Masks. Vaccines. Church. Opinions.

“I’m working in healthcare right now and people can be very mean and hateful.”

“I’m frustrated with my church.”

“My friend will not stop lashing out at me with her opinions because she doesn’t think I should be homeschooling.”

“After losing a loved one to COVID, I think she feels hurt personally that they’re not wearing masks. As if they don’t see what she has been through.”

“They decided not to get vaccinated and now I don’t know what to do. I’m so upset. I thought we were on the same page.”

“She said if we weren’t going to church but going to the grocery store right now we were telling our kids what’s really important. But people wear masks at the grocery store!”

Want to take a wild guess what all these statements have in common?

I received each of them. This week.

Welcome to the year of our Lord 2021. Where we are all stuck in a continual wheel of Catch-22s. We are hurting. We are tired. We are tense. And we are contentious

We cannot hold opinions that will satisfy everyone. 

Politics. Masks. Vaccines. Isolation and integration. 

Can somebody make the train stop… we all want to get off, right?

In his recent book, Get Your Life Back, John Eldredge offers practical tips for re-centering ourselves in Christ. With the constant barrage of notifications, social media and news flashes, combined with the ‘contentiousness’ of the hour we’re living in, I think these practices are NEEDED and worth exploring.

One helpful practice: a simple one minute pause. In those sixty seconds, we pray “Jesus, I give everyone and everything to you.” We continue praying until we feel we are truly giving things to God. We can name specific things, situations we are frustrated about, people we are worried about. 

In our cars, in our kitchens, in our own hearts, anywhere, we can re-center ourselves. 

This is a practice of benevolent detachment. We love. We care. But we cannot carry these burdens on our shoulders. We remind ourselves:

There is a God. He sees. We are all in His capable hands.

Along with reading Get Your Life Back and practicing the One-Minute Pause (there’s an app!) I’d like to add just a few recommendations that might help smooth out rough paths as you continue walking forward in these days of great turmoil.

I. Carefully consider whether your opinion is wanted in a particular situation.

This requires a great deal of humility. We highly value our own opinions because, well, they’re ours. But if they are not asked for, they sometimes do more harm than good. 

If you’re not sure, take a pause and check in with the Holy Spirit. Do you feel a sense of peace? Or do you feel like the words about to exit your mouth are “fighting words?” If your adrenaline is pumping and your blood pressure is racing, you are probably not speaking from a place of peace. 

Unless the building is on fire, maybe it’s not as urgent as it feels to speak up.

II. Practice Bringing People to Jesus.

We often have to remind ourselves that we cannot care about everything and everyone all the time. Only God can. Our world has just one Savior, and His Name is Jesus. 

When we find ourselves in a situation where everything in us is screaming because we do care, and because we want to express our opinion out of care, but we are not sure it is wanted, we would do well to give everyone and everything to Jesus. Wherever you are, you can change the posture of your heart to say, “Lord, I bring you the person right in front of me. I want them to know You more. I want them to hear from You.”

If someone is offering their opinion, and it is frustrating you, or even hurting you, remember that everyone is living in this tense moment. Everyone has experienced challenges of one kind or another during this pandemic. Before you respond to their opinions, reposition your heart. Try to bring yourself, and your friend, to Jesus.

III. Faithfulness Looks Different for Different People.

I’m quoting myself on this one: Your faithfulness and my faithfulness will sometimes look different. But that does not mean we are not both being faithful. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls.” {Rom. 14:4} 

As we continue to navigate the uncharted territory of 2021, we would do well to remember that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. We’re better off assuming everyone is doing the best they know how to do, than sitting in judgement over our brothers and sisters because we have different opinions and are making different choices.

Jesus invites us to walk through this life “freely and lightly.” {Matthew 11:30, The Message} We can only walk freely and lightly if we will lay the burdens we are carrying on His capable shoulders. 

So slow down today, friends. You are probably carrying a weight you don’t have to carry. Before you move on with your day, take a pause and ask what you need to lay down. 

Then?

 

Give everyone and everything to Jesus.

A Book Worth Your Time

If you are feeling overwhelmed by entertainment, dogged by your phone, or frazzled by a fast pace, I highly recommend John Eldredge’s book, Get Your Life Back. I’m only halfway through but am already experiencing the benefits of putting the practices he teaches to work. {You can click this (affiliate) link to find it on Amazon here.)

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P.S. I’m still working behind the scenes on a fresh Bible Study for you! I’m excited to share more soon! Sign up for my weekly love note and you’ll be the first to know when it’s ready. Perhaps you could start thinking of a friend who could join you on the journey?

P.P.S. I’m so glad the recipe party/meal planner has been a blessing to so many of you! PLEASE tell a friend! And if you haven’t yet, click the link below to grab it for yourself!

Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for your love and support!

How to Win Every Argument. Ever.

My heart was racing. I felt my body temperature rising like a flood tide. 

The conversation was rapidly changing into a big fat argument. 

In the heat of the battle, I had one goal: win.

In the midst of a heated conversation, when my blood pressure skyrockets and my hands start to shake, I find in my heart two competing voices.

One voice knows that the relationship matters most. 

The other (much louder) voice wants to be heard and to be right.

I don’t know about you, darling friend, but I am consistently amazed at my own sin. 

One minute life feels like a fresh spring day and the hills are alive with the sound of music. The next, I’m so mad I want to spit or cuss. Or throw something, hard, and then spit and cuss.

The devil can catch me in a trap of offense as quick as a hiccup. 

Remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, just before the verses above? 

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge … but do not have love, I am nothing.” {I Corinthians 13:2}

Wretch that I am, what can turn the selfish tide in my soul?
What can make me choose to go lower, and lower still, instead of fighting for the upper hand?
And – could this be related? What was God promising us when He said Love never fails?

After my most recent total failure, I discovered this paradox as I picked up the pieces and reconsidered it all:

If I enter an argument to win, I will always lose.

But if I enter an argument to love, I will always win.

Because ‘winning’ isn’t being the last man standing. Or the one with the right words. Or the one with the most logical opening statement and convincing supporting evidence. 

In the upside down Kingdom of Heaven, Christ leads us to triumph and victory when we go low 

When we show up to show love, we can show our Father’s heart, beating in us.

Our Savior humbly submitted to death on the cross, and God highly exalted Him. (Do you see that paradox again there? He went down to get lifted up.)

And He told us, “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you…”

So how do we win? 

We win when we get low, and let love steal the show.

If we can walk away at the end of the day and say, “Father, I did my best to show your love,” then we can give thanks that God is giving us victory over our own selfishness and sin.

That is winning in the Kingdom of Love.

No matter the outcome. No matter the results.

This is how we win every argument: 

We get low, and we give love.

A Take-it-Deeper Challenge

Did any particular arguments come to mind while you read this? Consider taking a moment to share this post with someone with whom you had a big argument – it doesn’t matter if it was a week ago or a decade ago. Apologize for not showing up with love in the heat of the argument, and tell them you’re aiming to handle things differently next time.

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P.S. I’m still working behind the scenes on a fresh Bible Study for you! I’m excited to share more soon! Sign up for my weekly love note and you’ll be the first to know when it’s ready. Perhaps you could start thinking of a friend who could join you on the journey?

P.P.S. I’m so glad the recipe party/meal planner has been a blessing to so many of you! PLEASE tell a friend! And if you haven’t yet, click the link below to grab it for yourself!

Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for your love and support!

Two Words to Solve All Your Problems

Can we please have a dog? When can we have a dog?

For years, one of our kids asked, on a very consistent basis, if our family could have a dog.

He discussed all the reasons it would be wonderful to have a dog. 
Every time he felt bored he pictured himself in the backyard with the dog.
When he argued with a sibling, his mind drifted to playing with his dog instead.

Yes, he would walk the dog! Yes, he would pick up the poop! Of course! Because the dog would solve all his problems!

When the timing finally seemed right, would you believe it, we got a dog.

He was absolutely overjoyed to hold our sweet little puppy while she slept in his arms. He was happy to wake up early and let her out, so delighted to play with her.

But – you know where this is going, don’t you? 

Boredom was still a thing. Arguments still happened.

The joy of the puppy wore off. 

 It seems obvious and short-sighted, when we see it from a child’s point of view. 

No, a dog is not going to solve all your problems kid! Keep dreaming!

But I wonder if sometimes we approach our problems with the same attitude:

If God would just ____________, then I could be happy.

And there are as many ways to fill in that blank as there are days in a millennium:

  • If we could just move into a house with more space, we wouldn’t be “on top of each other” and fight… and we would be happy.
  • If I could just find a job with a boss who doesn’t dump stuff on me at 4:45 every day…
  • If we could just move outta this neighborhood…town…state…
  • If the kids were back at school full time…
  • If we could just get through this dingaling pandemic, then we’d all be happy. (Said everybody, amen.)

Why was Paul able to be content in every circumstance – puppy or no puppy?

Contentment, like so many things, is fruit from the tree of Faith. When Jesus is our center, we can firmly grasp just how temporary our lives are. When we remember that all (yes, ALL) our circumstances are temporary – whether we are abased or abounding – we can feel grounded in the truth that we are still on our way to our true home. 

My soul needs reminding: Contentment doesn’t come with a better job, a bigger paycheck, or more square footage. It doesn’t look like a new car. It’s not a spouse who speaks to you exactly the way you want to be spoken to. And sadly, it doesn’t even look like a puppy.

What about you, darling friend? Is there something you’re facing at the moment that has you thinking “once ___ happens I’ll be happy?”

Note: Are some seasons of our lives are dang hard? YES! Keep hoping for God to bring you through! There are seasons of life where putting one foot in front of the other feels like a near-impossibility. Ask me how I know. 

But the Lord is with you in the valley, just like He’s with you on the mountain-top. And often, our greatest battles are fought in the valleys, and are the very reasons we are able to climb to those mountain tops when the time is right!

What if we pray for God to help us be faithful in this season? What if we offer to “stay in the fire until He’s ready to take us out?” 

It doesn’t have to be Christmas for Jesus to be the reason for the season you’re in.

If we can learn to “Give what He takes and take what He gives with a smile,”* then we’ve found the secret to contentment: a love that trusts that God is always, always good.

Whatever this is for you, this is not forever.

The secret that can solve all our problems can be described in one word: Contentment. And it can be found in one word: Jesus.

*Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light.

P.P.S. I’m so glad the meal planner has been a blessing to so many of you! Please tell a friend! Or if you haven’t yet, click the link below to grab it for yourself!

Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for your love and support!

It Stands to Reason… Until It Doesn’t

Once upon a time, Lucy ventured into the wardrobe and found herself in a new country called Narnia. Edmund found it, too, but decided to pretend he hadn’t.

So it was a great concern for the elder siblings, Peter and Susan, to try to understand why Lucy was pretending to have been to a make-believe country, and for this reason they visited the Professor.

The Professor felt the matter deserved great consideration, and commented:

“Logic!” […] “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies, and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

Peter and Susan had never considered this possibility: it seemed to defy all logic. 

But, as you may have guessed, eventually Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy all found their way through the wardrobe – together – into Narnia. And the siblings discovered Lucy had been telling the truth, all along.

Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of being 100% completely certain of your point of view until someone put the idea to you from a different angle – or gave you a new perspective?

Sometimes we are willing concede that our logic was flawed, or we were misinformed, or that we didn’t see the full picture. 

Sometimes, we’re too proud to change our stance when we’ve once stabbed a flag into the ground and chosen a position on an issue: come hell or high water, we are going down with this ship.

Darling friend, I’d like to suggest a really challenging possibility for you today.

At some point in the walk of faith it is possible – perhaps even probable – that you will be challenged to take a leap when you can’t see the ground in front of you. 

And you’ll have to decide whether you can trust the God who-loves-you more than you trust the logic in your own mind.

It seemed impossible that Lucy was telling the truth – but she was.

And it may seem impossible, the things God will call us to – but still, He calls.

Consider this excerpt from The Screwtape Letters, (also by C.S. Lewis) words written from a demon uncle to his demon nephew (Wormwood) on this subject:

“Do not be deceived Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

God doesn’t call us to abandon our reason entirely. He does sometimes encourage us to set it aside for a higher calling: trust.

If we practice trust and obedience in the small, every day minutiae of life, we’ll strengthen those faith muscles and perhaps be ready to take the leaps He calls us to.

It might behoove us both, my friend, to consider the possibility that the course of action that seems most logical to you and me isn’t necessarily the correct course to take.

It always seems the best adventures are always just beyond our comfort zone, in the land of trust and obedience.

P.S. I’m wandering my way through The Chronicles of Narnia again with my children and my goodness, they truly are beautifully worth the time of a person at any age. I also just re-read The Screwtape Letters, and my goodness, I think that brief book should be required reading for Christians. I think I’ll be revisiting it every year or two. If you need some new encouragement on your nightstand, these books will not disappoint! 

P.P.S. I’m so glad the meal planner has been a blessing to so many of you! Please tell a friend! Or if you haven’t yet, click the link below to grab it for yourself!

Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for your love and support!

Who Gets To Say Who You Are?

Have I ever told you about my first job after college? 

I moved to a new town to do an internship at a new church, but the only paying gig that opened for my Masters-degree-toting, wet-behind-the-ears-self was at a Pawn Shop.

It was pretty different from the desk job I left behind as a graduate assistant in the Honors Program, but I held onto those lovely words from Colossians about doing everything like you’re doing it for Jesus, and tried my best to show up wholeheartedly, scrubbing chainsaws and learning the ropes of used jewelry appraisal. 

One day, my boss called me into his office for a rather discouraging conversation.

The comments were vague and varied, but the overall opinion was that he expected a little bit more ‘momentum’ out of a Masters-degree-toting, Spanish-speaking employee. 

Whatever the mark was, apparently, I was totally missing it.

When the generalized chewing-out was finally completed, I excused myself to head to the restroom and promptly burst into tears. 

Awkward: the restroom was adjacent to the boss’s office.

As I dried tears and glanced in the mirror, my brow furrowed into the question that suddenly mattered more than any other to me. I whispered it, but my heart shouted it:

Lord, what do you say about me?

And right there, in that painted-cinderblock bathroom, as I leaned against that wall-mounted sink with a rust stain at the drain, my heart suddenly swelled with joy as God whispered back:

I say well done.

God knew my heart. Today I flipped open sixteen year old prayer journals to see it in those days. I was hungry to please Him. To treat every customer with kindness (while also trying to be shrewd and not get swindled.) 

I knew I was in the fire and I was wrestling to stay faithful in it. I was wrestling with pride. I was asking the Lord to take that Pawn Shop cup from me, but I was telling Him I was willing to stay as long as He wanted.

Turns out, a year was about how long that fire was to last, and the lessons of those days were many. Many, many, many.

But perhaps the most important one was to turn to Jesus and ask Him the question He asked Peter: “Who do You say that I am?”

Darling friend, life has a surprising way of throwing us a curve ball we didn’t expect. We are wise to choose to walk with humility, to be teachable, and to learn to listen.

But the approval that should always maintain first place in our hearts and stay on the top of our list of goals is the approval of the Father. If we have committed our lives to Him, then He’s the one we’re doing all that we do for anyway, right?

No matter what the world has to say about you or me, Psalm 34 challenges us to be the kind of people who can look to Him and be radiant. The people whose faces are not ashamed.

I dried my tears that day, and left the bathroom with my head held high. Maybe there was room for improvement in my performance at the Pawn Shop but the most important truth was forever etched in my soul, and I encourage you to let Jesus etch it into yours, too.

I live for the well done of the Father. I may have flaws, fail and fall short. But only my Creator can tell me who I am.

P.S. I have a question for you! I’m working on a Bible study, similar to the 30 Days Deeper study many of you enjoyed a few years ago. Would you rather have a printable workbook to work through, or emails delivered to your inbox? Or a workbook that corresponds with daily emails? I’d be so grateful if you’d let me know your thoughts! You can find me on Facebook or Instagram at the links below, or use the contact form on this page!

P.P.S. The meal planner is still around if you want to grab it and get step-by-step meal planning instructions and recipe favorites! Just click the link below to grab it!

Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for your love and support!

At Our House Last Week: The Whiff of Death

What do Buddy the Elf standing on a bridge in New York, Queen Esther’s “If I perish, I perish” speech, and my five-year-old at the dinner table have in common?

The whiff of death.

It’s a powerful element of good storytelling, and you can spot it in many-a-Hollywood film these days. 

A goldfish, belly-up in a bowl just before the main character has to face his greatest foe. 

A flower, wilted before being delivered to the intended recipient. 

The whiff of death reminds us that the stakes are high and things might not go the way we were hoping.

Funny thing is, I think we’re sometimes more likely to pull this element into our own stories than we realize.

At the dinner table last week, an ahem older sibling requested a little extra of a tasty little cajun spice mix on his chicken. I love the stuff, but it makes me sneeze every time I cook with it.

I sprinkle, I sneeze. Repeat.

The sibling joked about taking a big, deep whiff of the stuff, but instead took a gentle little sniff to see if he’d sneeze. The five-year-old wanted a turn, and before the rest of us realized what was happening, she’d listened to the older sibling’s suggestion to take a big, deep whiff of the spice.

And then?

There were many, many tears.

Apparently inhaling a really big whiff of a spicy spice mixture really stings, causes the eyes to tear, and burns like the dickens. The whiff of spice quickly turned into the whiff of death and despair, as the weeping little one at the table declared between sobs:

“I guess I am going to feel like this forever!”

With a tissue and a hug, I encouraged her that those tears were doing exactly what they needed to. The tears were busy cleaning out her sinuses, and before too long, it would be okay… all would be well. 

But I marveled at how quickly her little mind went to the foregone conclusion, “It’s going to be this way forever,” – and then I wondered how often my mind follows that well-worn path, too.

I can remember the earliest days of being a mother of three – with little ones whose ages seemed so close together, laundry that seemed never ending, diapers that always needed changing. The sense of feeling so very, very needed seemed so overwhelming – and it was  hard to believe all the well-meaning ladies in the grocery store who warned me the time would fly and I should enjoy every minute. 

The grief after losing a loved one (at least in my experience with my Dad) was so full of despair. I felt abandoned to wonder, “Will I get through this and ever truly feel happy again?”

Life can feel really hard. And the whiff of despair can come really easily.

Darling friend, is there anything you’re facing these days that has you convinced “It’s gonna be like this forever?” 

Can I encourage you that it’s not? God’s goodness is absolutely unstoppable. And while you may not fully understand why you are facing the hard things you’re facing on this side of eternity, you can be sure that change is coming. It always, always does.

I wonder sometimes if we seem like the five-year-old crying at the dinner table to our Father. We’re hurting and, most of all, we’re afraid the pain isn’t going to stop – that this thing is forever.

I imagine Him coming near to you and me with a tissue and a hug, saying, “Those tears are doing exactly what they need to right now, my darling. Let them flow. Let it out. I promise, I promise, I promise: it won’t be like this forever.”

P.S. I have a question for you! I’m working on a Bible study, similar to the 30 Days Deeper study many of you enjoyed a few years ago. Would you rather have a printable workbook to work through, or emails delivered to your inbox? Or a workbook that corresponds with daily emails? I’d be so grateful if you’d let me know your thoughts! You can find me on Facebook or Instagram at the links below, or use the contact form on this page!

P.P.S. The meal planner is still around if you want to grab it and get step-by-step meal planning instructions and recipe favorites! Just click the link below to grab it!

Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for your love and support!

Meet the World’s Worst Boss (In the Mirror?)

Did you know you might be the world’s worst boss?

It’s true.

And not just because Seth Godin blogged about it and mentioned it in his book, The Practice. 

Let me frame it for you this way: you know that little voice inside your head? Not the whisper of the Holy Spirit which makes you want to be braver and kinder and leads you toward peace.  

That other voice.

The one that talks down to you a lot. That asks why can’t you just get it together. Why can’t you just keep it under control. 

You know the voice I’m talking about, right?

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was staring out the window one morning, and the bare branches of winter trees were gently swaying in an early breeze.

Remembering something encouraging I read last year, I thought about how those trees weren’t dead, even though they looked like it.  

Those trees are quietly resting, preparing to burst into life again when the timing’s right.

In my own life, I was feeling frustrated and “behind” – there’s that word again. As if more should be done, and it should be done better and faster and yesterday.

I felt as if the Lord was drawing my attention to those trees to say, “Look what that rest is going to make possible. It is a good season to rest. Productivity can wait. It will come in good time.”

In a nutshell, I think that’s the difference between the two voices:

  1. My internal dialogue questions my choices and ability at every turn, and makes me feel a) behind, b) not good enough and c) least likely to succeed. At everything, ever.
  2. The voice of God is the voice that calms the waters, the voice that parts waters, and the voice that whispers, “Come to Me, all you heavy laden. I have rest for you.”

I probably wouldn’t be the world’s worst boss to anybody else. And neither would you. 

Far from it, friend!

But, what if just for a week, we give some attention to how we might be bossing ourselves? 

Ask yourself:

– If you had a boss that talked to you the way you talk to yourself, would you fire her? 

– If you had a boss that wasted your time the way you do, would you quit?

Remember, our God who knows our frame and remembers we are dust, His mercy reaches to the heavens. His goodness never fails. 

His is the voice to listen for. His are the words that make us ready to be brave, to be kind, to try, but not to strive.

There are times for work and times for rest. Be gentle with others, and remember: be a good boss to yourself, too.

P.S. If you’re a creative of any kind, or just need a practical reminder about the power of showing up and doing the worth, I think Seth Godin’s book The Practice is worth your time. {That’s an affiliate link for you to grab it on Amazon.}

P.P.S. My Five Step Meal Plan Guide wants to hit your inbox and revolutionize your kitchen. It’s a meal plan strategy plus favorite recipes extravaganza, and you can grab it below! Add some umph and some kid-approved new recipes to your repertoire this year!

Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for your love and support!

Would You Call This Dog Torture?

Blake came up with a new game a few weeks ago. 

Much to Hallelujah, our golden retriever’s dismay.

It’s called Hide-and-go-Halle, and as I understand it from the details Blake scrawled onto a blank sheet of paper, the rules are as follows:

1. You call the dog. “Halle! Halle!” 

2. When Halle comes, you pretend you can’t see her and keep calling her.

3. You continue walking around the house, pretending to be looking for her, even when she’s right beside you.

4. If she growls in frustration, you earn a point.

Poor Halle, right?

Apparently, feeling invisible is really frustrating, even to a dog.

I wonder if anyone has ever lived more than a few years as a believer and not, at some point, felt invisible to God.

When you’re holding onto hope, praying your heart out, and pleading for something – for a thing that’s hurting to end, for a place of suffering to cease, for something it feels like you can’t live without to show up on your doorstep.

You want to ask, “God, don’t you see me?”

Hannah Hurnard, the author of the beautiful allegory Hinds Feet On High Places, wrote:

“As Christians we know, in theory at least, that in the life of a child of God there are no second causes, that even the most unjust and cruel things, as well as all seemingly pointless and undeserved sufferings, have been permitted by God as a glorious opportunity for us to react in them in such a way that our Lord and Savior is able to produce in us, little by little, his own lovely character.

We prayed for the entirety of 2020 that our son’s left field of vision would be restored – that the visual field loss brought on by his brain aneurism would be completely healed. But January 1, 2021 came and went – and those circumstances haven’t changed.

Instead – I think maybe we have.

The experience of having a child on death’s doorstep brought out in Mark and in me an unexpected opportunity. Each of us, unbeknownst to the other, had a moment in that season where we said, “Lord, I’m going to trust you. No. Matter. What.”

Standing at the beginning of a new year with unanswered prayers, but with such a powerful experience in the rear view mirror, we are both convinced:

God uses the hard, the hurtful, and the heartache in our lives as pathways to holiness.

Do we want the path of heartache? Of course not.

But I mean every word of this ridiculously incomprehensible truth: I somehow simultaneously see what we walked through in 2019 as the hardest season of life I’ve ever faced, and the season most full of the presence of God, where I was most closely aware of His presence, goodness and gifts.

Somehow, He can and does turn sorrows into joys, in the most literal sense. And while He’s at it, He’s busy conforming us, transforming our character, helping us look a little more like Jesus on the inside.

Dear friend, if you only hear one thing today, let it be this. You are not invisible to God.

He hears your prayers, He sees your hurt, He knows the deepest longings and pains no one else in the world knows. Don’t lose heart. Keep sowing good seed with your life.

Even better news than that old saying “Every dog has his day” (although that is good news for Halle) – God’s truth promises a harvest of goodness awaits, if we don’t lose heart.

P.S. The book Hind’s Feet on High Places is such an incredible story that powerfully illustrates the truth that God can use Sorrow and Suffering as companions on our journey that strengthen us and draw us closer to the High Places He created us to walk on. I can’t recommend it highly enough! {This link is to the beautiful new edition with journaling and doodling space!}

P.P.S. Did you get the meal planner?!? I’ve heard from a few subscribers who signed up to receive the 2021 version and the magical email elves just didn’t send it! Those rascals! If you didn’t receive yours, please try the fresh link below, or use the contact form to let me know!

Don’t know what I’m talking about? You can grab my Five Step Meal Plan Guide, a meal plan strategy plus favorite recipes extravaganza, below! Add some strategy and some kid-approved new recipes to your repertoire this year!

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