I encourage you to listen to, and also read, the lyrics to the Casting Crowns song titled Lifesong. Here is a link: https://www.castingcrowns.com/lyrics/lifesong/

I have heard this song a hundred times, but as I was driving to work the other day  it came on the radio and the beginning line just struck me, “Empty hands held high.” I think it struck me because occasionally when worshiping at church I feel led to lift my hands up in worship. For me it is an outward picture of surrendering to the Lord, but the ironic thing is, like the song points out, my hands are empty. I come to the Father and I have nothing to offer but my life. It seems like so little and yet that is what the Lord asks of us, for us to pick up our cross daily and give Him our life (Luke 9:23).

It has been years since I confessed my belief in the Lord and was baptized in obedience, so now what? Practically speaking, how can my life be for the Lord every day when I am working, cleaning, and caught up in the mundane? How does being a Christian look different in the day-to-day simple stuff? It seems like it would be more straight forward if I worked in ministry or was a missionary in another country, but for me, how can my life be a song to the Lord?

Meditating on the song lyrics and scripture has changed my mindset. My life is not my own. My husband isn’t mine, my children aren’t mine, my money isn’t mine. All of these are things that the Lord has lent to me for a time on this earth and has entrusted me to use for His glory. In this ME focused world and ME focused culture it is easy to lose sight of that and yet this truth is so helpful when thinking of day-to-day living.

Tithing becomes easier because I am admitting that the money the Lord has blessed us with isn’t mine in the first place. Parenting becomes easier because it’s for raising up children in the Lord. Being a wife becomes easier because there is greater purpose in why I am married to my husband. My life is not my own.

I do not always do a great job of this – I often fall into the trap of having the ME mentality, but the Spirit is quick to remind me of my purpose. I think of John 13: 14-15 (ESV), when Jesus washes the disciples feet and He says, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” Jesus spent His final night with the disciples washing their feet to leave a legacy for me and for you. He gave His life up for us and He also gives us our life.

Standing on the Word


My Abigail (Thistlebend’s small group leaders called to shepherd the members of their group in God’s word and hold them accountable) said something to me last week in our small group time that The Lord allowed to be so freeing to me. In last week’s lecture Laurie quoted The Westminster Catechism when saying that the chief end of man was to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. When discussing the lecture in our small group my Abigail said, “the chief end of man is to glorify God, not to get it ‘right.’” Something clicked. The Lord gave new understanding. My flesh is always desiring to just be right. Do all the right things, check off all the right boxes, say all the right words, etc. I have always thought, in my own way of thinking, that doing this Christian thing correctly was the way to glorify God. When my Abigail said what she said, however, it made me think maybe, just maybe being right isn’t the end all be all. Maybe actually the point is admitting that I don’t know and I’m not right. That my way of thinking could be wrong.

Laurie discussed in her lecture how we’re all bombarded with so many different opinions every single day. We are influenced by those around us, by our upbringing, by social media, by our churches, you can fill in the blank with more probably. So who are we actually to listen to? Who is actually right? The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If that’s the chief end of man then I would say, He alone is right. Oh boy, my flesh is fighting even as I write this.

Day five of lesson two, “Of One Flesh” this week in the study Falling In Love Again With Your Husband, got very practical. To quote the study, “You are his (your husband’s) helper, completer, the one God has given to him as his servant, his companion, and his helpmate. Below are just a few suggestions on how to love your husband as yourself,” (pg. 48). There were many suggestions and under each one we were instructed to write out some ideas on how to do this in our lives for our husbands. Some examples included:

“Ask him how you can help him during the week. Consider how you can be his helper daily. Ask him so that you know the three things that are most important to him for you to do on a daily or weekly basis (and then do them!),” (pg. 49).

“His home is a retreat, a refuge, and a resting place for him and your children. Help make it that way,” (pg. 49).

“Get to know him. What makes him smile? What foods, magazines, etc. does he especially like? Find some way to bless him during the day with these things,” (pg. 49).

I’ve got to confess that as I was going through them and read example after example I got more and more overwhelmed. I kept thinking to myself, ‘this is SO much. I already do so much and now I have to do more for him, what do I get out of this?’ Then the thoughts went to ‘I’m a failure. I’ve been a wife for almost three years now and I haven’t done most of this stuff and I’ve already hurt my husband too much.’ Then the thoughts went to guilt because I think my husband does deserve these things and since I haven’t done them and because my first reaction was ‘what do I get out of this’ made me feel even worse. And then my feelings went to shame because I realized as I was reading examples on how to encourage and help my husband I had made the entire thing about me. Isn’t it crazy how many thoughts you can think so quickly and how quickly they can spiral down to nothing of the truth? Oh my idolatry of self.

I was praying and confessing all of these thoughts and feelings to the Lord and He brought to mind the chief end of man—to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, not to get it right. It might be “right” to do all of these examples that my homework gave me perfectly, but my flesh is weak and I have no power to do those things on my own. To give you further insight into my weakness, in my overwhelmed state of all these examples I wanted to just do nothing. I wanted to just think and believe I’ve already messed up, I’m a failure of a wife and nothing I do now would do any help, it would just make me look like a phony to my husband, he won’t believe there’s real change. What The Lord is giving me grace to do however, and I will need grace upon grace upon grace to continue with this, is to choose to believe that I can be a helper to my husband because that’s what God created me to be. I can live out His word by His grace. There can be real change.

In order to practice these examples that Thistlebend gave me I am having to pray to The Lord to help me lay down how I currently go about my day. My agenda day to day is pretty consistent and I don’t like change, I like routine. I’m having to admit that maybe my routine isn’t right. I need God’s grace to help me rework my days to live out His word for His glory—to really be my husband’s helper and prioritize accordingly. This is going to be really hard, but I’m encouraged because I know that my purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, not to do this perfectly. Jesus is my perfect already.

Do any of you have problems letting go of routine? Is God maybe asking you to do some things differently, but you don’t want to? Or maybe you can testify to laying your way of thinking down for the Lord’s and the beauty that came from it…let’s chat in the comments!

Planted for His Glory

“We cannot write our own story, He is the Author. He is the Beginning, the Middle, and the End.” “He has a story He is going to tell in our lives. He has a story of redemption.” These are quotes from the first lecture of the Falling in Love Again with Your Husband study (Laurie Aker, 2017). I could not write fast enough that night. I was sitting in the lecture about to cry because the Lord knew what I needed to hear. He knows and sees me right where I am in my life, when I am in the midst of pain and when I fall short of reminding myself where my help comes from.

That night I was struggling and thinking “Lord, I can’t even picture my marriage changing, he can’t see where I need to be loved greater and I can’t see how to move beyond this.” Laurie went on to speak of fear. I would not consider myself a fearful person so I really didn’t think this would apply to me. I thought she was going to speak on something I could relate to a little more, but she went on to say, “Will you say ‘Yes!’ to the Lord and ‘No’ to fear so you can have victory in Christ Jesus?” I knew deep down I genuinely wanted change in my marriage. Over the next few days I would come to learn what kept me from completely saying “Yes!” to the Lord. This secret hope hidden in the chamber of my heart. The secret hope of wanting these changes in my marriage for me, to benefit me, to reach a place in my marriage that I was happy with, and wanting to change my husband so that I could be a better wife. It did not end there. This pride of secret hope that I was holding on to did not like the idea of failing and I realized that the Lord was going to make me work, and work hard in this marriage and God wasn’t seeing my spouse as part of the problem. I was also overwhelmed with how much time it might take for change to happen. I was blown away by all the feelings I was holding on to. IT WAS FEAR.

I did not realize that the hopes and expectations that I carried into my relationship with Christ were having an effect on my relationship with Him. When all my secret hopes weren’t coming to fruition I had become doubtful in God’s goodness towards me and I was angry. I was trying to figure out how my expectations were going to be met. I had not fully surrendered my secret hopes and fears, consequently everything was seeing the effects of this, especially my marriage. When we weren’t on track to meet my expectations or my ideal husband ratings, I was livid and annoyed all the time.

That night, in the lecture I needed to hear what Laurie said, “Even if the mountains fall into the sea, His banner over me is still love.” Because despite my circumstance, despite myself, my failure, my unfaithfulness, THAT BANNER OVER ME NEVER CHANGES. I want to share with you, His love for you NEVER CHANGES. The battle may be raging on the inside; I need not fear because Christ’s love cast it out. You need not fear. His love casts out ALL FEAR. He was waiting for me to cast my cares, my secret hopes upon Him because I can’t carry them anymore. Since last week the Lord keeps turning me back to these three things:

1)      He is Author of my life story: Redemption

2)      He loves me with a deep, intentional, unconditional love

3)      I have nothing to fear because He is my Father, He has made a way, and sin cannot overcome me

I am telling you friends, these topics have come up over and over again. They aren’t subtle by any means. Since last week every sermon, lecture, and reading assignment I have set in and completed have been all structured around these three things. I can’t tell you how many times my mouth has turned into a grin because my Helper is moving around me and I can feel it, I know it. I have never been surer of anything, and I want to share with you just how He is showing me this. It is as though He’s letting me know “I am going to make this so clear to you that there is no doubt in your mind that I am speaking to you.”

I just finished watching a video of a woman from my local community speaking so powerfully about her love for Christ. This video was created in 2014, and why it randomly came across my desk now, only the Lord knows. But what made this video stand out from the rest? This sweet woman had only four to five days to live when she filmed it—WOW. In no way could I relate to being near death, but I immediately had to start typing because I have to share with you what she said. This precious believer was sharing her heart. She was not holding on to this world, she was holding on strong to the love of Christ and His promise to her.

In the video she walked viewers through getting diagnosed, fearing the situation, and giving it all over to the Lord. She said the Lord woke her and revealed to her in her own words, You are not going to be battling cancer, you will be battling fear…You are afraid of all the wrong things.” She went on to say how she praised God through the fearful situation, even when she was very angry with God. She pointed out that “He took my anger and it was His love that won me. The Lord wanted me to seek Him with everything I had.” She began to cry as she said these words, “He said if you will seek Me I will let you will find Me, if you will seek Me with all your heart. No plan b, no bridges, you know all eggs in one basket basically, will you trust Me? And I chose to trust Him, I chose to seek Him. And I have to tell you, I found Him and there is nothing else my heart wants because He is all that He claims to be. He is all that He says He is. And that doesn’t change because I have a cancer diagnosis…He is my rock…The anchor holds, when your worst nightmare comes true. The anchor holds. And we stand on Him, we are not shaken, we are not moved. Though the mountains crumble into the sea, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are…but because of my faith in Jesus Christ I have been redeemed…”

Can you just see how alive and active the Lord is? These three lessons the Lord is teaching me have not gone unnoticed, I am rejoicing. The Lord and I have entered into a relationship for the first time in my life. He is loving me, speaking with me, keeping me and it has nothing to do with my deeds or merit but everything to do with the fact that He has been waiting for me for over 2,000 years.

I can’t believe how self-centered my flesh is. But despite my faults, I believe that He is preparing a way in my heart for me to love my husband with the love that He shows me. I want to encourage you because things don’t go as planned in life. Expectations and hopes aren’t met. But the hopes and dreams we place major stake in, don’t ever hold a light to His plan for you and me. This means, even when battles are raging, you feel broken, you aren’t sure how you got knocked forty steps back in life—He is there, He is present, He is your stronghold. He is calling you to a deep relationship that no man, woman, or child can ever satisfy. I have tried to look in those places, and my hope doesn’t belong there and neither does yours. It belongs in the one who has waited patiently for you to return, for me to return. He is waiting for you to return to your first love. There is no need to fear, place all your hope in Him and not the false hope you have created.

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10).

All for His Glory