Today I have the privilege of encouraging several hundred aspiring writers and speakers at the Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference in Concord, North Carolina. As I was preparing my keynote message for the writers today, God inspired me to drill down I Corinthians 13 to the practical.
You may not be an aspiring writer, but anytime we can personalize scripture it helps move the Truth from our head to our heart. Here are the words I shared today. I encourage you to personalize it in whatever way would make applicable to you:
I Corinthians 13 For Writers
If I write 3000 words a day, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another person who thinks she has something to say.
If I dedicate my book to my children, write to pay for their college, and have 10,000 followers on Twitter, but do not show love to my family, my words are empty.
If I write for the church newsletter, have one of my devotionals published and give all that I have to leading women to God, but do not show love to my family, it does me no good.
Love steps away from the computer when the husband comes home. Love stops the writing to watch the 10-year-old show off her new gymnastics skill. Love listens to the neighbor even when a writing deadline looms.
Love is patient and kind. It does not envy other writers who make the bestsellers list.
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres even through dozens of rejection letters.
Love never fails. As for printed words, they will pass away. Where there are blogs, they will someday become silent. Where there are contracts, those too will cease to exist.
And while stories must be told, they first must be lived. There is faith. There is hope. And with Jesus in the center, there is love. May I never forget, the greatest impact I can make is with love.
Leighann writes out of real-life experience. The week after she began writing Spiritual Warfare for Women, her 18-year-old daughter left home to live with her boyfriend and became pregnant. As Leighann lay on the floor of her daughter’s bedroom crying out in desperation, she put her own teaching to the test. Two years later, Leighann began work on A Woman’s Guide to Hearing the Voice of God, when she was diagnosed with a recurrence of colon cancer in her liver. Through it all, she remained certain that God meticulously and methodically works all things together for our good and His glory.
There are terrible, no good, very bad things wrecking our families and I don’t like it. Spiritual warfare is real, and our children are under attack. Don’t let this fact scare you, instead learn more about the war, step into your rightful place as a warrior (who doesn’t need to be afraid), and learn to exercise the authority and power God’s given you to protect your family.
As I write these words, I’m smiling at myself, I’m not a decorated 5 star general but rather a battle scarred momma. And although I don’t know the specific battle you’re facing, I have faced a few myself and have discovered three incredible weapons that will defeat whatever yours might be:
You have the divine weapon of acceptance. Because God tells you the truth, He gives you the power to accept truth in all situations. In the Bible you can find over 3000 promises. At least one of those is applicable to your situation. As you read God’s Word, invite Him to reveal your promise to you. Then accept that truth no matter what the devil does to challenge it.
You have the divine weapons of praise and thanksgiving. Praise announces the truth about God’s character. When you choose praise (regardless of your circumstances) you build an impenetrable defense against doubt and unbelief. And because trusting God more wins the war, praise is powerful. Praise announces truth and thanksgiving announces fact. When you recall specific things God’s done in the past you realize that whatever He’s yet to do in your present is going to happen, it’s simply a matter of time. Thanksgiving will open your eyes to see God working and therefore make you immune to the devil’s poison of deception.
You have the divine weapon of intercession. An intercessor is someone who takes up the cause of another and makes an appeal on their behalf. God invites you to be an intercessor for your children. Your prayers are powerful and God is always answering them. Don’t be distracted by the obvious and don’t mistake God’s silence for inactivity. God does some of His most powerful work undercover.
You are fighting battles that are spiritual in nature, created by thoughts and feelings. God knows what you are facing and His grace is sufficient to give you all that you need to overcome. Implement these weapons of war by doing these things:
Claim the promise God intends to keep on your behalf. You might be able to find help for the issue you are facing online at leighannmccoy.com/SpiritualWarfareTools Click here for more Bible verses on specific topics.
Practice praise and thanksgiving. Before you do anything—list 10 things for which you are thankful. Create this list daily. Get in the habit of reading the Psalms aloud. There is great power in the spoken Word of God, especially those songs of praise found in the Psalms.
Journal the prayers you pray for your children. Jot down your specific requests for your children. Keep a record of what happens as a direct result of your prayers.
You’re not crazy, there really is a battle waging. God wants you to know He is for you, He is with you and He is not going to leave or forsake you. You can win with Him.
Are you in a battle? Use these strategies to stand in the gap for your family today!
Donned in those fashionable surgical clothes, a cap over my hair, all jewelry removed, and a pen in hand to make an X over my right breast so the doctor is assured to work on the correct side, I face the unknown once again.
She found it during a surveillance follow-up. “Jill, you have a lump there. Have you felt it?” The answer was no. No I hadn’t felt it and no there can’t be a lump.
It was a couple weeks before the National Hearts at Home conference and my eyes were focused on the two days I’d soon be hanging with over 4,000 moms. That weekend is a sacred weekend of hope and help. All of us looking for the reassurance that whatever we’re facing in life and motherhood, we’ll be okay.
“I want to order a mammogram and a sonogram for this spot.” A week later I found myself sitting once again at the screening center. My annual mammogram just six months earlier had been clear. These two tests they ended up declaring clear again.
“Whew….dodged that bullet,” I thought to myself.
It was the Monday after the conference that her office called. “Jill, Doctor wants you to come back in and discuss the results of your recent testing.” As I scheduled an appointment for the next day I couldn’t help but think, “What’s there to discuss? They said it was clear.”
The next day she bounced in the exam room and tossed my mammogram and sonogram results my way. “Test results look good, let’s do another exam.” Sure enough that lump was still there and it was painful too, just like it’d been several weeks earlier and every time I’d touched it since.
“I don’t believe it’s cancer because it’s painful, but I don’t want to leave it in there. We also can’t do a traditional core needle biopsy when it can’t be seen on a diagnostic screening. I’m recommending we remove it and then biopsy it,” she said.
Here we go again.
So yesterday I modeled the latest in surgical gear once again (someone seriously needs to update that attire!). I’m a fact-finder by nature. I don’t do too much worrying or planning until the fact-finding is complete. So I’d been steady leading up to the surgery date.
When Doctor Widerborg walked in for her pre-surgical chat, she said, “Let’s pray,” and all in the room grabbed hands and prayed, that’s when the tears came. A couple of hours earlier my friend Becky had texted me the words of Isaiah 41:13 from The Voice Bible, “I am the Eternal God, who has hold of you right hand, who whispers in your ear, “Don’t be afraid. I will help you.” As Doctor Widerborg prayed, those words came back to my mind and I felt God holding my right hand and whispering His help in my ear.
Both Mark and my mom were there to hear the doctor say after surgery that she would be very surprised if this is cancer. Didn’t look like it to her….and she’s seen a lot.
But we wait. For the facts. We once again live in the shadow of the unknown.
Yet that’s not the shadow I’m experiencing right now. Psalm 91 promises, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” This is the shadow I choose to wait in now. This shadow of the Almighty is a place of peace. Hope. Comfort. It’s a place where we hold the hand of a Jesus who walked on this earth and faced His own “unknowns” of friends who betrayed him and a death on the cross He didn’t deserve. I’m reminded of this in one of my favorite verses, Hebrews 4:14-16. That verse came alive to me as I wrote my book Real Moms…Real Jesusbased upon it: “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (The Message)
I don’t know what “shadow of the unknown” you’re currently waiting in, but I want you to know that there’s plenty of room over here in the “shadow of the Almighty.”
It’s a bit of a messy place. Some tears. Some weariness. Some fear that wants to creep in. Some days where you simply know it’s okay to not be okay. Yet always His arms around you. His hand holding your right hand. And His voice whispering in your ear, “…don’t be afraid. I will help you.”
I first met Karen Ehman 23 years ago when she had registered for the first ever Hearts at Home conference and I was reviewing some of her registration info on the phone. I covered my questions with her and then suddenly she gasped. You see she was pregnant, due any day, and as we were talking her water broke! We bonded as moms in that moment!
Back then Karen and I were moms who understood each other’s world. Now we’re both moms who are navigating the world of young adult children. We’re also both authors and speakers who want nothing more than to help other moms know they’re not alone.
Karen’s newest book Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet With Jesus is one I’ve wanted to share with you! Co-authored by Ruth Schwenk, it’s an easy to read devotional designed for busy moms who know they need to slow down each day to spend some time with Jesus but don’t know how to find that time. That’s me sister and I’m guessing that might be you too!
I asked Karen for a sneak peek of the book and she sent today’s post to share with you! And not only that but she’s giving away three copies of the book to three lucky readers today! Wahoo! To enter the drawing, simply leave a comment about why you would like this book or sharing one way you “press pause” to spend time with God.
Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold. —Psalm 106:12–13 NIV
My son Mitchell was a curious child. When he first learned to talk, he often repeated the same three phrases to me: “Why?” “How?” and “When?”
His sparkly green eyes were wide with wonder. As I cooked, he would drag a kitchen chair over to the stove and stand on it next to me. His inquiring mind needed to know the reason behind every ingredient I tossed in the pot. Why was I using brown eggs and not white ones? Why was I adding potatoes but not carrots? And speaking of carrots, why were they orange and not blue?
As Mitchell grew older, the questions continued. Soon after his feet hit the floor each morning, he wanted to know how the day would unfold. Were we going to the church picnic? What would we have to eat? Would the kids play football? Would they let him be the quarterback?
I couldn’t possibly answer all his questions. All I could do was remind him that, no matter what happened, everything always turned out fine in the end. He just needed to trust that we had planned pleasant things for him to do.
I didn’t want to squelch Mitchell’s inquisitive spirit, but sometimes I wished he’d just relax and enjoy the ride instead of always having to know in advance all the details of each day.
When it comes to my own life, I’m no different than my son. I want God to tell me what’s going to happen next, explain how my life will unfold each day.
The ancient Israelites had a similar mind-set. Sometimes they trusted the Lord and stood on His promises. But often they wobbled and lost their footing. They had to know how. And when. And—most importantly—why?
Psalm 106:12–13 tells us, “Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.”
Scripture teaches us to believe the promises of God. He knows what He is doing, even if at times we’re not sure that He does. And yes, God is faithful, even during the times when He seems to be silent.
When God does not give us explanations at each turn, it builds our faith as we must learn to trust even when we cannot see. We can go to Him in prayer asking Him to calm our anxious hearts. We can ask Him to increase our faith so we aren’t consumed by the questions and so we can trust that He—the ever-wise Parent—has good in mind for us.
It is God’s job to unfold our future. It is our job to do our best to make wise choices as we trust and glorify Him through the process. Let’s stop asking Him to spiritually skywrite all the answers, and let’s write His promises on our hearts instead.
And then? Let’s live like we believe them.
Do you also struggle with wanting God to continually answer “Why?” “How?” and “When?”
In which area of your life do you most long for His answers?
Dear Lord, help me each day not to seek explanations but to seek a closer walk with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“I just can’t believe your skin can stretch like that!” my husband declared one day in my ninth month of pregnancy. Honestly, I couldn’t believe it either. I was long past being able to see my feet, my ankles were swollen, and I was definitely feeling like a beached whale. This was my fourth pregnancy…you would have thought we’d seen it all, but the reality of what new life does to an old body was still a miracle (or travesty!) to behold. I couldn’t sleep comfortably, suffered from terrible indigestion, and was absolutely miserable, but just a few days later, we were holding our new bundle of joy. The sacrifice was worth it all.
Six years later, Mark and I sat in a run-down courtroom before a Russian judge. After months of paperwork, expense, and unimaginable hours of time, we were on the verge of adding another son to our family…this time through adoption. We knew that Kolya belonged in our family; we now had to convince the judge of this. The judge just couldn’t understand why we would want a 9-year-old child from Russia when we had four of our own back in the United States. After many hours of answering questions with the help of a translator, the judge finally agreed to sign the papers. The sacrifice of thousands of dollars and hours finally paid off. Aaron Nicolai became a Savage.
Motherhood and sacrifice…the two words are synonymous. Whether you arrived at motherhood biologically or by adoption, you find out very soon that sacrifice is a part of the job. For most of us the sacrifice begins with pregnancy or those first steps toward adoption, but for moms who deal with infertility, sacrifice begins months, even years earlier.
I find it interesting that the root word of sacrifice is sacred—a word that means worthy of respect or regarded with reverence. Another meaning of sacred is something that is made or declared holy or something associated with divinity. Understanding that leads us right to our example of sacrifice: Jesus Christ.
To understand Jesus’ life and ultimate sacrifice, and to really understand why Easter is important, we have to go back to the beginning…the beginning of time. On page one of the Bible, in the book of Genesis, we begin with God creating heaven and earth, water and dry land, light and darkness, and eventually man and woman. Man and woman lived in this perfect place called the Garden of Eden. It was a place where they had a perfect relationship with God, one another, and where all their physical needs were met.
God gave Adam and Eve free will. In other words, He created them to live by His design and according to His ways, but He allowed them to make those choices on their own. God gave them full access to the garden, putting only one boundary on them: they could not eat from one tree: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s boundaries are always given to protect us. Even in this case, God was protecting Adam and Eve from having knowledge that would complicate their life and introduce them to the concept of death.
One day in the Garden, Satan tempted Adam and Eve to eat from the forbidden tree and they fell for his lies hook, line, and sinker. When they ate the fruit their eyes were opened and they suddenly saw life differently. They saw their nakedness and made themselves some clothes. Then, in shame, they hid from God. The garden, which had been a place of joy and fellowship, was now a place of fear and hiding from God. As a consequence of their disobedience, God required them to leave the Garden of Eden. Because of that, life became harder and now the fellowship with a holy God had been broken.
The entire Old Testament of the Bible tells the story of man’s existence from creation until Jesus Christ was born. During this time, the only way that sinful people (thanks Adam and Eve!) could have a relationship with a holy God was through sacrifice and a high priest who would stand in the gap between the people and God. The Israelites understood that God could have chosen to be a judge with no grace and mercy when Adam and Eve disobeyed. But instead of wiping the slate clean, he chose to give them a second chance! This second chance was an opportunity for man and woman to be reconciled or reconnected to their Creator. But coming into the presence of God required an admission of sin (disobedience) and because a Holy God can’t exist in the presence of sin, a sacrifice was offered to “cover” the sin. Most of the sacrifices offered in the Old Testament were lambs and they had to be offered through a priest who represented the people. The shedding of the blood covered the sins of the people so they could have relationship with a Holy God.
But for God, this was a temporary plan. His decision to send His Son to earth was his ultimate plan for reconnecting to His people. Jesus came to this earth as fully God, yet fully man. One way God connected to us was by becoming one of us. We have a God who truly understands our human experience. But God’s plan was more than simply understanding our human experience. He sent his Son to be the ultimate sacrifice and our High Priest. The Bible says,” We have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus. When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world’s.”
Jesus came to share truth and eventually die on the cross as the final sacrifice for our sin. He died, then three days later he rose again and eventually went to live in heaven where He is the only priest needed—He’s our High Priest, the only one who stands in the gap between us and God. Here’s what the Bible says about that in Hebrews 7 (The Message)
This makes Jesus the guarantee of a far better way between us and God—one that really works! A new covenant.
This post adapted from Real Moms…Real Jesus.
Earlier there were a lot of priests, for they died and had to be replaced. But Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. He’s there from now to eternity to save everyone who comes to God through him, always on the job to speak up for them.
That’s a big picture to comprehend; yet it illustrates the purpose of Jesus’ life. He was a living sacrifice, known as the Lamb of God because there was no more need to sacrifice lambs or anything else after his death on the cross. He took our sin upon himself and shed his blood so we wouldn’t have to do so ourselves. He died so we could live. You don’t get a better picture of sacrifice than that.
I started a “read the Bible in a year plan” on January 1. I’ve always wanted to do that, and I decided 2016 would be the year.
I did well the first 15 days of January. Then I got behind a few days, but was able to get caught up with a little bit of extra reading.
Then I got really behind.
I poured out my heart to God that I had failed and felt so frustrated. Just as I was ready to give up on my reading plan, God brought to my mind three words that formed the foundation of No More Perfect Kids, the book I co-authored with Dr. Kathy Koch:
Progress, not perfection.
Dr. Kathy and I wrote, “The middle ground of grace is where we need to plant ourselves and our kids. After all, progress is the goal. It’s not at all about being perfect, but it is about being perfected by the God who has a plan for our lives.”
Oh how I needed those words.
When we expect perfection, fail, and then give up, we stop growing.
When we progress–even imperfectly–we grow.
So I’m still reading. I’m planting God’s Word in my heart on the grace progression plan and I’m loving it.
I’m two weeks behind on the reading schedule, but I’m plugging away and not worrying about doing it perfectly. What’s most important is that I’m progressing.
And that’s the middle ground of grace I’m choosing to embrace.
What about you? Do you need to give yourself grace? What are you doing imperfectly that you need to keep plugging along and making progress in?
Today’s post is from Julia White, an energetic warrior mama who loves to inspire the hearts of women with faith and encouragement. When Julia is not running back and forth to her two kids’ activities, she loves reading, music, and sharing stories with friends. Julia published her first book of devotionals in 2015 and runs an inspirational blog, providing weekly sparkle to those looking for God’s “jewels” in their own lives. She reminds us that even when we feel lost, God tells us we are beautiful and valuable, just as He made us.
Winter is in full force here in the Midwest. Sparkling snow is on the ground, there’s a brisk chill in the air, and frost is glistening like diamonds on the trees. I love the way the world looks after a snow….calm, patient, gentle…and let’s face it…sparkly. I love me some sparkles.
Of course I also really appreciate the fact that I have a garage to park my van in so my vehicle is not as sparkly as my husband’s work truck in the morning. There’s no scraping or de-icing for me. I just jump in my van and go.
Our last house had outdoor parking and mornings were not quite as glorious as I tromped outside to turn on the car defroster and then set off to scrape my windows. It was a chore I was happy to give up when we moved.
Just recently a friend of mine and I were talking about how it probably doesn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to completely scrape the ice off your windshield, but how little patience we have for that chore some days.
In fact, what made us laugh the hardest was when we started talking about the driving “peephole.” You know, that 10 inch oval circle that appears when you turn on your car defroster and it finally melts enough where you think “Yep! Good enough to get going!”
So you scrunch down in your seat, peer intently out your peephole and navigate your car out of your driveway and down the road. You would think our years of experience with snow and ice would have helped us build different habits. All we have to do is actually wait the 15 minutes it takes for the car to warm up and clear the entire windshield. But instead, our years of experience have led us to choose the opposite. We rationalize,“I’ll just start moving now because by the time I get anywhere that I REALLY need to see my windshield will be clear.”
I honestly remember driving to work more than once where I had to roll down the side windows before I turned so I could check for oncoming traffic. I knew it was a safety issue. But some days….I just didn’t want to take the time to do the work. It was a bad habit, but one that was hard to break.
This happens in our lives, too. Kids have activities to do, guests are coming over, houses don’t clean themselves, and by golly these people in our lives demand to be fed…every day…over and over. And sometimes our responsibilities and “what needs to be done” start to cloud our vision.
While this happens with our kids, I would even boldly say it happens more often in our marriages and our friendships. Why do I always have to be the tough parent? Why didn’t HE help with the dishes? Why can’t THEY run the errands? We scrunch down in our seats and peer intently through our opinions of WHAT needs to be done and by WHO…and our 10 inch oval keeps getting smaller and smaller.
God reminds us there is a different way. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Or the other translation I like is “ A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
We are not alone, despite what our small peephole would lead us to believe at times. While we are focused and intent on driving our families forward, we also need to take the time to wait before we move forward safely.
Instead of just plunging forward and hoping that everything will be as it should be by the time we get there….we need to start instead with a clear purpose.
Start with open eyes that see the other people God has given you on your team. The ones that you can stand back-to-back with and conquer everything this life throws your way.
Take the time to connect with your husband and friends. Just 5 minutes of talking to them about how you can pray for them today can reveal a whole world of worry or joy that we would have missed otherwise!
Take the time to let God reveal the bigger picture and connect you to His purpose.
Like that freshly fallen snow, God’s love is always around us…calm, patient, and gentle…and maybe even a little sparkly. So, let’s not continue to drive blindly just because it’s a habit. God has so much more for us to see.
God, thank you for your many gifts. I’m grateful for friends and loved ones who walk this journey with me. Thank you for this reminder to open my eyes. Help me to drop the habit of looking at life through a peephole and missing the bigger picture. In Jesus Name. Amen.
“Honey, you won’t believe this! One of the stores I install countertops for made the quartz kitchen counters wrong for this job I’m doing. The thing is…they made them wrong two times! To make up for the time I’ve not been able to be paid for (no homeowner will pay for the installer’s time for a product made wrong) they are giving me the countertops. We can finally renovate our kitchen!”
That was the announcement my contractor-husband made just about one year ago. The quartz sat in our garage until we could have a yard sale this summer, netting us $1300 for the remodel, (and cleaning out our nearly empty-nest house!).
Our kitchen cabinets really need to be replaced but we don’t have the money for that so they will be repaired and painted.
A couple of walls have come down, opening up the house in new and wonderful ways.
While taking down the paneling (yes wall paneling we actually wallpapered nearly 20 years ago when we bought the house!) and replacing it with drywall, we have discovered five layers of wallpaper indicating the decorating history over the last 103 years of our home’s existence.
There’s a layer of dust in every nook and cranny of this house that I’m not even touching until we’re done.
It’s a labor of love for a home we dedicated to God almost 20 years ago when we moved in.
These walls have watched our children grow, witnessed marriages restored (including our own), welcomed our adopted child into our family, and hosted dozens of back-to-school parties, prom picture-taking, birthdays celebrations, holiday dinners, cookie baking gatherings, Bible studies, Hearts at Home and church gatherings, engagements, grandchildren visits, and more.
It’s only a house…but it’s our home. It’s quite the mess right now…but aren’t we all?
This renovation makes me think of the renovating work God does in our lives. If we allow Him to, He tears down walls in order to open our heart up. He puts a fresh coat of paint on the worn-out places in our lives. He reveals sin and helps us to see our need for repentance. He peels away the layers of hurt and redeems them for His purposes.
Where does God want to do a renovating work in your life? In your heart? In your marriage? No matter your age, season of life, or spiritual condition, there’s always a remodel waiting to happen in some area of our life.
My encouragement to you is to say yes to the change He’s pressing on your heart today.