Over the weekend, the subject of praise and thanks kept coming up. It brought back memories of a time when I didn’t even know how to be in prayer and give any kind of sacrifice of praise and thanks to my King. I would get so down about it. I would get down on my knees and tell the Lord, “Abba Father, you are the creator of all things. How could I not have any more to say to you?” Honestly, when I would hear how eloquent others were with their sacrifice of praise and thanks to Him, I would just dread saying anything next. A little over a year and a half later, the study In the Garden was chosen for us to go over again at Thistlebend. I was excited because I was in a different place in my life, and maybe something that hadn’t stood out before would now. But I was also so anxious about having to be in a small group again where I would have to show how weak I was in the area of giving Him praise and thanks. (Even as I type this out, it is funny to read how much I cared what others thought of me when my focus should have solely been on my Savior.)

Something happened around the same time that our In the Garden study was announced. We were encouraged to read The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul. Reading this book prior to the study is when it clicked for me! God is living, holy, and just; this same God loves me despite all of my sin. I believe my praise and thanks to God suffered greatly because I didn’t truly understand what I deserved as a sinner. It is sometimes thought of as too “harsh” to think of ourselves as deserving wrath from the Creator of all things, but it is true. I am so guilty of thinking and saying, “Am I so bad?” or, “Come on, I didn’t do anything that wrong to be punished by God.” It wasn’t until reading that book that the Holy Spirit gently pulled back my blinders and I understood what was so sweet about grace and mercy. I could finally open my mouth and say, “Thank you, thank you, Father, for not leaving me where I was,” and praising Him for His faithfulness. All the dots started to connect for me.

I remember the first night I ever went to a Thistlebend study two years ago. We were doing the study Jesus, I Need You. I remember saying aloud to the group, “I think it would be really amazing to be in love with Him. I want to know what that feels like. I want to be one of those people who say, ‘I am just so in awe of Him.’ I just want to feel that.” It took a while for me to get to that point because I didn’t understand the weight of my sins.

I praise and thank Him so differently now. When I look back on these times I see that I couldn’t rejoice in Him or rejoice in fully being saved because I could say with my mouth, “Yes, He saved me. Thank you for that,” but my heart and mind didn’t understand what this really meant. Now, when I read Scripture passages like Colossians 1:12-16, I feel compelled to be on my face before Him, because He delivered me. He could have let me perish in the state I was in, but He saw fit to pull me from the darkness. This is why my praise and thanks sound different now, this is why I am changed. It was nothing I did, it was only because He loved me first. He died so that I may live, and it is an honor to live for Him.

…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. (Col. 1:12-16)

All for His Glory


Have you ever sarcastically said, “Woe is me”? I think back and I definitely have said it on more than one occasion. Actually, I am pretty sure I have used that as an expression to sarcastically indicate someone else’s “sad” situation more than any other time. But it just so happens that it was used as an expression towards me the other day.

A lady came in to my store the other day with her child. The child was irate because she wanted to get out of the stroller and touch everything but the mother would not allow the child to do this. Therefore the child showed the mother what her lungs were made of. As the mother walked by me briskly, she looked up and with a small bit of laugher said, “’Woe is me.’ Her life is so difficult.” I laughed along with her and immediately thought of Chapter Two, “Holy, Holy, Holy” from the book The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul. After she left I realized that the phrase “woe is me” no longer meant to me what it did to that mom. For me, it is a part of Scripture in this terrifyingly beautiful moment between God and mere man. Before this book, I had never read much about it.

This encounter I am speaking of with God and Isaiah happened in Isaiah 6, and I think “Wow! How many times have I gone over the Old Testament growing up and never talked about this?” I mean we talked about Moses, but never this “dramatic” moment as the author describes it in the book of Isaiah:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isa. 6:1-5)

I can’t fathom what being in that temple could have been like. To see what Isaiah had seen, to hear the worship taking place. In that moment, I wonder, could he feel the wind hit his face from the wings of the seraphim as they sang, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory”? When the room shuttered, did it feel like an earthquake singularly focused on the temple? Sproul comments:

A recent survey of people who used to be church members revealed that the main reason they stopped going to church was that they found it boring. It is difficult for many people to find worship a thrilling and moving experience. We note here, when God appeared in the temple, the doors and the thresholds removed. The inert matter of door post, the inanimate threshold, the wood and the metal that could neither hear nor speak have the good sense to be moved by the presence of God. The literal meaning of the text is that they are shaking. They began to Quake where they stood.

When everything around you moves and even inanimate objects find a way to acknowledge His presence, that is something more than you and I can put into words. These inanimate objects managed to find a way to acknowledge His presence and I find it hard just to roll out of bed every morning and say, “Thank you, Abba Father.” Just reading this Scripture in Isaiah 6, I felt the smallness of who I am and some of the absolute grandeur of who He is. The power in His holiness is more than a matter of being pure, it is who He is. He is above all things; His thoughts are higher than anyone or anything. There has been a total shift in thought for me when it comes to God’s holiness. It went from me thinking this word “holy” was only a way to describe a state of purity to truly seeing that He is set apart. But it is so much more than this, it is so much more than my limited vocabulary can describe.

The Scripture goes on to tell us that Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me!” He literally cried out that he was coming undone, that he was ruined. With all that I have been through I can still count all that as nothing compared to my whole self coming unraveled within seconds. Have you ever felt as though you were coming undone? Maybe you had a rough day at work, the kids were being crazy, or you just didn’t feel like there was enough of you to go around, or you got bad news. After one of those things happened, did you felt like everything around you was ruined for the day? But none of this can compare to coming “undone” and being “ruined” after you have seen yourself for who you and seen God for who he truly is. This is a deeper “woe is me”–far deeper than the way we usually use that phrase like the mother did to describe her child in the store.

I am thankful to have come to a better understanding of God’s holiness through this chapter in the Bible. I am so grateful for the way R. C. Sproul broke this down to help my understanding of this Scripture passage. I will never use the phrase “woe is me” in the same way again. It is associated with a moment so profound that I can’t think of any reason to use it in the lesser ways we usually do. This moment was about so much more than a man who became a prophet…end of story. For me this was a man who experienced his life come undone in the presence of God. He saw that he was nothing after having been something to others in his life. He was so unworthy and so tiny in the presence of the King. But God! He came, restored him, healed him, and used him for His glory. This is still the awesome God I serve.

All for His Glory


It may sound silly, but it can almost become second nature to avoid sharing the hard things. You can become REALLY good at sweeping the harder things under the rug, all while managing to share just enough. I say all of this because I was strongly convicted of this very thing. It’s not that I give you false material as a reader, but sometimes I tend to leave out things that aren’t so pretty. And who am I not to be fully and totally transparent with this space the Lord has provided for us? I want to share with you some very cool things that happened this past week, and some not so hot times. It is so funny how we are so hung up on coming off a certain way, even in a space of anonymity. I don’t want to be bound by this any longer, and I thank the Lord for opening my blind eyes to an area of my heart that I was trying to keep in the dark. I was reminded of Mark 4:22: “For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.”

The last few nights have been hard around my household. Long story short, the neighbors have been really difficult to live near. I promise, I am going somewhere with this story! So hang in there with me. I have wanted to be extremely intentional with those that live around me because I want to build relationships that ultimately lead to opportunities to talk about Christ. Now, I know not every personality is the exact same and not everyone will immediately be “BFF’s,” but I do love community and the potential for people to come to know Christ as Saviour like I have. But these particular neighbors I haven’t gotten to know at all and I never see them during the day. It is only after midnight that they begin their ritual of slamming their door every five seconds, and being belligerent to the point where I could not stand the idea of even being kind to them.

I know I have shared in previous blogs about having the root sin of anger as a mainstay on my Tree of Unrighteousness. But I thought those days were for the most part over. I really did, you all! I thought I had a clear record lately and had been seeing a real difference in this area of my life. Now, this is not to say that I am squeaky clean and scot-free in the area of anger. But I have definitely seen the fruits (especially in my marriage) of obeying the Lord. And oh my goodness, just when I think that this sin, at this level, would be a thing of the past… I was so wrong. Now, I said I was going to be extremely transparent with you. So let me just say these neighbors were on my serious last nerve, and this particular night all I could do was think about how I might retaliate against them.

Should I confront them against my husband’s request? Should I go out there and make a big scene? These were things I kept going over in my head. All night long (well beyond 3 am). I wasn’t meditating on God’s Word or asking my husband to pray with me. I don’t know about you, but once my heart is so full of anger,  I feel like my heart is in no place to worship or pray even though these are the moments when I should, more than ever. But at this time I felt like there was just no way I could get over this. We both were woken up multiple times, both unable to sleep, and I was in an absolutely horrible mood.

So after all this time I finally got comfortable. And then my husband moved briskly and woke me up from the little sleep I was getting. That was all it took.  I got angry and sinned against my husband in that moment. All my anger, frustration, and more anger was released in his direction. I began to spew words and got even more angry when he didn’t respond. I was so filled with rage and absolutely unwilling to stop and flea from the temptation to sin further. I accused him of not caring very much and proceed to go off and lie in the other room by myself. I was being a bit dramatic, but it was so early in the morning, and I was still so raging on the inside that I decided there was no other way. I was upset at something completely different, but projected all of this on to him.

But oh, the beauty of grace! It is such a sweet and mighty gift the Lord has given to us. While sitting alone and thinking what went wrong in that situation, I did something new. Instead of staying mad, I eventually came to a point where I began to just talk to the Lord. Normally, my mind would be so overrun with thoughts and my flesh would be so set in its way. But, I just started to talk to Him and didn’t say anything special. As a matter of fact, I started conversing as if I was on the phone with a friend. I was saying, “Lord, what happened? What was that about? I thought I was over anger like that. I was so upset at the circumstance that I didn’t even think of you.” Among other things, I expressed to Him that I have nothing positive to share with people, so therefore I am not ready to do a blog for this week. I was set on not turning one in.

That was when I was reminded of something we read in What is the Gospel? Greg Gilbert said, “I have known so many people who would say something like, ‘Yes, I’ve accepted Jesus as Savior, so I am a Christian. But I’m just not ready to accept him as Lord yet.’” He goes on to say, “Moreover, to have faith in Jesus, is at its core, to believe that he really is who he says he is—the crucified and risen King who has conquered death and sin, and who has the power to save. Now how could a person believe all that, trust in it, and rely on it, and yet at the same time say, ‘But I don’t acknowledge that you are King over me’? That doesn’t make any sense.” Funny thing. I marked that part of the book as I was reading it and I just remember thinking how true this was, and feeling as if I am so guilty of this. Gilbert went on to reference Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (NIV).

And I sat on this for a long time and thought to myself, “Am I serving my flesh too?” Have I accepted Him as Lord in every area of my life? Have I given Him full reign in everything? Or am I holding on for dear life until things hit the fan and you can see my true feelings? There is no doubt that we will sin, but to willfully sin in that moment as I did was evidence that I say with my mouth that He is Lord, but I haven’t surrender Lordship in every area of my life to Him. It is much easier to say these things, but to truly mean them is entirely different. I expect not to be perfect, but it is amazing to me how bent out of shape I can get when I am pressed with a situation to handle things in a practical, biblical manner. Someone once told me, “ You know, I would say Jesus is all these things to me when I thought I was real spiritual. But it wasn’t until I had no other choice to believe, did I then finally mean it.” I want to mean it now. He has given me no reason to doubt Him! But for some reason I continue to try and do this walk on my own.

I pray that we never get complacent with our sin, but we cut it at the root. I know how easy it is to sit back and get comfortable. Maybe even a little prideful at the idea that we have, in our own strength conquered that sin that doesn’t rear it’s ugly head as much as it use to. But only in Him is anything possible, only in His strength can we find any freedom from sin. I pray that we look to Him to find strength, and never look to self. We live with this flesh everyday, but we don’t have to be ruled by it. That is so exciting to me, because in Christ you can chose how you respond to the flesh. And in the Lord’s strength is how you will overcome it. I pray that we not only say these things with our lips, but that our hearts are full of belief and faith in Him.

All for His Glory