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

Tag: faith (Page 1 of 5)

Here’s to Knowing Yourself, and to New Beginnings

I was shocked when I pulled up this blog and realized how long it’s been since I last wrote something here. I never intended to take such a long break. There were many times, early on, when I thought of something I wanted to post about here, but I just didn’t have the energy. And then I realized how much I needed the extra white space that not blogging added to my life, so I decided to leave it be, and that turned out to be a much-needed decision.

This has been a crazy year, to be sure. Here’s a quick recap of the highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be):

  • In January my mom had a stroke. She spent a little over a week in the hospital and then they sent her home sick with a stomach bug, so my husband and I had a pretty intense first week of being her full time caregivers. Thankfully, things got easier for all of us once she got over that bug, and she made such great strides in her recovery that within a month she was able to mostly do for herself.
  • A lot of drama ensued in the aftermath of the stroke which I’m not getting into here for the sake of other people’s privacy. I’ll simply say that it was eye-opening.
  • For a multitude of reasons, my husband and I moved again toward the end of February, into a travel trailer in the middle of the country. God met my desire to try living tiny and to get a do-over at trailer life (following a stint living in an Airstream during my college years that didn’t go so well) in a way that demonstrated both His amazing grace and provision and his sense of humor.
  • It turns out that, while living tiny is quite cozy and has many advantages, it’s sometimes a little too cozy for two introverts and also has a number of disadvantages. After nearly six months of this experiment, we’re both feeling ready for a house-sized home, and we’re currently in the process of looking for one.
  • In the space of that six months I’ve managed to finish editing and eventually launch one novel, revise another, and get yet another a little more than half-way written.

But mostly, I’ve spent the last six months or so healing from a not insignificant amount of emotional trauma inflicted during that first drama-filled month of the year, and working to figure some stuff out. Mostly, I’ve been working to figure myself out. It’s been a journey that has included a lot of praying, a lot of reading–both the Bible and other helpful books–a lot of journaling, a lot of crying–both to God and to my husband (who has been the best friend and partner I could ask for in the midst of all of this, despite working through his own hurts) and silently to myself–and a lot of learning to just sit with my feelings and let them be, neither denying them nor trying to force myself to get over them too quickly.

And along the way I’ve discovered some very important things about myself, including lies I’ve been believing and allowing to shape my life, unhealthy behaviors and areas in my own soul that I needed to work on, and what is actually true about me and about my life.

One of the things I figured out, with help from the book Reading People by Anne Bogel (Disclaimer: that’s an Amazon affiliate link, and I’m required to tell you what you already know, which is that if you use that link to buy something I’ll get a tiny commission and you won’t get charged anything extra), is that as a certified INFP I tend to have boundary issues that sometimes make it hard for me to know where I end and other people begin. This can make me easy to influence and it means I have to be very careful about the influences I allow into my life. But it can also mean that sometimes I unconsciously latch onto other people’s dreams or visions and mistake them for my own, and also unconsciously mimic what other people are doing. Sometimes I catch myself imitating someone else’s mannerisms, or their voice or writing style, and it can be hard to figure out how much of what I produce is them and how much is actually me.

I bring this up because it bears on why I ended up taking such a long break from this blog. That little epiphany led to another one, which is that that’s what was happening with this blog and why I was so unsatisfied and exhausted by it. I had surrounded myself by these awesome lady bloggers and even though I really had no ambitions of my own to be a Capital-B Professional Blogger, I realized that I was mimicking what they were doing and pushing myself after a goal that wasn’t actually mine to go after, and I needed to just stop.

So I did.

And I took a long time, and I prayed a lot about it, and figured out exactly who I am, what I want, whether I actually want to be blogging, what I actually want to get out of it and, more importantly, what I hope to give by doing it.

So here I am, ready to get back in the saddle, armed with a lot more clarity and a much stronger sense of self and of purpose.

Don’t expect a regular or consistent post schedule. That was the deal I made with myself when deciding whether I missed this enough to take it up again: that I would post when I have time, if I feel like it, and if not in either case, I will have zero guilt about it, because this is not my job. I’m here for the joy of it, and because I want to share what I’ve been learning and what God has been doing in my life so that you might be ministered to, and because we were all made for fellowship and sharing and sharpening each other, not for tucking all of our thoughts quietly into the pages of a journal. Not that there’s not a place for that — I have a newfound love of journaling. Journaling has absolutely been giving me life during this season — but the wisdom I’ve gained deserves to be shared.

I’m not the same person I was the last time I posted here.

I look forward to letting you all get to know the new me.

And I hope you’ll stick around for it.

PS – The pics are all from around the farm where we’ve been staying. Isn’t it beautiful here? It helps that I finally upgraded my phone to one with a decent camera. Here’s one more before I go:

The Meaning of Grace

The Meaning of Grace


Note: I’m still sharing posts from the archives while I work on my book and take time to enjoy summer. This post originally appeared March 30, 2016. I’m sharing it today because as summer winds down and we head into the back-to-school season (some of us, anyway), we can’t have too many reminders about God’s grace.


While reading A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman, at one point she mentions that she stumbled across a Bible verse about grace and was filled with questions about what, exactly, grace means. Naturally, this prompted me to ask the same question. It’s easy to think we know the answer, but it’s equally easy to get all mixed up about it and misunderstand its meaning.

After some thought and prayer, here’s what I think grace means–or at least, what it means to me.

I think grace means being released from focusing on our own goodness (or lack thereof) and focusing instead on God’s goodness. Or as Mary Ingalls put it:

“I mean I don’t believe we ought to think so much about ourselves, about whether we are bad or good,” Mary explained.

“But, my goodness!  How can anybody be good without thinking about it?”  Laura demanded.

“I don’t know, I guess we couldn’t,” Mary admitted.  “I don’t know how to say what I mean very well.  But – it isn’t so much thinking, as – as just knowing.  Just being sure of the goodness of God.

–Laura Ingalls Wilder,  Little Town on the Prairie (emphasis added)

Grace means moving toward righteousness and sanctification as best we can, but accepting that we can’t get there on our own, that we’ll never fully get there in this life, and resting in the knowledge that grace fills the gap for us.

It means accepting our humanity and frailty and weakness and knowing that that’s when He’s best able to manifest His strength and power within us.

It means freedom — not to sin, not to do whatever we want, but to not beat ourselves up when we stumble and fall. To know He’s there to catch us, set us back on our feet, and keep on loving us anyway.

It means that every single morning is a fresh start. Every time we sincerely repent is a clean slate and a new beginning.

Grace means we can relax. We don’t have to overthink this whole salvation thing. We don’t have to work our butts off to earn it. We don’t have to constantly examine ourselves to make sure we’re doing it right. We can be confident that the Holy Spirit will be sure to let us know when we’re doing it wrong and we need to course correct — and He’ll give us what we need to do so.

It means we don’t have to be perfect, because Jesus was perfect for us.

It means we have everything we need to be pleasing to God, and to be satisfied in Him.

May we all go forth in His grace today.




PS – Linking up this week with Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart, Missional Women’s Faith Filled Friday, and the Faith Barista.


We are All Chosen Ones in Christ


Note: I’m still sharing Golden Oldies from the archives while I take time off to enjoy the summer and write my next book. Here’s one from last September. It feels relevent, and not just because of the picture (aside: I saw Wonder Woman a couple of weeks ago and I have to confess that I hold the extremely unpopular opinion that it’s not actually a very good movie. There, I said it). ANyway… we’re all Wonder Women in Christ.


Harry Potter.

Buffy Summers.

Luke Skywalker.

The Pevensie children.

Frodo Baggins.

What do these characters all have in common? They’re all Chosen Ones, heroes with a special destiny to drive back the darkness and swing the scales of Good and Evil back to Good’s favor. Fiction, especially the Fantasy and YA genres, are rife with Chosen Ones. If they didn’t step up and accept their Chosen status and face their fate head on, apparently we’d all be in big trouble.

I love a good Chosen One story. Some of the characters listed above are some of my favorite in all literature. But as I was pondering this particular trope this weekend, something occurred to me:

We are ALL Chosen Ones in Christ.

If you are in Christ, you have a special destiny. You were chosen and called for a purpose, to play a specific and unique role in God’s plan to bring light to the world and vanquish the enemy’s hold on it. Not only that, but you were fearfully and wonderfully made–lovingly and purposefully created, designed and built specifically to carry out that purpose, right down to your DNA.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you don’t have flaws, weaknesses and failings. All the best heroes do. That even goes for all the best Bible heroes. Just look at Moses. Noah. King David. The apostles Peter and Paul. The enemy wants us to believe that those failings make us unworthy and unable to carry out the purpose for which we were made. But that is a lie.

The truth is that God designed you for His purpose. Flaws and all. He can use your failings and weaknesses as much as He can use your strengths and talents. He knew what He was doing when He made you.

But you have to be willing.

The amazing thing is, that’s all you have to be. You don’t have to be strong, or fearless, or have magical powers, or be able to kick bad guy butt six ways to Sunday. Because our strength and courage and ability to carry out our purpose doesn’t come from within us. It comes from Him.

We only have to be willing.

If you’re doubting today whether you’re good enough or worthy enough or able enough to make a difference for God’s Kingdom, remember this, dear one: the almighty Creator of the Universe loves you and thinks so much of you that He didn’t want to carry off His plan without giving you a part in it.

You are Chosen.

You are able.

You are loved.




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

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When You’re Ready to Throw In the Towel

God knows how to God


Note: I’m still doling out posts from the archives while I enjoy my summer break. This post originally appeared March 24, 2016. As I write this note and prepare to load this post into the publishing queue, it’s the Monday following my latest book launch and this message is one I really needed today. I’m sure there’s someone else out there who could use this reminder. If that’s you, hang in there, friend.


“If this is my calling, why is it so hard?”

“If this is really what God wants me to do, why is there so much opposition?”

“Is this dream really from God? Is He trying to tell me I should just give up and stop wanting it?”

I’ve been in a place of asking these questions. Sometimes, I’m still there. But when I do, I’m reminded of the following:

We’re called to trust, to persevere, and to be patient. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust and submit, and then He’ll make our paths straight–not the other way around.

Trust isn’t really trust if the way is clear and easy.

Perseverance isn’t really perseverance if there’s no opposition.

Patience isn’t patience if the outcomes happen when and how I want them to.

Quick and easy is wonderful in the moment but then it’s over and it does nothing to strengthen our faith, sanctify us or grow us in our daily walk. And when the results come easily, we don’t appreciate them nearly as much as when we work hard and fight for them.

If you’re facing hard, if it seems like everything in the universe is trying to keep you from even trying, let alone achieving that thing you know deep in your bones you were put here to do — consider that you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to, and the enemy is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to get you to give up, because he’s terrified of what will happen if you don’t.

So don’t.

Don’t give up.

Persevere. Keep going. One day at a time. One little hard-fought step at a time.

Be patient. Be flexible. Surrender the outcomes to God.

Trust with your WHOLE heart. Trust in His goodness and His complete love for you.

And in due time He will clear the way for you to be ALL He means for you to be. He promised.

You’re not fighting this fight alone. He’s with you every step of the way, ordering your steps. You don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do any of it by yourself. Your Maker has a plan for you, and HE will bring it about. ALL that’s required of you is obedience. Show up and be willing. He’ll take it from there.

Remember that God knows how to God. He’s got this.

And so do you.





PS – Linking up this week with Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart, Missional Women’s Faith Filled Friday, and the Faith Barista.

My One Word for 2017


Up until just a few days ago, I thought my One Word 365 word for 2017 was all settled. I’d begun thinking and praying about it back in October, and by the time Thanksgiving arrived I had decided that my word would be Faithfulness. This is definitely an area that I need to work on. It’s a fruit of the Spirit, but one that doesn’t always come naturally to me (although I guess none of them really come naturally, which is why they’re called fruits of the Spirit and not fruits of human nature). Especially when it comes to things like follow-through or stick-with-it-ness. I was feeling convicted in this area and so choosing this as my One Word made sense.

I was all set for this to be my word, y’all. I did a big spread in my bullet journal exploring all of the meanings of the word and how they apply in my life, as well as what scripture says about faithfulness and being a faithful steward. I had a blog post — what I thought would be this blog post — all written in my head. I was already trying to put it into practice in my daily life. This was SO my word, without a doubt.

But then a few days ago another word started forcing its way into my consciousness. It was so forceful that I screwed up my brow and tilted my head and was like, “Lord? Is this from you? Am I supposed to change my word?” And let me tell you, I didn’t want to. Because this new word? It scares me a little. It makes my heart beat faster in ways both good and bad. Plus I had already put all this thought and energy into the other word. I didn’t want to change it. So I tried to just ignore it and hope it would go away.

I’m sure you can guess that it didn’t. So this morning, I presented both words to the Lord and asked Him to please make it plainly obvious to me during my morning devotionals and blog readings which word He preferred that I focus on this year. And do you know what? He did.

And the word?


Even typing that just now gave me butterflies in my stomach. If there is one word that people who know me will almost unanimously use to describe me, it’s “reserved.” I’m extremely inhibited. There are very few things that I ever do with abandon.

But I believe there are some areas where God is calling me to lay down my inhibitions and fear and do with wild abandon. Things like…

Trust with abandon.

Surrender with abandon.

Love with abandon.

Praise Him with abandon.

Hope with abandon.

Dream with abandon.

Run after Him with total abandon.

How might my life be different if I give Him my all in these areas without holding anything back? If I can lay down all of my adult baggage and reservations and have a truly childlike faith? Imagining the answer is both thrilling and terrifying. But I think I’m being asked to find out.

And while faithfulness is still something I need to work on cultivating more of this year, as God was confirming my new word He was also showing me that I had attached an agenda to the previous word. I was looking at it like some kind of magic formula, thinking that if I could just be more faithful with such-and-so then He’ll see that I’m trustworthy enough to handle prosperity and success. And while faithfulness is a worthy goal, my motivation isn’t coming from the right place. God is not manipulated or controlled by magic formulas.

He is wild and uncontrollable, and also wholly in control.

And that’s why it’s safe for me to come to Him with utter abandon.

So that’s my word for 2017. It will sure be interesting to see where this takes me.

What’s your word?





PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at





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


Breaking the Mould


I’ve never fit too well into any one mould. I’m a walking jumble of contradictions. I’m intelligent, but also spacey and forgetful. I love people and new experiences, but I’m also a homebody who craves and cherishes time to myself. I’m a Christ-follower who lives and walks in the light but who has also always been drawn to stories about the dark. I’m very much a Thinker, but I’m also both a Doer and Experiencer.

Those are just a few of the contradictions that often make me feel like I don’t really fit. And it’s not just me–all throughout my upbringing teachers, parents and authority figures did their level best to trim off my weird angles and force me into whatever mould they thought I should fit into, believing that they were doing me a favor. Eventually, I took over for them, trying my best to shed my contradictory traits and cram myself into a number of different moulds, one after the other. I battered and bruised myself in the process, but I kept trying because I so desperately wanted to fit.

And then, eventually, I figured out that I wasn’t made to fit a certain mould. And do you know what? Neither were you.

None of us were.

God didn’t make us by pouring us into pre-made moulds. He didn’t shape us with a cookie cutter. We’re not products of an assembly line, with personalities and temperaments stamped into us from a template.

We’re custom jobs, each and every one of us. We’re works of artistry and craftsmanship, lovingly designed to a unique set of specifications, created for a specific purpose, hand-crafted down to the most intricate detail.

Some people might look at my jumble of contradictions and call me a mess (maybe even a hot mess). But some people also say that about a Jackson Pollock painting, or a Picasso. God looks at me, at His handiwork, and calls me His masterpiece, perfectly made to fulfill the purpose He has had in mind for me since before any of us even existed.

He says that about you, too.

Stop trying to fit a mould, sweet sister. Just be who you were made to be. Lean into Jesus, and let Him heal all those cuts and bruises that were inflicted from trying to conform to a shape you were never meant to fill.

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


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The Hard Work of Rest

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.Last week was a doozy. My husband had surgery on Thursday, and all week leading up to that was filled with appointments and errands and preparations. Our routines were completely upturned, we both had mild anxiety about the procedure, and as if that wasn’t enough to stress us out, I began the week with a sore throat and had to deal with all of the above while feeling achy, run-down and struggling to breathe.

It felt like everything I’ve been saying here about rest and grace and slowing down went out the window as we lapsed back into survival mode.

The thing that’s hardest about survival mode, or one of the things, anyway, is getting out of it once the crisis has passed. In a lot of ways, I’m still struggling to completely climb my way out of this mode after a long, drawn-out season of hardship and grief. It started nearly eight years ago with the loss of a good job. This was followed fairly shortly by back-to-back miscarriages, and we had just enough time to catch our breath from that before both of my in-laws passed away in rapid succession. Then we managed to go a whole year without anything devastating happening before my website business went belly up and left us in dire straits.

I could probably write dozens of blog posts about all of the ways God provided for us and sustained us during this time, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was stressful, and that kind of chronic stress, drawn out over a period of years, isn’t something you can just turn off once things are better.

And things have been better, for a few years now. Not perfect by any means, but better. Even so, I still struggle with anxiety sometimes. God used this long period of hardship to bring me to a place of surrender, of learning to be completely dependent on Him instead of trying to exert control over my life, but it’s been a long, slow process of learning, healing and yielding, and I’m not completely there yet. I may never be completely there in this life. I’m still at a point when any kind of crisis or stressful situation, even when I know it’s temporary, puts me right back in that place where I’m walking around with my entire body clenched like a fist and my gut constantly churns with a vague sense of dread.

It hasn’t been as bad this time, but it was a struggle. It takes effort to rest in the Lord. It takes mindfulness to hold onto His peace. Rest and peace are there in these stressful, anxious times, but we have to consciously reach for them and fight to hold on. We do this through prayer, through making time to just be in God’s presence, and by keeping our minds steeped in the truth of His word.

It also takes trust and letting go. Letting go of our own efforts to control the situation. Trusting that HE is in control and everything will work out the way it’s supposed to, and that no matter what the outcome, He’ll be with you, strengthening and sustaining you, holding you and carrying you.

One thing this long season of hardship and healing has taught me is that the more I’m able to loosen my grip on life, the more rest and peace I have, and the more He’s able to move and establish His plan for my life, which is so much better than anything I planned. I keep learning to get out of His way.

Still, old habits die hard sometimes, and it can be easy to forget what we’ve learned and lapse back into old patterns. Lord, help us when we do so, making us mindful and reminding us that You are in control and it’s not our job to fix things or hold things together. Our job is to trust you and draw close to you for rest and peace. You are our battle fighter, and You hold all things together. Help us, Father, to get out of your way.


He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:17

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. – Exodus 14:14

Do you struggle to get out of crisis mode? Is there something that’s got you in survival mode right now? Let me know how I can pray for you in the comments.




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

The LORD will fight for you.

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JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance coming October 31st from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at

Unforced rhythms of grace need to be forced a little sometimes.

unforced rhythms of grace

First, I feel like I should ‘fess up about something to y’all: I’m not a fan of the Message Bible. Maybe it’s the writer/editor in me, but usually when I see it quoted it makes me cringe. It’s just SO wordy, you guys, and I feel like God’s a lot more eloquent than that, and a lot better at getting to the point. Not my favorite translation, is what I’m saying.

Having said that, there is a line in the Message translation of Matthew 11:28 that I kind of love. For those who aren’t familiar with the Message version, here’s a more traditional translation from the NIV:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Now here’s the Message version:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The line I love? “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

Part of the reason I love that line so much is that a couple of months ago, when I was giving in to my tendency to get my Martha on and fill my plate with all kinds of unnecessary busy-work to make myself feel more in control of life, and getting overwhelmed as a result, this phrase started popping up. And it kept popping up. Everywhere. Every time I looked online, there it was. Other translations of that verse popped up, too, but mostly it was that one, particularly that one line.

I finally threw up my hands and said, “I get it, Lord!” And then I sat down and evaluated how I was spending my time and figured out what I could take off my plate and how I could slow down to get re-focused on what really matters.

Some tools came into my life around that time that helped with that. One was Jess Connolly’s Fall Into Freedom fall planning workbook, which was great for helping me figure out my priorities and where I need to fix my focus during this season. It was while filling that out that I decided to experiment with giving myself a “Day of Grace” one day a week.

My “Day of Grace” is a day in the middle of the week — usually Wednesday, but that’s flexible — when I don’t schedule anything. Well, we usually do some grocery shopping that morning, but other than that I don’t schedule anything. The rest of the day is for whatever I need it to be. Sometimes it’s catching up on work projects I’ve fallen behind on, or getting on top of things. Sometimes it’s focused on making progress on my novel, or catching up on housework, or knocking out a craft project. Sometimes it’s an afternoon of holing up with my Bible and some worship music and praying and journaling and processing. Sometimes it’s just for camping out on the couch with a good book.

Basically, it’s for whatever my soul needs in order to feel settled and properly aligned.

I was skeptical when I first came up with this idea, and really hesitant when it came time to mark the first Grace Day in my bullet journal. There already didn’t seem to be enough time in the week, and I had already decided to devote Mondays to blogging. So if I did this it would only leave three weekdays for doing freelance work. Would I end up having to work weekends to fit it all in? I didn’t expect to be able to do this every week. It just didn’t seem possible.

I’m going on about six weeks of incorporating a Grace Day into the middle of my week, and so far I haven’t had to skip a single week (as you can probably tell from my lack of consistent posting lately, I’ll more readily give up my blogging day than give up my Grace Day). It’s actually made my weeks more productive. I’m more motivated on Monday and Tuesday, knowing that I’ll be able to relax a little on Wednesday, and on Thursday and Friday I’m more rested and focused instead of feeling worn out and counting down Saturday.

My weekends have gotten better, too. Before, I would plan several creative projects to do on the weekend, only to realize I was dead tired by the time Saturday arrived and spend it camped out on the couch staring at a book or a screen–and then spend Sunday after church scrambling to catch up on housework and get ready for the coming week. Now, I’m not so exhausted on Saturday and I actually do some of the things I planned. It also helps knowing that Saturday is no longer the only day of the week that I’ll have a chance to really rest and recharge.

So, I forced myself to step into some grace-filled rhythms. But since taking that initial step of faith, it’s been pretty unforced, coming more naturally with each passing week.

Of course I realize that, not having kids or a 9 to 5 job with an employer to appease, this sort of thing is a little easier for me than it might be for you. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed and finding that you’re being a little too much Martha and not enough Mary, I urge you to pray and ask the Lord to open up a window of grace in your life so you can tend to your soul. It might not be a whole day, or even an afternoon, but I bet even an Hour of Grace here and there, if you can manage it, would help–and I bet God won’t even let you miss that hour from the rest of your week.

Are you going to give it a try, or do you already have something similar established in your weekly routine? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!




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

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace

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Still Leaning: A Mid-Year Review, and Looking Forward

Image via UnsplashOne thing I always hated about having a corporate job was performance evaluations. Not that I didn’t appreciate the feedback, or the subsequent raise, but the whole process was nerve-wracking, and also served to remind me that I was valued for what I did (and how well I did it), not for who I was.

Since I’ve been my own boss for the last seven years, regular performance evaluations are a distant unpleasant memory, nearly all but forgotten about, especially this year as God’s been working to remind me that He values me not for what I do, but for who I am, and that I don’t have to work to earn my place or strive for advancement in this life He’s given me.

So it may seem odd that, here at the half-year mark, I felt compelled to pause and look back over my progress so far this year and carefully plan my agenda for the next six months. Not so much to evaluate my performance, whether as a writer, a freelancer, a wife or just a person, but to make sure I’m on track with seeking first His will and leaning into what He’s doing in my life (in case you forgot, my One Word for this year back in January was “lean“).

The first half of the year was pretty full. It was certainly productive — I wrote most of a whole novel, revised two more of my own novels and a novella, released two of those into the wilds of the Amazon, edited a novel for a client, and wrote more freelance articles than I can keep track of.

But more importantly, I’ve had some pretty major spiritual breakthroughs as God’s been helping me release my iron grip on the steering wheel of my life, surrender more and more control to Him, and embrace the person He made me to be. I think the biggest breakthrough was the realization that I had bought into some lies about myself that the enemy has been speaking to me my entire life, and coming to a place of deep healing over my past, rejecting those lies and embracing God’s truth about me (I wrote in more detail about those breakthroughs here and here).

Another major theme of this year so far has been growing more fully into who God created me to be and understanding that I was made this way, with this personality and these specific talents, giftings AND limitations, for a purpose. Understanding that I was made on purpose to be a dreamer and a thinker and an introvert and a slow processor, and that by embracing these things about myself and honoring them I honor Him.

So what will the next six months hold?

I can’t say for certain. I expect these themes to continue. I know there are specific things that need to be done, including finishing my current novel and getting it revised in time for the August deadline, and gearing up for the launch of my debut novel in October. There are things I want to do–other writing projects I want to work on, and personal and household projects–and things I hope to do, including a steady stream of freelance work.

But one thing the last six months have taught me is that it’s best to hold my plans loosely and look to Him to direct my steps and establish my work. During my break the last two weeks, I spent a lot of time praying for direction for the next six months, but rather than a specific agenda, I was given some guidelines for going forward:

  • Stay surrendered. Keep leaning into what God’s doing. Build altars, not stages. Build benches, not cities.
  • Don’t fear the future. Remember it’s in His hands. Focus on each day as it comes.
  • Don’t focus too much on making money. Trust God to provide as you do the work He directs you into (this is a big deal. As a freelancer with an unsteady income, money has always been the driving factor in choosing what I work on, but that hasn’t really gotten me anywhere good, so I’m ready to try it God’s way).
  • Forget “should.” Figure out what works for us and do that. No comparing.
  • Do only what you can do (this is a principle I picked up from Loving My Actual Life — similar to my philosophy of “just do what you can do and leave the rest to God”).
  • Just keep writing and leave the results to Him.

It will be interesting to see what the next six months will hold. To be honest, I’d hoped back in January that this would be the year our lives finally turned a major corner for the better, and six months in, with circumstances much the same now as they were then (albeit attitudes and perspectives have changed), I’ve been a bit disheartened. But I’ve been receiving a lot of encouragement lately that things will get better, it’s just going to take more time–time in which we need to be yielding to the work He’s doing in us to prepare us for what’s next. Because I think that what’s in store for us is going to blow our minds.

Have you paused for a mid-year evaluation? Do you have the rest of the year mapped out? Any big breakthroughs or accomplishments this year so far that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

In love,

PS – Linking up this week with Holley Gerth and Missional Women!

PPS – Want to get a friendly and casual letter from yours truly in your inbox once or twice a month? This bi-monthly(ish) letter to friends of the blog is a little more personal, a little more intimate, a little more silly — a place to share the things that don’t quite fit here. Sign up and get a special link to my must-have tools & resources page!

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