John 15:9 ““As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”


We make it so much harder than it needs to be, don’t we? We strive to be good, to do the right things, to love others well, and to figure out what it is that this one life of ours is supposed to look like.

We feel the weight of religion, relationships, expectation, significance, and meaning almost like they are heavy weights on our shoulders.
What are we supposed to be doing? How are we supposed to be doing it? Who are we supposed to be doing it with? Why are we supposed to be doing it? And how on earth are we supposed to get it done?


These are questions we often have rolling around in our minds. After a year filled with so many unknowns, unmet longings, and unprecedented changes, we raise our eyes to Heaven and search for answers to the who, what, where, when, why, and how that we see looming on the horizon.


“What am I supposed to do now?”


It’s the age old question that we ask ourselves. If we’re honest, many of us feel a certain responsibility to know the answer and to boldly move towards it.

We make our resolutions, set our goals, and fill our planners in an effort to do this well. And that’s great. It is a good thing to make resolutions, set goals, and be organized and purposeful in our
approach to how we live our lives.


But what if it is much easier than we think? What if it isn’t as hard or heavy as we make it?


What if aligning ourselves with God’s plan for our lives is simpler than we could have ever imagined?
I think it might be because in God’s upside down Kingdom, things usually are vastly different than we think. The least is greatest, the humble inherit the earth, the last become first, and the chief of sinners receives the most grace. It just makes sense that it wouldn’t be all about our own effort, but about what God does on our behalf.


After all, His greatest gift, salvation, isn’t earned but freely given.

Doesn’t it seem like living a full and abundant life wouldn’t be about striving and frantically
working our own plan, but trusting and resting in His?


Listen to these selections from John 15:3-5, 9-10, and 16. “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the
branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing… As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love…. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”


In these verses from John 15, Jesus calls us to “remain in Him “ and “remain in His love” over and over again. Why? Because we know that as believers, the greatest commandment is to love God with our whole self and to love one another. That’s His goal, His resolution, and His perfect plan for our lives.


Our part is simple. We remain in Him and remain in His love.

We stay close. We spend time with Him. We talk with Him and get in His word. We let His love infiltrate every inch of ourselves and our lives, and when it does, it changes us from the inside out. We align with His plan for us by just remaining there, soaking up His love and letting it overflow out of us.


Our work isn’t to frantically strive, but to remain with Him and to remain in His love. He doesn’t ask us to get under the weight of it all, He does the heavy lifting.


He changes us. He makes the plans and established the purposes. He opens and closes the doors. He
makes a way. We just remain in Him and in His love. And we trust and rest that in His love, He will work out His good plan for us.


So, don’t shoulder a burden you weren’t intended to carry. Don’t get so overwhelmed by setting the best goal, or laying out the most perfect plan that you feel weighted down and find yourself striving to do it all on your own. Just focus on remaining in Him and remaining in His love. I believe He’s got the rest under control.


Prayer:
Father, God, Help us to trust and rest in you. We want to let go of striving and find peace that we can align with your perfect plan by remaining in you and in your love. You don’t ask us to carry the heavy burden of a perfectly laid plan. You have a perfect plan for us, you are for us, and you are faithful to finish what you start. We believe that and thank you for it.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.


John 15:13 says this, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”


If we were asked to describe Jesus in one word, many of us would choose LOVE. After all, He literally loved us to death. He gave His life as an act of love to pay the sin debt we all owe and to give us abundant life here on earth and eternal life in heaven.


Jesus demonstrated the greatest act of love possible when He gave His life in exchange for our freedom.
But that’s not the only reason many of us would use the word LOVE as the one word that we would use to describe Jesus. Jesus’ whole life and purpose was wrapped in love.


In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. This was meant to trip Jesus up and test Him, but Jesus answered with boldness, clarity, and confidence. He knew precisely what was the most valuable command of all.


His answer… LOVE.


Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 22:37-40. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your
heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”


Jesus was making it clear that everything hinges on our willingness to love God and to love His people.
It all comes back to love.

That’s why Jesus went to the cross. It was for love, the kind of all encompassing, selfless, sacrificial love that has the power to save us and to change the world.


But how? How will people see, experience, and know the love of God now that Jesus, God in flesh, isn’t physically walking around on this earth anymore?


Well, before Jesus went to the cross, He told His disciples that He’d be leaving this earth and going to Heaven. He explained how things would continue on without His physical presence.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


Love.
Again, it all comes back to LOVE.


It’s why Jesus came. It’s why He lived. It’s why He died, and it’s why He rose again. It’s also what He calls us to as His representatives here on earth.
Love is how we show we’re His disciples and it is how we spread His message.

In His great love, He didn’t leave us here to try to flounder our way through loving. He gave us Himself, in the form of the Holy Spirit, so that we have the power and ability to align ourselves with love.


John 14:15-16, 23, and 26 puts it this way, ““If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever… Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make Our home with them…But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you…”


And the most important thing Jesus taught: LOVE.

He taught us God’s love, but He also taught us that to fully love God, we must love others.


It’s a cycle. God loves us. He calls us to live out that love by loving others. Others see that love and
recognize it as God’s love. They love Him. The cycle continues.


But, for the cycle to continue, we have to be willing to live a life characterized by aligning ourselves with God’s love. We have to be willing to let the Holy Spirit teach us how to love God and love others.


It all comes back to love.


Prayer:
Father God, Thank you for your love. Thank you for sending Jesus to demonstrate that love to us. Thank
you for your willingness to include us in your plan to teach others about your love. Align us with love.

We want to love you fully and love others on your behalf. Fill us with love so that we can point others to your love.

In Jesus name, we ask this. Amen


John 7:24 NLT“Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”


How different would things be if we could put those nine words from John 7:24 into practice? I wonder how much better our marriages, our relationships with our kids, our family relationships, and our friendships would be if we didn’t react to what we think we see happening on the surface, but took the time to peel back the layers a bit a see the heart of the matter.


How much different would life look if we didn’t rush to superficial judgements, but chose to look deeper?

Would we be so quick to get angry, assign a label, turn away, feel rejected, get hurt, or draw lines to
separate if we opened our eyes to the actual people, circumstances, and situations before we react to the behaviors we think we see?


As a mom, at times, I can be quick to discipline a behavior without ever looking into why my child acted the way he did. As a wife, occasionally, I can bristle in frustration at an action or response without ever understanding where it comes from. As a sister, daughter, co-worker, friend, and family member, I can unintentionally create division and hurt if I judge too quickly.

And if this is how I sometimes react to those I know and love when I don’t look beyond the surface before forming my judgements, imagine how my superficial assessments might affect relationships with people I’m just meeting!

This makes me so thankful for a God who looks beneath the surface, to my heart and to the brokenness of my humanity, and has abundant grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.

Things aren’t usually how they appear at surface level. Our response changes when we uncover the heart of a person. Because that’s what love does. Love looks deeper.


Would our response be different if we took time to understand the person, the circumstances, and the
situation behind the behavior?


Maybe we’d see the fear at the root of the behavior that offended us or the insecurity behind the remark that hurt our feelings. We might see the stress and exhaustion that’s causing the attitude we don’t understand. We could uncover the pain that triggered the response that made us angry.

Maybe, if we looked beneath the surface, we’d see a tender heart and broken soul in need of the same
kind of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love that we need Jesus to extend to us in our own brokenness.

I could be a bit naïve, but I believe these nine words from John 7:24 have the power to change everything. Jesus’ way of looking into the heart of people sure was revolutionary when he was on this earth.


Just ask the blind man who was given sight, the leper who was made whole, the tax collector who became a disciple, the poor widow who gave the small tithe and was honored for her giving, the demon possessed man who was healed, the lame who could walk, the Samaritan woman who was known, or the common fishermen who became fishers of men.


I bet they were glad Jesus didn’t make snap judgements, but looked deeper.

How much differently would our lives look if we practiced this principle? How would our lives change if we loved more and judged less? Would we be slower to anger, quicker with grace, more generous with mercy, more lavish with love?


Would we open our arms a bit wider to the broken, realizing that we’re all a bit broken and we all long to be seen, known, and loved?


I’m asking these questions to myself, as I sit with the Trinity.

I’m asking Him to help me look at my own heart and to look deeper into the heart of others.
Just maybe this is a prayer we could all benefit from?


Prayer:
Father God, Help me to see people like you do. Give me understanding. Help me to look beneath the
surface and into the heart. Remind me that we’re all broken and we all need grace, mercy, and love.
Thank you that you looked deeper, beneath the surface, and into my heart when you saw me.

Thank you that you took the time to know my heart, and that you’re continually at work in it. Change me and make me more like you. Fill me with your grace, mercy, and love.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Every person is an image bearer,
a child of the King.
Each one an intentional creation,
each a beautiful being.


Every life has intrinsic value,
a worth and a plan.
Every single person matters,
every woman, child, and man.


Every one deserving of respect,
of compassion and of care,
of love and of empathy,
and to be treated fair.


But how do we change the culture?
How do we make them see?
How do we begin the change?
Well, it starts with you and me.


We don’t conform to the ways of this world.
We don’t push and we don’t shove.
We don’t step over others.
We build them up through words of love.


We choose to change the way we think.
We’re careful with how we speak.
We choose to be tender and to be kind.
We choose to be gentle and meek.


We choose to be patient.
We choose to give, not take.
We choose to live like Jesus did.
This change is ours to make.


We have the Holy Spirit within us.
We have Christ’s power and His love.
We trust a strength that’s not our own
and provision from above.


I was talking with a sweet soul during a Spiritual Direction call and I heard myself offer the words, “grief compounds”. It felt almost like a sucker punch to my own gut because I know it to be true, especially this time of year. 

My Dad passed away 6 years ago tomorrow and often my soul knows it before it registers in my mind. A twinge of sadness lingers as December 11th approaches and I find myself near tears easily. It’s like the muscle memory of loss kicks in every year right around this time. 

And then I notice the date, and the grief swells as I recognize it’s’ significance.

Memories of those weeks leading up to December 11th six years ago surface, the achingly bitter mixed with the incomprehensibly sweet.

As I remember, that swell of grief builds.  Grief triggers grief. It compounds as the memories and the longing partner in this familiar early December dance. 

Yes, grief compounds when we make space to feel it and to process through it.

I guess I could tamp it down, ignore it, snuff it out, or maybe bury it under a hundred other things that could hold my attention, but that would mean not remembering.  To me, that’s almost worse, so I let myself experience it all. 

I have such incredible memories with my Dad, but the last year of his life as he fought for health hold quite a few of the memories that I cherish most. Those times were filled with long, slow conversations, laughter, tears, countless hours spent by his side, and the strengthening of a bond I will always treasure.

That’s the grace, the good in the midst of the grief, and it compounds as well. 

I can’t help but smile even as the tears slide down my cheeks because remembering surfaces so many good moments.  

Some of the memories are so vivid that I can almost hear the sound of Gunsmoke playing on the tv in the background as I sat across from him in his big recliner and saw his mischievous smile peeking out from under the hood of his sweatshirt, or smell the antiseptic aroma of the hospital room and feel the crick in my neck from that uncomfortable hospital chair as we sat together each night and talked and laughed for hours between game shows during all those long weeks of rehab. 

More and more memories come and the tears slow as my smile spreads.  Grace triggers grace. It compounds as I remember the good, and there is so much good to remember.  

I sit in the loss, but feel the love.

I am hit by the ache but am comforted by the memories.

I feel the joy but also hold the weight of the sadness.

I miss him, but I’m grateful for every moment we shared together.

Still, there will always be grief, but there will also always be abundant grace.  And although the grief compounds when we create space to feel it and process through it, so does the grace.

And because I know and trust the Author Of Grace, I believe it compounds more because I believe in the power of love to overcome pain.


I’m not afraid of change.  In fact, I love it.  I embrace it.  It nearly brings me to tears to think about the way that God is continually at work, changing us into people who are becoming whole and Holy.  

Because I know that, bring on the change!  I’m ready to grow.  I don’t want to be the same person that I am now five years from now.  I want to look at the Bobbie of today and say, “Wow!  God was at work in her!  Look at what He’s been doing!”

I want to look more like Jesus every day and I’m happy to submit my whole self to God because I believe that is the change He wants to work in me.

I believe that’s the change He wants to work in you, too.

A friend in my Spiritual Direction cohort recently said a phrase that I haven’t been able to let go of.  It’s beautiful in its’ simple truth.

God is always only ever redeeming.

That means that even when we don’t see it, He is working in our situation, our circumstances, and our lives for our good and His glory. 

Even when we don’t see it.  Even when we can’t feel it.  Even when we don’t understand it.  We can still trust that God is always only ever redeeming.

Let that sink into the core of you.

He’s

Always.

Only.

Ever.

Redeeming.

Take a minute and really think about that.  Every second or every moment of every day, God is redeeming this world and His children.  His plan is one of redemption and restoration.

I can get on board with that kind of change.

And even while He is a God OF CHANGE, He is not a God WHO CHANGES.

That’s a little mind bending, but sit with it a minute and meditate on that truth.  God is always at work redeeming and restoring, yet He is unchanging.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

He is truth.  

He is goodness.  

He is mercy.  

He is love.  

He is faithful.  

He is steadfast.  

He is immovable.  

He is Sovereign.  

He is King of Kings and Lord or Lords.

And He always will be.

He will never leave of forsake us.  He will never lie or fail to keep His promises.  He won’t forget us or change His mind about His love for us.

He has a plan and a purpose for our lives and He is faithful to finish what He starts.

He is over all, in all, and above all.  He is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.  He is the victor and the one who triumphs.

And that won’t ever change.


I love bike riding.  I’ve been going out to the Katy Trail a few times each week to ride to Hartsburg and back.  It’s about 20 miles, round trip and I’ve been doing it for months.

The Katy Trail is gravel and isn’t very smooth in some places.  I’ve noticed over the last month or so, the trail feels even rougher than normal.  Every dip, bump, and rock seemed more jarring than before. This makes the ride a bit more challenging and takes a little of the joy out of it.

I keep going to the trail and riding the 20 miles to Hartsburg because I love the scenery and love to ride, but it’s more fatiguing than before.  The bumps and rough terrain are a more taxing on my body.

But, each day, I load up my bike, strap on my helmet, and add a soft gel cushion onto my bike seat in hopes that whatever has changed over the last month or so to make the trail so rough soon smooths itself back out.

One evening, in the middle of all this, I had dinner with a friend who is an avid rider.  Offhandedly, she mentions that her husband airs up her bike tires to the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) every time she gets ready to go for a ride.

“Hmmmm.” I reply.  “I’m pretty sure I haven’t added air to my tires since I started riding several months ago.  I just grab my bike and ride.  I don’t really do anything to prepare for the ride.”

Later that evening when I got home, I mentioned it to my husband.  He checked my tires.  They didn’t look low, but when he tested them, he saw that they needed a lot of air.  They were much lower than they looked.  In fact, they were dangerously low and continuing to ride could have caused a blow out or even a bike wreck.

My hubby grabbed the air pump and pumped air into the tire, filling it back up until it was full.  A few days later, I unloaded my bike at the Katy Trail and swung my leg over to straddle the seat.  I placed my feet on the pedals and pushed off onto the rocky trail.

But to my surprise, it felt different.  I didn’t feel every bump or jostle.  The trail was still just as rough but I wasn’t jarred by every rock, bump, or dip.  I picked up speed and moved smoothly along the gravel trail, enjoying the ride again.

All because I’d made a little change and done the prep work.

I’d taken the time before the ride to fill my tires with air.  When I did, the ride was gentler, the rough terrain didn’t seem as challenging, the trail seemed smoother, and I found my joy in the ride renewed.

I was reminded that I’m much like my bicycle, my Soul is like the tires, and life is much like the rocky terrain of the Katy Trail.

It’s easy to just keep showing up day after day for the ride, wincing as each bump along the trail rattles your teeth and jars your bones, all the while not realizing that it’s harder because our tires are going flat.

We often skip the prep work of filling up our tires and the ride is difficult, joyless, and painful.

We do that as people, don’t we?  We get up each morning and push through every challenge that our life might throw our way.  We wonder why everything feels so hard, why every single bump hurts so much, and why we’ve lost some of the joy in our journey.

It’s because we need to make a change.

We need to do some prep work before we start our day.  

Time with our triune God is like air in our Spiritual tires.  Time in His word, in prayer, in worship, and in His presence fills us up.  It takes the harsh edge off of our situation and circumstances and helps us face our difficulties with the power of the Holy Spirit alive and active in us.  He restores our joy in the journey.

I know that not only do my bike tires get low, my entire being feels a little “low” if I don’t make it a priority to do some prep work each morning and get alone with God to let His life giving breath fill me.

If you’re feeling like your tires have gotten a little flat, I wonder if it’s time to prioritize the prep work of adding a little metaphorical air to your tires each morning before you hit the trail of life.

Prayer:

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Give us the self-discipline to make it a priority to start our day with you.  You are in all, over all, and above all.  You are all that we need.  Time with you enables us to journey through life filled with your power and with your love.  Help us to remember that and put it into practice in our lives.  

Amen.


Fall is here and the winds of change sure seem to be blowing.  There is a crispness in the air, the leaves crunch underfoot, and the hills are just beginning to make that transition that paints them into in shades of gold, red, orange, and green.

Fall is my favorite time of the year, partly because of all of the pumpkin spice, but partly because it’s impossible not to notice the shifting and changing happening all around us.

Some people don’t like change, but I do!  I love the excited feeling that bubbles up in my soul when I feel like I’m on the cusp of something new.  I love the adventure that change brings and I love the fact that change stirs up the hope for something fresh, different, and maybe richer, deeper, and better.

Maybe I love change because I’ve personally experienced the profound remaking change of God in my own life.  Anyone whose known me for a long time can tell you that I’m not who I once was.  I’ve been changed.

Like clay in the potter’s hands, I’ve been shaped into something entirely different.  And although I don’t want to sound at all boastful, I can attest to the fact that this change has been a good one.  He’s been at work in me, redeeming the things within me, within my circumstances, and within my situation that were broken and damaged, and shaping me in His image.  The person He has molded me into, and continues to mold me into, far surpasses the mess He started with.  

He is making me whole, but He’s also making me Holy.

He has a lot of work ahead of Him, but I’m not afraid because even though God is at work, constantly bringing about change in people, situations, seasons, and circumstances, He remains constant.  He never changes.  His goodness, faithfulness, love, mercy, and kindness never change.  

He is always and forever the same.

And He is only always ever redeeming. 

So, sweet Sister, wherever you find yourself, know this.  Our God is always at work bringing about change for your good and His glory. 

Have Hope because He is a God who brings about change in people, situations, and circumstances, but He never changes.  


I use to think this journey that Jesus and I are on looked like a ray.  Do you remember your Geometry?  A ray has a beginning point and then continues on in the same direction towards infinity.  There is no other end point, just a straight, narrow path to forever.

I thought when I decided to follow Jesus, I’d tuck right in behind Him and just follow as He led me onward and forward, continually progressing towards holiness and righteousness until He pushed open the gates of Heaven and invited me inside.

In my mind, my spiritual journey resembled a sort of follow the leader type relationship.  The goal was to stay close, keep my eyes focused on Jesus, and move step by step, steadily down the line towards our destination.

I wasn’t entirely wrong, but the line doesn’t look like the ray we learned in Geometry class.  If we’re sticking with the theme of analogies from school, my faith journey has looked more like the loopy cursive letter L that we carefully linked together across the pages of our writing practice paper.

Progress has been cyclical.  I move forward, yes, but I also occasionally make mistakes, poor decisions, get lazy, and give in to sin.  Then, I circle back, confess, repent, turn back to God, and continue on down the path until, in my humanity, I do it again.  

Loop, after loop.  Move forward, sin and circle back, confess and repent, accept forgiveness and mercy from God, walk forward in His grace and love, make mistakes, circle back, repeat.  

To be honest, it can get a little frustrating.  I remember years ago, when feeling a bit defeated by somethings that seemed to be a continual struggle, a dear friend woefully lamented that she felt like she should be much farther along spiritually and didn’t think that this far into her faith journey she’d still be struggling with the same old “minor” sins that so easily keep surfacing in our lives.  

You know the ones; envy, pride, anger, gossip, ingratitude, selfishness, and the like.  Ones that mature believers hope to have completely moved past, but still find themselves circling back to confess, repent, and accept forgiveness for over and over again.

I may get frustrated with myself for the cyclical nature of this journey and so may my sweet friend.  I’d even venture to guess that this sounds a little familiar to you, too.  But I really don’t believe God feels that way as He looks at us.

I don’t believe that He’s sitting on the throne of Heaven shaking His head and tsk-tsking us for falling short of perfection, yet again.  Why?  Because He created us.  He knows we’re just flesh.  He sees our heart and knows that it is for Him.  He loves us unconditionally, even in our messiest places.

In fact, I think He’s beaming at us with eyes full of compassion, grace, mercy, and joy.  I believe His heart swells when one of His children circles back around to confess a sin they feel conviction about.  Of course, He isn’t celebrating our sin.  God is holy, righteous, and pure.  To celebrate sin would be against His very nature.

I do believe that He celebrates a humble confession, a repentant heart, and a faithful follower.  I know that He is forgiving, kind, and good.  Even more importantly, because of His matchless love, we are welcomed every time we turn to Him.

1 John 1:9 NIV says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

So, I loop and loop, circling back in confession and repentance every time I fail.  God extends His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  The loop closes in sweet connection and I continue on in this journey of faith in Jesus, knowing that when I fail, the cycle continues because there is never a moment  He leaves or forsakes me.  There is never a moment He loses patience and throws in the towel or lets the chain of loopy cursive letter L’s be broken.  

The same is true for you, sweet Sister.  He is for us.  In love, grace, and mercy, His love propels us forward.  Our mistakes don’t make Him turn from us, they give us the opportunity to practice confession and repentance, press in closer, and experience forgiveness and restoration.  We are always welcomed back and loved forward, loop after loop, because His love is that incredible.

Prayer:

Father God, Thank you that you don’t lose patience with us.  You don’t frown down on us in frustration when we fail.  You know our weakness and you extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness when we confess, repent, and turn back to you.  You always welcome us back and you love us forward.  You never grow tired of the journey because you know each loop grows in us a humble heart and a deeper love for you.  Thank God, for your patience with us and your love towards us.

Amen. 


Will you do something a little out of the ordinary with me?  Will you step out of your comfort zone and step into the creative place where your imagination is?  I know it may feel a bit uncomfortable, but who constructed our mind’s ability to dream up, to envision, and to imagine?  

God did. The same God who used His creativity and imagination to form man from dust, separate sky from sea and sprinkle it with constellations and galaxies, and speak a zillion species of plants and animals into existence.  It’s also the same God who spoke through a burning bush, gave dreams and visions to many of His children, and plans the moments of our lives.

Because we are made in His image, that same creative, imaginative spark is in us!  Today, we’re using that to help us see an illustration that God formed in my mind recently about the kind of relationship that He invites us into.

Will you imagine with me?  You are on a beach.  A storm is rolling in.  The sky is dark and the clouds are looming.  The white capped waves are breaking on the shore in a loud, steady rhythm.  A cold, driving rain beats down.  The wind is gale force.  The sound is nearly deafening. 

A lone palm tree stands at the edge of the sand.  The storm has the deep green fronds snapping out horizontally, like a flag standing at attention.  The strong, slender trunk bends against the wind.

Can you picture that in your mind?  Now I want you to envision two scenarios. In both, you run to the tree in hopes that it can provide safety.  However, in the first, you desperately grab onto the snapping palm fronds.  You hold on for dear life but the wind and the storm sling you every which way.  As each gust blows, you are pitched back and forth, tethered only by the jerking, slippery branches.

In the second scenario, you run to the tree for safety and fling yourself against its’ strong trunk, wrapping your arms around its’ sturdy base.  The wind and rain still beat against you and the tree, but the palm fronds whipping above your head actually provide a bit of shelter and protection.  Although the storm rages, you are anchored securely there, bear hugging the trunk of the tree.

Can you see the difference in those two illustrations?  Could you feel the difference?

Now let me make an application and let’s see if it hits home at all.

Grabbing the palm fronds for safety is similar to piling up our list of religious activities, trying to be good enough, trying hard enough, being a part of the right circles, and checking all of the right boxes in an attempt to please God.

Holding onto the trunk is like being in an intimate and connected relationship with God, confessing our sin and accepting His forgiveness, spending time with Him in prayer, knowing and trusting who He is through His word, and really allowing His perfect love, mercy, and grace to penetrate every part of our life.

There is a difference between trying to please God and being in a relationship with God.  That difference feels like the difference between flailing about, wind whipped and desperate in a storm gripping only a slippery branch or holding firmly to the strong and steady trunk of a tree while the storm rages around you.  

We all want to experience the feeling of being anchored in a storm, but how do we move from the flailing leaves to the firmly rooted trunk?

We learn to abide.  We spend time asking God to reveal Himself through His word.  We meet Him there and get to know who He is.  We trust who He is, what He says, and what He does.  We talk to Him often.  And we listen.  We get alone with Him and take time to just be with Him.  We quiet the world and press in to knowing Him.  As we do, our faith grows and our relationship deepens. 

Matthew 7:7-8 NIV says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Seek.  Knock.  Ask.  He’s always ready to open the door.  He invites us to know Him.  He welcomes us into relationship with Him as His beloved daughters.  


The sun is setting just beyond the brim of my hat and I’m sitting cross legged in  my car with an iced coffee nearby, taking the words from my morning quiet time spent journaling with the Trinity and typing them into the daily devotions that make up this Devotional.

As I pause to take in the gold of the sky, the sweet vanilla in my coffee, and even the quiet of this parking lot as I wait for my kiddo to finish youth group, I’m hearing  the gentle voice of my Father.

Every moment is a whispered invitation that says,  “Welcome!  Come.  See.  Know.  Be.”

Even the hard moments are an invitation, and there seem to be many in this season.  I dare say, those are the ones I cherish most.  When it’s been a difficult day or when life is crunchy and my soul feels a bit brittle, the “Welcome!” islike an arms-stretched-wide call to an embrace that feels like love, peace, and home.

In the moments where I’m sad or hurt, the invitation  is, “Welcome!”.

When I’m angry and frustrated, the call is, “Welcome!”.

In fear and doubt, you guessed it, “Welcome!”.

In my pain and suffering, the call remains, “Welcome!”.

Even in my sin, guilt, and shame, the response never changes, it is always and forever, “Welcome!”.

Our God is not a God who is distant and unapproachable.  He is not one who requires us to come to His level in order to have a relationship with Him.  All He asks is that we be willing to humbly turn our heart towards Him.

When we do, the invitation will always be, “Welcome!”.

And that invitation isn’t only to us, it’s to any who would come.

To the broken, the messy, the religious without relationship, and the self righteous…

To the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the elite, and the wealthy…

To every culture, every race, every ethnicity…

To every gender, to every age…

To every person…

The invitation is and forever will be, “Welcome!”.

And, I’m so grateful for that.


I don’t know where you are right now or what might be going on in your life.  I don’t know what lies you’ve believed about yourself, your circumstances, and your situation.  I’m not even sure what you do and don’t believe about God.

But there are some things that I do know.

No one is beyond His love.

No place is past His reach.

No situation is hopeless for Him.

No sin can’t be forgiven by His love.

No life can’t be remade by His mercy.

No heart can’t be changed by His grace.

No brokenness can’t be made whole by His hand.

No hurt can’t be healed by His touch.

No enemy is too strong for Him to defeat.

No sorrow can’t be turned to joy by Him.

No chaos can’t be turned to peace with Him.

No loss can’t be comforted by Him.

No wayward soul can’t be rescued by Him.

No need can’t be provided for by His abundance.

No lie can’t be overcome by His truth.

He never fails, never leaves, and never loses.

He is good, kind, and faithful.

He welcomes the lost, hurting, broken, battered, weary, oppressed, forgotten, bruised, abandoned, neglected, destitute, lonely, and mistreated.

He touches the untouchable, loves the unlovable, and is a friend to sinners.

He forgives.

He shows mercy.

He extends grace.

His arms are open to you, no matter who you are, where you are, what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you.

He knows you.

He sees you.

And He loves you more than you could ever begin to comprehend.

Romans 8:38 NIV says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Did you hear that?  Nothing can separate us from the love of God.  Nothing.  Nothing in our past, present, or future can stop His love.  No height or depth can keep us from Him.  No power.  Not even life, death, or anything in creation separates us from God.

Nothing.

Nothing makes us too unlovable.

Nothing makes us excluded.

Nothing makes us unqualified.

Nothing makes us not-enough.

Nothing makes us unwelcome.

Our Father saw the things that could separate us.  He gave His Son.  Jesus’ shed blood made a way.  God invites you to come.

Prayer:

Father God, Thank you for the way you lovingly open your arms to welcome in any who will humbly turn to you and come.  We are overwhelmed by the incomprehensible, unconditional way you love.  The magnitude of it blows us away, and all we can do is thank you and praise you for who you are and what you’ve done.

Amen.


Have you ever been weary?  Not just tired, but deep down, bone and soul weary.  Life moves fast and the things that need attention seem endless.  Kids, family, relationships, work, household tasks, responsibilities, schedules, and deadlines all seem to require us to steamroll ahead and it can feel like there is no way to slow down to even catch your breath.  

This is something that was really a struggle for me. 

I could tell when I was moving towards this kind of depleted weariness because instead of my normal vigor and excitement for each new day and the things it holds, when the alarm went off I’d find myself pulling the covers up over my head.  I’d begin to fantasize about Netflix binges, long walks, quiet afternoons, and naps.

I use to think that I just needed to push through, to keep going, to martyr myself and just do it all.  I’d realize I was burning out, but not feel like I had any other option but to keep my head down and just do the next thing in front of me. 

Rest seemed like a luxury.  Time to pause and be still seemed like something that had to be traded out for productivity.  Long, slow, quiet, early mornings with God had to be shortened so that I could get on to more important things.   

I’d focus on putting out the next fire while exhaustion slowly engulfed my mind, body, and soul.

I’d see myself behave in ways that were grumpy, short tempered, and distracted.  I had a hard time being present and engaging with my people because my to do list loomed so large in front of me.  I seemed to always be in a hurry and busyness was my normal. 

I use to think the answer to overcoming the weariness was to just keep my head down and work harder so that I could get caught up.  Maybe even get ahead.   

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The answer wasn’t moving faster and pushing myself harder.  The answer was slowing down and pushing in closer to God.

When I traded out intentional time to rest, to be still, and to abide with Him in prayer and in His Word so that I could be more productive, I was giving up the one thing that could nourish my mind, body, soul, give me strength, and bring me peace. 

God’s Kingdom is, and has always been, an upside down one where the least are the greatest, the meek inherit the earth, the leaders are servants, and the sinless King of Kings and Lord of Lords bore the sin of all.  It is no wonder that in order to overcome the weariness we feel when life is overwhelmingly full, the answer isn’t to speed up, but to slow down.

We weren’t made to keep our head down and work harder, we were created to lift our eyes up to the One who holds it all, who gives us strength, and who restores our weary mind, body, and soul. 

Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV says this, “Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 

I didn’t know.  I hadn’t heard.

I bought the lie that productivity was the goal and, regardless of what it cost me, my hard work was the tool to meet that goal.  I traded the truth of God for the lies of this world.

 Yes, I want to be responsible, hardworking, and steward well the things that God has entrusted into my care. However, I know that my ability to do those things well doesn’t depend on my ability to push myself to near exhaustion.  It depends on my ability to press in close to God and draw on His strength and His power. 

For me, that often looks like reorganizing my priorities and beginning my day in the presence of my God.  It looks like early mornings steeped in the truth of God’s word and calling out to Him in prayer.  It looks like laying aside my to do list for time with the One who is in all, over all, and above all.

In all honesty, I still get weary sometimes.  It can still be a struggle to go against our cultural norm of needing to do it all, hold it all together, and be all things to all people.  I can still find myself feeling a little worn out and weary when busyness and responsibility pile up, but I also know that when I feel that way I need to pause, and take a look at what I’m prioritizing.  

 Instead of pushing harder to overcome the weariness that I feel, these days I find myself pushing in closer to God.  And every time, I’m better off for it.  I walk away with my mind, body, and soul refreshed and I’m better able to steward all of the things God has placed in front of me. 


I turned forty in July and it has felt a little like a coming home to myself.  I feel more comfortable in my own skin, more secure in my unique calling, more confident in who God has made me to be, and more sure of the space that I am called to fill in this world.   

I’ve also developed a new found appreciation for honesty, authenticity, and vulnerabilijty.

 I know who I am and I know whose I am.  I know the One who defines me and who assigns my value.  I do not let anyone besides my Father determine or decide my worth. 

Most of the time.

But there are still some times when the desire for approval causes me to shrink and silences me. 

Recently, in a discipleship cohort that I am participating in, I had a little moment where the Holy Spirit convicted me about this.  In this cohort, we have been learning how to be effective disciples who not only abide with God, but can share their Jesus story and the gospel message with others.  

During the first class, we were asked to share the story of our faith journey and give a brief summary of the gospel message.  For some reason, I had that pull to get small and quiet.  As the leader went around the circle and other Pastors, Ministers, and leaders shared, I hoped I wouldn’t get called on.

Would my messy come-to-Jesus story be too much for these people?  Would they look down on me?  Would my story be a little too rough around the edges? 

If I shared the gospel with this group of people, would I sound silly?  Would my theologically unschooled version sound as good as theirs?  Would it be obvious that I’m just an average Joe who loves God but has never been to seminary?  What if I said something wrong?  Would I look foolish?

And then it happened.  The leader called on me.

Pretend you’re at a coffee shop and you’re chatting with a friend that doesn’t know Jesus.  They tell you that they are having a really hard time in their marriage because they don’t feel loved.  How can you give them the hope of Jesus?”

 “Well,” I began, nervously.  “I think I’d probably do this a little differently than you all have, just because of who I am and my own personal journey.  I guess I’d say, ‘I know what it’s like to feel unloved.  My parents divorced when I was little and my daddy just couldn’t be present. I didn’t understand and felt rejected and unloved.  It left a whole in my heart.  I spent a lot of my teenage years making some pretty bad choices searching for approval from others.  As a young adult, I made a complete mess of my life hoping to fill that void. In the depth of that pit, I met Jesus and found the One who loved unconditionally, who would never leave of forsake me, and who wanted me enough that he’d die to save me, even when I was messy and broken, so that I could live eternally with Him.  He changed every part of my life.  And now, I just want others to know Him so they can experience that kind of love.’ I guess, that’s probably what I’d say.”

I took a slow, nervous breath and looked around to see how everyone would respond to my very short and very vulnerable answer. 

After a minute, the leader spoke up.  

“Wow.  That would definitely do the job.  Who else feels like they are ready to recommit their lives to Jesus?” he asked, smiling, as he surveyed the nodding group. 

And that’s when it struck me.

There are times when I am afraid to speak up because I’m afraid I won’t do it well.  I might sound silly.  I might not have the right words.  People might think I’m weird.  I might make a fool of myself or, worse yet, make the gospel sound foolish.

But people don’t want to hear a perfectly polished, squeaky clean, eloquent, theological exposition of the gospel.  What they appreciate is the very same thing that I’ve come to appreciate in these forty years.

Honesty.  Authenticity.  Vulnerability.

And in case you’re curious, that’s all Our Triune God wants, too. He wants us to share what He’s done in our lives with honesty, authenticity, and vulnerability. He isn’t asking us to preach an eloquent message or give a theological exposition, but He has equipped and called each and every one of us to share what He’s done in our life with those around us.

That’s all we’re responsible for. We can trust Him to do all the rest.

I came across this verse in Psalm 40:9-10 NIV and am using it as a personal mantra to overcome the desire to shrink or silence myself out of fear.

“I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know.  I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.  I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.” 

I proclaim. 

I do not seal my lips. 

I do not hide. 

I speak.  

I do not conceal.


I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I feel much like an overcomer in this season.  I kind of feel more like a make-it-througher or a just-keep-goinger.  Overcomer sounds a little more on top of things than I’ve been feeling lately.

But truth is not based on the way things feel.  Truth is based on our unshakeable, unchangeable, dependable, faithful, immovable God.  

While our feelings change and shift as quickly as the leaves in the breeze, God and His truth remain steadfast.  He is the same yesterday, today, and always.  What He says can be trusted.  He is our firm foundation, our solid ground, and our anchor in life’s storms. 

And what does He say? 

He says we aren’t overcomers because of anything we do or our own capabilities.  We are overcomers because of Him.   

Psalm 28:7-8 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.  The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.”

He says we can have peace because our ability to overcome doesn’t rest on our own shoulders.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

He says we are more than conquerors.  

Romans 8:37 “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” 

He says our faith in Him makes us victorious over the world and its problems.

1 John 5:4-5 “For everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 

He calls us overcomers because He is greater than anything we face.

1 John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  

Sweet INSPIRE sister, regardless of the situations you face, whatever circumstances you find yourself in, and however you may feel, you are an overcomer because God is an overcomer and He is alive and at work in you.   

That doesn’t mean that life is easy or perfect.  In fact, it might be downright hard and messy.   Even so, God is still on the throne. He is still moving.  He is working in ways we don’t see or understand to turn graves into gardens, to bring beauty from ashes, to breathe life into dry bones, to bring the dead to life, to make a way through the wilderness, to part the seas, and to restore and redeem what is broken. 

So, yes, sweet sister, I am an overcomer and so are you.  Let’s remember that when we feel a little defeated and lift our head, our hearts, and our hands to thank the One who makes us victorious.


God and I have been through some battles together.  We’ve slain some giants in my life and have fought in some intense battles on this journey that He and I have been on these last almost 20 years.  We have claimed many victories and defeated many foes.  

My God has proven himself to be a mighty warrior!

And it’s a good thing, because this season has us engaged in another war.

This time, the battlefield is my mind and the enemy is the lies that can invade, stake their claim, and drive out the truth I’ve worked so hard to plant there.

This enemy is a tricky one, because it almost imperceptively sneaks in and does its’ damage before I’m even aware of what’s happening.  Those lies don’t just stay tucked away in my mind, either, they escape and infiltrate my words and my actions.

Not only that, this enemy seems harmless.  It might take the form of whisper in my mind about how I’ve been wronged or how awful someone or something is, then it slides out as a perfectly timed snarky remark or a sarcastic tone, but before long it morphs into something bigger and uglier.  When I finally recognize it, it has transformed into anger, frustration, impatience, pride, greed, disrespect, or unkindness.  

Or it could try another route.  It could whisper in my mind about how insufficient I am or even how insufficient God is.  Then, it slips out as insecurity or worry.  By the time I see it for the enemy it is, it has transfigured into fear or doubt. 

At that point, it has grown so big and powerful I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle.

And I am.

Because I’m not fighting with the right battle plan.

I have been fooled into believing that I have to take on the overwhelmingly powerful enemy of anger, frustration, impatience, pride, greed, disrespect, unkindness, fear, or doubt.  I’ve wasted much energy trying to fight against these strong opponents.  

I’ve even gone to God and asked Him to slay these beasts for me.

But I’ve learned some things recently that have changed my whole battle strategy.

Romans 8:6 tells us, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

First, I’ve learned that I don’t need to wait until the enemy seems undefeatable before I ask God to help me.  Instead of my last step, that should be my first.  The minute I see a threat, I need to call of my Deliverer.  

The battle begins in my mind.  When I’m fighting the actions and not the lies that have led to the actions, I’m fighting the wrong enemy.

I’ve also learned that I need to recognize my enemy the minute it becomes a threat.  

At the first whisper of a lie in my mind, I need to call on God and grab my weapons.  That is where the battle begins.  When God and I engage my foe there, it doesn’t have the opportunity to grow into a monster that consumes and controls me.   

I arm myself with the truth of God’s word, the hope of His promises, the discernment, wisdom, and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the fruits of the Spirit that have grown in my life and do battle right then and there.

And it’s not just a single battle.  It is more of a war.

Daily, I see that enemy of lies begin to creep its’ way into my mind.  As soon I a catch a glimpse of it, I immediately call out to my Defender to fight for me.  Then, I speak His truth over the lies.  I stand on the truth of His promises.  I pray for the discernment, wisdom, and guidance of His Holy Spirit alive in me.  I harvest the fruits of the Spirit that have been cultivated in my heart.

The lies don’t stand a chance then.

The battle is over before it has a chance to get ugly.

And God and I overcome again.


I remember the day I decided that in order to truly stand firm in my faith and know God’s truth down deep in the core of my bones, I needed to take matters into my own hands.  In the church I was attending at the time, everyone carried their Bible in on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, but I rarely spent much time between the leather cover any other day of the week.  Because of that fact, the faith that I held onto was largely one that had been taught to me by others.

Let me pause here to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with learning from others.  I am an avid learner.  There is something about discovering, processing, exploring, and uncovering ideas and information that brings me life.  I’ve nearly always got a book in my hands or a podcast playing in my ear.  I’m continually listening to sermons, audio books, and lessons from gifted teachers.  However, faith isn’t one of those things that can just be handed from one person to the next in a perfectly executed sermon, well written book, or informative podcast.

A real, solid faith in Jesus Christ can only become rooted deep into the core of who we are when we make the choice ON OUR OWN to crack open the pages of our Bible, sit with God in the quiet spaces, listen to His voice, and seek His face.

Maybe that feels a little scary to you.  I know it did to me when I made the decision to take matters into my own hands.  After all, who am I to be able to understand and interpret scripture?  Who am I to be able to discern God’s voice?  Who am I that He would make himself known to me?

Well friend, I am a chosen person, a royal priest, a part of a holy nation, one of God’s special possession.  I am called to declare the praises of Him who called me out of darkness and into the light.  (adapted from 1 Peter 2:9) 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

1 Peter 2:9 NIV

AND SO ARE YOU.

If we are believers in Christ, that is a part of our identity.

While it’s good to put yourself under the authority of godly teachers and to be a learner who reads, listens, and explores the lessons that other godly men and women are passing on, nothing can compare to the lessons that the Holy Spirit will impress on you as you sit under the teaching of your Heavenly Father and learn from the Holy Spirit.

Before Jesus made a way for us to come before the Father, a holy go between was required.  Priests and prophets had to offer sacrifices and seek God on behalf of the people, but Jesus ushered in a new way.  His blood shed for us was the only sacrifice needed to make us holy.  He made a way for us to commune directly with God.  

His new covenant made us priest and prophet.

Friend, you have full authority to access God.  His word is available to you as a way to know His heart and learn about Him.  At salvation, His Holy Spirit indwelled you and became your teacher and guide.  Christ Jesus acts as your intercessor, friend, and advocate.  

You have complete freedom to take matters into your own hands.  In fact, God wants you to.  His desire is for you to seek Him.  

Jesus said this in Mark 12:29-30 NIV when asked which of the commandments was the most important, ““The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: …Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.””

God doesn’t want our second hand devotion to a faith that we’ve adopted from someone else.  He wants us to love Him fully with all that we are.  It’s impossible to love someone in that way without knowing them.

And how do we know Him? 

Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV puts it this way.  “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and soul.”

He has given us all we need to know Him.  He wants our relationship with Him to be that intimate and personal. 

If you’re feeling stuck on how to take that first step, might I suggest that you pick up His word and begin there?  

2 Timothy 3:16-17NIV reminds us that “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Start there and then ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  Share with Him your desire to know Him.  He promises to meet you there.

James 4:8 NIV encourages us to “come near to God and he will come near to you.”

Sweet friend, by all means, learn from those who have been gifted with the ability to be godly teachers, but don’t just stop there.  Take matters into your own hands and get to know God on a personal level.  It changes everything.

Prayer:

Father God, Help us to seek you with our whole heart, mind, strength, and soul.  We want to know you in a real and personal way.  We desire deep intimacy with you and we know you want that same thing.  Give us wisdom and discernment when we read your word.  Speak to us in prayer.  Make yourself known to us.  Give us the desire to take matters into our own hands.

Amen.


This morning was supposed to be an easier run in my half marathon training schedule. After an 8 miler on Sunday, the four that I was running today should have been a piece of cake. But it wasn’t.

I was tired this morning and just couldn’t get motivated to get out the door, so it was already hot and humid when I took those first few strides. My muscles were still sore and I wasn’t feeling that little surge of joy I normally feel when my feet hit the pavement.

Plus, to add insult to injury, about two miles in my air pods died! Now, all I had to listen to was the huffing and puffing of my own breath and the thudding of my own heart.

I turned down a side road and glanced down at my watch. Just over a mile to go and I was feeling exhausted. I had already convinced myself that I just could’t do it today, so I made a little deal with myself.

Make it to three miles and then you can walk the last mile, if you need to.

Deal. Easy out.

I took a deep breath and glanced down the long road, picking a point father away to focus on when an older man on the other side of the road caught my eye.

“Second lap.” He smiled and gave me a thumbs up. “Way to go! Keep it up!”

That little bit of encouragement was all that I needed.

“Thank you!” I huffed and waved as I picked up my pace and headed down the road.

I hadn’t seen him tending his yard when I was on my way out, but he must have seen me the first time I turned down that road earlier in my run. I made it to the turn around and another glance at my watch told me I was almost at three miles. Maybe I could make it the entire four miles after all.

I rounded the corner and saw the older gentleman still standing in his yard.

“How far are you running today?”

“Four miles. Almost done.” I said, feeling encouraged.

“Wow! Great job! That takes some time and commitment. Good work!” He said as I went past.

“Thank you!” I panted and headed up the last big hill of my run, determined to finish the four miles strong.

Sometimes, we feel defeated and need someone to come along side and speak a word of encouragement into our weary hearts at just the right moment to give us that little boost we need to keep going. Today, that man reminded me of the power of cheering someone on.

He didn’t know me. He simply saw someone who needed a kind word and offered it without hesitation.

Be that guy.

Friend, every day we encounter people who need a smile, a kind word, and a little affirmation.

I want to be a cheerleader, a spirit lifter, and a thumbs up giver. I want to be the kind of woman who sees the weary and exhausted and offers them a smile. I want to be the kind of person who sees the defeated and speaks a word of hope and life. I want to be the kind of human who makes the world a little bit better by the kindness I offer to the hurting and struggling.

Let’s be the one known for lifting others up. Let’s be the woman who is known for propelling others forward and spurring them on. Let’s be the guy who gives a thumbs up and tells the stranger that they are doing a good thing and that we believe in them.

You never know what a difference it could make in someone’s day.


Your biggest mistake pales in comparison to God’s incredible mercy, grace, and forgiveness. There is absolutely nothing that you or I can do that would cancel His love for us. If we turn from what we’ve done and turn to Him, He is willing to meet us every single time. His love is that good.

I remember a point in my life where I was feeling like I’d messed things up so badly that there was no way to fix them. In complete desperation, I gave up and turned to Jesus.

Hopeless and helpless, I invited God into the mess and asked Him to begin to mend the things that I’d broken.

That was almost 20 years ago. He was faithful then and He’s been faithful a million times since that day because He is a God who loves, who forgives, who redeems, who reconciles, and who restores.

He offers freedom from our guilt and our shame and hope for our future if we just ask.

God,

Have mercy on me. Forget my sin and cleanse me. I own my failures and know that every sin I’ve committed was a sin against you.

You are holy and good. You are right to judge me and you are the only one who can cleanse me and restore me.

Give me a pure heart. Renew a faithful Spirit within me so that I will keep following you. Don’t be far from me, Lord. Be my friend and help me.

Replace my guilt and shame with joy and a willingness to stay close to you.

Help me, God, so I can tell others the things I’ve learned. I don’t want them to make the same mistakes. I want to help people who’ve gone the wrong way know that they can turn to you and be changed.

You’ve changed me and saved me, now I want to thank you. I want to tell others about your love and forgiveness.

I’d do anything for you, God, but all you want is my love and obedience. I freely give it because I know your way is best and you are good. I want to honor you with my life.
Amen.

This prayer was inspired by Psalm 51.

At the time he penned Psalm 51, King David had committed adultery with another man’s wife, lied and deceived, arranged the murder of the woman’s husband, and then taken the woman as his wife.

He knew a thing or two about God’s over the top love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

If God could do what He has done in my life, and in King David’s life, then I believe He can do it for you.

Remember, nothing can separate you from His love and nothing can keep you from experiencing the freedom of His forgiveness. There is hope.

Psalm 51 NIV

“Have mercy on 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; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret 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. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

Open my lips, Lord, 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. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.”


Sometimes, we don’t realize how much we need to be made whole until we really invite God into the messy and broken places.

I’ve been on a journey towards wholeness for quite some time now. In 2019, I felt like my word for the year was Shalom. Shalom means peace, but it also means whole, complete, and in harmony. I fully embraced my word, having no idea the upside-down, inside-out, transformational process I was stepping in to.

You see, we are body, soul, and Spirit. For us to be whole and healthy, every party of our being needs to be moving towards Shalom. So often, we neglect the whole self and put all of our attention on getting just one part of us healthy. We can’t ignore the body and soul, while we only focus on the Spirit or we won’t be balanced. Our physical bodies can’t be at peace if our soul and spirit are ignored. One part, out of whack, disrupts everything.

Our whole self needs to be seeking Shalom.

In 2019, I committed to my journey. It hasn’t just been a one year journey, though. And it hasn’t always been easy. Shalom work is hard and holy work. God has been continually walking me toward peace, wholeness, completeness, and harmony in so many areas of my life these last two years.

I’m coming to understand that I may always be working towards Shalom. It’s an ongoing process and a lifelong journey. I believe every one’s walk toward wholeness and healing is.

It is no small task to find our wholeness, our healing, our completeness, our peace, and our identity entirely in the Father, Son, and Spirit.

So, I keep moving forward, one little Shalom step at a time. I keep unearthing areas that need His touch. I keep exposing the mess and letting Him mend. I keep inviting Him into the brokenness and asking Him to heal.

And He is.

I see Him bringing Shalom in my physical body as I train for a half marathon after an entire year of medical procedures to heal my legs. My strength is being restored and, with Him, I’m doing the work to bring Shalom to my physical body.

He’s been bringing wholeness to me emotionally and relationally, as well. Deep wounds have been healing, old unhealthy patterns are being broken, relationships and roles that I let define me now don’t, and I see God moving to help me become someone who has peace emotionally, mentally, and relationally. And while this work is often the hardest for me, I know God is leading me towards a deep soul Shalom.

I recognize that much progress toward Shalom has been made in my Spiritual journey, too. My relationship with my triune God is richer, deeper, and more personal than it’s ever been. I’m pressing in and He constantly meets me in the searching, questioning, probing, studying, learning, and healing that I’m doing. In Him, my faith is continually growing as I seek to go deeper with Him.

He is undoing me so that He can reshape me from the inside out.

I haven’t arrived yet. In fact, the farther I go the more work I see that needs to be done, but I’m grateful for the progress and committed to the journey towards being made whole, healed, complete, and at peace in Him.

Because of this, Psalm 35:9-10 resonates deep in my heart today.

Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in His salvation. My WHOLE BEING will exclaim, “Who is like you, Lord?”

Psalm 35:9-10 NIV (emphasis my own)

My WHOLE BEING will praise Him because He is a God of Shalom. He is a God who wants to bring restoration, reconciliation, and redemption to all things.

You and me included.

But we have to be willing to enter in to the process. Healing and wholeness are worth the work. The journey isn’t easy but it’s necessary. God desires to bring Shalom to our whole selves, regardless of where we are and what we’re experiencing in our body, soul, or Spirit.

He is able. I believe it.

And if he will do it for me, I believe He will do it for you. Everyone’s Shalom journey is different. Yours won’t look like mine and mine won’t look like anyone else’s. But this I firmly believe, we are each called to step into the journey and invite God into the messy and the broken so that the work of healing and wholeness can begin and so that we can be complete and at peace.


Sweet friend, I’m praying that God does his powerful Shalom work in each of our lives and that we can say, “My WHOLE BEING rejoices and delights in Him”.

Because moving towards Shalom is moving toward freedom. It’s learning to own our voices and know our lane. It’s being confident in who we and and whose we are.

Shalom is embracing our calling, loving ourselves and others well, and experiencing God in the middle of every moment.

I want that for me and I want it for you. So, Let’s step in. Let’s wade deeper. Let’s embark on the journey with God and seek Shalom.


You may be feeling like the enemy is winning, like you’re completely surrounded by opposition, and like the attack on your family and home will destroy it, but don’t give up.  

“Don’t be afraid of them!  Remember that the Lord is great and awesome!  Fight for your families, for your sons and daughters, your (spouse), and your houses!”  

Nehemiah 4:14b

Fight, but know that you aren’t fighting alone.  God has placed people in your life to fight with you and for you.  Call on those people.  Sound the battle cry and gather them.  Ask them to pick up the weapons of prayer, scripture, and community to fight on your behalf.

Think about you friends, church family, and loved ones.  Which ones are faith warriors?  Ask them to pray for you when you can’t find the words.  Ask them to hold you up and encourage you with scripture when you feel weak and defeated.  Call on them to gather around you and your family to protect you while you’re in a battle.

You don’t have to fight alone.  Rally your faith warriors, but also know that God is fighting for you, as well.  No battle is too big for Him.  No enemy is too strong for Him.  No attack is too heated for Him.

He is for you.  He is for your family.  He is for your home.  He is a mighty warrior who can save.

Keep on keeping on, even as the battle rages around you.  Work.  Fight for your family.  Pick up your weapons of faith and ask your people to do the same.  Know that God is fighting with you.

Inspired by Nehemiah 4:13-21 NIV

“Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.  After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.

From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor.  The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall.  Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.  But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!””


Just this morning as I was softly padding across the quiet kitchen to pour a cup of steaming coffee and take my Bible and journal to the back deck, my phone buzzed from the table showing that I had an incoming message.  It was a dear friend who is walking through something very difficult.  My heart ached for her as I tried to think of ways to be a help to her through this trying time.

Her situation is so big and I’m so limited in how I can help. 

Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever felt like you were too small or too insignificant to make a difference?  Have you ever wondered if the little things that you do to help someone really matter?  

Friend, they do because you are a salt shaker and a shining light.  

Each and every one of us has the ability to make a difference in this world.  We have each been placed in our particular set of circumstances with our particular group of family and friends because God has a plan and a purpose for us right where we are.  In His infinite wisdom, He hand-picked our placement because He knew that right where we are would be the very best place for us to be.

He intended for us to shake a little salt and shine a little light into the darkness that exists in our little corner of the world.

Matthew 5:13-16 NIV says this: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?   It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  

But how?  How do we make a difference?  How do we bring out the God-flavors of the earth?  How do we bring out the God-colors in the world?  How do we shine a light when things around us can seem so very dark?

When the ones we love are hurting, when trials abound, when things seem heavy, or when life’s storms rage, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to be salt and light.  

There are so many ways that we can do that.  It may seem cliché, but our first response should always be to bring any situation or any person before the throne of God and cover them in prayer.  He holds all in His hands.  He is over all, in all, and above all.  

Just as we love to see our children love one another, our Father’s heart leaps when He sees His children lovingly praying for one another. By lifting our voice in prayer on behalf of our hurting loved ones, we tune into God’s love, we join in the work that God is already doing, and we align ourselves with His will and His way. 

Prayer isn’t the only way that we can shake salt and shine light.  We can also be someone who speaks life giving words.  This life can be a hard one and there is no shortage of people who use their words to harm, but we follow the upside down, countercultural example of Jesus.  Just like Him, we have the ability to use our words to heal, give hope, and offer love.

There is so much power in our words.  Our words have the power to mend a wounded spirit.  They have the power to lighten a load.  They have the power to build connection and offer encouragement. They also have the power to season our conversations with God flavors and illuminate a path to Jesus.  

Another way we shake salt and shine a light into the darkness that someone we love is experiencing is by being an authentic friend.  C.S. Lewis’ quote on friendship is a favorite of mine.  He says, “Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another, “What!  You too?  I thought no one but myself…”  

This world is full of the fake and the edited.  It is often polished to the point that it’s unrecognizable when compared to our own.  Because we often only see the highlight reel, it can be easy for someone who is struggling to get caught in the trap of comparison and feel alone and discouraged. 

Counteract this.  Be real, open, and honest about your struggles.  Be genuine and vulnerable.  Help your hurting friend to see that you’re a real person who they don’t have to pretend with.  Let them know that you are willing to wade into the hard spaces with them.  After all, God’s word tells us that Jesus can relate to every hurt we’ve carried and is a friend to sinners.  If He can enter into the brokenness, we should be willing to as well.

Friend, we don’t always have the power to fix things for the people we love who are experiencing difficult situations, but we do have the ability to help them feel the love of God when we shake a little salt and shine a little light into the darkness they might be facing.

Prayer:

Father God, Give us a heart to prayer for those who are struggling.  Give us the wisdom and discernment to speak life when things feel destined for death.  Give us the courage to be authentic and walk alongside people in their difficulties. We want to be people who point others to you when life is hard. Help us be people who shake a little salt and shine a little light into the darkness in our own little corner of the world.

Amen.


I’m drawn to the stars.  I love to stand outside on a clear night and stare up at the vastness of sky stretched out before me.  Wonder and reverence overwhelm me and I can almost feel the way my perspective shifts as I stand captivated by a million tiny pinpricks of light twinkling is a sea of inky darkness.

I suddenly feel small compared to the bigness of the sky, and not in a way that threatens me, but in a way that reminds me that I am temporary and finite but seen, known, and incomprehensibly loved by the God whose artistry created the cosmos.  

There is a little verse tucked away in the creation account of Genesis that has always stirred in my heart this deep awe over the majesty and power of God.  Without fail, it echoes in my mind while I stand there in a state of worship.

“He also made the stars.”

Genesis 1:16b

As you read this passage of scripture take note of that simple sentence.  Nothing God does is insignificant, but there is almost a nonchalance to this verse that caught me by surprise the first time I read it.  It has stuck with me ever since.

Genesis 1:14-18 NIV “And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.  God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.  God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.”

He also made the stars.  

No big deal for our God.  After all, He just spoke time, seasons, years, months, day and night, light and dark, and the sun and the moon into existence. And if that wasn’t enough to draw forth praise from our lips, there, almost as an afterthought, is one of my favorite verses.  

He also made the stars.

With His words, He brought forth innumerable stars, galaxies, solar systems, constellations, and planets.  He deliberately placed each one to give light to the earth and to separate light from darkness because He is light and because even in darkness, His light will shine.  

I can’t help but think of the night sky as a gift intended to remind us of a sovereign, mighty, powerful Creator who loved us so much that He spread the universe out before us as a display of that love.

I’d like to invite you to try something.  I’ve found it to be profoundly helpful and maybe you will as well.  Now, it won’t change your situation or fix whatever problems you may be facing, but it has the potential to shift your perspective and stir up praise and worship in your Spirit.

When you’re having a hard day and life’s problems see too big to handle, step outside and raise your eyes to night sky.  Whisper, “He also made the stars.”  And as you do, think about how big, how great, how awesome, how powerful, how capable, how intentional, how mighty, and how sovereign our God is.  

Then, remind yourself that the very same God who made the stars knows your name.  He knows the number of hairs on your head, the thoughts in your mind, the worries on your heart, and every detail about you.  He loves you with a love so great that was willing to die to reconcile you to Himself.  

That very same God has never left you or forsaken you and He never will.  

As you whisper those words into the flickering stars, let the truth of the bigness of God wash over you.  Trust in His ability to care for you.  Rest in His presence.  Have confidence in who He is and how He loves you.  Let His light drives out darkness. 

It may not change your circumstances, but I’m sure it will change your heart.

Prayer:

Father God, Sometimes life and its’ problems feel so big, but we know that you are bigger.  The darkness is scary and can feel overwhelming, but we know that you are light.  God, we trust in who you are.   We trust in your loving care.  We know you are able to do far more than we can think or imagine.  Help us to remember and rest in that truth. Amen


Father God,
You have redeemed me. You have called me by name. I am yours.

Fear has no hold on me because you, O Holy One, are my Savior.

You’ve always been there in every trial and every circumstance. In every situation you’ve been faithful and you’ve never let me down.

I trust in you and I rest in you presence even when life seems hard because I know that I am precious in your eyes and that you love me more than I can understand.

You love all your children. You will bring back those who feel far from you. You will bring me back if I wander. You love your children that much.

Nothing is ever too far gone for you.
You will restore what feels broken because you have a plan to redeem it all for your honor and glory.

I don’t always understand what is going on around me, Father. Sometimes things feel so overwhelming. There is so much pain, heartache, heaviness, hurt, confusion, and chaos in this life.

But what I do understand is that you are a present God, a God who is near, a God who is personal, a God who cares, a God who sees, a God who is compassionate, a God who is forgiving, and a God of mercy.

You are a God who loves His children and desires restoration, reconciliation, and redemption in all things.

I trust you, Lord. I rest in your plan. I have peace because I believe you are faithful and I know that you are able. I will not fear.

I will testify about what you’ve done in my life. I will be your witness and share about your goodness, God, because you are worthy of praise.
Amen

‭‭

Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬
“But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.

Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of their gods foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, “It is true.” “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.

I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?””

‬‬To really absorb the truth of these verses try sitting quietly and listening to Kari Jobe’s song, I Am Not Alone.
https://youtu.be/bfveawSAHJA

Songwriters: Austin Davis / Ben Davis / Dustin Sauder / Grant Pittman / Kari Jobe / Marty Sampson / Mia FieldesI Am Not Alone lyrics © Essential Music Publishing, Capitol Christian Music Group, Music Services, Inc


Yesterday’s blog post talked a bit about how, for me, being wholehearted means choosing well. It means inviting God into the mundane moments of the everyday. I believe that I am wholehearted when I ask God to infiltrate each and every aspect of my life, so that all that I am, all that I have, and all that I do is surrendered to Him.

This morning, as I continued on in my reading of 2 Chronicles, I was encouraged by Hezekiah, a man who wholeheartedly sought God in everything he undertook. 2 Chronicles 29-32 gives glowing descriptions of Hesekiah’s actions, and nearly each and every one, show him as successful because of the way he followed God.

In everything that he undertook…he sought God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.

2 Chronicles 31:21

But when I saw this verse, the encouragement that I felt shifted a little and questions became to creep in. I try to seek God and work wholeheartedly, but not everything I do prospers. In fact, some things occasionally seem like royal failures.

Can you relate? Have you ever been wholeheartedly following God but the thing you were doing did NOT look successful at all?

I gave myself a minute to dwell on that thought and the ones that surfaced with it.

“If the things I do don’t prosper, does that mean they weren’t done wholeheartedly enough by me?” “If I’m wholehearted, will everything I do prosper?” “Why have some things seemed like failure?”

Friend, I just wanted to pause for a moment and speak some life into my own heart and yours when thoughts like these invade.

I do believe that when we are wholeheartedly following God and doing the work he has laid out for us, we prosper even if the thing that we are doing doesn’t look like a success.

Let me explain. Following God always produces good. The good that comes from it could be an internal growth and change within our own hearts, it could be that someone else benefits from our obedience, and it could very well be that we don’t get to see the good that comes from it.

God is King of an upside down kingdom where the last become first, the leaders are servants, and we save our life by losing it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that “prosperity” may look a little different in His upside Kingdom as well. Instead of the outward success of the world, we may experience a quieter inwards success of the spirit.

That’s not to say our wholehearted work can’t or won’t be outwardly successful. God can totally do that if He chooses, and He often does. What I do want to remind us of is that just because something doesn’t look like a glowing success DOES NOT mean it is a failure. It means that we’re not viewing it in light of God’s divine perspective. We’re not seeing it through upside down kingdom lenses.

Last week, something that I had wholeheartedly followed God in and worked diligently on, took a turn that felt like a complete failure to me. My heart ached and I felt discouraged until a sweet friend reminded me that I wasn’t viewing this turn of events through my upside kingdom lenses. Now, what felt like a failure then, feels like growth, necessary change, and new opportunities. With my upside down kingdom lenses in, I see the way God has used and can continue to use this “failure” in an even bigger way.

Let’s be people who commit to seeing success through those upside down kingdom lenses and recognize that our wholehearted work for God will prosper, even if that prosperity looks different than we’d imagined. Let’s embrace the inward success that comes from following God as the best reward and know that things that might feel like outward failure are sometimes our biggest inward successes.

Let’s press on, sweet one. And may the same that was said of Hezekiah be true if us; in everything we undertake may we served God, work wholeheartedly, and prosper.


Every morning, the minute my alarm begins to play it’s cheerful little melody and my body returns to the rhythm of the day, I get the privilege to choose well. I get to decide if I burrow back under the warmth of my cozy blankets and snuggle deeper into my pillow or if I swing my legs over the side of the bed and make my way towards my already brewing coffee and the Bible and journal that I’ve left out beside my favorite corner of the couch. There are times when physical rest is my best choice, but more often than not, for me, choosing well means moving towards international connection with Jesus.

This morning, cozied into the crook of my couch with coffee on my side table and the dogs curled beside me, I read the words of 2 Chronicles 25:2 NIV and began to think about what it means to choose the Lord wholeheartedly.

He (Amaziah) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly.

2 Chronicles 25:14-15a

I asked myself, and God, what it means to wholeheartedly follow Him. As I’ve read through the Old Testament this year, I see a pattern that emerges as kings and leaders start out on a path towards God then divert into a different direction. I don’t want that to be my story. I want to stay faithful.

In the margin of my Bible, I penned a quick question and a prayer.

What does it mean to be whole hearted?

Father, help me not only start well but to stay faithful and follow you whole heartedly.

I sipped my steaming coffee and continued on in my reading until these words pricked my Spirit.

When Amaziah returned… he brought the gods of the people of Seir. He set them up as his own gods, bowed down to them, and burned sacrifices to them. The anger of the Lord burned against Amaziah.”

2 Chronicles 25:14-15a

In my own life, I know the things that I choose to make gods. I recognize the things that so often creep into first place in the fight for my time and attention.

One attribute of God that I’ve come to adore is that He gives us free will and the right to choose. He is not one to force Himself. He patiently waits for our invitation. In His graciousness, though, I sometimes mistakenly slide Him off the throne of my heart and allow things to take His place.

Priorities have a funny way of misaligning until God is so far down the list that I’ve failed to connect with Him or acknowledge Him at all in the course of a day filled with busyness and distraction.

I’m not exactly sure what following God wholeheartedly looks like for you, but this morning I was reminded that, for me, wholehearted living looks like choosing well.

Being wholehearted means that I choose Him first. It means that I choose to intentionally connect with the Father, Son, and Spirit each morning before something else has the chance to slip into His place. It means that I choose to invite God into each moment, each action, each task, each conversion, and each decision throughout my day.

I choose time with Him. I choose look for Him in the minutes spent cooking meals, going for a run, doing my chores, completing my work, spending time with my boys and my husband, and in all the simple tasks and to dos that fill each day.

Wholehearted, for me, means that my priorities, my plans, my work, my play, my relationships, and my whole self include His presence. I give Him full access and no corner of my life is kept from Him.

I’m far from perfect at this, but my Father is kind and merciful, gracious and forgiving. He knows my heart and He welcomes me each time I choose to turn towards Him. It’s progress, not perfection that He’s after.

So, this morning, as we swing our feet over the sides of our bed and step into the endless possibilities of a new day, let’s choose well. Let’s be intentional people who wholeheartedly turn towards and not away from God as we invite Him into the moments that fill our days.


I’m so glad that most of you didn’t know the old me.  While she wasn’t a completely terrible person, she was vastly different than the me of today.  In fact, she’s almost unrecognizable to me now.  

I look back at her and feel almost as if I’m watching a movie where the main character is one who is vaguely familiar.  I know the characters and I’m familiar with the story, and while the main character does feel familiar, she’s also someone who thinks, acts, and feels much differently than the me of today.

While that may not make much sense to you, it’s perfectly clear to me.  That old me and this new me ARE two completely different people. Maybe I should explain.

As a young woman, I found myself in a bit of a mess of my own making.  Poor choices, selfish living, rebellion, dishonesty, and many desperate attempts to fill a space in my life that could only be filled with Jesus had caused my life to spiral out of control.  

I didn’t like the me that I had become.   

Then, at 21, all of that changed.  I was given a whole new life.

My old heart was made new and filled with the love of Jesus.  My old flesh, my old mind, and my old emotions came under the authority of a new Master.  My whole self was filled with the Holy Spirit and I became a completely new me.

It wasn’t a small change; it was a complete and total transformation.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Psalm 40:1-3 because I think it clearly explains the process that I went through.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and he heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”

That’s what happened to me when God gave me new life.  He reached His loving and merciful arms out to me and lifted me up out that sinful, shameful, dirty pit that I had crawled into.  He rescued me.

He washed me clean and then set my feet on the firm foundation of His truth and His love.  He redeemed me and called me His beloved daughter.

He repurposed me when he put a new song in my mouth.  Instead of living for myself, I lived for Him and my heartbeat became telling others about this love the new life it offered.

That’s why I feel so disconnected from that old me.  I don’t even recognize her anymore.  She was given a new life and the new me jumped head first into that new life that Jesus offered.

I know God’s gift of new life is real because I’ve experienced it first-hand.  I’ve felt it deep in my soul and I’ve witnessed it with my own two eyes.  

And, if he did it for me; he will do it for you!

You see, our God is a God of new life.  It is in the very essence of His character and central to the very core of who He is. His very breath spoke life into existence.  He exhaled new life into dust to make man.   He is the giver of life.

In the Old Testament, He breathed new life over and over into a people who rebelled against Him. He never stopped offering His people a way to atone for their sins and renew their relationship with Him.  He offered new life through repentance, an atoning sacrifice, and a renewed promise to follow Him.  Yet, His people couldn’t ever keep their end of the deal.

Then, In the New Testament, He offered Jesus as the cure for that endless cycle.  Jesus became God’s complete gift of new life when He went to the cross as the only perfect sacrifice that could atone for the sin of all mankind.  He broke the cycle when He died on the cross and then overcame death, rising again three days later, to take His place at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. 

And, because God loves us and knows our flesh, this new covenant doesn’t rely on us.  It only relies on Him.

Jesus did the work on the cross to give us the gift of a completely new life under a new covenant that is bound entirely in the power, sovereignty, grace, mercy, faithfulness, forgiveness, and love of God.  

He did that for us. Because He loves us.  He offers every one of us the opportunity to choose to lay aside our old life filled with past mistakes and regrets and choose the new life that he offers.  

In His graciousness, mercy, and love, he makes it easy for us.  He comes to where we are and stretches out His hand into our mess and rescues us.  He does the work of pulling us out of the pit because we can’t dig ourselves out of it on our own.  

But, he doesn’t stop there. He redeems us and washes us clean then sets our feet on the firm foundation of His truth and His love.  He repurposes us and invites us into the work of His kingdom so that we can share this good news with others.

If you haven’t grabbed ahold of this gift of new life, I’d encourage you to consider it.  It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.  

And if you have, then I’d like to challenge you to dig in your heels and stand your ground on the firm foundation of His truth and His love.  Bravely sing the new song that He has placed in your mouth so that you can share the good news of His love with others.

This gift is for everyone and you’re invited to share it.

Prayer:

Father God,

We love you.  We know without you, we find ourselves buried in muck and mire, deep in a pit of our won sin and shame.  Thank you, Lord, for looking at in us love, for coming to where we are, for extending your hand to us, and for rescuing us from that pit. Thank you that you redeem us and that you give us a firm foundation to stand on in this life.

Thank you for the new song you’ve placed in our mouth.  Help us to sing it loud and proud so that others will come to know you.

Thank you for this incomprehensible gift of new life.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


Have you ever been reading your Bible and had the most seemingly insignificant verse stop you in your track and bring tears to your eyes?  That was the case this week as I was reading through the book of 1 Kings.

There I was, just reading through the story of good kings and bad kings and wars, when the enormity of this verse caught me completely unaware.  

1 Kings 15:5 says, “For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.”

Did you catch that? God’s word says that King David, the one who coveted another man’s wife, seduced her, caused her to commit adultery, got her pregnant, tried to weasel his way out of his situation with deception, intentionally led a group of soldiers into a situation where he knew some would die, and then tried to cover it all up; that David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep the Lord’s commands except that one time.

Wow.  That’s a pretty BIG except.

For a minute, I wresteled with my feelings about this.  I mean, I’m a big fan of King David.  He’s one of my favorite people in the Old Testament for many reasons, but to make the claim that he had done right and had followed all his life, except…  That seemed a little bit of a reach.  I mean, that’s a LOT to just dismiss.

And, then it hit me. God wasn’t dismissing it.  God had forgiven it.

You see, the “except” had to be there because unfortunately just because our sins are forgiven doesn’t mean that we may not still have some consequences, scars, or evidence of them in our lives.  It does mean that the minute we confess them to God, repent and turn away from those sins, and ask for his forgiveness He looks at us like they never existed.  

Psalm 103:9-13 reminds us, “He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor his anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.”

Do you know what that means?

That means, when God looks at you He sees His forgiven, beloved, righteous, chosen, redeemed, holy, daughter.

Even if there is a BIG “except” in your story.

So, sweet sister, this is what I want you to walk away with.  We all have an except in our story.  We all have sins and failures that we wish weren’t a part of our past. 

But, we can’t let our story stop before the except.

If David wouldn’t have cried out to God for forgiveness and repented of His sins, David’s story would have never had an “except”.  

David could have run from God.  He could have become weighed down by guilt and shame.  He could have walked away from his faith because of the mistakes he’d made.  He could have quit on God.

David’s story would have listed all of those sins and failures and that would have been the end of it.  But, because David chose forgiveness, he was covered in grace, mercy, and love.  His story was redeemed and now when we read about David, we see him called a man who had “had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life.”

Friend, I don’t know what your “except” is, but I know that it isn’t too big for God.  Don’t get so caught up in the past that you stop moving forward.  

Don’t let the faults, failures, or sins in your life or in your past keep you from an intimate and deep relationship with your loving Heavenly Father.

If you’ve got a big “except” in your story, then deal with it.  Confess it to God.  Repent and turn away from it.  Accept the forgiveness, the grace, the mercy, and the love your Father offers you.  Then Keep Going.

Prayer:

Father God, You don’t dismiss our faults and our failures.  You love us to much to let us stay in that place.  Instead, you offer us forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love if we call out to you, admit what we’ve done, turn away from it, and turn to you.

You are such a good Father. Thank you for the way you love us. Thank you for making a way for us to keep going past our “except” and to walk in relationship with you. We love you.

Amen.


I learned seen some of the most beautiful lessons on community from having a big, crazy, close, messy extended family.  My favorite memories are of cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents, great grandparents, parents, and siblings regularly gathered around card tables, picnic tables, coffee tables, or dinner tables.  Plates piled high with savory snacks and delicious desserts sat next to steaming cups of sweet, milky coffee as we laughed over card games, talked through troubles, cried over losses, supported in hard times, and built a foundation of love into the core of our family.

Now, please don’t misunderstand this to mean that things are always perfect.  My family, just like any other community isn’t perfect.  In fact, it’s often messy, but deep in the core of who we are, there is love, togetherness, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and steadfastness.  I can look to each member of my extended family and think of a lesson that they taught me about how real, healthy community should be.

My Grammy was a lover of people.  No matter how many mistakes you made or how badly you had behaved, her soft arms and her big heart were always open to you.  She forgave easily, always saw the good in people, and loved big.  My Grammy taught me that love in community  should be always see the best in people and should be undeniable.

My Aunt Beth Ann and my Uncle Shorty open their home for our family Thanksgiving each year, and have for as long as I can remember.  I’m not sure what “capacity” would be in their home, but I’m sure we far exceed it. We pile onto couches, line the rooms with chairs, sit cross legged on the floor, and overflow into the basement, front yard, and back deck.  Regardless of the tight quarters and the chaos that so many people create, their love teaches me that community should intentionally create space for togetherness.  

My Aunt Susie and my Uncle Donnie host our family Christmas gathering.  We play a rob your neighbor game every year and nearly everyone participates.  We drag all of the chairs into a huge circle to play.  Inevitably, as soon as we all get settled and finish listening to the rules, someone new wants to join in.  The circle is widened and a new chair is added.  There is always room.  Their love teaches me that community is inclusive.

My Aunt Sandra, my Aunt Sharon, and my Uncle Richard almost never miss a birthday party or family holiday. It doesn’t matter how far of a drive it is or how busy they are, they show up.  They are always there for their people.  They are dependable and faithful.  Their love teaches me that community should be present. 

My Uncle Clarence and my Uncle Chris are the behind the scene do-ers.  They are the ones who will work on your car, help with the yard work, grill the burgers at the family barbecue, and demonstrate their love with a smile and selfless serving.  Their love teaches me that community is helpful and serves sacrificially.

These little lessons on community may not seem ground breaking, but I’ve learned that the gifts that we offer in community don’t always seem monumental.  The gifts my family gives one another in community aren’t expensive or extravagant.  In fact, they aren’t things at all.  My family has taught me that the gifts we offer in community to help it grow are the unique talents, skills, and gifts that God has instilled in each one of us.

My Grammy gave the gift of unconditional love.   My Aunt Beth Ann and Uncle Shorty give hospitality and a space to gather.  My Aunt Susie and Uncle Donnie give inclusion while my Aunt Sandra, Aunt Sharon, and Uncle Richard give time.  My Uncle Clarence and Uncle Chris give their service.

These are all God given gifts and abilities that they use to love well in the community that is my family. They aren’t perfect people, but they use what they have to love the community that God has given them.

1 Peter 4:10 NIV says this and I believe my family demonstrates it well.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

The way that they love reminds me of the love that God calls me to show to others.  Our Father has gifted us with skills, characteristics, abilities, talents, and gifts that we get to use to love others well.  No gift that we have is too small or to insignificant for God to use to plant seeds of love, and just maybe the love that we show others will remind them of the love of their Heavenly Father.

He asks us to be His hands and feet here on earth and to love others as He has loved us.  He did that for a reason.  The counter unconditional, hospitable, inclusive, intentional, self-sacrificial way that we love has the ability to point people to Jesus when they see that the love that we give. Is an overflow of the love that Jesus has given us. We get the privilege of partnering with Him to spread the gospel message to those people that He has strategically placed into our lives to be our community.  

Each time we love the unlovable, choose to open our hearts or homes to all, each time we pull up a chair to include the left out, or invest our time and talent serving others, we love the community He has given.  He takes the most simple acts of love that you do and He uses them to build a foundation of love into the very core of His body here on earth. 

Sisters, let’s use the gifts we’ve been given to our communities and point them to Jesus.

Prayer:

Father God,

Thank you for the people that you have intentionally placed into our lives.  Thank you for the specific gifts, talents, traits, skills, and abilities that you have given to each one of us.  Help us to use those gifts to love our community well.  Help us to love them the way that you do.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


I’m fairly certain that there are a handful of spaces in my home where I can hear God the most clearly. In the steamy fog of my shower, standing at the island with an old Pyrex mixing bowl in hand, in the cozy quiet of my downstairs office, and standing in front of the dryer folding fluffy warm clothes seem to be the places He whispers to me the most often.

That was the case this morning.

I reached my sweatshirt clad arms into the heat of the dryer and pulled out my youngest son’s favorite gray fleece pants. As I shook the wrinkles out and lined up the seams to fold them, I had to shake my head and smile.

This barely teenage boy of mine isn’t really all that concerned with impressing others yet. That fact combined with the fact that he loves to be comfortable and cozy have caused these pants to become a recent arch nemesis of mine.

Approximately once a week, typically on our homeschool days, I have to tell this sweet boy that we have an errand to run or somewhere that we have to be that requires us to leave the house. Because I’m not as unconcerned about other people’s opinions as my very confident 13 year old, I have the absolutely unreasonable rule that we put on actual clothes that at least sort of match and look presentable before we leave the house.

Enter the continual conflict of the gray fleece pants.

These are my son’s favorite pants but, unfortunately for us all, they have gotten a hole in the knee. In my eyes, that disqualifies them for “out of the house” wear. The problem is that my guy doesn’t mind the hole. He likes to remind me, when I’m telling him to go change his pants, that the hole is hardly noticeable unless you get close and that the pants don’t even look that bad.

As roll my eyes and I lay these troublesome pants in his laundry basket I hear God whisper to my heart, “You’re a lot like that, dear one. You’ve had holes that you didn’t seem to mind. When I want to do the work of making you whole, it is sometimes challenging to get you to see that just because the holes aren’t all that noticeable and don’t look that bad doesn’t mean they don’t need to be made well.”

Sometimes truth stings a little.

Last year, my word of the year was SHALOM. It means peace in Hebrew. It also means whole and complete. God and I have been on a journey of SHALOM. He’s been bring peace, healing, and wholeness to some areas of my life that were a little holey.

He’s showing me that completeness comes only through Him. He wants me to be whole. He’s in the process of helping me move me from holey all the way to wholly, and I’ve been a little resistant to the journey.

You see, not too long ago, I didn’t mind my holes. I’d learned to live with them just fine, in fact, they were hardly even noticeable unless I looked at them closely. They didn’t even look that bad, but God didn’t want me walking around with spiritual, emotional, or relational holes. He wanted me to be whole.

He wants to make me more and more like Jesus, so he’s asking me to journey from holey to whole.

Earlier this year as I thought about my word for 2020, I felt him smile and shake his head in much the same way that I did while I was folding Gavin’s pants.

“No, sweet girl,” He whispered. “We’re not done with SHALOM quite yet.”

So, on I go on this journey from holey to whole, with the only one who can take me there.

And I can’t help but wonder if He’s wanting to get rid of some of the holes in your life as well. Maybe it’s a relationship that is broken, a faith that has been turned away from, or a deep pain in your soul that you’ve buried that is feeling a bit like a gaping hole deep inside of you.

Maybe you barely even notice it anymore. Maybe it doesn’t seem that all that bad unless you really look at it closely.

I’m familiar with those kind of holes. I’ve had a few of my own that I thought I could get by with.

But God.

He showed me wholeness is worth working towards. Healing, peace, and completeness can be found through Him if we ask and then are willing to journey with Him towards it.

If you’ve got holes, friend, ask Him to help you move towards whole. It won’t be easy. You may be reluctant. Heck, you may even stubbornly think it’s ok to wear the holes for a while longer.

And that’s ok. It’s a process. It’s a journey.

Just be willing to ask Him to show you the truth about the holes and be willing to move with Him towards whole.


Things are often about so much more than they appear on the surface,
so be careful about coming to a conclusion too quickly.

Tuesday, I posted this picture on social media with text that read, “Sometimes, on a Tuesday, you’re feeling bold and decide to go red and get a tattoo.”

My sweet friends on social media had so many kind things to say, but one comment struck me in particular. A friend commented that she’d wanted to get a nose ring for a long time, but worried how others might respond. She complimented me on being courageous enough to be myself.

She had no idea how meaningful that comment was, not because I was fishing for kind words, but because that nose ring was my own little silent revolution.

revolution

rev·​o·​lu·​tion \ ˌre-və-ˈlü-shən  \

2a: a sudden, radical, or complete change. …d: a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something  (from merriam-webster.com)

A Story About A Nose Ring That Was About So Much More Than A Nose Ring

I had wanted to get my nose pierced for a while, but I was worried about what people would think and say. I serve in ministry, write, and speak. I’m also from the midwest and , in general, we midwesterners tend to be a bit more conservative. Not only that, but I have some very conservative church experience in my background.

But even more importantly than all of that, in my own journey with Jesus over the last nearly 20 years, I have moved from someone who followed the rules and expectations of religion out of a desire to be seen as “worthy of salvation” to someone who is focused on a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus and a healthy relationship with Christian community.

As I learned to let go of the rules and press into relationship, I also learned to let go of my need to people please. I gave up my need to find my validation through others, to conform, to earn acceptance, and to find my worth through the approval of others.

Instead, I learned to focus solely on my own personal relationship with Jesus and to put my worth only in who God says I am.  A thriving relationship with Christian community came as a result of knowing who Christ is and who I am in Him.

It’s been quite the ride.

Now, back to the nose ring. One day, on a road trip back home from visiting one of my very dearest friends and talking a lot about this journey I’ve been on, I stopped to get gas. 

As I pumped my gas, I gazed at the scenery around me. Across the street from the gas station and down the block a ways was a tattoo parlor.

When I saw it, my first thought was, “I should totally just stop in and get my nose pierced. I’ve always wanted to. Why not today?”

My next thought was, “What in the world would people say? What would they think? Is that even ok?”

That second set of thoughts bothered me because I feel like I’ve come so far, but I also know that it’s so easy to slide back in to old patterns of behavior.

So I went. Alone. To the tattoo parlor by the gas station in some random town between Franklin, TN and Jefferson City, MO.

It was my own little act of silent revolution against the lies I used to believe.

Remember, revolution means a fundamental change in the way you see or think about something. This nose ring is a visual reminder of the fundamental change that God made in my heart about the way I saw myself, Him, and others.

Sudden and radical are a part of the definition for revolution as well and seem to fit this story. I guess stopping and suddenly deciding to get a nose piercing is a little radical, but it didn’t feel that way.

It felt empowering, like owning my belief and taking a stand against this enemy of “people pleasing”.

I wanted to give myself a physical reminder that not everyone will approve of me and I don’t have to conform to make them, in fact, it’s not my job to try to control how they respond to me or whether they accept me.

Putting such a big value on that had suffocated me in my past.  I spent years of my life trying to follow the rules well enough and be good enough so that others would think my faith was genuine and would count me worthy.

By the grace of God I have moved past that into a healthy relationship with Jesus and with Christian community.

So, I pierced my nose.

It may sound silly, but it’s a constant confirmation that there is only one that I look to when determining my worth or the authenticity of my faith, and he looks so much deeper that what’s on the surface of a person. He sees my heart. He calls me worthy, beloved, chosen, redeemed, forgiven, daughter, friend, righteous, and clean. He is sanctifying me every day to make me more and more like Him, because He loves me.

This week I got a new tattoo. I love it. The same basic principle holds true. This tattoo is an outward display of what is in my heart. It’s an un erasable, permanent part of me that immediately tells everyone I’m a believer.

It shows that I am proud of the Jesus I love and that I won’t ever shy away from sharing Him with others.

Not everyone will love my nose ring or my tattoo. Not everyone will understand. But it’s not for everyone, it’s for me. It is another little silent revolution against lies I’ve believed and an altar I’ve set up on my path to remind me of truth.

***PLEASE NOTE, THIS IS MY journey. I’m not advocating for anyone to get a nose ring or a tattoo. I’m just sharing the story behind mine. 


Today, I was tired. 

Not the kind of tired that a nap could fix, but a soul weary kind of tired. An I’ve been DOING and not really ABIDING kind of tired.

Do you know the tired I’m talking about?

I always recognize this kind of tired because, in it, my emotions sit a little too close to the surface, my words and reactions come out before they pass through my filter, and overwhelm is the dominant feeling weighing on me. 

My natural tendency is to choose one extreme when I feel this way. I either want to hibernate or push through. I want to burrow under blankets and rest until I feel recharged or I want to tackle the to do list and cross off every item until I feel accomplished.

Does that sound familiar? 

Today, I took a different approach. 

I’m working to undo some unhealthy habits that I turn to, like hibernation or pushing until I’m exhausted. Instead, I set aside my planner for a while this afternoon (even though I had a million things that needed done) and I spent time in prayer and in the Word. 

Hibernating or pushing through wouldn’t have helped the kind of tired that I was dealing with at all. It was my Soul that was tired. I needed to be refreshed in my Spirit. 

And here’s the honest truth of it, the world didn’t stop spinning when I took a break to be still. Nothing feel apart. I think that’s often what we fear will happen if we take our hands off the wheel for a moment to abide. 

In fact, an hour later, I’m sitting here waiting for the kids to get out of school and pulling that planner out while I sip my hot tea. 

My heart feels lighter, my mind feels less chaotic, and instead of overwhelmed, I feel hopeful as I make a plan to do the things that need to get done this week. 

I got the kind of rest I needed.

I wonder if the answer to our overwhelm, sometimes, is to DO a little less and ABIDE a little more. 

Time in prayer and in the word is never wasted. It’s not indulgent or irresponsible. It’s time well invested. 

It renews, restores, refreshes, and refocuses. It connects, corrects, and brings us into congruence with our triune God. 

If you’re tired, I mean really soul tired, maybe a little abiding is the answer for you, too.

John 15:4
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”


Maybe you don’t “got this” BUT GOD DOES.

Have you ever felt like you’re being asked to step way outside of your comfort zone into a place where you don’t feel as confident in your capabilities as you might normally feel?

Maybe it’s your job. It could be that your responsibilities have changed and you are feeling a bit uneasy tacking the new challenges set in front of you.

Home life can feel this way, too. Marriage and children both go through new phases and stages that can leave us scratching our heads and wondering how best to love and serve these people that God has given us to spend our lives with.

It could be a friendship or a family relationship that has shifted. You might find yourself in a place where you feel a little overwhelmed by the new role you fill or the way you’re being asked to help.

Maybe it is a ministry or call to love and serve others on behalf of Jesus that causes you to doubt if you’re the man or woman for the job.

From time to time, we all find ourselves in spaces that make us wonder if we’ve got what it takes to do the slightly-scary-and-a-bit-overwhelming task that we’ve been called to.

I seem to find myself here pretty often! In all honesty, insecurity can be my kryptonite. It can stop me, if I allow it to take up space in my mind and heart. You see, that big step out of my comfort zone can leave me with sweaty palms, a belly that’s somersaulting, and knees that are a little shaky.

BUT, even on shaky knees, I take the step that I feel God is calling me to take. I bet you do, too!

Because those feelings of not-enough are not the boss of us!

The thing is, we don’t have to be enough. For the task we’re called to, we actually may not be capable of being enough on our own, and that’s ok.

We know the one who is always enough and who enables us to be enough.

Listen to this passage of scripture from 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NIV. In it, Paul is reminding the people of Corinth that he (Paul and his ministry) doesn’t need a “letter of recommendation” to be confident that He can do the work God has called him to do.

“Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant…”

Competent. Capable. Enough.

If we’re following God’s leading and stepping into a place that He calls us to step in to, especially one where we have the ability to shine the light of Jesus, He will be enough for us.

That’s a huge relief, friend. That steadies the shakiest knees. It calms the most insecure heart. When we feel a little out of our element, that verse reminds us that we are competent because of the God who called us.

So, whatever circumstance or situation is leaving you feeling a bit out of your element, can I offer you a bit of hope and encouragement?

When you feel like you aren’t enough, rest in the one who is. He’s got you.

Grace and love,

Bobbie


Do you need a little encouragement on how to find and connect with community? (Hint: It’s so much easier than we think!)

How about a little reminder that church can be that safe space where we grow closer to one another and to God?

Maybe you need a little pat on the back that says, “Hey, girl! This work that you do in the everyday with you’re In-Real-Life or your Over-The-Screen people has Jesus written all over it?”

What about a little hope that Sisterhood exists and that we can all scoot on over and make a little room at the table for one another?

My sweet friend Rachael Adams interviewed me for her Love Offering podcast and we had a great conversation about all of those things! 
it’s just the thing you need today to encourage your heart!

Here’s what Rachael had to say about it:


Bobbie Schae is building us up by encouraging us to create lasting and intentional community. Join us as we discuss honoring God amidst the craziness of life. How can you encourage someone today? Tag a friend who encourages you or someone you would like to encourage today. 
We discuss:
Keeping family priority
How society does relationships and how they can be done better
The local church and women’s ministry
Making space for all of us
Overcoming opposition
How to build others up

You can listen to our chat on the Love Offering podcast on your favorite platform or here:


Have you ever read through the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount and breathed a deep sigh of relief as you comforted yourself with a particular blessing associated with a hardship you were going through? “Blessed are those who are persecuted,” we might read, and apply that blessing like a salve to soothe our hurt feelings from the unkind words that were spoken against us.

Maybe you have looked at the list of characteristics in Matthew 5:3-11 as a kind of checklist of model behaviors to work towards, or even as a list of blessings to try to earn. Possibly you’ve been striving towards these two goals and have felt a little frustrated that they seem so hard to achieve. It could be that you’ve seen them as a list of Jesus’ favorite kind of people and have gotten a little worried that you might not make the cut.

There isn’t anything wrong with finding solace in the Beatitudes, trying to live up to their descriptions of goodness, or desiring God to bless our deeds, but these verses reveal so much more than any of those temporal things.

This powerful passage of scripture was spoken by Jesus with the intention of giving us an insightful look into His Kingdom way. They were powerful, counter-cultural words designed to change our hearts. Let’s not miss the deeper truths that Jesus intended.

 Let’s take a look at 5 common misconceptions about the Beatitudes and then examine the deeper truth of what Jesus really meant.

You can read the whole article HERE


Does it ever seem like the cards are stacked against you and opposition comes from every angle? You aren’t alone and there is a battle plan for times like this.

Maybe things at work seem a little difficult and home isn’t currently the solace that you hoped it would be. Possibly you’re dealing with a difficult or broken relationship or health and financial struggles. It could be that on top of it all, you’re feeling distance between you and God that is heavy on your heart.

There are just some seasons that are harder to bear than others because it seems like the difficulties that we face are surrounding us on every side.

I get it. I’ve been there, too.

I’m in a season where there seems like there is a lot to overcome. There isn’t one thing or another that is particularly difficult, but I do seem to be facing challenges at every turn.

Yesterday, a friend said to me, “I never seem to be able to do things the easy way.”

I feel you, Sister! Me either!

Trial and error seem to be my preferred method these days, but God is teaching me so many lessons as I just keep pushing forward. Even this morning as I sat and read Acts 4, He laid out a battle plan before me to deal with times like this.

Today, he taught me to get together with my people to pray, to get in the word, to get with the plan, to get my emotions in check, and to get filled up so that I can get going.

So, whether it’s all the minor little things (like the alarm not going off, taking the kids to school an hour late, running behind in ALL THE THINGS all day, and then throwing yourself a bit of a pity party like I did last week) or something major, the Bible gives us hope and a plan to respond to the opposition we face.

5 Part Plan for Overcoming Opposition from Acts 4:23-31

  • 1. Get with your people to pray. Acts 4:23-24 “On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God…”

Peter and John had just been thrown in jail for healing a lame man in the name of Jesus and had to face the same men who crucified Jesus. I’d say that was some pretty big opposition.

When they got out of jail, their first action was to gather together with their people to pray. Maybe you don’t have a big support system of other believers in your life like Peter and John did, but maybe there are some people within your church, a dear friend, a family member, or a mentor who would be willing to come along side of you and pray with you when you face opposition.

There is such power in having people who will rally with us in hard times and remind us to take our burdens to Jesus.

  • 2. Get in the word. Acts 4:25-26 “You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.”

Peter and John went straight to the word of God. (This passage is an excerpt from the Old Testament.) They knew the best place for them to be in their most difficult times was right smack in God’s word.

Grab your Bible when opposition comes your way. Ephesians 6:17 calls the Word of God the Sword of the Spirit. Wield it like a weapon to battle discouragement, fear, doubt, and anxiety. Use your Bible to seek God and draw closer to Him.

The Bible isn’t a Magic Eight Ball that will give your every answer, (I love that analogy from Jen Wilkin’s book Women of the Word) but as we read God’s word, we learn about who He is, what He’s done, what He promises, and how faithful He is. That knowledge helps us in our response to anything that we struggle against.

  • 3. Get with the plan. Acts 4:28 “They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.”

Peter and John knew that God was at work and had a plan for their situation. This one can be tricky because I tend to really like my own plans and stubbornly fight for my own way, even though I know God works all things together for good. (Romans 8:28). I’d much prefer we just avoid the opposition all together, but I also know that even in the most desperate situations, God has a plan to bring light from darkness. (John 11:14-15)

Our best course of action, then, is to willingly submit to God’s plan and know that He will work it out for good, even if it isn’t going the way we had planned.

  • 4. Get your emotions in check. Acts 4:29 “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”

Peter and John had to be afraid, overwhelmed, anxious, and reeling from a whole slew of other emotions. However, instead of letting their feelings control them, they asked God to replace their feelings with boldness.

Oh man. This one hits close to home for me. How about you?

I am an emotional person and I have BIG feelings about everything. If you’re like me, we’ve got to be extra careful not to let those big emotions rule our actions. Instead, we have to give them to God and ask Him to replace our emotions with a boldness to turn to Him, hear Him, learn from Him, submit to Him, and let Him lead us instead us instead of being led by our feelings.

  • 5. Get filled up and get going. Acts 4:30-31 “Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

Peter and John didn’t stop what they were doing even when opposition seemed to come from every side, and neither should you or I. We are called to get filled up and get going.

We can trust that God will empower us to boldly face the things that stand in our way. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead now fills us. The Holy Spirit indwells us. (Romans 6:10-11) There is supernatural power working in our lives and in the situations we face. We don’t have to live a life defeated by the oppositions that surround us.

There is hope and a battle plan for us!

Anyone else pumping their first to the sound of the Rocky soundtrack playing in their mind as they imagine themselves boldly facing and overcoming their opposition after reading this?

No? Just me?

When I came upon this 5 Part Battle Plan for overcoming opposition, I felt so hopeful and so empowered! I hope it sparks that same feeling in you! As you carry out this plan, I hope that spark is fanned into a flame that fuels you to keep on keeping on in spite of anything that comes before you.

Opposition will probably keep coming, but we aren’t defenseless against it. We have a battle plan!

Love and blessings,

Bobbie


I love the beginning of each month when I get to connect you to some of my favorite women who are doing absolutely wonderful things for the Kingdom.  That is what Build A Sister Up is all about!  I want to give you an opportunity to get to know other amazing ladies who can encourage you, inspire you, and walk with you in the craziness of life.

This month, I’m excited to introduce you to my sweet friend, Holly Haynes.  If ever there were someone who can get you into the Christmas Spirit, it is Holly.  You guys.  Her actual name is Holly Noel, she was born a few days before Christmas, and I’ve never met anyone who loves Christmas quite like she does.  She is a writer, speaker, and Bible teacher and she aspires to encourage women in their faith.

Meet my friend and Sister at Build A Sister Up, Holly Haynes!

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a wife to my hubby Chad (we just celebrated twenty years! yay!) and mom to amazing sons, Brendon (20) Tyler (17). I am a writer, speaker, bible study teacher and I adore Christmas. I was born three days before Christmas and my parents named me Holly Noel. They couldn’t have given me a better name. 🙂 I live in Monroe, Michigan and I actually love the snow we get, I know call me crazy.

2. Coffee or tea?
Coffee all the way. (Though I will say when I visit the South I love sweet tea!)

3. Exercise or nap?
Both! I love to nap and I dread exercise most days but I always feel great afterwards and am so glad I pushed through.

4. Cake or pie?
Both! My FIL brings me a coconut cream pie from Amish country that will knock your socks off. Chocolate Chip cookies are my fav though and my SIL’s are THE BEST.

5. High heels or sneakers?
Well, I wish I could say heels, I love heels. Unfortunately, I have never been able to wear them due to being born horribly flat footed. I did have a life changing surgery where I had arches put in and my feet reconstructed, but my feet still aren’t fond of heels. So, I always say when I get to Heaven I’m running to Jesus in Stilettos.

6. Vacation or staycation?
Vacation. Preferably a cruise. 🙂

7. Early riser or sleep in?
I usually cannot sleep in as much as I try. I was so use to getting up with my boys during school years and I still can’t sleep much past eight.

8. Read the book or watch the movie?
Read the book then watch the movie.

9. Dogs or cats?
Dogs. We love labs!

10. Introvert or extrovert?
I never dreamed I’d be saying this, I always thought I was an extrovert my whole life. But the last few years I have discovered I have introvert qualities as well. I love my alone time.

11. Country living or city girl?
City.

12. Do you have any hobbies?
I am a voracious reader. I seriously read like a crazy person. Mostly non-fiction, I love to learn. I also enjoy cooking and baking. Recently I have realized my love for Christmas decorating is totally a hobby. I absolutely have a blast each year.

13. What are you listening to, reading, or watching that you are loving right now?
I love listening to Jennifer Allwood. She is amazing at teaching business and how to connect with others through social media. Right now I am reading Remember God from Annie Downs and I usually do not watch TV, but This is Us had me from day one.

14. What are you passionate about?
Jesus and sharing the gospel with as many people as I can. My heart is to make disciples and I told the Lord to use me in whatever way He chooses. Whether it’s writing, speaking, or sharing about the Lord with my neighbors.

15. What/where are you writing?
Right now I am working on a few pieces for my Christmas series I have on my blog and facebook page each year. This year it will be a little more low key being that I feel the Lord is saying to not be plugged in constantly during the season. My theme this year is connecting with Christ and each other.

16. Are there any other projects or ministries that you are working on/with?
I’m currently trying to write a book proposal. Jesus take the wheel it’s hard, but I’m pushing through.

17. How can we connect with you? (website, social media, events?)
My blog is hollynoelhaynes.com
My writer’s page on facebook is under Holly Haynes.
And my Instagram name is Hollynoel1222.

18. What is an area that you’d like to grow in?
Being brave about facebook lives and doing them more consistently.

19. How can we build you up?
Prayers for my book proposal and for the Lord’s will over my writing. Also, you can follow me on Facebook and follow along on my Christmas series.

20. Is there a parting thought you would like to share?
I recently read this quote from Charles Dickens and I loved it. “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.”

I pray to be more kind and to take the time to notice those around me in need. We get caught up in thinking we need to accomplish “big things” when at the end of our lives what will matter is our kindness and how we treated one another.


 

 

 

 

 

 

*

“God, I’m trying my best, but everyone else seems to be pushing ahead of me and getting what I so desperately want.  Why?!?”

Have you ever felt like this?

Listen to John 5: 3-9.

Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 

When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”

This man was tired of watching everyone else push right past him and get what he desired. Can you imagine the frustration of being in a space for 38 years and desperately longing to move forward towards something better, but feeling stuck, alone, and helpless?

I love that Jesus showed up and SAW this man.  The man that everyone else stepped right over and shoved right past was THE VERY ONE that Jesus came to reach.

Not only that, Jesus, saw what the man longed for and DIDN’T give it to him.  He gave him better. 

The man only wanted to get into the pool for a chance of being helped by its’ waters.  

Jesus could have given the man what he longed for. He could have picked the man up and placed him right into the pool with all of those people who’d climbed in ahead of him.  

But, Jesus did abundantly more.  He healed him.  He called him to pick that mat up and walk, right past the people who had been stepping over him for years, into a whole life and a healed future, into something different and better.

So, sweet friend, if you’re feeling stuck, helpless, and alone, like everyone keeps stepping over you and moving past you into something that you’ve longed for; I can’t help but wonder what Jesus has in store.  

Be patient.  Keep telling him your heart.  Trust.  And when he calls you to pick up your mat and walk differently instead of following the crowd, GO, knowing full well that Jesus’ way is better.

 


Every single month I get so excited to introduce you to another one of my friends!  It just makes me so happy to connect you with women who have a desire to walk with you as you walk this life of faith!  This month, I am beyond thrilled to introduce you to Shontell Brewer!  She’s a wife, mama, author, blogger, activist, you tuber, Taco Tuesday host, and a dear friend… she’s got a whole lot going on PLUS, her brand new book comes out later this month!

She makes me laugh, she challenges me to love people well, and she encourages me to dig deeper into my relationship with Jesus.  You’re going to love getting to know her, so let’s get right into our interview!

****PS.  I’m launching something so cool this month with Shontell’s new book!  You can find it all the way at the end of the interview!  You won’t want to miss an opportunity to join the Book Club Community and read Missionary Mom FOR FREE this month!!!

I’d love for you to meet my friend, Shontell!

 

1.  Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a wife of almost 23 years, a mama to five teenagers and adults, I love tacos more than the average Joe, and I think God gave us movies, so we can have better lines with which to communicate.

2.  Coffee or Tea?
Coffee.

3.  Exercise or nap?
I mean I want to exercise, but then I fall asleep.

4.  Cake or pie?
Pie.  But really cookies.

5.  High heels or sneakers?
Sneakers.

6.  Vacation or staycation?
Staycation.  Because then there’s time for more napping.

7.  Early rise or sleep in?
Sleep in. Please let’s not even talk in the mornings.

8.  Read the book or watch the movie?
I like to watch the movie and then read the book. I could never choose between the two.

9.  Dogs or cats?
No animals. I am allergic to all of you.

10.  Introvert or extrovert?
Ambivert.  It’s the one in the middle.

11.  Country living or city girl?
I have a farm house in the middle of a small city. So both.

12.  Do you have any hobbies?
My hobbies include reading, writing, and watching baseball.

13.  What are you listening to, reading, or watching that you are loving right now?
I’m watching the new season of This Is Us. It gets me deep.

14.  What are you passionate about?
Helping youth and women find their voice, especially if it’s been removed because of a trafficker.

15.  What/where are you writing?
I just wrote a new book called Missionary Mom: Embracing the Mission Field Right Under Your Roof.

I did a podcast interview on it that was a lot of fun and gave am an opportunity to share more about the book.


Also, here are two articles that I wrote recently that you will enjoy!

http://shontellbrewer.com/part-time-god/

https://foreverymom.com/family-parenting/5-myths-human-trafficking-shontell-brewer/

16.  Are there any other projects or ministries that you are working on?
Yes! I have just completed round one of a curriculum called Echo. It’s an art and creative writing curriculum video series to be used in schools to help kids find their voice, and then turn around to be advocates for others. It’s prevention at its most basic level: teaching kids to tell their stories and find self-awareness, so they no longer are at risk for being trafficked, becoming addicts, or becoming the oppressors. Here is a quick overview.

https://vimeo.com/wellpage/review/290332590/39cb237414


17.  How can we connect with you?
My website is http://shontellbrewer.com and you can find me on Instagram at ShontellBrewer. I also can be found on Facebook at Shontell Brewer: Nonsense At Its Finest.

18.  What is an area that you would like to grow in?
I am working on not checking out when I get overwhelmed. Know that coping “skill”? It’s not really a skill as much as an escape. I want a healthy balance in saying yes and no, but when I say yes, I want to mean it. I don’t want to shut down when my list feels to weighty.

19.  How can we build you up?
My love language is quality time. Notes, Marco Polo chats, Voxes. These fill my heart.

20.  Is there a parting thought you’d like to share?
I am stepping into a new project very soon. It deals heavily with lukewarm Christians and what scripture says about how this existence leads to death. I already know the devil is going to hate this and me by proxy. So I am asking you (yes you who are reading this) for accountability. In light of so many women in ministry living in these grey spaces, I am giving you permission to message me if you ever feel what I am doing is slightly or greatly outside of God’s Word.

And now, introducing…
Book Club Community

Do you want a free digital copy of Missionary Mom and the opportunity to read it and discuss it with me this month?  Shontell will even be popping in to our conversation to chat about the book and answer questions!  To join the Book Club Community, email me at bobbieschae@yahoo.com with the subject Book Club Community.


1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a firstborn who married a first born. My God’s grace it’s working out well (and thankfully my hubby is laid back and not bossy like me). Musicals give me life (I’m still not tired of the Hamilton soundtrack). Also to-do lists are my jam. I’m made like Martha and proud of it. 😉 We have five loud and wonderful children (ages 2-14) and we make our home in the middle of Michigan.

2. Coffee or Tea?
Tea all the way! Hot or iced. Rooibos is my favorite kind of tea, yum!

3. Exercise or nap?
Ooo, I like both. 20 minute power naps are my super power but I feel good when I am running (err jogging) regularly.

4. Cake or pie?
How about cookies instead? Not a cake girl, but French silk or peanut butter pie are delicious.

5. High heels or sneakers?
How about somewhere in between? I live in my black Croc wedges as soon as the weather gets warm. I like to have comfy yet somewhat stylish shoes.

6. Vacation or staycation?
Vacation! Our family has adopted Franklin, TN, as our sister city, because it’s so charming. Excited to be headed down that way for the She Found Joy tour (we’re coming for you Nashville, on Monday, November 5th)!

7. Early rise or sleep in?
I don’t often get up early but when I do, I love it. The house is quiet and my soul can breathe deeply.

8. Read the book or watch the movie?
I always want to read the book first, but it doesn’t often happen. We’re still reading through Wonder as a family before we watch the movie.

9. Dogs of cats?
I’m not a pet person. Does that mean there is something wrong with my soul?

10. Introvert or extrovert?
An outgoing introvert. 😉

11. Country living or city girl?
Country living for sure (we’re surrounded by cornfields and fireflies, but I like to visit the city. Savannah and Chicago are a few of our favorites.

12. Do you have any hobbies?
Besides writing and speaking, I also enjoy singing/songwriting, running (err jogging), and listening to podcasts.

13. What are you listening to, reading, or watching that you are loving right now?
I enjoy listening to The Next Right Thing Podcast by Emily P. Freeman. The Sleeping at Last podcasts about their Enneagram songs are so good too! I’m just started reading Fiercehearted by Holley Gerth and I’m already underlining. Really enjoyed watching The Crown on Netflix (minus the scandalous episode).

14. What are you passionate about?
Advocating for babies and adults with Down Syndrome (my brother Brian is amazing, you can read more about him here) and helping others take the next steps toward their God-given dreams.

15. What/where are you writing?
My first book, Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done releases on July 10, 2018! It includes a bonus 5-week bible study for individuals and/or groups.

16. Are there any other projects or ministries that you are working on?
The book has been my main focus this past year. I also offer consultation services for creatives under the name, Inspiration Doula. It is a joy to help others give birth to their dreams. And my hubby and I host a weekly (quirky) Facebook live show called, “Stop! Hammock Time,” where we encourage couples to get closer and grow deeper.

17. How can we connect with you?
Website: https://www.katiemreid.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KatieMReidWriter/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katie_m_reid/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/katie_M_Reid

Events: If you’re in the Grand Rapids, MI area, we’d love to see you at the Made Like Martha book launch party, at Baker Book House, on Thursday, July 19th from 7-9pm!

Also would love to see you in Elkhart, IN, on Friday, Nov. 2nd or Nashville, TN, on Monday, Nov. 5th for the She Found Joy Tour. More info here: http://shefoundjoy.com/tour/

18. What is an area that I’d like to grow in?
Talking more kindly. I can get frazzled easily and my words can sting those I love most. Thankful for God’s forgiveness, patience, and ability to help me with this.

19. How can we build you up?
Buying a copy of Made Like Martha would be such a gift to me (and hopefully to you too)! If you order before July 10th you can access five exclusive pre-order gifts (one being a song that my friend and I wrote for the book). Head over to madelikemartha.com for the details.

20. Is there a parting thought you’d like to share?
Yes! Jesus loves you—whether or not you have a quiet time, even when you are short-fused, even in the midst of tackling your to-do list.


I’ve been thinking about joy and writing about joy and reading about joy this month, but some of my most valuable lessons about joy seem to just hit me out of the blue.

I had just finished ordering school books and supplies for next year, switching out loads of laundry, and was in process of cleaning up lunch and hastily loading the dishwasher.  I had been moving from one task to the next all morning, trying to get all of the STUFF done so that I could get some ‘real, important work’ done.

I have an article that needs to be written and a digital magazine to put together and all of this STUFF (making meals, preparing for school, caring for my family’s needs, etc.) was keeping me from getting to the important things that I really NEEDED to do.

As I turned around to take a stack of plates to the cabinet I caught a glimpse of our little furry girl, Rosie, doing what she does several times a day…sitting at the widow, longingly looking outside at all that she’s missing out on by being cooped up in the house.

Never mind that she’s pretty much the queen of this castle.  She has a full food bowl, cold water, treats, people to play with, and an endless supply of snuggles.  Still.  She often goes to this window in our kitchen and gazes out at all the places she’s rather be.

Maybe she’s imagining that she’s chasing the squirrels or rabbits or birds that she sees scampering outside, just out of her reach.  Maybe she’d considering what it would feel like to run wild out in the field.

I smiled.  Then it hit me, like a sucker punch to the gut.  

I’m totally pulling a Rosie.

But worse, you know, because I’m a person who should know better.

 I felt like an ungrateful jerk until grace flooded in and washed that ugly thought right out of my head. 

I’m moving through the tasks of my day, longingly looking ahead to the things I feel like I’m missing out on, while all of this good stuff of daily life surrounds me. 

And it’s stealing my joy.

Isn’t that how it works sometimes?

We get so consumed looking at the things we wish we had, the things that we wish that we were doing, the places that we wish that we were; that we miss out on the good stuff, the joy, that surrounds us.

Our joy is being hijacked right out from under our noses because we are too busy dreaming about the ‘what ifs’ to notice the joy right around us!

Rosie could be playing fetch with Gavin, whose sprawled on the floor in the living room reading a book.  She could graze from her food bowl or she could curl up in the little patch of sunlight streaming through the window and enjoy a warm nap like our other furry girl, Lilly, is doing.

Instead, she’s longingly look out at what she’s missing out on.

Kind of just like I was doing when I rushed from one task to the next, not engaging in the moments or with the people around me, barreling through my morning with my eyes longingly looking ahead to the “important” things; missing out on the joy all around me.  Kind of like we all do sometimes.

Ouch.  I know that realization hurts a little.  It did for me too, but remember grace, friend.  

You see, I should know better, because one of the things that I have learned about joy this month is that when I’m actively looking for it, I can almost always find a reason to be joyful in any moment.     I bet you can too.

Even in the mundane, we are all so blessed.  Even in the hard moments, there is always a glimmer of joy to be found.  Even in the messy, imperfect moments, there are reasons for joy.

The more we look for joy, the more we notice it in the everyday moments, right where we are.

Unless we pull a Rosie.

Sweet friend, if we are constantly looking out at the things we wish we had, the places we wish we were, the things we wish we could do; then we miss out on the joy that is all around us. 

Goals, dreams, wants, desires; they are good and healthy.  Heck, I even think they are necessary.  I’m a big dreamer.  However, when we get so focused on what we are missing out on that we forget to engage in and enjoy the moments that happen right in the middle of our every day, we miss out on so much joy right where we are.

I don’t want to miss out on the everyday joys, and I don’t want that for you either. 

So, I’m taking a big, deep breath.  I’m pausing from the tasks to curl up on the couch next my kiddo and type this.

I’m letting gratitude for this lesson and for the joy that sits right there in the middle all of the messy, imperfect moments sink in to my heart.

I’m enjoying this space instead of resenting it. I’m extending a little grace to myself.  I’m keeping my eye out for the joy around me.  I’m being grateful.

Maybe you will want to do the same if your joy is being hijacked by the what ifs.

And, just so you know, Rosie gave up her window post to drape herself over the cushion behind my shoulders and she’s snoring contentedly in my ear.

Maybe we are all learning lessons about finding joy right where we are today.

Love and blessing,

Bobbie


 

This is Easter a few years ago with my sisters. Who even knows what I’m laughing at, but these two bring out the laughter in me!

Joy.

If I sit and think about what joy should look like, my mind wanders to those memories that I’ve tucked away where I feel blissfully happy.

Like snapshots, I thumb through them.  I see the places and the people that I love the most.  I see birthday parties and anniversaries and holidays and celebrations and family gatherings.  I see the grins of my boys and the smile of my husband.  I hear the laughter of my family.

A smile spreads across my face as I recall those moments, but a twinge of sadness shadows them because all they are now is just that.  Moments.  I’ve tucked them away and can turn to them for a smile and the warm, fuzzy feelings that they bring, but the experience of them is in the past.

Memories.  Moments.  Fleeting.  Temporary.

That’s when truth glimmers and hope pushes in.  I’m reminded of what I’ve come to know to be true.  Those feelings aren’t joy.  They are happiness.

The two are different.

 

Those feelings aren’t joy.  They are happiness.  The two are different.

 

What’s the difference?

I’m glad you asked.

Webster says that happiness is:  a : a state of well-being and contentment b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience.

A state.  An experience.

Joy is defined differently.  Webster gives one of the definitions for joy as : a source or cause of delight.

Joy is a source.  Joy is a cause.

 

That is what I was to dig into this month.

Joy. 

Joy that lasts.

Joy that endures in hard seasons, in sadness, in trials, and in struggles.

Joy that is present in good times and in bad, in plenty and in want.

 

But how is that even possible?  How in the world can we have that kind of joy?

We can have that kind of real, deep, soul penetrating, enduring  joy because Joy is a source.  Joy is a cause. And we know what the source and cause of joy is!

Habakkuk 3:18 NIV reminds us of the source and cause of our joy, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:18 NIV

 

 

Let’s dig in to how this kind of joy looks in our everyday lives.  Let’s see how knowing that this kind of joy is available to us changes everything, because we all want happiness in our lives, but what we really need is JOY.

 

We all want happiness in our lives, but what we really need is JOY.

I’m excited to really dig into the theme of joy this month!  I hope you’ll join me over on Facebook, on Instagram, on You Tube,  and here on the blog!

Need some resources to help you dig into joy?  Subscribe to my newsletter HERE!  I’m going to be sending out some things that may help!

 

My friend, Lauren Gaskill will be joining me as well!  You’re going to love her!  You can get to know here HERE.

This month, let’s really explore how to Honor Him through JOY, even in the Craziness of our lives!

 

Love and blessings,

Bobbie

 


Happy June, sweet friends!  My favorite part of each new month is introducing you to another of my Sisters at Build a Sister Up!

This month, I’m excited to introduce you to my friend, Lauren Gaskill.  Lauren is a blogger, a speaker, podcaster, and founder of She Found Joy.  She Found Joy is a nationwide ministry encouraging women to discover an authentic joy in Jesus, live it consistently and give it abundantly.  They host ladies’ night out events across the country!  You’re going to want to pop in to her website right now and find one near you!

She is also in the process of publishing her first book, Into the Deep: Diving Into a Life of Courageous Faith, which releases Nov. 6 and is available for pre-order now on Amazon.

Diagnosed with an incurable genetic disorder (Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome), Lauren is passionate about encouraging others to fight for faith and keep hope alive — no matter what. When she’s not writing, Lauren loves to cook, bake and go on hikes with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who is affectionately named Reese after Lauren’s favorite candy, peanut butter cups.

I’m so excited to have Lauren joining me this month as I dive into the theme of JOY.  Obviously, she’s the perfect fit for this month!  I can’t wait for you to meet her and get to hear her heart!

I’d like to introduce you to my sweet friend, Lauren Gaskill!

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
North Carolina is my home. Alex is my man. Reese is my fur baby (and yes, I named him after Reese’s peanut butter cups because … chocolate and peanut butter … hello!) Beaches and mountains are my happy place.

Writing, speaking, cooking, baking and designing are some of my life’s greatest passions.

Coffee or tea?
Both. I love black coffee and blueberry green or chamomile lavender tea.

Exercise or nap?
Exercise all the way! I’ve been a swimmer since I was a little girl and still swim several times a week. Can’t keep me away from the water!

Cake or pie?
Chocolate chip pie. My sweet mama makes the best one I’ve ever had.

High heels or sneakers?
Birkenstocks.

Vacation or staycation?
Vacation. Preferably to the Caribbean, please!

Early riser or sleep in?
Early riser. I had to get up for early morning swim practices in high school and then to work the opening shift at a gym and bakery in college. So, it’s kind of in my blood, whether I like it or not.

Read the book or watch the movie?
Both. First, I like to read the book and develop my own perspective.  Then, it’s fun to see how directors and actors interpret the story on screen.

Dogs or cats?
Dogs! I’m partial to Cavalier King Charles Spaniels! (Although all animals are amazing.)

Introvert or extrovert?
I used to be an extrovert, but I’m becoming more introverted with age.

Country living or city girl?
I love visiting the city, but please, let me live in the country!

Do you have any hobbies?
Swimming, singing (although it hurts my jaw), hiking, traveling, walking the beach, reading, cooking, baking, biking, trying new restaurants

What are you listening to, reading, or watching that you are loving right now?
TV shows: Nashville and Friday Night Lights
Reading: The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers and all of the BASU books!
Music: U2, Coldplay and Goo Goo Dolls forever!

What are you passionate about?
Helping women live courageously and joyfully. Walking with my Jesus.  Being the best wife and friend I can be.

What/where are you writing?
Just finished edits for my debut book, Into the Deep: Diving Into a Life of Courageous Faith, which comes out Nov. 6!

Are there any other projects or ministries that you are working on/with?
She Found Joy

How can we connect with you? (website, social media, events?)
Blog: http://www.laurengaskillinspires.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/lauren.gaskill.inspires/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/lauren_inspires
Instagram:  http://instagram.com/lauren_inspires
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/lauren_inspires/

What is an area that you’d like to grow in?
Patience.

How can we build you up?
Help promote the She Found Joy fall tour and the book launch in November!

Is there a parting thought you would like to share?
Proverbs 3:3. It’s one of my favorite verses, and I hope it encourages you! “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”


You guys!  It’s Spring, finally!  Although, as I sit down to type this post there is snow in the forecast for tomorrow.  Obviously, it is not very Spring-like here in mid-Missouri yet.

This month, I’m bringing a little sunshine into your life by introducing you to my sweet friend and Sister at Build A Sister Up, Bekah Pogue.  Bekah is just a complete joy to know.  She’s a total “take time to smell the roses” kind of gal!  Typing out her interview just put a smile on my face and I can’t wait for you to read her words and get to know her heart.

Bekah isn’t just cheery and fun, she’s also wise and reflective.  She is deep water and she’s the queen of Soul Care.  As soon as God laid the theme of Soul Care on my heart for April’s topic, I knew Bekah had to be the Sister to join us in this conversation.

I know you’re going to love her, so let’s just jump right into her interview!  I’m happy to introduce you to my friend, Bekah Pogue.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I hate talking about myself.  I’d much rather celebrate other people, but here goes.  I love life.  I love intentional conversations on the couch with like minded people.  I love getting to see into people’s stories and help them figure out what makes them feel alive and how they can go and live that way.  I love encouraging people.  I feel alive where there is green and space and wildflowers and country and people.  I get inspired by creativity and music and cooking and baking.

I’ve been married for almost 14 years.  We have two boys, Tanner and Ty.  Tanner is 9 and Ty is 7.  We have a little Shih Tzu named Bruiser.  We live in Springhill, TN.  We moved from California almost a year ago in sort of a trusting scared journey of stepping out of ministry and peeling back all of the uncomfortable layers and kind shaking up the status quo.  I like to shake up the status quo.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee, but if there is a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf around, a tropical passion tea late please.  All the yeses.

Exercise or nap?
How about we do Pilates and then take a nap?

Cake or pie?
If it’s chocolate, cake.  My mom makes this fudge macaroon pie that I request every year on my birthday.  I can’t wait to turn a year older just to take a bite of that decadent pie.

High heels or sneakers?
Oh, my gosh.  Jeans and a tee shirt with sneakers all the way.  Preferably Sperry sneakers because I love me some boat shoes.

Vacation or staycation?
In the practical, realistic word, it has been staycation for me for a little bit just because of finances.   If you blow finances out of the water, take me to a tropical island, or a French countryside, or Seville, Spain, please.  I think I could be a professional vacationer because I thrive off of experiences.  When I go to a town, I want to find the yummiest foodie food and the cutest hole in the wall coffee shop.  I want to go on all the tours and talk with the local people and interview them for their stories.  I want to find the back-country road to the random candle shop and figure out how they make them.  I want to cozy up in all the fun places, so probably vacation.

Early riser or sleep in?
Sleep In.

Read the book or watch the movie?
Always read the book.  I will say that the only movie that I have ever seen that was comparable to the book was The Help.  Bless it all.

Dogs or cats?
Dogs.  My hubby is allergic to cats.  Ty wants a cat when we move and I said that he could get an outdoor cat if he makes my bed every day.

Introvert or extrovert?
I think I’m an ambivert.  I love people but then I definitely need my alone time to recharge.

Country living or city girl?
So, when I was younger, I would have said city.  I think that’s because of the way I was raised by my mom who loves the city, but now I crave country.  Give me a Sunday afternoon and backroads and barns and old-fashioneds and antique stores and the most interesting people and I am in Heaven.  Country.  Country.  Country.

Do you have any hobbies?
I love designing and decorating.  I’ve gotten to help some friends rearrange and redecorate to make their home more homey.  I love that.  I love antiquing.  I love making people feel loved.  Does writing count?

What are you listening to, reading, or watching that you are loving right now?
I love this question.  As far as podcasts, I kind of go in spurts where it’s all or nothing.  If I’m going to listen to a podcast, its probably Typology by Ian Cron which is about the Enneagram numbers, which I’m a huge fan of, or The Next Right Thing with Emily Freeman.

Music wise, I’m listening to anything that my boys are having dance parties to.  Right now, that is the greatest Showman and Sean Mendez.  I love Sandra McCracken. If you’ve never heard of her, she is like if Jewel ate a worship CD.

I’m listening to my kids a lot right now.  I’m listening to the questions that they are asking and the things that they are noticing.  I’m paying attention to what’s important to them and spending a lot of my time there.

I’m also listening to my thoughts, like my self-talk.  I’m listening to the lies that I tell myself and the truths that are bigger than that.

You have to know that on my night stand I have like a fifillion books stacked up at any given time and I am probably reading all of them at the same time.  I’m reading a bunch of books right now as I go through my Spiritual Direction Training, but then I’m also reading fun ones.

I just finished Gift from the Sea, which is such a great little read.  It is so beautiful.  I’m reading Jen Wilkin’s None Like Him.  I’m reading Unseen by Sara Hagerty.

I’m really into cookbooks right now, not because I am an amazing chef or because I want to be, but because I love the cookbooks that have the story behind it.  Ruth Reichl is one of my favorites.  She used to the be the editor for Gourmet Magazine.  She has a cookbook called My Kitchen Year:  136 Recipes That Saved My Life.  After Gourmet Magazine was shut down she wrote about how cooking through the seasons was really healing for her coming out of that.  I love that.

I’m loving reading Jenna Kutcher’s Instagram.  She’s just such a kick ass Rockstar that I can’t even.

I’m watching all the tulips in our neighborhood bloom and all of the trees turn bright pink, and I might have trained my kids to pick all of the flowers when we go on walks.  I’m watching Spring happen.

On Netflix, we are watching Suits.  So good.  We’re watching This is Us.  The other night we watched a documentary that a dear friend of mine told me about called The Heart of Man, which every person needs to watch with their spouse with a box of Kleenex.

What are you passionate about?
Oh, gosh.  Everything.  Life.  People.  I’m really passionate about shaking up the status quo.  I’m a bit of a button pusher.  I like to push back on comfort zones and well chiseled paths.  I always want to ask, “Is there a way to do it different?”.  I love to turn things upside down and inside out and shake it up and then kind of look at it from a different angle.  Some people say that this makes them uncomfortable, but it really is just me being passionate about curiosity and wanting to understand people and why they think the way they do and what makes them excited.  I’m passionate about bridging the gap between faith and real life and cutting out all of the Christian cheesiness and really saying, “When the stuff hits the fan, how is Jesus real to you?”  I’m on a constant quest for that and am constantly talking to God about that.

I’m really passionate about growing and really figuring out how I can be less Bekah and more Jesus.

What/where are you writing?
I stopped writing for a while because of life, but I’m going to start working on a second book and see what God wants to do with that.  I love to write in a place in TN called Leaper’s Fork.  It’s my favorite.  It feels like Heaven.  I literally feel like God’s Spirit lives there.  It’s an art gallery with Adirondack chairs in the back that overlooks this grass field.  There is the smell of the bonfires in the front and all of the trees and the grass.  I feel the Spirit of creativity there like no other place on earth.

If I write at a coffee shop, I get really excited about the people next to me and suddenly  I find myself writing about what they are talking about.  I get too distracted.

Are there any other projects or ministries that you are working on/with?
I’m in a two year program to become a spiritual director, which is just a really lame name for listening to people’s souls.  It’s like a soul care friend.  It’s listening to where someone has been and where God is moving in their life and helping reflect that back to them with questions and affirmations.

I’m also working full time as a writing and marketing manager for a company Monday through Thursday.  On Friday, I do writing, speaking, creative coaching.  I just love new and seasoned writers.  When I wrote my first book I felt really alone.  I didn’t have a lot of writer friends and I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing.  Nothing makes me more alive than to talk with other people and to cheer them on in their journey.  So many writers just need somebody to say, “You’re doing it!”  “Keep going!”  “You’re voice matters.”  Those words are so powerful.  I just love helping people figure out what that story is inside of them and helping them communicate it in a really creative, out of the box way.

I’m a speaker at Lauren Gaskill’s Finding Joy Ladies Night Out, which I get to be a part of in Nashville in November.

I also started Pasture when we moved here, which is intentional conversation and curated experiences to nourish one’s soul.  It’s a monthly gathering.  I’m praying about how that can grow and what it looks like in the future.  My dream is to have a store front in Leaper’s Ford where we could have opportunities for people to come in and we could offer spiritual direction and soul care.  We could also have a champagne bar and a local wild flower artist.  In the evening we would open up the space for pasture and it would be a safe haven for women to come and feel seen and loved.

How can we connect with you?
On my couch with an old fashioned.  On social media at Instagram and on Facebook or on my website.

What is an area that you’d like to grow in?
So many things.  I’m a really sensitive soul.  I use to beat myself up for it, but right now I am really paying attention to the way that God has made me discerning.  Because of that, I can walk in a room and I can feel emotions and sense things.  I have to work really hard at not taking my external environment and bringing it inside of me.  Right now, I’m asking God to help me keep the inner satisfied and content space in my soul regardless of whether or not there is chaos or tension.  I’m learning how to not let my outer environment take away my inner contentment.

I want to drink more water.  I’m learning how to care with out carrying.  I want to love people without feeling like I need to fix them or rescue them, but just sit in it and listen to them.

I want to grow in technical areas.  I feel intimidated by in and can feel like I’m holding myself back because I’m not good at it.

How can we build you up?
I’m a words of affirmation person and I’m a one-on-one person.  I think even just someone taking the time to reach out and say that my words matter or that they are praying for me really speaks love to me.  I think often times the encouragers sometimes need encouragement.

Is there a parting thought you would like to share?
Pay attention to what shimmers.  The gal that leads my Spiritual Direction cohort said that and I love it.  I think that would be my parting words.  I’d say, pay attention to what shimmers, but I’d even take it a step further and say to go towards what makes you feel lighter inside.  There are burdens, disappointments, and expectations, and things that make us feel heavy inside, but there is also the beauty, freedom, peace, and that inner satisfaction where God is so big that it squeezes out all the ego and we feel lighter inside.  My encouragement is to move toward that.  Move towards what makes you feel lighter and move towards what shimmers.


Hello, friends!

It’s a new month and that means that I get the honor and privilege of introducing you to another one of my sweet sisters at Build A Sister Up.

My word for March is FAITHFUL and this month I’m pressing in to Psalms 86:11 which says: Teach me your way, Lordthat I may rely on your faithfulnessgive me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

If you missed my post that talked about why I’m focusing on FAITHFULNESS, you can find that here

I’m excited to introduce you to my friend, Gretchen Fleming, this month!  If there is one word that I would use to describe Gretchen, it would probably be faithful.

Gretchen is always there, pouring out encouragement online and sharing her heart and her words with women who need it.  She’s steadfast.  She knows what God has called her to do and she faithfully does it.

I love that about her and it’s something that I aspire to have said about me.  Without further ado, let me introduce you to my faithful friend, Gretchen Fleming.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’ve been married to Kyle for 30 years this year. Mom to Bryce (25), Grace (23) and Christian (22). We have an exciting year on tap with two weddings being planned for our older two kids. As empty-nesters, we found ourselves bored with Tallahassee after 32 years. We decided to see what God would do as we put up all of my husband’s businesses for sale. He sold all of our rental properties, as well as our home, in a matter of months. Where we thought just one property might take a year or more to sell, God decided otherwise. At that point, Kyle and I began to hold on as God moved at a faster pace than anticipated. We love our new life in Jacksonville!

Coffee or tea?
Coffee for sure, with pure maple syrup and a little cream.

Exercise or nap?
Exercise and outside if possible. I hate humidity so I don’t like to exercise outdoors away from water in the summer but walking in the fall, winter and spring in Florida is the BEST!

Cake or pie?
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth anymore but if I had to choose, cake.

High heels or sneakers?
Sneakers at this stage of my life. I literally wear sneakers or flip flops 6 days a week now but for most of my life I have loved fashion and would take any opportunity to dress up in heels.

Vacation or staycation?
I love to travel, especially to Europe, but I am also a homebody. My very favorite moments are when everyone else is out of the house and I am home alone with the Lord.

Early riser or sleep in?
Early riser. I am usually up by 6 to fix breakfast for my husband who leaves for work at 6:30.

Read the book or watch the movie?
I only read non-fiction and the movies we watch are usually old movies on Turner Classic Movie Channel.

Dogs or cats?
I suffered a dog bite to the face as a 4 year old so dogs scare me. I also cannot stand how dogs make you wet from either their nose or tongue. Lol

Introvert or extrovert?
Introvert

Country living or city girl?
Country girl who is surprisingly loving city life as we live in a high-rise downtown in Jacksonville.

Do you have any hobbies?
I love to be outside hiking, bicycling, boating or enjoying water views. Snow skiing is another favorite activity. My husband and I are frequently exploring historical forts, Scottish festivals, and other nearby attractions on the weekends.

What are you listening to, reading, or watching that you are loving right now?
I listen to favorite Pandora stations like Lauren Daigle, Ellie Holcomb, Shane & Shane, Fernando Ortega, Rend Collective Experiment, Matt Maher and others. I mostly read the Bible, specifically the chronological Bible. This year I am continuing in the Gospels like I began last year. The last book I read was Chasing the Lion by Mark Batterson which was so timely for me. Our last movie was “Murder on the Orient Express” because we love a good mystery.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about following hard after Christ. ( David describes this mindset in Psalm 63.) God and His Word captivate me. I’ve been a student of the Word for 25 years and a Bible teacher for over 20. The Word permeates all areas of my life. It is how I process life in general.

What/where are you writing?
For this year, I am writing for myself mostly. I have cut back from other ministries on a regular basis because of trying to be fully present and available for my two older kids as they each plan their wedding. Last year I was writing for 4 other ministries along with guest posting at times for other bloggers. Although I love doing what God has called me to do, I knew I could not keep that schedule for this year and be the mom my kids needed. I want to “finish well” so to speak with them as they leave our nest so I only write my two posts a week now. My blog posts are the byproducts of my own devotional time with the Lord. They are more Bible lessons than traditional blog posts. I am a Bible teacher at heart so whether I am writing or speaking, that is my emphasis.

I recently self-published my first book. It is a two week Old Testament Devotional called “Press On: Encouragement to Keep You Moving When You Feel Overwhelmed” and is available on Amazon or you can follow this link to it.

 

I have a main manuscript that I hope to circle back to after my daughter’s wedding. It is about perseverance during tough seasons. I am working with Lauren Gaskill on her “Finding Joy Ladies Night Out” national tour this year, as well as Maranatha Christian Writers Conference. I see God using my speaking ministry more this year than last. I worked with MOPS down in Palm Beach Gardens recently and have a retreat planned for early April thus far. I have one writing project where I will be a contributing author of one chapter for another author coming up soon.

Are there any other projects or ministries that you are working on/with?
I recently self-published my first book. It is a two week Old Testament Devotional called “Press On: Encouragement to Keep You Moving When You Feel Overwhelmed” and is available on Amazon. I have a main manuscript that I hope to circle back to after my daughter’s wedding. It is about perseverance during tough seasons.

I am working with Lauren Gaskill on her “Finding Joy Ladies Night Out” national tour this year, as well as Maranatha Christian Writers Conference. I see God using my speaking ministry more this year than last. I worked with MOPS down in Palm Beach Gardens recently and have a retreat planned for early April thus far. I have one writing project where I will be a contributing author of one chapter for another author coming up soon.

How can we connect with you? (website, social media, events?)
You can stay connected with me at my Website: CLICK HERE
Facebook: CLICK HERE
Twitter: CLICK HERE
IG: CLICK HERE
PinterestCLICK HERE

What is an area that you’d like to grow in?
I would like to grow in feeling at ease with using video on social media.

How can we build you up?
Sharing any of my posts on social media is always a great blessing to help expand my reach. Considering me as a speaker for any of your local church/ministry events would be much appreciated.

Is there a parting thought you would like to share?
At 51, I am reaping some hard fought lessons that are allowing me to feel the best I have ever felt. Freedom, peace, joyful trust, God-confidence, are a few new blessings that are making big changes for me. I am less entangled with unhealthy patterns such as over-responsibility, people-pleasing, fear, anxiety, or a controlling nature.

Looking back, some of my toughest battles have actually come to show me God’s faithfulness with greater clarity. It was through what pained me the most that I have benefited the greatest. God’s faithfulness is always most evident in my hindsight. This, in turn, enables joyful trust in the present and future.


Do you know what I love about the month of March?  March brings a gentle reminder that after persevering through the cold and harsh reality of winter, hope awaits.   We have faith that Spring is on its’ way.

We see that as new life bursts through all around us.  Green things sprout up from the soil.  Flowers and trees begin to bud with new growth.  Baby animals are born.  The sun, which seems to have been hidden for so long, finally peeks back out.

March reminds us to keep holding on to hope, to keep persevering, and to keep pushing forward,

because we can have faith that the fresh, new hope of Spring is just around the corner.

Faith is all about trusting in the promises we hold true.  We know that Spring always follows winter.  It’s fact.  It’s true.  It’s a promise we can trust if we just hang on through the hard times.

That idea of holding on, persevering, and pushing forward is the thought that kept penetrating my heart as I prayed about and pondered over a theme for March.  In January, the focus was on putting First things First by being intentional.  In February, the theme was to Love Well by loving one another.  As I looked at March, one word filled my thoughts.

Faithful.

      Webster’s Dictionary defines faithful as (1) steadfast in affection or allegiance, (2) firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty, (3) given with strong assurance, and (4) true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original.

I found this verse and immediately knew it was the verse I wanted to press into this month.   

 

Psalm 86:11 NIV 

Teach me your way, Lordthat I may rely on your faithfulness

give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”

 

 

 

     I’m not sure about you, but if there is one thing that I feel these days, it is divided.

     I feel pulled in many different directions all at the same time.  My to do list is long and my attention span is short.  I’m multitasking, splitting my time and attention between ALL OF THE THINGS, yet still the to do’s don’t quite get done.

     You feel me?  Have you been there?

     We are trying to do it all and all we’re left feeling is a little scattered.  What our hearts really crave is to feel FAITHFUL and UNDIVIDED.

Just like we can count on the fact that Spring comes after winter,

we long to be that steadfast and dependable.

We want to be found that faithful instead being found frazzled.

That’s what I want to explore this month.  I want to dig in to what it means to be found faithful.  What is faithfulness?  What can we have faith in?  How does it look to be undivided?  Is it possible or is it a unicorn that only exists in myths and legends?

Not only that, but let’s look at the one who is always found faithful.  Let’s set our faithful Father as our example and look at the part of His character that never falters or fails us.

This month, will you join me?  Will you come along side of me as we explore faithfulness?  

 

~Prayer for March~

Father God,

Help us to dig deep into your word

to explore and understand faithfulness. 

Replace our frazzled selves with faithful servants. 

Give us an undivided heart 

that we may fear your name.

Be our example.  

In Jesus’ name, we pray.

Amen.

     Love and Blessings,

Bobbie


We all want to be great.

Isn’t greatness something we all long for?  We all want to be recognized and celebrated as someone who is worthy and valuable.  Many of us made New Year’s resolutions to help us achieve steps toward the purpose of greatness in 2018.  I know I did.  I made goals and set a plan in action to help me be more intentional with this one life God has given me.  I want 2018 to be my best year yet.

I talked about that in my Not Just Another New Year’s Post

I want to be a better version of myself this year.  Don’t you?

We want to be better wives and better moms.  We aim to be better friends and better at our jobs.  We work for better health and better happiness.  Those are common goals that many of us are working towards, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to be great at hose things.

It is healthy to want to grow.  It is good to want to improve.

People have always wanted to be greater, even Jesus’ disciples.  Now, they made not have made resolutions, goals, and plans toward the purpose of greatness, as many of us do, but they obviously had the desire to be recognized as worthy and valuable.

This morning, my quiet time had me in Matthew 18.  It is a very familiar passage, but today, it resonated with me in a whole new way.

What does Jesus say about being great?

Matthew 18:1-5 ESV  “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Doesn’t that seem upside down?

I’m not sure how you define greatness, but when I conjure a picture of greatness up in my head, it typically doesn’t look like a child.  It more closely resembles someone who is successful in this world, like a CEO or a celebrity.  However, in Jesus’ upside down economy, things are never defined quite like the the world defines them.

The least is the greatest.  The servant is greater than the master.  The baby is the King.  The rejected is the Messiah.  In this passage of scripture, Jesus says that the greatest in Heaven will be like a child.

I’m sorry, what?  What does that even mean?

What does greatness look like?

That got me thinking about the characteristics of a child.  We know that a child like faith is something the Bible says we are to have.  Children also trust, without reservation.  They are dependent and rely on their parents to meet their needs.  They are obedient and under the authority of their parents.  Children do not know it all.  They need their parents to teach them and instruct them.  They look to their parents for protection, direction, help, and provision.  They love their parents and are devoted to them.  Children often want to please their parents and desire to be with them.

The more I thought about the characteristics of children, the more I can understand why Jesus says that we need to be like a child if we want to be great in the kingdom of heaven.

What about my resolutions, goals, and plans?

Our resolutions, goals, and plans are good.  It is a good thing to want to be great at something.  What we might need to do is shift our thinking, just a tad, on what achieving that greatness might look like.  We may need to run it through the filter of Matthew 18:1-5.

Do our resolutions require us to trust and depend on God or our own power?  Are we obedient to what He has said and what He’s asking us to do?  Are we staying under His authority or chasing our own dreams?  Are we looking to His word to teach, lead, and guide us?  Does our direction in 2018 allow us to love Him, to be devoted to Him, to please Him, and to spend time with Him or does it drag us away from those things?

Don’t freak out!

This doesn’t mean that we drop everything and live in a convent with our Bibles in our hands and our eyes lifted to Heaven 24/7.  It does mean that we take the time to consider Jesus in our daily plans and we line up our direction with His.  We need to be in His word and talking to Him in prayer.  We lean in to what He calls us to instead of running ahead of Him to reach greatness.

We can’t step on the people He loves to elevate ourselves.  We can’t bite and scratch and claw our way to greatness.  We listen to the little God nudges that tell us to love others, to be kind, to help a friend, to be generous, to be patient, to show grace, to give mercy, and to not always put ourselves first.

Like children, we go to our Father, daily, when we need guidance, help, direction, protection, and provision.  We trust.  We have faith.  We obey.  We willingly let Him lead.

That sounds like greatness to me.

If we all look at working towards our resolutions, goals, and plans in that light, that sounds like greatness to me!

I know I need to sit down and praying through my great plans for 2018 and check them against what these verses say.  What are your resolutions, goals, and plans for 2018?  How can you run them through the filter of Matthew 18:1-5 so that your idea of being great lines up with Jesus’ idea of being great?

Let’s commit to really being great this year.

Love and blessings,

Bobbie

 


Well, the New Year is in full swing.  Resolutions have been made.  Goals have been set.  Plans have been put into action.  Words have been claimed.  All the things that are intended to make this new year our best one yet have been determined, and we are here, a week and a half into 2018, knee deep in the follow through.

That is my my favorite place to be though, because knee deep in the follow through is where the rubber really meets the road.  It is the place where we decide if we really do want 2018 to be the year that changes things for us.

I’m going to be really honest here.  I’m a rebel at heart.  If everyone is doing something, I choose not not to, just for the sake of opposition. I’m not usually one to jump on a trendy train, so when people began choosing their words for the year and setting their goals and resolutions, I didn’t.

As usual, when my rebel heart makes a decision, God intervenes and presses on my stubborn heart to soften and to change it.

My word for 2018 is intentional.

God persistently laid this word on my heart beginning around Thanksgiving and has continued into the new year.  He was so dogged in His determination to continually lay this word on my heart, in my path, in my reading, and through the words of others that it began to burrow its way into the depths of me.

Obviously, I gave in.  Intentional, it is.

God made it clear that He was asking me to be intentional with this one life He has given me.  That word, intentional, began to permeate everything.

I felt a longing to be more intentional about my time in prayer and in God’s word.  I wanted to be intentional with my relationships with my husband and boys.  I desired to be intentional with my relationships with my family, with my friends, and with the people that God has placed into my life.  I yearn to be intentional with the calling I feel in my heart.  I longed to be intentional in my work and also in my rest.  I need to be intentional about self care and health.  Over and over, this word, intentional, peppered everything.

In the last few days, I’ve felt a slight shifting.  I began to feel the whispering that being intentional in those areas wasn’t all that God had pressed into my heart.  Those were all well and good, but above all of that, there was something that I was missing.

In my quiet time this week, I finally realized what that was.

I’ve been reading through the Bible and am currently in Matthew.  I came upon Matthew 16:14 (NIV) this week and it stopped me in my tracks.  The verse has tumbled around in my head for days.  I know that I have read it countless times before, but something about it prodded my heart in a new way this time.

Here is Matthew 13-16.  “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his desciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?”  he asked.  “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

“BUT WHAT ABOUT YOU, BOBBIE?”  HE ASKED.  “WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?”

It was a challenge to be intentional in a whole knew way.  This was an invitation to find out who I really say that Jesus is.  Who is He to me?  Who do the scriptures say that He is?  What is His heart?  What did He have to say?  What did He teach?  What is He teaching me?  How is He evident in my life and in this world?

I’m going to answer His question in 2018.

I’m going to be intentional about a lot of things in 2018, because I feel like that is what God is asking me to do.  First and foremost, though, I’m going to be intentional about my relationship with Jesus.  I feel like we are pretty close already, but there is so much more that I want to be able to say when He asks me, “But what about you, Bobbie, who do you say I am?”

It feels like a goal that is a little too lofty, but I know that He will meet me in the seeking and questioning.

I’m reminded of a trip I took recently with two friends.  We were good friends before our trip, but by intentionally spending focused time together, our relationship changed.  We got to know each other on a much deeper level and I’ve come to love these two friends in a much richer way.

I’m thinking this journey of intentionally spending focused time getting to really know Jesus is going to be a lot like that, only better.  I’m looking forward to looking back at 2018 and seeing how this year changed my relationship with Him.  I can’t wait to know Him better and love Him in a richer and deeper way.

2018, you feel like a game changer.  I’m jumping into you with intention.

I will be intentional in my relationships.

I will be intentional in following my calling.

I will be intentional in work and in rest.

I will be intentional with self care and health.

But above all, I will be intentional in seeking the answer to the question Jesus asked me.  “BUT WHAT ABOUT YOU, BOBBIE?”  HE ASKED.  “WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?”

Does 2018 feel like a game changer to you, too?

I’m going to be sending an email out to all of my friends who are subscribed to my email list.   I’m going to share some resources that I’m using for 2018 as well as some more thoughts on getting to know Jesus.  Follow this link to my sign up page so that you don’t miss out on that.  Click Here

Love and Blessings,

Bobbie


Happy 2018 to you! I absolutely love celebrating a new year!  January 1st is like cracking open a book only to find a blank page and realizing that you have the chance to pen your very own story.  A new year is a fresh beginning and it brings with it eagerness, anticipation, and hope.  I can’t wait to see who the pages of 2018 will be written!

I’m praying that you feel that, too!  I trust that when you opened your eyes this morning to this untouched year, it was with great expectation at the things that God has in store for you!

In this new year, I’m excited to be able to connect you to a new friend from Build A Sister Up.  Amy Elaine Martinez has been a joy to get to know.  She has a heart for encouraging women to become Victory Girls who can boldly fight their battles as Daughters of the King.  She inspires me to step out in faith and be the warrior that God is calling me to be.  I’m sure she will be an inspiration to you, as well!

Let me introduce you to my friend, Amy Elaine Martinez.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a Colorado girl with a little southern twang. I was born and raised in Oklahoma, but have now spent more than half my life in Colorado. I’d like to think I’m a devoted wife after being married to the love of my life for 24 years. I’m a boy-mom to two grown young men, Sidney and Gabriel. And I finally got my girl, my daughter-in-love, Riley. I have a passion for Jesus, coffee and women’s ministry. I’m the Founder of BeLoved Lumière Devotional, a Bible teacher, writer. I recently became an author, publishing my first book, Becoming a Victory Girl.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee, most definitely. We’ve had a commercial grade espresso machine in our home since 2004 and keep adding new gadgets and the latest coffee trends to our kitchen. My oldest son is a Developer of Coffee at a small, local coffee shop in the Phoenix area…we are a coffee family.

Exercise or nap?
I want my answer to be exercise, but it’s not. I don’t really take naps, but if I could, I would!

Cake or pie?
Cake, chocolate cake or lemon cake, NO icing/frosting…well maybe a little, but only a tiny bit. I usually scrap off all the icing.

High heels or sneakers?
Neither. I’m a cowboy boots or flip flops girl! I only wear sneakers if I’m actually working out. I can’t wear high heels anymore. I’ve had bad feet since 2005 and haven’t put on a pair of heels since, but if I could I would. They are gorgeous! I have a pair in my closet that I keep wishing I could wear…but, no.

Vacation or staycation?
Vacation! My husband has worked from our home since 2004. While I love being at home on our 2.5 acre slice of heaven in Colorado, when it comes to vacation, I want to get out of the office and go somewhere warm!

Early riser or sleep in?
Early riser! I can’t help it. My husband and I get up around 5-ish every day and almond milk lattes together. One is never enough. We’ve been doing this for years and it has proved to be a vital part of keeping our marriage healthy and strong. We celebrate 24 years this year and I never dreamed I would be capable of that!

Read the book or watch the movie?
Read the book.

Dogs or cats?
Dogs. We have an adorable Australian Shepherd named Maverick. We call him “Mav.” When my oldest son got married at 19, we got our first pet ever!

Introvert or extrovert?
Absolutely, undeniably an introvert. I worked in sales and I’ve been a ministry leader for over 10 years, so I know how to extrovert when needed, but I have to have my alone time everyday. I think I could actually go days without picking up the phone or going anywhere…no make-up, quiet, and comfy clothes.

Country living or city girl?
Country girl for living, but city girl for outings. I love the urban, downtown feel with small coffee shops, art galleries, and boutiques to shop in.

Do you have any hobbies?
I’m not much of a hobby kind of girl. I’m not crafty at all. I love to cook and plan events. So, planning small gatherings around the table could be my hobby, I guess.

What are you listening to, reading, or watching that you are loving right now?
I’ve been listening to Kim Walker-Smith’s- On My Side since May of last year. I’m also loving me some Blanca lately. Love her song, “Surrender,” and “Not Backing Down,” and “Real Love.” I love my new Bible, it’s new The Passion Translation Bible with all of the New Testament, Proverbs, Psalms, and Song of Songs included. It’s purple and it’s my favorite translation right now. I love how it reads making the Word come alive in fresh ways for me.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about helping heart-shattered women who feel like they just can’t change learn how to walk in wholeness and live in victory. The transforming power of the Holy Spirit took this broken girl and changed me from the inside out. I love sharing my story and journey to wholeness with women. I truly believe that if He could do it in me, He will do it for them too!

I’m passionate about learning to “Be Loved in The Light.” I’m also passionate about family, food, and fearless living.

What/where are you writing?
I just released my first self-published book, Becoming a Victory Girl: Staking Your Claim in the Kingdom. I write weekly for BeLoved Lumière Devotional on my website at amyelaine.com. And, monthly for the DevotableApp. I’m currently working on a book about brokenness and what it means to be made whole again in Christ.

Heres the link to my new book: Becoming A Victory Girl: Staking Your Claim in The Kingdom

Are there any other projects or ministries that you are working on/with?
I serve as Women’s Ministry Director at a small church plant in Castle Rock, CO. We hosted a local women’s retreat in August and may do another one in the future. I work with a non-profit called the Chrysalis House of Colorado. Our hope is to build a house in Douglas County, Colorado, that will empower women recently released from incarceration to join a home community where they are offered a fresh start. Through our program we will provide a safe place for these ladies to learn their true identity in Christ through healing, ministry, counseling, encouragement, and learning the life skills they need to set themselves up for long term success and live the life God created them to live.

How can we connect with you? (website, social media, events?)
You can stay connected with me at my Website: CLICK HERE
Facebook: CLICK HERE
Twitter: CLICK HERE
IG: CLICK HERE
Pinterest: CLICK HERE

What is an area that you’d like to grow in?
This year I’m concentrating on growing in my writing skills, but more importantly I’m working on staying focused on the ministry part of writing. Without being hands-on, out in the world, my writing is just words on a page. I’m looking forward to connecting with women at speaking events where I can look them in the eye and hug their neck instead of online. Though I am a self-professed introvert, I want to be the hands and feet of God working in women’s ministry…that’s what He made us for, to be the body of Christ.

How can we build you up?
What a sweet question. I just love our BASU community because the heart behind it is to truly lift up another as needed. We don’t just say it; we really do it. I would be so encouraged by the gift of your prayers and friendship. This is a whole new world for me and I’m often overwhelmed by it all. Prayers to face my fears and walk in every bit of what God has called me to do would be so very appreciated.

Is there a parting thought you would like to share?
I don’t really do the “Word for the Year” thing, but today, I found a scripture that I’m going to use as my theme this year. My theme is going to be Choosing Beautiful based on Ephesians 5:10 in TPT

Your mission is to live as children flooded with his revelation-light! And the supernatural fruits of his light will be seen in you—goodness, righteousness, and truth. Then you will learn to choose what is beautiful to our Lord. – Ephesians 5:8-10 (TPT)