Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Month: November 2016

Giving Thanks, and Taking a Hiatus


This year hasn’t turned out quite like I’d hoped. Okay, it actually hasn’t turned out anything like I’d hoped. But as typically happens when you stop trying to force your will and submit to God’s leading in your life, it turned out like I think it was supposed to.

I had a good feeling around this time last year that 2016 would be a year of big change. Of course, I thought that meant mostly external changes. Changes to our circumstances. Changes for the better.

That really hasn’t happened (although it seems some big changes of that variety might be on the horizon). What I got instead was internal change. I think my husband and I both went through a lot of growing and having our faith stretched this year. I went through some painful but incredibly necessary healing from my past. My husband went through some scary health-related trials. And although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that, outwardly, nothing about our lives has changed, I’m also daring to hope that this was a year of preparation so that we’ll better equipped to handle the kind of change I’m hoping for.

And through all the highs and lows there has been so much to be thankful for. So many blessings–some big and obvious, some a little more hidden. And while I’m of course thankful for the obvious things, like my husband and family and pets and a roof over our heads and a steady income to help keep it there, I want to list a some highlights of what God has done for me this year, for which I’m deeply grateful.

My husband is healthy!

As I mentioned, he had some health scares this year. It was quite a roller coaster ride, but the end result is that everything was treatable and manageable and, overall, he has a clean bill of health. With his medical history, this is seriously something to be grateful for. What’s more, throughout it all we could see God at work, comforting and encouraging us in very relevant and specific ways and getting Mr. B in touch with just the right medical experts who knew exactly what was happening and what needed to be done in the midst of a lot of confusion and cluelessness.

My oldest, fondest dream came true.

A few weeks ago, I became a traditionally published novelist. After a long, long road that included a lengthy detour through self-publishing, I realized a dream I’ve had since I was a teenager of holding a book in my hand that I wrote and that an actual publishing company believed was good enough to publish. I’m not knocking self-publishing, and I’m proud of my self-published books. I put a lot of work into them and I think I turned out some good products. But becoming a self-published novelist wasn’t what I longed for throughout the last three decades of my life. I had almost given up on that dream when God almost literally dropped a three-book publishing deal into my lap last year, which goes to show that if you have a God-breathed dream that seems to have died, just because you’ve given up on it doesn’t mean that God has. He can make it happen. He is faithful, just as he was faithful to answer the prayers of a young girl who dreamed more than anything of being a published novelist some day.

My past no longer hurts.

I didn’t exactly have an easy time of it growing up. Abuse, bullying, constant rejection, a tumultuous relationship with my dad . . . I carried around a lot of pain. I’d believed that they were all scarred over and toughened up, but God showed me how they were simply scabbed over wounds and how easily they could be opened up again. But then he bound up my wounds and truly healed them once and for all. Even more, I realized that I believed all of the lies that were spoken over me throughout my life, and adopted all of the labels that the enemy used hurting people to place on me. The Lord helped me to reject those labels and lies and replace them with His truth and the words that He himself has spoken over me. There’s still some work to do here, but this year I shed so much of the garbage that the enemy tried to attach to my soul and became much more fully my true self, the woman God purposefully created me to be. And it feels really good to be her.

So when I list it all out like that, this has actually been a year of pretty big change after all. It’s definitely been a year of blessing. And as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend here in the U.S. I’m also going to be thankful for small blessings like roast turkey and dressing and pie and cookies and the Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix.

And of course, after Thanksgiving comes Advent. This will be my second year observing Advent (I come from a non-liturgical evangelical background that never really acknowledged it), and as part of my effort to be mindful and focus on what really matters as I prepare my heart and mind for Christmas and the coming year, I’m giving myself permission to slack off on blogging for the next few weeks. I’ll be re-posting some “best of” posts from the archives, and I’ll be back after Christmas to talk about my hopes and plans for the new year, but don’t expect a lot of fresh new content between now and then.

What are you thankful for this year? And if you’re here in the U.S. (or are an ex-pat who’s observing it far from home), Happy Thanksgiving!




What the Bible Tells Us about Tumultuous Times


Regardless of how you voted, or how you feel about the election outcome, the fact remains that we’re living in tumultuous times and the future seems more uncertain than ever. But as believers in Christ, we don’t need to be afraid. Here are 15 passages of scripture to help put things into perspective as we look ahead and move forward.

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Daniel 4:17b – to the end that the living may know that the Most High “rules the kingdom of men” and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’

1 Chronicles 29:11-12 – Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.

Acts 4:12 – And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

1 John 4:4 – Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Psalm 62:5 – For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

Colossians 3:1-2 -If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Isaiah 41:10 – fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

And that’s not all. I encourage you to read these passages, too:

Psalm 37:1-9

Romans 8:28-39

2 Timothy 3:1-9

Ephesians 6:10-18

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

This election came as a surprise to just about everybody, but it didn’t come as a surprise to God. Rest easy, and remember that God knows how to God.

Have any scriptures to add? Leave them in the comments!

In love,

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PS – Find more encouragement at the following linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams



Link Roundup: Struggling Doesn’t Mean Your Faith is Broken


Sometimes — more often than I like to admit — I struggle with obsessive thinking. When those obsessive thoughts get stuck on a negative loop, it puts me on a downward spiral into anxiety and depression.

I’ve learned that when this happens, I need to take those thoughts captive and redirect my focus through prayer and time in God’s Word, but at times that is way, way easier said than done. I pray and I pray and I cast my cares on God and I proclaim truth and claim His peace, but inwardly I still wrestle with negative thoughts and feelings. And I in turn feel a lot of guilt and shame because shouldn’t this be working? Shouldn’t this be easier? Is my faith broken? Am I not trusting God enough? Am I a bad Christian?

I’ve felt God speaking truth into my life on this topic this week, and that truth is this: we all struggle like this. We’re made to. Our brains, while not all wired to be obsessive, are wired with a bent toward negativity. Our feelings work against us. This is natural and normal and even Jesus and Paul and King David experienced it. Probably every believer ever has.

The fact that we wrestle like this doesn’t take God by surprise, and it doesn’t make Him displeased with us. It’s not something to feel guilt or shame about. The fact that we wrestle against our thoughts and feelings means that our hearts are turned in the right direction. It just takes our minds a while to catch up to what our hearts already know.

Even more importantly, God uses this struggle for our good. He uses it to strengthen us, teach us, grow us, draw us closer to Him and deeper into His Word.

Today I want to share the posts that helped me arrive at this understanding. These first two laid the groundwork:

When Gratitude Feels Unnatural by Heather Enright on InCourage

“What can we be thankful for?”

His startling words broke the dark night. He knows me well enough to read my thoughts, and so he added, “The Bible doesn’t say we have to be thankful for all things. But God asks us to be thankful in all things. I’m just reaching here. But can we find anything to be thankful for to help us look at the bigger picture?”

The Bible talks about the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. These words never ring more true than when you are stumbling through the valley of loss and searching frantically to find your way to God. A sacrifice of thanks, indeed.

Gratitude When You’ve Got an Attitude by Holley Gerth

We also don’t have to feel thankful. Our brains are wired with a negativity bias. This means we tend to pay more attention to what’s wrong (like a bear charging at us). This instinct keeps us alive but it also means our emotions and perspective can take time to catch up with our wills. God knows this and we don’t have to feel shame or guilt about the disconnect.

And this one gave me my “A-ha!” moment:

What to Do with Tough Relationships by Lysa TerKeurst on Proverbs31

1 Peter 5:10-11, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

In the end, this struggle can be used by God to make me stronger and more capable in my relationships. If I am humble enough to receive from Him in the quiet what He wants to teach me through this, I can rest assured with whatever the outcome is.

It was those words of Peter — “after you have suffered a little while” — that brought it all home for me this morning. Lysa refers to that passage throughout her post, starting with verse 6. Peter walks us through the process of humbling ourselves before God, casting our anxiety on Him, remembering who our true enemy is and resisting him, promising that the end result will be that God will make us strong, firm and steadfast — but only after we have struggled a while.

Y’all, God knows this stuff takes time. He knows it isn’t easy, and He’s okay with that. He doesn’t condemn us for it. Instead He patiently helps us through it.

We have a good, good God, you guys.

In Love,



PS – Find more encouragement at the following linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams