It seems to be the church in America is like a secret society. A masquerade. We exalt ourselves secretly in our hearts and minds. We dress up in nice clothes, paint our nails, put on our make up and do our hair, and pretend we are good. It’s all a performance. A sham. A pretense. We look around, assessing, comparing, condemning, judging. And we do it while we smile at each other so no one can see what we are doing. We are rivals. Competitors. Divided in our hearts. Secretly wanting to be the best. Only we are not as dumb as those disciples were who actually said it out loud! “And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest” (Mark 9:33-34).

We keep it secret. Because we fear that if everyone really knew what was in our hearts and minds, they might judge and condemn us. So we live our secret lives and remain secret enemies, pretending to be friends. And the enemy wins again.

What would really happen if we were exposed? What would happen if we chose to take off our masks? Confess our sins not only to the Lord, but to one another? The Bible answers this question. The answer is healing. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

It’s true that before Jesus saved us we “were darkness” (Eph. 5:8). “But now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, o sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise” (Eph. 5:8-15). “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2). “Let us not become conceited” (Gal. 5:26). “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil. 2:3).

“Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13:4-5). God is love. “If anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal. 6:3). “But when they measure themselves by another and compare thmeslves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12).

This is all that came to mind as I confessed to the Lord my continued comparing and judging spirit, as I sought to exhort my own soul with the truth of God’s Word and the truth of what biblical love is. We must stop comparing ourselves to others. We are one in Christ and we are to live as one in Christ, united in Him. The most beautiful gardens have variety. The Lord has made us all in His image, but we are all unique and beautiful in His sight. May He give us grace to look to Jesus.

“Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible” (Eph. 6:23-24).

Learning to Live in the Garden of Grace


I was convicted after not spending much time to think through a lesson I had just finished in the Fearless study today. I opened this study up following a pretty emotional day the day before. To give you just a brief snap shot of what yesterday looked like—my husband and I got back into town from an out of town wedding. We had driven separately, so I spent the two hour drive in silence and I can’t even remember what I thought about, but there was no intentionality in my thinking that’s for sure. I got home and had expectations to do something fun with my husband even though I had no ideas to offer to him as to what we could do. And since he had actual work to get done, we did nothing, and I pouted. I was in a terrible mood—nothing was going my way. I looked on social media and was judging my looks on how many likes and comments I had gotten on a photo and I continued to listen to the lie that I am ugly now and people will not look at me the same anymore. As the day went on I felt worse and worse about myself, not only because I felt ugly but because I was allowing myself to listen to the lies and find my identity in social media comments over what the Lord says. I felt such guilt and shame that that much weight was placed on something that was a “weak and worthless elementary principle of this world” (Gal. 4:9), but I couldn’t change my mindset. I became more and more frustrated.

Later in the evening the Lord gave me grace to confess to my husband this stupid, but very real struggle I had been battling in my head all day. I didn’t try and explain to him all the reasons why I was feeling the way I was or try to explain to him that I knew how I should be responding, I just confessed the sin and asked him to pray. In the Lord’s sweetness and grace He allowed us to have a very sweet night together without my feeling all these lies in my head.

I fear that God gets annoyed with me, that because I know how I should be responding to a certain feeling, when I don’t do that as I know I should that God gets so frustrated. Because of this fear, I get bound and determined to not feel certain things in my pride so as to please the Lord. I went all day yesterday trying in my own prideful strength to not feel the feeling of wanting to look beautiful and wanting others to think I was beautiful instead of just coming before Him and telling Him what was going on.

I read today in Matthew 14:23-25 about Jesus going up on the mountain to pray. I’m sure in many instances we see where Jesus retreats to be with His Father for long stretches of time and this was definitely one of those instances. He didn’t come walking on the water to the disciples until the fourth watch of the night, which was in the middle of the night to early morning. The study prompted me to think through how much time I spend with my Heavenly Father. I love what this paragraph from the Fearless study said,

We need to get away from “the earthly” on a daily basis in order to live with “the heavenly” in view….How can you make sure that you set time apart with Him so that you are able to hear Him and see things from His perspective rather than the way things appear from a worldly, human perspective? We can do nothing in our own strength, but we are to follow God’s ultimate command to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. As we follow in obedience by faith, He will make this possible.” (Week 4: Day 3)

I have to confess to you that while most mornings I do have a “quiet time” I would say a small fraction of those times are actually spent retreating to my Heavenly Father and most mornings are actually just spent doing something I’m “supposed to do.” I’m not really retreating to the mountain. I want to have that heavenly perspective, I wanted to have it yesterday so badly as I was trying to make myself not feel something, but like the Fearless study reminded me today, I can do nothing in my own strength. So often it seems a lot easier to confess something to my husband, or to my accountability partner, or to my mentor, or to the Lord in the same breath as telling them how I know I should be responding. It doesn’t seem as weak to say THIS SIN is what I’m doing right now, but I know THIS is what I need to be doing instead of just confessing what my weak flesh is doing in the present moment. The Lord is revealing to me that I may in fact still just be seeing things from my weak, human, earthly perspective instead of His heavenly one because I don’t just retreat to Him because I’m scared He’s disappointed.

I think this is where this post ends. I don’t want to tell you what I’m going to try to do or even write out what I think I need to do to “fix” this sin of mine. I’m just going to retreat to be with the Lord and ask Him for His heavenly perspective by His grace. I get so fixed on doing this whole Christianity thing “right” that I totally miss out on the beauty that our God is blooming. Father, help me see from your eyes instead of my own.

Planted for His Glory


Fear.  It is so insidious, so deceptive. It can bind us, shackle us, keep us tied up by shame and guilt and regret…because often it looks responsible and mature. The Lord has been revealing more to me about my fear as I have been working through the Fearless study. This time He has been powerfully speaking to me about my fear of failure…specifically as a mother.

This fear grips me almost every morning as I wake and consider whether or not I will be able to love my children well or not lose my temper and speak harshly or unkindly…and it follows me to bed every night as the regret and remorse over what I didn’t do well for the day replays over and over in my mind.

And as I am reading the story of Jesus and the disciples and how He left them in the boat…by themselves during the storm…I think I can relate deeply to the disciples in their bewilderment and fear. I have cried out to the Lord over and over again to give me a patient heart, kind and gentle words and encouragement instead of criticism when I am interacting with my children. And night after night I go to bed wondering if He has heard my prayers because it seems I have failed once again. WHERE IS MY SAVIOR? WHY DOES HE LEAVE ME IN THIS HORRIBLE, FLESHLY STATE?

And then His words in Matthew 14:27 ring so sweetly in my ears, “But immediately Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’” The command to not fear only makes sense when preceded by Jesus’ statement, “It is I.” I am the One who spoke the world into being, who created you, who sits sovereignly as Ruler of All. The Great I Am is commanding us to…NOT BE AFRAID.

But I know my sin and my selfishness and my pride that leads to anger and my inability to love my children unconditionally at times. What if I every day I confessed these struggles to the Lord and asked for His grace to overcome AND stopped ruminating over my failures all day? What if I clung to and spoke the truth to my heart that Paul gives us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that His GRACE is SUFFICIENT and His POWER is made perfect in my WEAKNESS? What if I entrusted all of my concerns about school and discipline and extra-curricular activities to the Lord, trusting that He knows my children’s needs better than I do? What if I walked forward with JOY and PEACE in the Lord instead of frustration and regret…what if?

The struggle is that taking this approach seems irresponsible and in many ways foolish in my human-thinking. Yes, God is able but I am still their MOM. Moms worry, that’s just what they do. But then I am confronted by how much of my fear is really rooted in pride and idolatry of self, thinking that somehow it is up to or about me, when in reality it is all about Him. These precious children have been entrusted to me by their Heavenly Father and the plans and purposes for their life, according to Psalm 139:16 were written before one of them came to be.

Being a mom does not equal being God to my children. In fact, in confessing my failures and weaknesses to them and asking for forgiveness, I can then remind them that they have a Heavenly Father whose love for them is perfect in every way. And, they have an opportunity to see grace in action as Jesus forgives their fallible and weak mom who is desperately in need of His daily mercy and grace.  And perhaps they will catch a glimpse of one of Jesus’s most powerful blessings from the beatitudes in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Rooted in Christ