We all desire to live a life marked by joy, but the circumstances of life can trip us up and get us off course at times.
There is a big difference between circumstantial-happiness and the life-lasting joy that is available through Jesus Christ. I am currently entering a season that is not necessarily conducive to circumstantial-happiness. So, I completely understand if you’re in a place in your life that is bringing you down. I’m there too. I’m in the midst of a major transition in my life. My husband is starting a new job where he will be traveling a lot, we’re moving from the place where we’ve built our lives for the past 10 years, and life feels very uncertain, scary, and lonely at times. So, I get it!
When I polled my friends about what devotional they’d like for me to write, the overwhelming majority said “CULTIVATING A LIFE OF JOY!” Immediately after this clear call to write on cultivating joy, I entered into an emotional state that was very joy-less. I thought, “WHO AM I TO WRITE ON JOY?” And, that’s where the Lord began teaching me. He showed me that these truths I’m about to share with you will be my lifelines throughout this next season in my life. I am walking this road with you. I am not feeling joyful, but I am choosing joy.
I have learned throughout the years that joy is 100% a choice. It is not a personality trait. It is not an emotion. It is a choice of attitude. Even when joy doesn’t make sense, we choose to rejoice in the Lord. We do not rejoice in our circumstances, because sometimes our circumstances are just not joy-worthy. We rejoice in our Lord in the midst of difficulties, in the midst of struggles, in the midst of pain, because it’s in those moments that others see God working in and through us. Why choose joy? Because by choosing joy, we point to God’s power in our lives. By choosing joy, we choose to glorify God. By choosing joy, we shine a light in this dark world. By choosing joy, we proclaim the overwhelming victory we have in Christ.
THAT is why choosing joy is worth it. So let me give you 8 simple ways to cultivate joy in your life.
I know these 8 tips will help you ignite the joy in your life, and I’m giving them to ya for free! Grab yours by entering your email below!
R I G H T S
Every time the 4th rolls around, I start meditating on freedom, slavery, rights, oppression, and all the things in between. I confess, I always feel convicted about the way I take my FREEDOM for granted.
I think about the way so many of us live such entitled lives. We cling to our rights with hearts of entitlement rather than humility. This isn’t a political or patriotic topic about freedom and rights, but I truly believe this heart of entitlement is a spiritual problem.
I’m praying that the Holy Spirit will keep my heart sensitive to the magnitude of my freedom and give me the humility that should overflow from the realization of the rights I possess. May we use our freedom to advance the Gospel and be the voice for those who are oppressed and enslaved.
I love this quote by Peter Marshall:
“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”
I pray that I will have the attitude of Christ Jesus, who did not cling to His rights as GOD, but humbled himself to DEATH, even death on the cross.
Spirit, give me a heart like Jesus. One that doesn’t cling to my rights in entitlement, but one who lays my life down for the sake of the Gospel.
If Jesus, the only one truly entitled to any rights could humble himself in this way, I think I should too…❤️❤️❤️
I wrote what I’m about to share several weeks ago, but I didn’t post it because…well, it’s very raw, very vulnerable, and it was very fresh. Today, I’m in a better place, and I felt prompted to share these words for someone else who might be feeling the same way.
I’m sitting in my new house in my new town, and I feel very isolated and very alone. This house feels empty and so does my soul. I’m not writing these words as part of a pity party. I don’t write these words in hopes of your sympathy. I write these words because I know that although I feel alone, I know that I am not alone in this lonely feeling. I know that many, many others feel, have felt, or will feel this at some point. This loneliness that makes your heart sink. That feeling of isolation that makes you feel as though the wind as been knocked out of you. It’s painful. It hurts deep. It’s reality. But, I keep reminding myself that this feeling, although very real at this moment, is only temporary.
I also find deep comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in this feeling of loneliness. Not that I wish the pain of loneliness on anyone else, but I know that it’s the reality for many. I remember a friend talking about the peace and comfort we find in recognizing that we are all part of a fellowship of brokenness. We find solace in this acknowledgment. I’m acknowledging the fellowship of loneliness right now and remembering that I’m not isolated in this feeling. There are many who join me in this place. Come sit at the table with me. No judgement. No advice. Just sit. It’s ok to feel these things. We won’t stay here long.
Furthermore, and really even more powerful, I know that my Savior understands the pain I am feeling. He too was isolated. He too must have felt deep cords of loneliness strike through his soul while on earth. He knows my pain, and he knows yours.
I also hold on to the promise from Scripture that I am not truly alone. I have a God who is called Immanuel which means “God is with us.” I have a God who promises throughout Scripture that He is by my side. He is close to the broken-hearted with a special kind of closeness and comfort. I cling to that promise, even when it’s difficult to feel.
I also know that many people truly do love me, and they’re here for me. I am grateful for the bond we have through the family of God here on this earth, even though there is a very true reality to my feeling of loneliness right now. Especially in this new place. And, although I may be surrounded by loads of people, I am not truly known, and the loads of people can at times exasperate my feeling of loneliness.
Again, I am not expressing these things to seek attention. I am not expressing these feelings to find pity. I just know that God has called me to share life and truth through every season of my life, and this is my current season.
A season full of fear, but grounded in trust. A season full of loneliness, but grounded in fellowship with Christ. A season Full of feelings of loss, but grounded in the hope of expectation. A season Full of brokenness, but grounded in comfort and healing through my loving God. A season Full of weariness, but grounded in the rest I find through my compassionate Savior.
It’s a tough one, but I know I’m not alone. I’m praying that if this finds you in a place of loneliness, isolation, or pain, that you will find fellowship in our brokenness. And most of all, that you will press in to God in the midst of the reality of your pain.
T H E S T R U G G L E I S R E A L
As I wrap up this series on the vlog: “The Struggle Is Real” I wanted to share my heart on this subject.
“The Struggle Is Real” (my upcoming book) came from a place of intense love and a heavy burden to help teenage and college girls as the walk the difficulties of the tumultuous and trying years of middle school, high school, and college.
As a Girls’ Minister, I sat down with girl after girl struggling with a variety of circumstances, and my heart ached for each one. In my upcoming book, I tell the personal stories of girls who have struggled in the areas of FAMILY, SELF-IMAGE, BOYS, TEMPTATION, and the THOUGHT LIFE. (That’s why we’ve been covering these topics on the vlog.)
In this video, you hear the stories of some of those girl! They are real and raw. They are brave and bold. They share because they want you to know that:
**you’re not alone
**there is hope
**and Jesus will walk with you EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.
The struggle IS real. But our God? He’s even more real.
I can’t wait for you to read this book. 🙌🏼🙌🏼 Coming soon 🙏🏼
PS – I’d love to come speak on this subject at your church, with your youth group, or at your camp. PLUS, as a BONUS some of the girls who share their personal testimonies can come along to share their stories, as well. ❤️❤️
I’d love to give you a free copy of my devotional: “No Longer Meaningless” — sign up below to grab it!
In this week’s vlog, my husband joins me as we talk about some things to look for that would make or break a relationship. We discuss the things that should make you say PEACE OUT in a relationship and some qualities that you should want!
These 10 things were major priorities that we were looking for as we dated looking for a spouse! This is a really practical vlog with some easy to tips to apply! Plus, it was really fun to film with this good looking guy!
Do you love FREEBIES as much as I do?!
Throughout the day I am DESPERATE for some encouragement. I need those constant reminders to lift my mind and eyes up to the Lord.
I’ve got some FREE lock screens in the shop to do that for you!
Girls, you are going to LOVE the vlog this week:
“A GODLY GUY’S PERSPECTIVE ON GIRLS & DATING”
After last week’s vlog on the Battlefield of Boys, I wanted to bring in some quality Christian guys, that could explain a guy’s perspective when it comes to girls, dating, and relationships! 👫
We talk about how Christians should date differently, what qualities a godly guy looks for, red flags, how to fight for purity, handling break-ups and MORE!
No Longer Meaningless:
7 Days on Finding Purpose, Meaning, and God’s Plan for Your Life
I remember spending several of my teenage years really thinking through the meaning of life. What is this all about? Why does life feel so meaningless sometimes? What should I live for? Is living for God really worth it? Why is it worth it? How do I live out His purpose? What does that look like?
Have you ever asked any of these questions? If so, I hope these devos will help guide you into finding the real meaning of life. Here’s a hint: it’s all about JESUS.
When It’s Pruning Season…Not Blooming Season
As I scrolled through my insta-stories this evening I came across an inspirational post that said: “Bloom where you’re planted.”
If I had seen this post a few weeks ago, I would have said, “Amen! Ditto that! So true!” That’s what people say when they’re in a season of “blooming.” But, this week I find myself annoyed by this post. I understand the sentiment, and like I said at many other times in my life I would say, “That’s right! Bloom, girl, bloom.” But, it’s hard to get behind a phrase like that when you really feel like you’re being pruned, and the thought of blooming doesn’t even seem possible right now. Anyone else out there know what I’m talking about?
We’re in the midst of a lot of life changes right now, and although I know they’re good, and they’re in God’s will, and they’re a part of His plan, and all those things…I also know that this new season of life change will be full of challenges. I know this season will be full of times of loneliness. I know this season will be full of weariness. I’m not saying these things to be a “Debbie Downer”…I’m just preparing for reality. And, because I know that this is the reality of change, I understand that I am about to endure a time of pruning.
I’m dreading it a little bit, not because I’ve never been pruned, but because I have endured seasons of pruning, and they’re just not fun. They’re exhausting. They’re difficult. But, they are also very rich seasons full of dependance on God, lots of learning, and lots of trusting.
Lots of “rooting” takes place in my faith during these seasons of pruning, but I would much rather be “blooming.”
This past February, I spoke at a women’s retreat on the topic: “How to Live as Women of Joy” — when I was given this theme, I decided to make a huge part of my message on trials because I know that’s the most difficult place to find true joy, but it’s also the place where we desperately need the joy of the Lord. As I prepared these messages on joy, I found myself in John 15…
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more fruit…Abide in me, and I will abide in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me.” (John 15:2,4)
I explained to the ladies that the only way our joy can be made complete, the only way we can live truly fruitful lives is to abide in Christ…even (no, especially) in the midst of “pruning” (those times of trial, testing, and difficulties).
I brought a visual for them to see as I explained this truth. Before the retreat, I called a local vineyard to ask them if I could borrow one of their grapevines to illustrate staying connected to the vine, Jesus. The owner of the vineyard was happy to let me borrow one of her potted grapevines, but she explained that this vine was in dormant season. She said that it looked like it was dead and rotting, but it was only dormant and would bloom in the spring. I was a little bummed, but as I began thinking about this dormant grapevine plant, I realized that this is the way many of us feel. Even when we, as the branches, are connected to the vine, we can feel fruitless at times. We can feel like we’re outside of the “blooming” season, and we’re stuck in this dormant, “pruning” season. But, I learned something very meaningful, that has become even more meaningful to me today, as I learned more about this dormant season for the grapevine…
It is in the midst of this dormant season that the roots of the vine become more established, so that the branches will produce even more luscious, vibrant fruit in the future.
Are you like me right now? Are you in the midst of a pruning season? Does it feel fairly dormant? Let me share three truths I’m holding onto during this time of pruning:
Hold on to Jesus, because His promise is true:
“You have been pruned for greater fruitfulness…” (John 15:3)
And maybe instead of the phrase “Bloom where you’re planted,” we can proclaim:
“Being pruned where I’m planted!”
3 Lies I Believed as a Teenage and College Girl
I talk with teenage and college girls all the time about the different struggles they face during these tough years of middle school, high school, and college. As we talk, I’m always brought back to my similar struggles during those years. I wanted to share just a few of those struggles that I faced when I was navigating those tough years.
So, here are a few lies I believed as a teenage and college girl:
Lie #1. I’m not pretty enough.
This was a CONSTANT lie that ran through my head. I just never EVER thought I was pretty enough. I wasn’t skinny enough. My clothes weren’t cute enough. My skin was for sure never clear enough. All my friends were prettier. This is how I felt, and these are just a few of the continual thoughts I had roll through my mind.
Have you ever felt this way? Let’s talk for a second though…who decides this “enough” standard? Where was I getting this idea that I wasn’t pretty enough? Well, definitely TV. Social media. Magazines. The girls around me. I saw all these ideal images EVERYWHERE, and I just felt like I could never measure up.
And honestly, when I finally got to the point where I thought my appearance would finally be “enough” it never satisfied that emptiness that I thought it would. I thought hitting a certain number on the scale would be the be-all-end-all where I found that magical, total satisfaction, and it wasn’t. Nothing ever was. Why? Because these were false standards of “enoughness.”
Something shifted in me when I started realizing that these standards of “enoughness” were not God’s standards. These weren’t the standards I needed to strive for. These standards spewed out by our culture are NOT MY STANDARDS to live by.
I began focusing my attention on God’s standards for my life, rather than the world’s standards, and I found great freedom. He doesn’t look on the outward appearance. He looks at the heart. I didn’t make that up…that truth comes straight from Scripture:
“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
What a sigh of relief! I found that when I focused less on my outward appearance, I actually felt much more confident. Seems ironic, but my obsession ceased, and instead I obsessed over Jesus. In Him, I’ve found greater confidence than I could have ever imagined.
Lie #2. I’m never going to get a guy.
Okay, hold up, this lie is just annoying.
First of all, you don’t need a guy to complete you or fulfill you. Don’t worry, I’m not a feminist talking here. I think men serve a very important and unique role in each of our lives. BUT, we don’t need to strive after “getting a guy.” Each one of us can be completely and totally satisfied, living full and meaningful lives without EVER “getting a guy.” So, girlfriend, please know that a guy is not your greatest reward in life.
Second of all, stop trying to “get” a guy. A young man who is worthy of your attention will pursue you in a respectful and gentlemanly way. Men should step into this role. We should not be the pursuers in relationships. I wasted way too many years obsessing over guys and trying to get their attention. Man, oh, man! I wish that I had not been so completely distracted by winning guys’ attention during those years. The type of guy that makes you “win” his attention is not worth the effort. A man of God, on the other hand, will see you seeking after God, and he will pursue you because YOU are pursuing Jesus. <– that’s the kind of guy you want to “get.”
Girl, please don’t be like me and waste your time crushing on 7 different guys at the same time, trying so hard to get those boys’ attention. Keep your eyes on Jesus and off of those teenage boys. You’ll be happier in the long run. Trust me. It wasn’t until I started seeking Jesus with my full affection that I attracted the type of guy who truly valued that. My husband, Sam, will tell you that it’s because of my fire for Jesus that he was attracted to me. I’m glad that’s the kind of guy I attracted, because it could have been very different. (Praise hands, all day long!)
Lie #3. A guy won’t date me if I have high purity standards.
GOOD! If a guy won’t date you because of your standards, then WEED THOSE GUYS OUT, honey! That is the perfect way to determine if a guy is worthy of your time…lay out those standards and see if he walks away. If he does, then you just saved yourself a lot of trouble. If he stays and admires you for those standards, then keep him around awhile.
A young man who values your purity is a young man who actually values you.
These are just a FEW of the MANY lies I believed during those years…
Can you relate? Comment and share how you’ve struggled in these same areas.
What are some other lies you believe? I’d love to tackle some of the questions that might come up when you’re dealing with these many lies jumbling around in your head.
Much love girlies!
We all know that family life can be one of our greatest struggles of all.
Have you ever asked the question: “How can I handle my dysfunctional family?” “What do I do if my parents always fight?” “How am I supposed to honor my father and mother if they don’t seem very worthy of honor?” “What do I do about a sibling who is driving me crazy?”
We answer these questions and many more in the vlog today.
THANKS FOR JOINING THE LAUNCH!!
Be sure to give the video a thumbs up if you like it & subscribe to the channel, so you don’t miss a thing!
I was summoned to court this morning…
Confession: I have a speeding problem. Many months ago, I received a ticket (for driving WAY over the speed limit). I wanted to quickly get on top of paying for the citation and for deferred adjudication to clear my record. I was very proud of myself when I wrote and mailed a check the next day. Now the real challenge: don’t speed for the next 6 months.
As I worked towards this better habit of safe driving, little did I know that I had failed to pay the correct amount for my citation and deferral fee. I received a letter in the mail about a month ago stating that I must appear in court on April 12th because I had an outstanding balance of $25. What? I thought I had paid my debt. I thought I was free and clear. But, this letter explained that if I did not appear for my court date and did not pay my remaining debt that this failure would result in conviction and would end up on my permanent record. Noooo! (And even worse, there would be a warrant out for my arrest!) As you can imagine, I showed up bright and early to the Woodway Courtroom this morning.
As I walked in, the receptionist looked at my record and explained that my debt had been paid. My husband had gone online and paid the remaining balance as soon as we received the letter. The next step: I needed to appear before the judge, explain my failure and oversight to pay the full amount, and hopefully he would erase this from my record.
As I sat in the courtroom, I began reflecting on my Bible Study Fellowship lesson for this week. We are discussing the Crucifixion of Jesus, and one particular question came to my mind:
“What other unseen sign was nailed to Jesus’ cross, and why is it important to you personally? (See Colossians 2:13-14)
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.
As I sat there thinking about the Truth that Jesus canceled the records of the charges against me by nailing every single charge to the cross, I couldn’t help but think how much this aligned to my current circumstances. There I was, sitting in a courtroom, trying to clear my record. What’s interesting is that I thought I had done everything to pay my debt. I thought my good driving the last several months had been enough. Even my best effort to quickly pay my debt and clear my record, wasn’t enough. This is the reality for all of us. All of our best efforts are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We can never pay the full debt we owe, even with our greatest efforts.
I needed a righteous, merciful, and gracious judge who would clear my record this morning in that courtroom. Good news! Thankfully, he did.
Even GREATER NEWS! We have the perfect, righteous, most gracious Judge who has canceled our record because our loving Savior, Jesus Christ paid the debt we owed. The debt we couldn’t pay…even with all our striving.
Jesus Christ paid our debt on the excruciating Cross, and we have now been credited with His righteousness. The perfect Judge looks on us and sees a clear, clean, perfect record, because Jesus Christ has transferred His record of perfection onto us.
I will never get over that kind of gracious, unfathomable love.
I didn’t think I would say it, but I’m grateful I had to go to court this morning, because it made my Holy Week even more meaningful. I am praising Jesus Christ for paying my debt, canceling my record of wrong, and crediting me with a righteous record that I don’t deserve.
I would love to hear how this Truth has affected you.
Have you ever accepted Christ as the payment for your debt?
What does it mean to you that Christ was willing to pay your debt of sin through the Cross?
How can this Truth impact your every day life?
The Unwasted Life: HeartStrong Faith Conference
The Unwasted Life is NOT the Striving Life.
The Unwasted Life is NOT the Exhausted Life.
The Unwasted Life is NOT the Perfect Life.
The Unwasted Life is marked by a perspective of the brevity of life:
Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Psalm 39:4-7 “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is. 5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” 6 We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. 7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”
Colossians 3:3-4 says “For you died when Christ dies, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.”
The Unwasted Life values Christ above all other things:
Philippians 3:7-8 “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.”
Revelation 2:2-5 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first. Look how far you have fallen from your first love! Turn back to me again and work as you did at first.”
John 15:4-5 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek most: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in his temple…
Psalm 27:8 “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come & talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’”
John 15:7-8 “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Matthew 10:37-39 “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine, If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it.”
The Unwasted Life is marked by a continual hunger for God:
1 Peter 2:2-3 “You must crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation. Cry out for this nourishment as a baby cries out for milk, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness & goodness.”
The Unwasted Life does not dwell on the past, but presses on in the present to become all that Christ has for us in the future:
Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (press on toward that day that I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be) 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do (focusing all my energies on this one thing): Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to receive the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Believing the promises of God from Isaiah 61:
We are called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.
“I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.”
Believing the promise of Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Philippians 1:6 “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Colossians 1:12-14 “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (“God has purchased our freedom with His blood and has forgiven all our sins.”)
He’s looking for hearts willing to say:
“Here you go, my life is yours.”
2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD range (move to and fro) throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
Isaiah 6:8-9 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Don’t miss YOUR divinely appointed calling and impact by longing for SOMEONE ELSE’S divinely appointed calling.
It’s the moments that make our days, the days that make our years, and the years that make our lives.
Are you missing the moments that build your lives?
The Unwasted Life is marked by evangelism, stirred by a heart for the lost:
Philippians 3:18-19 “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.”
Acts 20:24 “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”
The Unwasted Life is fixated on Christ’s 2nd Coming & Eternity:
Philippians 3:20-21 “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior. He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same mighty power that He will use to conquer everything, everywhere.”
Romans 14:12 “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies.”
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, [a]precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test [b]the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
WILL IT BE SAID OF YOUR LIFE?
“THIS LIFE WAS NOT WASTED.”
There’s some background noise towards the beginning, but it clears up after everyone enters. Thanks for your patience as the background noise dissipates, and thanks for listening!
Part 2 | Message 2 | Living in the Joy of God’s Presence | Trinity Baptist Women’s Retreat
Part 1 | Message 2 | Living in the Joy of God’s Presence | Trinity Baptist Women’s Retreat
Part 2 | Message 1 | Discovering the Joy of the Lord | Trinity Baptist Women’s Retreat
Part 1 | Message 1 | Discovering the Joy of the Lord | Trinity Baptist Women’s Retreat
I’m planning my spring and summer speaking schedule for The Struggle Is Real series, and I would love to come speak at your church’s youth or college group soon! Click here for more information.
Let me know if you’d be interested in having me, or share this post if you know someone else who might be interested.
** Option to bring a girl (or two) highlighted in the video and/or book to come share her testimony prior to my message. **
I’d love to come to your church, youth group, or school! Submit an interest form here if you’d like more information.
I’ve gone back and forth…to say something or not to say something? My intention is not to create more debate or more animosity. That’s the last thing I want. I sit here writing, cringing a bit, because I know I’ll hear from some people who disagree, but I write because of all the teenage girls I’ve worked with over the years. I know that many adults already have their opinions set in stone, and it would be difficult to change the mind of one who has already determined what they will believe on many of these issues…but, for all of the teenage girls I know who are watching marches like the Women’s March on Washington and hearing the many opinions swirling out there, I MUST speak out.
You need to hear from someone other than the women who walked in that march on Saturday. Their voices are loud, and I’m convicted that their voices might be overshadowing the voices of all the other women who disagree. Those of us who adhere to the hashtag #theydontspeakforme
As I watched the march on Saturday, I shuttered and thought over and over again, “Why are they marching in the name of women? They don’t represent me in any way.” They should have marched in the name of liberal ideology.
I am always offended when people equate the rights of women or race with issues that do not align with God’s creation of humanity (true human birth rights). Please stop making the right to “choose” synonymous with women’s rights. Please stop equating LGTBQ rights with racial rights.
I remember hearing Tony Evans, an African-American preacher I admire greatly, talk about the offense it was to him for others to equate the civil rights movement with the rights of sexual orientation. In an interview, Evans was asked about the argument that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue like race, but he wasn’t having it. “The issue of race is not an issue of choice. It’s an issue of birth,” he said. I agree, and this is my same argument. Do not begin equating sexual orientation and abortion with women’s rights.
As I watched Kiera Johnson walk up to the stage wearing a shirt plastered with the word “abortion” & hearts, I was horrified. The crowd cheered while she said, “I am unapologetically abortion positive,” I felt physically sick. For all of you teen girls, this is not what it means to be a strong woman.
My wise friend said, “That shirt might as well be plastered with the word ‘murder’.” I couldn’t agree more. How can this be the image that we praise? How can we as women cheer this on?
As I saw this image being praised, I could not help but imagine the thrill of the Enemy. The way he has skewed the minds of our culture is hard to believe.
I listened to a video of a college girl this morning who explained why she marched. In it she said, “I am pro-choice. I think that women have the free will to do whatever they want to with their body.” Just imagine if a man said this…feminists would be outraged. We don’t have the right to do whatever we want to with our bodies. We have a responsibility.
With our bodies comes a responsibility. The choice we have occurs prior to conception. (As an aside, I am not someone so staunch in my beliefs that I do not understand the argument for medical abortion in the cases of rape or other medical complications. Although, I am never for abortion, I do understand these arguments. With that being said, those cases are around 0.4 to 3% of the reasons given for having an abortion.)
When did we begin believing that we can just abort the very real consequences that come from our decisions?
All of you teenage/college girls (or guys) who are confused on this issue, please don’t believe that a pro-choice viewpoint is the most enlightened way to think. This is how our culture portrays pro-choice vs. pro-life — the enlightened vs. the unenlightened. This should not catch us by surprise though:
1 Corinthians 3:18-20: Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.
As I watched the Women’s March which esteemed speakers who were pro-abortion & activists for the LGBTQ community, I couldn’t help but think, at the root of both of these issues, what these two groups are saying is: “GOD MADE A MISTAKE.”
With abortion…God made a mistake by creating this child in my womb.
With the transgender issue…God made a mistake by creating me as male (or female).
How can we stand by as our culture esteems those who so blatantly hold views contrary to God’s Truth?
Girls, please know that believing & aligning your life with the Truth of the Bible will not be popular in our culture, but living His way is best for you. Do not buy into the lies of the Enemy (Satan, the Deceiver, the Father of Lies) and begin to believe all the messages you will hear from those confused and blinded by the “wisdom of this world.”
Know His Truth. Align your life with His Word. Understand that it will not be popular. You will get push-back, but living a life in line with God’s Word is best for you.
As I begin to wrap up my first book project, The Struggle Is Real, I have a new project stirring in my mind and soul. The title: A Sinless Generation. I woke up around 4am this morning and had to put words on paper because my mind would not stop swirling. I wanted to share an excerpt from the first chapter: When Sin Is Taken Lightly.
When Sin Is Taken Lightly
My dad tells a story of when I was around three-years-old. Our family went on a vacation to Carlsbad Caverns in the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico. One day as we were exploring the caves, I wandered away from the safety of my parents’ arms, and began exploring for myself. When my parents realized that I was not close by, they quickly searched and found me headed for a dangerous area that was barricaded and off limits. My dad says that as I made my way under the ropes and passed the barricade, I began slipping into a bottomless and dark abyss. He snatched the hood of my jacket and pulled me back to safety just as my feet began to slip. If I had fallen, it would have surely been the end of my short life.
I have always taken this story as a picture of my spiritual rescue. Unaware of the destruction I was headed for, Christ rescued me and snatched me from the deep darkness of sin’s abyss. Not only did he save me once and for all from my sins as a whole, and snatched me from the darkness of death to bring me into the light of eternal life, but I have seen Him continue to snatch me out of the darkness of sin on a daily basis to bring me back into His loving arms. Consistently, as I wander, He rescues me back to the safety of His light.
As a generation, I believe we’ve forgotten the darkness of our sin. We have disregarded the devastating destruction that sin breeds. We have taken sin too lightly, and now it has overtaken and hardened our heavy souls. This flippant attitude toward our sin could be the greatest tragedy of our generation.
When will we begin to take sin seriously? When will we turn from the darkness and run into His marvelous light? Could we be a generation that misses Jesus because we miss the serious reality of our sins?
I have a two-year-old daughter, and although she is truly sweet-hearted, she also has a clear bent towards sin. As we all do. Not long ago, my husband tweeted: “If you don’t believe in the doctrine of original sin, you’ve never had a 2-year-old.” Her inherent sinful nature is already clearly evident. Not because she’s especially bad or disobedient, but because she’s human. I have jokingly said, “Well, the good news is hopefully she’ll realize her need for a Savior early on in life.” I say this jokingly, but I actually mean it very seriously. I earnestly pray that she will recognize her sin early on, in order to acknowledge her need for Jesus. We live in a society that tells us to discipline with our child’s self-esteem in mind. Instead of saying, “What you did was wrong. Disobedient. Dishonest. Hurtful.” We are encouraged to use less “harsh” words and keep correction positive and more self-empowering. Although I understand the intention behind this philosophy, and I am all for encouragement and positivity, I also believe with deep conviction that we should clearly point out sin to our children. When I correct my daughter, I tell her, “Joy, that was very disobedient. Your sin hurts mom and hurts the heart of God. Will you ask for forgiveness?” I always freely forgive and give grace with abandon, but she must understand her need for forgiveness and grace.
You see, I would have never come to Jesus if I had never realized my need for Him. I accepted Christ as a seven-year-old, and looking back on my experience, I have clear memories of what propelled me to my Savior. I remember as a first grader, the first time I cheated on a test. I was sitting in Mrs. Arnold’s class. We had a spelling test that day, and I just could not remember how to spell “bicycle.” I placed my spelling sheet in the cubby of my desk, and slyly slid the sheet out to review that specific word during the test. As I walked to place my test on Mrs. Arnold’s desk, I felt a deep-sinking feeling in my stomach. For the first time in my life, I felt gut-wrenching guilt. But, I didn’t confess. The feeling of guilt laid stagnant in my heart for quite some time. Not long after, I remember being in a store with my parents. I saw a bright pink bouncy ball that looked like something I couldn’t live without. I grabbed the ball, placed it in my pocket, and when it was time to go, I left without paying for it. I remember as I walked out the door of that store, feeling the same pit in my stomach that I had felt in Mrs. Arnold’s class. Guilt, is that you again? This time, I confessed. I told my parents, we returned to the store, they had me tell the store merchant what I had done, and I returned the bright pink bouncy ball. Although I left without the bouncy ball, I gained a freedom that I hadn’t felt before my confession.
These examples might sound trite, but I’m extremely grateful that as a seven-year-old, these sins weighed heavily on my heart. Not long after these two incidents, I found myself sitting in church on a Sunday night. That night we were partaking in the Lord’s Supper. The pastor explained that the Lord’s Supper was to be taken by believers only. If you were sitting in the congregation and had not accepted Christ as your Savior, he asked you to quietly hand the plate to the person next to you and pass on partaking. I knew I had not yet accepted Christ, so I did not participate that night. Throughout the entire service, I felt the swirling of the Holy Spirit in my seven-year-old soul. Why had I not accepted Jesus as my Savior? I believed that He died on the Cross. I knew He died for the sins of the world, but until that time I had not understood the seriousness of my own personal sin.
Now that I had experienced the guilt and heaviness of my personal sin, I knew that I desperately needed a Savior to rescue me from my own self. That night, I prayed with my parents to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior. The guilt and shame that had once weighed on me began to fade and release me to a freedom that I had never experienced before. I would have never found that freedom had I not recognized the seriousness of my sin.
Yesterday, I posted the following question on my Instagram: “Is your faith contingent upon what God does FOR you?”
I mentioned that I had recently gone through a trial and that I was asking God what I needed to learn from that trial. I wanted to give a little context to what the Lord is teaching me.
Nearly a year ago, we found out that our sweet little daughter, Joy, has an egg allergy. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but MAN, it’s a big deal to me. Let me add a little background to this, as well. Why was this such a test for me? Well, before Joy was born, I prayed constantly for her. A very specific prayer that I prayed was that she would not have a food allergy. Food allergies are a big fear of mine. Not sure why. I just have a lot of anxiety that comes with the thought of a food allergy. Controlling what others give to her. Fearful of what kind of reaction she could have. It’s very scary to me.
So, I prayed over and over again that Joy would not have a food allergy. Around a year old, after a reaction, we found out that she has an allergy to eggs. Following that realization, I had a lot of anxiety. After navigating this road for about a year, finding our new normal, I’m finally at the point where I’m really asking God what He’s wanting to teach me through this. (Yes, it took me a year to ask what I needed to learn…)
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the major things I was clinging to in fear and worry, the thing I prayed about most before she was born, is something that we are now dealing with. (I’m not saying this is how God always works. But, sometimes, he has to pry our fingers off of the things we’re clinging to most.) A year out, I can ask with a very pure (less anxious) heart, “God, what do you want to teach me in this? I don’t want to miss it. What do I need to learn?”
As I prayed this yesterday, He very clearly said the following: “Trish, I wanted to know this: Is your faith contingent upon what I do FOR you?” Woah. Let me stop for a second.
I can honestly say, that as I walked that road, I’ve found that my faith is not contingent upon what He does for me. But, there were days that I was really disappointed that He didn’t come through in answering that prayer how I wanted it answered. No, He didn’t give me an allergy-free daughter. But, he’s given me much more as I’ve walked this road.
He’s taught me how to trust Him with my child. (A child He loves even more than I do)
He’s taught me how to lean into Him in the unknown.
He’s taught me how to live life with a loose grip on the gifts He’s given me.
He’s taught me how to hand my anxieties over to Him, because He actually really does care for me.
So, you know what I’ve found…He’s given me WAY MORE than what I was praying for. In giving me the OPPOSITE of what I prayed for, He poured His grace out on me in a way that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.
You know what… I think He knows what I need more than I do. I think He knows what’s best for me. I think I’m starting to really believe that fact and trust Him with my life…and with the lives of those I love most. (Which may be harder than trusting Him with my own…)
There are so many opinions out there today that I hesitate to add my own, but as I sit and reflect on this past week, I just cannot resist sharing what the Lord has laid on my heart.
Satan, our enemy, the deceiver, the thief…his goal is to steal, kill, and destroy, and that is what we see him doing here in our beloved country and world. He has turned us against one another. He has instigated chaos, corruption, violence, and death. As I think on his tactics, I see one major way that Satan has gained a dangerous foothold in our nation.
As a nation, we no longer view life as sacred, and I believe that is one of Satan’s greatest goals. Satan wants to do anything in his power to steal, kill, and destroy the LIFE that Jesus came to bring. (John 10:10)
The enemy has deceived us, as a nation, into DEVALUING LIFE. How did we fall for his trap? Why have we believed these lies? When did we forget that LIFE is sacred? Every single life is sacred. As believers in Jesus Christ, we must stand for life and fight against the enemies tactics to devalue life.
I stand and contend for black lives. I stand and contend for white lives. I stand and contend for unborn babies’ lives. I stand and contend for the life of the person who wants to take his own. I stand for every single life because I know that each person was created in the image of our Creator God. Every life matters.
May we stand boldly as believers in Jesus Christ and stand for LIFE. All lives. For those who are oppressed, for those who are vulnerable, for those who are unable to stand for themselves – may we FIGHT for LIFE, and remember that each life is valuable – equally as valuable as any other – and even more valuable to our mighty God than we could ever imagine.
Ashley, age 31
Struggle: Trying to Fit the Mold
A Letter to my Little Sisters in Christ,
What I wish I could tell myself as a teenager, college student, and young adult…Yes, it has taken me that long to figure it out. As a 31-year-old woman, I look back on my time as a teenager, college student, and even a youth minister, and I see a problem that plagues young women across the board. We don’t know how valuable we are. We aren’t comfortable in our own skin. We’re trying so much to please others – family, friends, even God, that we don’t think about who we were designed to be. We don’t think about doing things that make us excited, or fuel us with joy and energy.
I spent so much of my teenage years trying to fit in with the crowd. I was on the fringes of the cool kids, and probably seemed like I was calm, cool, and collected, but at home, I was a weepy, insecure mess. I never wanted to disappoint my friends, my parents, my pastors, my coaches, etc. I was too busy thinking about their expectations, their desires, and their goals for me. I never really thought about what my goals were for myself.
I got to college, and I was so excited to have a fresh start, where I could be whoever I wanted to be. What happened is that I really just found out who everyone else wanted to be and decided I should be that too. I didn’t realize it at the time, but somewhere deep down; I was just going with the flow.
I went to a Christian university, where I was blessed with really great friends who shared my faith, and I didn’t really have any of the typical college temptations you hear about growing up. I never was tempted to party and get drunk, or sleep around. I just wanted to be a good Christian girl, work at a Christian summer camp, be in a sorority, and meet my husband by the time I graduated. That was the typical girl at my school, or at least who surrounded me.
I remember going through rush, and thinking how great it would be to have these forever friends that they talked up. We’d all be in each other’s weddings, and encourage each other in the Lord, and have kids that ended up being roommates at college, just like us. That’s what I thought I wanted. That’s who I thought I was.
The end of rush week came, and I was one of those few that got crosscut. Basically, one sorority knew I wanted another one, and the one I wanted didn’t give me a bid. So, all but three of my friends were in sororities and my freshman college dreams were crushed. I had placed all my worth and value in what a group of girls thought about me.
Even in grad school, I tried to fit in. Truth be told, I was in seminary, which is a hard place to fit in no matter who you are. It was during my time there, and even my time post school, where I began to realize I had no idea who I was, what made me tick, and what God had designed me for.
If I could tell my younger self anything, I would say “Take time to figure out who you are, what you love, and the kind of person you want to be, and spend your time doing the things that fit with who you are. Get comfortable in your own skin. It is so much better to be you – quirks and all, than to spend your days trying to fit a mold that no one ever asked you to.”
I will never forget the season of my life that I quit caring, and quit trying to impress for the purpose of acceptance. What happened is that I finally realized that being with the Lord in a close relationship was more important than doing work for him, or being what everyone else wanted me to be. Psalm 139 took on a whole new meaning. It’s not just a scripture that you paint on a canvas and hang in a baby’s nursery. It is the true, powerful, living WORD of God.
He spent time creating every part of who I am. He spent time designing you, your hairs on your head – frizzy, curly, straight…He did that with great intention. He crafted my heart to be a little tenderer than others, and he gave me a sense of humor that’s kind of awesome. (I crack myself up most days). The same God, who created the heavens, the earth, and all the things in it, took his time to make me. He didn’t make a mistake, or mess up. He didn’t forget anything. His plans for me haven’t been thwarted; despite the fact that I wasn’t in a sorority or that I am still single.
What I hope you take away from this is that He loves you, and you are a display of His creativity. So don’t try to change it, or reshape it. Get comfortable in your skin. Letting go and pressing in to know the Lord has been one of the most freeing things in my life. He just wants to meet with you, to know you, to be with you. Figure out the best way for you to draw near to him and do that! You will experience so much joy in walking the way He’s made you to walk.
The Beginning & The End
3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” 5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.
3 Things We Know Jesus Will Do In the Future
3 Truths About the End & the Beginning
3 Ways This Affects Us Today