What Can I Do for You?

In many ways, I find myself in both a season of my greatest fulfillment and my greatest need. 

In my conversations with the Lord, I am often rather “needy.”  Today, as I talked with Him, I was deeply aware that I know so little of what I truly need.

I envisioned this scene.

A king comes to you in all of his splendor.  He is dressed in royal robes. He is accompanied by a great entourage. He stoops to sit down next to you. Looking you in the eyes – as you’re stunned both by the beauty of his adornment and the kindness of his gesture – he asks you one question: What can I do for you?

I don’t know if I’m able to appropriately paint with words the picture of this moment in my mind’s eye. 

I am speechless.

What will my response be? How do I answer this question from a King in all of his splendor? How would I know of what to ask?

Our worlds are so vastly different.

My mind is flooded with “needs and wants.” But I know, in this moment, everything I can think of is far too small a request. In the presence of such royalty is an acute awareness of how little I have to offer, and how much less I know of even what to ask.

I am overwhelmed by the reality of his presence. Here, with me. That he has stopped to sit with me. 

There can only be one response to his question. It is an invitation.

“Can I sit with you?  Will you take me to where you live?”

It begins to make sense to me that this is the disciples’ response when Jesus asks them “what do you want?” And they respond “show me where you live!” (John 1) Or when Jesus stops to ask blind Bartimaeus “what do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus asks for his sight and then he follows Jesus.

In the presence of this king, at the beckoning of his request to give me whatever I want, it becomes clear that I want to simply be in his company. I want to identify with him. I want to learn from him, to be with him.

It’s odd. We would think that our response to the million-dollar “what do you want” question would be – as our prayers often are – the list of things that we need or want.

But, that is not so. In the presence of royalty, you realize both your privilege and your desire is for more of this sense of worth imputed to you, simply by the permission to be in their presence.

When you meet with Royal Jesus, and he stoops down to sit with you where you are – and seeing him in all of his splendor, he asks:  “What can I do for you?”

I guarantee our only response will be – “Let me see where you live. Let me sit with you. Your presence is what I desire. Give me more of your presence.” 

The gift of unmerited, unhindered, perpetual access to His presence is what our thirsty souls desire. 

Like the disciples did when he called them to follow him, we too ask: Can I come sit at your feet? Can I dwell in your home? Can I be with you?

This is our royal response to a royal invitation.

At his yes, we hear our own soul’s yearning response: “yes.” The deepest desire of our plebian heart is to discover that we are in fact royalty. We have indeed been made heirs by a royal marriage to the King of all Kings.

We will without a shadow of a doubt request our rightful inheritance: To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives. To gaze upon his beauty and to seek him in his temple. (Ps. 27:4)

At the King’s invitation, we find out that our heart’s desire is Him. It is not his gifts. It is not his royal garb. It is – his presence.

We are invited to come and dwell in his presence. But so often I find myself – and I hear my brothers and sisters too – begging for bread, begging for gifts, begging for things – and neglecting the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

This is our invitation. This is it. “Come, let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Did you know Unveiled offers programs to help you step into your calling? Watch this video and visit LiveUnveiled.com/Cohort to learn more.

The Open Door

See, I have placed before you an open door, which no one can shut. I have done this because you have limited strength… Revelation 3:8

There is no turning back from here.

Last evening, as I talked with the Lord in prayer, the thought came to me: I can never go back. There is no turning back from here.

These are the defining moments. There are some moments, steps that the Lord asks us to take in faith, that when we say “yes” to him, there is no turning back. We are forever changed and can no longer go back to life as we knew it. 

These are never easy yeses.

If I’m honest, I thought that when I said “yes” and left my ordinary full time job and stepped into leading Unveiled full-time, that I’d eventually return to normal. You know, eventually Unveiled would begin to look like a normal job or perhaps I’d even get a normal job again one day. No matter what the future holds, I felt the Lord remind me through this exhortation last night. When you say yes to me, you are forever changed. There is no going back. 

I had been asking the Lord about the passage in Revelation 3:7-8 that talks about open doors: 

“These are the words of the holy One, the true One, and the One who possesses the key of David, which opens the possibilities so that no one can shut them. The One who closes all options so that no one can open:  I have seen your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door, which no one can shut. I have done this because you have limited strength, yet you have obeyed My word and have not denied My name.”  (The Voice)

I asked him to help me understand what he was saying to me personally about “open doors.” And I felt him impress upon my heart with such clarity, as though putting a mirror up to my current pathway, revealing this intersection at which I had arrived:

If you enter these “open doors” I have prepared for you, there is no turning back. If you enter these doors  the way of trusting me in all things, for all things, you can never go back to life as you once knew it. There is no going back.  

It came as a gentle but firm encouragement to help me see what is true. To make sense of the reality that I now stand in: There is no turning back from here. I will never be able to go back to life as it was.

So the question before me is now clear and direct:  Am I ready to enter in? 

Am I willing to walk through the open doors the Lord has set before me? The way of trusting him in every single thing. Looking to him solely and completely to supply my every need. At the point of realizing this clear choice, there is also a beautiful freedom; confirming that this invitation is from the Lord. I do not feel backed into a corner. It is a choice that simply says: you may walk with Me here through these doors, and experience Me in this new way. Or, you may choose an alternate pathway. Both permissible, and both with the assurance of Jesus walking with me. But one path – the path of his invitation – will certainly be of both greater risk, and greater benefit. 

Because Jesus is always good, we know that anything he invites us into is better than we could imagine. His invitation is always to more goodness. To more of himself.

But the choice, it is mine. How will I respond to this invitation to walk through these doors of abandonment? To walk where I have not gone. Nor do I know where I am going. To trust only that he has gone before me

There are not complex answers in response to this question. There is zero explanation needed. It is a simple yes or no. 

The answer – if it is yes – means I’ll never return to a “normal” life. I will eat from the Master’s hand forever. 

But is this not what the “normal” life of a Christian ought to be?

It is not. I am self-reliant far more than I am Christ-reliant. And that’s just it. He is not interested in my partialities – sometimes I rely on you for these things, and other times I rely on myself.  That is not the heart which Jesus is after – he wants none of it if he cannot have all of it.

Jesus is worthy of my heart’s total surrender.

He proved himself trustworthy when he gave his life on the cross. Why then? How then, is it that I so easily distrust him? How do I look into the eyes of Christ of the Cross and tell him: “No. You gave up your life for me but you cannot have this part of my life?” I have become so fully dependent upon “me and mine own hand” that I could no longer clearly see it has always been his hand. Everything I have, he gave it. The breath that I breathe is his. So what am I withholding from him? And for what? What is worth more than the price that Jesus paid for me? 

There is nothing. 

It is Jesus who even gives us the grace to say “yes” to him. Left to my own strength and my own devices, I will most certainly tell him no – again and again. Of that I am certain. I am incapable of saying yes and fully surrendering except by His grace. The Scripture says:  “It is God who works in us both to will and to act according to his purposes.” 

So, this question now begs my response: “Are you willing to walk through these open doors I have placed before you? Are you willing to enter in?” 

Only by your grace, Lord, let my heart’s response be always: “Yes, be it unto me according to your will.” 

Did you know Unveiled offers programs to help you step into your calling? Learn more here.

Speak to the Rock

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This week has been full of ups and downs.

I find myself pouring over the Scripture stories of the children of Israel in the wilderness. I am searching for his voice. I am looking for his instruction in what feels like a vast wilderness of unknowns. 

And he has been faithful to come – just in the nick of time – with his voice.

One particular evening I lamented again with the same all-too-familiar questions, in search of a response from heaven. I was willing myself to recall the faithfulness of God. That he is always faithful. That he never leaves us nor forsakes us. I needed him to show up with songs of deliverance, seeds of remembrance that his promises will bear fruit in due season.

And so I ran to my Father, the King. 

“Where are you, Lord?” I dared to ask him as the Psalmist did. “I cannot see you in this desert place. But I know that you are here. I cannot hear you. But I know that you are speaking. I cannot feel you. But I know that you are near.” And from his temple, he heard my voice; my cry entered into his very ears (Ps 18:6).

His still, small voice came.

Today, if you hear my voice, do not harden your hearts.

I thought that was an odd scripture to come to mind in that moment, but I followed this prompting and looked up the verse. This is what I read:

Today, if you listen to His voice, don’t harden your hearts the way they did in the bitter uprising at Meribah (Heb 3:7-8).

Meribah. The place of rebellion “where your ancestors tested Me though they had seen My marvelous power” (v.9).

Hmmm.  So naturally I went on to read about what happened at Meribah. The story is recounted in Numbers 20.  It is the familiar story of God bringing water from the rock. 

The people of Israel had been brought out of Egypt into freedom – into the wilderness

This newfound freedom didn’t look all that great. It was wrought with challenges. Their chief complaint being that of provision. There was no water. 

The people were afraid that they and their cattle would die in this wilderness of freedom.  It was an understandable concern. So, “after hearing them out, Moses and Aaron walked away.  At the congregation tent’s opening, they collapsed to the ground, interceding for the people” (Num 20:6).

It was there, in this place of intercession that the Lord spoke.  Get up. Pick up your staff, and speak to the rock. Tell it to release its water. You will get enough water from the rock for everyone to drink, including all the animals (v.8).

The God who can bring water out of a hardened rock had spoken. 

Today, if you hear my voice, do not harden your hearts. 

As I pondered this encouragement from the Lord (and I use the word “encouragement” because in His conviction there is always deep encouragement), I realized how easy it is for our hearts to harden like a rock through unbelief.

Unbelief – lack of trust in God’s ability to provide all we need – reveals the hardness of our hearts. 

But we can speak to this rock and tell its waters to flow. 

We can speak to the hard places of unbelief in our hearts and remind ourselves what God has done, who he is, the record of his faithfulness. 

And without a shadow of a doubt we will see streams of living water begin to flow.

Speak to the rock. I love those words. I will speak to the small “r” rock of unbelief threatening to form in my heart, with the authority and power of the big “R” Rock who is Lord and Master of all things, including this heart of mine.

We can speak to the rock. 

And rivers of living water will burst forth from our hearts – not just for ourselves but also for our families, our communities, our nations. 

I’ve learned though, I have to daily speak to the rocks in my heart about the Rock of my heart.  

I have to position myself to hear his voice.  I will take my post at the watchtower and wait for what the Lord has to say to me (Hab 2:1).

I have to recount his deeds. Oh Lord, I have heard of your fame. I stand in awe of your deeds. Renew them in my day. (Hab 3:2)

Just yesterday, I stumbled upon yet another rock (one beautifully gift-wrapped in a few lies and accusations that only come from the enemy of our souls). And I began to ask the Lord: “Have I missed something? Is there something more I should be doing? Did I miss you somehow?”

In hindsight it’s so easy to spot this little trap of discouragement, but in the moment things are often not so clear.  

As I closed out this rather pitiful prayer time, the Lord met me again with his Word of truth and whispered to my heart: Even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and he knows all things.

 So I went in search of this passage in Scripture. And this is what I saw:

There is a sure way for us to know that we belong to the truth. Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than any accusation. He knows all things. My loved ones, if our hearts cannot condemn us, then we can stand with confidence before God. Whatever we may ask, we receive it from Him because we follow His commands and take the path that pleases Him. His command is clear: believe in the name of His Son, Jesus the Anointed, and love one another as He commanded.  1 John 3:19-23 (VOICE) 

When we seek God and earnestly bare our hearts before him, he is faithful to respond with his voice. He spoke very specifically and clearly through his Word to my heart, and he will do the same for you. 

He is faithful every time.  Every. Single. Time.

We can trust this One who can command water from the rock. Give to him the hard, barren, impossible places that are marred by fear and unbelief in your hearts today – and watch him respond.

Just for fun (and our encouragement!), I thought I’d share with you some of the incredible ways I’ve seen God respond miraculously this year. These are some of the Ebenezer moments that I recount to remember the faithfulness of the Rock of my Salvation.

  1. I remember God whispering the dream of Unveiled in my heart just last year. A dream I didn’t know was there that has now come to life.
  2. I remember the many, many, friends and family God placed in my life to bring encouragement, prayer and so much joy to this ministry and to my life. They are too many to count!
  3. I remember God opening up truly miraculous doors just this year for me to speak at conferences and to leaders far beyond my expectations, and quite honestly pretty out of my league! (I don’t say that disparagingly, only to note that God opens doors that no one can shut).
  4. I remember being terrified of public speaking years ago, and now loving it and journeying with others in the call to be messengers.
  5. I remember so many “random” meetings that were divine appointments that led to sweet friendships, ministry doors opening, and even the start of Unveiled’s latest workshops and consultations.
  6. I remember God handpicking and quite literally sending the first Cohort participants.  Each story is a marvelous testimony of God’s handiwork in forming this community.
  7. I remember sweet time with my beloved Aunty Cynthia in the months before her passing. I could not have known God was rearranging space in my life because he knew I’d soon cherish that time with her.
  8. I remember precious times with family, new little ones and sweet conversations…all revealing more of my Father’s great and unfailing love.
  9. I remember so many very personal expressions of His love for me through some of my favorite things (there are way too many to note here!).
  10. I remember the sound of His voice – always just in time.

In this Advent season, it is easy to forget all that God has done. It is easy to let our hearts grow hard in the waiting. May I encourage you to make your own list and remember all the ways the Lord has been faithful to you (feel free to share with me!).

In our remembering, may we find the God who calls water from the rock and live in its abundant overflow this coming year.

Merry Christmas.  Christ, our Chief Cornerstone, has come.

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Am I Worth It?

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I had dinner with a friend last night and in the course of our conversation she simply said:  “Isn’t it interesting that the sign of maturity in the Christian walk is becoming like a child?”

Feed me.  Clothe me.  Bathe me. These are simple requirements in the life of a child.

Give unto me my daily bread. That was the prayer of Jesus Christ.  I only do what my Daddy does. Those are essentially the words of Jesus (John 5:19) as he is trying to convey his way of life on earth, so that we can do the same. 

In the natural world we live in, the sign of maturity is independence. But in the Kingdom of God, everything is opposite. The sign of maturity is greater dependence – total dependence.

My every breath is yours. That is the posture of our hearts which the Father is after.

In these days, I am learning to depend on Him. I am learning to become like a child again. It is more painful than I expected – putting to death my self-reliance.  Learning to live the words of this prayer of Jesus: “Give us this day our daily bread…Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil.” 

I often find myself asking the Lord for wisdom: Lead me not into temptation, or folly and foolish thinking. I am so capable of deceiving myself, especially when I think I know what I’m doing. I have no idea. I need his wisdom. I need his recue from prideful, self-sufficient thinking. Deliver me from evil, the snares and traps set for me of my own will and selfish ambition.

A recurring theme for me in these days has been the picture of the suffering, bleeding Christ on the cross – giving his life for me – and from that rugged cross asking me:  “Will you give your life for me? Will you give up your life for me? Will you pick up your cross and follow me?”

And I am confronted with the things I’ve told the Lord are hands-off:  MINE.

My job. My ministry. My house. My car. My life. Hands-off. You work on this part over here, but don’t mess with this one over there. That’s mine.

In these months of walking out my decision to leave my full-time job and fully launch Unveiled; at some key decision points to keep moving forward in obedience to where I feel him leading, the Lord has prompted me with this question: Am I worth it?

Is he worth everything that I have? Is he worth the sacrifice? Is he worth reputation? Is he worth all of my possessions? Will I boast in the provision of the Lord or will I boast in my own provision?

His call will cost us something.

(I have to admit it but I was actually searching the scriptures for an alternate route: “Is there anyone in the Bible who has walked out their calling without great sacrifice? Can I please find it somewhere in the Scripture, or even in the people that I know?!?” I know. It’s hilarious. I was not successful.)

There is no other route.  His call will cost us something. 

He wants it all.  The lover of our souls wants all of our affection.  He wants our whole lives.

The Lord is asking for your life so that he can come with resurrection power to fulfill his purposes for your life.  He wants it all.  He has not come for part of it.  He’s come for all of it. He gave it all. He wants it all.

I think it’s appropriate to ask the Lord: “What’s my all? What am I holding on to so tightly?  What am I most afraid that you’ll take?”

There is nothing sweeter than to let the Lord take your most prized possessions.  There is no sweeter place. Because you find out that what you want most, is him.  He is our great reward. This makes no sense until you give to him what is most prized to you. And you discover:  Jesus is worth every thing.  There is nothing that he is not worth.

I want to encourage you right here as I’m standing in the middle of this unfinished story – it never looks pretty in the middle of the story – to open your hearts to the invitation of the Lord to give him your all.  Whatever that might look like for you – this is not prescriptive, it’s different for each of us.  But ask him the question: “What are you inviting me to lay down, that I may discover my heart’s desire is you?” 

Jesus, our very great Reward.

Did you know Unveiled offers programs to help you step into your calling?

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Walk With Me

In this season it seems I’m continually asking the Lord for direction.  Am I going the right way?  Did I make a wrong turn? What should I do here?

There has been an enormous amount of change these last few months. And with it, there has also been great loss.

The “good Christian” in me wants to follow that statement with “But God has been near. He has been faithful. He is trustworthy.” And wow – are all of those statements so incredibly true, especially right now. But in the midst of it all, there has also been suffering and loss that Jesus has invited me to sit with, linger there…and to walk with him.

I felt the Lord’s invitation again this morning as I came to him with the same questions. At the heart of it was “Lord, I’ve done all that you’ve asked me to do. What is it that you require of me?” And I heard the cry of the prophet Micah echo in my own heart:  “He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).  It was as though the Lord himself was repeating that last phrase to me: Connie, come walk with me. 

Walk with me here. 

I lost my beloved Aunt Cynthia in August. She was like my second mother. Aunty Cynthia taught me so much through her life. She was full of life, courageous and fearless. She was a trendsetter, a woman who seemed to be born ahead of her time.  My cousins and I looked up to Aunty Cynthia. She had traveled the world as a businesswoman and diplomat. She spoke French fluently – and with a thick Liberian accent. We’d often joke that she made French easy for English speakers to understand. She was the life of every party, always making us all laugh. She had the gift of presence. And she was present. To us and to her God.

Walk with me here.

I am learning the fellowship of his suffering. The greatest lessons I learned were in walking with Aunty Cynthia through her suffering. I had the privilege of caring for her in the months leading up to her death, and to her new life in heaven with Jesus. She certainly lived life with him here on earth. It was a sight to behold.

I have seen what it looks like to praise God in all circumstances. I learned what the scripture means when it says to offer the fruit of your lips as a sacrifice of praise.  When Aunty Cynthia could no longer communicate in the last stages of Alzheimer’s, she spoke one word constantly: "Hallelujah." Hallelujah, highest praises to her God. This was her final word. Though he slay me, yet will I trust him. 

Walk with me here.

So much of my life's schedule had revolved around my professional work, and caring for Aunty Cynthia. By God’s own hand, both were now gone.

In June, after a long season of prayer and discernment – seeking the Lord and wise counsel – I resigned my position as Director of Prayer at IJM. I’d been with my beautiful IJM family for twelve glorious years. I walked and worked alongside the most Christ-like, passionate and compassionate believers you could ever witness. And God in his sovereignty and perfect timing called that season to an end. 

Little did I know that at the same time he was calling me to focus full-time on Unveiled, he was calling me to be fully present to Aunty Cynthia the last two months of her life. What a gift that was to me. All of the ways of the Lord are perfect, and he is always good.

Walk with me here.

This most important lesson I learned from Aunty Cynthia. His presence is everything. The Lord inhabits the praises of his people (Ps. 22:3). When we have nothing left, praise remains on our lips. Because His presence is everything. And he is worth every thing. 

Though he slay me yet will I hope in him.  How can that be our heart’s cry in the midst of suffering and trial? We learn right there in the middle of it this unyielding truth: Jesus is worth every bit of sacrifice. He is worth my most prized possessions. He is worth the entirety of my heart. He is worth my very breath, my every breath. 

In joy and in sorrow, I’m invited to come closer to this One that I love. I experience him in new and beautiful and deeply intimate ways. 

Walk with me here.

Jesus is always focused on coming closer to us. He is the lover of our souls. This morning when I heard his whisper to me “Connie, walk with me.”  It was as though in the cloud of my questions, his answer was simply – “let’s take a walk.” His presence changes everything. It is everything. 

In that moment, I pictured Jesus coming to me. As though I was sitting on the side of a curb head-in-hands, only to look up and find him with his hand outstretched saying: “Come, walk with me.” 

Walk with me here.

Can you hear the Lord’s invitation to you? What does He want to say to you on this walk? Maybe it’s a beautiful silent walk, just enjoying each other’s presence. I love how Oswald Chambers says it: “He will give you the first sign of His intimacy – silence.”

Or perhaps there are some things Jesus wants to share with you on this walk. In those latter days with Aunty Cynthia when she could no longer speak, I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was still speaking to her. She became my most favorite prayer partner. It was the strangest thing. I felt the closest to the Lord – his weighty and very tangible presence – when I prayed with a mostly silent Aunty Cynthia.

I felt the Lord sharing these words of encouragement with me this morning. Perhaps they will likewise encourage you. Wherever you are today in your walk with Jesus, receive these words of truth from the One who willingly gave his life for yours. 

Beloved [insert your name here],

I know you’re scared. I know you feel unsure. I know you’re wondering if I’ll show up with what you need. I came to you empty-handed, because what you need most is my presence. You need to look into my eyes and hear me say to you loud and clear:  I have you in the palm of my hands. I am with you. I am here.

There’s so much going on in your heart and mind. You’re worried and fretting about so many things. Come, come away with me. Walk with me. I want to show you the beauty of my creation. Look! A flower over there – I took time to paint it. Look! A sparrow over there – I took time to feed it. Look at me. You are my most prized possession, the splendor of all of creation. Of course, I will take far better care of you. Come to me.  You are weary and heavy-laden, and I am giving you rest.

So, what does the Lord require of you today? May He give you grace to walk with him wherever he leads you. May you experience his abiding presence as you trust in him. May you hear his invitation to you today. Come, walk with me here.

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The Jeremiah Calling. You are fully Known.

I knew you before I formed you…  Jeremiah 1:5

I was gripped by these words anew as I read them in my Bible.  How is it that we were known first, before we were even formed? We were not just a thought in the heart of God, we were fully known by him long before he began his work of creating us.  I think if I allowed that truth to sink in, I would live much more fearlessly. 

We were created for purpose. And the purposes of God for our lives were determined in the place of eternity – long before we were ever formed – for a divinely appointed time.

Your life is pregnant with calling.

I’ve often shared about my own sense of calling out of the book of Jeremiah (one of my Bible BFF’s!).  As I’m in the midst of preparing for Unveiled's annual gathering, I’ve been drawn back to Jeremiah.  There is this fresh stirring in my heart for the many women carrying a Jeremiah calling – the calling of the Messenger.   

The Lord says to Jeremiah:  “Before even I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew all about you.  Before you drew your first breath, I had already chosen you to be My prophet to speak My word to the nations” (Jer. 1:5). 

Now Jeremiah’s response is interesting, because the Lord has just said: “Before I formed you.” The Psalmist says it this way: “It is God who has made us, we did not make ourselves” (Ps. 100:3). 

God formed us.  We did not form ourselves. 

I love that word “formed” – it is so intimate.  The Lord is lovingly and passionately declaring that he takes the time to fashion and mold us, as a skilled potter would in making a masterpiece out of clay.

He starts the conversation about calling with Jeremiah at its most critical foundation: “Listen, before we go any further, I need you to get this fact down in your soul: Before I even formed you, I knew all about you.  And guess what? I had already decided for what purpose I was forming you.”  

Your calling is not about you.

God makes clear that it was his doing to create Jeremiah for a very specific purpose: to speak his word. Jeremiah was not created for Jeremiah’s own purposes, to speak Jeremiah’s own words.  No, Jeremiah was created by the Creator to speak His word.

The calling of the messenger is not incumbent upon the messenger.  It is not about the messenger.  It is not for the messenger.  The role of the messenger is to deliver the word of the Giver of that message to the people for which the message is intended.

God’s own words would soon be placed in Jeremiah’s mouth. 

That’s amazing, right? Jeremiah doesn’t seem to think so.  He responds to this grand declaration of calling from his Maker with an all too familiar two words – I can’t.  He says: “Ah, Eternal Lord! I’m too young and inexperienced to speak for you” (Jer. 1:6).

Can you hear your own voice echoed here? I can certainly hear mine.  Lord, I know you think you created me for this purpose, but I’m pretty sure you made me wrong. There’s no way I can do the very thing you created me to do.  

Hold up.  Wait a minute.  Did I just say that? To God?  Yep. That’s pretty much what I’m saying every time I tell God “No thanks, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that.”  I know. It sounds crazy. It is incredulous, this line of reasoning.  God is like “Excuse me, I’m the one who made you. Before you ever took a single breath, this is the purpose for which I made you!”

The Lord is so patient and so kind.  He consistently meets us where we are.  He meets us in the place of our fears. 

Can you place yourself in this conversation the Lord has with Jeremiah?  Jeremiah explains to God that he can’t possibly speak because he is too young and too inexperienced.  So the Lord speaks to the core of Jeremiah’s fears.  “Don’t use your youth as an excuse, you can and will go wherever I send you. You can and will say whatever I tell you to say. You have no reason to fear the people you speak to, for I am with you and will defend you. Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth, and He gave me His divine message” (Jer 1:7-9).

Hear our Lord’s voice to you in his encouragement to Jeremiah. You can do it. I created you for this purpose. I will be with you.

Are there places in your life where you’re responding with fear to what God is asking you to do?  Our reasoning in our fears makes absolutely no sense.  My pastor often says: “Sin makes you stupid.”  It’s true.  Fear that is rooted in not trusting God is sin, and as a result we respond with severely flawed reasoning.

You can be confident that as God was with Jeremiah, so he will be with you. God fully equips Jeremiah to do exactly what he was created to do.  He puts his word in Jeremiah’s mouth as he’d promised.  He gives Jeremiah boldness to speak his word.  And Jeremiah lives out his calling as a prophet – a messenger of God’s word. 

God will fully equip you to do what you were created to do.  And you can be certain of this because…it is not about you.  It has been and always will be about him. It is about his plan and his purposes being accomplished in his creation.

Kick Like a Little Fish: How I'm Learning to Trust in the Pool of Life

I recently had the joy of watching my brother teach his 18-month-old son how to kick his little feet in the water.  He was singing this cute song he’d picked up at Julian’s baby swim lessons:  “Kick, kick, kick like a little fish…” And Julian would kick and giggle with glee.  Such sweetness! 

That evening, as I was getting ready for bed the image of Julian in the pool came to mind, and I began to hear my Father’s voice. “Connie, kick, kick, kick, like a little fish.”  I recalled as my sister (the early-childhood educator) and I were standing off to the side of the pool that afternoon, she said quietly as she observed Julian in the pool with his daddy:  “This is where trust is built.”

This is where trust is built.  In this big pool of life the encouragement of our Father is to “kick, kick, kick like a little fish.”  The God of the universe cheers us on – “I got you.  Keep kicking.  We’re going somewhere.” 

As Julian kicked his little feet in his floating raft, he was not the least concerned, or even aware for that matter, that he’s technically not strong enough yet to move himself from one part of the pool to the other.  Julian needed his daddy to pull him along. 

And so his daddy did. 

He pulled him in the raft. He flew him like superman in his hands over the water. He helped him float and moved him from one end of the pool to the other. 

And, he never took his eyes off of Julian. 

Our heavenly Father never takes his eyes off of us.  While he’s cheering us on with each little kick, like Julian, we think we're moving ourselves somewhere. “Look at me go!” But it’s our Heavenly Father doing all the hard work, and inviting us into the joys of surrender and learning to trust him.  He carries us over the waters (like superman!).  He holds us up in the deep end of the pool.  He guides us through the waters of life.  He is doing the hidden work that we cannot see or understand just yet.  Our job is to keep kicking (and giggling!) and learning to trust Him.

Learning to trust, like a toddler.

Starting Unveiled has certainly felt like one of the most significant "trust falls" in my life.  While in hindsight I can clearly see how God planted this dream in my heart and very specifically prepared me for this season, his timing was quite different than my own.  Just a year ago I would not have expected to be stewarding the Unveiled vision full time, but I've learned that the Lord's timing usually either feels way too slow...or way too fast!  His timing is never our timing because his ways are not our ways, and his thoughts far higher than our own.  

This is where the rubber meets the road.  If we are to pursue the call of God on our lives, we must learn obedience at all cost. There is no way around it.

Here we are in the middle of the pool (ok for real, it's more like an ocean but I'm trying to stick with my storyline!).  So anyone else having flashbacks of the past year we spent happily singing Hillsong's "Oceans" in church?  You know those beautiful lyrics: "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders..."?  Yep.  Those prayers? Answered. :)

I don’t have it all figured out. But I’m kicking my feet like a little fish. Don’t know exactly what this will all look like in the end. But I’m kicking my feet like a little fish.  Can’t see how he’s gonna work it all out.  But I’m kicking my feet like a little fish.  

And my Father is leading.  He is guiding.  And I am learning to trust Him.

One Yes Changes Everything

“Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor…So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters.  As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.” (Ruth 2:2-3)

Ruth “found herself” working in the very place where she belonged.  In the field of her own family.  As much as this is a story about Ruth serving Naomi and finding her Boaz, it is a story about Ruth finding herself.  She learned of her own identity as belonging in that field, not as a servant, but as a steward – as a daughter, as a wife, as a member of the family of ownership.

I remember saying one very feeble “yes” to Jesus when he called me to be a speaker.  It was one seemingly insignificant, very small step.  So small it was almost unnoticeable.  An invisible “yes” in the spaces of my heart. 

I began more intentionally preparing for the Bible studies and small groups I was already leading.  I decided to take any opportunity to study and to practice becoming a better speaker.  During the staff corporate prayer times I often led at my organization, I began intentionally asking God how he wanted me to exhort the team that day.  I’d basically have about one-minute to transition us in prayer.  But I committed to take facilitating staff prayer as an opportunity to intentionally be faithful to God’s calling on my life as a speaker.  Without fail, after nearly every prayer time, someone would share with me how the words God had put on my heart specifically encouraged them.  God encouraged me as I was faithful in these small steps.  He will use whatever we offer.  He is looking for even the faintest whisper of a “yes, Lord.”

I imagine when Ruth said “Let me go into the fields...” that too started with an unseen “yes” in her heart. 

So here I am, I’ve said “yes” ever so faintly.  The yes in my heart that only Jesus could hear and interpret.  And He started moving mountains.  He planted in my heart the vision for Unveiled and nudged me forward with sweet confirmations.  Just a few weeks after my “yes” to start Unveiled, I was invited to speak at a conference for 1500 Christian leaders of major ministries and organizations.  When I got the call I was dumbfounded.  And I knew it was the Lord because it didn’t make sense to me.  Here I was without the credentials that many of the other big name speakers had, but Jesus had opened a door.  All I had to do was say yes.

And he has continued to open door after door, to my complete amazement.

Daughters of the King, allow me to encourage you.  Some of you have said in your heart:  “Let me go over here into this field, this job, this assignment, this ministry, and pick up the grain behind anyone in whose eyes I might find favor.”  And the Lord is saying:  get ready to take your rightful position.  As soon as you take that first step into the field, you’ll discover that the eyes of the Great Steward have fallen upon you and he has called you higher; he has called you into the place of your birthright, your covenant right as an heir of promise.  He has called you into your purpose.

Follow the prompting in your heart to go where God is calling you and get ready to look up and “find yourself,” and discover that you are no longer gathering grain, you are stewarding a field, governing a people, and giving birth to the destiny of nations.

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah,

the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob…

Salmon was the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,

Boaz the father of Obed,

whose mother was Ruth.

(Matthew 1:1-5)

Ruth looked up and found out that she not only belonged in that field, she was destined to be a steward over it.  She was not called to gather grain, but to plant it.  She was not called to glean behind the harvesters, she was called to give birth into the lineage of the Lord of the Harvest.

The impact of our yes to God is always far and beyond what we could ever see, ask or imagine.  Let's say "yes" to the nudge of God in our lives, lean in to our purpose, and bring glory to the name of Jesus.

Abiding: The Season of Singing has Come

Jesus talked a lot about abiding.  Being in the place of abiding with him.  But what does it actually mean?  How do we practically abide in Christ?  What is he asking of us to do, or inviting us to experience, when he says abide in me and let my words abide in you

I love thinking of these words – “abide in me” – as an invitation from the Lover of our souls.  We get to choose to just come.  It reminds me of this sweet verse in Song of Solomon when the Beloved (representing Jesus) is calling his love to come away with him.  I can’t resist…you have to see this verse! (I mean Song of Solomon is not our usual go-to book of the Bible, but it is full of treasures for lovesick seekers of the heart of Jesus, and invitations to experience MORE of his beautiful, intimate, passionate love for us…on the regular!):

My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
    the rain is over and gone.
 The flowers appear on the earth,
    the season of singing has come.
(Song of Solomon 2:10-12)

There is an invitation to come away with Jesus.  It is a similar invitation as that of abiding in him.  Coming away and abiding require trusting that what you’re heading toward – God’s will, plan, purposes, experiences are good and for your good.  The encouragements in both of these passages are “come away” and “abide” because “the season of singing has come.” It’s as though the Lord is pleading with us:  Let me show you the fullness of just being with me, connected to me, fully aware of my presence in you and all around you.  Would you trust me, would you set your heart at rest in me, would you place your confidence in my ability (not yours!) to bear fruit in your life? 

To have this level of trust we must have his word hidden in our hearts.  “My word abiding in you.”

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  (John 15:4)

What do you need to lay down today to make space to abide with Jesus?  To hide his word in your heart, to reflect upon his beauty, to bask in his lavish love for you.  Ask the Holy Spirit to bring those things to mind – “what are you asking me to lay down, Lord?  And in what ways are you inviting me to abide with you today?”

Your Beloved speaks and says to you: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away…the season of singing has come.”

Fear: Your Unlikely Signpost

Fear is a great indicator that you’re headed in the right direction.  The place that you are the most afraid of going is often the place of your giftedness, the place that the Lord intends for you to shine. 

Fear and failure.  We don’t look at those as things that point us in the direction of our calling, but they do.  There are of course other things – we have areas of giftedness that don’t feel scary and we should definitely lean into those (I don’t want to suggest that we just look for all of the horrible things and run toward them!).  But the places that you’re often the most gifted in are also the areas you often have the most fear around. 

The Bible reminds us that we have an enemy who studies us and seeks to thwart God’s perfect plan for our lives (1 Peter 5:8).  Your adversary would love nothing more than to intimidate you by fear, and attempt to humiliate you by failure.  But we have a Father who is the king of all the earth and he is our great defense, he is our greatest advocate.  On the cross, Jesus put to shame and made a public spectacle of the enemy (Col 2:15).  And that is what he intends to do through our lives, through your life – make a public spectacle of the enemy.

So, how did I end up here blogging about being courageous, living unveiled, becoming a voice and a spokesperson?  I’ll be the first to tell you that I was perhaps the most reluctant speaker.  I took a very small step forward – a simple, feeble “yes” – and God breathed on it. 

The beautiful thing about having people in your life who’ve known you for a long time is that when something momentous happens that is outside of your normal behavior, they can join with you and give glory to God.  They can say, “Oh I know Connie, she was terrified of public speaking.  The fact that she is starting a ministry centered on public speaking and equipping women speakers can only be the Lord!”

And so, I just want to give glory to Jesus because the fact that I’m a speaker today and that Unveiled exists is truly miraculous.

God is able to take any fear that you have and transform it into a place of triumph.  God is able to take what is impossible before you and transform it to bring glory to his name.  Nothing is impossible with him. God takes anything that hinders us and he transforms it.  That is his nature.  He takes dry bones and says “come to life.”  He calls things into being that are not.  This is our God.  This is your God.  And he is our daddy.  He is our Father. We are daughters in his household.  There is nothing in our lives that he does not intend to transform to bring glory to his name. 

So, what are you afraid of doing in this season?  Are there places where you’ve sense the Lord’s invitation but fear has kept you from taking that first step?  Allow me to encourage you!  When you take the smallest first step of obedience, God will meet you and multiply your effort in ways you could never have imagined.  We often don’t account for the supernatural grace that comes when we step into alignment with the Father’s plan for us.  When we say YES to God, he responds with his YES to us!

What are you going to say YES to this week?  What courageous step forward are you going to take?  Tell me about it in the comments below – we’d love to cheer you on!  You can do this.  Your Heavenly Father is good and He will never leave you hanging.  You can count on that!

So, what are you waiting for?  Come on, there's no time to waste.  Let's get about the business of living out your purpose!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Finding My Voice in the Secret Place

We find our voice while pursuing His.

I love the secret place.  I love the place of hiddenness.  I’ve led a large global conference over the past five years.  I’m the director of the conference and at each event one of my secret joys was that nobody really knew it.  I wasn’t on the main stage.  I didn’t have a particularly outward-facing role.  I sat on the front row next to the stage manager (who looked the most in charge because she had the cool headset!). 

I love being hidden.  I am an intercessor.  My favorite place in the whole world is my prayer closet – hidden.  Just me and Jesus.

Recently, the Lord began telling me – “the season of hiddenness is coming to an end.”  An unveiling is occurring.  The Unveiling.  It has taken over a decade in the hidden place – the preparation season and honestly just the “This is my preference, Lord!” season.  I mean, I don’t even have a Facebook page – I am hidden!

But what happens when the Lord calls you, a hidden one, to be unveiled?  And to be a voice?  To have a platform to speak and teach and equip and encourage?  The Lord unveils us. 

This has been the story of my journey with Jesus over the past 15 years.  Becoming unveiled, vulnerable before him, completely transparent in his presence.  None of it came easy – learning to be transparent before the One who knows everything about us – none of it was without cost, without personal sacrifice. Because it’s dying to ourselves that we live in him.  We become crucified with Christ in his presence.  We picture that often as some thing that happens to us, but it’s in his presence.  It's in the secret place that he unveils the things that are hindering us that he wants to heal.  And if we’re honest before him and say “here it is, Abba, you are the great healer,”  He will not only heal it but he will transform it to bring glory to his name. 

I’ve had a calling to speak for many years now – it scares me.  But in this season, my charge is to boldly and courageously step into my calling – to learn, to grow, to live unveiled.  I began looking for training opportunities asking the Lord how do I prepare for a ministry of speaking and encouraging and teaching? 

I didn’t feel I was supposed to go to seminary but just needed some practical training.  As I searched for a training program I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I talked to one of my mentors about it.  As I was talking to her she simply asked: “Connie, why don’t you create the training?” She basically told me “Connie, you’ve spent the past years being trained.  You don’t need any more training.”  And I was actually a little bit annoyed because I didn’t think she fully understood what I was saying, so I continued on explaining.  I think in exasperation she finally said – “Ok, write the vision for the training you think you need.”  And as I wrote those words, something unlocked in me.  I literally was like “Oh, I can do this.  I have been doing this.”  And she was just looking at me like: “Uh, yeah, I know this.”  She encouraged me that I had already been trained to do this through my years directing large conferences and speaking at events.  And I got excited.  I CAN do this. 

Ladies – we NEED each other.  We need the body of Christ to call out the gifts in us that we don’t readily see in ourselves, and to challenge us to take the first step forward. 

So, here we are.  I’m bringing you all along with me on this journey of learning to live unveiled, living boldly and courageously into our callings as women to be a voice.

Is there something you've sensed God inviting you to do, a passion or calling he's made clear to you, but you haven't taken that first step yet?  Perhaps like I did, you feel like you're not yet equipped to do it (honestly, we'll never feel fully equipped - and that's God's grace to us all that we would have the opportunity to fully depend on him for our next steps). 

So here's my charge to you:  "Write the vision for the training you think you need."  Give yourself a "cast my vision by..." date within the next 14 days. 

What are the steps you think you need to take before you can get started?  Write those things down.  You might find that you already have more than you need!  Or, the exercise of putting it down on paper will help you to hone in on the specific next step that you need to take to get started. 

But here's the secret -- trust Jesus that your time in the secret place will bear fruit in the public place.  Trust him that he will speak to you. As you talk to the Lord about your next steps, trust that he will guide you.  He says "My sheep hear my voice.  Another voice they will not follow."  He will lead you and guide you by his right hand.  These are promises you can hold on to.  If your Heavenly Father has put a dream in your heart, he intends to give birth to it.  Trust him.  He is trustworthy. 

So, what are you waiting for?  Come on, there is no time to waste.  Let's get about the business of living out your purpose!

The Unveiled Story

The Unveiled vision was born out of a prompting from God to fully step into the calling he’s placed on my life as a speaker, teacher and encourager.  For many years, I’ve known this is who God created me to be and what he called me to do, but so many things have kept me from doing it!  You know, the usual fear…procrastination…waiting for some big opportunity to suddenly drop in my lap.  Well, at the start of 2015 God began speaking to me clearly through the book of Joshua (and confirming through dear friends and mentors!):  “This year, I want you to be BOLD and COURAGEOUS.”  Honestly, I never thought being bold and courageous would lead to starting a new ministry…uh, that was NOT on my radar!  I had been quite comfortable waiting for opportunities to come my way to speak and teach -- which I was eagerly and willingly doing, just committing to say “yes” whenever a speaking engagement was offered.  And a few opportunities did come.  But in this season, I feel God inviting me to step out -- to stop waiting for things to happen and to actively, boldly and courageously pursue the calling he’s placed on my life.  And, to encourage others like me to do the same.

I remember a most pivotal conversation in this journey.  I was meeting with one of my mentors and sharing that I felt God nudging me to step out in this way but I couldn’t quite find the type of skills training I wanted.  I had been researching everything from seminary programs and ministry trainings to motivational speaker courses.  I was looking for a blend of three things:  1) very practical speaker training 2) foundational Bible training -- growing in studying, teaching and preaching the Word of God and 3) learning to steward and grow in the spiritual gifts of prophecy (e.g. exhorting, proclaiming God’s Word) and intercession.  After hearing me share these things, my mentor simply said -- “Connie, I think you’re already more equipped than you realize. Why don’t you write down the vision for the training you think you need?”  As I did just that (after a bit of hemming and hawing and politely suggesting that she was not listening or understanding my dilemma), I realized that she was right.  After nearly 15 years of producing event and conference programming, mentoring women, leading Bible studies and facilitating groups, God had adequately equipped me with the skillset and experience to create a space for exactly this type of training. 

And so, the journey for Unveiled begins.  One of the things I love most about the Lord is he doesn't ask for a lot.  If we step out and trust him in even the smallest of ways, he meets us, grabs hold of our hand, and then like a good Father releases every resource of heaven to help his child.  I'm counting on it...because he has never failed.  I know that God is raising up courageous women speakers and leaders all across the globe.  And he's called me to be one of them.  And if you're reading, I'm guessing he's called you too.  And we need each other to live boldly, and courageously, and fearlessly into the center of our callings -- to live unveiled lives for the kingdom and the glory of our great God.