Real and Relevant – A book review of She Walked Before Us

I love the Bible. Cover to cover every book and chapter contain revelation and insight into who God is and how he relates to his people. I want to know God deeper and deeper each day, but if I’m honest there are many parts of the Bible that I find very hard to read – especially right now. I’m at the end of the Old Testament and yikes! So much rebellion, punishment, pain and justice. Sprinkled throughout the major and minor Prophets are verses and a few chapters the sparkle with hope, but overall it’s a challenge to plow through and not be overwhelmed with heaviness. 

What I am grateful for is how all throughout scripture, no matter how awful the circumstances the Lord always chose to use everyday people to accomplish his plans. The shepherd, a mother, the youngest sibling, the outcast, the weirdo prophet, and the barren woman were just some of God’s chosen. It’s important to remember that the “heros” were often not the ones the general public would nominate. Because they have been memorialized in the most famous and most read book in history we can easily forget that they themselves were not famous or even special. They were average, very real people who the Lord chose to use to reveal truths about himself, accomplish his plans, and his relationship to us. 

It is important to remember that when we place the people of the Bible in a category of infamy we loose sight of the point – they were real people having real encounters and relationships with the almighty God. If we don’t catch this we will distance ourselves from the same kind of encounter and relationship. 

The theatre company I worked for most of my professional career had a mission statement, to tell good stories well. I love a good story! As I transitioned out of my career as an actor I knew I would spend the rest of my life telling the best story well – the story of God’s love for us. Because of this passion, I deeply appreciate others whose desire is to bring the stories of the Bible to life. 

In her book She Walked Before Us, Jill Eileen Smith looks at 12 women of the Old Testament through creative narrative rooted in biblical truth. In each chapter Smith focuses on a specific  woman presenting a unique challenge or triumph and invites the reader to “imagine,” “ponder” and “take it further.” 

Before reading this book I was already acquainted with each woman, however in every chapter I found myself having “ah-ha” moments and growing in my appreciation for the realness and relevance of the Word of God. I highly recommend this book. If you’ve never spent time with the women of the Old Testament you will love to discover these gems. And if you already know them you will love them even more as you connect with them in a fresh way.  

And finally I want to encourage you, if the Bible is intimidating to you and you just don’t know where to start, the book of John is a great New Testament choice and reading one chapter a day from the book of Proverbs will give you very practical tools for everyday life. Also, I love Genesis and Exodus! They read like an adventure story – try it! And when you get to the list of people’s names, I bless you to skip past it on your first time around. Just start somewhere. Scripture wasn’t written to us today, it was written for our benefit. It is alive and breathing and will fill you with hope and connect you to the Lord who loves you.



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But wait! There’s more!

Need some good news?!

I do!

Well, good news…we’ve got REALLY good news!

The Gospel of Jesus IS our good news.

As we celebrate Easter – the good news that Jesus overcame death and the grave and is alive – it’s important we realize what that actually means.

Too often we have left that good news in a little box in the corner of our lives. Waiting to open it on that fateful day when we enter into eternity.

Have you ever received a gift with multiple items inside but you didn’t know it? You open it and, “How wonderful – a gift!” But then you’re told, “Wait! There’s more in there!” “Ooooooh, more?! YAY!”

That’s the good news of Jesus. There is so much more in the gift of the gospel then many of us realize. And it’s time to open the rest of the gift.

When we say yes to the gift of salvation, we are saved and given the promise of eternal life. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!  Yes, Jesus overcame death and the grave so that we could live with him in eternity AND so that we could live with freedom, power, and joy today and everyday! The good news of a life with Jesus is a gift that keeps on giving everyday.

And this good news brings great joy!

Could you use a little more joy in your life? How about a lot more joy?!

I want you to live everyday of your life like the gospel is good news!

Will you join me? Beginning on Tuesday April 14th I will be hosting a free 15 Day Joy Bringer Challenge on Facebook. Every day I will be going live in the private group, joined by amazing Christian leaders from all over the country who are experts in areas I believe are vital for us to live lives full of joy.

We will be diving into subjects like:

  • Forgiveness
  • Flexibility vs Control
  • Rest
  • Jesus as a man of great joy
  • Being filled with the Spirit
  • Joy in sorrow
  • Healing
  • Gratitude

And so much more!

This will be a special time for us to connect and grow together. One that I believe will change your life. Will you join me?

CLICK HERE to join the FB group.

I recall the words of Jesus in John 15:11 in the Passion Translation  

My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness!

I am so grateful for you and I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for us!




A Joyful Little Poem

Tis the day before the New Year and all are a twitter. The decade is over, however sweet or bitter.

The twenties are here, the teens have matured, and all send up prayers of thanks, we’ve endured!

They’ve left us with markings of stretch and of scaring, but both paint a picture of depth, and we’re trying

To muster up hope. We sing songs of grace. We resolve to do better. We put smiles on our face.

But it’s joy in our hearts and truth in our heads that make the new year one of purpose instead.

The truth is we can. The hope is so real. We stand firm on our faith, we have nothing to fear.

Jesus is King, the Father is love, the Spirit is power, we have more than enough.

So hold your head high and delight in your title, you’re a child of God let joy rise inside you.

Not just to fill but overflow up and out, and bring that joy everywhere with a shout.

You are loved! You have hope! Your future is bright. Joy is in Jesus and in him we delight.

A Joyful and Blessed New Year!


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Day 24 – Candle of FORGIVENESS – JBA

Merry Christmas eve!

What a wonderful journey this has been. Thank you, dear friend, for joining me for the Joy Bringer’s Advent.

Today is the last candle…. The candle of forgiveness.

As we light it together, let’s just stop for a minute and take it in – the forgiveness of Jesus.

There is nothing greater.

There is nothing more powerful.

There is nothing more passionate.

It’s for you and for me. I am blown away by his love.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

There have been times in my life when I was very aware of my crimson red sin. I felt the weight, I lived in the shame, and sometimes I repented, and other times I buried my head in the sand of excuses and pride. Then there are times when I live oblivious to my sin because it’s not so high on the sin-o-meter according to the list created by us.

Here’s a recent experience…

I was sitting with a group of pastors and one of them shared a story about a guy who was visiting him. They were in two cars and the visiting friend wasn’t keeping up as he was following in a car. My friend had to keep pulling over and waiting for the guy to catch up. When they got to their destination, my friend, the driver in the leading car asked, “are you ok? Was I driving to fast?” The guy, with total sincerity said, “oh, your fine. I just don’t do anything to grieve the Spirit so I follow all the traffic laws.” We all laughed at this guys “extreme conviction” and joked, “that’s crazy! Then we’re all going to hell!” (of course we don’t really believe that).

Later, while I was in bed, I asked the Lord,

“God, do you actually care about traffic laws?!”

To which I heard him kind of laugh and say, “well…. it’s not about that. It’s the spirit behind it.”

Ugh…immediately I was deeply convicted.

The spirit behind my blatant disregard for some traffic laws is PRIDE. It’s my pride that says, “I don’t have to follow that rule, that law doesn’t apply to me.”

I repented for the pride in my heart that has lived there without any acknowledgement for so long. Who do I think I am?! Forgive me, Lord Jesus!

Often, we get caught thinking that our sin isn’t red. It may be a little pink, but not RED. But from God’s perspective it’s all deep crimson. When we do this, we cheapen the price Jesus paid by shedding his sinless, crimson blood for us to live in freedom and loving relationship with the Father.

We don’t like to think we need a savior. We don’t like to think about our shortcomings and our sin. We don’t like to focus on that part. But the good news of the gospel is that that is exactly who Jesus is!  We can’t celebrate Christmas without that part!

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”  Luke 2:11

He is our savior. And through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, our sins have been forgiven. We are washed white as snow.

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior, Jesus, it’s important that we see the whole picture. You may not want to look at it, but the invitation in this moment is to ask the Lord to show you your red….but not so he can condemn you – he doesn’t do that. No, he wants to take that red, and turn it white. Will you let him?

See the whole picture and receive the fullness of his love.




Joy Bringer’s Advent

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Day 23 – Till He Appeared – JBA

I couldn’t end the Joy Bringer’s Advent without talking about the lyrics from the most beloved Christmas song of all time, Oh Holy Night.

Oh Holy Night

Long lay the world
in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth.

How many times do we make mention of our worthlessness? You may not realize it, but it’s actually common language for us.

We have been groomed by society to believe (or at least state publicly) that we are less than. We don’t want to appear cocky or arrogant so we minimize, negate, and contradict what the Lord says about us. But the problem is, we don’t just say it, we believe it.

I’m so (stupid, dumb, lame, fat, ugly, etc.)

Never mind, it doesn’t matter

I’m not good enough

I only did well because…

I can’t do anything right

I’m only human

This song captures the beauty of what else happend the night of Jesus’ birth.

Humanity was affirmed.

God himself became a human. Humankind is not worthless. If it was, the God of all the universe would not have chosen to reveal himself as a human. He could have picked another created being! God could have come as a tree or a bird or a jewel. He came to restore the value of humanity. And in that moment, like the song says,

The soul felt its worth.

Instead of convincing yourself that you are less than and a hopeless cause, come into agreement with what the Lord thinks about you.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Worthy of love. Worthy of gifting. Worthy of blessing. Worthy of the birth of the savior. Worthy of salvation.

And Jesus makes a way for you to live into that truth. He was born to affirm you. He lived so he could show you. He died so he could free you. He rose from the grave so he could defeat the enemy of your soul. He ascended into heaven so he could live with you forever!

You are worthy. Believe it.



Joy Bringer’s Advent

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Day 22 – Candle of PEACE – JBA

Deep breath.

How about we do that again.

Deep(er) breath.

That’s a little better. Now it’s time to light our 4th candle – the candle of peace. Isn’t it pretty? I just want to sit here and look at it…

Tuesday is the last day of advent, and it isn’t lost on me that today we are led to dwell on the gift of peace. It’s like the Lord knew something about human nature (go figure).

There is something in us that feels the need to work, strive, and busy ourselves when we know something is coming. To be deserving of whatever good may be coming our way. So when the angel appeared to declare the arrival of the new born King, the message was,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

Peace to those on whom his favor rests. Did you know that’s you?

No, really. You are favored by God. And the Lord wanted all of us to know that with the gift of the Savior comes peace. We don’t need to earn the gift. In fact, we couldn’t even if we tried. That’s why he came – we needed it, didn’t deserve it, and couldn’t earn it. So it had to be a gift. And gifts are free.

I need this message today, not because I’ve been working my butt off and have nothing left to contribute to the celebration, nope, that was last year. This year my Christmas is very different.

This is the first year is decades that I have not been stretched, exhausted, and screeching into the home stretch with smoke coming from my breaks. So I am wrestling with something else. Guilt. Guilt for NOT working so hard! Guilt for not accomplishing all the things I wanted to because I don’t have the excuse of being busy this year. Guilt because the performer and achiever in me works hard for her applause…how can their be favor without the effort?

No matter what side we fall on, the crazy hustle and bustle or the silent nights when no creatures stir, our human hearts struggle to feel worthy of receiving the GIFT of love, joy, or peace.  And let me say it again….

gifts are free.

So, today, I am going to let that truth sink in, centering my attention on the declaration of peace that comes with the gift. It was the gift of peace that the angels gave the shepherds before they took off to go see for themselves. Yes, there is a lot to do. Yes, there is a lot to experience, but we are to do it with PEACE.

No matter what your season has been so far, let’s honor the Lord by not making this season about earning.  After all, the giver wants the receiver to enjoy the gift! There is not a long list of qualifications attached to the gift of peace. Just one. Receive it. Of course, we can have fun and celebrate, but if it becomes about everything else but the celebration of His love and the (free) gift of his peace and favor, what are we celebrating!?

So, today, I bless you to breathe in the favor and let the gift of peace that comes with it fill you. Hold it. Hold it in. Don’t let it out, but give it away. Be filled with peace and then gift that peace to others this Christmas. You have the power to change the atmosphere around you. Your home can be peaceful. Your work can be peaceful. Your soul can be peaceful.

You are highly favored – now go in peace.


Joy Bringer’s Advent

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Day 21 – Xmas – JBA

Merry Xmas!

Don’t be mad….it’s not what you think!

I was curious what the word Christmas actually meant…turns out it’s not as obvious as you’d think!

Yes, the first part of the word is in reference to Jesus Christ. It’s a form of the words “Christ’s mass,” or “Cristes Maesse” and was first recorded in 1038.

The word Christ (originally, Crīst) comes from the Greek word Khrīstos, a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, meaning, “anointed.”

The second part of the word Christmas – maesse – is a version of the Latin word missa, the celebration of the Eucharist – eating bread and drinking wine in memory of Jesus, or Communion, as many of us know it.

The tradition of gathering together in church to celebrate who Jesus was and what he did for us was mostly centered around Easter and Pentecost. But because of the celebrations  that occurred in December of a pagan origin, the religious community began to hold gatherings to honor the Lord. Thus the Christmas season began, and the birth of Jesus was celebrated in the winter.

So what about the “heathens” who write x-mas?!  Are they taking Christ out of Christmas?! Well, turns out it’s not an elimination of Jesus at all!

Khrīstos (the origin of the word Christ) appears as “Χριστός” when written in Greek. This abbreviation first appeared in the 16th century and was in direct reference to Jesus! The intention of this abbreviation was never meant to take Christ out of Christmas.

Whatever way you look at it, who Jesus is and what he did for us is worthy to be celebrated. No matter what anyone else’s intention is, this time of advent is for you to reflect on Jesus. As Christmas fast approaches, if it’s not already in your plan, I invite you to join together in a community of faith to celebrate the birth of the savior of the world, Jesus.



Joy Bringer’s Advent

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Day 20 – Bundle Of Joy – JBA

Ready or not, here comes Christmas!!

In just a few days we will be celebrating the birth of Jesus. Are you ready? If not, it’s ok, neither were Mary and Joseph.

That’s the thing about life, we’re not usually ready for what’s next. We get so wrapped up in the now or even the past, that it feels like the next takes us by surprise. But that’s normal. Most people aren’t sitting around thinking, ya know what? I think we’ve finally done it, we have saved up enough money, we are well rested, let’s have a baby! Nope! But what we do know is the Lord has a way of providing everything we need, even when we think we aren’t ready. 

A friend of mine was pregnant with her first child, and both her and her husband were having all the normal thoughts of, “how are we going to do this!? ” Her Grandmother reassured her saying,

“every baby comes with a loaf of bread under it’s arm.”

It’s a Spanish saying meaning that a baby always comes with provision. As we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus this season, there is so much goodness to be unpacked in this powerfully true statement!

Jesus was born in Bethlehem which is literally translated, house of bread.

In John 6:26 Jesus says,

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Jesus is our provider, the giver of life! We get to be filled with as much of his goodness as we can take! That’s good because I LOVE bread! More please! He was born in the house of bread, as the bread of life to provide and satisfy all our needs.

But wait, it gets better!

This isn’t just about our emotional or spiritual lives.  The Lord cares deeply about our physical needs as well. Remember he taught us to pray for our DAILY BREAD (Matt. 6:11).  When you look around and can’t see the HOW, Jesus is right there with the WOW.

Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed.” Mark 6:41-44

He is so faithful to provide for our every need. What we see as impossible obstacles, the Lord sees as opportunities!

And the crazy thing about his loving provision is that we can’t earn it, and we certainly don’t deserve it.

As Jesus gathered his disciples around the table for the last supper he sat with those he loved, but not all of them loved him in return. He knew that Judas had already betrayed him, and that Peter was about to deny even knowing him three times! Nevertheless,

“He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Matt. 26:2

Not only does Jesus give us life, just as the bread was broken, his body was too so that we may have eternal life! The offering of his life for ours was made for all, even the ones who rejected him. He loved us first and provided a way.

All that you need can be found in Jesus. He is the giver of life, the way to eternal life, and the best part is you can have as much of this bread as you want! He came so we may have ABUNDANT life!

No matter what comes next for you, whether you feel ready or not, you can be sure that  because of the birth of baby Jesus you will have all that you need.

So eat bread and be merry!! And congrats on your beautiful bundle of joy!



Joy Bringer’s Advent



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Day 19 – Grace And Peace To You – JBA


We sing about it. We are supposed to be enjoying it in heaps this time of year, after all it’s what the angels declared we would receive.

“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:14

So why is this time of year usually lacking peace?! Who is stealing this promised peace?! Well, I think the blame falls on us.

Most of the Apostle Paul’s letters in the New Testament include this phrase somewhere in the beginning,

Grace and peace to you.

When Paul was writing these letters he wasn’t lying on a beach, or hanging out in a cabana sipping on something fruity. No, Paul was typically in very stressful situations (like jail!) and writing with urgency to people who were also in trying times. We all know that change is often very messy, and the early church didn’t have it easy! There was much opposition and they were breaking molds and establishing new things that today we take for granted.

But still, grace and peace to you.

For most of us, we are in a very stressful week. Pressure, deadlines, expectations, and heightened emotions often surround Christmas.

But still, grace and peace to you.

Odds are, we may find ourselves in sticky situations, tense or awkward moments, and even experience disappointment.

But still, grace and peace to you.

We may be faced with real opposition and difficulty.

But still, grace and peace to you.

The whole point is that no matter what we face, we can always grab hold of the grace and peace that Jesus offers us at every moment.

The catch is, we have to grab it.

We also have the power to extend it. As you have received it, so you can freely give the grace of the Lord to those who need it (and don’t deserve it…but that’s why it’s grace). We can operate from a place of peace in those moments of chaos and turmoil and disperse it to others.

It is possible to be carriers of God’s grace and peace so that wherever we go, or whoever we encounter, we can freely give it away.

So, during the Christmas celebrations, however they look and whatever they bring your way…..

grace and peace to you.

Grab it, and give it away!

And joy!! Much joy to you!!



Joy Bringer’s Advent

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Day 18 – The Most Joyful – JBA

Friends, it’s coming. Can you feel it?

My goal for Joy Bringer’s Advent is to help us stay more centered and deeply connected to the Joy Bringer, Jesus.

In Hebrews chapter one, the writer is describing the relationship between Jesus and the Father and says,

“Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you,
pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”

Hebrews 1:9

Did you catch that?! Jesus was the MOST joyful!

As we are in the process of becoming more and more like Jesus, we can be assured that it also looks like being saturated with the oil of joy.

Oil is something we put in or on things to loosen it up…to move freely and more effective. The oil of joy helps us – powers us – to move through the rough, sticky, and narrow areas of life with freedom and ease. Joy is really that powerful!

In biblical times, oil was also used as power for their light sources. That’ll preach! The oil joy is the thing that keeps us powered as lights unto the world!

The reason Jesus was the most joyful was because he was free from sin, shame, burden, and fear. He was so light and free that no matter what he encountered, he could maneuver through it, come out unscathed, and still joyful. That came from a total understanding and trust in who his Father was and who he was.

I would like to confess that as we get closer to Christmas, my work load increases and my pile of to-dos are growing, I am feeling the pressure….and I still haven’t purchased one gift(!). But I am taking a moment to saturate in the oil of joy….the stuff that only comes from God. I need to move freely and smoothly through this next week. What I have learned is that to maintain my joy, I need to rely of God as my source and not manufacturer it myself. The artificial joy substitute may work for a bit, but my version will run dry and there will be chafing (haha, that’s a visual!) and it doesn’t just irritate me, it affects others. I want to be like Jesus and move smoothly, with freedom and power, leaving a wake of joy behind me.

So, in Jesus name I bless you, and myself, with oil of joy that flows from Jesus. Let’s get saturated, let’s burn bright, and leave a trail of it everywhere we go!



Joy Bringer’s Advent