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The Knock

Dec 22, 16

Luke 2:6-7
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

lamb-dk-6x6The story is a familiar one, even if the details of it can be hard to grasp. Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable because there wasn’t any room for her family at the inn… or any of the inns… in Bethlehem or Nazareth the night God chose as His Son’s birthday. And while we typically relate to Mary’s plight, I think more often, we’re like the innkeeper.

Did the innkeeper even realize as he turned away a heavily pregnant woman and her tired husband that he was turning away the parents of the Prince of Peace? Could he have known that by putting out the No Vacancy sign, he was eliminating himself from witnessing the birth of the Savior? Did he know as he locked the door, that he was missing out on a miracle?

It makes me wonder as we’re just days away from Christmas, how many times I close the door on a miracle because my days feel too full. I wonder if I miss the thing that I’m praying for because it doesn’t feel like I have any more room to welcome inconvenience. What miracles is God performing right in my own backyard that He wants to be doing inside of me?

This week, I urge you to keep your ears open for The Knock. Listen carefully for the guests that are asking to take up residence inside of you. You never know when God is asking you to be the innkeeper for His next great promise.


One Simple Prayer

Dec 14, 16

When we released our newest coffee table book Angels: The Collector’s Edition, we were thrilled with the 150+ pages of brand new content from artwork to stories of encouragement from some of the most celebrated musical artists. Today, we want to share our friend Amy Grant’s piece titled “One Simple Prayer.” Read her heart below, and find out more about The Collector’s Edition here. You can also order Amy’s brand new Christmas album “Tennessee Christmas” here!
One Simple Prayer – a guest post from Amy Grant.
A simple prayer… a life-changing outcome.

Jesus demonstrated this time and again throughout the Gospels, with His divine simplicity leading to supernatural results. What is my simple prayer? Could something of mine become like the 5 loaves and 2 fish in His hands?

25 years ago I was in the midst of one of the busiest seasons of my life, with two young children and a busy music career.  While I was grateful to be touring, traveling and singing, I was exhausted….that bone-crushing fatigue that gets harder and harder to shake off. One morning, stumbling into the kitchen for a cup of coffee, I found myself telling my mother-in-law, Mary, “I don’t remember the last time I prayed a succinct prayer. I feel like I’m running on fumes with myself, with my kids and with God.” In her gentle matter of fact way, Mary smiled and said “Amy, I think it just takes one good prayer in the morning and you’ll be ok. Just pray this, ‘Lord, lead me today to those I need and to those that need me, and let something I do have eternal significance.’ That’s all that really matters.”

I have prayed that prayer nearly every day for a quarter of a century, and it has changed my life. Asking God to lead me to those I need and to those who need me makes me curious about everyone whose path I cross. What if the person on the other side of the gas pump needs me? Or an even crazier thought than that…what if I need them?

Just praying that simple prayer heightens my awareness of the people around me, as I anticipate the day ahead. There is power in the spoken word… a word of prayer, a spoken dream, a spoken hope.

In the spring of 1994, I purchased a beautiful farm in Middle Tennessee. I love the open fields and the wooded hills. Three old cabins and a barn, that all date back to the late 1800’s, were the only structures on the property when I bought it.

It’s the place where Vince and I got married. Now my mother’s ashes are buried there.

img_9734A few years ago, I began to feel that the farm was meant to be more than a personal getaway. Eventually, I started referring to the farm as my 5 loaves and 2 fish, wondering what God could inspire in me if I would put this place I loved so much in His hands.

One Sunday afternoon, I loaded up two of my sisters, my friend Sharry, and my father to drive the fields with me. We bumped and bounced along in the sunshine with the windows rolled down. I told them that I felt like someone had taken this pot of dreams that had long been on the backburner in my mind, shoved it to a front burner and turned the heat to high. One of my sisters suggested that I start speaking my dreams aloud as we drove along. “OK”, I said. “I want to grow old surrounded by friends and family, experiencing community, experiencing God through His creation, experiencing healing.” I continued imagining what could happen on this land…a community garden, a hillside of beehives, opportunities to share an outdoor experience with people from all walks of life. For two hours we drove and dreamed, until we returned to the cabins on the hilltop.
barefootrepublic-5025_27494864361_oSomeone suggested that we get out of the car and pray. (I think I remember their words were “Amy, let’s pray that you stay out of the way!’) I laughed at the prospect So we gathered around, holding hands. Sharry reached in through the car window to rest her hand on my dad’s chest, adding him to the circle, whether he knew it or not. You see, my father suffers from advanced dementia. He was with us that day, but he also wasn’t. He spent most of our ride silently fixated on his seatbelt. It’s been a long time since he’s said my name. A long time since he’s said much that makes sense at all. But still, Sharry reached out to include him in our circle. In that moment right before we bowed our heads, when we were just taking in the sight of each other, Dad broke his two-hour silence. He looked at the four of us and said clearly and coherently, “This is all going to happen, and there’ll be great celebrating!” You could have knocked us all over with a feather. We were dumbfounded and awestruck. I wanted to grab a pen and paper in case he was about to reveal THE PLAN, but the next thing out of his mouth was just gibberish. That didn’t matter. We were laughing and praying and ready to welcome the adventure.

Little did I know that the adventure would begin immediately! Within a week I had met Tommy Rhodes and offered him the use of our farm the following June to host his Barefoot Republic Camp, a faith based day camp bringing children together from all different racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds in an environment of reconciliation and love. It would take all the pages in this book and more to describe what has happened since our prayer on the hillside, and how the wind of faith continues to fill the sails of this dream  Maybe the best part of all is seeing so many threads of relationships formed over decades of my life being woven together with a new and vibrant energy.

A simple prayer can have a life-changing outcome.
What is your simple prayer?

Why don’t you join me in mine?

Lord, Lead me today to those I need

And to those that need me,
And let something I do have eternal significance. Amen.



B. U. S. Y.

Dec 8, 16


I’ve talked about it on the blog before, but it’s worth mentioning again, without a doubt, the most frequent comment people make to me is about how busy I am. Sure I’m a wife, a mother, an artist and a business owner, but God has called me to each of these roles, so if I’m busy, I’m busy being obedient to Him.

I’ve found that when we’re serving out the calling that God has put on our lives, it doesn’t feel BUSY. Instead, walking out our callings should leave us feeling fulfilled and like we’re a part of the Lord’s masterful plan.

In the midst of the packed holiday schedule, I would encourage us instead, to stop glorifying how ‘busy’ we are, and instead focus on doing BUSY:


(what is)

Each of us has been given a gift. And each of us has a role to play in the world God has created for us. If you’re feeling too busy, I challenge you to take a pause and evaluate what it is that grants you fulfillment instead of increased craze. Serve Him with what He has given you and find the peace and joy of the Season!



Dec 3, 16

supervention-2-ch-17x14There’s a worship song whose chorus says, “If I lose it all, You’re enough. If I gain the world, You’re enough. My joy is complete.” I love praising the King, who despite anything we lack or anything we need, completes us so fully. He is truly enough. But what’s equally incredible, is that to Him, we are also enough.

The word “enough,” for women, can be such an easy trap to fall into. We can coast too long on the idea that “this is good enough,” rather than seek to live God’s very best for our lives. OR we can unknowingly toss ourselves into a tornado of self-doubt that nothing we do “will ever be enough.” We deprive the power that God placed in us and cut short the identity that He custom made for us.

Until we come to the point where we have truly had ENOUGH of the s elf-doubt, self-loathing and self-dissatisfaction, our love for the One who created us will be anemic. Because He tells me, that I am ENOUGH. Because He was ENOUGH. One extraordinarily ordinary life was MORE than enough to atone for the mistakes made by generations. Until I can grasp that … I will always fall prey to the beast of “not enough.”

On the flip side, if I settle deep into the quicksand of belief that “this is good enough” and never seek beyond myself or grapple for more, then I am selling short the truth that the SAME POWER that conquered the grave lives in me.

The enemy loves the game of enough, because he loves to tip it violently, never allowing us a moment to regain an equilibrium. But it’s a game the Lord doesn’t need to play… ” Because I MADE you, and I declare that you are enough because you are my image, my chosen ones. ”

There is nothing that my children could do that would not be enough for me. They breathe and call me “Mom,” and that is beauty and perfection to me. My Father is beckoning me to breathe Him in and call to Him.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll catch up on the laundry, or workout more, or get ahead on work, or spend time painting my nails… And maybe I won’t. But it will be enough. Because I am enough for the One who made me.


The Hard to Reach Places

Dec 2, 16

Psalm 51:10
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
sunrise-on-the-river-cb-30x30When my kids were little, I remember bath time being so much fun, and truly, such a mess. Squeals and shouting and slaughtering and splashing. Some nights I don’t know that we got clean so much as we all got wet. As they got a little older, it was my responsibility to start teaching them how to bathe and make sure they were clean. For a while they relied on me to help them with the hard to reach places… behind their ears, that weird spot on your back that your arms can’t reach… the ones that without realizing it could get pretty dirty.

For a lot of us, our hearts are our hard to reach place.  As toddlers we didn’t have any trouble expressing our wants and needs. As we got a little older, and as our emotions became a little more complex, it got harder to communicate. And as adults, for many of us, the nooks and crannies of our hearts have become clogged with the residue of unexpressed turmoil, pain and anxiety.

The beauty of our Lord is that He is a cleaner. Not only that, He knows all of our hard to reach places, because He was the One who sculpted them in the first place. He carefully carved out that hiding place in your heart and designed it in a way that only He can reach and clean out.

Just as any mother knows her child innately and knows the words to soothe each ache or fear, our Father created us to hear Him perfectly. I urge you, especially as we enter this holiday season that is sure to be full of activity and rushing, to spend a few minutes each day examining your heart’s hard to reach places and invite Him in to renew and purify them.


A Gift of Gratitude

Nov 22, 16

This week, Wendy and I traveled to New York with our friends Ron and Beth Hall for some press conferences to raise awareness about homelessness. I was eager for the trip with some of my favorite people dedicated to one of my favorite causes, but I had no idea how God would open my own eyes.
img_7212When we arrived, Wendy and I had to laugh at our hotel accommodations. In short, they were pretty abysmal in comparison to what we’ve gotten used to on our travels together, but we were game and just excited to be there. After checking in and unpacking, we all headed to a nearby drugstore for some necessities.

As we were leaving the store, we noticed a young woman nearby wrapped in blankets. Ron approached her and began asking her some questions. We learned that her name was Ashley, she was 28 and had been homeless for 6 months. Like everyone living in poverty and homelessness, she had a story and was now living a reality she had never expected.

As it happened, my husband was originally planning to join us on the trip, so we had 2 rooms. We invited Ashley to come with us and use our second room. As she expressed her gratitude, she shared with us just how badly she wanted a bath and the opportunity to get cleaned up. She wanted the dignity of cleanliness that we too often take for granted.

img_7200The next morning, we were planning to attend a full day at the New York City Rescue Mission. We invited Ashley to join us, and she sat beside us, alongside leaders of top corporations, a perfect picture of brokenness inside of beauty. At the end of the day, we arranged for Ashley to use a room at the Rescue Mission. We showed her the rooms, heard the rules and sent her back to the hotel to collect her things.

I wish this story had a happy ending in which I could declare that Ashley has been radically transformed and is safely situated at the Mission, but unfortunately, that isn’t true. Ashley left to get her things and didn’t return. But thankfully we can cling to Jeremiah 29:11, which assures us that God has plans for Ashley. He has a hope and a future appointed just for her. We had the opportunity to declare that truth over her, and Ron and I agreed that the seeds that were planted during our time with Ashley may blossom into hope and restoration for her. img_7223Homelessness and its factors and symptoms are complex, but they aren’t hopeless. Homelessness has a face. It’s Ashley’s face… it’s the face of thousands of people who find themselves in a wholly unexpected situation, fighting for survival. But I’m encouraged by the simple truth that Jesus knows and recognizes each of His precious children. They are not forgotten or unseen, and I urge you to keep your eyes open for the Ashleys around you. Give them hope, encouragement, dignity and love. Make sure they know that we have not forgotten them. We are not blind to them.

As we arrived back in Charlotte, I was more aware than ever of the luxuries we live in that we all-too-often take for granted. Ashley was so thankful for a bath… something that is routine for me. This week, in the heart of Thanksgiving, I ask that you make yourself aware of the luxuries you have immediate access to and extend your arms to those in your path that don’t. Be grateful and be generous. Be Jesus.


Angel Armies

Nov 17, 16

Psalm 91:11
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways . 

Proverbs 18:24
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
I wish I could properly express the joy and gratitude I experience when I receive a new “Angel story.” That’s what our team calls the multitude of emails, letters and social media comments that are sent in to share what an angel painting or book has meant in someone’s lives.

While we have our fair share of men who let us know how important the angels have been to them, more frequently, we hear from women sharing about giving or receiving an angel at just the right time. We have heard from countless women who have been encouraged and strengthened during health battles, marital dissolutions, parent or child loss, or family milestones.

These stories also serve to remind me that sometimes the Angel armies God has promised to surround me with are actually the relationships He has so carefully planted around me. From acquaintances who share timely encouragement, to prayer warriors who cover me even when I can’t see them, to my soul sisters who know all of my struggles, our friendships can be some of the most vivid reminders of who God is in our lives.

He sees our needs and hurts and provides the people to hold our hands as we walk through them. If you are in a season where you are feeling deserted and wondering where to find your angels, pray above yourself and then look around yourself. There are angels waiting in the wings to embrace you, love you, walk with you and befriend you.


There Is Still Love

Nov 11, 16

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

540fe1b41eb8a_-_10-tcx-retro-tennis-outfits-in-group-0812-xl-lgThree of my four kids played tennis for years (admittedly with varying degrees of skill level), and I spent countless hours watching their matches, their forehands, backhands and serves.

I don’t know how familiar you are with tennis, but the scoring system is sort of weird. Points include Love (what 0 is called in tennis), 15, 30, and 40. There doesn’t seem to be much reason behind it.

I was thinking about tennis recently, since this has been my first fall in a few years I haven’t spent watching set points and shuttling between matches, and it struck me that maybe we should base our lives a little bit more like tennis.

Between pitfalls, trials and struggles, it can be easy to become discouraged and allow the enemy to convince you that you don’t have anything. That you’re a zero. That you can’t win. But in life, just like on a tennis court, even if you don’t have anything that can be counted, you have LOVE.

John 3:16 is so simple yet so foundational when it says that God so LOVED the world, He gave His only son to give us life. No matter how little we have, because God gave us His Son, we will always have LOVE.

If you’re in the midst of a season where all you can do is watch helplessly while points pile up and balls soar past you on the metaphorical court of your life, I urge you not to be dismayed. Your God has already conquered every battle you will face. He is the ultimate victory, and He has equipped you so that no matter what comes against you, you will always have LOVE.



Nov 8, 16

Isaiah 53:5
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

jesus-1Do you have a scar somewhere on your body marking a specific moment? As I was staring in the mirror (in my 50-something birthday suit, which for some reason is not as cute as a toddler’s bumps and rolls!), looking back at me was a 4-inch scar from my one and only C-section delivery of my third daughter, who was born breech. I’m not going to lie, childbirth does not rank up there as the most fun in the pain department, and even though C-sections are different than natural childbirth, they are accompanied by their own type of pain.

But looking at my now-19-year old beautiful Taylor, I know that that scar was worth every second of the pain that accompanied it. My son Ford has a scar right above his right eye. When he was about 2 years old, we were in our neighbor’s yard pushing one of the girls on a tree swing. In just the blink of an eye, he darted in front of the swing and WHAP!, he was facedown on the ground.

Even now, I can remember vividly that I was wearing a white blouse, and I can still hear the screams, and the blood that was everywhere. I can remember holding him in the backseat of the car as we raced to the urgent care center and can clearly recall holding him as the doctor neatly stitched up the wound. I remember the hurt. The pain. The cries.

Of course, our best picture of scarring is in Jesus, and the suffering He bore on our behalf. I started thinking about this amazing, humble man, born the Son of God, who came to earth in the flesh. He lived, healed, related, empathized, and taught human beings who didn’t understand Him. Then He endured beatings and brutality that tore His flesh. Unlike Ford’s single wound that could be sewn together with a few stitches, the torture and 39 scourges couldn’t be simply and completely healed. Picturing that graphic scene astounds me.

Jesus bore these scars all over His body for me. Totally on my behalf. So that I could be fully, wholly and entirely healed of the scars that sin inflicts on my spirit. We serve a God who loves us so much. Through our mess, pain, trials, joys, struggles. I cannot believe that Jesus would voluntarily submit to that agony for me.

Our world gets caught up in religion, but I am here to proclaim that it is not about religion at all. Rather, it is about a relationship. A supernatural being whose love is as deep as it is wide. Someone whose body is marked with major scars for you and for me. Someone who is aching for you to surrender your heart.

We all have scars. Some can be seen on your eye or stomach or leg, and others are hidden deep beneath that no one can see. But God sees. He knows what pain you endured when you received them. And He wants to heal each and every one. His word is a soothing balm that promotes that healing.

Take a few moments today and ask God to heal your scars… whether they are scars of doubt or disappointment or betrayal or resentment. Know that the fruit of the scars He is planning for me are perfect and complete. He is waiting, and His healing is real. I have a C-section scar that reminds me of my beautiful daughter, and I have a living relationship with Jesus because of the real scars He carries because He delivered me.


All Wrapped Up

Nov 5, 16

fullsizerender-26The leaves in Charlotte are finally starting to change into vibrant shades of yellow, red and orange. And while our temperatures are still warm, the calendar is telling me it’s November, ushering in Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly on its heels.

Last Christmas ended up being more than a little nutty (read last year’s holiday recap here), but this year I’m trying to stay ahead of our busy schedules, and I actually have presents purchased and wrapped. Christmas is coming, and I want to be ready.

In addition to my gifts, I want to make sure that I’m ready too, and while my packages are all wrapped up, I want to insure that my heart isn’t. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in picture-perfect Instagram moments, forcing family traditions, attending all of the functions and events that the next two months will surely be full of.

As you start working on your gift wrapping, start evaluating your heart wrapping. What’s encasing your heart at the beginning of this season? Is it expectation, stress and pressure? Or is it a posture to hear from God and find joy in the moments He is curating just for us?

What is keeping you wrapped up? I want to know!


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