When God Isn’t There

Picture this: You’re at a party. The room is crowded with noisy yet familiar voices calling out. People are laughing, telling jokes, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. There are at least five people within arms length that you should feel comfortable reaching out to but you can’t. You feel alone and trapped. In fact, no matter how familiar a person is, you feel alone in life. Maybe it’s because you’re a minister who is struggling through a broken marriage, trying to find healing without compromising a reputation (or more). Perhaps the reason you feel so alone is because you just lost your best friend due to an ugly argument. For some, they may be harboring a secret so deep, so breathtaking that the idea of small talk scares them, for fear that somehow that secret will slip out. And for others, it’s a dark, indescribable wall of depression that separates them from their loved ones. Maybe it’s your past that resurfaces in your mind every six months, crippling you with guilt. We all find ourselves alone at some point in life for some reason if not several. A few weeks ago I was just coming back from my beautiful honeymoon. I was so excited to be in our first home together. With this marriage came a specific transition I knew would be hard for both my daughter & I… her first, solo bedroom. I’ve been co-sleeping with my baby since the beginning. Not that a mom needs to excuse this but I just didn’t see Korey coming into our lives so quickly and quite frankly enjoyed the company of my...

Preparing for Christmas: A Seven-Day Plan

We face so many preparations this month. Christmas is right around the corner, and we have decorations to put up, gifts to buy and wrap, and scrumptious food to prepare. We anticipate spending time with family (and all the joy and frustration that comes with them). And although we have so many thoughts and tasks added to our calendars this month, we also have the usual routines and responsibilities of work, parenting, laundry, grocery shopping, and more. It’s a lot. It’s difficult to refocus once we get in the middle of mayhem. The time to focus is now, early in the month as the busyness begins. Today’s post is for you to print and keep where you’ll see it every morning, evening, or whenever you can intentionally read, reflect, and focus on God. Each day is not intended to be time-consuming (one more thing to add to your list!) but heart-consuming. Empty yourself of your concerns, schedule, and stress, and invite God to fill you with his presence, wisdom, and peace. Instead of inserting God into your celebrations, let him guide every moment of the month ahead, inserting the essentials and setting aside the unnecessary. Day 1. Prepare. The Old Testament is sprinkled with the foretelling of Jesus’ birth. It’s easy to see now, because we live beyond the birth of Jesus. Realizing the accuracy of the words spoken many years before is awe-inspiring. Read Isaiah 53 and let the prophecy soak into you. Day 2. Plant. It’s easy to allow truth to be uprooted. We’re surrounded by clashing messages. The messages with a little truth mixed with a lot of...

Christmas without Shame

    “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3.17 NIV). Every Christmas, I feel God giving me a personal theme of what He wants to resonate in my soul for that season. This Christmas, God is practically shouting to me, “Therefore, there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus” (emphasis added) (Romans 8.1 NIV). Why is this Truth so difficult for us to grasps? Why do I still wake up every morning having to engage in a mind battle to capture every little negative thought that comes into my mind and bring it to obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10.5). “You didn’t work hard enough yesterday.” “You said that stupid thing to your friend.” “What makes you think you can be a Christian communicator?” “You messed up as a wife, mother, friend, daughter, etc.…” Each morning, it’s like Satan is just waiting for me to wake up, so he can throw accusation at me. The funny thing is that no matter how perfect I try to be, he will always find some way to accuse and shame me. The Bible says that our accuser is ALWAYS at work shaming us (Revelation 12.10). I would always grin and bear it until God showed me recently that I was so busy playing defense to the enemy’s schemes that I was losing my offensive advantage. Every Christian has the offensive advantage through Christ. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater...

How To Get Your Heart Right This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and yet if I’m being honest there are days in this season of life when it is just plain hard to be thankful. Shocking, I know. I shouldn’t be saying that to you, I should put on my Patty perfect pastor’s wife hat and pretend to have it all together…but, I just can’t do that anymore. You and I both know that being real with each other is so much healthier than some pretend story of how someone else’s life is more put together than yours. Plus, it is a reality that many can relate to right now. I can count my blessings, I can try to be positive, but let’s face it–life is hard sometimes and it’s not enough to know that fact in your head, you’ve got to give it time to get your heart. So, what are you supposed to do when you should have a heart of thanksgiving but your heart and your head aren’t talking to each other? That’s a great question and I’ve found some incredible wisdom for us right here in this verse; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV Let’s dig right in because this is just too good to wait on…if we are anxious then chances are we aren’t going to have a heart of thanksgiving, will we? We’ll be, well…anxious. Worried, frazzled, distracted and trying...

Have you learned to rejoice?

 Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) No, I do not rejoice always I did not rejoice when my daughter went to the emergency room. Five months later, there was no rejoicing when my husband took a trip there. The following year, when I took my own trip to the ER, there was no rejoicing. No, I did not rejoice when a friend’s husband walked out on her and their children. Rejoicing was nowhere to be found when I found out a dear friend was given a diagnosis of an invasive, aggressive cancer. In these moments, there was heartache. My head spun, and my emotions were a train wreck. But rejoicing? None was found in the middle of those moments. During the disagreements and disappointments in life? No, I do not rejoice. Seriously, Paul? Did Paul honestly mean to say we are to rejoice always, and to give thanks in all circumstances? Surely, he wrote that on a good day: a really good day. But alas, I have looked and I have studied, and I cannot find a loophole in Paul’s words. Trust me, I have tried. Paul, who was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and imprisoned again, tells us to rejoice always, pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances. Do you know what this means? We are to rejoice, even on those hard, horrible days. And, we are to pray, not just during our morning quiet times. We are to give thanks in all circumstances. What? All circumstances? Yes, all means all. When...

Casting Nets on Ordinary Days

“Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, ‘Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.’ They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.”  Matthew 4:18-20, MSG   How many times did they cast their nets into that sea? How many days of fishing had weathered their skin? How many conversations, laughs, frustrations had that boat seen? But something made that day different. That was the day Jesus stepped into the ordinary. I’m continually reminded that I don’t know the plans of the Lord. We don’t know His days or His hours. We live these “ordinary” days, casting our nets and pulling up fish and yet the Lord is moving all the while. How many moments had they lived; had led up to the moment of Christ’s call? Moments that seemed monotonous, routine, insignificant. Moments spent waiting, wondering if there was more. Moments of laughter and frustration and tears that brought them to that specific boat, on that specific place in the water, at that specific point in time, where their hearts were in the perfect posture to drop everything for Jesus. We get into these traps of waiting for that moment. And while the Lord may be preparing us for something in the future, we don’t know that. What He does tell us is that He’s stepping into every moment. His Spirit is always...

Think Before You Speak

  Jean and I were in the same class and rode the school bus together. We weren’t friends – just acquaintances. I’m not sure why I chose to make fun of her, but all these years later I wish I could rewind the clock and apologize for the way I acted. Harsh words & a lie I was sitting with one of my friends on the bus when we slowed down in front of her house. As the door slid open, and Jean boarded the bus, I made a rude comment about her hair. As we laughed, Jean took her seat and asked what was so funny. I made something up, and pretended to be nice to her. My words and actions were anything but kind. What we need Discretion isn’t a word we use much today, but it’s a quality we need to develop. The dictionary defines it as “the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information.” My words, all those years ago, were not discreet. Look at what King Solomon has to say about this quality: When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: Proverbs 2:10-11; KJV When my words are discreet, they serve as a source of protection and help maintain a high standard. They are wise words. Choose wisely Years have passed since that day on the bus. And every day I get to choose the words I will speak. When I yield to the Holy Spirit, I can use my words...

How to Embrace Seasons of Change

Change: we all go through it at some point in our lives and it happens whether we want it to or not. So what do we do when the winds of change start to blow and we simply don’t want things to change? Do we stomp our feet like little kids and cross our arms, forbidding change to happen? Do we jump on an imaginary surfboard and ride the waves of change like a free spirit? Do we go through the motions of change, doing what we gotta do, all the while wondering, “what just happened?” If you are anything like me, you’ve probably done all three at some point or another in your life. This year though, has been different. This year has been all about change in every single arena of my life. Okay, so not every single arena. I am still very much happily married, but pretty much everything else has changed and this has proven to be one of the most emotional, gut wrenching, spirit checking, soul searching seasons in my life. I’ve always pictured myself as an “adventurer” type of person. The one who leads change, blazes new paths, plows right ahead. It wasn’t until everything changed that I realized just how comfortable my life was and how much I liked it that way. Isn’t that usually the way it is in life? You think things are one way, then quickly realize you were off in your view of reality. This has absolutely been the case for me, and while I wrestle with all the change, I’m slowly starting to let the words from...

be Still

In our society, we are always on the go. Our to-do lists are constantly running through our heads and chances are even as we skim over this we are thinking of all the other things we still have to do today. Oh my, sweet friends, it’s time for us to stop the running, the chasing, and the endless pursuit of what the world tells us that we should want– – money – status – stuff – more _______ (fill in the blank) …and stop long enough to simply be still. Just for a moment. Come on, try it. Just be still, take a deep breathe in then exhale slowly. Don’t text, tweet, instagram or update your status (ha, caught you!) — there’ll be time for that later. Right now though, let’s try to simply be still and see what God does. Listen, I’m not great at this either, I’m about as “Dory” as they come, but it is something I’ve been challenged on lately and wanted to share some of what I’m learning through it with you. Here’s what you can do to get started on learning to be still. Ask Him to join you in your be still and silent moment. Release all the distractions clamoring for your attention. Take a few deep breaths in and really start to slow yourself down a bit. Wait for Him to come sit beside you. I’ve found that it’s best to do before your days gets away from you, but here’s a little heads up as you get started. I can guarantee you that it will not be easy at first. Everything around you...

Beyond Approval – You Are Wildly Loved

Who are you? Do you define yourself based on what others think of you? Do you crave the approval of others? You’re not alone. It’s common to seek approval to overcome feelings of rejection and low self-esteem.  But pleasing one person can cause a problem for someone else. On our quest for approval, it’s impossible to make everyone happy. So how do we fill the void? It’s not as difficult as you think. God created you with a specific purpose and plan. Because you belong to Him, what He thinks of you matters most (click to tweet). So just what does He think of you? How God sees you He designed you with infinite care before He formed you (Psalm 139:16). Remember the Psalmist David? He was quick to recognize the miracle of life and praise God for it: I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14; KVJ God’s Word is true. You were created in the image of God. He made you uniquely you: with the looks, personality, and abilities you have. You are a masterpiece. The right focus While we often get our hearts set on winning someone’s approval to validate our worth, our vision clears when we focus on Jesus. His actions demonstrated a radical love we can’t deny. He was willing to humble Himself and become a man. He lived a sinless life. Jesus died on the cross in our place. When we put our faith in Him, we will live with Him eternally in Heaven. Wow! Now that’s...