Lately with all that has been going on in the news and in our communities I have been finding myself in fear. Not like the fear of what others think, or the kind of fear that comes from disappointing someone you love. I am speaking of fear for my future. This fear feels like it had such a grip on me the last few weeks. The In the Garden study could not have come at a better time.

This week I have felt the grip of fear at just the thought of even running an errand in my day. With all the turmoil we are watching unfold, I start to feel anxiety about simply walking out my front door. I have been thinking about things that could go horribly wrong. I say, “What if I make someone so mad on the road that they retaliate?” or, “What if someone on my flight decides that my flight would be the one to blow up?” or, “What if I am just in the wrong place at the wrong time?” I have watched as government officials have expressed grief over the loss of another officer who won’t go home to their family. I have felt the pain of watching innocent civilians lose their lives in a matter of seconds on my cell phone. I feel injustice for them and wonder what they did wrong. But I think, “Why are such innocent men and women in uniform paying with their lives?” Racial tensions are high and being in an interracial relationship I fear being mistreated in our day to day lives.

Our country is not the only place suffering. I have watched foreign countries be ravaged by terrorists who proudly boast in the death toll numbers that roll across the ticker at the bottom of my television screen. Every night I think I have held my face in my hands and said, “Father! Help us.” Aloud. I have shared with you before the deep pains of not being with child but I found myself wondering, “Lord, should we even want to bring a child in this world?” If things are like this now, I can’t imagine what is to come. Wanting a child won’t change, but I just can’t help but think that I feel so unsafe. Nothing looks like it is getting better.

But I was able to sit in my first In the Garden Bible study this past week and couldn’t help but think that this came at the perfect time. We have done this study before, this time last year to be exact. But this time the study has come at a different season in my life. I have a better understanding of walking with Christ. I am still and always will be a work in progress but I am learning. And this time in the study the Holy Spirit continues revealing sweet treasure in God’s Word that I am living on day to day.

I mean honestly, it wasn’t until the last few weeks that this fear has taken hold. But I don’t know, many of you may struggle with a different kind of fear? Fear of man, fear of failing, fear of not pleasing everyone. I often take the book of Psalms for granted. I use to only go to Psalms if I needed a plea to the Lord or a great praise to Him because I couldn’t find my own words. But I was reminded during my quiet time of Psalm 121. When we suffer from fear or any way of thinking that takes away from who God is for that matter, think on this:

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Psa. 121)

I am so guilty of stealing His glory and feeding my sins. I am guilty even of being prideful in my way and thinking, “Okay, I have read this before….let me read a little faster so I can get to my next section and be done for the day.” But how grateful am I that He doesn’t leave me dead in my sinful thinking. How blessed am I that I get another opportunity to stop feeding not only my sin of fear, but of doubt, unbelief, and mistrust. And instead offer up a sacrifice of praise, thanks, and song to Him.

This week I saw that I am in God’s hands. The same hands that fashioned the universe hold me together. I am not going to allow fear to lead me, but I will fall before my King and go to where my help comes from. I am learning to fall before Him and intercede and make my supplications known to Him. I am learning that fear is a hindrance. It allows this human mind to wonder about a future that only God holds. Fear can drive you to doubt, unbelief, and lack of trust. Ultimately my fears have driven me to look at self. But when you are constantly meditating on the Word of God, I feel as though it leaves no room to focus on self.

There is so much anxiety, worry, stress, and pressure that is lifted when I just trust Him. I know it sounds cliché. So I will tell you this. When I started to think about this and really say, “Okay, Lord, I want to trust you,” I still had to follow it up with, “I am not sure if I am suppose to feel something, Lord. Could you please help my mind and heart match.” I always use to get real nervous because I never felt an immediate physical response to certain prayers. I am learning that it is okay if you don’t feel a new spark or tingle in the pit of your stomach when you have just asked for a change in you.

But I will tell you a change that I have felt–peace about my future. “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isa. 41:13 NIV). The God of all–think about that with me–the God of the sky, moon, stars, oceans, wind, animals, flowers (and everything else you can think of!) said that He would help me. I am grateful to have my sin of fear exposed so that I can now start the work along side Him in the garden of my heart. It showed me that I was often fearful of a tomorrow that I never knew I clung to so strongly. I want to weed out this doubt and watch the beautiful blooms that spring forth when I can give it all over to Him. And remember:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

All for His Glory


Sometimes I have those quiet times with the Lord where I just feel like I love Him and I feel close to Him. Everything around me is just beautiful–the sun is rising, the birds are chirping. I woke up on time and I don’t feel rushed and it’s like the Scriptures I’m reading just make perfect sense. It’s all just Instagram worthy you know? Pretty background, Bible open, half drank cup of coffee next to the Bible. I honestly have left quiet times feeling on cloud 9, but if I were being honest, those times are actually few and far between. And if I were being even more honest, the times I have felt like that probably have a lot more to do with the circumstances around me versus my actual time with the Lord.

I’ve begun the In the Garden study with Thistlebend. I’m always tempted at the beginning of a new study to think that this is going to be the study that I’m going to really feel close to the Lord because I’m going to do it perfectly (i.e. I won’t sleep in any, I’ll always do each day when I’m supposed to, I’ll always complete each day, and I’ll always feel just great and refreshed after each day of the week). Let’s just say the Lord has made it clear already in the first week that this study is not supposed to go how I think it should, but how He knows it should.

While I know that feelings don’t dictate what is true, I do happen to like those mornings when my quiet times feel productive, feel like there’s progress made, where I feel like I love the Lord and I have a desire to worship Him–and not just for an Instagram shot! This morning, however, as I’m going on my fourth day of week one, was not one of those mornings. I confess, my quiet time began this morning because I felt obligated, I felt like it was something I needed to cross off my list before I could really get to the bulk of my day. I began with the Praise and Thanks section of the study feeling anything but good feelings about praising and thanking the Lord. I was going through the motions and I hated it but didn’t really know what to do about it. God in His sweetness and grace knew though.

He started working what He had planned for my morning during the Praise and Thanks section too, but I just didn’t realize it yet. Psalm 105:5 stuck out to me on the page: “Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgements he uttered.” I circled the word remember. I went on to the Listening to God section and wrote in my journal the truth of Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” I also wrote down in my journal 1 Timothy 1:15, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost,” and Deuteronomy 5:15, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”

The Lord was working and I started to really meditate on the truth of Galatians 2:20. The Word says that I no longer live, which means that my wants, my ways, my fears, my schedule, etc., these things don’t have power or take precedence because it’s not me who lives, but Christ who lives in me. This truth also says that because of His love, the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in Him because He gave His life for me. I wrote in my journal, “which is why He should live through me, I owe Him my life.” It was around this time that the Lord began to convict me as I read 1 Timothy 1:15 and then Deuteronomy 5:15 and thought back to Psalm 105:5 about remembering. Remembering what the Lord has done for me, remembering that I am nothing without the Lord. I’d like to tell you that as I entered into the Confession section of Day Four that my heart was saddened and I was mourning my sin and cried out to the Lord for help. Instead I got a phone call from my husband before that happened. He needed me to be somewhere in about 30 minutes.

I was so annoyed. I not only had over 30 minutes of quiet time left to complete, but I also had dirty dishes in the sink, an unmade bed, a workout not done yet, and a not showered self. You see, while I know it’s ridiculous really, I hate to leave my house undone. And when I have a plan in my head of how my day is going to go and then it gets scrambled, I don’t handle it well. I didn’t want to leave my house to go where he needed me to go because in my mind that wasn’t a part of the no agenda day that I had planned. (Yes I realize the irony in that sentence!) I was so rude to him and huffed and puffed while getting off the phone. Since I was already being convicted before the phone call, I was even more so once I hit the end button. To add fuel to the fire, this wasn’t just something my husband wanted for himself or something that could be done later. This was something that arose because of the amazing gift that I’ve been writing about lately that the Lord did actually give us. And here I was huffing and puffing about it instead of remembering what the Lord had done! Not to mention that I had just wrote down the truth that I no longer live so my plans no longer take precedence.

I confessed to the Lord in my journal:

“Lord, I hate how I just acted to my husband. I just was anticipating a no agenda day and because of me wanting the schedule in my way I got frustrated. Things don’t have to be done before I leave the house like I think they do. I feel pressure that doesn’t exist, like that leaving the house undone somehow fails my husband, which is just silly. What a perfect time to talk about rest as I feel most at peace when all things are crossed off my to-do list or when I have my own plan of how it will get done. My own plan—not yours. My peace should not come from a clean, organized house or a crossed off to-do list, or my plan working out. It should come from you alone, that you are in control and you live through me. Lord, I’ve fallen into the temptation now that you have given us this sweet gift and things are moving in our favor, [of not praying] as diligently to you. We praised you for the gift and now that it’s reality how quickly I forget where it came from. This is just like with my salvation too, Lord. I don’t remember your works, I don’t remember that you alone live through me. The focus is on me. I get my way and move on or pout and get cranky about schedule changes. Lord, will you please forgive me? Will you please grant me grace to repent—you’re more real than the need to do dishes or make the bed or fluff the pillows. You are the real reality. Help me, Father.”

The Lord made such a connection with me about the way I acted—pouty and annoyed over things not going my way this morning and how easily I forget His works. Not only the works of the earthly gift that He just gave me and my husband, but even His greatest work on the cross for me. The truth is, Christ now lives in me. I no longer live. When my flesh wants to flare up and live out more than Christ in me, and I see it all happening in front of my eyes, then I don’t have those feel good quiet times. But even though I didn’t feel good this morning, what I did see was that Christ does in fact live in me. While my flesh reared her ugly head, He worked to convict me and sanctify me in His truth and allowed me grace to see my sin and confess my sin. God had His way this morning in my quiet time and with my schedule. And that, dear sisters, is what by His grace I do want–even if it doesn’t feel good. I want my ways and my plans more often than not, but He is God and I am not, and His ways will prevail. I’m thankful that I got to see that this morning.

Let us all remember that He is God and we are not. May we all remember His wondrous works and that if we are in Christ, we no longer live, but He lives in us! And Lord, please help us all push through the temptation of discouragement if we don’t feel something in our times with you and trust that you are there and at work.

Planted for His Glory


I must admit I am a little anxious starting up this study In the Garden. The Lord helped me pinpoint a few reasons this morning. I have a fear of failing. Last summer when I participated in a Thistlebend study I had a one year old with very erratic sleeping habits and very early morning awakenings and middle of the night sleep disturbances. I felt like I could never get into a routine, and sadly my prayer journal was never completed like I had hoped. It felt very defeating as I cried out to the Lord for His help but constantly had to fight and struggle for every moment of time with Him.

I also had to confess to Him that I am comfortable with my current prayer life. I don’t write out my prayers very often, and although I get up most mornings to spend time with the Lord, my morning prayer time is often erratic and inconsistent. I do sense His presence and nearness and I talk to Him throughout the day; so why the need to invest more time and energy into this discipline? My pride and unbelief keep me from delving even deeper into prayer and communion with my Father.

As with so many things in our lives, fear and apathy keep us paralyzed or just in a stupor and unaware that there is so much more. I LOVE that we are memorizing the 23rd Psalm and am deeply ministered to by the truth of Jesus being MY Good Shepherd. He is so personal, so loving, so compassionate. I realized this morning as I was praying that I must let go of my guilt over failed attempts at deepening my prayer life. My guilt holds me captive and makes me fearful of even trying again to journal more or develop my prayer journal. But Jesus has removed even the guilt of my sin, and I must cling to Him and His grace in my weakness.

We must walk forward, following our Shepherd by faith, ONE step at a time. What is ONE practical thing you can do in obedience and out of love and devotion for your Savior during this study? Maybe it means taking a break from social media and going to bed a bit earlier every night so you can wake up a half hour earlier? Maybe it is actually setting an alarm….away from your bed on your phone to get your body out of bed. For me, I need to not only get up but sit at my desk and not just in my comfy rocker with my blanket where I often drift back to sleep.

Sometimes we need a change in perspective. Moving a few things around in our schedule or sacrificing some of our “me” time to spend time with Jesus is not hard. Being physically or emotionally tortured or abused for your faith is hard. There are so many Christians around the world who are actually suffering for their faith. We are willing to sacrifice for so many other things in our lives…our diets, exercise, budgets, etc. Why do we complain and whine when it comes to sacrificing for Jesus?

May we have great faith to believe that every small sacrifice we make with a humble and earnest heart will be multiplied by our Father in heaven! The greatest reward will be a bond with our Savior that cannot be broken and true, deep healing for our hearts.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Heb 12:1-3,13)

Rooted in Christ