A Special Thanksgiving Message

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We find ourselves in a special season that singularly focuses on the act of giving thanks. People hang banners across their mantles proclaiming “give thanks” and others share on Facebook something they are grateful for each day in November

But Thanksgiving is more than a day or a month. Thanksgiving is something we are called to do every day. In the good and the bad, in the ups and downs, our natural response must be gratitude.

Good thing we have some great examples in the Bible! Many men and women we consider pillars of the faith represented an attitude of thanksgiving so well. In fact, there are so many that it was hard to narrow down the list. But today we take a look at people who uniquely gave thanks with all their heart.

1.    Hannah

Hannah is one of my favorite people in the Bible and someone I’ve learned a lot from. There honestly isn’t a lot of information about her but her mark in the Bible is significant.

Hannah was one of two wives to a man named Elkanah; Hannah was barren but the other wife had many children. The other wife, Peninnah, would taunt her regularly and Hannah’s misery was indeed immense. One night, while in the temple, Hannah prayed fervently for a child, so much so that the priest Eli thought she was drunk.

Hannah prayed that if God would give her a child, she would give that child back to Him. Eli blessed her request and soon after she conceived a boy named Samuel, who would become the great prophet of Israel (and my favorite person in the Bible!).

What’s beautiful about this story is that she did indeed give her son back to the Lord--she gave Samuel to Eli. Hannah’s praise wasn’t just the reflection of an answer to prayer, but it proceeded giving up her son. With all her heart she praised God in the aftermath of turning over her biggest prayer request.

Does your praise and thanksgiving overflow from the good you’ve had to let go? When perhaps your sacrifice was difficult.

2.    David

David danced before the Lord in the streets as a response of praise to his holy God. He worshiped after the death of his son. David is a man known for praise. Even in the darkest seasons of his life--as we see in the psalms--he pointed back to the goodness of God.

No matter what season David found himself in, he always had the perspective of praise. We can learn a thing or two from that kind of attitude. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy but he knew thanksgiving was always necessary.

3.    Mary, Mother of Jesus

Finding out she was pregnant with the Savior of the world wasn’t the easiest news to swallow and the aftermath took some faith. But Mary, the young girl chosen to carry the baby Jesus, would exemplify great praise.

While visiting with Elizabeth, who was carrying John the Baptist at the same time Mary was pregnant with Jesus, the young girl had a moment of exclamation. It’s called the Magnificat and it’s found in Luke 1.

Mary’s heart was full of praise and it outpoured into the world. A young girl filled with immense thanks knew exactly where her praise was to be directed. Do you know where to direct your praise today? What are you carrying that at first might have seemed a bit fearful but you can now be thankful for?

4.    The Healed Leper

When Jesus entered a village (Luke 17) there were ten lepers that called out to him for healing. Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priest and as they did, all ten were healed.

Only one returned to Jesus to thank him. Only one! That man threw himself at the feet of Jesus and gave immense thanks. It’s both amazing to think and sad that only one man returned to give thanks for healing from a debilitating disease. When nine vanished into the crowd one gave thanks where thanks was due.

Don’t be like one of the nine that was blessed and moved on. Stop and give incredible thanks for all God has and is doing in your life!

5.    Jesus

He was God and didn’t have to give thanks for anything, but he often did. Jesus set a remarkable example for us in many ways but one was in thanksgiving. He was a man who gave praise to the Father in so many ways.

  • He gave thanks as he was surrounded by thousands of hungry people and multiplied the food.
  • He gave thanks to God for hearing his prayer for the raising of Lazarus--before Lazarus rose from the grave.
  • He knew the cross was before him and gave thanks to the Father as he broke bread and drank the cup with the disciples.

We have a perfect example of righteous living from Jesus and one thing he shows us is the position of praise and thanksgiving. What I find interesting is that all three of these instances were instances we might find tense. The pressure to feed thousands, raise a friend from the grave, and face death on a cross would be intense for any of us. Jesus’ response was never to panic or run to people, but to turn to the Father.

How can you find that position of praise in your life today? What might you do to cultivate a natural response of thanksgiving? Not just this month, but at all times.


This article was originally written for Crosswalk and can be found here.

All the Feels // Shame

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I'm well acquainted with shame on many levels. Shame experienced by acts I did and felt guilty for before I gave my life to Jesus. Shame that has overcome me in my moments of weakness and failure post salvation. Shame that has pierced my heart when I've snapped at my husband. And don't get me started with the shame that accompanies being a parent--one little flicker of frustration towards my little man when he's been crying for more than 5 minutes and that's a shame unlike any other.

We all experience shame now and then on some level. It cuts to the deepest parts of your being; reaches the dark places nobody sees but an all-knowing God. 

Here's the thing about shame, though. It's something that isn't necessarily wrong to experience. If you have sinned, shame communicates to your soul an offense and compels you to repentance. This guilt is an indicator of wrong. Shame becomes unhealthy when you sit in after repentance and beat yourself up about it instead of moving into grace. This is the shame I want to speak to. The kind that sticks around after God has forgiven you.

Lamentations 3:22-23 is a valuable reminder to you in your moments of lingering shame:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

God has a beautiful gift for each and every day; one of freedom from the guilt. It's a gift He extends every morning and your role is simply to accept it. I know that can seem so hard at times. You feel you have sinned horribly and don't deserve forgiveness. But that's not your call to make--that's Gods. And if you have put your faith in Him and repented, His mercy is yours. Recieve it. 

Let go of the shame and condemnation, and walk in the freedom of Christ.

You are a child of God--redeemed and restored. You won't be perfect this side of Heaven and sure, you will make mistakes. But God won't hold them against you and neither should you. You are not smarter nor a higher judge of morality than Him so stop acting like it as you hoard your guilt.

Live in His freedom and take that message to a hurting world. Share with others how God saved you and forgave you. Not just at salvation but each and every day. Take that message to others and use one of the most powerful tools in your hand--your testimony.


Bible Verses on Shame

Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.”  Isaiah 61:7

"With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death."  Romans 8:1-2

"Let us have confidence, then, and approach God's throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it."  Hebrews 4:16

All the Feels // Disappointment

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Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
— Proverbs 13:12

I recently went through one of the most difficult and discouraging setbacks in ministry I have faced in a long time. It’s one of those that cuts to the heart of a long-held dream and so it doesn’t just emotionally hurt--it physically hurts.

I’ve been wrestling with God and turning over so many thoughts in my head. Did I get my call wrong? Did I miss something? Why is this happening? Do you see me, God? You may know these same questions well and the many more that have raced through my mind. The whole experience has left me feeling confused and lost, wondering where to turn next.

What do we do when we face a discouraging blow to our dreams? Or perhaps receive heartbreaking news about someone we care about? How do we respond when hope grows dim and the darkness seems to overwhelm us?

My absolute favorite passage in the Bible is Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT) and I’m always going back to it when discouragement sets in. Here’s a roadmap for you in your own disappointment.

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
— Hebrews 10:35-36

1.    Do Not Throw Away Your Trust in God.

Our mighty, steady, constant God is the anchor to your soul. An anchor that keeps you stable when the sea rages and the storm pounds unrelentingly. This anchor provides hope that you won’t be lost or overtaken by the waters. Having it will keep you afloat until the storm passes.

God has always been there for you, is there for you now, and will always be there for you. It’s His nature and character. You can trust Him with the messiest, darkest, most painful seasons because He is your Father and He is for you. For you like no one else can be.

Don’t throw away that trust. Hold onto it for dear life and don’t let go.

2.    Remember Past Wins.

There is something so encouraging about going over all the ways God has shown up and proven Himself faithful. David does it many times in the Bible. Israel was called to recount what God had done for them often. It’s in there because remembering what God has done for you has a way of cultivating gratitude, which spurs hope and faith.

Start proclaiming the victories God has brought about in your life. Remember how He has come through in the past and how He has always worked things out. If you can do that and proclaim that God is the same today as He was then, you can muster the faith to believe He will come through for you in this season.

3.    Endure Patiently.

Part of the journey through discouragement is patiently enduring. It’s not glamorous or easy, and often our instinct is to find a quick way out of the situation. But there is great value in the gap between your discouragement and God’s answer.

Some might think that patiently enduring means merely waiting for the storm to pass but it’s so much more than that. It’s an active faith that looks for growth and greater understanding. It’s an openness that asks God to reveal something new in your soul. It’s making the most of what’s hard in order to get out what’s the best inside of you.

4.    Do His Will.

You might be confused about your current storm and wondering what’s next. If you’ve been removed from a project you are passionate about, or passed by for a promotion for your dream job, or forced to take some time to rest from a physical ailment in the midst of a flourishing season, confusion about your call can seep into the very depths of your soul.

In times where His will is uncertain, it’s important you do everything you know is His will. It’s to love Him and your neighbors. It’s to share the Gospel with people. It’s to support those in need and encourage those in distress. It’s to love your spouse, children, and family well. It’s to do your creative best with what is in your hand at this moment.

Do what you know He has for you now; as my long-time pastor John Lindell has said, “Do all of the revealed will of God for your life and God will lead you in discovering the unrevealed will of God for your life.”

God shows us in Hebrews 10:36 that if we follow this journey, then we will receive all that He has promised! I know it’s easy to become lethargic and to sit in our pj’s watching This Is Us until the storm passes. As wonderful as that show is (and it is!) or how easy it is to passively wait, there’s no value in that place.

Faith is produced in the suffering and in the resistance. Growth takes place when you have to get honest with yourself and go to God’s promises. You are purified in the fire, not diminished. Discover how you can grow in this season and what God has for you in this secret place. If you can do that, you’ll grow vibrantly, make it through with a fiercer faith, and flourish in the calling He has on your life.

All the Feels // Loneliness

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The thing about loneliness is that you can feel it even though you may be surrounded. It hits you in the quietness of your apartment and in the busyness of a crowd.  It affects the single and the married; those with a few close friends and those with many. It knows no boundaries.

I remember there were times after giving birth to Roman that I felt alone. There was no logical reason for it: I had my attentive husband, our family, and this adorable blue-eyed baby boy with me. But there it was...a blanket of loneliness.  

Perhaps it had something more to do with the unsureness, fear, and exhaustion I felt. And my health issues didn't help. There were moments my emotions were so overwhelming that I felt isolated from others -- who could understand what I was going through? 

My husband sought to understand me and for that, I am truly grateful. Yet, there was Another so intimately close to me that really it was this presence that carried me through the season: it was the Father.  

Do not be afraid. I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. For I am the Lord, your God. … because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor, do not be afraid—I am with you!
— Isaiah 43:1-5

No matter how hard the season...how difficult the trial...or how isolating the emotion...you are not alone! Isaiah 43 poetically reminds you that God loves you and is with you. He whispers to you even now: child, don't be afraid. Don't you see...you are mine. Nothing you go through will keep Me from you. Every trial I am there. I love you and I am with you.

Do you hear His gentle whisper? His intimate reminder to you? You might feel alone but know that you are not. 

All the Feels // Anger

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You feel jilted, misunderstood, and hurt. Your blood begins to boil and control seems to become elusive. In fact, control over these emotions isn't something you particularly desire anyway. You want to give into the heat. Satisfy this desire to get back at someone or make them feel bad. 

This is anger and I know it all too well.

I grew up in a very angry home; tension so thick that at times you could cut it with a knife. It was a default mode and because I was around it so often, I adopted it as my own approach to dealing with situations I didn't like. It was stronghold I crippled under for many years.

No matter how hard I tried to fight the anger growing inside of me, I couldn't defeat it. I felt trapped by the heaviness and lost in its shadow. It caused me to lose control of my emotions in a heated discussion with my parents, harbor negative feelings towards people, and treat my brothers poorly. It was something so overwhelming I thought I would never be free.

But then I found Jesus and my life began to change. In beautiful and tangible ways, such as holding a hope I'd never had before and seeing my thoughts radically change. The anger didn't disappear, however. It still haunted me.

That is, until a youth service when I cried out to God at the altar to deliver me from the anger I held so close. And He did. Miraculously!

Now, I'm not saying I've not felt anger since because I have. But it doesn't lock me into a pattern of thinking I once held. And it doesn't cause me to lose control or be in a perpetual state of "about to blow." I still experience it now and then, which I believe is normal, but I can share with others that anger doesn't have to take the driver's seat in your life.

What do you do when you're angry? You don't let it overcome you. I know that's easier said then done but it's vital to overcoming the emotion.

If you begin to feel your blood boil, take a deep breath and try to gain some perspective. That perspective might mean recalling Scripture you've memorized about anger. (See verses below to help). Or thinking about the consequences of losing your temper. Or perhaps putting yourself in the others shoes for just a moment. I know it's incredibly hard to take a second to collect yourself when you're angry but if you can learn to do this, you can begin to master your anger.

Take a deep breath, get some perspective, and perhaps even walk away if you need to. It's often better to walk away and cool down, then come back to the conversation then it is to lose your anger in the moment. Trust me, it's hard but it's so helpful.

If you are struggling with anger, take these steps to heart.

  • PRAY: Ask God DAILY to help you be free from a bondage to anger.  And when you feel angry, pray in that moment that God would help you to respond out of kindness instead.
  • MEMORIZE: Start memorizing verses below that you can recall when you're angry. According to Ephesians 6, the Word of God is a sword--our defense against the enemy. Take it up and fight your anger with it!
  • PAUSE FOR PERSPECTIVE: In your pause, take a deep breath and get that perspective I was talking about above. 
  • RESPOND IN GENTLENESS AND LOVE: The Bible is very clear that you should respond to others out of gentleness and love. Choose this path instead of anger; the situation will play out much better if you do. 
  • RECONCILE: Show forgiveness to others and ask for it as well. 

Anger isn't pretty but it certainly is a powerful tool for destroying relationships and keeping someone locked inside a lonely prison. But you can overcome it and you can be free!


Bible Verses on Anger

"He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding." Proverbs 17:27

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:31-32

"He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly." Proverbs 14:29

"Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses." Proverbs 10:12

"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil." Ephesians 4:26-27

"This you know, my beloved brethren But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." James 1:19-20

"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city." Proverbs 16:32

 

All the Feels

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I've never experienced such a wide range of emotions as I have over this past year. 

Dreams answered and then painfully lost in a moment. Overflowing with joy to experiencing loneliness. Incredibly deep connection to distant memories. 

Joy. Sadness. Hope. Despair. Appreciated. Forgotten. Giving. Proud. Grateful. Depleted.

Emotions are one of the greatest mountains you will likely have to conquer. They can hijack your journey--or even your day.  Emotions can direct your thoughts, heart message, and soul. They affect how you treat people and yourself.

I am going into this series on some of our most painful and powerful emotions with incredible vulnerability. I know how hard some of these "feels" can be and my hope is that by pulling back the curtain and showing you that difficult emotions are powerfully felt by us all, that you won't feel alone. Or crazy.

But I won't stop at the emotion; I will turn it around and highlight hope. I want to show you--and perhaps even remind myself--that there is hope, like a beacon radiating in the darkness. So that if all you see is the messy emotion in front of you, you might begin to see a crack illuminating something beyond that.

It seems every.single.time I go through a challenging season I turn to this passage.

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
— Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT)

Giving up isn't an option; not if you want more out of life. Not if you long to be used for the Kingdom of God; to be part of something much bigger and more beautiful than yourself. So don't throw away your trust in Him. Tap into long-term perspective and lean into His will for your life. This is where your purpose lies.

Are you ready to take the journey? Ready to fight your way through some of life's most painful seasons? To face what's hard to get what's good? Next week we'll jump into the first emotion but until then, dive into Hebrews 10 and resolve to give this race all you have.

NEW YouVersion Reading Plan // When Disappointment Hurts

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There are times in life when a disappointment cuts to the core of who you are. To the point of hurting not just emotionally, but physically and spiritually. How do you work through the emotions and step forward into hope? This 5-day plan will walk you through that journey.

You can find this plan on the YouVersion reading app by searching "When Disappointent Hurts" or read it online using the linke below!

Fear & Anxiety // Prayer & Thanksgiving

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Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
— Philippians 4:6

Prayer and thanksgiving are always a good remedy! In Philippians, we are called not to be anxious but to access God with our requests through prayer and thanksgiving. If you’re feeling any amount of anxiety, train yourself to turn to praise. Praise begins to shift your perspective and set your heart in a healthy direction.

How can fear and anxiety thrive in an environment of praise? It can’t! As I said in week 1, fear is a hindrance to the enjoyment of life and I hope that through this plan you’ve been able to see how that might happen. It’s hard to fight a natural tendency but if you want to throw off the shackles of fear and anxiety, then fight that tendency with what you have learned in this series.

Take the distorted perspective fear thrives in and set your eyes on Jesus--the right perspective. Remember that God will sustain you in your difficult season or situation; size up your concern next to the mightiness of our God and see how it shutters in the shadow of His power. Then follow the cure outlined in Luke 12 and turn to praise and thanksgiving.

You can be set free from fear and anxiety, and now that you have the knowledge and tools to overcome, go to the throne and lean into the Father today. He’s with you in this battle!

Fear & Anxiety // The Cure to Anxiety

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We’re all looking for a cure to our ailment, are we not. Looking for that “thing” that will bring instant relief to our anxiety or get us out of the season. Cures are hard to come by but we do find one for anxiety in Luke 12.

And he said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.’

‘Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’
— Luke 12:22-34

In this passage, Jesus is sharing with his disciples on the topic of anxiety. He references the birds and the grass—God takes care of them. And if God takes care of them, how much more will He take care of you!

Worry and anxiety don’t add any value and only rob today of its value. In fact, Jesus says he knows what you need. Indeed, pray for what you need but don’t let the worry of what might happen drive you to a place of denial. Instead, fix your eyes on the Father and He will take care of all of these things.

So, what’s the cure exactly?

1. Remember that God already has your needs in mind. (v. 30) He knows what you really need in this life to thrive in the calling placed on your life. He knows your struggles and tension, even before you do. Nothing in your life will ever surprise Him, so trust Him to work all things out for good. Trust that He will take care of all your needs.

2. Set your focus on Him. (v. 31) Fix your eyes firmly on Him. Not on your needs or the fear, but on Him. Looking only to Him in your hour of trouble. With this kind of focus, fears disappear on the horizon.

3. Store up your treasures in Heaven. (v. 33) Live with a Kingdom purpose. This means living out your purpose with conviction, serving others, having pure motives, and doing all things with the mission of building the Kingdom of God. May all that you do have eternal value.

At the core of this cure is keeping Christ at the center!

NEW Crosswalk Article // 10 Things Your Wife Wishes You Would Say

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I want to help the guys out today; give you a bit of insight into the woman's mind. What is it we crave from you? What do we long to hear you say to us? I know sometimes women can make it hard for you; we expect you to pick up on our cues and read our minds. It’s not fair and I get it. So, let me help you out today with 10 things a woman loves to her!

Fear & Anxiety // Fearing God

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For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?
— Psalm 89:6-7 (ESV)

One way to overcome fear and anxiety is to place a healthy fear in the proper place.

So far we’ve looked at having a proper perspective, a reminder that God will sustain you, and the cure for anxiety. Today, we look at having a fear of God.

Just so you know, there is no one like God. In fact, there is no one that even comes close! How can you look at your situation--your fear--and size it up against our almighty God? You just can’t.

If you can take that concern and look at it in contrast to His mightiness,

you’ll probably start to get a better perspective. Having a healthy fear of God--taking into account His mightiness, strength, and ability to overcome anything--is a good thing. It’s not labeling Him unjust or angry and therefore to be feared; it’s about taking into account His character, realizing there is no one else like Him, and that He can overcome what you fear.

When fear begins to creep up, remind yourself of who God really is and what He is capable of. That should help place your fear in the proper place.

Fear & Anxiety // God Will Sustain You

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Have you ever wondered how you were going to get through a season or situation? Especially when fear and anxiety began to set in and play all sorts of mind games. Me too. In fact, if I’m completely transparent with you, I’ve been know to catastrophize. Which means I’ve had a tendency of believing the worst may happen in a particularly hard situation.

Maybe you can relate? Whether or not you do we all struggle at times or have struggled with, the distorted perspective we talked about on week 2.

Isaiah 41:10 speaks to this place of fear.

fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

When you might feel fear or be dismayed, remind yourself of what God speaks in this verse--that He will strengthen you, help you, and uphold you. The God who controls all things will be there to protect and aid you in your fear.

In Psalm 55:22, you are encouraged to cast your burden on Him.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.

You’re encouraged to do this because He can handle it; God can handle anything you give Him. Your worries, fear, shame, doubt--none of it’s too much for Him to bear. Furthermore, when you do cast it all on Him, He will sustain you.

This means in your fear and anxiety, God wants you to know that you can lean on Him. That He will take care of you in the darkest of seasons. Will you let Him sustain you? Or will you carry it all alone?

Fear & Anxiety // The Proper Perspective

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But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
— Matthew 6:33

Matthew 6:33 is one of two of my favorite verses in the Bible! It makes a mission in life so clear.

Put God first and everything that you worry about and fear will take care of itself.

Jesus is illustrating that us humans worry about so many fears in our life; worry that is an overflow from our fears. And he shares that if God will take care of the birds and the vegetation, how much more will He attend to your needs?

I get it--worry comes easy and is hard to fight. But worry can cause so much harm to how God wants to use you. It seeps into your relationships, job, and finances, just to name a few. And when it gets in there, distrust and lack of faith take root. Instead of having the distorted perspective we discussed last week, have a proper one!

The proper direction for your eyes isn’t on the things of this world and your worries but on God. When that perspective begins to get distorted, recite this verse and fix your eyes on Jesus. That might mean putting on some worship music, or hitting the ground in prayer, or stepping back from a situation. If you can get your eyes on God and focus on Him, all those other elements will fall into place.

Cast your care on God and He will take care of everything else.

Fear & Anxiety // A Distorted Perspective

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But the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
— Mark 4:19

Not only is fear a hindrance in your life, but it also places a filter of distorted perspective over your mind. Fear and anxiety produce worry, a false sense of security, and a desire for the things in this world.

Remember that out of fear you develop a desire for something that is unable to fulfill you? The need for recognition, to please people, for financial stability, the dependence on another--these things become something you crave, perhaps feel you need. In that place, your perspective becomes distorted. Your number one isn’t God, but instead, something in this world.

Last week, I hope you stopped to take stock of the fears driving your life and the struggles they produce. Today, look at how those fears and struggles affect your view on life. Do they get in the way of what’s best and most healthy for you?

Mark mentions that worry, false security, and a desire for the things of this world will choke out the word and leave your life unfruitful. Is that the kind of life you want to live? Probably not. Come back next week to learn more about the proper perspective.

Fear & Anxiety // Fear is a Hindrance

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That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.
— 2 Timothy 1:5-7

Fear and anxiety are themes we find quite common in the Bible. I suppose this might be because our human nature is often prone to both when things are uncertain and our view is not in the right place. Unless trained otherwise, our default can often be to fear or be anxious.

All of our sins are rooted in fear. For example, a fear of not being good enough can manifest in the need for recognition, thus igniting pride and advancement in our heart. Or the fear of not being accepted can create a desire to please people. Whatever your struggle, there is a connection to a deep seeded fear. And with that fear, with that struggle, is an obstacle in your life.

Fear is a hindrance to the enjoyment of life. When you allow fear and anxiety to take shape in your life, you’re allowing something to hinder fullness in your life. It paralyzes you, immobilizes you, and causes you to question moving forward.

If you’re living in fear and anxiety today or might be prone to go there, fully submerge yourself into this plan and into the scripture explored. Prepare yourself to face your past and the fears you pushed back into the corners of your soul so that you can be an overcomer by the power of Christ! You don’t have to live there, nor is it what God has for you, so commit to a new way of life today.

In this series, we’re going to explore how fear and anxiety can hold you back and keep you from experiencing all God has for you, as well as what the Bible says in overcoming it. Today, take stock of the fears in your life and how they connect to the struggles you face, and let’s do this!

So, why should you care? Because God cares. And because people matter. But so do you and it’s the heart of this reading plan to give you tools that will encourage you to pour into others when you feel empty. Over these seven days, we’ll explore the struggles of giving when you’re tapped out, some practical advice in pouring out, and a promise from God to those who do.

A Beginner's Guide to Parenting // Tired & Weary Mama

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This series on pregnancy and parenting was supposed to end last week, but I've felt on my heart all week an addition that just had to be shared. Honestly, it 's probably more for me than anyone--these thoughts and feelings swirling around inside of me like a jumbled mess.

This one's for all the tired and weary mama's out there. For those exhausted from the late-night feedings, part-time entertainment duties, and bouncy walks around the house. I know I fall into this category as a new mama and have from the moment I checked into the hospital to meet Roman. It only became harder adding back in full-time work, meeting a book deadline, and maintaining a healthy marriage.  

Parenting is hard, am I right?! Not just physically either; it wears on you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Mentally, I feel too tired at the end of the day to pick up a book or read the news. My mind is void of any current events or interesting facts. Instead, I feel like my conversations revolve around poopy diapers and spit-up fiascos.

Emotionally, the overwhelming love and concern for a child can itself be a lot to carry. No one tells you that when your heart is out there in the world how taxing it can be. The worry, questions, concerns. At not just in the love I carry for another, but I've had moments of feeling incredibly alone, a total mess, and a complete failure.

Spiritually, I feel so disconnected. Before motherhood, I always had these wonderful and regular devotional times free from distraction. Then, in the blink of an eye, I had this baby in my life that required so much of my time and attention. Prayers times and Bible reading became scattered; I've still yet to find a balance.

It's hard sharing some of these thoughts and feelings with you but I do because potentially you feel the same way. And I want you to know you're not alone. In fact, there are thousands of us mamas feeling the same way you do. We're all in this parenting journey together and must encourage each other along the journey. Because we get each other. We understand each other. So let's spur each other on in a way no one else can.

I spur you on today. Yes, it's hard. it's draining. BUT IT'S SO WORTH IT! Getting to hold your little one and kiss them on the forehead. Watching them doze off in your arms in the late night hours. Seeing them smile wide when you walk up. The sweet coo's and ahh's are endearing. And knowing that there's this part of you out there in the world who will always call you mom. YOU! Their mom.

You get to partake in one of the greatest gifts in the world: parenthood. It will be hard and weary in so many ways but it's worth it. So embrace it. Don't waste any moment. Your child needs your love, attention, example, and prayers. Your child needs YOU. 


"Refresh my heart in Christ." Philemon 20b

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

NEW Crosswalk Article // 10 Ways to Deal with Difficult People in Your Church

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Here’s the deal: the church is filled with real people with real problems. I’m not saying a bad attitude is ok but we all have to remember that people make mistakes and at the end of the day, we are called to grace.

Here’s what I’ve learned, along with suggestions some of my pastoral friends have made, to help you when dealing with difficult people.

A Beginner's Guide to Parenting // The Early Days of Parenthood

Feed. Change Diaper. Rock to Sleep. Repeat.

At least, that's how it can feel in those early days of parenting! Especially for the first time parent, those weeks following delivery will be some of the most stretching, tiresome, fearful, and wonderful days.

If you are about to meet your little one or just welcomed them into the world, it's a new beginning for you. Although there will be a variety of emotions among the diaper changes, late night feedings, and long stares at their rising belly for signs of breathing, you can rest assured that your roller coaster journey is worth it.

Here are some things I learned the first few weeks of parenthood, along with some practical ideas for the journey.

  1. Fear is a natural part of the journey but you don't have to live in it. And you're not alone! (See last week's post).
  2. It's part of your God-given plan to parent this precious child of yours. It's a gift you were chosen to steward and certainly your greatest opportunity to make an impact in this world. You get to raise this child to love God and others, and the influence you have with this child is the greatest you will ever have with anyone. 
  3. Advice many moms shared with me was to give anything two weeks. In two weeks it's likely that whatever frustration you're facing will have passed. After you've had your baby, give your body two weeks to feel better. And then another two weeks to feel even better than that. Tell yourself that it's for a short season and that you can do this in God's strength.
  4. FInding devo time in those early days will be challenging. But know that it can evolve. It doesn't have to look like an hour on uninterrupted time alone. You can pray while your rock your baby to sleep and read your Bible will they lay on the playmat. Evolve with the season and give yourself grace when it doesn't look how you'd like it to or it did.
  5. Download the Wonder Weeks App! It will show you when your baby goes through a "leap" and how that will affect them. What a relief to know that when my baby is extra fussy it's because he's going through a change and that it's temporary!
  6. Don't forget you're still a wife or husband in addition to being a parent. Chances are that pregnancy and labor will make you and your spouse feel closer than ever before. However, when you have a new baby that dictates your schedule and you're exhausted emotionally and physically, it's easy to let your marriage fall second or third. Don't let it. Be intentional about pouring into your marriage and letting your spouse know they are important to you.

You're in such a precious season in life. Enjoy it!

A Beginner's Guide to Parenting // What I Learned in ICU

Being a new parent brings a myriad of emotions--joy, excitement, exhaustion, and fear. I sort of expected all of those emotions, but what I didn't expect was the immense feeling of guilt that came with the job.  I'd venture to say there are few things that make you feel like a failure more than the hiccups you face on your parenting journey.

It happens in even the smallest of ways. My son has gas and one time I gave him gripe water, which he then vomited up. I felt so guilty for giving him something that would cause him to do such a thing. And it's not even necessarily what you do and don't do; him having gas made me feel bad because I couldn't make it stop.

This really became apparent to me pretty early on. A few hours before I was discharged from the hospital from giving birth, I began experiencing cramps, nausea, and tiredness. Nurses insisted it was a mix of just having had a baby and my lack of sleep. So, I went home with my husband and newborn son, only to be so depleted that I took a three-hour nap as soon as I got home.

I woke up feeling better and enjoyed dinner that night with my family. However, around 9 PM, I began experiencing severe cramps. Within thirty minutes I went from a level 2 to a level 7 in pain and I knew something wasn't right. I told my husband I needed to go to the ER.

My precious newborn son was lying in the cradle next to our bed. As he looked up at me with his innocent, big blue eyes, I said goodbye to him with tears streaming down my face. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

I spent that night in ER, in lots of pain and running tests to find out what was wrong. I ended up being diagnosed with a rare ovarian blood clot. I spent the next 3 days in ICU, the first half of it away from my son, and in utter disappointment with myself. It only got worse when I found out I could no longer breastfeed due to the medicine I had to go on long-term.

In that hospital room, and in my first week home, I felt such an attack from the enemy. Telling me I wasn't a good mom or wife because I couldn't be there for my son like I should, leaving my husband to carry most of the parenting load. He constantly whispered into my ear what a disappointment and failure I was. To be honest, I felt like my husband and son deserved better than what I could give at that time.

It was a dark place of guilt and condemnation, with my feelings all over the place. But like David had to do in Psalm 42, I had to get a hold of myself. Sitting in that dark place and allowing the enemy to have a voice in my life wasn't healthy or helpful. I had to sort through my emotions.

I encourage you to take 15 minutes and listen to a podcast I did on this experience and how I navigated the emotions. You can: 

In that podcast, I shared 4 things I did to encourage myself:

  1. Reminded myself that God's mercies are new every day (Lamentations 3:22-23). Each day God extends to all of us a gift of a new beginning and forgiveness. He wants you to embrace this gift today and every day as you parent!
  2. Know that God uses every decision and mistake for His glory (Jeremiah 29:11). Everything in our life is weaved together for a much bigger plan and nothing you do will surprise God. He'll use you even with all your fails.
  3. His strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Embrace your areas of weakness because God's strength can show up there and He will be glorified!
  4. I can cast my cares on Him (Psalm 55:22). Whatever fear, worry, or anxiety you are carrying, you don't have to carry alone. Cast it on Him and He will help carry those cares for you!

As a new parent, you are going to experience a lot of things and one of those is feeling like you don't add up as a parent. Please know that you are not alone and that it's normal to experience those emotions. But don't allow the enemy to tell you you're not a good parent. You are your child's parent for a reason! It's not a mistake that you were chosen to steward your child(ren) and you don't have to do it alone. In fact, please don't! God is with you!

A Beginner's Guide to Parenting // Your Labor & Delivery Toolbox

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Expecting mamas, although excited to meet their newborn, often go into labor with some fear and nerves. I remember I was anxious to have my son and so ready to not be pregnant that I couldn't wait for labor! I ended up having to be induced a week early and I was excited to set the date--to know when I could expect my little one. But then as I settled down that night and the reality began to set in, so did fear and anxiousness. 

One of the things that really helped me through my labor and delivery was a Spotify playlist of worship songs I put together before the big day. It has 5.5 hours worth of encouraging and powerful worship to keep your mind on things above (Colossians 3:2). The button below will take you to the playlist I've affectionately called, "Get the Baby Out!" [I was very, very pregnant at this time, mind you!]

Another tool that really helped me through labor was some scripture verses I had saved on my phone. I would read them or repeat them in my head as I pushed through painful contractions. Here are some of the verses I found helpful:

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
— Psalm 127:3-5
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
— Philippians 4:13
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
— Isaiah 26:3
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4:6-7
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 through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
— Isaiah 43:1-2

Along with the Bible verses, I would say things to myself like "God made my body to do this" and "I get to be Roman's mama." I found focusing on the positive during the contractions helped get me through the pain (that, and the epidural!).

Finally, don't be afraid to lean on people. I could not have made it through without my husband and the hospital staff! When the epidural didn't go in right and I was in a ton of pain, I wanted to give up and get a c-section. I was so afraid of trying for another epidural that I was bawling. As I sat on my hospital bed, my husband, nurse, and midwife surrounded me on the floor. Looking up at me, all three told me I could do it. It was with their words of encouragement I made it through a second (and correct, hallelujah) epidural! 

Labor and delivery can be scary, but you can make it through! And at the end of it, you will get this precious human being to call your child. You will experience a love like you've never experienced before when you hold that little one in your arms for the first time! You got this, girl!


FUN IDEA: Have a photographer in the room with you during delivery! The pictures we have now, we will cherish for a lifetime. It might seem a bit odd to have someone there but I will never regret it! Besides, I totally forgot a photographer was there and now I have these incredible pictures of holding my son for the first time. What a gift!