What an incredible gift from the Lord we were given at Shaker Village this past week. What a way to end our Heart of a Woman study at this beautiful location. I believe it was just the day before that my weather app called for a 90% chance of rain. Yet no rain came. To be able to get away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives and gather together with one heart and mind to prayerfully seek the Lord was such a blessing. I am overwhelmed by the goodness and lovingkindness of our God.

I also thank the Lord for the Harvest of Righteousness tree illustration that we were given. It is such a helpful and practical visual aide. I pray we would all heed the exhortation to use this tool of God’s transforming grace for our spiritual growth. The righteous fruit that the Lord is going to grow from the seeds of faith, hope, and love I know will be so beautiful.

I was so helped by being at Shaker Village and being reminded of how they had to clear the land before they could plant or settle there. As someone who continues to struggle with a stronghold of laziness and selfishness, it was so good for me to hear again about the hard working farmer. As well as the encouragement that farm work and gardening is in fact messy!

I love the encouragement from our Father in His Word that reminds me that I can’t grow myself. I sow the seeds, but the Lord is the One who brings the growth. We are not in control of the sun, wind, and rain. In 1 Cor. 3:6-7 Paul writes, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” This is also a needed reminder for me to stop comparing my growth to yours! We are all different by God’s design. All for His glory.

I was also so thankful for the continued and important exhortation to live by faith instead of feelings. I am reminded of our memory verses for this semester, Colossians 3:5-17, but in particular verse 14, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Genuine biblical love is not a feeling. Nor does it come naturally. It is supernatural. It is a fruit of the Spirit, not of the flesh. Therefore, we have to put it on. This is a battle that still rages in my heart. I still give into my feelings so many times. This week, I was reminded of how Jesus is my Shepherd and I am His sheep, and He calls me to follow Him. There are other shepherds out there who the enemy uses to deceive us. And not to make light of this, but I think one of them is named Feelings Fred. I found it helpful to personify my feelings as a living and deceitful shepherd and I hope you will too. It seems ridiculous to me as I write this, but that is a good thing. I need to see not only the ridiculousness of following Feelings Fred, but the danger as well. And I follow him even though I know full well it is utter foolishness and only leads to pain, suffering, darkness, and death.

But Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, Immanuel, is the One true Great Shepherd of the sheep. May He give us ears to hear His voice and recognize the deceitful voices around us. Jesus tells us plainly, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:10-11).

By God’s grace, let’s not grow weary in tending the gardens of our hearts. We must do the hard work of the farmer, trusting the Lord to bring the growth and harvest. We must believe by faith the words of our Lord, “I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Rev. 22:16b).

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psa. 1:1-3).

He is faithful. He will bring a harvest of righteousness. To God be all the glory.

“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you” (Rom. 11:17-18).

Learning to Live in the Garden of Grace


This week marked the end to our Heart of a Woman study. I was sad to see it come to an end! The study was hard work, but the results were noticeable! Every woman in my Small Group shared that their lives had been impacted by the study in very real ways.

This may sound strange, but I’ve been thinking a lot about sin. In fact, I may have thought about sin more in the last nine weeks than in my entire life combined! Prior to the study, I knew about sin and that I am a sinner. We all are! However, I was not aware of how much my sin impacted others, and I had little knowledge of how deeply rooted our sin can be. I also had never examined how I reacted when someone sinned against me. If someone was rude to me, or hurt me, and I snapped at them or rolled my eyes (!), I sinned in my response to that person. THAT was a huge revelation! It’s not easy to admit you are a sinner.

I know this from my own experience. We live in a culture that worships perfectionism, and we don’t want to admit we are flawed. The idea of sin sounds unpleasant and in our human weakness, we want to deny it even exists. We tell ourselves we are basically good, and that that is good enough. Besides, everyone is free to believe whatever they want to believe, and as long as someone is not “hurting” anyone, why should any behavior, thought, or attitude be considered wrong or sinful? Our pride blinds us.

And this leads us to the spool of thread. Obedience to God requires submission. Submission requires humility. Humility requires admission of sin. And all this is in complete opposition to the messages of our culture.

The bottom line is that we all answer to someone. To whom do you answer? A child answers to his/her parents. An employee answers to a manager. A soldier answers to his captain. You can follow this logic as high up as you can go in any hierarchy. The reality is we all answer to GOD. God is our creator. So, like a child, we answer to our heavenly Father.

There is a reason and a purpose to your life and mine. We are here to bring glory to God our Father. We do this when we are humbly submitting to His authority, by loving Him through obedience to His Word. In Christ, It is possible to adopt a posture of humility. We must be willing to admit our lives may be hard because of choices we have made or unconfessed sin in our lives. In Christ, we can submit to God’s authority and follow Him. And He can replace the hard, dry land of any heart with rich, fertile soil that will grow an unimaginable garden.

Growing in Grace


Lesson 9 of Heart of a Woman, “Tenderly Tending: Speaking the Truth in Love,” was probably the most confronting lesson in the entire study for me! But glory to God! I am excited to share what the Lord is doing through this lesson. Most of all, through this lesson I was reminded that there is a biblical manner in which to conduct ourselves at all times. First, I will confess, I was a little rough around the edges when it came to “speaking the truth in love.” I am all about letting someone know how I feel. I couldn’t help myself! And let me tell you, everything from feelings to half-baked thoughts would come spewing from my mouth in moments that would have been great opportunities to hold my tongue. Not only had I not been great at this, but I also have begun to see that I am great at telling others what they should be doing, and in my own actions doing the complete opposite. In this lesson my self-righteousness and pride became so apparent.

Not too long ago, I confided in my sweet sister-in-law about an issue I was having with a person I know is a Christian. The issue of not “feeling” like this person liked me very much had started to become a focal point because I encounter this person once a week. But! This wasn’t the first time I had spoken to my sister-in-law about taking issue with how people treated me. This was just the first time I may have been willing to listen to the wise counsel she was giving me. To make a long story short, after I proceed to tell her my feelings, she so sweetly in love said some things that have stuck with me. She spoke to me about my feelings and how she has noticed this pattern beginning to appear in my life. She pointed out to me that running with my feelings all the time instead of seeking Christ was not the biblical way to do things. And then she lovingly guided me to a passage in the Bible that spoke on how to practically deal with this concern. In a nut shell, this was the basis of our conversation: (1) Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death,” (2) Proverbs 28:26: “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered,” and (3) Matthew 18:15-20: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

I honestly couldn’t believe that I was going to have to deal with this in a mature, godly manner. I mean my goodness, all I really wanted to do was to confront the person the way I knew how! At first I was so scared. Just the thought of exposing how I felt about this person was uncomfortable. But thank the Lord, He didn’t call us to be comfortable. Instead, what I received through this process was so much more than comfort. It was growth! Ladies, let me just say how nervous I was to reveal that part of me, to open up and say, “Could you please help me resolve this?” I felt exposed. But with the help of the godly women in this ministry, there was victory through Christ! Even though I still struggle here, I no longer seek to appease my flesh in this area. Without the women who came along side to help me, I honestly wouldn’t be writing this blog. I would have allowed my feelings and flesh to rule, I would have isolated myself, and I would have held bitterness in my heart for a long period of time. But I am so appreciative that at this time in my life I had “Christ-centered friendships” as the study describes. These women were truly diligent and prayerful throughout the entire process.

I thought a lot about the words in “Day One: Tenderly Tending: Speaking the Truth in Love”: “As a Christian, we are an extension of Christ himself. When we more fully understand our position in Christ, we see our part in His body. We understand it and act upon it. We become an extension of Him, a reflection of His character.” It made me think, when someone sees me, what are they seeing? Are they seeing the person who wants to be known? The person that finds their identity in how they feel, or who/what they know? Or are they seeing Christ? I am so new to doing things in the way Christ has called us to do them. But I love that He is growing me in areas that have gone unchecked for so long. He is chipping away at this hardened heart, But in the process I am finding that I am being transformed.

All for His Glory