It’s interesting to me as I sit here preparing to write to you that I’m realizing that somewhere down in my heart and mind remains the notion that Bible study is an activity on my calendar; an item on my checklist; just one item among many that I am supposed to do.

I go to Bible study each week. Check. I complete my homework and get to satisfyingly fill out my little blue card. Check. I memorize my Bible verse. Check. I type up the weekly email. Check.

But this week was one of those weeks that we all have. The calendar items and to-do list didn’t go quite as I had planned. Thursday night was opening night for the spring musical at Christian Academy. Our daughter has one of the main roles. At 4 am our bedroom door sprang open as she stood in the doorway and told me she was sick. I stayed with her as she was sick multiple times over the next few hours. We were both brokenhearted and worried.

So I’m seeing all the more that this isn’t just a Bible study we are doing. It’s not meant to be just another item on our to-do list. We aren’t there to be inspired. The Bible isn’t just any other book. The words aren’t “cosmic suggestions” as I once heard somebody say. Jesus isn’t an idea or philosophy.

This is real life. This is discipleship. We gather together each week to learn how to really live out life with a new heart. “And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26b). This is for real.

We are there to learn how to really put away our anger. For real. To really put to death our covetousness. To stop walking in the ways we all used to walk in and still do walk in. To learn what it means to put on love and live for the One who died for us so that we would no longer live for ourselves.

“…and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15).

I have been asking the Lord to grow my faith. I have confessed my unbelief. I have prayed Psalm 139 asking the Lord to show me the grievous ways in my heart and lead me in the way everlasting. And then He answered. For real.

It wasn’t the answer I had hoped for. I just wanted Him to change my heart in one fell swoop. I didn’t want to go through any suffering in the process. I want to live on Easy Street. But a dear friend recently reminded me of Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

We had nowhere else to go yesterday but to the Lord. We prayed and asked for prayer. I asked the Lord for the grace to trust Him and to not question or doubt His goodness, even if it would be that our daughter would not be able to do something she has waited to do for years.

The temptation to fear was huge. I could feel my stomach in knots. But God was so good. He poured out His mercy and grace so abundantly. In so many varied ways. In ways we would have never known had things gone according to my way, i.e. completely smoothly in the first place! The love of Christ that we experienced over the past 24 hours was immense.

I thank the Lord for healing my daughter. I did not think there was any way she would be able to perform that night. Not only did she perform, the people who were in the audience who did not know how sick she had been earlier that day, would never have known from her performance! It was so beautiful to see the grace of God unfold before my very eyes! She performed in all four shows and grew stronger in each one. My heart soared in worship of our great God for His lovingkindness to my daughter.

It is a day in her life that she and I will never forget. It is a day that she will one day recall when she is 48 years old and her small group asks her to share a time in her life when she saw the Lord work.

I thank the Lord for this study. I thank the Lord for the gift of the body of Christ. To know I am not alone. I am so weak. I need to be taught how to follow. I need the body to continually point me back to God’s truth. To continually help me to lift my eyes above my circumstances. I need godly sisters in Christ to speak truth to my heart that hurts to hear because my heart is still hard. We all need grace upon grace.

I am thanking the Lord for the gift of prayer and the gift of confession. I am asking for grace to truly believe the truth of His Word that says that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. That is real.

May we all continue to ask for more grace to set our minds on things above, not on things that are on earth. May we set our hearts and our minds on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Learning to Live in the Garden of Grace


So last week in the lecture for Lesson 5 of Heart of a Woman — “A Holy Fast: Fasting to Feast,” we were posed with many questions towards the end that definitely stuck with me through Lesson 6. Listed below you can find some of these questions. I definitely encourage you to go through them, and answer truthfully.

  • Do I believe Jesus is the answer to everything?
  • Do I care?
  • Do I believe that Jesus is the most important thing about me?

Now, immediately my lips would love to have said, “Yes!” and they kind of did. But in all honesty, at the root of my heart I really had to stop, take inventory, contemplate, and chew on it for a little while. As I went through this I have placed my thoughts below for you to read. I find myself wanting to hold back on my true opinions, but I am grateful that the Lord keeps me in remembrance of His unfailing love. So here it is!

After what I like to call my knee jerk response, “Yes!” I think I didn’t want to go any further with an answer to these questions listed above, because I know the following: If I am truly working out my salvation with fear and trembling, these things would have to be wrestled with. Sometimes putting aside sin causes us to be uncomfortable and we don’t like to be uncomfortable. Really, I feel like deep down we are trying to justify and hold on to things for a little longer such as anger, pride, envy, or laziness. When talking to God sometimes I find myself saying and feeling things like, “Can’t I just hold on a little bit longer, God?” or, “I won’t do this as often… so do I really need to work on this anger?” I mean we will go to some lengths to try and keep holding on, when we feel that the Lord is trying to cut it away so that we can delight fully in Him.

Just for the record, my answer to some of the questions ended up being, “No.” I felt like for the question, “Do I believe Jesus is the answer to everything?” the answer was a yes, but then I had to ask myself if I am using the tools given to me to overcome all the sin my life. Then that would be, NO!  I had to talk this thing out because the Lord gently showed me that although I say aloud, “Jesus, I love you,” did my heart reflect this? Did my obedience in all things show this? And no it didn’t. I think sometimes as believers we struggle so hard simply believing that Jesus is the answer to all things. I know I personally struggle with this.

The next question was, “Do I care?” Do I really care that Jesus is the answer to everything, and that I have all the tools to overcome my sin? I do really care in my mind, but do I care enough to go through the struggle of putting my flesh to death every day so that I can live as a representative of Christ? Again, I wanted to yell, “YES!” But that is easy to say when I have not asked the Lord to cut away my sins that I so comfortably identify with. The ones that I feel make me who I am as an individual. A walk with Christ can seem super easy to work through when you aren’t inviting Him to change anything about you. Perfect example, I find myself being so judgmental of those who call themselves “Christians,”  but are so stuck in their ways that they won’t change no matter what. Even if you tell them that the Bible speaks on what they are doing. I even feel as though their life is far from a reflection of the gospel. I even wonder if they are taking their own words into consideration, and asking the Lord to truly look into their hearts and change whatever is at the root of their sin?

But oh how thankful I am that the Lord showed me this about myself. Through this question He revealed to me just how self-righteous I can be, how I will do the same exact thing. I am so quick to judge and point my finger at another. So often I find that I am swift to share with others about making sure Jesus is the answer to everything. Or, trying to make sure this person knows that they need to use the tools given to them to overcome their sin and to be in the Word of God. But how often do I look at myself and say the same? Like, never!

Lastly, I asked myself, “Do I believe that Jesus is the most important thing about me?” I mean I am the queen of thinking I make Jesus #1 in my life. Seriously, if you knew me you could go on my social media profiles and find in the description, “Lover of Jesus,” right at the top. But let me be the first to say, I am learning each and every moment that just because I place an emphasis on making sure someone sees that I love Jesus, this ultimately doesn’t mean in my heart of hearts I believe He is the most important thing about me at all times. For a very long time I have struggled with being someone. Heck! I still do. That is one of my sins that I struggle with the most, pride. I mean whether that is being someone in society, or being something in my own little world.

I feel at times parting ways with the world, and losing my individualism is something I am actually most afraid for the Lord to call me to do. I will even ask the Lord, “Father, please use me in whatever way you see fit,” and literally turn around and confess right away, “Abba Father, in my heart I only want you to use me in the areas that I want you to. Please forgive me, and take this feeling from me.” During the lecture when this particular question was raised we were encouraged to pray that by faith we would wholeheartedly believe this. And so on a piece of paper I wrote, “Lord, I don’t feel so sure, I need you to get me to want this because I can’t do this on my own. I want you to be the most important thing about me. Bring me so near to you that I can’t be seen anymore. No matter how it may feel, or how my flesh may resist, could you please pull me closer to you?”

How sweet it is that we don’t have to do this on our own. After last week’s lecture and assignment, I want the Lord to fill me up in a way that only He can. We are asking ourselves these questions throughout this study because we want to live in the fullness of God. My prayer is that I walk with Him daily and truly seek to be a woman after His own heart. I am amazed at how much He cares for us. Even when our human thinking burdens us with doubt in His ability to change our sinful hearts, He never gives up on us or forsakes those He loves. This week I pray that Romans 8:38-39 (ESV) be an encouragement and that God’s unconditional love be made so clear to you. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

All for His Glory



Am I really willing to pick up my cross and carry it for Jesus?

After this week’s Heart of a Woman lecture, the following hymn came to mind: “I surrender all, I surrender all. All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”

I was very convicted by Laurie’s lecture. She plainly asked us where we were challenged in our faith to put all of our hope and trust in Jesus. As I’ve meditated on this question, the Lord has been faithful to help me see the two biggest areas in my heart and life that I have not fully surrendered to the Lord.

The first is my children. I think about the passage in Scripture in Luke where Jesus says: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). As a mother – like most mothers — this is very hard for me. As a stay at home mom, my “job” revolves around my family! They are ever-present in my thoughts. My time is largely devoted to laundry, cooking, cleaning, carpooling, doctor’s appointments, etc. I simply could not fathom life without them. I cannot imagine losing my children – or their love. They are 12 and 14. I feel like they need me. Loving them – and yes, being loved by them – is so very precious to me.

I know the Lord is not calling me to hate my children. But He IS calling me to consider my relationship with HIM for more important than my relationship with them. He is calling me to count HIS love as far more precious than their love. He is calling me to find my identity in HIM as His beloved child, not as a mother. I know He has abundantly blessed me with my children and I am so grateful for the privilege of being a mother. I also know in my HEAD that my children are not mine; they are His. But, in my earthly, (sinful) momma heart I (a) identify strongly with being a mother and (b) fiercely love my children. If I’m really honest, I see that I look to the love of my children (and husband) to sustain me – not Jesus’ love.

The other area of my life where I struggle to fully place my hope and trust in Jesus is my health. I struggle with chronic pain conditions that are sometimes debilitating and very discouraging. Instead of picking up this cross with my eyes fixed on the Lord, I “bow down” to my doctors, to medicine, to all the “things” I think will make me feel better. I do not pray before I turn to medicine or pick up the phone to call my doctor. I’ve even stopped praying for the Lord to heal me – truthfully, I am not sure I believe He will (Lord, help my unbelief!). I am afraid to give up this area of my life to the Lord. I am afraid I will get worse. I think I know what is best for me. I think I actually have some control over my health. Yet, I speak of God’s sovereignty, and in my head I believe He IS sovereign. In my heart, however, the weeds of the sins of self remain. I still sit on the throne of my heart, which is clearly NOT surrendered at all to my heavenly Father in this area of my life.

So…what do I do? The Bible tells us to confess our sin: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). I must confess that other relationships hold higher positions in my heart than He does. I am so sad to admit that! Secondly, I must confess that I think I know better than He does – the Lord Almighty, my Creator – regarding my health. I can’t believe I just admitted to such ugly pride!

And then…I know I must fix my eyes on Christ, every moment of everyday. When I am tempted to look to another person’s love to sustain me, I pray that in that moment, I would pray for God to remain the King of my heart; that no weed of sin would take root.

As Laurie said as she finished up her lecture… “If God is God, and I am not, what do I need to confess that makes me think and/or act as though I am the Lord of my life?” If I consistently ask this question, by God’s grace, I am praying He will grant me the desire to allow Him His rightful place as Lord of my life, and that I would truly surrender ALL.

Growing in Grace