Category Archives: Spiritual Growth

New Year, Same Me

I finally got a chance to write my new year’s resolutions this morning. I guess I should say “goals” – I’m not really a resolution-type. I’m a goal setter, and I set goals all year long.

But the new year is a perfect time for goals. Everyone else is setting goals, so you have built in peer pressure, I mean, motivation. šŸ˜‰ There are just certain times of the year that are natural times to reflect on where God has taken you and where He might want you to go next. New Year, new school year, anniversary, birthday, start of summer, etc.

My new year’s resolutions have nothing to do with eating a certain way or exercising or thriftiness or completing projects around the house (all things that I do enjoy).

Here’s why: I wrote my new year’s resolutions with this title.

What do I need to trust God for this year?

This included things like giving my children peace while I start serving the preschoolers at church every Sunday morning (as opposed to once a month).Ā And starting a women’s discipleship group (how in the world will I find the time for that!?). And letting me be a part of introducing people to Jesus.

These are things he has been impressing on me. Things that I can’t do. I don’t control them nor can I even see a path to completion. I really need to trust Him. And trusting Him starts with me saying OK! I hear You! You’ve been prodding me about this – I can’t do it, but You can! I submit this year to YOU.

* Of course, y’all know I’m not judging your new year’s goals, right? I make all kinds of lifestyle goals. Often our lifestyle comes under submission to God in various ways. But I think we need to start with that idea in mind – what do I need to submit to Him?

How could you re-write your new year’s resolutions with this starting point?

 

Where Are You?

I feel like God is asking me this right now, “Where are you?” – reminiscent of the garden. But Adam and Eve were hiding in shame of their sin, and I’m just plain hiding.

I long to connect with God, but I’m hesitant. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s because I want to put the brakes on any more sanctification in my life, and I want to live for my flesh. Maybe.

More directly, I think it’s that I feel like what I have to offer won’t be good enough.

I don’t have enough time.

I haven’t had enough sleep.

I will be interrupted.

If I do make the effort to have time with God, then the children will wake up, and I’ll have to feed someone or stop the washing machine from overflowing or catch the falling sippy cup with no lid on it.

If I plan in advance and set my alarm early, then both children will definitely wake up at night, and I will just keep setting the time forward so that I can get some rest.

If I sit down to talk with God, I will just want to read a novel instead or make up for the lack of eating I do all day or check something anythingĀ on my phone.

Hiding.

But this season of caring for my littles (which I truly love – and God has been helping me embrace and enjoy – even without a shower or makeup or clean clothes/teeth/what-have-you) – it isn’t going away.

And I can’t just wait it out. This is my life. It’s not the line at the checkout counter.

God purposed me to have this time, and he didn’t intend for me to leave Him out of it because I’m too tired/lazy/hungry/greedy/busy. He knew I would need Him more not less.

And no, I’m not going to be able to get up 35 minutes early to have a quiet time with the Lord and my Bible and prayer (is that really even enough? an hour sounds heavenly!).

I have to pray throughout the day with my children.

I have to embrace the spilling sippy cup and use it to teach my children about Jesus.

I have to ask for God’s help when I discipline my son. The help to know how to give mercy and grace and punishment and love – all impossibly at the same time.

I have to ask to receive God’s nurturing for myself while I’m nurturing others.

Every little moment – the ones that I want to discard and hurry along and push through – those are the growing moments.

Those are the moments I better get out of my hiding place and run towards Him.

Let’s Kick Comparison to the Curb (this might involve Facebook)

After seeing my friendĀ Mel’s cute picture of tapas on Facebook with the caption, “Date night!”, I was a little jealous. Emma was very newly born, and tapas seemed sooo date night: you know, dim lighting, ultra chic people, fancy heals, Sangria or Spanish wine. Tapas.

So when I saw her at church, I asked, “How were the tapas?” (First thing out of my mouth.)

She laughed and said, “Good… It’s funny how Facebook makes everything seem great. You saw my pic and thought, ‘Tapas!’, but really they were good but overpriced.”
Then she proceeded to tell me about how they decided to go somewhere after dinner, and they ended up walking too far (and not enjoying it), etc.

And there I was coveting that date. Because of Facebook.

What you see of others on Facebook only gives you a hint about them.

Even those who are pretty open on Facebook, whether you like it or not, are not revealing everything about themselves.

Yes, part of it is that we all want to be perceived a certain way: maybe wise or funny or athletic or political or perfect. And so we post things that fall in line with our Facebook agenda.

But the other part is this: Comparing yourself or your situation to someone else’s is unbiblical and unproductive. Many people say “Comparison is the thief of all joy,” and I absolutely Ā agree with that.

You cannot compare yourself to others and also be satisfied in Christ.

God has a unique will for each of our lives, and that will may include being rich. Or poor. Being healthy. Or chronically ill. Being married. Or single. Having children. Or not.

And His will for us is intended to bring glory to Himself – not to make you happy or comfortable.

We don’t get to choose, but we do get to give God the glory for our existence and all that we have.

Not only is comparing ourselves to others absolutely against God’s design, but it’s quite useless because:

1) What we see of others is only a shadow of who they are. You don’t know their deepest fears and regrets. You don’t see the aching of their soul. Only God has that knowledge and in fact is in control of those things, and that’s why He is their comforter.

2) You are not them. (Your spouse is not their spouse, your friend is not their friend, etc.) Even if you did have “that certain something” that you see in them – whether it’s a possession or countenance or externals – you would not have it like they have it. Your soul is different from theirs. Things react differently for you than for them.

3) Comparing wastes a lot of time, energy, and heart that you should be using on the life and ministry that God gave you.

God has a purpose for your life. He designed you perfectly for it.

With whom or with what do you need to cast off comparison? How can you use that time and energy to respect your husband, nurture relationships, share the gospel, and love a hurting friend? What do you need to give up to kick comparison out (Facebook? Work statistics? Your children’s accomplishments?)

Write it down. Tell the one you’re closest to. Pray about it. Thank God that He made you you and put you right where you are.

God’s Word in a Heart Language

I had the opportunity as a Oneverse blogger to hear the story of Helen, a woman from Indonesia who does not have a full translation of the Bible in her first language.

Sure, she can read from the English and Indonesian Bibles, but neither of these languages are the one in her heart. The language with which she expresses her emotions, passions, dreams. The language she thinks in and uses to talk with her parents.

Maybe Helen is lucky. She can use the English and Indonesian Bibles to cobble together some head knowledge of what God says through His word. And the Holy Spirit works in her life to relay God’s word, too.

But when asked what it felt like to read the Bible in her mother tongue for the first time, Helen says, “It was AMAZING! I cried, laughed, rejoiced & understood very clearly what Jesus meant. I got the feeling, the emotions”

And some people aren’t blessed to have any language except for their first; that’s why I’m so grateful to be an advocate and a financial partner of Oneverse. My monthly offering provides one more verse in the heart language of the Vidunda people.

I smile when I think of them crying, laughing, rejoicing, and understanding that one verseĀ as Helen described. I have done the very same thing when reading God’s word for myself.

When I read that God wanted us to shine like stars, and that I could be a part of that, I remember feeling amazed and thinking – Wow, that’s what I’m supposed to do!

Would you share in the comments a realization you had through the Word? And how it made you feel?

Does Being a Pastor’s Wife Ever Get Easier?

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about being a pastor’s wife. But I don’t want to disregard those pastor’s wives who read this blog and are looking for help and hope!

Do you ever wonder if being a pastor’s wife gets easier? You hope it does, right? But is that hope a desperation, like If it never gets better I want out. Or is that hope a confident expectation, like God chose my husband to be a pastor, and He will provide for our situation.

I truly pray that it’s the latter for you when you’re struggling. Thankfully, as much as I’ve struggled with being a pastor’s wife at times, God always made it clear to me that my husband is called to ministry, and I feel a strong conviction to be 100% his encourager in that. Yup, even when my heart is at its worst, God blesses me with His will.

I have only been a pastor’s wife for close to 4 years now – unless you count 4 years of full time seminary (which perhaps you should because that was the most difficult time in our marriage!) – and I’m not the wife of a senior pastor. I’m know beyond a shadow of a doubt there are things a senior pastor’s wife deals with that I know nothing about.

But if I had to answer this question, I would shout YES! It does get easier!

And sometimes it’s still harder, but in the big fat general sense – easier! I don’t have time in this post to address those temporary hard times; I will save that for another time.

If I had to boil it down, I think being a pastor’s wife gets easier most often due to these reasons:

Time

Time gives me the opportunity to look at the big picture. Instead of focusing on nitty gritty grievances, I can see how the entire role (and journey) of being a pastor’s wife is a blessing, a learning experience, and a unique way God chose to train me up.

Relationships

When you’re a pastor’s wife, unless you are at the beginning of a church, you usually walk into a fully formed church, complete with fully formed relationships and fully formed ideas of what pastor’s wives are like. One might say it takes a lot of confidence to walk into a place like that and be able to integrate easily. It does take confidence – confidence in the Lord’s power to build you up with His people. Confidence in the unity He desires you to have with others. Confidence in who He made you to be and acceptance of the fact that you will not be everyone’s best friend.

As a pastor’s wife, I don’t have the luxury of building deep relationships capriciously. I actually have to be mindful of the accountability partners I choose. But once the Lord has provided believers who know you well and help build you up in Him, being a pastor’s wife becomes much easier. You have someone else you can rely on for prayer and strength! It’s a burdern lifter.

Building relationships with the lost is also crucial. Keeping God’s mission at the forefront of your life takes the focus off of yourself and puts it back on Jesus. You don’t have to “be the pastor’s wife” with the lost. You are you. Seeing the fruit of these relationships makes you want to keep going!

Spiritual Maturity

As a believer, it’s essential that you remain connected to God. As a pastor’s wife, I’m not sure how I could make it without His strength. As He matures me through His word and other believers, living out his calling in my life is just plain easier.

So, pastor’s wife, what else has encouraged you in God’s calling?

Giving Up on Ambition

This week, our Biblical Womanhood classes are finishing up – it’s been a long time coming, and I learned a TON. All great stuff, things I’m sure I’ll continue to keep learning for many years.

One of the culminations of our class is creating a Biblical Womanhood “plan”. Basically, we reflect on the course and where we are as women according to God’s design. Then we decide on some measurable goals that we can pursue with accountability.

Now, you know I’m not really a reflecter. This blog is one of my strongest tools for reflection, so you’re seeing me in all of my reflective glory. But by nature, I’m task-driven and prize-focused. I often don’t stop to think – I just do. When I see something I’m supposed to handle or need to change, I work on it.

If you’re a reflecter rather than a doer, maybe you’re thinking I wish I were like that. Because that’s what I think about you.

But just because I’m doing something doesn’t mean it’s actually productive towards a Godly goal. I might have started down a path thinking it was the right route for me, and somewhere along the way, I forgot why I started. But I can’t quit! That would be horrible! Heh.

That’s why us doers need reflection. It’s why creating this Biblical Womanhood plan was really good for me. An opportunity to sit and think about where God has me, and how I’ve been off the track of His will.

Then comes the hard part – deciding on concrete, objective ways to make changes! I can’t just say I want to respect my husband more. I have to figure out how that will really look. In what way can I show him respect on an ongoing basis? Etcetera.

Here’s the thing. When my plan was finished, I was pretty surprised. I wasn’t surprised that I wanted to strengthen my relationships with my husband and son in a Godly way. Or that I needed to determine how my spiritual gifts could be used practically.

I was surprised that there was not one goal on my list that had to do with work, ambition, or accomplishments.

Because I’m a doer, I’ve always had ambition – a drive to get somewhere with my work and my time. When I started working part-time instead of full-time, I picked up this hobby – a blog. And I have to say that for the year and a half-ish I’ve been blogging, I’ve tried really hard to do it the business-savvy way.

I attended conferences; I network on Twitter; I try to keep a solid writing schedule; I seek ways to monetize my writing; I’m writing my first ebook.Ā And more.

But my blog and ebook did not make my goals list. Not even in a “this is a hobby and outlet and tool for me so I want to keep doing it” sort of way.

Never fear! I’m not quitting my blog, haha! I had you worried, all 35 of you, didn’t I!? šŸ™‚

The fact that my social media pursuits did not make that list of goals just solidifed for me that I’m not here to “make it” – I’m here to learn and to grow and to do that with you.

That’s it. If those other pieces come easily and make sense, then I’m all over it. But I’m giving up on trying to hit a certain mark here.

I’m giving up on ambition so that I can be freed up to pursue the things God really put on my heart.

Memorizing Scripture via Your Children

Memorizing Scripture is one of the most vital ways to enliven your spiritual life. If you have God’s word stored in your mind, the truth has more chance of consuming your thoughts than the wisdom of the world.

When I was in college, I learned some very practical, amazing tips for meditating on and memorizing God’s word. It rocked my world, to be honest. That was the first time I was able to memorize Scripture with any “stickiness” in my brain. It was a time of richness in God’s word.

I’ve tried to go back to those disciplines, and I haven’t done very well. It has nothing to do with the methods – they are still the most rock star Scripture memorization techniques I’ve seen. And they hardly take any time. But a lack of discipline (ahem, laziness) is a lack of discipline.

Enter a new spiritual growth method: Using your children. Ha!

We want our children to grow in the Lord and practice spiritual disciplines, don’t we? If we build in time with our kids to help them grow in their faith, it will also strengthen our own.

It was really my husband Brad’s idea to start teaching Samuel Bible verses. It was a genius idea! That little sponge can learn “Moves like Jagger” lyrics, why not the Bible? So what if he’s only 2!? It begins now.

So, often, at dinnertime, we will go over his memory verses. Occasionally, he can say entire verses on his own, and for the others we give him prompts to help him continue. I think this little guy is up to at least 6 verses already, and he’s always asking for new ones.

Do you know what that means? I have to know them, too! And I get to practice them often! And it’s amazing to watch him enjoy it, too!

So, yes, currently, I’m using my son’s memory verses to commit my own Scripture to memory. And I feel brilliant for doing so.

In what other ways could I take advantage of his learning to aid my own? Give me some ideas in the comments.

Check out My 1st Book of Questions and Answers* to see how you can teach your kids giant theology in very simple question and answer form.

* affiliate link

Spring Weeding + Miracle Gro Giveaway

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of ScottsĀ® for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Here in Austin, I’ve discovered that we have this lovely (not) weed called milkweed. I honestly don’t remember them from last year, but I remember them from the year before. And this year, since we lost a lot of our grass to a terrible drought, we had A.LOT. of milkweed.

Pretty much half of our backyward looked like this. And we knew we had to get those weeds out of there if we want grass … and less milkweed … to grow back.

What you have to understand is that this stuff is nasty. It’s prickly, it’s thick, it’s spiky, it’s well-rooted, and it’s poisonous.

It reminds me a lot of sin.

One cold, sunny Saturday, I went back there to pull up as much as I could, and I just couldn’t shake the parallels to sin. Here are some things that came to mind:

  • Sin is painful. We actually call these “spiky weeds” – just what you want in the yard of a 2-year old, huh? When they’re dry, they can slice your finger open (trust me).
  • Sin chokes out life. By its very nature, this plant is taking up space, a lot of it. Nothing else can grow until it’s ripped out.
  • Sin takes root. And needs to be removed at the root. And oh buddy, these roots are thick. Usually, even with the help of tools, I could not get the entire root out. But if just a superficial removal of greenery is made, nothing will change. The sin, I mean weeds, will just grow right back!
  • Sin multiplies and grows rapidly. Have you noticed this? When you let that temptation bring you into sin, it’s much easier to commit another sin against God. Because come on, you’ve already messed up – and His grace will cover it all – so why stop now?
  • Sin needs to be removed one by one. When you become a believer in Jesus, the Holy Spirit immediately begins working on your heart. But it’s not like all of your sin is eradicated all at once, or ever. You are on a journey, and that transformation takes time – sometimes it’s quicker than others.
  • Sin is more easily conquered in community. You know what I was thinking the whole time I was weeding? Boy, it sure would be nice to have another set of hands – I could get this done in half the time. Even better, what if I knew someone who had a trick to removing these things?
  • Sin is ugly. But God can use it for good! Just look at my yard – not yard of the month, ya know? So I googled “milkweed austin texas” to see what kind of tirades people went on and on about with these things, and guess what I learned? They are the exclusive food of the monarch butterfly’s larvae. Yeah. Just like our sin is nasty – but we can rejoice that we have a God of hope, who can redeem anything and uses it for His glory!

  • Sin will be a struggle until we enter the kingdom of heaven, but fighting it daily allows us to rely more on God and know His will more clearly. Did you think the pic above was I’m finished! ? Nope – that’s just the one little area I cleared out! The rest of my yard was still overgrown with them. But now, this area has room to grow grass.

Like all illustrations, this isn’t perfect, but it really gave me a glimpse into some practical truths about our sin nature. At the end of the day, though, here is what I’m resting in:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

And remember – God has given us this blessing of reconciling us to Himself so that we can share that great news with others (5:18-19)!

Related to my spring weeding, let’s have a giveaway!

EnG Product Shot.png

Miracle Gro has come out with a new product called Expand ā€˜n Groā„¢– it’s a planting mix that is all-natural (made of coconut fibers!) and super absorbent – so absorbent, in fact, that it expands up to 3 times it’s size when you add water. The all-natural fibers add nutrients that feed your plants for up to 6 months, so you prep your spring beds, and then you don’t have to fertilize for the season – nice!

A lightweight, all-natural soil product that holds water!? They’re sending me a sample to try, and I can’t wait. Obviously, my yard needs help. Do you want to try it, too?

Just Like the Candid Pastor’s Wife on Facebook, and leave a comment below letting me know you’re a fan. You’ll be entered to win a sample to try for yourself!

Your comment must be left by midnight CST on Saturday, April 21.

See more here:
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Ending Bible Poverty through OneVerse – Ministry Spotlight

OneVerse Blogger

I’m sure we’re all vaguely aware of how much we take for granted, particularly things like our wealth, safety, health, family, home, etc.

Having the Bible readily availableĀ – in my own language/dialect – isĀ a graceĀ I not only take for granted, but one that I rarely think about.

OK, so I knew there are people in the world who don’t have Scripture in their own language. But what I didn’t know is that “more people live without a complete Bible in their language than without enough food and clean water combined” (OneVerse.org).

Wow. I thought food and clean water were a big deal. And they are. But what about every people group hearing and reading about the living bread (John 6:51) and the well of eternal water (John 4:14), Jesus Christ?

And how often do I take advantage of having God’s Word, right here by my computer, on the Internet, on bookshelves, at the office, in the car, on my phone?

Not nearly enough. And that’s a heart issue we must each deal with and ask God to strengthen us in.

At the same time, we can also provide aid to ministries that are helping to end Bible poverty for millions of people. I’m proud to say that my family just started financially supporting OneVerse, which is a Bible translating ministry and affiliate of Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Not only have we committed to financially sponsoring the translation of 1 Bible verse a month (for only $26!), but I have also committed to joining in the social media campaigns to spread the word about this ministry. I’m so pleased that God might use this space He’s given me to reach people across the world with His Word!

The people group I am committed to is the Vidunda group in Africa. You can read all about their spiritual position –Ā and even see which Bible verse was sponsored last! – by clicking right here. Having God’s word in their own tongue will help them clear up confusion about the spiritual world, aid their growth in passion for the Lord, and also help reach more Vidundas for Jesus.

Would you consider joining me?