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


“I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God” (Psa. 17:6).

“I don’t like limits,” my 12 year old said in response to the pediatrician’s suggestions regarding screen time. The pediatrician was taken aback but responded professionally. She said she understood how people (like my child) who struggle with anxiety like to feel like they are in control of things. Limits – set by others – can be perceived as restrictions, which affect our ability to control any given situation.

I found the pediatrician’s words to be remarkably insightful – and helpful to both my child and me. As a parent trying to help my child work through anxiety, and as a person who also suffers from it, I know how crippling anxiety can be.

But as I reflected on the conversation, the Lord showed me something else that was crippling: the need to “feel” in control. It may be augmented in anxious people, but don’t we all like to think we are in control?

We are born into a world that cruelly tricks us into thinking we actually CAN control our lives, our homes, our careers, our finances, our schedules, our relationships, our health…and even worse, that we are entitled to be in control of all of it. When things go wrong in our lives, our jobs, our bodies – when we have trouble (and we will), we despair. We feel anxious. It’s terribly dispiriting to discover something we thought we controlled is beyond our control; that actually, we never did (or could) control it.

As we begin our In the Garden prayer study, the Lord is showing me that I have control issues too. I don’t like limits. I don’t want to limit “my” time at night so that I can get up early to spend time with Him. I don’t want to fully surrender “my” life because, if I’m truly honest, I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I don’t want to fully surrender because, somewhere in my heart, I feel like I know what is best for me.

Actually the Lord is showing me an even uglier truth: my need for control is an idol. It replaces my need for Him and prevents me from truly seeing Him as sovereign.

As Laurie said last week, there is worldliness in all of us. It’s inescapable. Our sin nature – our flesh – identifies with the world, is pulled by the world, lulled by the world, lied to by the world. Only time with our heavenly Father recalibrates us. Time in His Word. Time in prayer.

My prayer life is not what I want it to be. I confess this. I praise God that I can pour out my heart to Him, and that He will hear me. I praise God for the In the Garden study because I can re-learn the basics and beauty of an intentional prayer life. I need this study!

Dear heavenly Father, I praise you as my sovereign Lord. You are God and I am not. Your ways are not my ways. Help me to know your ways are always best.

Thank you for loving me, a weak sinner with a wandering heart. Give me a desire for you.

Give me the faith to see you alone as sovereign. Help me keep my eyes fixed upon Jesus, not on myself, my circumstances, or the world.

Lord, I confess my desire for control. I confess my dislike for limits. Grant me the faith to fully surrender to you.

May you alone be glorified as I seek your face in this new prayer study.

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17 NIV).

Growing in Grace


So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

I read these verses in the introduction week to the new Thistlebend study we just started, In the Garden, and the Lord had me go back in my quiet time to think about it more. My husband and I are still on this adventure that the Lord began for us a few weeks ago. It has been quite the roller coaster of anticipation and quick decisions and now we’re in more of a waiting period to see what the Lord will unfold next. Like I mentioned in my last post, the potential at the end of this ride is something my husband and I are greatly desiring and the Lord has been revealing to us how much emphasis we are putting on this mundane thing that He may or may not give to us. I thought I was okay with either outcome, but this past week, for a brief time, it appeared like all the potential was going away, and I realized that I wasn’t okay like I thought I would be.

As much as I hate to admit this, when my husband was giving me the updates for the day that included that deals were falling through and communication was lacking, I tried to pretend like I was okay. I tried to pretend like I didn’t care because I was going to praise the Lord regardless. But my quiet demeanor, sharp tone with my husband, and an overall annoyance the rest of the evening proved differently. I was being a brat and pouting about the circumstances all the while trying to muster up the faith and do what I knew was “right” by saying, “Oh I’m fine; this is what the Lord wants.”

I confessed to the Lord the next morning my frustration and pride as He opened my eyes to reveal to me that while I say I’m trusting Him with whatever outcome He brings, I was clearly not living that reality. The next day also revealed new information and new clarification that brought me and my husband to the next crazy turn of our adventure and kept the dream we are desiring alive. As I sat in awe of this and what the Lord is doing for us, in spite of how I was acting, the Lord brought to mind a Scripture I had read in The Holiness of God: “Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people” (Deut. 9:6).

I sit here and type, honestly in awe of His grace. I looked up the meaning of the word transient the other day when reading the verse from 2 Corinthians. Synonyms included short-lived, fleeting, momentary, here today and gone tomorrow. Circumstances here on this earth are literally here today and gone tomorrow, but yet I put so much thought, energy, and weight on what is happening right in front of my eyes. Scripture–the truth–actually tells me that weight really lies in the weight of glory in eternity with my Savior, without whom I am nothing.

I love hydrangea bushes, those huge snowball bushes that are popping up all over the place this time of year. For my first Mother’s Day, my in-laws let me pick out something from a landscaper in town (a family tradition each year) and I picked out some hydrangea bushes that my husband and I are waiting to plant. They haven’t been blooming like others that we’ve seen and I’ve been so disappointed, but I also must confess that it has been our fault due to busy schedules and not taking the time and/or intentionality to water them. Any time I think about watering them I get lazy and think, “Oh I’ll water them tomorrow.” The other day I pulled into the driveway and was so excited to see that there were buds on these bushes even in the midst of the leaves falling off and yellowing because they were dying. The Lord used these bushes to reveal to me, once again, that He alone provides the growth. It didn’t matter that my husband and I weren’t watering these bushes and that they were dying. If the Lord wants them to grow, they will grow. God is God and I am not. What the Lord is giving me and my husband right now is not the gift of a transient, earthly thing, but actually the eternal gift of seeing Him and His grace, a deeper understanding of Him and His character. Honestly, I can’t fathom His love and goodness, but I know it’s worth praising regardless of the transient circumstances that He may allow.

I am so weak, my mind and eyes are so deceived so easily. Praise God for having His way in spite of my frailty not just in earthly things but with eternal things. Lord, will you help us to look to the things that are unseen—to you and you alone in the midst of our momentary circumstances, good or bad.

Planted for His Glory