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How To Trust God with the Unknown Results

As I write these words I’m in a holding pattern. I woke up showing several  symptoms matching the CDC’s warnings to watch for a COVID-19 infection. Since I have an underlying auto-immune disease and accompanying asthma, I called my local doctor first thing.

Today’s doctor’s appointment was fairly ordinary. I signed in and waited for my name to be called. The nurse checked me in by recording my blood pressure, temperature, and weight. Although, the typically full waiting room and office filled with smiling aides were exchanged for a ghost-town-entryway and co-workers graced with masks on their faces. The doctor, who entered the exam room with her own mouth and nose protected, also bore proof that maybe this wasn’t really an ordinary appointment after all.

After the exam, a few swabs, and a negative rapid strep test, I was told it could be a sinus infection with aggravated asthma or possible COVID-19. Tests were ordered. I was sent off with instructions to fill my meds drive-thru style, go home, and wait.

By the time this post goes live, I should know whether I am COVID-19 positive or not. Meanwhile, masks must be worn if we leave the house. Visits with family—especially with those who are older—should be avoided. We are to act as if our entire family is infected.

And so, we wait.

WHEN OUR FAITH IS PROVED

It is in these waiting times of life—where the “what-ifs” are palpable, while unknown test results linger—that our resolve is tested. These are the moments when our faith is proved.

Do I really believe what I proclaim?

That God sees these moments.

That God knows my future.

That God is my protecting shield and anything He has allowed, anything He is allowing, and anything He ever will allow in my life is no accident.

And that no matter what, God is good.

This is what I say I believe. It’s what I’ve been teaching live on Facebook all week as I’ve prepared for my book launch. (Oh, yeah. I forget to tell you. Today—the day I write these words—the day I found out I might just have the novel virus—is the day my book with the word happy in the title was released.) It’s the message I’ve studied and written and prayed about for over two years. It’s the teaching of how God has created us to flourish regardless of our circumstances. It’s the truth about how He has provided a way for every one of us to experience an abundant, happy life that can weather any storm.

Even through this COVID-19 storm.

IN THE WAITING

So what am I doing? I’m resting. I’m enjoying my family. We’re watching Netflix and playing with the dog. We’re laughing and eating and sleeping and living. Just like we did yesterday. And I’m choosing not to allow a potential diagnosis with a potential outcome to steal my joy, rob my faith, or ruin my happiness.

Have I had some freak-out moments? Sure. I think we all have in the last few weeks. Because sometimes the “what-ifs” get the better of us. So much about this pandemic is out of our control.

But when our joy, faith, contentment, delight, and hope is based not on our circumstances but on who God is, that’s when happiness happens. Soul-level, unshakeable, Jesus-provided happiness. We can experience the full and thriving life He died to provide us. We can have the resilient, fruitful existence He’s prepared for you and me. We can grasp the hope and peace He gives us through His presence. As we cling to the character of God instead of wallowing in the “what-ifs,” our holding patterns can be a place of peace.

A PRAYER IN THE HOLDING PATTERN

God, help us to keep our thoughts on who You are more than what might be. Help us to use our every breath to honor You. Help us to see every change as an opportunity to prove Your faithfulness. Help us to recognize the opportunities we have to declare that You are good. By Your grace, we will wait in this holding pattern with patience and peace, knowing that You see all and know all. Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief.

This post was originally posted over at LifeWay Voices.

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Secret #3 – The Happy Soul is ATTACHED to God’s Word

A few years ago I was invited to speak at a women’s conference in my hometown in Southern California. Since my family relocated to Alabama a few weeks after I graduated from high school, it had been decades since I’d been in that town. I arrived a bit early to visit with family, catch coffee with a few high school friends, and wander around my old stomping grounds. It was an extremely emotional trip for me as I remembered the girl who grew up in that town and all God has done for her since then.

The conference was hosted at a church just a few miles from where I attended high school. During the break on Saturday, I drove my rental car over to the school campus so I could walk around campus a bit. It’s a small private school, and it was basically the same as I remembered it, with a few additions. The same small chapel stood where I used to hear God’s Word taught every Friday. The same beige lockers lined the outdoor hall of the high school wing. The same left-behind sweaters, assignments, and notebooks were strewn about, cluttering the hall. As I walked the hall, smiling as the memories flooded over me, one locker stopped me in my tracks.

On top of that locker was a Bible.

Scribbled on and dog-eared.

Pages torn and spine destroyed.

Abandoned until Monday.

Awaiting to be flippantly thrown into a backpack and brought to Bible class.

It looked just like mine had when I was there. It was being treated just like mine had been. And, most likely, the owner of that Bible lacks a love for their Bible just as I did. For so long I saw the Bible as just another textbook. A chore. A roadblock. A burden of guilt. As I type, I am weeping at the memory—that I ever had such a casual distain for the Word of God, that I forfeited so much time with Him and took on so much trouble without Him when I could have been enjoying the benefits of being a Happy Soul. Deep down, I had been re-named a Happy Soul. I could feel it. I knew there had to be something more but I had no idea how to obtain it. I didn’t know how to enact change. My view of God was off. I could follow the do’s and don’ts, but I didn’t know how to get closer to God himself. And I certainly didn’t love God’s Word.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Perhaps you are there right now. Your Bible may not be as physically neglected as the one I saw that Saturday afternoon, but it is neglected nonetheless. It gathers dust on a shelf, sits on the floorboard of your car throughout the week, or is lost somewhere in your bedroom. Or perhaps you are opening your Bible but are just going through the motions. You read. You check “read Bible” off your list. You close your Bible. You keep walking. There’s no attachment to the Word of God. No true closeness to God. There’s no awe and wonder. There’s no overwhelming love and feelings of delight. You’d rather be enjoying the next Netflix episode or clinging to your Facebook feed instead of spending time with God through His Word.

… Most of us don’t have a delighting problem. We delight in and enjoy many things just fine. God has created us for pleasure. Just think about it. God created our bodies to enjoy things! Eating food is primarily about keeping alive, yet we’ve been given taste buds and a variety of sweet and savory food to eat. Functionally speaking, sex is about keeping the human race going, yet God has wired male and female bodies to enjoy one another. There is no room for doubt: God created us to experience deep delight. 

… Jesus made this clear in a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. We don’t know her name, but we know that Jesus saw her at the well and knew her emptiness. It is likely that she’d been mistreated and cast aside most her life. As Jesus pursued her broken heart, he chatted with her about the well water: “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life” (John 4:13–14). Not long after this encounter, while addressing the crowds of people, Jesus claimed, “I am the bread of life . . . No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again” (John 6:35). Jesus taught that only He could satisfy our deepest desires. And the Bible shows us how to come to Jesus with our cravings. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37–38 ESV).

Our salvation brings a quenching to our soul that we will enjoy for eternity. But as we pursue to work out our salvation—as we resolve to make our internal identity become an external reality—we have to keep drawing from the well of the Word, which grants us the way to the One who can satisfy our souls. God’s Word gives us perspective, instructions, and parameters needed to navigate this sin-stained world. It is our protection. Our hope. Our guide. Our grace.

I have your decrees as a heritage forever;

indeed, they are the joy of my heart.

I am resolved to obey your statutes

to the very end. — Psalm 119:111–112


This is an excerpt from my book, Secrets of the Happy Soul.

Secret #1– The Happy Soul is FOCUSED on God

Secret #2 – The Happy Soul is RESOLVED to follow God’s Way

Secret #3 – The Happy Soul is ATTACHED to God’s Word

Secret #4– The Happy Soul is DEPENDENT on God’s provision.

Secret #5– The Happy Soul is CONFIDENT in who she is.

Secret #6– The Happy Soul is SURRENDERED to her King.

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Set your gaze on Christ this Christmas

It’s a downright fight for me to remember the reason for the season: celebrating Emmanuel, God with us. Amidst (what seems like) endless parties, shopping lists, and family gatherings, the season gearing up to Christmas Day is typically rushed and stressful. Beyond this busyness is a constant temptation to indulge. From grandma’s cooking to the latest and greatest gadget, the inclination of my heart and flesh to be gratified through toys and treats is given continual opportunity to think about self. My wants. My wishes. My will.

So, yes, busyness is a problem. Excessiveness and self-gratification, too. But the biggest hurdle in the way of celebrating and honoring Christ this Christmas is not primarily in the external distractions—it’s in my propensity to want what I want, how I want it, when I want it. I forget that life is not all about me. Christmas surely isn’t either. I must be intentional to remember that Christmas is, indeed, about Christ. It’s not primarily about celebrating time with family, making memories for the children in our lives, or showing love through gift-giving. Christmas is a celebration of Christ our Savior.

The actions you and I take during this Christmas season (and every other day of the year) are important. We exist to worship God. Yes, God has given us good gifts to enjoy, family to love, and a community to serve. But every party we attend, conversation we engage, and shopping trip we make ought to have an attitude of worship as the undercurrent. A desire to honor and glorify the God who sent His only Son for us should permeate our days. As we enter this Christmas season, let’s do so with a view toward worship and turn our hearts toward the glad tidings the coming of Christ bring to our souls.

p.s. If you are looking for a study to help you to just that—point your heart toward the significance of the coming of Christ, join me for this 12-day journey. Let’s set our gaze on Christ this Christmas!

Christmas Bible Study

December is buuuuuusy. This Christmas study will help you remember the reason for the season through a Christmas hymn and  two timely passages a day.

Learn more here.

 

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James Bible Reading Plan

I’m excited to announce that another Enjoy the Word reading plan is ready for you in the Resource Library! These short and sweet reading plans are geared toward giving us a quick win when it comes to our time in the Word. So if you are just starting off on your Bible study journey, looking for a way to ease back into a regular routine of reading, or want to add another layer to your quiet time, these reading plans are for you!

You can access these printable beauties through the Enjoy the Word Resource Library. There are two membership levels to can grab: Basic Blue (use code FREE to get it free!!) or All Access Gold and both include the reading plans. Check out membership details here.

This will give you access to any future plans as well! Levitical Offerings (October), Come Let Us Adore Him (December), and many more are on the way!

How to Join 8 Days in James

Online discussion will occur in the Bible Study Hub community. We’ll have daily check-ins to keep you on track as well as links to additional resources to get your time in James started off right! A link to the private group is part of both the All-Access Gold and the Basic Blue plans

  • WHAT: Reading through James (5-10 minutes a day pace)
  • WHEN: August 27th – September 4th
  • WHERE: The Bible Study Hub Facebook group

To get started, all you need to do is get access to the Enjoy the Word James bookmark and Bible Study Hub through the Resource Library. We’ll kick-start the 8 Days in James party a few days before our reading together starts!

 Are you in? Have you studied James before? Let’s do this!

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There is hope for your really bad week.

I’ve had a lousy week.

It was unusually busy, with a Bible conference held at our church during which I watched the 4-year old class twice. (If you’ll remember, nursery duty is not my typical place of service in the church.) The newness of homeschooling has more than rubbed off and the kids were less than cooperative. I’ve had to miss the gym several times over the last few weeks, the house is a wreck, and I’ve had many random and poorly-scheduled appointments which couldn’t be changed.

So, yeah, it’s been a bad week.

Though the external of my week was rough, it’s the inside of my week that stinks. My attitude, my selfishness, and my sheer exhaustion. I’m pretty sure much of it is hormonal and “thyroidal” (I have yet another untimely appointment scheduled which will hopefully take care of those issues.) but there is another surge of emotions taking over which is not a physical problem. It’s spiritual.

My flesh is putting up a good fight these days and I’ve been attempting to stand against it on my own.

I’ve failed miserably.

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There is much about this week I wish I could erase, but I am thankful that I do have hope. My God has not forsaken me, my kids are still my kids, and my ever-amazing, servant husband is still by my side.

I’m clinging to grace once again, trusting in the truths God’s Word gives me. (And listening to this song on repeat all day.) 

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. – Psalm 39:7

What truths do you cling to when you have a bad week?

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My Part in Spiritual 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)

I long to abide—to stay in deep fellowship with my God.

The thought of  holding on for a lifetime is wearying, but there is great, sustaining grace!

I teeter between devotion that fuels me forward for a while, followed by despair that my efforts didn’t take me further.

Do my best.

The trap of comparison strangles. If I spend too much time thinking I should be this or that—or her—I become paralyzed with all I am not.

I don’t need to be a full-time missionary, have gone to seminary, or homeschool my kids to be approved.

I am only to do my best. Right here. Right now.

God doesn’t expect me to be something I am not called to be. He only wants me to do my best—not someone else’s best—right where He has placed me.

Present myself to God.

What great and glorious grace I have been given! Thousands upon thousands of mercies He has extended me.

Oh, how I want to give all of me to thank Him!

And so, dear brothers and sisters,  I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (Romans 12:1 NLT)

Every day—every moment—is an offering to Him.

Rightly handle the Word.

His Word is living. His Word is active. My bread and water for each day—an abundant source of life.

Read it. Study it. Know it.

Meditate on it.

These are the prerequisites to handling it rightly.

The longing for approval.

I long for approval—to hear those words: “Well done.”

So, I will do my best right where He has called me. I will live each moment as an offering of thanks.  I will strive to know and understand His Word which will guide the way forward.

I will be approved.

What it takes

Abide. Remain. Do not depart. This is what we have been charged with. The Christian life is all about holding on and staying connected to the source of all we need.

I long to be tied to the dock—for a lifetime. Not just today, tomorrow, or next week, but to the end.

Honestly? The thought of holding tightly for a lifetime is wearying.

What it takes to cling to Christ

Grace.

Hard work.

Grace.

Hard work.

Grace.

Grace.

Grace.

I cannot hold on—I will not hold on—without His hands surrounding mine.

When my little ones are learning to swing, I cover their little hands and grip the chain. When they let go they don’t fall because my hands are surrounding theirs. I am holding on for them.

So it is with grace.

Grace is His big, strong hands covering mine. Gently yet firmly grasping the rope with my hands safely sandwiched between.

My soul clings to you;

Your right hand upholds me.

(Psalm 63:8 ESV)

Tied to the Dock

I grew up on the water. I learned to water-ski when I was four. My dad was still skiing in his sixties! As a kid, I loved to sit at the front of the boat, hands gripped to the sides, my nose stretched out far enough to just beat the front of the boat.

I learned young how to protect Daddy’s boat. Boats are not like cars, which stay put when you turn them off. When you are in the water, the boat is always moving. Even when it feels still, if you aren’t tied to the deck the boat will float away—even in the smoothest of waters.

The Bible is clear that there are two paths. I am following Jesus, or I am not. I am living the Spirit-filled life or I am being influenced by something else. I am allowing God to permeate and affect every area of my life, or I am holding the control in my own hands. There is no in-between in the Kingdom of God.

I am tied to the deck, or I am drifting away.

Even if it is just because I fell asleep and let go of the rope; without intentionality I drift.

The Anchored Life

We can learn much from the blessed man of Psalm 1.

  • He walked intentionally.

The blessed man is intentional to not just run away from God, but pays attention to where he is walking, standing and sitting. 

  • He treasured the Word.

The written word of God brought this man delight.

It is a pleasure to get a pedicure. I love getting to sleep in. My two-raw-sugar-no-foam-with-whip-latte is a treat. A facial? Yes, please! These are all things that being me physical pleasure. Though, I must ask myself: Do I delight in God as much as these?

  • He was well-watered.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV)

‘nough said.

  • His way was known.

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me (John 10:14 ESV)

What a confidence in life, to know that I am known and still loved. Why would I ever want to let go of the only One who knows all there is to know about me—yet still pursues me?

 

Blessed is the woman who is tied to the deck.

 

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For When My House is in Chaos

For when my kitchen is a mess…

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…the living room has exploded…

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…and the laundry is taking over…

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…and for when I am weary of it all…

…I am thankful that when the God of all order looks at me He sees Christ’s perfect obedience—not all the chaos in my life, nor my disobedience.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past. (Romans 3:23-25 NLT)

Not because of what I’ve done, but because of what Christ has done on my behalf,  He is well-pleased with me.

(…and at least my floors are clean!)

The Right Tool For the Job

So, I just got a steam mop, and I love it!

Let me back up.

I have three kids. They are 6, 4, and almost 2. Our floors stay in a state of disgusting. I am not exaggerating. Juices is spilt almost daily, fruit falls on the floor and is stepped on regularly. My vacuum is typically filled mostly with Cheerios and dirty sand from the playground.

I’m not complaining, really. I know that they are just being kids. We are in the training years.

However, over time I have slowed stalled my attempts at even trying to keep the floors clean. I usually wait until we have company, or I just can’t stand it anymore—you know, when my feet are sticking to the floor!

Mopping is a chore, and it is really impossible to do it during the day while the kids are home. It takes forever to dry, and it feels like an all-day event—not the event which is typically on the top of my to-do list. And, if I do ever manage to mop my floor—I kid you not—they were dirty again within hours!

Yeah, so my floors stay sticky and dirty.

My husband had suggested a steam mop months and months ago, but I have dragged my feet about looking into all the steam mop reviews. I have recently found myself dreaming about getting a housekeeper. Someone to come in once a month to do the things I have been unable to get done—like mop my floors. So, with the possibility of that expense on the table, I finally relented to looking into steam mops.

I am amazed at the difference this steam mop has made! It works incredibly well, and it is so easy! The floor dries quickly, and I can mop the majority of my tile—while ALL THREE KIDS ARE HOME.

Wow.

A similar thing happened when I broke down and got a really good vacuum for hard floors. I went from loathing vacuuming—putting it off till as long as possible—to actually enjoying making vacuuming a part of my evening routine.

It is all about using the right tool for the job. 

My husband and I were hanging out with some of our High school students this week, and one of them was saying how his Bible is really hard to read (though he uses the NIV.) When he does read, he feels like he has no idea what it means.

I remember feeling that way—like it was a waste of time to read my Bible. I wanted to be faithful in my Bible reading, and I wanted to draw closer to God, but every time I tried, it seemed pointless.

Kinda like mopping my floors.

Why try so hard to do something, when I never see the fruit of my efforts?

Over time, I was introduced to some Bible study tools which helped tremendously. I started understanding what I was reading, and life change was occurring! Studying my Bible shifted from being a chore, to something I very much looked forward to!

Time will tell if mopping my floors with this new stream mop will become something I look forward to, for the long-haul. But, I am hopeful that my floors will stay much cleaner, on regular basis—that it will become less of a chore, and more of a joy.

Does reading your Bible feel like a chore to you?
Have you experienced this shift of chores turning into an enjoyable event, once you got the right tool? What about with studying your Bible—have you found the right tools for the job?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments (and feel free to share any must-have tools for the dreaded chores—I can use all the help I can get!)

If you are looking for some good Bible Study tools, I invite you to subscribe to my other site Do Not Depart which is dedicated to help encourage and equip you to stay in the Word.

We’ve also recently released the second edition paperback of Savoring Living Water: How to Have an Effective Quiet Time. This book is written to equip you to connect with God in a meaningful way through your time in the Bible!