Tag Archives: faith

Podcasts

Recently, I’ve started listening to some podcasts. I know, I know; I’m a several months (years?) late to that party. With young children constantly around me, it’s sometimes hard to listen to spoken word (you know, something that I actually need to pay attention to if I want to comprehend what’s happening), and that’s most of the reason I’m late to the podcast-listening idea. I can’t just turn one on when I get in the car because I usually have several people communicating wth me at once. I don’t need another voice added to the fray. But I’ve really enjoyed getting recommendations from friends about what podcasts are making them think, which ones are encouraging them, or even affecting heart change. So naturally, I’ve started putting in my headphones a little more often, and, you know, crying while I mow the lawn or fold the laundry. It’s almost like reading a book, but I can work on something else while I’m doing it.podcast

It been so interesting to me how God has ordained things in my life, right down to which podcasts I’m listening to. Ever think He doesn’t influence the small things in your life? Just look for connections between your struggles and an innocent book or podcast suggestion made by a friend. I know He is wooing me through different ways every single day, pursuing me by letting me hear from Him even in the oddest of places.

That all being said, I’ll tell you about these podcasts I’m checking out. I started with The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She brings another person (often one of her friends) onto her show and they talk about real life and I have LOVED it. It’s often a faith-based writer or speaker and I can get choked up just hearing them have real conversation about their lives. It’s so fun listening in on a conversation that feels like it would’ve happened the same way, even if they weren’t recording. After I blasted through several episodes of Jamie’s show, I got turned onto That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs. She has similar guests and conversations, but she has a cool perspective, too. Basically what I’ve realized is that these two hosts are writers, they have writers on their shows frequently, and I am totally inundated with books I want to buy/read because of it. And these aren’t usually novels that I can get on my Kindle and just blast through in a few days because they’re easy reads. These are the sort of life-changing books that I want to dig into. I want to have my own paper copy because I like underlining and circling and reading them again and again. For instance, I’ve already ordered Annie’s Let’s All Be Brave and one of her guests’ (John Mark Comer) books called Garden City. I want to hear the Lord speaking to me, I want to learn about Him and others’ experiences with Him and His goodness. Wouldn’t you?

Now don’t think I’m all crazy – I don’t necessarily think that God ordained these people to say things that are meant just for me. But I do think that there is knowledge we can glean from hearing about others’ journeys. I think we can hear from God when hearing someone else talk, teach, preach. I think we are more in tune to His voice than we think, but we often don’t give Him the credit when He speaks to us through the words of others.

Do you have any podcasts that you think I’d like? Please comment with them! I’m LOVING listening to them!!

Musings About Prayer

How do you pray? How often? Whose words do you use – yours? The Bible’s? Those of a trusted pastor? These are questions I struggle with every time I try to pray. I think all answers are valid, and ones that I haven’t thought of are, too. I think prayer is something that evolves as your relationship with the Lord evolves, and that’s a good thing.

I find that oftentimes, when I remember to pray is when I am asking for something. I’ve just heard that someone is sick or hurt. I’m having a hard time being patient with my kids. Or, I’m praying to stave off difficulties or issues in an upcoming situation. Either way, I’m asking the Lord to do my will. Or asking Him to help me with something. Or I’m just plain hoping that His will and my will are the same.

Why would I ever put the Lord in a box like that?

I am all about giving the Lord my honesty: all of my feelings, my fears, my hopes. He’s a big God, and he can handle those things. I can pray continually – without ceasing! (1 Thess. 5:16) – and I can pray about anything and everything (Eph. 6:18). But what I want to pray more often is for HIS WILL to be done, not mine (1 John 5:14). I know He has a plan more wonderful than I can imagine, and while it seems trite to only pray for that, that’s what He loves to hear! “I trust You! Your plan is perfect! I want for me and mine what YOU want for me and mine!” There is nothing greater we could tell Him than how awesome He is, and how we trust Him.

In alignment with praying, I think that worship (all kinds of worship!) can be prayer, also. Taking the sacrament is an act of prayer, communicating with God, a covenantal practice. Musical worship can be prayer; the words and melodies sung and played are indeed a prayer, especially when we know we need to connect with God but don’t necessarily have the words we desire to say.  I love James 5:13 – “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” Prayer and praise often go hand in hand. Don’t just pray when you need something (I’m talking to myself, here!) but also pray when you are happy, pray when you are sad, mad, glad, tired, and full of joy. Pray without ceasing, depend fully and always on the Lord.

For me, to pray without ceasing is an act of submitting my will, my words, my actions to Him. This is me saying, “Lord, I can’t do this (anything!) without You.” I know I’m flawed, I’m a sinner, I need and desire His grace and mercy. As in Psalm 40: Come Lord, and pull me out of the muck and the mire; set my feet on solid ground.

Light in the Darkness

This morning, as I started to read my devotional and get into the Word, I realized there was a common theme of my study today. Doubtless, it’s a common theme throughout the Bible in general, but it seemed like today in particular I was being bathed in the concept of “light”.

The two scriptures that I wrote out in my journal (above, and yes, please excuse my writing mistakes, ha!) are two that I’ve heard before. They are familiar, and sometimes that means they get a little stale… not because they lose their meaning, but because we get desensitized to their power. So today, as I read them anew, I prayed to not be desensitized to the Word of God.

The Bible has innumerable passages about light. Some are just brief mentions, some mean “light” in the natural (sunlight, moonlight, firelight) and some mean “light” in a spiritual sense. Here, and in most cases, Isaiah refers to Jesus… Jesus has come. He is our light. He appears over you in His glory. I love that the heading for Isaiah chapter 60 is “The Glory of Zion”. Metaphorically speaking, the glory of God in the man Jesus has come to earth to bring healing and hope and LIGHT.

I always love the tension between light and darkness in verses like this. Darkness cannot exist where there is light. It is IMPOSSIBLE. Where there is a light, especially a light as bright as Jesus, there can be no true darkness. There are shadows, but no impenetrable darkness. Moving forward to John 1:5, I love the different words that are used in the second half. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.” That’s the most common word, but in some other translations (overcome was in my ESV) we see comprehended, understood, apprehended, and extinguished. This light, the light that  shines straight into our own personal darkness, and also the same light that shines into the darkness that seems to run rampant in our world, that light cannot be understood, or fought, or dampened, or extinguished. Put simply, that light won’t be put out. It will triumph over the darkness. It has already done so!

One last little piece that was a huge encouragement to me was Isaiah 60:3: Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. My prayer and the prayer of many fellow Christians is that our world leaders would be leading in a God-glorifying way. That they would love as Jesus loved. That they would come to the light, and the brightness of His dawn. Isaiah was a prophet. He speaks words that are coming true and have already come true. We pray for our leaders to be in tune with how God is leading them, changing them, and shepherding them. We cannot possibly know or understand God’s will and the way He works, and this discourages some. But take heart: His light permeates the darkness, it won’t be extinguished, and He is already playing out the victory that He has won. He’s been working on this since the beginning of time! Trust Him to see it through.

Isaiah 9:1-7 (ESV)
But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 
The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
    and the staff for his shoulder,
    the rod of his oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

From the Manger to the Cross


Oh, how the first Sunday of advent prepares my heart for Christmas. Today is a day of celebrating, and also a day of being intentional about turning our hearts to the manger to await the coming of our King.

To turn my heart away from decorations and gift-buying can sometimes be hard. Often, getting caught up in Black Friday sales and locating the perfect decor for the unfestive corner of my home take precedence after Thanksgiving. Because t this morning, my pastor likened Thanksgiving and Christmas to s kind of homecoming. We typically gather with our families or even travel to our (former? forever?) homes to be with those we love. He nudged us to apply this sense of “homecoming” to the Christian life. A homecoming not for physical things, but coming home to the eternal love of a Father, the spirit of loving, giving no and worshiping a King who has sacrificed everything to bring us home.

We are reminded as Christians, especially during the Christmas and Easter seasons that we are only in a temporary home. This world is not our forever home, and we should never forget that. The home we look forward to joining is the perfect place to spend eternity, together with the saints and our Jesus in heaven. We have been adopted into the most prestigious, loving and healthy family there is, assigning us to a feast table beyond our wildest imaginations. We are accepted and loved and made whole in this familial identity. We have indeed found our worth in the sacrifice that was made on our behalf.

So as you enter Advent, turning your heart to the manger, don’t forget that the manger leads to the cross. We are on this journey together, pointing to the same destination in a few months’ time. This anticipation of the arrival of our King leads to His death, but also His resurrection, the mind-blowing realization that He has done the work to keep us His and whole and bring us home.

The Case for Starting Christmas Celebrations Early. 

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

As a musician, I’ve been early to the Christmas spirit every single year of my life. I’m usually practicing in October for this Christmas concert or that caroling event, because inevitably someone wants perfectly polished holiday music at their event, which happens to be the first Tuesday in December. Or whatever the case may be.

But for some reason, this year, I hadn’t really been feeling it – which is especially odd, given that Advent starts ridiculously early (as Thanksgiving is ridiculously late) and I should’ve been anticipating its arrival. The weather has been unseasonably warm, I’ve been focused on other things, and Christmas, well, is sneaking up on me.

However, I’ve made a decision. I will no longer feel bad for starting to decorate early. I won’t feel bad when I tune my radio to the station that plays Christmas music on November 1st. I won’t get snarky about Starbucks’ holiday cups, no matter what they look like. I won’t post on Facebook about how it’s annoying that the local shopping centers have wreaths hung up the day after Halloween. I won’t feel bad about asking my husband to get our tree and garlands from the attic before we’ve hosted our Thanksgiving meal.

You know why?

Because we all need some cheer. There’s not a single person in this world who doesn’t benefit from a little cheering up, a little extra love sent their way, or a sparkly card in the mail. There isn’t a single person who doesn’t need to hear good news, a joyful message, or to be reminded that there is at least one thing we can latch on to that will forever be positive: Jesus loves us.

He loves us so much that he came to save us, even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:6). He IS the Good News, the reason we turn our thoughts during Advent to his humble arrival, and get up on Christmas morning with unspeakable joy in our hearts. And those things are worth celebrating even longer than 25 days a year, longer than the month that’s between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I will celebrate his blessed coming, his incredible life, his terrible death, and his glorious rising on the third day. I will celebrate these things every single day, and live my life with the light that comes from knowing him personally. I won’t feel a bit guilty if I need to hear a little Christmas music in June just because I feel like it. He is worth celebrating no matter what time of year it is.

Wild and Free – Book Review

I don’t know if you like reading Christian books. Depending on what they are, I don’t always like them. A lot of times, they seem a little “self-help” for my taste. Or other times, they’re too deep and require a little more brain power and concentration than I usually have these days. Reading is strictly for pleasure and sanity around here, and I have been unable to read for longer than five or ten minutes at a time for what feels like years (and might actually be). Therefore, I need a book that will hold my interest, but let me stay with it even though I go days without reading, then come back to it much later.

I first heard about Wild and Free because a writer I follow on Instagram had been an early reader for the authors, Hayley Morgan and Jess Connolly. She raved about it before it even became available for purchase, and so naturally, I preordered it.

It’s been an incredible journey to follow these women’s stories about their own lives, and being set free from expectations, duties, and “Christian lifestyles” and learning to live as wildly and freely as Eve – just as God created us to do.

Being Uncomfortable 


Today, I had a meeting about a ministry I’m a part of. It was a room full of Christians, some my friends and some strangers. Some of us were writers, some artists, some more practically-minded. We were meeting to discuss the future of the ministry, to brainstorm, to dream a little. 

One thing that came up and stuck with me was discussing things that were current. Less about church history (not to be discounted, by the way!) and more being a Christian in today’s world. Less about the easy stuff and more about being uncomfortable

The world we live in isn’t comfortable. It shouldn’t take you much effort to see that. Even if you are in a comfortable home situation, a comfortable job, or a comfortable relationship, you don’t have to look very far (or scroll very far back through your Facebook feed) to see, read, or hear things that are uncomfortable. As a Christian, what can you do about it? You can’t give to every single charity, and you can’t  volunteer for every single event or drive or whatever. There are thousands of ways to “help” and frankly I get quite overwhelmed by it. 

What does it look like to be a good Christian? What does it look like to reflect Jesus in my culture? Or at the very least in my circle of influence? I don’t know all the right answers. I don’t have a solution to the question of “when and where and how much do I do”. But I do know that most change (and yes, change is what we need) begins with doing something uncomfortable

What this looks like for you, I cannot say. But what I’m afraid (Yep, I went there. Afraid is what I meant.) it means for me is that I’m about to get uncomfortable in my writing. And that makes me really nervous. 

Before I scare you off, let me explain. 

Uncomfortable for me might be writing about things I don’t know as much about. It might mean doing a little more research, or changing my style for a piece. It might mean writing about a topic I don’t usually like, or something I’ve never written about before. It might mean baring my soul to you about an uncomfortable topic, and opening myself up to criticism (please be kind). It might mean writing something that challenges you and me to think out of the box, or to try something new. Those things are uncomfortable for most of us. It may just get crazy in my little corner of the Internet. 

But you know what? Jesus was radical. He did things that weren’t allowed. He said things that were unconventional and rocked the boats of the Pharisees and the priests. He also spread the love of God and paved the way for salvation for all who would listen and believe. It might’ve been uncomfortable, but that’s where I want to be. I want to be there with him, spreading the Gospel in radical and unconventional ways, rocking boats and making a change. Now, the work I have to do is get used to being uncomfortable.