Category Archives: Christian life

202 Ideas and a Postcard

There are reasons I don’t write blog posts nearly as often as I intend to. And none of them include a lack of ideas. Well, at least not a lack of rough, seed thoughts.

As blog post ideas come to mind, they immediately go into my “post ideas” notebook in Evernote, which currently has 202 rough ideas to come back to later. And just for good measure, I have a dozen or so of these posts half-started in my writing program Scrivener.

So why don’t I post more often?

I tell myself it’s because I don’t have time. Or energy when I do have time. Or that the raw ideas weren’t as good as they seemed the moment they came to me. Sometimes I even write a rough draft and find it wasn’t as interesting or helpful as I thought it would be and never come back to it, despite my intentions otherwise. Many days I have “write blog post” on my to-do list, but it’s just never a high enough priority to end the day with a check next to it.

But today—when I didn’t even have “write blog post” on my list—I experienced something so unexpected that I couldn’t not write.  Continue reading

Why Paul Didn’t Begin a Thorn Ministry

If the Apostle Paul lived in twenty-first-century America, he would have available to him two ministry opportunities he clearly overlooked back in the first century.

The first is a book deal for Visions from the Third Heaven. 

The second is a thorn ministry.

You know how it works: Suffering comes into one’s life, and she then uses that difficulty to start a ministry for people dealing with the exact same issue.  Continue reading

Three Surprising Benefits God Has Given Me Through Reading His Word

Twenty years ago, when I first began reading through my Bible in a purposeful way, with a commitment to myself to read through annually, I had no idea how significantly God would bless me through the pages of His Word.

Yesterday, however, as I completed my annual journey and recorded the date in the back of my Bible, I looked at the previous dates already recorded there, and I began to reflect on some of the events that had taken place during those years. 

These weren’t all easy years. 

Some were full of joy and others full of challenge. Some were downright tumultuous. 

But through the ups and downs, joys and sorrows of these years, I have had an anchor.  Continue reading

5 Suggestions for Your Side of the Counseling Desk

One of the most shocking moments I experienced in a counseling class I took some years ago was not, as you might guess, an extreme example the instructor gave of a counseling experience.

It was at the end of the class when the instructor was thanking us as students for our attention and participation and followed with the admonishment, “Just make sure you stay on the right side of the counseling desk.”

The right side of the counseling desk?

I know what he meant: Place preemptive safeguards in your life so you don’t fall into tangled sins. And he is right. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be so consumed with helping others that we neglect our own walk with God and make excuses for sinful choices leading us to spiritual implosion.

But the reality is, I have spent time on both sides of the “counseling desk.” And we all need both sides.

I’ve had seasons when I sought needed help from ladies who are wiser than me and able to give biblical perspective and truth related to personal struggles or sinful habits I was dealing with. And I’m so thankful for them. Continue reading

When Courage Doesn’t Roar

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”—Mary Anne Radmacher

That quote was meaningful enough to me the first time I read it that I still remember where I sat and the time of day.

I saved it immediately, and I’ve used it in teaching since. Whenever I share it in a lesson, I see pens and paper connect as many others want to save it, too. It’s worded with such concise beauty that we easily identify with it.

But there is something about this quote’s appeal that has always troubled me a little. It’s not that the quote is inaccurate, but that it is incomplete. Continue reading

When You Never Experience Infinite…

Almost three months after I moved to Southern California, I innocently asked a co-worker, who was a SoCal native, where would be the best spot to visit the ocean. “I have a couple days free, and I’ve been wanting to see the ocean. Where should I go?”

“You mean, you’ve never seen the ocean? Like, you don’t mean just not here in L.A., but no ocean anywhere?”

“I’m from Illinois. We don’t have the ocean there.”

“You’ve never seen the ocean? Never?

Whatever, I thought to myself. It’s not like I’ve never seen anything that is memorable. I mean, look, she’s never seen unending acres of corn!

That was on Tuesday. Continue reading

A Word of Encouragement on Your New Year’s Bible Reading Goal

So, somewhere around December 31 or January 1, you renewed your resolve to read God’s Word daily. Or maybe you set a goal to complete a new study plan or stick with a specific reading schedule.

You pictured yourself with a steaming cup of coffee, a new journal with freshly-filled pages, and the first hints of sunrise streaming in your window onto your open Bible lighting your already glowing face.

This, you decided, will be the year I really read all the way through. Or, This will be the year I study XYZ topic.

Then January 2nd happened.

Or maybe it was January 10th. In any case, you overslept, couldn’t find your journal under the mess you had meant to clean up the night before, and didn’t feel much like reading anyway. Continue reading

Why You Should Not Compare Your Story to Someone Else’s Quote

There’s something about seeing David Brainerd quotes posted online that makes me smile. Not a discrediting smile (I love his quotes!), but a sympathetic smile.

Brainerd’s journals have moved me profoundly. In fact, The Life and Diary of David Brainerd is the only autobiography I remember setting down mid-reading—not just once or twice, but almost every time I pick it up—moved to fervent prayer. His heart for God freely (and rawly) expressed in those pages, which he believed no one would read as he penned them, is that real and that convicting.

I smile, however, when I see his quotes because his journal was often so contradictory. Like some of us, he encountered extreme highs and lows. But the posted quotes rarely even hint of the contradictions Brainerd lived with.

Take for instance, this quote: Continue reading

4 Gifts You Lose When You’re Stressed Out

A week ago today, I did something I should do more often—turned notifications off on my phone, drove to an area with no cell reception, hiked to the bottom of a canyon, and sat for two and a half hours with a good book.

For the first fifteen to thirty minutes of reading, I surprised myself at how often I reached to check my phone, even though my notifications were turned off and I didn’t even have cell service. Definitely not a habit I’m proud of.

About thirty minutes in, I was reaching for my phone for a different reason—to take pictures to share online.

Finally, as the connection-detox ran its course, I let my phone sit unnoticed on the rock beside me as I simply sat and absorbed my surroundings. I didn’t post any pictures that day, but I did leave wonderfully renewed and less stressed than I had let myself be for quite some time.

The next day, while sitting at my desk at work, it occurred to me that stress steals from us some of God’s most valuable gifts—gifts I had hardly noticed were absent forty-eight hours prior, but realized now what a treasure they are. I jotted four down. Continue reading

Thoughts for Whole-Hearted Christians on Off Days

Is it just me, or do you sometimes have an “off day” too?

As much as I want to wake up every day ready to take the world on and, by the end of the day, have a completed to-do list, all with actions that truly made a difference for eternity, no less; that’s just not the way it always happens.

Years ago, I read a quote by Jim Elliot about not doing life by half measures: “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

That quote resonated with me, as does Colossians 3:23: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”

I don’t want to live by half-measures. I don’t want to just go through motions. I want to give my all from my soul.  Continue reading