POLL: Morning Person or Night Owl?

2 05 2010

A common get-to-know-you question is, Are you a morning person or a night owl? I always hesitate to answer fearing that morning person is the more admired answer and that night owl has a negative connotation.  A feeble, “Well, aren’t owls known for being wise. Maybe it’s wiser to be a night owl?” never quite wins too many votes.

Morning people are chipper, smile-at-the-world people.  They meet the dawn with a skip in their step and a whistle to serenade the new day. Who doesn’t want to be like that?

The whole world caters to morning people.  Work and school routines start when the sun is still asleep.  Just comparing the “Good Morning America” & the “Today Show” to “The Late Show” and “The Late Late Show” shows on which side the good chips fall.

Yes, I admit it!!! I’m not a morning person! Actually, I’d say that I’m not a typical morning person.  This is my chance to clear the air (mostly for those perky AM folks who don’t quite understand).


In my 20s, I chose to wake up at 5 AM with the work hours of 7:30-4:00.  I loved it!  After marriage, my life significantly changed. Being youth pastors for over a decade, our lives were full of evening services & late night youth events. I lived in a world that did not cater to a morning schedule.  So I simply bumped my morning time down a notch.

During all this time, I had 3 children so I trained them to sleep on the family’s schedule rather than putting them down for the night at 7:30.  If I hadn’t, they would have missed half of what we did as a family. My life would have been invaded with evening baby sitters and crack-of-dawn wake up calls from a baby after hitting the pillow in the AM hours.

In the middle of all that, little Levi, baby #3, was born.  He is truly NOT a morning person. As a baby, I’d lay him down about 10:30 for the night, and I wouldn’t hear a peep until 11:00 the next morning!  That’s almost noon!  And boy, that child can still sleep!

Levi's Morning Happiness at Noon

I’m saying all of this to say: Though not a morning person, a night owl can still love the morning. Whenever you talk to a morning person, you’ll often hear them say with great admiration, “Oh, I LOVE my mornings!”  Well, so do I.  And so does Levi.

Last week, I walked into Levi’s bedroom to wake up the sleeping giant only to find him wide awake, laying in bed. He LOVES to lay in bed after waking up, burrow under the covers and just think. After I greeted his big morning smile, I grabbed the camera to capture the moment.


So, for all the morning people know this: We night owls love our mornings, too — just a few hours after you.

I love to wake up to a fresh start. With the quietness of my house, I breathe slower and deeper, filling my spirit with God’s grace and strength for the new day. I wake to God’s voice calling me to spend time with Him.  Eagerly, I enter the ceremony of preparing my loose tea for the morning and start my day — loving every step, contemplation and routine of my morning — just a few hours after you.


Q and A: Hearing the Voice of God

18 04 2010

Q “… I just have one question that may not make any sense. How does on really KNOW it is the Lord telling you to do something verses yourself telling you to do it? Sometimes I get little promptings to do things but I am not sure it is really God telling me to do things. Any thoughts or opinions would be helpful. Thanks.”

A This is a big one! There are in-depth teachings and entire books dedicated to hearing and knowing the voice of God.  On topics that can make me feel like I’m drowning in a sea of scriptures and deep sermons, I scale back to the simple concept.  I look at things from a child’s perspective.

I have purposed to introduce my children to key principles of Christianity at an early age.  One such lesson is hearing and knowing the voice of God.  This is how I explain it to my children.  I use it often when counseling adults whose response is usually, “Wow!  I get it.  It’s so simple!”


There are 3 voices you hear in your head:  God’s, the devil’s and yours. The 3 voices belong to 1 of 3 individuals, but when hearing them in your head, they all sound like your voice or feel like your thoughts.  That’s why it’s so important to know the difference.  And once you become familiar with them, there is such a vast difference.

As their mother, I’m a big catalyst of encouragement for my children in hearing the voice of God.  When they’re about 5 or 6-years-old, I start by identifying when they are hearing the voice of God or feeling a piece of His heart so that they will eventually know with great certainty when they hear the voice of God.  Recently, on a snowy weekend in Dallas, my children were emotional over several homeless people we saw sleeping under a highway bridge.  Eden was particularly stirred.  Having already identified that she is divinely gifted with a heart of compassion and nurturing, I was quick to identify that what she was feeling, along with her brothers, was God’s heart of compassion and concern for them.  It was God speaking to their hearts.

God’s voice doesn’t boom from heaven or weigh heavy with unrealistic commands.  He’s a kind Father whose desire is to speak tenderly to your heart. When you listen and obey correctly, your heart is blessed.  That doesn’t mean your heart will necessarily be happy because often we have to lay down our will and desires to fulfill His will — what He is asking of you.  That’s why I encourage my children to obey with a “happy heart.”  It is their personal responsibility to align their heart with what God is asking. Some days this happens instantly; other days, they need momma to help them along the road to a happy heart. As they get older, God begins to ask more of them, invading more of their will and cutting away their fleshly nature.  This is where most of us as adults reside.

In this “more like God, less like me” requests from God, a happy heart may not happen so easily.  I encourage them, adults I counsel, and especially myself to purpose to work towards a contented heart by the end of the afternoon or day. Sometimes it may take a few days, but the longer it takes for me to accept what God is asking, the more I play tug of war with my will versus God’s will. God understands that we’re not robots and have hurdles to overcome in aligning with His will.  He’s patient and extends grace, but expects that we will mature to the “instant, joyful and whole” obedience of which Joy Dawson writes.


Especially as a new Christian, you will find yourself more familiar with your voice and the devil’s because they are the voices to which you’ve most responded. However, God’s voice is what your heart has been longing for — fresh & healing air to your soul — and with each act of obedience, you become more acquainted with your Father’s voice.  That’s why the enemy wants to scramble the voices in your heart which will stop progress in your Christian growth.

Just as God’s way of talking to us is to drops thoughts and nudges into our minds and hearts, the devil speaks to us in subtle ways. If he spoke clearly and outright, we would now it’s Satan and reject his temptations without question.  That’s why he is sly and cunning. Without pausing to decipher the orientation of the thought, we assume the thought is ours. Many conclude, “Since the thought is in my head, it reflects me, my desires or my heart’s direction.”  This is exactly what the devil wants us to believe so we will take ownership of his thought, making it our own.

Once you begin labeling each thought as God’s voice, your voice or the devil’s voice, it is clear to see the pattern and emotions connected to each, resulting in falling less into the traps of the enemy because you know it’s him and because you’re obeying the Lord more keenly.


There are often questions between 2 things: How do I know if it’s me or God? How do I know if it’s me or the enemy? Since we understand that both God and the devil communicate with us in similar ways, we need to differentiate between the 3 voices we hear.

I talked about this with my children, Micah 13 and Eden Elizabeth 11, and asked them to explain all this to me in their words. This is what they said.

Micah: “When God talks to us, He speaks directly and it’s easy to know it’s Him.  He deals with everything [every area in our lives.] When the Holy Spirit speaks to us, it’s more like nudges and slight things.  You have to pay close attention to hear His whisper and to sense the feeling or conviction the Holy Spirit is trying to get us to consider.”

Eden Elizabeth: “When it’s your thoughts, it is about you.  The Holy Spirit often speaks to you about what you’re doing that you shouldn’t be doing, what you’re not doing that you should be doing, and about others — doing things for them.”

Eden Elizabeth: “When it’s the devil, you can tell because his voice is always trying to convince and he uses a persuasive sound.  It’s like he is trying to get you to believe a sneaky suggestion.”

Micah: “When it’s the devil he speaks to you in 1st person so you’ll think its you.  He often brings up stuff from your past.  God speaks to us about where we’re going and what’s ahead.”

GOD Fatherly & nurturing Crosses Moves you out of In line with
SATAN Fault-finding & scheming Corresponds with Supports Not in line with
YOU For you: selfish & self-promoting Validates Leaves you in Chooses your own standards


I heard a wise thought a long time ago. “God will always reward an earnest attempt to be obedient to Him.” When we’re first growing in the area of hearing God’s voice and responding appropriately to what He asks, this new task is often met with uncertainty and too much second guessing.  Faith is required to mature.

Keep a very prayerful heart and your ears pressed against God’s chest.  Hear His heartbeat.  Feel His passion for holiness and righteousness. Ask God for more faith in hearing and understanding when it’s your voice and when it’s His.  This is posturing your heart correctly so that when you feel it may be the voice of God, you have the faith and spiritual strength to follow the little promptings He is testing you with.  Remember, God rewards sincere attempts to obey Him, so if it is you, He’ll tenderly show you the difference and you’ll be better equipped to hear more clearly next time.   God’s heart is that His children know His voice and He will be faithful to make sure you can do so confidently, securely and easily. When you truly know not only His love, but also know His voice, your life will be forever changed.

To read theblog and comment this was written in answer to,

read Obedience Because of Who God Is


13 04 2010

This blog is Part 2 of Obedience Because of Who God Is. Read linked article for more insight regarding the fear of the Lord and the circumstance which spurred our obedience lesson described below.

Edwin and I sat across from a 21-year-old Master’s Commission student who was steadily maturing, yet he continued to come to a crossroad which kept him from growing past his current level.   He told us that God had spoken clearly requesting that he give up something that was hindering his growth.  Yet with each prick of his heart to obey, the young man turned his face away from God, refusing to lay down his will.

We talked to him about his unwillingness to listen to God.  His reasoning? He didn’t understand why. He was the type of child who had to understand and comprehend everything. Always given reasons why to obey as a child, he was now a 21-year-old who wanted to follow God with human reasoning. He was “putting the emphasis on the ‘what’ and not the ‘Who’, as Joy Dawson so wisely puts it in Intimate Friendship with God.


This incident caused me to directly examine my life and my mothering.  When later that week, my 3-year-old daughter, Eden, asked, “Why?” after I asked her to do something, I realized that her question showed that her obedience was conditional based on her personal reasoning. That’s when I went to drastic measures to ensure that my children understood what Joy Dawson calls “instant, joyful and whole obedience”1 to Mommy, which would later translate to God.

I immediately called Micah and Eden into the kitchen.  “Today, we’re going to learn about how to obey Mommy, which will help you obey God when you’re older.  Sometimes it’s easy to obey Mommy.  Eden, eat this piece of candy.”  She stood there wondering if it was a test or not.  “Eden, when you obey, you must obey quickly and without delay.  Let’s try it again.” The second time, she had the candy in her mouth with a sprint and a giggle.

“What about when it’s not what you want to do or think is fair?  Micah, go make Eden’s bed.”  Sure to prove to his baby sister that he could obey quickly, the first time, he marched in her room and made the bed better than any other 5-year-old could.  “Good, Micah!  You didn’t ask why when it didn’t seem fair or make sense to make your sister’s bed instead of yours.  You obeyed quickly and with a happy heart!  Your obedience makes Jesus’ heart happy!”

“Okay, now.  Take this glass of water and spill all of the water on the floor.”  That’s when the fun started!  They both looked at each other, giggled, shrugged their shoulders as if to say, “Our momma has lost her mind!” Then they dumped the water all over the floor!  Afterwards, there was a slight look of concern on Micah’s face hoping that it was really going to be okay that they did that until I jumped up and down cheering, “Yay! You did it! You obeyed even when it didn’t make sense.  That’s the way you’re always supposed to obey Mommy and Daddy, and even God!”

They got it!  They understood that when Mommy says something, even if it’s difficult or doesn’t make sense, she means it and has full understanding of what she’s asking.  As middle school students, they have learned to translate their preschool understanding of obedience into their obedience to the Lord. It was the beginning of the fear of God in their hearts.


Since then, I have used the same lesson to teach Levi and Josiah the same principles of obedience.  In our house, when I ask any of the children to do or not something, I rarely hear: “Why?” “But mamma….!” or a second request of “Pleeeaaase?”  This mother is blessed not to hear the tiresome whine of disobedience from my children.

When occasionally my 5 or 7-year-old forgets and begins to whimper or grumble over what is being asked of him, I simply say, “Put your hands by your side (our way of knowing momma is serious).  How are you supposed to obey?”  He convictingly answers, “With a happy heart,” or whatever other family proverb may apply.  After maternal encouragement or prayer to adjust his attitude and heart, he’ll do so and go on his merry way.  It’s that easy because it has been taught daily since he was 2.

There are days and seasons when God reminds me of the fun lesson on obedience first taught in the kitchen.  While I was teaching my children, I could hear the whisper of God saying, “Elizabeth, this is for you just as much as it is for them.”  Each time I remind a child of a family proverb, it reinforces in my heart why obedience and the fear of the Lord is essential as a wife, mother and maturing Christian woman  — because others are patterning their lives after me.

Our family’s proverbs on obedience are listed below, along with the spiritual importance I teach the children.



Always obey the first time. Avoids delayed obedience toward God
The only correct answer is “Yes, Mam.” “Yes, Lord” is the only submitted answer.

This means I never ask “Why” I should obey.  It yields my right to understand God’s ways.

Always obey with a happy heart. Fearing the Lord blesses my heart.


10 04 2010

Just when we thought we had passed the obedience test, Round 2 started.

Seven years ago, God tapped Edwin and I on the shoulders, which disrupted our happy, little world.  We were very content at a thriving church, with a growing Master’s Commission and 80 staff and students, whom we were crazy about.  They had all deeply touched our lives and were like part of our family.

“Move to Louisiana” was the request God laid before us.  Our first response was to laugh!  We loved Texas, as all true Texans do – not Louisiana, Lord!  “And what about our students,” we reminded God.  It was clear that God’s request remained unchanged –  so our hearts had to change.

Having purposed to always obey His voice, we soon knew that we would move with our 3 children to Lafayette, Louisiana. Yet having lived our lives with our Master’s Commission students, we again knew our decision would directly affect their world.


This time it was different.  It was harder.  I had been down this road before.  I wasn’t quite sure what we were getting ourselves into the first go around with moving from Houston to Austin.  However, this time, I could see that so much more was on the line and that the price of obedience this time was higher and would reach deeper than ever before.  Our decision to move directly affected a considerable number of very dear people.

For a few days, I had knots on the inside,

trying to figure out how this was all going to play out.

What would others think or say? What will they do?

What if they don’t understand our heart in all of this?

Knowing that all these questions were more than we could comprehend or even begin to figure out, God so wisely and very clearly spoke to us.  With His simple, yet profound and storm-quieting wisdom, God spoke that this move was for the Ennises – our family of 5 (and soon to be 6).   The Father’s words of perspective eased my mind.

I immediately stopped trying to figure everything out. My “planner” self, which usually tries to match all the pieces of the puzzle together, was dismantled because I trusted God that, just as He was ordering our steps, He would surely order each of theirs.  I was walking in the middle of a lesson of faith and trust, which go hand in hand with obedience. Like a carefully orchestrated line of dominoes, I witnessed chains of grace, promotion and faith play out in the lives of those who stood directly in our line of obedience. With one push of our lives towards Louisiana, a crop of destiny beautifully sprouted. The fruit of obedience sprung up in the lives of so many – whether they stayed in Austin, moved elsewhere or came with us to Louisiana.


Through that move, several in our group from Texas met their Cajun spouse.  Dwight married Gloria.  Daniel married Jenny.  Josh married Ashley. Marco married Jenny. Tyler married Donna.  Their destinies were linked to our yielding to God’s voice, which made way for them to encounter God’s voice for their own lives. You never know what’s on the other side of your obedience.

Of the many amazing stories of the faithfulness and sovereignty of God, another stands out.  After 5 years with us in Austin, God led Tavares to move to Louisiana along with us. The young man from Athens, Texas had only one way to meet his beautiful gift from Pennsylvania – follow the Lord’s voice.  Jonnette purposed not to “seek out” her husband, but to trust her Heavenly Father that her future husband would find her as she pursued God’s will for her life.

Two years ago, Tavares married Jonnette, who was also “transplanted” in Lafayette from Florida via Pennsylvania (which is yet another story of faith and obedience). Soon, they will get to hold little Keilani Love as a direct result of the obedience of both her father and mother to trust the Lord and step out in faith, not knowing that a pink nursery would be on the other side of their obedience.


Obedience comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s simple; other times it’s stretching.  It may be obedience with understanding or require blind faith.  God may give you time to process or call for an instantaneous response.  However, one thing is certain: You never know – when you’re taking that step of faith – what’s on the other side of your obedience.  And though the full comprehension of the spiritual impact of your obedience will be understood in heaven, God gives you encouraging fruit throughout your life.

Though at the time moving from Houston – away from my mother as a new mom – was heartbreaking, I’m so glad we listened.  And moving to Louisiana was never in my plans, but it was in His.  With no exaggeration, God rewards me daily with fruit in my life and in the lives of others, reinforcing that there is lasting reward – a spiritual legacy –on other side of obedience.


Thank you, Lord, that You trust me enough to ask of me. My ability to respond to Your requests directly affects, not only my life and family, but those around me and those I have yet to meet. Thank you for a heavenly perspective on such a profound matter.

Likewise, my disobedience affects others.  Give me strength to choose wisely when my will pulls against Yours. I purpose to be a woman not of delayed or partial obedience, but a woman of full and selfless obedience.


8 04 2010

One of our favorite quotes for almost 20 years has been, “You never know what’s on the other side of your obedience.” Today, God reminded me of the lasting effects of my obedience.

Rewind to 1996. Edwin and I had just completed our 2nd year of Master’s Commission, a full-time discipleship school, and were faced with a move from Houston. While God had clearly opened the door for us to move to Austin, our decision affected others.  Not only had we just become parents for the first time (Micah was 6 weeks old), we had also become spiritual parents for the first time.  Having built a unique bond with two of our students, Wendy, from New Orleans, and Kathie, from Houston, both felt led to move with us to help begin another Master’s Commission.

Though Edwin and I didn’t quite comprehend it at the time, our obedience in following the will of God for us directly affected Wendy and Kathy. The influence of our spiritual obedience was just beginning it’s ripple.

Through their obedience to God in that step of faith, both girls found what was on the other side of their obedience – a God-fearing husband.  A man of unwavering faith and emotional strength, Anthony married Kathie.  Still living in Austin, they now have 3 beautiful children who are being raised to be mighty world changers.  Had we not obeyed to moved to Austin and had Kathie not heard to follow, those 3 lives may not have been — a thought too much for me to fathom!

Full of integrity and anointing, our Master’s staff member, Chris, fell in love with Wendy.  They’ve been married and in ministry together for almost 8 years, deeply impacting thousands of lives.  Now their lives are soon to be impacted with a baby girl– all because an 18-year-old girl decided to obey the call to move 9 hours from New Orleans to Austin, Texas.  Motherhood is such a great reward for my dear, sweet Wendy Lynn!!

The list goes on and on, and with each story, my finite mind becomes more enveloped with the profoundness and multi-faceted impact that one simple step of obedience to God can produce.

I guess you really don’t know what’s on the other side of your obedience!  In this case, it was 4 little lives and all that God has called these precious ones to be and do. I see them as a direct result of my spiritual inheritance!


Abraham and Sarah found themselves standing face to face with obedience.  God interrupted their lives with a move that was never on their schedule.   With only the word “GO” – no road map or calculated route –  they obeyed God’s voice and trusted His direction.  Surely, they were full of unanswered questions and had to remind themselves over and over of God’s words and promises.  That’s humanity.  Despite criticism, lonely days, and countless sacrifices, they remained obedient and faithful.

God rewarded their devoted obedience, not only with a child, but with the distinction of being the couple through which the existence of entire nations would be a direct result of their obedience. All because a godly, young couple obeyed.


Whose act of obedience has changed your life?

Who are those who have stood in the wake of your obedience?

Who is yet to be touched because you purpose to live a life of surrendered obedience?


Romans 5

The result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men…

so also through the obedience of the one Man the many will be made righteous.

Because of Abraham, a nation.

Because of Hannah, a prophet

Because of Mary, a Savior.

Because of Jesus, YOU!

Because of you, ____!


5 04 2010


Be honest.  Has this ever happened to you? You’re driving down your normal route, passed the cleaners and the bank.  You’re in deep thought or perhaps talking to your best friend whose along for the ride.  (If you have toddlers, you’re singing “Where is thumbkin” while your little one is making finger smudge artwork on your car windows.) THEN SUDDENLY IT HITS YOU! You can’t remember any of the traffic lights or lane changes for the last 10 minutes!

“How can this be?” you question as the stark reality hits you that you’ve been driving without real notice – Driving with Unawareness.  You hesitantly think, “Does this qualify me as a ‘Woman Driver’?”

It happens to all of us.  Yes, you made rational decisions, passed safely through the intersection and did so with awareness, yet were unaware that you were aware.  On this very topic, an online poster wrote:

There’s a point where you get so familiar the route that it becomes part of you. You can do it well without much consideration, like walking – and I suggest – like praying!

Surely you have never “zoned out” on God! Well, I have.  Much like driving down my usual route, my morning devotional routine can become monotonous and I sometimes Pray with Unawareness. While 30 minutes of Bible reading, 20 minutes of prayer and 10 minutes of journaling is a great route in morning devotions, I can still find myself reading the very breath of God captured in written form and not quite remembering what the last 3 verses really said.  I am happiest when following a schedule, but over-applied in prayer time, routines can also cause me to coast through my devotions without much consideration. So every now and then I mix it up. I simply change my route.

When I drive the same route, day after day, I get bored with the scenery and sort of check out of the task at hand.  So I love to take a different way to the same destination.  When I do, I notice things like the new restaurant being built, the clever marquis wording at the Baptist church or the newly installed traffic camera that just flashed to take my picture and inform me that I was unaware of the speed limit change.

Occasionally, I change from my “multi-media” prayer time of faint worship music playing, my computer on Biblegateway.com to look for any cross references, my detailed prayer schedule to keep me on track, paired with baptizing my mouth with the first cup of hot tea of the day.  While all these additives may enhance my devotions, they can also be deterrents from the purity of the moment.  My dear sisters born in the 1700s didn’t have “multi-media” prayer and did just fine…most likely, even better.

Sometimes I sit still – with no music, reading or writing – in quiet contemplation of how mighty and omnipresent God is.  I love to sit outside when the weather is nice and feel God through the morning breeze.  On cold days, I love to sit cozily in my favorite chair and watch the early birds search for breakfast.  Some days, I do this while devouring the rich scriptures of the day.  Other times, I find myself lost in prayer for others.  My favorite is when I wake up sensing God’s knocking on my heart from the first stretch of the day.  I rush out of bed, brew my tea, grab my journal and hurriedly write the words my sweet, Heavenly Father is pouring into my life.  It’s those mornings which I wonder, “Why do I have my own agendas in the first place?”

This is what Joy Dawson in Intimate Friendship with God writes of when she suggests that “the deepest moves of God’s spirit that [she has] been in have always been when God was given time to move without the usual constraints and restrictions.”1 She asks, “Could it be that we know so little of the discipline of silent focused worship?”2

Especially as a young Christian who is setting a precedence of discipline and maturity, consistent and productive morning devotions are essential.  They allow you to partake in the “daily requirements of a healthy spiritual diet.” But even veering from the normal path once a week, perhaps Saturday morning, allows you to put God in control of what is really His time to begin with.  Try it. God loves it when we give Him time to move.  He always rises to the occasion with depth, profoundness, and invading love and peace.

No matter how varied my devotions may be, I find there is always one constant – a hot cup of tea.  For you, it may be coffee.  Either way, I’m convinced that God moves stronger and intimately when there’s a hot mug in my hand.

So tomorrow morning, push your agenda aside in exchange for God’s.  Snuggle up to your hot mug, sip slowly, and listen intently for the Almighty God of steadfast love, justice and righteousness3 to speak intimately to your heart.

And remember Joy Dawson’s words: God does not reward casual inquirers, only diligent seekers.4

1 Dawson, Joy. Intimate Friendship with God, pg. 26

2 Ibid, pg. 27

3 Ibid, pg. 21

4 Ibid, pg 27


1 04 2010


I have not always had an obsession with them.  I recently looked over some of my high school English papers. I wasn’t too impressed and remembered that writing was previously a chore.  I’m not too sure when the love affair started, how or why it was sparked.  Regardless, I have found that words are my cherished friends.

There are times when I’m swimming in my emotions, unclear of the direction ahead or confused about the road I just walked. That’s when words come in and save the day.  I clear my cluttered head and heavy heart of all that weighs me.  Other days, I wake up with a burning idea or clever angle to a concept, and again, words jump around in my head helping me to communicate it all so differently than I had first contemplated.

With the process of writing, thoughts and emotions evolve and new realizations are grasped.  The main key for me is that when I write God speaks and I listen.  I weigh every word He speaks and every word I type.  The final product reflects Him because I’ve made room for God in my writing.

Though the majority of my writings thus far have been for me and my family, I have had a dream to share my heart through writing.  The biggest part of that dream is to publish books, but for now, I’ll start with this blog.

I write not for the love of words.  I write for the love and principles of God in my heart to be expressed through words.