The following is an excerpt from the book Unhitching from the Crazy Train: Finding Rest in a World You Can’t Control by Julie Sparkman and Jennifer Phillips.

I will readily tell you that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I do not have control over my children’s lives. And yet, when my desired picture for my children is threatened, I can demonstrate some crazy behavior that would suggest otherwise. When my son missed basketball tryouts because I lost the sign up sheet, or when my daughter had to have her earring surgically removed because I failed to make sure she was following post-piercing protocol, my confusion over role and responsibility sent me to the depths of despair. I believed my son would never find his place in his new school because he wouldn’t be on the team, and I assumed that my daughter would have an irrational fear of earrings for the rest of her life. And guess what? It would be all my fault . . . or so I thought.

If those predictions had come true (they didn’t), it would be absolutely correct to say I had a role in those outcomes. However, they could not have come true without the influence of certain circumstances and actions that were beyond my control. I would have had a role in those outcomes, but they would not have been my responsibility. I would have needed to confess my negligence and ask God to strengthen the areas in which my parenting and organizational skills were weak, but my actions could not have rewritten God’s story for their lives. I’m not that important. None of us is.

This was a lesson I had to learn on a much larger scale during a particularly dark time in my life, a season in which my faith could have been destroyed if I had not come to grips with the difference between role and responsibility. It was the fall of 2012, and I was enjoying a life that was pretty close to my picture. My counseling partner and I had just opened a counseling ministry. I was in the middle of teaching a Bible study that was being filmed for nationwide distribution. My son had graduated from college and was pursuing his career in California. My husband loved his job. My daughters were doing fine in school. Everything was on track. Then one day, out of the blue, reality took a sharp detour farther away from my picture than I had ever experienced.

bible verses about worry

It began with a phone call from my son. He had noticed a lump growing under his arm and decided to get it checked out. He called to say that his doctor was sending him for an immediate ultrasound. My world started to tilt. My picture started to shake. Two days and many tests later, my picture was shattered completely with his diagnosis of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Our family was thrust into a world of huge decisions and a new cancer language we neither spoke nor understood. A well-meaning friend who was a cancer survivor said, “You have to get him treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. They have the cutting-edge technology that he needs.” This would have been good advice if his insurance had been accepted at Cedars-Sinai, but it wasn’t; only the smaller hospital nearby would cover his treatment. Fueled by my belief that my son’s treatment would determine his outcome, the voices in my head were deafening: “A good mother would do whatever she had to do to secure the absolute best care for her child. Mortgage her house. Sell her hair. Sell her blood. Whatever it takes.”

Somehow, in the fog of cancer war, saving my son’s life became my responsibility.

We consulted with two oncologists who both confirmed that my son’s treatment was very standard, and that he would get the same treatment no matter what hospital he went to. We arranged for him to be treated at the smaller hospital that took his insurance. The night before my son was scheduled to begin chemo, he got a phone call from his doctor.

“Listen, I didn’t feel completely comfortable with your pathology report, so I sent your scans to a lymphoma specialist. You don’t actually have lymphoma B. This doctor confirmed that you actually have Burkitt lymphoma, a cancer so rare and dangerous that we can’t treat you here. We need to completely change your treatment plan and send you to Cedars-Sinai.”

Had this error not been caught, my son’s cancer would have responded to the original treatment very quickly because that is what Burkitt does. However, it probably would have returned with a vengeance in his brain and spine. My son’s prognosis would not have been good.

Would that have been my responsibility? After all, I didn’t listen to my friend, the cancer survivor. I didn’t research enough to know about the lymphoma expert to whom his doctor sent the report. When my son’s original diagnosis and treatment plan were presented to us, I did not demand that the doctor run the lab work again. I didn’t read any books by cancer survivors. Some might say I had failed. And yet, God spared him. Did I have a role in my son’s health? Yes. I had a role in securing the best care for him. But it was God’s responsibility to give him what he needed, and His best for my son at that time was to direct him to the treatment that would save his life.

I know what you’re thinking. This story is conveniently easy to tell because your son is still alive.

You’re right. And I’m grateful. But had I lost my son that year, I would tell you today that my son’s death was not my responsibility because that is a burden God never intended for anyone to bear. To carry a load that is only meant for the Father would most certainly crush me. Instead, I would pray for faith to cling to the truth that the Father always gives us what we need, whether in life or in death.

I realize how hard this is to hear. It’s hard for me to say. I have shared this story in front of a woman whose husband had the same treatment as my son, but her husband died. I do not pretend to understand why. I don’t know why. It’s not okay, and pat assurances that “it will all work out in the end because we know who is on the throne” fall flat for people who are in great pain. Sometimes I scream at the Father because suffering is horrible and I don’t know why some are spared and some are not. God does not ask us to be happy with life outside our pictures; that’s not what faith is about. Faith strains to see His face. Faith screams and claws and fights its way to the surface, demanding, “You say You’re good. Show me! Open my eyes so I can see You in this dark place.”

I remember sitting in my hotel room while my son was in treatment, reeling from his grave appearance. In the weakest voice I whispered, “Where are you? Show me Your presence, God. What are You doing here? Show me.

In that frail moment, I put on new glasses with the two crucial lenses that are the foundation of Christ’s easy and light yoke: He is in this, and He is in me.

First, He is in this. My son’s sickness. The loss of his job. Sin and sickness do not thwart the plan of God. He is here, and His purposes will prevail. And secondly, He is in me. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). This means that God has fully equipped me for whatever comes into my life, even my son’s cancer.

I wanted to scream, “You’ve given me everything I need? Are you sure, God? Because I’m pretty sure I was standing in the Diet Coke line the day You handed out the maturity gene. I’m mouthy and high maintenance and I do not do crisis well.”

Yet, in a silent California hotel room, broken by my son’s brokenness, I had all I needed.

Can you put those glasses on? I know you don’t want to. I know it’s scary. It may take a sheer act of will in the midst of your pain and confusion, but set those glasses on top of your nose, and hold them in place because they tend to fall off easily. When your picture starts to shake; when you look at the mess you have made of things; when the brokenness of the world touches your life with searing pain, fight to keep those lenses in place. He is in this, and He is in me. If I had not been able to wear those glasses as I stared my son’s potential death in the face, I don’t think I would have survived it.

I am sorry to say the glasses don’t fix everything. Wearing the glasses won’t change your circumstances, and they won’t ensure that you will now be happy about whatever adversity you’re facing. But they allow you to view life from God’s perspective. We serve a powerful and sovereign God who only acts for our good and His glory, and when we believe He is in this—whatever “this” is—it causes us to look hard for Him when we probably would not have otherwise. We see glimpses of His kindness and commitment to our holiness; we see ways He is changing us for the better. Wearing the glasses makes us free-er. Free-ish. And if you have ever been in great pain, you know that being free-ish, even for a few minutes at a time, is a lifeline. Manna for the moment. In that small moment, choosing to trust in the character of the God who never changes is enough to get you to the next moment.

He is in this; He is in me.

When you blow it with your kids again, when you think you’re making the right decision and it backfires, when you’re tempted to believe there is no way God can redeem the mess you’ve made out of life: He is in this; He is in me, whether or not A plus B equals C. No circumstance or person can ever change that, praise God.

bible verses about worry

This is an excerpt from the book Unhitching from the Crazy Train: Finding Rest in a World You Can’t Control by Julie Sparkman and Jennifer Phillips. They’ve also created an accompanying reading plan—Bible Verses for the Control Freak—you can find in the Enjoy God’s Word Resource Library.

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

Below is an excerpt of a 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 and I would LOVE for you to join me.

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.

Purchase your study for as little as $4.99!

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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It’s always here,

It’s always deep.

It never ends.

God’s love is special.

-Max Lucado, The Boy and the Ocean

The Boy and the Ocean, by Max Lucado is beautiful. From the same Illustrator as The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, the pictures are vivid, life-like, with attention-grabbing detail. From the eyes of a little boy, Lucado paints a picture of God’s awe-inspiring love through the imagery of the ocean, the mountains, and the night sky.


I love books that keep my kids interest with pictures. (Especially my boys!) It is a feat to get them all to sit still together for a book reading; The Boy and the Ocean grabs their attention and allows them to take in the truths about the vastness of God love.


The Boy and the Ocean is a sweet read, and great introduction for children to learn the truths about God’s great love for them.


I was given a copy of The Boy and the Ocean by Crossway, in exchange for my review. Opinions stated are all mine. Affiliate links are present.

I recently finished The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler. Matt is one of my favorite preachers to listen to because I appreciate his commitment to the Word of God, and his tenacity in preaching it.

It is staggering to me the amount of people who claim the name of Christ don’t truly understand the Gospel. It is often seen as the good news of our conversion—which it is—but many do not understand the fullness of that good news, and how the same gospel carries us through every day of our Christian life.

Chandler hits on so many points on which I wanted to stand up and shout in agreement. I loved this book for more reasons than I have time for in this post, but I especially enjoyed reading this book because my heart resonates with the truths explained within it.

The Explicit Gospel {Book Review}

Here are a few reminders I enjoyed from The Explicit Gospel. (Please note, that this is not an outline of the book, but me summarizing a few of my highlights through the book.)

The gospel is not all about me!

The context of the gospel message is not our benefit or our salvation; the context of the gospel is the supremacy of Christ and the glory of God.  —Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

God was not lonely when He created mankind. He didn’t need us to be complete or to have purpose. Yes, God loves us. Yes, He has purpose in our existence. But it is not all about you and me. The gospel is all about God.

What He has done. What He is doing. What He is going to do.

When God looks at me, He is well pleased because of the gospel.

The marker of those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, when they stumble and fall, when they screw up, they run to God and not from him, because they clearly understand that their acceptance before God is not predicated upon their behavior but on the righteous life of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death.  —Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

I don’t have to play the game of the Christian do’s and don’ts. I don’t have to go on mission trips and serve in the nursery. I don’t have to be the perfect mom.

I don’t have to hide when I screw up.

This is HUGE, friends. Christ has already done everything that needs to be done. I have been given the righteousness of Christ! My relationship with God has already been made right.

There is no work I can do to make Him love me more.

There is no sin I can commit that will make Him love me less.

The gospel leads to grace-driven effort, not behavior modification.

Grace-driven effort wants to get to the bottom of behavior, not just manage behavior. If you’re simply managing behavior but not removing the roots of that behavior, then the weeds simply sprout up in another place.  —Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

What ends up happening to so many of us is that we spend so much time trying to put sin to death that we don’t spend enough time striving to know God deeply, trying to gaze upon the wonder of Jesus Christ and have that transform our affections to the point where our love and hope are steadfastly on Christ. The goal is this: that Christ would become more beautiful and desirable than the allure of sin.  —Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

Yes. Just yes.

Grace-driven effort is violent. It is aggressive. The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life but to outright destroy it. Out of love for Jesus, he wants sin starved to death, and he will hunt and pursue the death of every sin in his heart until he has achieved success. This is a very different pursuit than simply wanting to be good. It is the result of having transferred one’s affections to Jesus. When God’s love takes hold of us, it powerfully pushes out our own love for other gods and frees our love to flow back to him in true worship. And when we love God, we obey him.  —Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

Many of these quotes come from the last chapter of The Explicit Gospel. It is a chapter I wish all Christians would read. I want to photo copy it and have it handy in my purse to hand out to people.


I HIGHLY recommend this book. Regardless of where you are in your faith. Get it. Read it. Highlight it. Then pass it along for someone else to read.

I received a free copy of The Explicit Gospel from Crossway in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. I loved the book so much that I bought it for my Kindle app…the next-best thing to making copies for my purse.

You can check out more of my book reviews here.

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Hold close, with affection.

Eager acceptance.

There are many things I can embrace, easily. But, to embrace who God has made me—the strengths and the weaknesses—is no small feat.

It seems innate to dislike so many things about who I am.

The bulldozer personality.

That loud voice.

A tendency to be all or nothing and thus give up if surroundings cannot be controlled.

Why is it so hard to believe I am amazing?

I can look at other women and see much greatness about each of them.

She has a gentle, content spirit—one that calms others by just being around her. (Why can’t I just settle down?) When I am around her I feel like I am the only one in the room. (I wish I could be less distracted.)  I love her witty and endearing personality. (I’ve always wanted to be the one who lights up the room.) She has a way with words that is incredible. (I stumble so slowly through this writing thing.)

But, to see me? My strengths? My amazing-ness? (My ability to make up new words.)

That is a struggle.

I’ve never met a woman who found it easy to believe she’s amazing. I’m not talking about the puffed-up pride…I mean “I truly know who I am in Christ, embrace that fully, and live in it completely all the time.” I used to think I had to find a silver bullet that would kill my insecurity and replace it with confidence. I now believe that because we’re all Eve’s daughters, this insecurity is something we’ll face throughout our lives. – Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing

From her experience as a licensed counselor, life coach, and a fellow struggling daughter of Eve, Holley Gerth has poured her heart out for us in her book You’re Already Amazing. Holley has a way with words that made me feel as if she was right there with me as I read; she cheered me along and whispered truth to my uncertainty.

Here are a few things I came away with from my time with Holley:

  • Know the Truth. You’re Already Amazing points to Biblical truth about who we are in Christ and, more specifically, how He has also made each of us unique and integral to God’s plan—just the way we are.
  • Live in your strengths. Holley has filled this book with tools to help each of us figure out how God has built us.  From looking at the way we handle our emotions and how we connect with others, to developing a plan for our life that keeps our personality, strengths, and giftedness in mind; Holley encourages us to find and remain in a place that is using our strengths—and also to find a way to recharge for when we cannot.
  • Have a plan for where I want to go, in light of who God has made me.
  • Walk forward in confidence. Quit hoping and striving to be someone I was never intended to be. Pay attention to who I am, right now, and focus on being my best, not someone else’s best.
So if you’ve felt afraid to put yourself out there because you feel less than perfect, because you’re afraid what others might say, then reach out your hands and open your heart, sweet sister. You are already perfectly loved, and you only have to please the One who has already declared you are a delight to his heart. – Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing

You know, this bulldozer of a woman can plow through a challenge with energy, determination, and courage.

When in check, the “all in” mentality is a great strength of dedication and loyalty.

And that loud voice? My husband’s first memory of meeting me involves me standing on a chair and shouting. (I promise, there is a story behind that one!)

No one can take your place. God doesn’t have a “plan B” for you. You have gifts to offer the world, ways of connecting that only you can fulfill. – Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing
This isn’t about self-improvement. It’s about aligning our lives with love in the way God created us to do. To do that, we need a lot of grace and an approach that makes sense based on who God made us. Every runner has a rhythm that works best for her. You’re the same way. When we set out to make changes, we need to be sure we’re moving to be more of who God made us—not more life someone else. – Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing
I hope you’ll check out Holley’s book. It is encouraging, equipping, and enabling for your own journey toward embracing who God has made you to be.
Do you struggle with seeing the truth that you are amazing?

Essentially a commentary on 1 Corinthians 13, Loving the Way Jesus Loves by Phil Ryken is a wonderful portrayal of what it means to love with the love of Christ.

Each chapter in Loving the Way Jesus Loves takes a focused look at the different characteristics of love taught in 1 Corinthians 13. It also views 1 Corinthians 13 through the lens of Christ’s love, and how He exemplified each characteristic of love described in 1 Corinthians.

Love is Not Irritable

I found chapter 3, Love Is Not Irritable, particularly helpful (and convicting!)

When we are irritable, we want to get away from other people—our family members, our neighbors, our classmates, our co-workers—even if it means keeping other people away from Jesus, too. (page 52)

This is how irritability treats other people: by putting what we want ahead of what they need and, if possible, by trying to avoid their needs altogether. The real problem is us, not them. We need to be honest about this, because often we blame the people around us for the way we respond.”He really makes me mad!” we say, as if someone outside of us were directly and totally responsible for our sinful attitude. This is not to say that other people are never annoying. Sometimes they are. But the spiritual issue for me is not how irritating other people are; it is how irritable I am. (page 52-53)

Oh, how I need the love of Jesus to love others more than I do myself!

Christ-Centric Study

Ryken does a wonderful job of pointing us to Jesus with every chapter. I cannot be less irritable, self-seeking, or impatient without the love of Christ. It is His love that is the example I look to, and it is only His love that enables me to love like Jesus.

Jesus never does anything without love. Indeed, his love is everything the Love Chapter says that love should be. It is patient with sinners and kind to strangers. It does not envy or boast but offers itself in humble service. It does not envy or boast but offers itself in humble service. It does not insist on its own way but submits to the Father. It is able to forgive, trust, hope, and persevere…In other words, the love of Jesus is everything that we are not…Jesus is the living perfection of love. (page 178)

I found chapter 10, Love Trusts,very interesting and helpful in understanding how love trusts and how that trust can affect my prayer life. Jesus loved God so much, that He believed all things, even when He hung on the cross, beaten and forsaken.

This is the way that God makes us believers out of us: he gives us his love. The more we experience the Father’s love, the more we will learn to trust him, even in times of extreme need and desperate helplessness. We will learn to pray in faith the way that Jesus did: “Father, into your hands I commit…”

…We pray the same way in our struggle with sin. We may feel defeated by some particular transgression—a repeated sin that the Devil tempts us to think we can never conquer. But the love of God persuades us to say, “Father, into your hands I commit my sanctification. By your love, deliver me from the Evil One and give me your power over this sin!”

…We can pray this way about everything in life:” Father, into your hands I commit my marriage [or my singleness].” “Into your hands I commit my ministry—whatever way you want me to serve you.” “Into your hands I commit the community you have called me to love, with all its problems.” “Father, into your hands I commit my future, with all its hopes and fears.”

There is also a great study guide in the back, making this a great book for a small group discussion.

I really enjoyed this book! Grab your own copy today, you’ll love it!

I received this book in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.

Looking for a way to tell your children about the reason behind why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

St. Patrick's Day Activities
St. Patrick's Day activities

The Real Reason for St. Patrick’s Day

Besides being a fun reason to wear green and pinch those who don’t, it is a celebration of a man of God who sacrificed all for the sake of the gospel. Hands down, the best book for telling the true story of St. Patrick’s Day is The Story of St. Patrick: More Than Shamrocks and Leprechauns 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! .

This is a great book to read for family worship time together, as it will certainly bring up some good conversations about a heart for the lost, and sacrifice for the sake of others and their salvation.

Highly recommend this book! You can read more about The Story of St. Patrick book in last year’s post.

Fun Ideas for St. Patrick’s Day

We had all sorts of fun with the color GREEN last year! A quick trip to The Dollar Store and we were set with fun accessories! We ate pistachio pudding (yummie!) and green macaroni and cheese (just add green dye to the water when you boil the noodles.)

Green food, St. Patrick's, fun with kids

real reason for St. Patrick's Day

real reason for St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
Any books to share?

“…when his love is all that surrounds you and all that contains you and all that you contain, then life is a whole new ball game. What was down is now up, what was death is not life, what was less is now more, and what was weakness is now strength; there is no more death for you. It is all nothing but life. No one can kill you when you are already dead.” —Die Young: Burying Your Self in Christ, Micheal and Hayley DiMarco

Wow. I’m not sure about you, but when I read this, I am intrigued. What do Michael and Hayley DiMarco mean by this?

Hayley and Michael make some strong claims in this book. That if we die to self, we actually obtain real life. If we become weak, we become strong. Really, they are not the ones making these claims—these truths are all over scripture.

There is so much about the Christian life that is up-side-down. In Die Young: Burying Your Self in Christ, the DiMarco’s have done a fabulous job helping us understand the up-side-downness of the gospel—and how it give us joy and hope for growth in our day-to-day walk with God.

Die Young, DiMarco, Book Review, crossway

One of my favorite things about this book are the “Here Lies” sections. Peppered throughout the book are stories—confessions, really—of Micheal and Hayley’s journey of dying to self. They share some deep, honest past and current struggles. I appreciate that. Their stories give me courage to live out my own sin-stained story, and to strive for more of this dying-life.

In Die Young, you will receive practical, applicable truths for our journey of sanctification and the fight against our flesh—the left-over old self in us that craves to do what is against God.

Here is a peek at all this book holds:

Death is the new life.
“There is a death that comes that isn’t meant to destroy you but to destroy that in you which was never meant to replace the hand of God in your life.”

Down is the new up.
“…it takes a strong redirecting of our minds to put us back on thinking more like sinners saved by grace than royalty destined for only the best of things.”

Less is the new more.
“…the less we treasure, cherish, and worship here in earth, the more our hearts yearn for the things of heaven, that is, God and his will.”

Weak is the new strong.
“As you come to accept the things you can’t do, you learn to rely on the One who can.”

Slavery is the new freedom.
“The self that we all have can either be an empty vessel ready to accept the life of Christ into it, a temple to his holy Spirit, or it can be occupied with more human things—self-will, self-effort, self-dependance, self-esteem, self-importance. All of these focus on the little god inside of us rather than the true God above us.”

Confession is the new innocence.
“When you die young you are honest about sin because you care less about your own life and standing than you do about God and his standing.”

Red is the new white.
“To belabor your sinfulness is to ignore the blood that cleanses you from all unrighteousness. When we die young we die to our right to hold onto the memory of our sins…”

Dying Young is available for purchase now, and will be released on January 31.

I was given a pre-released copy of Die Young in exchange for my review. All opinions stated are my own.

Read more of my Crossway book reviews.

I have grown to truly enjoy reading with my kids. I used to dread it, when they asked me to read a book. I think it was because THEY NEVER SAT THROUGH THE WHOLE BOOK. Anna typically would kick the book out of my hand, thinking it was hilarious. Kenneth would sit for—I don’t know—like 2.3 seconds, and there I was, left holding a torn up book, red-faced and yelling at my kids for not sitting still.

We’ve had a few years to get used to this whole sitting down and reading a book thing, and I dare say we are all getting pretty good at it.

A recent favorite of our has become The Barber Who Wanted to Pray.

The Barber Who Wanted to Pray is a delight to read and it is beautifully illustrated. As a family, we have enjoyed reading it over and over.

This children’s book, written by R.C. Sproul hits on an area that both children and adults need development in—prayer. The Barber Who Wanted to Pray tells an engaging tale of Martin Luther and how he came to write the classic little booklet A Simple Way to Pray; leaving children and adults with a practical guide to prayer.

I love the discussion this book has provided about prayer, church history, and family devotion time. Our oldest, Kenneth, used to be pretty eager to pray with us, but now that he is getting older he has become more inhibited. I think it is because he is a perfectionistic rule-follower like his mama, and he feels he is not good at praying—so he doesn’t want to do it aloud. (I think more than a few adults feel this intimidation as well.) As we continue to read this book, my prayer is that he can grasp the simple model for praying shared.

The Barber Who Wanted to Pray is a beautiful read and a great family resource.

I was given a copy of The Barber Who Wanted to Pray by Crossway, in exchange for my review. Opinions stated are all mine.