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Holding Fast to the Hope of the Gospel

I get all fired up when I hear “preachers” saying God wants me to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. “You deserve more, better,” they say. “Just set your mind to something and go for it. God is for you. He will give you what you desire if you love and obey Him enough. Have faith, and life will go well for you.”

Problem is, these are half-truths—shadows of Scripture. Sound bites that are close enough to sound right and are highly motivational, but in actuality, hold devastating implications. When life doesn’t go our way we wonder what we did wrong or what we didn’t do enough of to get God to act on our behalf. And when life is peachy-keen, our need for God dissipates. We turn Christianity into a formula to be figured out and followed.

Fact is, we are not promised smooth sailing. We are not guaranteed to bypass the difficult storms of life just because we are Christians. And the presence of a squall does not mean God is upset with us. I’ve found the opposite to be true in my life. The trials I’ve faced have proved God to be lovingly present, tenderly purposeful, and powerfully able to use all things for my good. I’ve learned that being a Christian doesn’t give me some force-field bubble that protects me from harm. But having the hope of Christ within me—knowing and holding onto all He has done for me and all that He will do—brings a deep-down peace that no positive-thinking prosperity message can provide.

I’ll say it again: walking with God is not a formula to be found out and followed. Abundant life with Jesus is a journey of continually drawing near to His presence while holding fast to the gospel—our anchor of truth. All who are in Christ possess the treasure of hope. It’s a noun, not a verb. But don’t always experience the hope-filled abundant life because we either don’t truly know the gospel or we forget.

We often want to measure growth with external charts and checkboxes, but I believe true spiritual growth cannot be evaluated simply by our deeds. Actions can be modified. Attitudes can be mimicked. But holding fast to hope cannot be faked.

If our view of God is big, the reality of our hope will be big, too.

God, I confess the places where I have not trusted in Your promises. Help me to see that You are steadfast and sure. Open my eyes to see You more and more each day.


This is an excerpt from my Everyday Hope study, an easy to use, four-week Bible study. Designed for women who are pressed for time, yet crave depth from their Bible study, Everyday Hope offers a relevant and lasting approach for reading and understanding Scripture. In as few as 15 minutes a day, discover how to hold fast to His promises amidst feelings of hopelessness.

I’m leading an online group through the study and we start SOON. It’s not too late to join us. NookKindle, and ePub versions are also available for immediate download. You can find all the details here.

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One sweet tool to get your kids in the Word

I have yet another excerpt from a fun resource for you today! My almost ten-year-old, Anna was SO excited when we got our copy of the Big & Little Coloring Devotional from Rachel Swanson. Michael, my 7-year-old, has enjoyed it as well. I’ve used it one-on-one, as well as letting both of them color while I read aloud. The devotionals give us a conversation starter to use while we color. It’s a sweet way to enjoy some quality time together. (Don’t miss the giveaway below!)

So, what makes this book different from other coloring books on the market? Rachel shares her heart behind what makes the Big & Little Coloring Devotional so special.

  1. This book is not just a “mommy and me” book, but geared for daddy’s, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or any “big” person who knows what it’s like to care for a child. Therefore, the devotionals and illustrations are carefully crafted so that boy’s and daddy’s love it too! (It’s not all flowers and butterflies.)
  2. The pages lay opposite enabling face-to-face coloring! No more elbows in the way or left-handed woes. This layout encourages eye-contact, conversation, and connection.
  3. The devotionals are SHORT! Just enough to open your mind to the context of the verse.
  4. The binding and pages are high-quality and for the price, you simply can’t beat it.
  5. The child illustrations are simple while the adult illustrations are slightly more intricate, making coloring just right for both parties involved.

Here is a devotional excerpt from Big & Little Coloring Devotional. Enjoy!


I slumped down in tears, overwhelmed.

It was just too much. All of it. The dirty house. The crazy kids. The never-ending demands, responsibilities, and non-existent thanks. I secretly wanted to run away from it all.

My phone chirped. A text from a friend checking in on my day. I laughed sarcastically, at the timing.

I lightly shared how it could be better. After a few more pleasantries exchanged, I couldn’t help but be real and let it all pour out. Instead of guilt I received elegant grace through words—the encouragement I was longing for and needing to hear.

How beautiful it is when words are spoken at just the right time. So don’t hold back, you never know when you’re random text is being received at the perfect time.

“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” (Prov. 25:11 NASB)


How can you see yourself using this tool? Leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy! Next week I’ll choose a random winner from the comments!

Don’t want to wait for the giveaway to end? Order your copy of Big & Little Coloring Devotional here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

Affiliate links present – at no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!

 

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Five Ways to be Saturated in the Word

Over decades of ministry I’ve noticed quite a few trends that have been true in every station the Lord has led us. From the 19-year-old college student to the seasoned 91-year-old, the area of prayer is one where many people want to pray but don’t know how. Most either remain silent or default to a string of words they’ve heard someone else utter—and I totally GET THIS! I used to be terrified when it came to prayer. I didn’t want to pray out loud, and my private prayers were short and aimless.

There is a great void for most Christians when it comes to praying specific, Biblical, and powerful prayers. I’m so grateful for my friend (and fellow Auburn fan!) Teri Lynne and this GIFT she has given us in the area of prayer. Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most is her earnest and engaging invitation for moms to join her — not as perfect pray-ers but as humble daughters of the perfect Father, interceding on behalf of the girls they love.

WITH TERI LYNNE AS A GUIDE, PRAYING FOR GIRLS EQUIPS MOMS

  • to identify and understand five key areas of their daughters’ lives
  • to apply biblical truth to challenges and obstacles their daughters will encounter
  • to pray with boldness and confidence using Scripture as the solid foundation for their prayers
  • to engage their daughters in understanding and applying biblical truth to their own lives

Containing 200 Bible-based prayers as well as suggested activities and conversation starters, Praying for Girls is a must-have tool in every mom’s arsenal. Though this book is for “girl-moms” there is much that can be applied to our own hearts. I’m excited to share an excerpt from this new, incredible resource.


Every morning I move, bleary-eyed and stumbling, from my bedroom to the kitchen where Scott already has the coffee brewed. In our home there are no less than six ways to make coffee. Hands down, the best coffee is from a percolator. Remember those? You put the water in and it bubbles up through the coffee grounds.  Since it takes longer to percolate coffee than it does to brew it in the coffee pot, we don’t use ours all the time. But when we do, it’s definitely worth the extra time.

As a little girl, I faithfully memorized Bible verses for Sunday school and Vacation Bible School. Honestly, I know very few of those verses today. The process was sort of like using my Keurig—quick and effective. I love my Keurig. I am thankful to be able to make a cup of coffee in just a couple of minutes because some days that is all I have.

But renewed minds are like percolated coffee. It’s a slower process than simply memorizing Scripture. The Word, like the water in the percolator, moves through our minds, touching each thought, desire, and dream.

When we allow the Word to percolate inside our mind, it saturates every part of us.

Over the years, I’ve found there are few simple ways I can keep myself on track in this area.

1. Read. It sounds incredibly basic; but, I’ve learned that there are a whole lot of women who don’t regularly read the Bible. Not because they don’t want to or don’t think it’s valuable, but because of time. But because we get busy or distracted and never sit down to do it.  Here is where technology is our friend—we can listen to Scripture on our phones while we do dishes, nurse a baby, or drive to work.

2. Rewind. If I am reading a passage and it doesn’t make sense, I go back a little farther. Reading the verses or even chapters around what I’m studying help give context I need to make sense of what I’m studying.

3. Reflect. I give myself space to reflect on what I’m learning. I don’t go from one Bible study to the next with no time in between. In fact, the deeper I’ve studied, the more time I give myself to reflect on what I’ve learned before I jump into the next study. It is important to give ourselves time to reflect. I often use Saturday mornings for this practice.

4. Repeat. One of my favorite ways to dig deep into a passage or book is simply to read it over and over. Repetition is a great way to let the Word sink deep into our hearts and minds.

5. Restart. Let’s be honest here, sometimes this is where we are. We’ve gotten off track for whatever reason and we don’t need guilt. We just need to pick up our Bibles and restart.

When we are faithful to invest time in learning the Word and to allow our minds to be renewed and shaped by what we read, our children will learn from our example.

Whether my coffee is percolated, brewed, or fixed in my Keurig, it is always good. So, on the days when you have lots of time to let the Word simmer and soak in deep, cherish it. And when you are in a grab and go season, trust the sufficiency of the Word to meet you where you are and accomplish what God intends. And for the days in between (which are really most of our days), savor the Word and allow your mind to be renewed by the truth God offers. And invite your children to grow in those same habits.

Prayers

Lord, in a culture that esteems conformity, may _________________ choose to be transformed into Your image. May she seek the renewal of mind You offer that she will be able to understand and live in Your will for her. (Romans 12:2)

Lord, I pray You will put Your Word deep inside _________________. Write it on her heart, embed it in her mind. I pray she will know the beauty of being Yours, of knowing You are her God. (Hebrews 8:10)

This excerpt is from Teri Lynne Underwood, Praying for Girls, Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2017, and used by permission.

 

Want to win a copy of Prayers for Girls?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Teri Lynne Underwood is a pastor’s wife, ministry speaker, and Bible teacher. As the mother of a teenage daughter and the founder of Prayers for Girls, a popular online community for mothers of daughters, Teri Lynne is a cheerleader for girl moms and the author of Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most. You can connect with Teri Lynne on her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.

Order your copy of Prayers for Girls here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

Affiliate links present – at no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!

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What happens when we read the Bible and actually believe what it says?

I’ve known of Bestselling Author Tricia Goyer for years and in this last year I’ve enjoyed getting to know Tricia personally through a mutual friend’s introduction. Tricia wears a lot of hats, as a wife, homeschool mom of ten, grandma of four, writer (of OVER 60 books), teen mom support group leader, and founder of Hope Pregnancy Center in Kalispell, Montana. She lives a full and fruitful life, but what strikes me most about Tricia is her wisdom that stems from a deep and intimate relationship with God.

Tricia Goyer lives a life that will challenge readers to step up and walk out faith in our homes, communities, and the world, and ultimately experience all the joy promised when we are in His will and doing His work.

—Francine Rivers, New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including Redeeming Love

I’m excited to share with you an excerpt from her latest book, releasing October 1, 2017. In Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time, Tricia demonstrates the powerful work God accomplishes if we are willing to step out in obedience to Biblical commands and His quiet urgings, no matter our fears or feelings of inadequacy. Through Walk It Out, Tricia shares her journey, from accepting Christ’s forgiveness and telling her story of redemption to answering the call to adopt seven children when she least expected, is filled with the exhilarating, radical, unexpected life that we experience when we walk into God’s plans for us.


I was twenty-two years old when I attended my first writers’ conference. I walked into the auditorium with my notebook and pens, hopes and expectations. No one suspected that I also carried a heavy load of heart-baggage. Not only had I had an abortion and endured a teen pregnancy, but my biological father had abandoned me, as had my baby’s father. My heart was battered, torn, and weighed down. But on the outside I looked happy and excited. I didn’t know how to deal with the pain, and so I buried it and did my best to ignore it. Before I could inspire, guide, or entertain anyone with my words, however, God had work to do in my heart.

It’s not surprising that just as I ran from the pain and conflict in my life, I avoided it in my writing. I wanted to write sweet, Christian romances. The only problem was my plots lacked conflict. Without hardship and longing, my characters had little motivation and few internal struggles. (All of which are essential to good, heart-gripping novels.) How could I write deep and impactful things when I refused to unearth and face my own deep pain?

When I first became a Christian, I didn’t understand my need for heart healing. Wasn’t it enough that I’d given my life to Jesus? Yes, that was all that mattered in terms of my eternal salvation. But I couldn’t give readers what I didn’t have: faith that God wants to meet us in our deepest pain and do extraordinary things through our healed, albeit ordinary, hearts.

Despite my loving family, I didn’t feel love—neither theirs for me nor mine for them—and acted more out of duty than devotion. When I played peek-a-boo with my baby daughter, I smiled and laughed, but the joy didn’t touch my heart. When my son fell and hurt himself, I ran to him and assisted him, but there was little compassion or concern. When I snuggled by my husband’s side to watch a movie, I knew I should be happy and content, but I felt a numbness I couldn’t shake.

Before I could open myself up to all the good things in my life, I had to open myself up to feeling all the pain, heartache, shame, and loss that came from my abortion and from being abandoned by men who were supposed to love me. It was easier to keep my emotions at arm’s length than to feel the ache of loss.

I minimized the trauma I experienced from my dad by telling myself, At least I wasn’t one of those kids who had to split her time between her mom and dad’s house. And, Maybe my biological dad wasn’t that great of a person, so God removed him from the picture to protect me. As for my old boyfriend, I told myself it was good that he abandoned my son and me because God brought John into our lives to be a husband and father.

But my rationalizations didn’t relieve the pain. And the pain confirmed my childhood belief: I wasn’t worth sticking around for. I felt unlovable and was too afraid of further rejection to share my weightiest sin and deepest regret with our Christian community. Only my parents, ex-boyfriend, and John knew about my abortion. I didn’t even tell my closest friends. When the topic of abortion came up in church or Bible study, I sank deep into my seat, especially when people spoke doggedly against it. My stomach knotted up, and I was certain everyone within twenty feet of me heard the frantic pounding of my heart.

If they knew the truth and understood what I’ve done, they’d hate me. He wouldn’t want to share a pew with me. She would turn and walk away in disgust.

Hiding from the truth protected me from the condemnation of others and from the ugliness of what I’d done, but it also blocked me from the beauty of life. My shame began to heal the day I picked up the phone and signed up to attend a Bible study for women who’d had an abortion. My hands trembled as I drove to the church, yet walking into that room and seeing other women who’d made the same choice I had was a step of freedom. When I saw love and compassion in their eyes, a weight lifted off my shoulders. They saw me, knew what I’d done, and didn’t despise me. After all, they’d faced the same pain.

That first night the leader asked us to share our stories. Telling these women the truth of my wrong choices opened my heart to healing. But deeper healing came when I began to believe God and the truth of His Word—the truth about forgiveness and how God sees me, my hurt, and my sin.

Does Tricia’s story resonate with your heart in any way? What helps you BELIEVE the truth of God’s Word? Share with us in the comments!


Women often pack their lives with family, friends, and faithful service, yet still end up feeling empty and unfulfilled. In Walk It Out, Tricia Goyer demonstrates to women that walking out the mandates of Scripture allows God to spark passion and mission within them.

Whether believers realize it or not, God intended for them to do what the Bible says: adopt the orphan, take the gospel into all the world, and care for the needy. These are mandates that point believers down the path of true living and eternal life.

Sometimes those steps are easy, but many times they require a move outside of what feels safe or secure. When women stop focusing on their own dreams and purposes, and instead focus on God’s dreams and purposes, everything changes.

Pre-order your copy of Walk It Out here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

Affiliate links present – at no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!
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How do I forgive when I don’t feel like it?

I’m excited to share about the next online study for the Bible Study Hub—a thriving online community of women encouraging one another to get in the Word! This study is written by my good friend and ministry partner, Lara Williams. I would probably not be writing Bible studies today if it were not for Lara. Back in 2011, I asked her if she would co-author a book I had on my heart but felt unable to write myself (I had a LOT of learning to do about the craft of writing). She said yes and 8 months later, we published Savoring Living Water (affiliate link). About a month after that, we finally met in person. Crazy how the internet connects.

Lara is an incredibly gifted writer, but she also walks with intimately with Jesus and this is evident in all her projects. All that to say, I’m super-excited to dive into Life Giver next week and I would LOVE for you to join me. In this 4-week Bible study, Lara teaches us how we can be life givers in our relationships. Below is an excerpt from this study.


We can probably all agree that forgiveness is best. Forgiveness, even of those who wrong us deeply, proves to be freedom for us. But there’s one little thing that often gets in the way: our feelings.

I’m a girl. And let me tell you. As a girl, I’ve got lots and lots of feelings. And I’ve got feelings about those feelings and feelings about those feelings. Ad infinitum. So, when someone wrongs me, lots of feelings come to the surface and beg my attention. They typically insist that I act vengeful with fingers pointing and a few “how dare you(s)” thrown in for added drama.

But the thing about feelings is that even though they are very real, and often justified, they don’t always lead us to the right action. Remember what Jeremiah said about our hearts? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). In fact, I don’t think my feelings have ever told me to forgive my enemies. Ever.

Yet Jesus commands forgiveness, for our good and His glory. And He means for it to be an act of our will, not necessarily an act of our emotions.

Forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. — Colossians 3:13

We have a choice. Regardless of our feelings, in Christ we have the choice to forgive even when we’re desperately hurting. And that choice will bring soul-blessing.

God gives us boundaries and commands to protect us. He loves us – perfectly and fully. He knows us – perfectly and fully. And because He designed us, He knows what will lead us to our most blessed existence. When it comes to relationships, we will give life to others when we choose to forgive, regardless.

How Do I Forgive?

The question becomes, “How do I forgive, especially when I’m hurting?” The answer? We turn to the One who forgives out of His amazing grace. We pray. We press hard into our Lord — the Forgiver of all sin. We seek refuge in Him and trust His covering. We meditate on what He says about forgiveness. We live authentic lives, allowing others to walk with us down the tearful road of releasing the debt we want another to pay. And then we believe God to do the heart-healing work that only He can do.

Feelings take time to line up with the willful forgiveness. But feelings eventually come. They will come. But until they do we command our soul towards obedience.

Forgiveness sets us free to love. It sets us free to give of ourselves without the need for others to do anything in return, because we’ve found fulness in our Lord. We see that everyone is the same — needy for a Healer and Redeemer. And when we see people through the lens of grace, unforgiveness has no place.

Moving Forward

Spend some time in honest conversation with the Lord. Confess any harbored unforgiveness. Tell God your honest feelings – He already knows. Then speak truth over those feelings. Declare the verses we meditated upon this week regarding forgiveness. You may want to seek out a trusted friend to pray for you and with you as you walk the road of forgiving another. But however you get there, release others from a debt that’s already been paid. Grace is the only road to becoming a life giver.


Join the 4-week Life Giver online study group!

  • WHEN: 9/10/2017 – 10/6/2017
  • WHERE: Bible Study Hub
  • HOW TO JOIN: Purchase your study for as little as $4.99, join the Facebook group, and dive into the conversation beginning next week!
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want the physical workbook, order your copy ASAP so you can get it before the study starts on Monday!

Who’s in? Who’s excited?!

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Igniting Your Faith When You Feel Like Quitting

Today’s post is an excerpt from my good friend Stacey Thacker’s new book, Is Jesus Worth It: Igniting Your Faith When You Feel Like Quitting. Stacey’s had a hard couple of years. From the loss of her father, to a child with a chronic illness, and—most recently—walking through the hospitalization and recovery of her husband’s sudden, unexplained cardiac arrest. 

So, yeah, I think she might have a thing or two to say about experiencing the goodness of God — in spite of our circumstances.

Stacey is a born encourager. For years, I’ve watched God use her Scripture-filled words of wisdom to bring clarity and courage to women, propelling us toward the everyday purposes and dreams God has for us. I typically get to see Stacey once a year. We catch lunch at Panera when I’m in town and I always leave encouraged to keep following Jesus and equipped to follow that call. Reading her books are almost as good as sitting across the table from her at Panera. Please read this post and consider diving into this new book!  I know you will leave encouraged and equipped, too.

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of the post!


My pastor usually starts reminding us in November that January is coming and he wants us to be ready. You see, every year he asks us to pray and seek God’s heart on a word to frame our upcoming year.

Sometimes I pray and wait for weeks before the Lord brings a word to me. Not this year. I knew straightaway what the Lord was speaking to my heart. But in toddler-like fashion I was busy putting my fingers in my ears, saying, “I can’t hear you, God” and singing, “Blah, blah, blah.” Mature, right? I can be. May I tell you what truly sealed the deal for me? It was Elisabeth Elliot. She was featured on a podcast marking the sixtieth anniversary of her first husband’s martyrdom. Jim Elliot and four other missionaries gave their lives while serving the Auca Indians of Ecuador in 1956. Their faith (and quite frankly, hers) has inspired countless believers all over the world to serve the Lord whole-heartedly. They said, “Jesus is worth it,” and it cost them everything.

Elisabeth Elliot passed away in 2015, so the podcast was a recording of a talk originally given at a conference held by Campus Crusade for Christ to a stadium full of college students in 1983. Yes, that’s right. God used a talk from KC83 (as it was known) to bring the final word on my word for this year. Her topic was on “endurance,” and this quote was what gripped my heart from the beginning. She said, “If it’s God’s will that you want more than anything else in the world, it’s going to mean endurance.”

I knew it. In that moment I knew God was calling my year to be about endurance. I had a feeling it wasn’t a great sign of what was to come. I truly wanted to choose another word. I pleaded with God. He didn’t budge one inch.

By the third week of February I was a mess. It started with me dropping a dozen eggs on the cold tile floor of my kitchen. The rest of the week pretty much followed suit. And I must admit I felt just as broken as those eggs. I had planned on this being a tough week. My daughter was scheduled for a brutal test on Thursday that required an entire day of preparation. She fasted. So did I. By evening we were both tired, hungry, and cranky. She was facing another phase of prep that required her to drink something she was dead set against, and it wasn’t going well. My husband came home and sent the other girls and me to Chick-Fil-A, telling me to eat something. My fasting wasn’t doing any of us any good.

I wrestled too. Here we were being reminded once again through this new series of tests that we might never be able to fix it. How do you look your girl in the eyes and tell her all the treatment, all the pills, all the food she has had to pass on, and all the tests have not proven helpful? She was only nine years old at the time. It breaks you. It broke me. And honestly, I just sat down and wept.

There I sat, trying to make peace with it all. I did my best not to lose heart. And I knew what I was supposed to do. I knew he was present with us. I knew he would hold us no matter what I was feeling. I knew this, because the last time I was here his faithfulness was not void. And the time before that time it was also true. But all those things being true didn’t make it any easier. Do you sense a theme with endurance? Easy is not part of its vocabulary.

Over the next couple of months our family went through some of the most intense times of our lives. The longer it wore on, the more endurance I felt I needed. Like a runner in a marathon, I was longing to see the finish line that didn’t seem to be anywhere in sight. What God offered me instead, in his perfect timing, was a bit of refreshment. Only it wasn’t a cup of Gatorade or a well-timed PowerBar. It was hope from his Word found on the pages of Hebrews chapter 12.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.(Hebrews 12:1-3)

See, the Hebrew readers were weary in every way. They were losing heart fast. Some translations of this verse say they were “fainthearted,” which means “cowardly, depressed, and yielding to fear.” Does it sound a little bit like you? I guarantee you, when I read that description my heart tugged a bit. Being fainthearted is not a small thing. It can sideline the best of runners. The writer of Hebrews knew it was time to call them upward and onward. It wasn’t time to quit; it was time to run. But running wasn’t necessarily going to be easy or comfortable.

I think what the writer of Hebrews was saying, and what Elisabeth Elliot was getting at as well, is that if you are going to follow Jesus you need to decide ahead of time to keep going when it gets rough. Quitting is not on the table. Enduring faith is marked by a wholehearted endeavor to run hard after Jesus. No matter what.

When have you experienced the presence of God holding you as you endure? What situation are you currently experiencing that you must chose to keep running? Share with us in the comments and enter to win a copy of Is Jesus Worth It? Igniting Your Faith When You Feel Like Quitting. Winner has been chosen and notified!


Purchase your copy of Is Jesus Worth it? here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

Stacey Thacker is a wife and the mother of four girls. She is a Bible teacher with a passion to connect with women and encourage them in their walks with God. Her books include Hope for the Weary MomFresh Out of Amazing, and Is Jesus Worth It?). You can find her blogging at staceythacker.com and hanging out on Instagram and Twitter @staceythacker usually with a cup of coffee in her hand.

Affiliate links present – at no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!
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For When You Just Can’t Get it Right

Today’s post is an excerpt from my friend Jeannie Cunnion’s new book, Mom Set FreeIn this much-needed book, Jeannie reveals how the Good News of the Gospel empowers us to live—and parent—in the freedom for which Christ has set us free! Even if you are not in the throws of motherhood, this important reminder of truth for when we struggle is the same for us all. Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of the post!


I think it’s safe to say that the apostle Paul penned the cry of many mothers’ hearts when he wrote Romans, chapter 7. In fact, if Paul hadn’t written this chapter almost two thousand years ago, I’d think he snuck into my house and stole an excerpt from my journal.

Now, before we read this passage, let’s remember who Paul is. This is the apostle Paul—formerly Saul, a Jewish Pharisee who hated Christians and “persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13 ESV). But through his transforming experience with God on the Damascus road, he is now a devout follower of Christ, completely sold out for Jesus, “preaching the faith he once tried to destroy” (Galatians 1:23–24 ESV).

With this in mind, let’s read what the apostle Paul writes in Romans 7:

I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? (Romans 7:18–24 MSG)

Maybe you’ve also felt some—or all—of what Paul is confessing here.

  • I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.
  • It happens so regularly that it’s predictable.
  • The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.
  • I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.

Maybe you have written something like this in your own journal, or if you’re really brave, you may have said something like it to a friend over coffee. 

It’s important to recognize that Paul is not saying that we should just surrender to living in constant defeat of our sin. What he is doing is expressing his angst over his persistently sinful nature and his inability to live in complete victory over it. His words demonstrate how even Christians who love God and love His law and desire to be free from the sting of sin still can’t attain perfection in this life.

Well, we’d all be in big trouble if this were the end of Paul’s writing. But instead we find good news, the best news, in Paul’s response to his own question: Is there no one who can do anything for me?” His answer is sweet music:  The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. (Romans 7:25 MSG)

Did you catch that, my fellow mom? “The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.” Jesus is the answer.

But there’s even more good news! As Paul writes in Corinthians:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

In other words, by Christ’s work alone, we are justified, redeemed, and we become new creations in Christ. (And still, that’s not the entirety of the blessings we receive in Christ!)

See, in Romans 7, Paul is painfully aware of who he is—in the flesh—in his persistently sinful nature. Yet, at the very same time, his assurance and his hope is in his identity in Christ, which is 100 percent righteous before God.

Likewise, we remain sinful in the Christian life as lived, but our identity in Christ is total righteousness. Our truest identity is “a new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is why Paul says, “It is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me” (Romans 7:17 NIV). See how he separates his identity as a new creation in Christ from the sin that resides within him?

It’s what Martin Luther famously called, “Simul iustus et peccator”—we are simultaneously justified and a sinner. It’s not either/or but both/and.

I’m not sure how I missed this intoxicating truth for most of my life. All I know is that I did. And the pressure to live in continual victory over sin – and be a perfect example for my kids to follow – was crushing me.  Maybe you can relate?

See, we moms are really good at carrying guilt and shame over our faults and failures. We fear that we’re letting down our kids and disappointing God in and through our mothering struggles and shortcomings. We worry that we’re not enough. 

Lean in, friend, if you resonate with these feelings. Because Jesus freed us from trying to prove that we are enough. He lived a sinless life, died a sinless death, conquered the grave, and has freely given us His perfect record (Romans 3:23–25 NIV). When we are in Christ, there is nothing to prove. Let that sink into your weary and worn-out soul.

In fact, if we could convince ourselves we are “good enough” we wouldn’t recognize our soul-deep need for a rescuer. If we thought we are loved and accepted by God apart from the work of Jesus, we wouldn’t see our need for Jesus. And we would never truly walk in the freedom of the Cross and grow in grace.

It’s only when we acknowledge who we really are apart from Christ—sinful, broken, prone to wander—that we will live in gratitude for who we are in Christ – beloved, chosen, and beautiful before our holy God.

In Christ, we are new creations, called not to perfection, but to the pursuit of Christ. Called to become who we already are in Him, by His grace that is at work within us, and by the power of His Spirit.   In doing so, we are propelled to walk in the freedom for which Christ has set us free. And ….. we empowered to lead our children in doing the same!

Which area of life do you need to apply these truths to the most? Your career? Motherhood? Your marriage? Your walk with God? All of it? Share with us in the comments and enter to win a copy of Mom Set Free!


We moms are told that we have to get it all right so our kids turn out right. We’re told that their entire futures are riding on our ability to perfectly orchestrate their lives. And we’re told that the strength of their faith hinges on ours. So we begin to believe that if we just try hard enough, we can actually “be enough.

These impossible standards make us fear that we are not only letting down our kids but also disappointing God, and they leave us stuck in worry, anger, guilt, comparison, and shame.

In Mom Set Free, Jeannie invites us to journey alongside her as we learn to:

  • Lay down what God has not asked us to carry so we can thrive in what He has.
  • Embrace our significance in our children’s lives in light of God’s sovereignty.
  • Trust God with the children He has entrusted to us.
  • Receive God’s grace so we can reflect God’s heart to our kids.

Purchase your copy here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

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How to Take Your Thoughts Captive

Today’s post is an excerpt from my friend Chrystal Evans Hurst’s new book, She’s Still There. I love her down-to-earth approach explanation of how to take your thoughts captive. Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of the post!


When my kids were small, they always asked me to turn on a night-light before I left their rooms and close all the doors so the monsters wouldn’t come in. When I turned the light on, they weren’t as afraid. They could see there weren’t any monsters. The light enabled them to know their fears were unfounded and helped them to experience the freedom of thinking, feeling, and acting based on what was really true.

Now, you might be asking, “What do you mean by ‘turn on the light,’ and how do you do it?” First of all, coaching your thought life is something you can learn and get better at over time. Don’t sweat it if you aren’t good at it now. You can learn. You can grow.

The goal is to take thoughts that are negative, untrue, and destructive and replace them with thoughts that are affirming, true, and constructive. You do this by renewing your mind—transforming the way you think through ongoing acceptance of right thoughts based on what God says is true. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (NASB).

Let me show you how this works.

Let’s say I found myself thinking this way: “I will never be able to accomplish my dreams.”

That statement isn’t true. You can shine the light of God’s truth on that lie: “It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13 NIV).

The truth is, as we follow God’s direction in our lives, He is the one who will do the work in us so we can fulfill His purposes for us and the desires He has placed in us. That takes the pressure off our having to figure it all out, now, doesn’t it?

Here’s another one: “I am not enough. I’m not equipped. I don’t belong.”

The truth is if God put you where you are and if pleasing Him is your aim, then you are enough, you are equipped, and you can have victory over what you face. Second Corinthians 2:14 says, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ” (NASB).

Let’s do one more together: “Since there is something wrong with my body because of illness or physical challenge, I don’t have the same value as others who have their health.”

The truth is you are more than your physical body. You have a unique soul, remember? God offers you the gift of the Spirit, which allows you to get better on the inside regardless of what is happening on the outside. Here’s the truth according to 2 Corinthians 4:16: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (ESV).

If you don’t know the truths of Scripture, it’s your job to search them out. If you want to know what God thinks, you can discover His truth in the letter of love He’s provided for you to read. He has promised that when you look for Him, you will find Him: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).

Search out the truth. Write down the verses or passages that speak to your heart, and you will change your incorrect patterns of thinking over time. Inundate yourself with the truth, and that truth will become a light that shines brighter than the dark thoughts that threaten to keep you from making progress. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Don’t be so busy staring into the darkness that you lose sight of the light. Even when the monster in your mind seems real and true, you must examine your thoughts in the light of God’s thoughts toward you, and then believe what He says. Even if you aren’t convinced, you still have to get up, cross the room, and turn on the light!

Your job now—and for the rest of your life—is to turn on the light in your mind, to embrace the truth, and to reject lies. Just because you think it, that doesn’t make it true. The truth is your weapon to war with the darkness that threatens to cloud your mind.

When you choose to think right thoughts, you battle against destructive patterns of thinking that threaten to keep the girl in you from emerging valiant and victorious.

In this life, there will be moments when you feel as if you have lost the ability to breathe. There will be times when you don’t know what to do. You may find yourself frozen and feel unable to move forward.

In those moments, you must choose to encourage yourself. Be your own coach. Learn to recognize the monster in your mind. Take note of destructive thoughts, then take them captive by shining on them the light of God’s truth.

What is one favorite truth from Scripture that gives you hope, stirs up joy, or motivates you to action? Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a copy of She’s Still There!


In She’s Still There, Chrystal authentically shares, from one girlfriend to another, the importance of the personal process and the beauty of that path. It’s a book of “me toos,” reminders of the hoped for, and challenges for the path ahead—to find direction, purpose, and true satisfaction.

Purchase your copy here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

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Three tips for establishing a regular quiet time routine

One of the excuses I often hear (and have given myself!) for not having a consistent quiet time is, “I’m too busy for Bible study.” Truly, you and I know this is not quite true. We all have discretionary time—we just don’t always use that time as well as we could.

Life is a journey, and so is the road to consistent time in the Word. One of the biggest hurdles to staying in the Word is NOT busyness, but it IS lack of a habit. If we can develop a routine that includes Bible study—even if it is just minutes a day—we will reap the benefits of a deeper walk with Christ. Having a rhythm in our days that naturally leads us into the Word is one of the most fruitful pursuits we can spend time on. I’ve found one such fruit of establishing a Bible study habit is a greater HUNGER for more time in the Word and a deeper DESIRE for meaningful Bible study.

Here are three tips that have helped me in establishing (and keeping) a regular time for Bible reading, study, and memorization.

Three tips for establishing a regular Bible study routine

  • Find a trigger. When I have coffee, then I read my Bible. That’s my trigger. Instead of trying to make 6 AM or 11PM my hard and fast quiet time, I’ve had much more success in folding Bible study into the rhythm of my day. So whether I wake up at 7 AM or slept in until noon, my Bible study is part of my morning routine.
  • Find a space. Once you carve out time to sit and study, it’s helpful to have everything ready and waiting in an inviting place for you to start. This will help keep you from wasting time looking for a pen or your Bible. Whether it be an armchair in your bedroom or the living room sofa, have a basket or drawer filled with all you might need to spend time with God. If you have multiple copies, consider designating one Bible for this space and another for Sunday morning sermon notes. I have a Sunday bag that has everything I need for the service, including my journal Bible which I only use for that time. This frees me up to have other resources handy on the shelf near my “quiet time” space in my home office.
  • Find a group. This is especially helpful if you are trying to build momentum and need accountability and encouragement. The first few weeks of a new habit are always the most difficult, and groups—whether they’ve been online or in “real life”—have been just the catalyst I’ve needed to keep going after the excitement wears off on day two of my endeavor.

What has been helpful for you when establishing a new routine?


There is a new resource out—Refresh Your Routines from Homemaking Ministries—that will help you develop the daily habit of time with God (and other important elements of your routine). This quick and easy FREE e-course includes 4 video sessions, a flexible (non-dated!) printable Bible reading plan/checklist, daily disciplines checklist, a 31-day habit tracker, and more!!⠀

Consider downloading these FREE printables, find a trigger, a space, and then gather a few friends to try it out together. (I’m planning to host a group through The Psalms in August, so you can join me then, also!)

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What should my quiet time look like?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Episode #7 (Season 2)

Whether you realize it or not, we all have expectations and pictures of what the “perfect” quiet time looks like. Though we certainly need to be careful not to give in to the paralysis of perfectionism, it is typically helpful to have some guidelines in place to evaluate how effective our time with God is. Listen in to this 15 minute episode to receive some helpful guard rails to keep your quiet times on track.

IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT:

  • How we define a “quiet time”
  • The importance of both hearing from the Lord and speaking to Him within your quiet time
  • Specific elements given to help incorporate both this hearing and speaking into your time with God
  • Three ways to approach the intake of God’s Word
  • Three ways to communicate with God during your quiet time
  • Quiet time ruts we may get into that keep up from experiencing God more fully

RESOURCES MENTIONED:


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