Well, I read the first page of our new lesson this morning and had to stop because these thoughts came immediately to me. Don’t give up! Don’t give in! If we give up, Satan wins. Why are we depressed and despairing when we see our sin? Again I have to confess this must be my pride. My flesh is still deceiving me into thinking there is some good in me apart from Jesus. My flesh is trying to get me to believe Satan’s lies that I’m okay; I’m not as bad as another; I’m not a murderer or thief or a prostitute. Or am I? Or are we? God’s Word says the answer is yes. That is precisely who we are apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Jesus told me if I have hate in my heart that is the same as murder. In fact He says, “and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Mat. 5:22). The book of Hosea is intended to show us who we are, spiritual adulterers. And the Lord says He will not give His glory to another (Isa. 42:8), yet my flesh works like a thief to steal His glory for myself.

This is why the Son of God had to die. This is why royal blood had to be shed! Instead of living in shame, despair, hopelessness — we have to look up and out. “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psa. 121:1-2). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

The flesh is one of our mortal enemies. Let’s not grieve any longer that she exists. Instead, let’s celebrate the triumph of Christ on the cross. Our sin has been dealt a mortal blow! “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26). “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:13). We have been adopted, chosen by God before the foundation of the world. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…” (John 15:16). I am exhorting my own soul and hopefully my sisters’ along with me to stop identifying with the flesh. Stop looking within for salvation, hope, goodness, and righteousness! Remember? Charles Spurgeon wrote that there is nothing more deadly than self-righteousness and nothing more hopeful than contrition.

Our God has made a way where there was no way. We were under wrath, justly condemned to death because we are guilty of high treason. But our Judge had mercy. “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psa. 103:10) because another stepped forward to take our place. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Jesus, out of His great love, willingly endured the wrath of God that we deserve so we could be set free. What will our response be? Continuing to live in the filth of the flesh? Continuing to yell at our children or giving the cold shoulder to our husbands? Continuing to believe the lies of the enemy? Or will we choose by faith to believe the truth of our Savior? It’s not about how we feel. Just because I don’t feel like the Holy Spirit lives in me doesn’t mean it’s not true! “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” God’s Word is true and we have to choose to believe it by grace through faith. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The Lord has graciously granted us new life. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Let’s see this gift anew today. May the love of Christ be our motive from here on out for everything we do and say. May His life, death, and resurrection compel us to turn from our sin and labor to put our flesh to death by the power of the Holy Spirit and no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died for us. “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15).

I love you all. And I know more than anybody that is the grace of God in the life of this introverted, judgmental, prideful, critical, angry, hopeless, and fearful woman (my old self that I must work to put to death). I thank the Lord for bringing us all together! I praise Him that I’m not in this battle alone. We are one body in Christ. “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, Barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:11). Praise be to God for His amazing grace. Life can be so terribly hard and heart breaking. But this world is not our home. Christ is now preparing a place for us and He is coming back for us. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). I’m so thankful His mercies are new every morning!

Learning to Live in the Garden of Grace



I can’t help but laugh at this 1 minute video. The sermon that Pastor Andy Stanley preaches following this introduction video is even more accurate and truth filled — it is entirely too easy to fall into the comparison trap. While walking through the Heart of a Woman study this past semester, the Lord revealed this same sin in my life. The tendency for my flesh to want to compare my looks, my house, my lifestyle, and even my husband is something I have to actively fight against each day.

Just last week I was at the doctor’s office sitting in the waiting room waiting to be called back. I was looking around at all of the other pregnant women and found myself comparing how I looked to how they looked. I actually was going through in my mind comparing my size, my weight gain, my appearance to the other women in the room. A few minutes went by before I was even able to see what I was doing and realize how crazy that was of me. WHAT WAS I DOING? Why does it even matter? Yet, that is just how ugly my flesh is. I vulnerably share that I fall into this comparison trap way too often. I want to be prettier, smarter, more in shape, whatever it may be. But for what reason? I know the truth — that we are all created in God’s image, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, that we all are and not one of us the same which makes it impossible to compare to begin with.

There are jokes, movies, and television shows about “Keeping up with the Joneses.” Yet, for me personally, I see that there is truth to these jokes even in the American Christian culture.

I find it interesting that Solomon touched on this topic thousands of years ago. Ecclesiastes says:

And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun. Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after the wind. The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh. Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. (Eccl. 4:2-6).

It was true then and it is true today. I love that God’s Word never changes. That He gently reminds us that comparing is striving after the wind. The Lord gently reminded me that the desire to compare myself to other women, other wives, other friends is simply the enemy wanting to distract me from God’s calling on my life. Psalm 57:2 says, “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.” When I look to the left and to the right as a metric for my success, I am not looking above and crying out to the Father for direction. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” How true is that? When I compare myself to others it oftentimes leaves me feeling inadequate, discontent, and unhappy. Yet the Lord calls me to so much more in His perfect plan for me which is different than and unique from God’s plan for anyone else on this earth. How sweet is our God that He cares enough to pave the way for His daughters?

“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Tim. 6:6-8). And may this be my prayer — that I will be content looking to God, the Father, who knows me better than I know myself.

Standing on the Word





Heart of a Woman study has concluded, and something really amazing has happened. If you know me personally, then you would know that my whole life I have identified as a Christian. But in this study I have found that I am a fairly new believer. This has been a pivotal moment in my life. For so long I had this mindset that because I grew up in church, I had been a believer. I mean, I seriously thought that I had been working at this thing for over 16 plus years. But it wasn’t until I got into this ministry, and this study particularly, that the Holy Spirit showed this to me.

My ignorance of God’s Word and lack of motivation to seek Him out did nothing for my walk with Him. I thought because I walked up to the front of the church every Sunday for a number of years, this meant I was going to heaven. To make a long story short, I thought because I said, “I believe,” and openly identified as a “Christian” to others, this was all that needed to happen. I was able to see that I was only seeking the benefits of heaven and everlasting life and nothing more. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

I mean, that could have been me! That could be a lot of us. I need you all to understand how humbled I am by this revelation. The incredible weight of not being able to reach this impossibly high standard at this time in my life began to feel lifted. Struggling with issues, beating myself up, saying, “LORD! Why can’t I just be a good Christian like her?” comparing myself, and going even further to say, “Why don’t I have the wisdom she has?” was gone! I don’t feel the need to compare any longer because I am understanding that this is my walk with Christ. And only in His timing can anything be revealed, or changed. I am brand new to seeking Him in every area of my life. Ladies, and anyone else reading this, the study was so uncomfortable in the start because I saw nothing good in me while asking the Lord to search me. But we were always reminded from lesson one through nine, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Just seeing your heart in all of its ungodly ways is at times gut-wrenching, and not seeking the Lord and meditating on Scriptures like Romans 8:1 can make you feel stuck in unworthiness. But I now rejoice in the unveiling of my sin. It tastes so sweet to know that He is my advocate and that I find refuge, strength, love, and counsel in Him. I am reminded of Psalm 34:8: “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” My prayer is that I take such refuge in the Lord to the point that you can’t see me anymore. Not me, but you, Lord, is what I want for those around me to see.

In the next few blogs I can’t wait to share a new journey with you. In the ensuing months we will be reading a set of books that Thistlebend has prayerfully selected for us. Let me just say, the first book I am reading is titled What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert. I feel like this is a perfect transition for me out of the Heart of a Woman study. I was thinking just how cool it was that Greg Gilbert is a pastor right here in Louisville, KY and leads a church that is a stone’s throw from the church I grew up in until about three years ago. I passed this church every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday for 21 years of my life.

I went into reading this book with preconceived notions regarding the answer to the book’s title. Just like I thought I knew that I was a believer (in words only I might add), I thought I knew what exactly the gospel or the “good news” was. And I will admit, those notions have been shattered within the first few chapters. I am humbled by feeling like I am learning everything all over again, and yet so invigorated by this overflowing joy and encouragement that I have found in having faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior.

All for His Glory