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My Heart, Your Bethlehem

My Heart, Your Bethlehem


Mary, a young teenager, chosen by God to carry His son… The Redeemer, our Savior, the Light of the world, Lord of lords, King of kings. Reading Mary’s response leaves me speechless, “Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Why can’t I trust God like Mary? A prayer emerged, “Help me trust You like Mary. She didn’t have to know all the answers ahead of time. She simply believed.” Tears formed as God reminded me of Carly Jo’s blog. Be blessed as you read…

Make My Heart Your Bethlehem


This week as I was reading God’s Word, He pierced my heart with two harsh, yet sweet realities.

I am messed up.

Yes, you heard that right. I am a broken, cold-hearted, smelly wreck. There is no good in me (not even a little bit) apart from Christ. I am self-centered, weak, self-righteous, insecure, prideful, and prone to wander. I consciously choose sin over righteousness. I am unworthy to carry even the sandals on Jesus’ feet (Matthew 3:11) much less the Spirit of God in me… It sounds like I am airing dirty laundry but hang on tight because the second reality is unreal.

Jesus was born in a stable.

You’re probably confused… but just wait.

Jesus, the Creator of the Universe, was born in a broken, ugly, cold, nasty shelter for animals. This birthplace was by no means an accident – in fact, I am confident that it was by God’s design that the King of glory made a quiet entrance to earth in this tiny, humble abode in Bethlehem. With farm animals all around, Mary gave birth to our Savior then wrapped Him in strips of rags and laid Him in a manger (a feeding trough for animals). With remnants of animal slobber and moldy food, this repurposed manager was a perfect resting place for baby Jesus.

In my eyes, this scene seems like a mistake. The Lamb of God should have been born into a wealthy, well-known family with servants waiting on them hand and foot. However, in our Father’s eyes, every detail of this holy night is nothing short of perfect.

Everything about the birth of Jesus screams out restoration and redemption. God transformed a detestable stable into a temporary home for Joseph and his tiny family. He took a feeding trough and made it a resting place for Jesus. Finally, He turned an insignificant, “little” town called Bethlehem into the hometown of Yahweh. My God is in the business of bringing order from chaos. He takes shattered pieces and turns them into a beautiful, new creation. God did not ask Mary & Joseph to scrub the floors of the stable, bleach the manager, patch up the gaping holes in the walls, or even warm a fire up before giving birth to Jesus. Nope. All He asked was for them to trust Him.

Moral of the story, God restores hopeless places. He makes all things new in miraculous ways. I am very much a broken person with piles of baggage that display remnants of past failures. Yet, Jesus chose to make my heart (& yours – if you place your trust in Him) His sanctuary. He chose to take this damaged stable and make it his home! He did not ask me to clean up before He entered my life – all He asked was for me to place my trust in Him then He would work on my heart over time. Now, as time goes on, He perfects my heart piece by piece. He scrubs the floors, patches the walls, warms the fire, and searches every nook & cranny to make my heart (& yours) His home – His Bethlehem.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2

GOD’S LOVE STORY: From the Mother of the Groom

GOD’S LOVE STORY: From the Mother of the Groom

IMAGE 25 - Luke and Brianne

Anticipation intensifies. The guests rise in silence. All eyes focus intently on the chapel doors. Beads of sweat form on my son’s forehead. His heartbeat escalates with each passing second. Glancing at me, he gives a quick love wink. Within seconds, I feel my betrothed of twenty-eight years grasp my hand. His gentle touch calms the nerves surging through my body.

Within seconds, flashbacks of my son’s life flood my mind. Faded memories seem like yesterday. For twenty-six years I prayed for this very moment. Deep within, a tender praise ignites, “Thank you, God! She is the bride you picked for our son. They both love you with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Their purity is a picture of Your design for marriage. Bless this covenant of marriage, this union between You and Your children. “ Tears of joy cascade down. Contentment captivates me like never before.

The music fills the sanctuary. Anxious hearts anticipate the bride’s entrance. Heads oscillate back and forth between the groom at the front of the chapel and the doors at the back. The song begins its crescendo. The doors slowly open and there, standing before the bridegroom, is his bride.

I quickly gaze back at my son. To my amazement, I catch a glimpse of the image of Jesus as the bridegroom waiting for His bride, the church. My son’s look of anticipation reminds me of Christ’s return and His love for the church. A snapshot forever imprinted on my heart. A thankful heart connects my soul to God.

With each step, the bride narrows the gap between her and her beloved. For a brief moment, tears distort my son’s vision. His heartbeat plays a love song for her only. The bride’s father places her hand in my son’s palm. An immediate rush of joy overwhelms the onlookers. God’s love envelops the couple. God’s presence overwhelms the guests. His blessings pour out in the midst of this covenant ordained by Him.

All at once, I recall Song of Solomon 1:15, Behold, you are beautiful, my love! Behold, you are beautiful. You have the eyes of a dove. I sense my son’s love, desire, and commitment for his pure, innocent, and beautiful bride. I am captivated by God’s love story being displayed. I sense Jesus proclaiming to the guests, Behold, you are beautiful, my love! Behold, you are beautiful… My heart pounds, and once again tears well up.

Finally, a kiss seals the covenant, and the pastor presents Mr. and Mrs. Luke McDougal. Running hand-in-hand down the aisle, the couple’s joy shines brightly. Showers of blessings fall from heaven. God’s love story washes over all who witnessed this pledge between a man of God, his bride, and God–the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Begin praying for God to unite your child or grandchild with His chosen spouse. I started praying for their mates while my children were still in my womb. I asked God to draw this special one to Himself and for Him to prepare each for the other. As parents, our goal is to raise our children to love Jesus with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Pray for them to choose a helpmate who has a passion and love for Jesus. It is so much fun watching God puzzle their lives together.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God. For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

–Isaiah 61:10 (NKJV)




Did you know MEMORIAL DAY was first called DECORATION DAY?

General John L. Logan is credited for naming May 30, 1868, as the first Decoration Day. On this day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

When you hear the words – MEMORIAL DAY – what thoughts come to mind? Maybe you’re thankful for a day off of work or school. If you love to shop, Memorial Day might be a reminder of all the sales taking place at the mall. What about family barbecues and picnics? But, is this all there is to Memorial Day… Relaxing, Shopping, Family, and Friends?

Memorial Day is observed in the United States as a commemoration of those members of the armed forces who died in war defending the United States of America. Those who sacrificed their lives so that we might have the freedoms we have today. Let these quotes wash over you…

They fell, but o’er their glorious grave floats free the banner of the cause they died to save. – Francis Marion Crawford

For love of country, they accepted death…   – James A. Garfield

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. – Joseph Campbell

As we remember these fallen heroes, may we be reminded that America is “One Nation Under God.” What a beautiful quote which stands the test of time. What a blessing knowing God is in charge of all creation, life, history, and the future. These brave men and women are remembered for the sacrifices made to fight for the freedoms and liberties of this great nation.

And, we must not forget the ultimate Freedom Fighter… Jesus.

He died so that we could have eternal freedom from the bondage of sin. He won the battle with Satan at the cross. He conquered the grave. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Read the words from Psalm 77:10-11 with a heartfelt praise to God…

But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord. Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary… Who is so great a God who does wonders. You have declared Your strength among the peoples.

So, this Memorial Day, thank God for the War Heroes who sacrificed their lives for freedom to prevail in America. Thank Him that we are “One Nation Under God” and pray for this motto to live on for years to come.

Please, take a moment and say a prayer for those serving in the United States armed forces. Ask God to protect them physically, spiritually, and mentally. Pray for their marriages to stay strong while they are separated from their families.

Finally, praise God for the Prayer Heroes throughout history who prayed for America. I feel certain a Medal of Honor is reserved for them in heaven.

Let’s keep this Prayer Chain Alive… Pray for America. 



The following is a short story God poured into my heart after praying for a friend held captive by guilt, shame, and blame.

~Inside the Walls of Guilt~

Image 21 - Inside the Walls of Guilt

Desire for Grace. Freedom in Forgiveness.

Disgrace permeates my mind. Humiliation runs through my veins. My shameful actions seem too great for God to forgive. Once again, I cry out in distress, “God help me let go and fully trust you!” Reluctantly, I grasp my Bible and turn to Psalm 51:1-5…

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

These dingy, gray walls of guilt hold me captive to my past. Gazing outside the window, I long for the freshness of spring, the warmth of the sun, and the freedom to run through the meadow. How do I break free from my soiled past? My eyes fix on the next few verses…

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. –– Psalm 51: 6-11

Weeping, sobbing, kneeling before the Lord, I ask, “Are You sure You can create a pure heart in me? I desire this so much. For years, these grimy, stained walls encircled my mind. This darkness closes in more and more each day. Time is fleeting. I want out but can’t find the exit. I don’t deserve freedom from this hopeless dungeon of guilt. My sin is too great to merit Your forgiveness. But… I trust Your Word. I trust in Your forgiveness.

With tears streaming, I open my arms, take in a deep breath, and say, “Surrender––I surrender all.” Suddenly my soul is renewed. Something releases. The chains unlock, and I feel a sense of freedom. I read the rest of Psalm 51: 12-19 out loud…

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, Oh God, you will not despise. In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; the bulls will be offered on your altar.

Scanning the room, I notice a wide open door–a door I never noticed before. I hear the Lord say, “My child, this door of forgiveness is always present. But your years of guilt built layers and layers of debris, covering this passageway to freedom. I’ve been waiting to free you, but you needed to see yourself as I see you… FORGIVEN–past, present, and future. I love you and long to experience an intimate relationship with you.”

Immediately, the sweet aroma of springtime travels through the doorway. I breathe in this fragrance of forgiveness––God’s forgiveness! Tears pour. Heart warms. Humbleness flows. The once bleak and dreary walls now appear white as snow. Praises erupt. I thank Jesus for His grace and mercy. Examining this restoration process leaves me humbled and amazed.

Inside the walls of guilt is a desire for grace and freedom in forgiveness.


As a Christian speaker, I hear this story over and over. Many people have a difficult time accepting God’s complete forgiveness. They live bonded to their tarnished pasts and unwise choices. This acceptance becomes Satan’s battlefield where he ambushes the mind with fiery darts of guilt, lies, and accusations. Surrendering it all to Jesus frees us from our past.


Can you relate? Maybe you know someone who struggles with forgiving herself of past or present sins such as addiction, verbal abuse, abortion, sexual sin, an affair, gossip, rebellion, eating disorder, self-absorption, materialism, judgment of others, legalism, or something else. We like to categorize our sins. We think God views some sins greater than others. The fact is “sin-is-sin” to God. He is waiting for us not only to repent of our sins but also to surrender our guilt and accept His gift of forgiveness. Experience His forgiveness today. Like Psalm 51:17 says, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.

Blessings From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Founder of Reflective Life Ministries, Author of My Prayer Chair, SOLD OUT, & Reflecting Him

Executive Producer of… STRONGER: Healing for the Broken. Victory for the Wounded.




From the book of Zechariah written about 300 years BEFORE the birth of Jesus…


Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your King is coming to you, He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey.   Zechariah 9:9


A young Jewish woman named Mary. Blessed beyond her years. Her understanding of the Torah was more than an act of kindness. Like blood flowing through her veins, the Law was her lifeline to God. Her quiet and gentle spirit set her betroths heart on fire. But, could Joseph handle nine months of turmoil and ridicule? Knowing Joseph’s thoughts, God confirms His plan through an angel…

Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. -Matthew 1:20,21

In awe, Joseph responded in obedience. Together, he and Mary journeyed through uncharted waters. Mary’s heart resounded,

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior… He has helped His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His seed forever. Luke 2:47,54,55

The angels shouted with joy. Echoes of praises released. Mary grasped that she was the recipient of God’s long awaited Holy Seed, the Messiah, the Kinsmen Redeemer. All of a sudden, Genesis 17:7 flashes through her mind,

And I will establish My covenant between Me and you (Abraham) and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and your descendants a after you.

Peace filled her. A smile escaped as she gently caressed her belly. In that moment, she realized God’s promised Holy Seed was embedded deep within her womb.


Time moved so fast. Nine months seemed like a flash. Bethlehem? Why now? Mary wondered. Without complaining, she gracefully mounted the donkey. Joseph led the way. With each stride, the birth pangs increased. Under his breath Joseph prayed, Oh, Father please help us make it before she gives birth. Lead us to the perfect place for Your child to be born. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead. Tears formed in Mary’s eyes. Fully trusting, yet filled with fear she recited the prophet’s words from Zechariah 9:9,

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you, He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey. 

A tear escaped as she glanced downward. On a donkey, she murmured. Reaching out, she gently touched his mane. In that moment, she felt her baby leap within her womb. “Behold, your King is coming,” she shouted. Joseph knew the time was nearing, “Hold on, my darling! We’re almost there. The Father has the perfect place prepared for us. There’s a cute little Inn in the heart of Bethlehem. You’ll love it!”


“What do you mean there’s no room in the Inn? My wife is about to give birth. Please help us!” Confused, frustrated but still trusting. The innkeeper pointed them to the stable. With no time to waste, Joseph rushed into the barn. He found a corner tucked deep within the shelter. A midwife was the furthest from his profession. Without hesitation, he accepted the position. Love escalated as their eyes met. He thought to himself, I love this woman so much! Again she shouted, “Behold, your King is coming!”


Then with one push Salvation entered the world. Unspeakable joy echoed throughout the stable. God in the flesh born to a lowly woman riding on a donkey. Together, Mary and Joseph held the Savior of the World in their arms as they recalled Zechariah 9:9…

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you, He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey.  

God brings to his remembrance the angel’s words…  

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. 

A shout of praise released, “His name is Jesus. Yes, Jesus… Jehovah is Salvation.” Immediately, the King of the World closed His eyes and fell asleep in the arms of His mother who whispered, Behold, our King has come. 


As I sit in my prayer chair on Christmas Eve 2015, tears well up and warmth fills my heart. A shout of praise escapes, “Thank you, Jesus, for choosing to come to earth and provide me salvation. Thank you for drawing me near to You at the age of 12 and providing a place for me in heaven with You forever and ever. Words can’t begin to explain my love for You. Humbleness envelops my soul. I choose to worship You and only You the rest of my days here on earth. For… BEHOLD, MY KING HAS COME! Amen.”

Merry Christmas From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Executive Producer of STRONGER

Founder of Reflective Life Ministries

GOD’S VOICE… Listen. Hear. Act.

GOD’S VOICE… Listen. Hear. Act.

God's Voice: Listen. Hear. Act.

God’s voice speaks. But, do we listen? He calls our name. But, do we hear? He gives us direction. But, do we act?

One morning, back in January, I was sitting in my prayer chair and opened my Bible to Isaiah 30:21 –

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Immediately, I felt as if a lightning bolt hit my soul. This verse wasn’t new to me. In fact, I’ve read it over and over through the years. But, this time something was different. I asked God to help me understand why, but no logical explanation was revealed.

So, I claimed Isaiah 30:21 as my focus verse for 2015. For the following months, I continued asking God to help me grasp the fullness of the verse. Little did I know, He was preparing me to recognize His quiet, yet powerful voice from the thousands of other voices in my life…

  • The Voice of Reason.
  • The Voice of Doubt.
  • The Voice of the World.
  • The Voice of Self.
  • The Voice of Fear.
  • The Voice of Logic.
  • And so many more.

God was training me to listen as He guides and directs my decisions along the way. I found the more I surrendered to Him, read His Word, and communicated with Him the easier it was to discern His voice. Over the past 9 months, God has slowly opened my eyes to His purpose for igniting a passion for this verse in my life. Oh, that I may hear with listening ears and act with confidence knowing He is directing the way.

God knows what lies ahead. He desires for us to surrender it all to Him and follow His lead. Looking back over the year, I see how God gave me opportunities to practice this verse. Learn His voice. Follow His lead. He knew the major decisions the Reflective Life Ministries’ production team would face this year especially when it came to our faith-based movie project – STRONGER. He has divinely orchestrated connections for us to partner with Christ-centered PTSD organizations for this film. He has helped us define our purpose for STRONGER as He led us each step of the way.

Are you in the midst of a situation, decision, or life choice? Listen to God’s voice. Speak these words out loud… God, when I turn to the right and to the left, may I hear Your voice behind me saying, “This is the way; Walk in it.” 

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal – Film Producer, Author, Speaker for Reflective Life Ministries



Image 4 - God Appoints

My seat assignment––17A. The last row in the airplane. Immediately, negative thoughts
rushed in… I won’t be able to recline my seat. I have to listen to the engine roar the whole
way home. I’ll be the last one off the plane! But my spirit quickened after the Lord

reminded me of my prayer that morning, “Lord, please give me a divine seat assignment on the airplane. Amen.” I stopped grumbling and anticipated His appointment.

Right before the passengers started boarding the plane, my husband was called to the
boarding counter. He was offered an upgrade to first class because of his airline status.
After receiving it, he calmly turned and handed it to me saying, “I want you to have this
seat.” With a willing heart and a sigh of relief, I said, “Oh, you are so sweet. YES, I’ll take it!” Looking at the ticket, I noticed the seat assignment was now 1C. Woohoo! I thought to


I secured my items and made myself comfortable in my newly assigned seat. At the same

time, the lady next to me arranged her belongings. Now sitting side-by-side, a conversation sparked. You know the surface talk… Do you live in Houston? Where do you work? How often do you travel out of town? After takeoff, our conversation deepened. She asked me about my occupation. I replied with the usual, “I’m a Christian author and speaker.” Immediately, the Holy Spirit reminded me of my morning prayer, “Lord, please give me a divine seat assignment on the airplane.”

In a matter of minutes, the woman opened up and poured out her story to me. Before I

knew it, we were praying together. I shared how my originally assigned seat was on the last row of the plane, but God shuffled the seats around to place me on the first row. In tears, she grabbed my hand and we thanked God for allowing us to sit next to each other. We still stay in touch through email. I praise God for how He orchestrated a divine assignment.

Sometimes unexpected changes or circumstances might actually be divine appointments.
Focusing on God changes our perspective. Realizing we, as God’s children, are His hands

and feet helps us keep a heavenly point of view, resulting in a life sold out for Jesus.

Ask God for a divine assignment today. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you recognize it and
follow through with all God has planned. It is so much fun serving our Lord and Savior,
Jesus. What a blessing to take part in a divine appointment. Again, I am reminded, “It’s not about me, but all about Him!” Live sold out for Him through your daily activities,

conversations, and prayers. Look for ways God opens doors for His children to connect and unite as one.

Read Acts 15:36-41 and Acts 16:1-15. Notice all of the divine assignments along the way.
Praise God for the appointments He has planned for you today.
~ Excerpt from SOLD OUT, Pg. 24 ~
From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Check out Reflective Life Ministries newest film project… STRONGER

Stronger Poster Thumbnail

Master Sergeant Victor Raphael is nearing the end of his military career when an explosion in Afghanistan leaves him injured. Back home, he is thrust into battle once again, but he hasn’t been trained for this type of warfare. Physical rehabilitation is painful, and he has more to overcome than his physical injuries. His wife, Michelle, is distant, and their marriage seems to be held together only by her sense of duty.

Vic’s first response is isolation, but that becomes a dead end. Feeling hopeless and alone, he is introduced to something new and uncomfortable— meeting in community with others who have faced trauma. People who endured and survived some terrible things, with the scars to prove it, are brought into his life. It is easy to see that these unlikely heroes now live with a hope and purpose far beyond this life. Somehow, their trials have made them STRONGER.

To help support this film project please click – 




Laughter is the body’s best medicine. Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. Laughter is an instant vacation.

Through the years, I recall hearing these statements. I’m not sure how true they are, but each definition leads me to believe a sense of humor brings positive results. Learning to laugh is a skill—or is it?

Some people might think of laughter as an action or sound. Others might describe laughter as a vocal burst of air with interesting facial and body movements. Another might define the word laughter as an eruption of noises from the vocal cords causing others to join in. No matter what the explanation, one thing is certain—laughter is almost always contagious.

For some odd reason, things happen to me that make other people laugh, a lot! A close, lifelong friend once said, “Carla, I think the Lord allows all these funny moments in your life so you can use them as spiritual teaching lessons for your speaking engagements.” Well, if you have heard me speak at an event, you know I have plenty of teaching lessons to use. Let me illustrate my point.

With my head still on my pillow, I thanked God for the day ahead. Excitement filled my heart. It was my first day to teach my Reflecting Him Bible study to approximately 150 women at a large church in The Woodlands, Texas. I started praying over the women, asking God to connect our hearts. I meditated on the focus verse (2 Corinthians 3:18) for Reflecting Him…

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord glory are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the spirit. 

I climbed out from under the covers and stumbled into the bathroom. With my vision still blurry, I glanced into the mirror. Something caught my attention. Leaning in for a better look, my mouth dropped open, and I screamed, “My face is falling off!” Bewildered. Confused. Dismayed. I suddenly remembered that two days before, a dear friend performed a chemical peel on my face. Her new job required her to use the peel treatment on a few clients before she received her certification. Since this procedure was at no cost to me, eagerly volunteered. Little did I know, she loved me enough to add a booster to the process. All I can say is, “It worked!” For a brief second, my mind spun out of control. The women probably won’t even notice. I could call in sick and not show up. I could walk in at the last minute and leave after the Amen. 

But reality set in as God reminded me of the purpose of Reflecting Him—to recognize the spiritual life lessons He gives us every day. God continually reminds me of how important it is to be real and authentic at all of my speaking engagements. Needless to say, I was a living example of the focus verse… with unveiled faces. I am not kidding. My face continued to peel all morning long. I couldn’t just ignore it, and my story caused the whole class to experience the true meaning of laughter. The room was filled with giggles, chuckles, and realness!

Yes, God answered my prayer and connected our hearts. I smile as I think about the creative ways God works things to His glory.

Ask the Lord to bring some laughter into your life. Of course, I am not talking about laughing at people. I am encouraging genuine, pure humor that causes you to experience the joy of the Lord. I know God has a sense of humor. Think about it—in Numbers 22:28, God allowed a donkey to talk! Look for opportunities to laugh and smile. Let Him teach you spiritual lessons through the humorous moments in life as you live sold out for Him. And, remember to Laugh – it’s like God’s medicine for our souls.

Excerpt from SOLD OUT Live for Jesus, pg. 110, Carla McDougal

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

FAITH AND FIRE – Justina Page

FAITH AND FIRE – Justina Page

10348710_1433744866879119_6531107053947822055_oMeet my sweet friend, Justina Page. She is one amazing woman of God! Justina’s love for Jesus inspires and spurs others forward to seek the same passion for Him. Today, her new book, The Circle of Fire, releases to the public. Her story of hope and healing through Jesus is one I will never forget. May God bless you as you read her article… FAITH AND FIRE – Justina Page.

The Mother of His Children

He knelt on one knee. The tiny box appeared out of nowhere. My heart skipped a beat. This is it…he’s going to ask me.

“Tina”, he said in the most loving voice, “Will you be the Mother of my children?”

Not exactly the question I anticipated but a far more superior one. This man was thinking of a future. He trusted me to guide his home and shape his offspring. I saw him as the future I dreamed of.

I Said Yes

We were married 3 months later. Ten years into the journey we were blessed to with six beautiful baby boys. Four single births and a set of twins. My husband was a Senior Electrical Engineer for a Holland Based Engineering firm. He was also the head deacon and worship leader. I was a homeschool mom, Sunday school teacher, and the children’s activity coordinator at our church. My whole life revolved around my children. Our lives were full of activity, excitement, and service to God. Life was good and peaceful. Life was perfect.

Catastrophe Strikes

On March 7, 1999, we awoke to explosions, immense heat, and darkness. Oh my God the house is on fire! My husband immediately throws me out of the window desperate to trying save his family. I reenter the inferno in an attempt to get to the 22-month twins who I knew could not follow a fire safety plan. I am trapped by a burning bookcase. My oldest son grabbed his three younger brothers and waited at the point. My husband is able to rescue them and they walk away by the grace of God with only 1st and 2nd-degree burns. The fire is so intense that my husband has to run around the block and jump over the neighbor’s back fence to get to the nursery where the twins were located. He pulls one of the twins out. He is severely burned. Then the crushing blow happens. The house caves in before my husband is able to rescue the last twin. We lose Amos on sight. Me and the other twin suffer 3rd-degree burns over 55% of our bodies. My husband is told we would not make it.

Where Is My God

I awoke from a 2-month coma, intubated and in excruciating pain. My first thought: who lived? My second thought: Where is my God? A common thought amongst Christians especially when we are faced with adversity. God has taught me some valuable answers I would like to share with you:

  • God never changes locations… he is in heaven in complete authority
  • God is not an abuser and helper……God is good
  • Any experience a child of God has works together for good…..even the tragic ones
  • We are not exempt from trial…….we are told to prepare for them
  • God makes all things beautiful in his time… can come from ashes

Stay Encouraged

In your moment of trial…trust God. Your greatest pain can birth your most powerful purpose!

Justina Page is a natural storyteller who speaks with a bold and refreshing honesty that touches the hearts of audiences. Her speeches unfold with a combination of humor, insightful observation, and wisdom, as well as practical application. A woman whose faith was tested by fire, she now inspires audiences across the country with a powerful message of Rekindled Hope, Renewed Purpose, and Bold Faith. She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Amos House of Faith, a non-profit organization, established to provide post-burn support to children and families affected by burn trauma.

Thank you, Justina, for encouraging us today. Thank you for allowing God to use your story, for His glory! You can purchase Circle of Fire and the study guide at Amazon. Justina is also cast in the Reflective Life Ministries movie STRONGER, where she plays the role of Aunt Hazel.  

Blessings From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal



Nearing His destination, Jesus sighs in relief. Rest is near. The smell of the Sea of Galilee rejuvenates His soul. Peace and quiet call to Jesus. His weary body feels the effects of the miles traveled. Looking down at His feet, He notices His swollen ankles. Bulging blisters seem to awaken every nerve in His body. He seeks a solitary resting spot. Settling down with a rock for a pillow, He closes His eyes. The sounds of the waves gently breaking on the shore play a lullaby to His soul. He releases a silent prayer…

Father, I need some time alone with you! Time to refresh. The throngs of people drain me… physically, mentally, and spiritually. I am so tired. My spirit needs replenishing.

He longs for the day He and His Father reunite. With another deep sigh, He falls into a sweet sleep.

A dim light peeks over the horizon, waking Jesus from His slumber. Taking a deep breath, He stretches His aching body. A craving in His Spirit overrides the rumble in His stomach. He decides to take a walk before breakfast.

Strolling along the shore brings back memories. He recalls His conversation with Peter very close to here, and He smiles at the memory. A feeling of encouragement envelops Him. Jesus scans the beauty before Him as a crisp sea breeze lifts His cloak, a gentle reminder of the days of creation. His eyes catch a glimpse of the sun casting its image on the surface of the water. What a picturesque moment. Suddenly, He remembers His prayer from the night before. He knows His Father is reminding Him of the time they spent together creating the universe. He hears the voice of His Father…

Good Morning, My Son. I miss You. Soon You will be with Me again, sitting at My right hand. You are doing an excellent job! Keep it up. I can’t wait for Your return home. But You have work to accomplish first. Continue listening to Me every minute, and I will give You the words to speak. I love You!

With hands raised, Jesus quotes Psalm 19:4b-6… 

In the heavens, He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

A calmness spreads over the sea. A tender touch from the Father. Answered prayer. Refreshment for His soul. Encouragement to keep going. United as one.


Does your walk with Jesus need replenishing? Are you tired, worn out, and weary? Ask God to refresh you. Recognize the times during the day when He gives you a touch of encouragement. Rest in Him. Trust His provision. Take shelter under His wings.

Excerpt from Carla McDougal’s new 2015 release – SOLD OUT: Live for Jesus, pg. 67. Purchase your copies today from Reflective Life Ministries. 

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