At some point, we’ve all felt the pressure to do something great with our lives.

After all, we  want to know that our lives have value. Deep down, we all want to be proud of how we spent our limited time on earth.

But we start feeling the pressure to be great when we chase the things society says will make our lives matter.

Things like being a woman with weight attached to her name, whose work is praised by many, and who will be remembered for years to come. Things like reaching for the top of society, or becoming a world changer. And even things like becoming a woman with a good income and maybe a hint of fame.

And just like the advice someone recently gave me when they said,  “Lydia, you have so many gifts. I want to see you do something great. I want to see you change the world or make it into the history books. I don’t want to see you settle,” So many of the things that the world claims are the marks of success, are purely external.

This look at life only leaves me with questions…

Is this really the standard we’ve come to? Is being recognized or applauded by the world the measure of our success in life?

Do I need to have a huge following, or have my name crammed into a history book in order to live an impactful life?

If I never change the world, can I still be content? If no one besides my friends and family ever hears my name, am I still doing something great? Can I be proud of my life and how I have used my God given gifts?

Maybe you’ve felt buried by this same pressure to be great. Maybe you’ve also wondered if this is really what it means to have a successful and meaningful life. Maybe you’ve felt the stress and urgency that comes from living just to build ourselves up.

If so, listen to this: if our money, or popularity, or any of those other things are the measures of our success than we live pretty pathetic lives. And if our only goal in life is just to chase greatness or build ourselves up, then we are completely missing our real purpose.

Because success by the world’s standards is temporarily impressive, but not truly great or lasting.

But Jesus perfectly laid out the key to true, eternal greatness when He said,

“… whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many,”

(Matthew 20:26-28)

You see, we can strive, plan, and work all our lives, but trying to leave an impact by building ourselves up doesn’t work. Only the things we do for Jesus will have any real significance.

And when we live for Jesus, we are called to look at our limited time on earth as a chance to serve and build His Kingdom.

If we want to live purposeful and powerful lives, then we need to live completely for Jesus.

Because life-changing people aren’t the ones who push and pull to get to the top. The people who make the biggest impact are the givers. They link arms with others and are okay with being completely unnoticed if that’s where God wants them.

So yes, dream big dreams! Work diligently in the thing that God has called you to do.

But while doing that, genuinely care more about building up God’s kingdom then building up yourself. Look for ways to serve God and others in your home, in your church, with your friends, and even with strangers. 🙂


You know that old song, with the lines: “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”?

I just love that.

Where we focus our attention is powerful. What we focus on has the power to direct our thoughts, actions, and as a result: our lives.

I want to be a woman who focuses on God alone! I’m tired of being distracted and discouraged by things that are insignificant in comparison.  I want to fix my eyes completely on Jesus so that when discouraging things happen around me, I’m not shaken because my focus is on the One who is in control of all those other situations!

It’s true, where we focus is powerful! And when our focus is in the right place, everything else in this world has no power over us.


Dejected. Alone. Left behind.

Sometimes those are the words we most closely relate to when we decide to live by God’s design.

Even though He calls us to be set apart, I still occasionally wonder whether it’s actually worth it. After all, choosing to be different from the world is not easy.

Sometimes it’s flat out awkward, unusual, and even looked down on.

Some people will make comments and assign labels. And their raised eyebrows, confidence sucking statements, and behind-the-back whispers can easily make an unsteady soul doubt its decision.

Other times, it is easy to convince myself that living set apart in seemingly little things (like clothes, music, TV shows, how I spend my time, etc) isn’t worth the effort. These “little” things seem unimportant in the long run, so it is easy to justify blurring the lines between God’s design, and the world’s way.

But I’ve realized that when I doubt the importance of living set apart, I’ve usually forgotten why I live set apart.

In Greek, the word for “set apart”, “holy”, and “sacred” is hágios. It means “Likeness of nature with the Lord” by being “different from the world.”

You see, unity with God must happen apart from the world, because darkness and light cannot mix.

We can’t experience the same closeness with Christ when we are trying to fit into a life that contradicts Christ.

In addition, living by God’s design personally blesses us, and protects us from unnecessary pain and mistakes.

God calls us to be set apart because He knows it is the best for us. But when we forget why we live differently, we easily believe it is better to blend in. We begin to think there is something better than what God offers.

Eventually, this idea makes us slaves to the fear of missing out.

Missing out on some experience.

Missing out on a “good” thing.

Missing out on acceptance or fitting in.

But it is a lie. A lie which easily traps a hurting soul, or someone curious for more, but a lie nonetheless.

And it’s something Satan has been using to distract us since the beginning–Starting with Adam and Eve.

Remember the story?

God placed them in the midst of the garden where all their physical and spiritual needs were being met in amazing ways. He even met and walked with them in a way no one has experienced since.

He gave them the best of the best and didn’t hold back anything that would bless them.

There was only one rule: they could eat from any tree in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17).

But Satan tricked them into believing that God was using this rule to deprive them instead of protect them. And when they lost perspective, they ate the fruit (Genesis 3).

I know this is a common story, but I don’t want you to miss this comparison:

We do the exact. Same. Thing.

They ignored every good, breathtaking gift God had already given them, and focused completely on the fruit. The one thing they couldn’t have. They took it because they believed God was keeping a good thing from them and they didn’t want to miss out.

For them, the fruit (their temptation) was a lust for knowledge. In our own lives, the fruit can be anything… Anything that pulls our attention away from living completely for Jesus. Anything that tempts us to keep dabbling here and there in little parts of the world.

And like Adam and Eve, if we think living by God’s standards will deprive us then we are falling for the same lie and taking the same fruit. The fruit which looks so promising on the outside, but is so destructive to us at its core.

And sadly, a constant pursuit of something “better” will make us completely miss God’s absolute best.

So next time this fruit captivates our minds, and whispers the lie that it has more to give, let’s turn our gaze back to our Father.

Let’s realize that a relationship with Him is the most important thing we could pursue.

Let’s remember His heart, and His desire to give us only the best.

And let’s walk confidently in the knowledge that every command He gives will bring us closer to the best life for us.

 

{Verses to check out:}

1 Peter 1:14-16

1 John 2:15-17

2 Corinthians 6:14

Mark 8:36

Philippians 3:7-8

James 4:4

 

Have you ever sat down to study the Bible but finished feeling like you didn’t get anything out of it?

Yeah, me too.

It’s so discouraging to want a personal encounter with God, yet feel stuck with non-personal, surface level reading.

The thing is, God’s words are timeless. They will always be fresh and relevant.

But for them to personally feel relevant, we need to learn how to unpack them. Because when we dig deeper into His word, we will have a personal connection with His words.

But don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed…

Digging deeper into God’s word doesn’t necessarily require more time. It just requires us to be more intentional with the time we have.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert, but my favorite way to intentionally study the Bible is to ask these six questions:

1. What does this piece of scripture actually say?

I start with this question for a few reasons.

First, it helps me refresh everything I just read. Most importantly, it helps me avoid misinterpreting scripture.

Because even if we do it on accident, misinterpreting God’s word is serious. Everything within the Bible is God’s perfect word and our final authority. That’s why we need to do our best to understand what He actually said.

But we don’t need any special qualifications to accurately understand the Bible. We simply need a love for truth, and the diligence to search for it.

The most important part of understanding is to start with prayer. When we pray, we should ask God for wisdom, discernment, and a heart willing to process even difficult parts of scripture.

2. How is God’s character and glory on display here?

It’s so easy to make Bible study all about myself.

What I mean is that often, I only care about what the Bible has to say to me, and I ignore how everything in scripture points to God and displays aspects of His character.

I care more about what I can get out of my Bible, then I do about worshiping God through the process of reading my Bible.

Now, personal application is important, and personal benefit will come from spending time in God’s word. But our primary purpose is to exalt God in everything we do… even when reading His Word.

So let’s read to see God on display before reading to see how we can benefit.

 

3. Are there any specific words, verses, or themes which spike my interest, or I can’t quite shake?

If there’s a word that sticks out to you, do a little digging on it.

If there’s a verse that keeps popping up in your mind or that your eyes just seem drawn to, take time to process it. You may even want to write it down or memorize it.

It doesn’t matter exactly what you do, or how you do it. Just take time to look beneath the surface.

Often, going further and following our natural curiosity leads to amazing discoveries! In fact, those little details that stick out to you, or resonate with your soul are likely the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

4. Is God trying to use this passage to speak to me in any way?

With this question, pause. Don’t rush.

We need to pray that God will show us the things we need to hear, and open our ears to what He says. Then, we need to listen.  

Now, some mornings God is silent. At least in the sense that He doesn’t speak to us through what we read.

I’m not exactly sure why, but my guess is that sometimes it’s more important to focus on glorifying God or remembering the things He already told us. But whatever the reason, we need remember that sometimes silence is okay.

5. Does this verse bring up any unanswered questions?

God wants us to be confidant in our faith, so when questions pop up (and they will), we need to seek answers.  

Occasionally, we will just have to be satisfied saying “I don’t know”. But most of the time we will find an answer if we diligently look.

When searching for an answer we should always start by praying for wisdom (John 16:13).

Next, we need to dig into the Bible.

Unless a specific passage is coming to mind, I usually google lists of Bible verses on that topic (so fancy, right? 😉 ). If I’m still not finding an answer I’ll look up the cross references for those verses.

Another option is to get advice from someone who has a solid grasp on the Bible.

However you choose to find answers, remember that the Bible is our final authority. Any view or answer we accept needs to perfectly align with it.

6. What is my “take-away” for today?

Those other five questions don’t have much practical impact unless we have something to take away from our Bible study.

This part is fairly simple: pick one key theme, verse, or concept that really stuck out to you, and find a way to remind yourself of it throughout the day.

 

So let’s dig into God’s word with purpose. Let’s lay aside expectations of what time with God should look like. Let’s ask questions that will prompt us to unpack what we read. Let’s be responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

And when we do that, we will encounter God’s word in a completely different light.

Suddenly, we won’t constantly struggle with disappointing Bible studies, and disconnected moments with God. Instead, we will feel a personal connection with Him and His word!

Keep it up!

We are in the midst of a mass weakening of women. But it’s not something that can be strengthened with words like equality, choice, or feminism.  

No, we are weakening ourselves by accepting false forms of womanhood, while God’s design is being torn apart, rejected, and labeled as irrelevant.

And in the faces of girls who have laid aside true womanhood, I only see hurt.

Hurt because they are no longer satisfied with their role in the world. Hurt because without realizing it, they’ve rejected God’s best while searching for something ‘greater’.

They know something is missing in modern womanhood. But they don’t know what it really is. So on they march. Pressing for change. Trying to empower us with the world’s definitions of strong womanhood.

But they are blind to the real problem. Every small victory they make will never be enough to resolve this sense that something is missing.

You see, we must understand that we were created for a specific role. And we will only be satisfied as women, when we are satisfied with God’s design for women.

His design for our lives comes from a place of deep love.

It will never hold us back from something better, or put us in a box of boring and ordinary! Rather, it propels us into the personal blessings that come from obedience to His design.

In Him, we have clear purpose and direction for our lives. But if we reject womanhood the way He defines it, we only deprive ourselves.

Here are some important characteristics of God’s design for women:

One : Live out dignity.

I love the way Glynnis Whitwer  explains dignity:

“My dictionary defines it [dignity] as “‘the quality or state of being worthy, honored or esteemed.” Based on that definition and the entire chapter of Proverbs 31, I believe a woman clothed in dignity is one who knows who she is in Christ, and chooses to act in ways consistent with her high calling as a child of God.”

(Proverbs 31:25)

Two : Have wisdom, and give godly advice.

We need to be wise when it comes to both life and spiritual matters, and then we need to be able to share that wisdom with others who will ask us for advice.

(Proverbs 31:26, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 4:6-7)

Three : Embrace our God-given role within the home.

Our culture says ‘simply’ raising godly kids isn’t good enough. Sadly, many women believe this huge role needs to be substituted with a real career. But raising the next generation is not a distraction from something more important! It’s actually one of the most important jobs we could ever have.

Of course, God might not call all of us to be moms. But if that is part of His plan for us, we need to fully embrace it!

(Malachi 2:15 — NKJV makes a bit more sense 🙂 Proverbs 127:3-5, Proverbs 31:27).

Four : Pursue purity and modesty.

If we are saved, our bodies are no longer our own. They are temples of the Holy Spirit. As a result, God calls us to respect our bodies by pursuing purity and modesty.

(1 Corinthians 6:13,19-20)

Five : Be gracious, generous and kind.

We need to use our words, actions, and resources to bless and serve other people, while avoiding things that would hurt them.

(1 Timothy 3:11, Proverbs 31:20)

Six : Value a gentle and quiet spirit.

I’ve heard people claim that being gentle and quiet shows a lack confidence, or is the result of female oppression. But gentle doesn’t mean weak, and this explanation of a gentle character is downright deceiving (and frankly, it’s insulting).

God wants us to be strong! But strength needs to be accompanied by gentleness, rather than a rough, arrogant, or boisterous spirit. And having a gentle and quiet strength is one of the most beautiful characteristics a woman can have.

(1 Peter 3:3-4, plus, Proverbs 31:17, Proverbs 31:25, Judges 4, and the book of Esther, are a few examples of strong yet gentle women in the Bible).

Seven : A deep love for the Lord!

This is by far the most important thing a woman can possess.

A deep love for God comes from spending time with Him. And the evidence of our love for Him is shown when we value Him, His words, and His calling on our lives above anything else. Even above outward appearances and people’s opinions!

(Proverbs 31:30, Deuteronomy 10:12, Revelation 2:4)

True womanhood isn’t easier, but it’s so much more rewarding!

So let’s abandon the popular, false womanhood that will never satisfy, and instead pursue God’s perfect, love-filled design for His daughter’s. Because in the end, it’s all worth it!

 

I’d love to hear from you! Do you have an example of how adopting God’s design for womanhood has proved to be a more satisfying and fulfilling way to live?

“You could’ve done better…” they whisper over the grade on my latest test.

“Everyone else will think…” they declare over my decisions.

“That’s because you just aren’t good enough…” they proclaim freely in open criticism. 

Most days, or at least on my best ones, I live confidently, loving who God made me. But in the not-so-great moments, my insecurities happily illuminate every flaw.

They’ve stolen more than a few confidant smiles. They’ve pulled me away from areas of God’s leading. Combined, they’ve caused hours of unnecessary anxiousness.

The struggle with insecurity is so real. And because they are so common, I’ve found myself brushing insecurities off as “little things”. But when we look at our insecurities for what they are, it’s clear they take away from the life God wants us to live.

“Insecure” usually describes people struggling to find confidence or boldness. But it can also mean to be “not confident or sure (uncertain),  not adequately guarded or sustained (unsafe), not firmly fastened or fixed (shaky),  not highly stable or well-adjusted, deficient in assurance*

Look at those words: Uncertain. Unsafe. Shaky. Lacking assurance.  

Each describes how we feel when we are consumed by insecurities. Yet each is the exact opposite of how God wants us to live.

God wants us to live in confidence, safety, and stability. Things only truly experienced when we place our identity in Him. (Psalm 62:1-2, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Psalm 16:8, Hebrews 10:22, Ephesians 3:12)

But our insecurities begin with an overvaluing of meaningless opinions, and an undervaluing of God’s identity defining declarations.

The thing is, other people will always have their own view of how we should look, act, and live. A view rarely realistic and is quick to point out flaws.

But although it may sting to miss the standards of the people we want to be accepted by, their opinion is not our final identity.

At least not the one we were meant to cling to.

In contrast, in Jesus’s eyes His daughters will always be seen as completely flawless. Not because of anything we did, but because of everything He did.

Ephesians 5:25b-27 says:

just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”

By dying on the cross, He gave us a way to be permanently washed of imperfection in the eyes of God. And as believers, the labels He places on us are “holy”, “blameless”, and “flawless”.

Instead of permanently declaring us flaw-filled, He did the work to make us flawless. 

And since that’s who Jesus declares we are, those are the characteristics we should claim as our identity. Not because we deserve it in any way, but simply because He loves us and accepts us–just as we are.

In Him alone, we find true confidence, and complete security.

Let’s actively fill our minds with the new identity God gives us, rather than the labels of “not enough” that other standards would assign us. Then, our insecurities have no room to thrive.

So step out today, knowing that you are  loved. You are valued. And you are enough, just as you are!


Everyone desires some form of love.

Maybe from friends. Maybe family. Maybe a spouse or future spouse.

But somewhere in the pursuit of love, our culture lost the meaning of real love and created their own cheap substitute.

This fake love is advertised as the real thing, and promises to satisfy. But it is rooted in selfishness. This leads to “feel-good”, but not necessarily faithful, relationships.

It’s simple: love people who have something to offer. Ignore or neglect those who don’t meet our standards.

Personally, an obvious sign that I’m embracing a false view of love is finding myself thinking things like this: View Post

 

To the girl who has tried to make God her best friend, but still battles with loneliness:

I’ve been there too.

I’ve felt the sting social media can inflict on a hurting soul.

I’ve cried those same confused, heartbroken prayers into my pillow at night.

I’ve also wrestled with a certain statement that you’ve probably tried to grasp as well. One easily tossed around, yet hard to live out:

Christ is enough.

Of course, He should have been enough! But in the midst of my longing for a friend, that concept seemed distant, vague, and incapable of satisfying.

But while this phrase can be difficult to grasp, there was one concept that helped me overcome my loneliness and learn to honestly proclaim that ‘Jesus is enough’. It’s tucked within Matthew 16:13-17:

” … He [Jesus] was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. “

That question Jesus asked His disciples is the most important question we will ever be faced with. In fact, it’s a question that no one since the beginning of time has been able to escape!

And while this might seem completely unrelated to loneliness, our response to this question reveals the root of our struggle to make Jesus enough.

You see, to the people mentioned in this passage Jesus was simply another prophet. They recognized His power from God, but not His identity as the Son of God. They followed Him for a display of miracles, or a “good message”, but were blind to the significance behind those miracles and messages. They celebrated portions of Jesus’s character, but diminished the complete picture of who He was!

And if we’re struggling to make Jesus enough, then it’s very likely that we’re doing the same thing.

But His breathtaking power and incomprehensible love (just to name a couple of His characteristics) should never be considered “average”. Because when we diminish the greatness of God, the seeds of “not enough” take root.

Instead, let’s follow Peter’s example. He looked beyond other people’s opinions to discover God’s revelation of Jesus’s identity.

If we want to personally discover who Jesus is, first we need to purposefully unpack His characteristics revealed in scripture. We need to discover the individual things about God that make our hearts soar! Then we need to reflect on the moments in our life where God’s power and faithfulness have been on display.

Because our meditation on Jesus’s character and power leads to our assurance in His ability to satisfy. It reminds us of His control – even over the deepest longing within us!

There is a part of our heart that was created to be satisfied by our completely un-average, life-changing God. And Him alone! But when the astounding greatness of God becomes an average thing to us, and we lose the wonder that it deserves, then of course we will be unsatisfied! And often, when we find ourselves searching for someone to satisfy our loneliness, the person our heart is actually longing for is God.

So let’s make the decision to reject the idea that He is simply supplementary, when all of creation declares that He is wholly satisfactory!

Lately I’ve been challenged in the area of vulnerability.

After all, it’s something that has the power to either free or betray the depths of our hearts. And while it can cultivate more meaningful friendships between us and other people, there is the fear that it can also cause other people to push us away, or cast off our heartfelt issues as being meaningless and silly.

And this messy subject is such a real struggle for me.

Now, vulnerability doesn’t mean intentionally making yourself a victim, or sharing things without discernment. Rather, in this sense, it’s the act of surrendering any facade we may have built, and it’s being real with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s being willing to ask for prayer, and at times sharing the struggle behind the request.

Personally, although I can openly share about my past issues, it’s downright hard admitting my current struggle areas with other people! Even if it’s just asking for prayer.

And after doing some soul and scripture searching, I finally realized why vulnerability was such an issue for me.

View Post

Can I be really honest for a moment?

I love New Years, with all of its hopeful expectations and new beginnings. This year however, I think many people will be disappointed with 2017.

You see, this past year there was a cliché saying that kept circling around social media, and drifting in and out of various conversations.

The saying was: “Well, as if 2016 couldn’t get any worse…” followed by another tragic report and an implied expectation that the new year would be different.

Now, I see where people are coming from. This year was filled with its ups and downs and there were many messy, disappointing moments in 2016. But at the same time, for all those not-so-great moments, there were just as many blessings and moments of joy. As a whole, compared to other times in history our world has seen much worse. 🙂

And although people simply blurted this out (probably without even thinking about it), this statement creates false hope since 2017 won’t necessarily be better.

 

Without getting too gloomy here (sorry!), the world won’t decide to suddenly change because our calendar has a new set of digits on it! When we wake up tomorrow morning, the world will be the same as it was in 2016. It will be governed by the same sin nature, and in the midst of the same spiritual battle that has waged for thousands of years.

2017 will no doubt be different, because it will still be fallen.

And as a fallen world, which rejects the presence of God, we cannot expect it to improve (whether by a moral standard, or even our own expectations). That doesn’t mean that it will be all together bad, it just means that it will be the same fusion of both the beauty and the messy which makes up our life.

 

Thankfully however, God didn’t intend for His daughters to live with that bleak knowledge, and no hope to go with it! 🙂 In fact, He has given us two major sources of hope to grasp onto going into 2017.

 

The first is that although this world is fallen, God is still ultimately in control. He allowed everything that has happened, good and bad, to be added into the breathtaking, overarching story that He is masterfully unfolding.

 

The second is that if we allow Him to guide us through this next year, then He will lead us into lives of purpose and abundance — despite the circumstances around us.

John 10:10 says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Throughout this chapter, Jesus had been comparing Himself to a good shepherd, who selflessly loves, protects, and provides in abundance for His sheep. He contrasts this to the thief, who only cares about his own self-gain.

As His sheep, Jesus wants us to have an abundant, hope filled life — not only after we die, but also here on earth! (Note, abundance in Christ isn’t always material. Often it’s the peace, joy, and deep purpose and meaning to life that can only be found in Christ.) However, it’s impossible to find that life on our own. He is the only door.

Just like sheep who must respond to the call of their shepherd to receive safety and provision, we must respond to our Shepherd’s direction and teaching to receive an abundant life.

 

Following after Him is the only way 2017 will be better. Otherwise, all we will find is the empty destruction caused by the thief.

 

So although the world as a whole won’t necessarily be better in 2017, the beautiful thing about the new year is that it’s a conscious reminder to re-focus our priorities and respond to the call of our shepherd into a life of abundance. In a sense, although we can’t change THE world, we can change OUR worlds.

 

Personally, some things that I’m going to focus on responding to this upcoming year are:

 

Spending more time talking with God. My prayer life is definitely not what I wish it was, and since this is such an important element to a Christ-centered life, it’s top on my resolution list for 2017. The biggest thing that has kept me from growing in this area is simply not having enough time in the morning (I don’t think staying up till 2 o’clock has exactly helped with that 😉 ).

Since I want to pray first thing in the morning, that’s going to mean getting to bed earlier, and waking up earlier (chances are a few cups of coffee will be involved as well).

 

Loving and serving people deeply and unconditionally. Especially my siblings! When my list of school assignments is longer than the page in my planner, a blog post is waiting to be written, and I have a tennis lesson in an hour, my response to my sister who just needs help making lunch, is not one I’m proud of. But being overwhelmed is not an excuse to be unkind.

This year, I want to change that. My actions in the next few years will make a huge impact on the lives of my brothers and sisters. And I want that impact to be a good one! So even if that means taking a moment to serve them even when it’s not particularly convenient for me, if I can help or bless them in some way then I want to make that a priority.

Besides, setting an example of love and service is going to make a bigger impact on other people’s lives than knowing the Spanish verb forms of “to be” 🙂

 

Daily trusting and submitting my life to Christ. It’s one thing to say I trust God and leave it at that. It’s another thing to be perfectly okay with laying aside things that I think need to be done because God is moving me in a different direction.

So this year I want to get in the habit of asking God, first thing in the morning, what His top priority is for me that day. And then being okay when not everything that I hoped to get done happened.

 

Be reminded in all the ways that 2017 fails to meet my expectations that this is not my permanent home. And in those moments look to Jesus with even more excitement for His return.

 

 

So lets reach out for 2017 with open arms and great anticipation. Not senselessly waiting for the world to change, but purposefully continuing to respond to the call of our Shepherd! 🙂

 

What about you? Going into 2017, what’s one area that you are going to respond to God’s leading in? 


I gently tapped the keys on my laptop.

The tiny black letters popped up in neat rows across my screen:

Hello everyone! For those of you who are interested, I am starting a blog called Growing Something Beautiful…. “

 

Little twelve-year-old me had labored over how I would phrase that short email. The email that would declare that I had started my very own blog.

I pressed the send button despite the fears growing in my mind. There was no going back, and I was already picturing the first assumptions that people would make as they opened that email.

 

What if they can’t see my heart and I just look judgmental and fake?

What if I make a mistake, and then it’s out there for the world to see?

What if no one even cares?!

 

I had been so excited to use my love of words to serve God, but that passion started withering away when the time came to actually share what I wrote.

 

I think all of us can relate to this desire to conceal elements of the stirring within us because we fear the potential words and opinions of the people around us.

And even though we will always have people in our lives who support our enthusiasm, sometimes all it takes is a few discouraging words, or one person’s lack of support to throw us into the rough sea of doubt and people-pleasing.

 

Not even David, a man after God’s own heart could avoid having people (even those close to him) try to squelch the passion he had for God!

In 2 Samuel 6:12-23 we are told that David gathered hundreds of people together in a procession that would bring the Ark of the Covenant to the City of David.

As the people were walking alongside the Ark, they were singing, dancing, and joyfully praising God.

Even King David was so deeply focused on the glory of God that he traded out his royal garments for a linen ephod, and danced before the Lord “with all  his might” (2 Samuel 6:14).

But as the joyful procession came into the city, David’s wife “saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart”, thinking that the clothing he wore made the king look undignified and foolish.

 

You see, putting on the linen ephod (something similar to what the priests wore), was a public act of humility. But although David’s wife thought that it was inappropriate for the king to humble himself, David recognized that God was the only One worthy of being exalted in this procession. So David laid aside the clothes that made himself look like a king, so that he could worship God to the best of his ability, and focus all the attention on the Lord.

When his wife confronted him about it, he didn’t let her disdain choke out his passion. Instead he understood that he had to please God alone; Even if that meant humbling himself and bearing the disapproval of other people.

 

David’s story is a reminder that:

 

one :  We should strive to glorify God in whatever we do. Whether that’s by praising Him in worship, the way we live, or even the thoughts we allow ourselves to dwell on. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

two :  The way we view ourselves should be in proportion to Who God is, and the honor He deserves. We should never decrease the glory that we give to God in an attempt to salvage fleeting honor from other people. (John 3:30)

three :   God’s opinion of us is the only opinion with lasting worth. And when we are faithful and focused on God despite our surrounding circumstances, we will find favor with Him. (Take a look at the story of Noah in Genesis 6. Specifically verses 5-9).

 

Look at the contrast between my story and David’s. I was distracted by what people would potentially think of me,  while David’s only priority was to use his passion to honor God to the fullest.

 

And no, my way of thinking didn’t do me much good… In fact, my first effort at blogging didn’t last.

I was distracted.

I was overwhelmed.

Eventually I quit, declaring that I would never blog again (although it’s funny how God works that way, huh? 😉 ).

At the time, I didn’t understand why I was struggling, but looking back I think it’s because I was too worried about other people’s opinions, and I wasn’t worried enough about glorifying and obeying God. It was my skewed focus that drowned out my original excitement to serve God.

 

Now, I don’t know where you’re at or what stirrings you might be fighting to keep alive. And I don’t know the specific discouragements tugging your attention away from your target.

Maybe you’re just starting to dive into this whole “faith” thing for yourself.

Maybe you don’t know how to respond to that gentle nudging God is giving you.

Maybe you followed God’s leading, but now you feel surrounded by pressure and doubt.

But in all of our unique situations, let’s aspire to be like David!

Let’s turn away from those voices of discouragement and fix our gaze fully on Jesus! Because like David, when our focus is steadfast on the One Who deserves our glory, and not distracted by how we will be regarded by others, we can victoriously resist giving in to the things that will suppress our stirring and hinder us from glorifying the Lord!


Isn’t this the most exciting time of year?!

Christmas trees and other decorations are being put up, classic movies are coming out of storage, and everywhere I go, there seems to be a sense of anticipation surrounding everyone.

Something about this season is destined to be wonderful.

 

For believers, this is an especially sweet time where we celebrate the birth of our Savior…

 

Or at least we’re supposed to.

 

Far too often, although we know the “reason for the season”, celebrating that little Baby born so many years ago is a priority that quickly gets pushed to the side for other things.

Sadly, finding something to wear to a Christmas party, buying gifts for friends and family, and creating “Pinterest-worthy” decorations, slowly distract us from dwelling on the most important aspect of this holiday.

 

As a result, we start developing the mindset that Jesus alone is no longer enough for us. In fact, we start to believe that we will only be happy when we have Jesus + something else (success, a certain gift, a huge circle of friends, and so on).

When this becomes our mindset, one of the most precious holidays easily becomes a source of disappointment when we expect to be satisfied by anything other than Jesus.

 

The perfect example of this is how I used to eagerly count down the days until I could open the gifts under the tree. I believed that they would bring perfect joy and satisfy me.

But once I had unwrapped them, I quickly realized that they couldn’t satisfy the way I had hoped (even though I did love them). And once again found myself searching for something else–thinking that maybe it would satisfy.

 

In addition, the part that truly breaks my heart is that the Baby Who I’m too busy to remember is the same Baby Who grew up to die on that cross for me.

Selfish, distracted, ungrateful and utterly unworthy me.

Simply because He loved me… In fact, it was simply because He loved all of us!

But He didn’t love us because of how successful we are, how put-together our lives are, or even how faithful we are to Him.

He didn’t love us + something else that would have made us “lovable” by anyone else’s standards. He just loved us, as we are.

 

And now, through Him, we have all that we need! Anything else that we have been given is just part of His lavish blessing.

So our mindset shouldn’t be “Jesus + ______ is enough for me.” Our mindset should be “Jesus is enough for me, even IF I never receive ______.”

 

Because Jesus is enough!

 

He is our Wonderful Counselor, and our Mighty and victorious God. (Isaiah 9:6)

He is the Ruler of the Nations, and our Prince of Peace. (Psalm 22:28, Isaiah 9:6)

And He is our Eternal Father, with a steadfast and everlasting love for us. (Isaiah 9:6, Jeremiah 31:3)

 

And that’s just the surface!

 

So today, I want to challenge you with this question:

You and only you are enough to be loved by the King of kings, but is the King of kings, and only the King of kings enough for you?