the future instead of the gift of today.

I say yes to my friends who make it easier when I share my heart with them at times.

Lately, I’ve been learning there is nothing sweeter than oneness when the yes is said emphatically over and over again even when that yes is hard.

Yes, we should go from our community because together we are being called to something new.

Yes to new dreams and vision.

Yes, we should take that job that will require us to walk in faith.

Yes, we will choose to slow down and rest so our family can thrive.

Yes, we will step into the unknown and trust that our very first yes, our yes to God, will help us see abundantly more than we could ask or imagine.

Yes, we will sacrifice and be brave even when it doesn’t make sense.

And even yes to everything mundane. Yes to dishes and cleared kitchen sink. Yes to preferring the other person over self. Yes to the laundry being folded and put away and yes to the grace when it isn’t {most of the time}. Yes to creative meal plans and yes to a few moments of quiet together when the boys are finally in bed or the early hours when they are still sleeping. Yes, to the Adirondacks on the back porch and yes to one more episode of Netflix.

Yes because yes together is way better where ever it may take us than when we are apart.

What have you learned about saying yes in marriage?