What does it mean to follow Christ in my everyday life?

One of the biggest area of a married relationship is that of the sexual connection—or lack thereof. Wives, I want to address you specifically today. Husbands, listen in. This post, though directed at the woman’s heart, might be a source of insight for you to understand the struggles your wife faces when it comes to physical intimacy.

I’ve led small groups for, discipled, and taught many women over decades of ministry. Inevitably, the topic of sex comes up. For some, it is an area filled with great dread coupled with a negative attitude all around. Others hold a more positive air toward the issue yet are suffocated by the tension between what her heart tells her is right and what her tired mind and exhausted body desires. Rare is the woman who naturally enjoys sex with her husband and regularly initiates intimacy with him.

Within the married Christian culture, there seems to be an overarching view of sex as a chore to be completed in order to keep husbands from committing adultery. Deep down, women know that it is important for husband and wife to connect physically, but the acknowledgment of this reality and the regular enjoyment of that sexual connection are two very different things. There is a disconnect with what she recognizes to be right and what the rest of her being desires.

This is a complex topic, especially considering that most bring baggage into marriage which the evil one often uses to sabotage a couples’ journey toward healthy physical intimacy before it even starts. If there is abuse in your past, I encourage you to seek out professional help to sort through that trauma as it might be affecting your ability to enjoy this area of your life as God intends. If you are currently experiencing an abusive relationship, please get help right away.

For those not in an abusive relationship, here are several significant gifts you can give to your husband this Valentine’s Day as you take steps toward pursuing a healthier sex life.

  • GIVE HIM YOUR RESPECT
  • GIVE HIM YOUR COMMITMENT AND FORETHOUGHT
  • GIVE HIM YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION
  • GIVE HIM YOUR HONEST (YET GENTLE) THOUGHTS
  • GIVE HIM YOUR PRAYERS

I chat about each of these over in the fullLifeWay Voices post here.

Lest I think I’ve ever “arrived,” it takes only a moment of stress to show me how far removed I am from biblical love. My everyday moments more often resemble lovelessness rather than the definition of biblical love. Over and over again I insist on my own way as I bark out commands in haste to my kids or speak short words to my husband and leave no room for doubt that I’m irritated. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26 ESV).

Impatience, at its core, is a love issue. The Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 13:4 for “patient”(makrothumeō) has the connotation of being slow to act against wrongdoing. Whereas the original word for kind has a meaning of responding with a mild demeanor. These are reactive words.

Love is Patient. Love is Kind.

The challenge here is not to go out and be more patient and kind. Instead, love is displayed in our response to the offenses of others. When someone intentionally wrongs me or is just incredibly annoying, my response reveals love (or hate). I don’t need to look far to find an occasion to love. I am given continual opportunities to love each and every day.

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:34).

God loved me so I can show love. “Not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). God extended me mercy so I can extend mercy. God is patient with me so I can be patient with others. Once again, we have our example of love in our Savior. God’s love for His people is patient. My sin—and yours—is a continual offense to a holy God. Yet, He responded to our offensive actions toward Him with love. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient (makrothumeō) toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Love is evidenced in our responses to others. All too often, when we want to make changes in our lives, we go overboard looking for new things to help us in our journey. In our efforts to be intentional, we skip right over the simplest solution. Truth is, we already know what to do. We don’t have to look far for ways to show love to others. Every moment we have with the people God has planted us next to is an opportunity to love. From the next-door neighbor we rarely speak to, to the girl at work who drives us crazy, to the friends and family closest to us. As we choose to stay near to God and keep in step with His Spirit, He will faithfully enable us to love others and bear witness to the love we ourselves have experienced.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

PRAY THIS WITH ME: God, I praise You for your extravagant love! I deserve judgment, yet You have lavished Your love on me. Jesus, thank You for taking the wrath of my sin so that I can experience the favor of my Creator. Spirit, enable me to respond with extravagant, patient, and kind love with every offense I face today.


This is an excerpt from Everyday Love — a women’s Bible study on love. This easy-to-use, four-week Bible study will help you discover how your life can bear witness to God’s purpose. In as few as 15 minutes a day, you will explore the Book of 1 Corinthians 13 and the deeper truths about God’s love for you and others. 

Join the Online Study Group!

 

Discover what the Bible has to say about love

(And learn how to study the Bible along the way!)

WHAT: Studying 1 Corinthians 13

WHEN: February 11th – March 8th, 2019 

WHERE: Bible Study Hub Facebook group

My oldest approached me a few days ago and asked if we could meet as a family every morning and have our “quiet times” together. For months now, he’s been trying to find a time and a place in his day to spend time with God. He and I started going to breakfast on Wednesday’s before school and I’ve been teaching him how to study the Bible using an inductive study method. But he wants more. He wants to be in the Bible every day and there isn’t much more that makes this momma’s heart sing.

Thought I certainly don’t have this parenting thing down, and I’m sure we have some tumultuous years ahead of us in these last 9 years we have as parents with kids in the house, we are beginning to see both the holes caused from our parenting failures as well as the good and sweet fruit of our labors. With the clarity of hindsight, I can now see how the Lord has faithfully led us to take several actions with our kids when it comes to the Bible. Here are five we’ve seen begin to bear beautiful fruit.

MODEL AND INVITE

It is really tempting to study behind closed (and locked) doors, especially when they were younger…. Allowing them to stay was an invite for them to be a part of what mom was doing.

UPLOAD AND HAVE FUN

I cannot count how many times we (unsuccessfully) tried to have some sort of family devotion time that ended in kicking and screaming and me losing it in absolute frustration that my kids could not get with the program! Looking back, I can see that I was asking them to do something they were not developmentally ready for. There was, however, something I was doing right all along …

BUILD THE HABIT AND INVEST IN THEIR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

There is no way I can impart everything they need to know about God and the Bible while under my roof. And even if I did, it will mean little if they don’t choose to make it their own relationship, their own faith, their own pursuit. While I cannot chose for them, I can set them up for success by inviting them to make time with God part of their everyday lives through providing opportunities and tools to help them do so.

DISCUSS WHAT YOU ARE LEARNING

Chat about what you are learning in your own time in the Bible. Ask them what they’ve been reading…. Make it normal to talk about and enjoy the Word of God in your everyday life.

PRAY, PRAY, AND PRAY SOME MORE

There are no guarantees that they will grow to love the Word, but just as a plant needs the right environment to grow, so does a spiritual life. As we do the work to till the soil, water, fertilize, and pull the weeds, we must also pray for the Light of the World to illumine the hearts of our precious seedlings. Without His work in their hearts, our labor is in vain.

(Read more about each tip in my post over at LifeWay Voices!)


One of the ways we are doing this in our family recently, is through the Brave Roots Boxes. My kids have LOVED their boxes. All three have faithfully sat down to do their “quiet time” using the simple yet significant Bible studies that come in the box. You can learn more about the Brave Roots Boxes here. (This is an affiliate link. Because we love them so much, we want to share about them! At no additional cost to you, I receive a portion of your purchase if you make one. Thanks!)


 

When I starting seeing that the Word of God is something to enjoy instead of something to do—something to achieve—that was another place in my life that really propelled me forward spiritually. 

Why is it important to study the Bible? In this video, I explain how Bible study affects every part of our life, but most importantly, our view of God.

Watch the video and catch the full transcripts over at LifeWay Voices.

I’m a head-first-diver. When I decide I want to do something, I set my mind to it … and go. Sometimes this approach works, sometimes it doesn’t. There are some cases that you just need to dive in and see where things take you. There are others that a bit of planning and foresight will go a long way. Bible study is one of the latter.

It’s important to recognize that Bible study is a journey and every time we open our Bibles, we lay another layer down for the step ahead. And since it is a journey it is oh-so-helpful to understand where we are and where we are going.

Step 1. Place yourself on the Bible Study Boulevard

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

1 Peter 2:2–3 ESV

We all start out on the left—a Bible Study Beginner. Peter tells us to be like babes who long for the milk that will enable us to grow up. Our spiritual life is just like our physical life. In order to grow, we must take in nourishment. The rate of our spiritual growth is in direct correlation to the amount of “milk” we take in.

No Bible, no growth. A little bit of Bible, a little bit of growth.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

Here we have the end goal when it comes to our ability to study the Bible: an accurate handler of the Bible. This means that we ought to be able to open the Bible, read it, study it, figure out what it means (interpret), and walk forward in worship of the God who wrote it (apply it). There is a biblical expectation that all who come to Christ also become accurate handlers. All Christians eventually should be able to eat the meat.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.

Hebrews 5:12–13 ESV

This is not meant to be a guilt trip, but a reality check—so that we can correctly place ourselves on the Bible Study Boulevard. Once we know where we are, then we can choose the right next step.

ASSIGNMENT: Take a moment in honest evaluation of where you are at on the Bible Study Boulevard. Pick a “hex” above, and take a mental note.

Step 2: Know where to put your primary focus

Build the Habit —> Gain Understanding —> Worship God

Build the Habit

When we are first starting out in our Bible study journey, we need to focus on building the habit. Start small and doable. Get the quick win and build on that success. Place your energies on showing up. This doesn’t mean that you won’t gain any understanding—you will—but you need to first put your best effort toward getting into a rhythm of regularly opening your Bible.

Gain Understanding

Once spending time in the Bible has begun to become routine, you are ready to move on and take the next baby step toward understanding the Bible. Now you can start using those brain cells to focus more about what you are reading. You can flex those Bible study muscles and begin learning how to accurately handle the words in the Bible.

Worship God

All along the way, you are worshiping God. You don’t have to wait until you know everything about the Bible and perfectly live it out before you can worship God with your life. (Spoiler alert) You never will! The depths of the Bible can be mined for a lifetime. And not one of us will ever be able to obey it perfectly. (Good news is, Jesus did on our behalf!) However, every intentional step you take along the way is one that says, “God, I want you more than ________.” And as you gain understanding, you get to see God more and more clearly. As you get a better and brighter view of who God is and what His best plan is for your life, you will naturally want to respond in obedient worship.

ASSIGNMENT: With where you are in mind, decide if you need to focus primarily on HABIT or UNDERSTANDING. Now we can move on to choosing the right next Bible study baby step for you.

Step 3. Pick the right approach for you

This is where things get exciting!! Now that you know where you need to focus, you can put together a plan. I’ve laid out all the products I have available so you can see where they are on the boulevard. Each is designed to help prepare and propel you forward to the next Bible study baby step.

Choose by skill level

  • Completely out of the habit? Never read more than a few verses at a time? —> Pick a reading plan.
  • Completed at least a few weeks in a row of Bible reading? Studied the Bible before but it’s been a while? —> Start with a reading plan, then add FLEX 3 as you feel ready to take the next step.
  • In a great routine of Bible reading and ready for a challenge? —> Start off with FLEX 3 and move on to FLEX 6 once you get the hang of things.
  • Tried out a few Bible study tools and ready for more? —> Start with FLEX 9 or even the FOCUSed15 method.

These decision-making suggestions are based primarily on skill. But you can also make your choice by the time you have available that day.

Choose by time available

  • Only have a moment available today? —> Read a few verses. Then thank God for what you read.
  • Have a few minutes to spare? —> Study a few verses (2-4) with the FLEX 3 layers.
  • Have several minutes? —> Study several verses (5-7) using FLEX 6.
  • Have 10 minutes today? —> FLEX 9 on 9 verses or so.
  • Have 15 minutes or more? —> Go through the FOCUSed15 study steps on a few verses (3-5).

Of course, there are loads of other reading plans out there and Bible study tools besides these. Go out there and try out as many as you can. We all learn differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to Bible study. All of my products are build to help you toward the goal of being able to rightly divide the Bible on your own. However, there are some really, really awesome Bible studies out there that are geared primarily toward understanding. I’ve completed dozens of them and grew tremendously from them. You may not learn how to study your Bible, but you will gain LOADS of understanding on the topic or the book it teaches on. There is a place for both!

ASSIGNMENT: Chose an approach and prepare for your next step. Here are a few resources you might find helpful.

Step 4. Start Studying

Now all this is cool info, but it all means nothing if we don’t move forward! To recap, here is what we’ve covered:

  1. Place yourself on the Bible Study Boulevard.
  2. Know where to put your primary focus. (Habit? Understanding?)
  3. Pick the right approach for you and prepare for your next step.

Now, it’s time to dive in. Start now. Determine your next baby-step and take it!


I’m super-duper-excited about a new product I’ve created with all of this in mind. The Proverbs Bible Study Pack allows for all of the above beginner steps. So whether you are brand new to Bible study, or have a bit of experience under your belt, you can utilize this pack.

PLUS, my online Bible study group for women is studying Proverbs together in 2019. Grab the pack, then join us!

proverbs bible study
Proverbs Bible Study

Do the words “Bible study” send you into a cold sweat? It used to do so to me! Many find studying the Bible intimidating and hard—often accompanied by a constant feeling that she is just not doing it right.

On top of these, there is a notion out there that if we are a Christian, then we ought to be able to pick up the Bible, easily understand what it says, then put it into practice immediately. I vividly remember the first time I opened my Bible with sincerity—I just knew it was going to be the turning point in my relationship with God. However when I opened it up and started reading … I was confused. I had no idea what the words on the page meant, nor how I should move forward because of them!

If you want to be able to understand the Bible on your own, you’re not alone. Nor are you stranded! Below are a few tips to help get you started.

Beginner Bible Study Tip #1

Start with the right mindset

I’ve made many Bible study attempts—and fumbled more than a few. Each attempt was super-frustrating. Here are a few pieces of advice I wish I’d had before I started out.

  • Don’t feel like you have to study every single verse. Focus on quality over quantity. Bible study is not a race or a performance.
  • Don’t be afraid to test the waters. There are LOADS of different study methods out there. Some you will love, some you may not. We all learn differently, so if the first thing you try out just doesn’t do it for you, keep trying until you find one that fits. As you try out different methods, look for the four pillars of Bible study you want to make sure you include over time.
    • Read: Simply read or write out the verses to get a big picture overview.
    • Observe: The goal here is to start seeing the truths contained in each verse.
    • Interpret: This is where we gather what we’ve observed in order to figure out what it means. (A good study Bible is of great help for this step.)
    • Apply: Once we know what the verses mean, we get to respond to what we’ve learned.
  • Don’t forget why you are studying. It’s not to impress other people. It’s not to gain approval from God. We study our Bible in order to meet with God and know Him better. He’s not concerned about the color of your pen or how many verses you studied. The act of setting aside time to spend with Him is what matters—even if you walk away from the Bible scratching your head. Over time, you will learn more about Him as you keep showing up and enjoy the time you have with God.

Beginner Bible Study Tip #2

Focus on building the habit

Habit —> Understanding —> Worship

Studying the Bible regularly starts with getting into a regular routine. You can have all the Bible study tools available to you, but if you aren’t in the habit of sitting down to study, those tools won’t be of much help. You cannot gain understanding without a regular routine of opening your Bible.

Here are a few thoughts to consider as you embark on creating a rhythm of regular time in the Bible. (The tips here are the same for building the habit of regular Bible reading which I gave in an earlier post, so this is an abbreviated version.)

  • Take it a day at a time. Don’t worry about finding the “perfect” time, simply look at your schedule for tomorrow and pick out the best 10 minute slot. Then do the same until you find a routine.
  • Keep going. Don’t give in to the paralysis of perfectionism. Resist the thought that 10 minutes of study isn’t enough. Something is always better than nothing.
  • Invite a friend to study with you. If you are not sure who to invite, consider an online Bible study group. (We’re studying Proverbs in January. Join us!)

Beginner Bible Study Tip #3

Start small; take baby steps

Trying to tackle a large book of the Bible is probably not the best option for most when starting out. Instead, consider setting a small Bible study goal. Something you can complete in a week or month time frame—in just a few minutes a day—is a great place to start. This will give you the easy win—especially if you are not already in a regular habit of Bible reading.

Here are a few beginner-level suggestions:

A mixture of big picture Bible reading and then zooming in to study for a few minutes is a great approach. For example, in my Proverbs Study pack, I recommend reading one chapter a day, which should take you about 5 minutes. Once you are done reading the entire chapter, then you can zoom in to apply some study tools to just 3 of the verses you just read.

FLEX 3-6-9: Beginner Bible Study

I’ve worked with thousands of women to help them learn how to study the Bible in as little as 15 minutes a day through my FOCUSed15 Bible studies. When I put them together, I wanted to bridge the gap between devotionals and the long workbook studies. A hole has been filled with the FOCUSed15 studies, but there is still a big jump for someone with little-to-no Bible study background.

So, I went back to the drawing board and created a method of Bible study specifically geared toward newbies. I call it FLEX 3-6-9. It’s a flexible tool that will help you learn how to flex your Bible study muscles. You’ll start out small—3 verses, 3 questions, 3 minutes—then once you are good at that, you can move up to 6 verses, 6 questions, for 6 minutes. Eventually, you’ll learn how to study 9 verses at a time, asking 9 questions, and study for 9 minutes.

You can do this!

bible study for beginners

Features of FLEX 3-6-9

  • Easy Start – At just 3 minutes of Bible study a day, this is a great place to start.
  • Incremental Steps – Through small baby steps you’ll learn how to open the Bible, ask the right questions, and begin to understand what it means.
  • Flexible Time – Depending on how much time you have in your day, you can study more or less.
  • Transferrable Method – From Genesis to Revelation, this method can be used to study every type of book of the Bible.
  • Strengthens Skills – You’ll learn how to study the Bible on your own.

For now, this brand new tool is available through the Proverbs Study Pack which includes everything you need to get started!

Are you ready? Let me know what you are going to study and when!

‘Tis the season for extra activities, endless shopping lists, and out-of-control eating because we’re all so stressed from the formerly mentioned activities. Come December 26th, we’ll be more than ready to get back to our normal routine and excited for the new year ahead. High on the priority list for most Christ-followers is to read the Bible more. Many will start reading through the Bible with great enthusiasm, but fizzle out before the next page in the calendar is turned.

I’ve been there. My guess is that you have been as well. Why do so many of us struggle to simply read the Bible consistently? I believe it has much to do with our motivations. It is important to pay attention to the desires of the heart, especially when we are setting out on a spiritual endeavor.

Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t put “read my Bible more” on your resolutions list this year

  1. I read my Bible to make God happy with me.
  2. I read my Bible to impress other people.
  3. I read my Bible to because it is what good Christians do.

If you are currently reading the Bible for any of the above reasons, don’t stop! Keep going. But as you do, begin praying and working toward a healthier perspective.

Here are three healthy reasons why you should read the Bible

  1. I read my Bible to build the habit.
  2. I read my Bible to gain a better understanding of God and His plan for my life.
  3. I read my Bible to worship God through responding to what I learn.

Read the full post over at LifeWay Voices.

Ready to start reading your Bible? Not quite sure how or where to start? You’re in the right place!

I’ve been in your shoes and I’ve since turned the corner and now help thousands of others learn how to begin reading and studying the Bible … and how to keep going.

How to Start Reading the Bible – A Beginner’s Guide

I know you want to open your Bible, read what’s on the page, and understand it immediately. Yet there are many barriers that keep us from doing just that.

1. Choose the right Bible for you

This goes without saying, but you need to get a copy of the Bible in order to read it. You probably already have one, but it may not be the best fit for you. There are a bunch of different Bibles on the shelves at the Christian bookstore and it can be super-overwhelming to know the difference between them all. Here is a post all about the different types and versions, if you are interested. But the bottom line is this: use a version you can read easily. If you’ve had a Bible for years, but the reading level is way over your head, consider grabbing a version that is easier to read. The New Living Translation Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (NLT) or the NET Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!  are both very readable and great for beginners.

If money is tight, I’m sure your local church has copies on hand they would love to give you. Alternately, check your local thrift shop and/or bookstore for inexpensive copies. I often see $5 deals at LifeWay or through online promotions. There are also loads of free apps you can grab. (My favorite is the ESV Bible app.)

2. Start building the habit of reading your Bible

Habit —> Understanding —> Worship

Probably the most common barrier to reading and understanding the Bible is a lack of habit. In fact, I often have to go back to this step, even after decades of reading and studying the Bible. Because I cannot gain more understanding without a regular routine of opening my Bible. Until we have established the habit of regular Bible reading, understanding is going to be hard to come by. Why? Because without the habit, you’ll start off strong but fizzle out by the end of the week. How do I know? Been there. Done that. My guess is, you have to.

Here are a few thoughts to consider as you embark on creating a rhythm of regular time in the Bible.

  • Start small. Choose something that will give you the quick win!
  • Schedule a date with God. Don’t worry about finding that perfect time, simply look at your schedule for tomorrow and pick out the best 10 minute slot. Put it on your calendar and get ready for it like it is any other appointment.
  • Make it enjoyable! Grab a new coffee mug or some yummy hot chocolate reserved only for your time with God. Buy a new blanket to cozy up with, or a pretty basket to keep your Bible in. I like to keep tissues and sticky-notes with my favorite pens Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!  handy in case I need to jot down something I need to remember to do later.
  • Keep going. Don’t give in to the paralysis of perfectionism. Resist the thought that reading for 5 minutes isn’t enough. Five minutes of reading one Bible verse is better than none read at all!
  • Invite a friend to read the same plan and consider meeting up in a week or so to talk through what you’ve read. If you are not sure who to invite, consider an online Bible study group.

Once you are in a regular rhythm of Bible reading then you can begin to focus on understanding what you see in the pages of Scripture.

3.  Know where to start reading the Bible

There is no one “best place” to read the Bible, but there are certainly some places that will be easier to understand right away, more than others. By and large, most people pick up the Bible and begin reading it from cover to cover … and get stuck somewhere in Leviticus. God’s Word doesn’t have to be read “in order.”

Here are a few favorites that many love to read through again and again:

A few things to keep in mind:

  • You are not going to understand everything you read. The Bible is a deep, complex masterpiece. There are certainly many truths we can easily see on the surface, but there is much more below than can be mined. It takes time to put all the pieces together.
  • The Spirit of God lives within you. Though you may not comprehend everything right away, if you are a Christian, you have the very presence of God within you to guide and teach you as you read!
  • Remember the end goal of Bible study. It’s not simply to gain knowledge. The end goal of Bible study is worship. Bible study is about getting to know our magnificent God! Opening your Bible with a heart of expectation is an act of drawing near to Him. Even if you walk away scratching your head about what you just read, it is still an act of worship. A step closer to experiencing God in your everyday.
  • Look into investing in a good study Bible. The helpful notes and charts found throughout are invaluable in helping with understanding what you are reading. Here is a post all about my favorite study Bible.

4. Engage in two needed viewpoints: Bird’s Eye View and Bug’s Life

There are two main lanes of Bible study that will help us begin to understand the Bible: the “bird’s-eye-view” and the “bug’s life.” Both perspectives are important elements in our journey toward comprehension.

A bird’s-eye-view of the Bible provides a big picture perspective and helps us connect the dots between all the different pieces. I learned many Bible stories in my early years, but I lacked a basic timeline and understanding of how all the characters are associated. Reading plans through a book of the Bible and reading through the Bible chronologically are an excellent way to gain this critical viewpoint.

There is much to be gained from that big-picture vantage point, but we can also learn from the details the “bug’s life” can provide. When we dig deeper into a passage—zoom in to a small portion of Scripture and take our time while we are there—we begin to see details we never noticed on a quick read-through. And these details can be seen in as little as 15 minutes a day through these Bible studies for busy women.

Both are lanes of Bible study are necessary. Both help us enjoy the Word. Both help us see God more clearly and worship Him better.

5. Connect with your local church for resources

God created us for community. Specifically, His will is for each of us to be a member of and involved in a local church. Most local churches have some sort of small group Bible study option. Finding a church home and a small group will be a great step towards experiencing God daily.

6. Pray

You don’t have to have all the right words. It can be in your head, spoken out loud, or written out in a journal. Simply express to God your desire to know Him better through His Word. He desires the same. It’s His will for you to experience a deep and enjoyable time in the Bible. If you ask Him to help you create the habit in order to understand what you encounter and worship Him better, then you make consistent choices toward that end, He will answer that prayer! Without fail.

What other questions do you have about getting started in regular Bible reading?

Many stages of life have found me struggling to figure out who I am and what I am called to do with my life. As a single 20-something, I was convinced it was pouring my life into ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ. After marrying, my calling eventually merged with my husband’s as we shifted away from campus ministry to serve the local church. We also started having babies. It was a struggle for me to lose the title of Campus Minister. I loved my job with Cru and after leaving staff, I found myself as “just a mom” and “just a wife.” I missed the excitement and purpose of the campus ministry I loved and I grieved that loss in secret. Suddenly, I didn’t know who I was anymore.

Determinedly, I pushed myself out of that purposeless funk and poured my life into those babies. I spent hours of research and hard work to provide them with homemade baby food, the best sleep-wake cycle, and all Baby Einstein had to offer. As they grew, their little lives held a well-rounded calendar filled with playdates, library events, trips to the zoo, and free time at the park.  My life’s call was their well-being. My purpose was to give them all of me.

However, with the addition of baby #3, I was officially sunk. I could no longer keep up with the ideals of motherhood—the work I had poured my life into for 5 years—my idealism and work ethic were suddenly weapons of mass destruction. My identity as the SAHM (who had it all together and loved her life) was shattered. I was bone-weary, depressed, and 3-Kid-Katie kept looking back at Had-It-All-Together-Katie with longing, guilt, and an innate pressure to perform. Finally, I surrendered and quit trying. With this came a shattering of who I thought I was and who I thought I would continue be.

With this surrender and subsequent shattering came healing and clarity. I realized that I had idealized and idolized the pursuit of the stay-at-home mom, and subsequently had been ignoring who God made me to be. Healing came as I sought medical help and went back to work a few days a week (at the behest of my husband). In walking forward to follow God’s clear leading, I found a part of me that had been smothered and silenced. As that missing girl emerged, something mysterious happened: I enjoyed my time with my kids more. The productive and creative energy that had left long ago returned.

That was 8 years ago, and life has been a juggling act since then, as I seek to fulfill my callings both at home and out of it. Every year has been a bit different, but each year my callings become clearer and the implications of those callings easier. Learning from the mistakes of my past, there are several general principles that have been fruitful as I attempt to follow God’s specific plan for my specific family.

Read the rest of this post—6 Lessons on Following God’s Calling—over at Women and Work.

There are seasons that are hard. I just don’t feel right. Discouragement comes easy. The dark cloud looms and lingers.

I begin searching for what’s missing. Maybe if I start running, or eat better I will feel better about myself? Or, am I lonely and just need to find a new friend? Get more sleep? A better schedule? Time alone? A date night?

I’ll try a few things, and when the newness wears off I turn to what energize me. Teaching the Word, blogging, time with good friends, time alone to plan. While they do help recharge me, they will never be enough.

bible verses discouragement

9 Bible verses for discouragement

Only God’s word brings me life.

  • My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! Psalm 119:25
  • Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:37

In uncertainty, His word alone is my good counsel.

  • Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. Psalm 119:24
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

When my soul cries out, His promises alone bring comfort.

  • This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:50
  • Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165

Though there are moments of overwhelming sorrow, His word under-girds with strength.

  • My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Psalm 119:28

His mercy and grace is what I truly need. Not a smaller jeans size, or a better organized house. Not a new friendship or time to myself. He is my missing piece.

  • Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. Psalm 119:77
  • Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. Psalm 119:132

Which verses do you cling to when the dark cloud looms?