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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!



Nov 1, 16

14910479_10154643870071228_6186419323640866339_nToday, my oldest daughter Blakely turns 22. It’s hard to believe that I’m the mother of a 22 year-old, and even wilder to think that she and I have been on this journey together for more than two decades.

As any mother knows, parenthood is covered in doubt, anxiety, fear and questioning. Especially with your first, every day can feel like trial and error. In fact, as my children grow each year, I find myself longing to rewind the clock and experience their infancies and toddlerhoods again. My team members are celebrating their own milestones of those days, as I watch my communications director with her almost 2-year old and the growing bump of her second daughter coming in January, and my graphic designer who is experiencing kindergarten through her daughter’s eyes.

Together, Blakely and I have walked through mistakes, regrets, and ultimately, joys and triumphs. Being a mother is my greatest accomplishment, and one look at this beautiful, brilliant and confident woman overflows my heart and makes me eternally grateful for my Heavenly parent who loves me even more than I could possibly love my children. That thought is humbling.

I remember so clearly the day that we dropped Blakely off at boarding school. I cried and cried thinking of someone else watching her daily struggles and happiness and the guilt I felt that someone else was “raising” her. As I sat in my prayer chair on August 23, it was no coincidence that that day’s entry in Jesus Calling spoke directly to me.

“Entrust your loved ones to me; release them into my protective care. They are much safer with me than in your clinging hands… When you release loved ones to me, you are free to cling to my hand. As you entrust others to my care, I am free to shower blessings on them. My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest.”

Wherever you are in your parenting journey… planning to start a family soon, in the middle of fertility treatments, reading this in the middle of the night with a tiny infant in your arms, or hoping for weekly phone calls from college to fill you in, remember that your divine Father designed you with everything your child needs. YOU are exactly who needs to be parenting THEM. Press into Him, and He will guide their paths.

To Blakely, thank you for walking this path with me. You are a delight and a joy. I am so proud of your tenacity, strength and poise. Thank you for teaching me, stretching me and giving me a front row seat into who you are becoming. I cannot wait for our adventures this week. I love you always.


Costume Party

Oct 28, 16

A guest blog from our communications director Caroline Arey.


Last year, my daughter Nora Beth made the most ideal Pillsbury Dough Girl.

Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

In the next few days, if you haven’t already, you’ll be seeing lots and lots of pictures of your friends’ and neighbors’ kids dressed up for Halloween. The costumes will range from cuddly to clever to creepy, and you may also find yourself sneaking more pieces of candy than you’re handing out to Trick-or-Treaters.

Halloween is a day that children and adults alike get to transform into someone else for the day – and have fun doing it. For many of us, though, especially for us women, too many of our days are spent like Halloween… trying on different “costumes” to see what fits us best.

It can be hard to live authentically and to feel completely comfortable and self-assured in the skin God created for us each of us, but that is exactly what He wants for us. In fact, He has already clothed us in the only outfit that we need: His own image.

No more trying to be the perfect housewife or most creative homeroom mom or has-it-all together entrepreneur. Costumes get uncomfortable quickly, but when we find freedom in who He created us to be, we can truly thrive in the various roles that we play.

In fact, the only “costumes” that Scripture encourages us to wear are the virtues of Christ, ranging from the Fruits of the Spirit to the Armor of God. He asks us only to wear what is already inside of us – His perfect creations.

This weekend as you find yourself unwrapping another fun-size Snickers bar or greeting an Elsa or vampire or monkey, praise God that He has unloaded the burden of dressing up and playing pretend from your shoulders. You have been perfectly cast – and clothed – in the role you play!


More Precious

Oct 25, 16

Psalm 3:13-15
Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. 

Psalm 19:9-10
The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.

img_6837Each Monday morning our team gathers together to talk about business, pray together, and encourage one another in our various life stages. Yesterday was one of our happiest to date as we celebrated the weekend engagement of our associate sales director, Jessica. We popped champagne, ate strawberries and ooh’d and aah’d over her stunning new diamond (and took turns trying it on!). It was such a fun and festive morning for someone we love so much.

img_6830As I watched our team take turns admiring the diamond, my thoughts went to the Scripture in Psalm where David praises the laws of the Lord for being more precious than gemstones or gold. I know that I value the truth and encouragement that I find in the pages of the Bible, but I don’t know if I always consider His laws in quite the same way.
img_6836My youngest, Ford, just got his driver’s license late last week, and as scary as it is to have my last one out on the road, it makes me so thankful for the laws that protect him while he drives. It makes me value the rules that other drivers must also follow to keep him safe.

img_6803God’s laws are much the same way. While I’m sure there will be times that Ford will want to drive faster than the speed limit, the law is meant to keep him in a position to always arrive home safely. Similarly, there are times that my human urges want to push me beyond the boundaries that God has in place. But the beauty of His laws is that they aren’t meant to restrict me, but instead, to give me freedom to live my life to the fullest and always arrive home safely.
img_6802And as beautiful as I find Jessica’s ring, and as lovely as the encouragement of the Gospel, I will seek to find those laws just as precious as gemstones.


A Weekend of Encouragement

Oct 23, 16

Weekends are meant to be a time to pause the daily hustle and bustle and find refreshment and nourishment for the soul through worship, playtime, family and friends. This weekend, I hope you can find extra refreshment in these simple words of truth found in Scripture.
screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-22-21-pm“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-22-08-pm“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:1-2
screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-21-49-pm“Bless the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.” – Psalm 103:20
screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-21-32-pm “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13


With Courage

Oct 18, 16

Deuteronomy 31:6
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.

inexpressible-joy-an-e1473366238610Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

In the world we’re living in these days, it’s so easy to let fear define us. Every time I launch a new product (like the brand new coffee table book Angels: The Collector’s Edition) I feel the fear of whether it will succeed or fail. Will customers see my heart and God’s glory through it?

Maybe, for you, fear looks like where your kids will go to school, choosing a fertility treatment, which new career path to take, beginning life again without a spouse by your side. It’s easy to fall into fear, but that isn’t what God wants for us. In fact, fear cannot exist in the presence of our mighty King. He is too strong, too powerful, too good for it to stand a chance.

We don’t have to try and muster up courage in order to fight fear. Instead we find the courage in the sheer knowledge that the Lord is beside us, walking with us, fighting for us. It’s that truth and that peace that is more important – and ultimately, more powerful – than the fear we face.

Friends, let’s let go of the fear together. Instead of holding the fear in the palm of your hand, release it and cling firmly to His hand instead to walk together through your season of worry and anxiety. He promises goodness and hope to all who walk with Him.


Celebrate the Season

Oct 14, 16

2 Samuel 6:5
David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

Ellen Levine Dodd’s “If the Trees Could Dance.” Available at Anne Neilson Fine Art Gallery.

Undoubtedly we’re heading into the holiday season. Here in the South, temperatures seem to be finally be settling in below 80 (hooray!), and everywhere you look another store is putting their Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations on display. It seems like we’re always in a rush to get to our next favorite season, but it makes me wonder how often we take a minute to simple celebrate the season we’re currently in.

As my business grows and makes big plans for the future, the entire team is excited to take the next step. But I’m also reminded of the way David would pause and celebrate their battles, their victories, their next steps with the Lord. They would throw a party to honor the season they were in. What a beautiful picture!

When was the last time you paused, and rather than plan what you will do next, you simply celebrated and praised God the very moment He placed you in? Whether your children are in diapers, thinking about prom, graduation, careers, weddings… celebrate that they are exactly where they are in this moment! Whether your business is smaller than you would like or larger than you can possibly manage, throw a party for its season!

Our God loves to hear the hearts of His people, and He will so gently reach down and comfort and provide peace in the trials, but He is also so ready to celebrate in the victories and the here and now. Don’t miss the dancing because you’re ready for the next season. Celebrate the beauty of just this moment. The next will be here before you know it.


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