Tag Archives: God

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.

Some Thoughts on Evangelism.

Evangelism is something that used to scare me. In my youth, to me it meant that we would go around handing out gospel tracks, or randomly starting conversations with people, so that we could pray with them, hoping to lead them to Jesus. It had less to do with fostering a love of Jesus or a desire to worship him, and more of a way to get another tick on our evangelist’s counter.

As you might imagine, this didn’t work very well for me.

As an adult, the word still scares me a little bit, because I don’t quite know how to put my feelings into words. The scars are still there from my misinterpretations as a youth. But there is so much hope, for me and for you, to be able to overcome the scars of myself and others, and continue on into the love of Jesus in a true sense, and then share it with the world.


Recently, during my quiet time (I’ve been studying through the Psalms, in case you didn’t know) I was convicted as I read Psalm 71. I’ll put the part I’ll focus on here so you don’t have to look it up…

Psalm 71:14-18
But I will hope continually,
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.

Well, I have to begin by saying that the psalmist surely stirred up some excitement and laid a healthy burden on me to share more of the Gospel. Our mouths should tell of His righteous acts and deeds of salvation! We should proclaim His wondrous deeds and His might! It not only encourages our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not only spreads the truth of the Gospel to all ears, but it fosters our believing but sometimes wayward hearts by proclaiming and declaring what we know to be true.

Let’s talk for a moment about “proclaim” and “declare”. As a worship leader, sometimes I am moved during a song to encourage the congregation to proclaim or declare some of the lyrics we’re singing. There’s a slight difference between those words, and so it’s important to do both, sometimes. To proclaim is to announce something openly, publicly, and officially. To declare is to solemnly and emphatically say something. Another definition even says to reveal one’s intentions or identity. To proclaim the righteousness of fearsome and loving God, and the salvation attainable through Christ Jesus are things that should be proclaimed, shouted from the pulpits, platforms, and rooftops. To declare that death has been defeated, and that we are made new in Christ is a truth that can reveal our identity, and alter our intentions.

So as I read those verses of Psalm 71, and then read them again, and then prayed them then and there over my life and my vocation, I was convicted. I was reminded that we, as followers of Jesus, are called to live by his example, which was indeed proclaiming God’s righteousness and mighty acts, proclaiming His wondrous deeds to every generation and all those to come. In one of the books I’m reading (Lioness Arising. Lisa Bevere. Find it. Buy it. Devour it as I have done.) she encourages us to use our circles of influence to share God’s truths and Jesus’s words. While I’m on the platform, every Sunday, worshiping the Lord, and hopefully bringing everyone in that journey alongside me, I have even more opportunity than I allow myself (or at least remember that I have) to actually speak Scripture and truth into the congregation. I have this very site where I share funny quips from my kids and what we ate for dinner last week, but I shouldn’t neglect the possibilities this site provides for the sharing of God’s Word. I have family members, friends, acquaintances, and sometimes strangers that I can come alongside and encourage, pray for/with, and speak truth into. Why should I be scared of being an evangelist? Why should I be nervous to do what Jesus did?

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.

Find Your Sabbath in Autumn


It’s that time of year. The perfect season. Coffee tastes better. The air smells fresher. Cuddling in the blankets a little later in the morning feels so good, especially because it’s a little darker for a little longer. 

I also love the balance that it provides in my own life. Autumn is a busy season. School is in full swing, the holidays are approaching, and if you aren’t careful, there is little rest. But we have also been called to find rest. We have been called to find Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4:9-10) even in the midst of our busy seasons. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the schedules will clear, or that you’ll sleep more, or that it will look any certain way. Rather, it means a shift in thought. It’s a change of perspective. It’s a way of looking at and living in the world with the peace of God in your heart. 

Sounds easy, right?

It’s not. Not always, anyway. It can be difficult to feel peaceful in everything you do. Most workplaces driven by efficiency don’t also have a peaceful atmosphere. Rush hour at 5pm doesn’t hold a peaceful feeling. Your children don’t seem peaceful when they wake at 6am hungry. 

But this is the gift of God: that you shall find Sabbath rest, because He is allowing you to. He has given you that gift, and all you need do is receive it. That doesn’t make it easy, but it makes it available to us. If we can walk in the faith that God has peacefulness and rest for us… that is the real Sabbath rest. 

So this season… this busy season of warm coffee, chilly air, cooking, shopping, carpooling, and preparing… this season is the perfect time to take a minute, and ask the Lord to help you accept that perfect rest. Rest that is the ceasing of striving to do it all ourselves. Rest that is feeling loved and taken care of by the One who is sovereign over every single thing. His gift to us is His peace. We only need to say yes. 

This post is part of my NaBloPoMo, where I publish a piece every day in November. Many of the posts will be writing exercises, sometimes straying from my usual style. 

The Beauty of the Balance of Parenting

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.

This weekend, our pastor kicked off a series about the beauty of balance (you can listen to it here if you’d like). He spoke of how Christ is balanced not by being mediocre, or lukewarm, but having strong feelings in both directions. When he loves, he loves fully, fiercely, and sacrificially. When he is angry, he is filled with righteous anger. Jesus was altogether human, and is fully God. He is full of grace, yet spoke only truth. Some might say He is a contradiction, but He simply embodies the beauty of balance.

As I listened to the metaphors of balance, it seemed even more apparent to me than usual that life is more about a balance of extremes than pulling ourselves into the middle, and letting go of what’s on either side – and especially better to have a balance than leaning on one side too heavily.

Even more than that, as it often happens with me nowadays, the pastor’s message spoke to me particularly through the lens of motherhood. It is important to have balance in every aspect of parenting children. You need lots of elements to raise well your tiny humans, and to emotionally and physically survive parenting. You need silliness and discipline. You need exercise (or at least getting out some energy) and rest. You need community and time to be alone. You need a balance of all these things. Parenting consists of small moments of a single feeling or a lesson learned, all of which are built up together to grow up your little people. Yes, there are moments where your children learn security from love and affection that you show them. There are moments where they will learn about integrity, because you went through with a consequence, even when you didn’t want to. There are joyous times for being silly and making faces, and growing imagination through pretending. There are hard conversations about right and wrong, and mistakes made and how to fix them.

But each of these things, on their own, don’t create and nurture a life. It takes all of them together, interspersed through the long days and short years of being a parent and loving a child. The beauty of balance in parenthood is what grows up our helpless babes into Jesus-loving men and women who can impact the world in a positive way. The seasons of sleepless nights (cue any “mombie” jokes you’ve ever heard), potty training (when it’s often easier to leave them in the diaper), driver’s ed (where you might be literally fearing for their lives) and college tuition (where you’re sacrificing your current comforts for their futures) all matter. The beauty is in the balance of your love for them, your willingness to make sacrifices for them, and your desire for them to be independent, well-meaning and compassionate people.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.

  I’ve had an unforseen transformation over the past couple of years. As a girl who never had a green thumb or really cared about gardens of any sort, I’ve learned to really love growing things. I get excited in the early spring about planning out our vegetable and herb garden, readying the soil, building a new bed, perhaps, and buying the seeds and seedlings. It’s hard work, especially the preparation, but I’ve learned to really enjoy it. Last summer, I was one thousand months pregnant with my third baby, and I was shoveling fresh dirt into a new bed. I wanted to be a part of it that much.

I love seeing the first little glimpses of life coming up through the soil. I love smelling the fresh leaves on the herbs, especially after it rains. I love seeing the very first tiny, green tomatoes, and little yellow squashes. I even like trimming, pruning and deadheading to help send the nutrients to the good parts of the plant. I love the way my big kids want to get outside with me, dig in the dirt, and eat tomatoes right off the vine. My eldest can even name most of the herbs, and identify them by smell. Even as recently as five years ago, I’d never be able to tell you that I would love it this much, and incorporate it into my life so fully.

But I started growing something else, about five years ago. It was a big task, something that took the most energy, time, effort, and prayer I’ve ever given anything. I grew a child in my womb. I was the vessel as God literally knit a life together and helped it grow. Now, I am a nurturer to three such blessings, helping them grow. Yes, it still takes the most energy, time, effort and prayer I can muster. Yes, it even takes a little pruning of misconceptions and education after mistakes to help the best parts of my children thrive. Train up a child in the way he should go (Prov. 22:6), yes?

It may be a cheesy metaphor, but the love of growing things became so real to me when I was growing something of my very own. The love the God helps us grow, the love of parents help their children grow, and the love of a gardener helps her garden grow. Tending anything that grows requires effort. It requires the giving of nutrients and water. It requires protection from storms, literal or figurative. It requires a certain love for the thing to help it grow. We are not abandoned to grow on our own in the wild; we have a loving God, tending to our needs, and helping us grow into who He’s called us to be.