Monthly Archives: March 2013

All about the Bride

Spring is here and wedding season is upon us!

How exciting for the moms and dads who finally get to see their daughters off…

What a dream for all the friends who get to witness and support the love and commitment between the bride and groom….

How blessed the pastors who happen to be the last detail on the bride’s to-do list, right after “call florist,” and “purchase dog-friendly ring-bearer materials for Fido.”

Ok, lets face reality……you are probably reading this because you, your very self, are a bride!!!

all about brideWhile weddings can be fun for everyone else involved, the big day is really all about you.

After all…

  • You’ve concentrated 10+ years dreaming about it,
  • YOU have been officially planning on Pinterest for at least a year or more,
  • It’s your dress, your pictures, YOUR fairy tale come to life!

Right?

Maybe….. or maybe each wedding magazine, all the Bridal Blogs, and every “going to the chapel”-related episode on TLC have missed the point.

Maybe it’s not all about the bride.

Before you get angry and punch your computer screen, remember you’ll need it later to check “The Knot” for your wedding check-list…. also, save the steam coming out of your ears to press your gown for the big day (it’ll save you some cash for the honeymoon).

If you are still here, allow me to comfort you in saying that your wedding is mostly about you, just not completely.

If you are a Christian, then you have become a child of God. As a daughter of the King of kings, you are His beautiful princess. On so many levels, you should be celebrated!!! Also, this event which unites two people in covenant should be commemorated and recognized in a way that says “this matters!!!”

Unfortunately, many weddings are planned in a way that ignores the One who makes it all matter. So many brides fail to fill out an invitation for the King of kings.

Even if God is invited to a wedding, does He take center stage? Does His goodness receive as much honor as the wedding cake?

I’m not suggesting you hang a big poster of John 3:16 above the alter; I’m just asking where God’s place is in your wedding. Have you have intentionally included the Savior Who intentionally included you in His wedding ceremony?

(see Ephesians 5; more on this later.)

As you begin to plan your wedding, make a point to put this command at the top of your goals list:

“So whether you eat or drink (or have an indoor or outdoor wedding), or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31

 

With all the overwhelming wedding planning information out there, can the daughters of God change the Top Wedding Trends list of 2014 to include “Glorify God”?

But HOW does a bride do this? Here are some helpful questions to get you started:

  • When you look at your wedding plans, who or what is center stage?
  • How can you honor God privately (in your personal walk with Him) in this time of planning your wedding and marriage?
  • How can you honor God publicly in this time of planning? How about at the wedding ceremony?

Join the conversation here as we unfold what a Planning a Christ-Centered Wedding looks like. (scroll through the “Marriage” tab to “Going to the Chapel.”

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The Ultimate DIY Project: Building God’s House

My husband and I have been extra-blessed with the opportunity to build our own home.

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Even more exciting is how our family has come around us to build it together, including my parents and my husband’s parents. It is the ultimate DIY project, and the whole family is involved.

I am constantly impressed with the number of details involved in building a house. Last Fall, I encountered the small detail of setting up a fence for our yard. The timing felt odd, but for various reasons, we built our fence before the walls of our house were even in place.

Our first task: digging the holes for the fence posts. Working side by side with my mom, we started breaking up the rock-dirt. That’s right, not rock-hard-dirt, just rock-dirt. Using a 40 lb. digging bar, we pounded the ground 4 dozen times, then scooped out the broken pieces with our hands. Each round removed maybe 1/4 inch from the hole-to-be.

Together, we focused for hours on one hole. Exhausted, sweating, and finger muscles throbbing, we peered down the intimidating row of future holes. There, on the opposite end, was my super-hero father-in-law, Steve, hulk-smashing each hole in a matter of minutes.

A feeling of relief and wonder, tinged with a little jealous frustration, raced through our tired bones. Realizing how useless our efforts were in comparison to Steve, we stepped out of the way. “Surely we could be more helpful somewhere else,” we thought. But our boss (which happens to be my dad) quickly reminded us to keep digging.

How silly we felt, how pathetic. But we persevered, finishing 1 and 1/2 holes by the day’s end. Steve finished 10 and 1/2.

This story is a perfect reflection of ministry. Every person who has entered into God’s family is a part of the epic family project of building a house: God’s house. We know, of course, that “unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) But we also know that each of God’s children are invited to participate. Whether by leading through a paid ministry position, raising godly children, or reaching out to co-workers: we all have a detail to focus on.

Sometimes though, we see someone else making incredible progress in their ministry. These are the ones who rarely get drained by people; the Christians who have the perfect words to say every time.

We all know the guy who can naturally bend a conversation to focus on God’s love and plan of redemption for humanity. He hosts one Bible-study over coffee, and before you know it, 10 and 1/2 people have committed their life to Christ.

In comparison, you wonder why you keep fumbling over the “Romans’ Road” with your neighbor and his poodle. At a certain point, you just want to invite Mr. Incredible over to the neighbor’s and so he can gently Hulk-smash them into eternal life with Jesus.

I so often forget that God called me to pray for this person. God placed me, specifically, in a home next to theirs. Our Dad never asked us to be amazing, He just asked us to be faithful. To keep sweating over that one hole–that one empty soul that needs Jesus, no matter how hard the heart. He chooses to use the weak, the sweating, the tired and intimidated, to make a difference. “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13 HCSB)

It’s a family DIY project, and each family member gets to be a part of building this house.

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Coincidence or Christ-Evidence?

This morning, I was working out some aspects of my identity, specifically that I am in Christ. That is all that matters–not what I do or don’t do, if I am fantastic or Miss-Awesome-Pants or the epic-failure I often see myself as.

None of it matters. I take my eyes off of me, and look at Christ. I preach the gospel to myself.

Well, a funny thing happened. I’ve been listening to various sermons during my work out every day, and today’s specific sermon was about the EXACT same topic: Finding your identity in Christ.

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Pastor Mark Driscoll, of Mars Hill Church, uses some of the exact same verses that God was showing me, the same verse I wrote about in my blog.

It is no coincidence that God revealed the same truth twice in one day, and through different avenues. HE knew the truth I needed (and maybe you need it too?). I am so in love with this God that coordinates truth like Spring rain, washing away my false identity, and refreshing my soul. He makes all things new.

Take some time, maybe during your Saturday morning routine, to listen to this important truth. Here is a link to the sermon. You can also get it on itunes.

http://marshill.com/media/who-do-you-think-you-are/part-2-i-am-in-christ

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Failing to be Miss-Awesome-Pants

This morning, the Holy Spirit gripped my heart with truth, yet again.

As the rest of my blog suggests, I wrestle with people-pleasing and perfectionism. The times I fail, my identity quickly becomes “failure.” The times I succeed, my identity switches to “Miss-Awesome-Pants.”

You’ll know when I’m feeling like Miss-Awesome-Pants because I wear a cute pinterest-inspired hair-do, slip on my skinny jeans, and schedule lots of coffee dates so I can share my confident moment with everyone.

Whether up or down, I base all of my self-worth on my self-work. My identity lies in my ability (or lack thereof.)

I relate very closely to the main character in Fantastic Mr. FoxStanding on a bridge, contemplating all of his mistakes, Mr. Fox makes a statement I relate to very well:

“I think I have this thing where everybody has to think I’m the greatest.And if they aren’t completely knocked out and dazzled and slightly intimidated by me, I don’t feel good about myself.” ― Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox

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Mr. Fox’s identity is wrapped in his ability to be fantastic. My movie would be titled Miss-Awesome Pants, and would tell a similar story about a woman striving to be a knock-out wife and slightly intimidating in her Christ-likeness.

Sounds pretty ridiculous, huh?

For the last year, I’ve been grappling with this statement: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Phil 2:12-13

I think, “if I succeed to work out my salvation, then I’ll see fruit in my life. I’ll see a change in my heart and growth in my ministry.”

This mentality leads to a daily Wah-wah-wah (you know, the sound of a cartoon falling.) When I screw up, I feel I am failing to “work out” my salvation. My “work-outs” aren’t showing results.

J.D. Greear wrote a book titled, The Gospel: Rediscovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary. God has used the words of this book to bring freedom to my identity.

He wrote:

“Both Satan and the Holy Spirit will point out your sin. But they do so in entirely different ways and for entirely different purposes….

… Satan beats us down with our failures. Jesus calls us up into our identity. Jesus starts with the perfect state He has purchased for us by His death and uses the power of His resurrection to bring us into conformity with it.” (pg. 52)

In other words, there is no condemnation, no need to feel damned, if you belong to Jesus (Romans 8:1). I feel I am one or the other: Miss-Awesome-Pants or Miss-Epic-Fail. But neither are true. According to The Gospel (both the book and truth about Jesus) my identity is summed up what God says of me:

“I have made you, My child. I have taken away all your sin. I could not approve of you more than I do right now. Live that way.” (The Gospel, pg. 53)

I must keep sight of the gospel:

  • that I am a sinner in need of a savior
  • that Jesus came as that Savior, exchanging my sin for His righteousness
  • that my decision to accept His grace and His Lordship gives me complete approval from God, even as He would approve of His own Son.

Instead of looking to myself to make things right, I need to keep my eyes on Jesus.

So I take Greear’s advice, and I preach the gospel to myself!

Specifically today, I am struggling with apathy. I don’t really care about getting laundry done, or editing my book, or exercising, or being faithful in the little things. In my apathy, I then experience failure to accomplish. Failure then turns to pride and looking to self to overcompensate…. leading to absolute chaos in my heart and home!

Then I hear the Holy Spirit whisper…..

Stop, Becky.

Christ has died, and Christ is risen, Christ will come again. (Mystery, by Charlie Hall.)

Now live, Becky. Live in my love, in my truth of who you are. Make mistakes, I’ve already covered them. Give up, throw a fit, get prideful… come back. My grace is sufficient.

My kindness never ends. My discipline is love. My plan is good for you.

It takes “me” out of the picture… and my failures with it.

I think I am finally realizing where where the “fear and trembling” part of Philippians 2 comes in. It is not fear of failure, or trembling in the presence of a God who disapproves.

The fear and trembling is a response to overwhelming freedom. Freedom from having to be fantastic, from never making a mistake, produces such reverence for God. His complete acceptance makes me tremble.

I work out my salvation by simply living out the impossible identity I have been given by Christ.

And that is Fantastic.

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Your’s Truly
Miss-“God is Awesome”-pants

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Final Excerpt from Delight Bible Study

Hands down, the most iconic example in my life of a beautiful dance is Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen in “the best things” scene in White Christmas. I remember sitting in front of the TV every December, mesmerized by her swirling pink skirt. Even as a young girl, I wanted to tap and twirl, swing around a pole (before that become a provocative dance), and hear my toes pounding on the boat. They even caught a ride on a zip-line! Danny knew what he was talking about when he sang, “The best things happen while you’re dancing…”

best things

A Delight is a woman who trusts God. She jumps into His arms with complete trust. He leads her faithfully and joyfully through the dance of life, and she follows. Trusting God is so unique because He invites you to make it awesome!

God doesn’t expect His girl to be a timid dancer, wide eyed and wondering what is happening. He gives her confidence and encouragement to shine. As she trusts God, He also trusts her. When He lifts his hand for a spin, He knows she will spin with all her might, flashing a smile the whole time.

In other words, a Delight will value the journey God has given her enough make the most of each moment! Her confidence does not come from personal competency, but rather trusting that God will work in and through her. Her trust in God produces a trustworthiness in her own character.

Trustworthy in the family of God:

“In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” 1 Timothy 3:11

This verse is referring to women in leadership for the church, such as pastor’s wives or women of influence. As a girl grows into a woman of God, she gains more influence in the world around her, including God’s people. As a Delight, she must be trustworthy within the church.

One way to be trustworthy within God’s family is to control your conversation. The Bible warns against women being malicious talkers (1 Tim. 3:11), gossips (Proverbs 11:13), over-sharers (Proverbs 12:23), and liars. (Proverbs 12:22).

A girl who wants to be a trustworthy woman will have self-control over her tongue. The Holy Spirit must help with this, because it is so difficult for girls. We LOVE to tell stories to connect with others. But some stories, whether good or bad, don’t need to be shared. Can you be the gossip stopper? Sometimes, this requires stopping your EARS from hearing a story. A trustworthy woman will ask others to stop talking about a person in gossip, exaggeration, lies, or even “venting.”

The trustworthy girl will also control her words on social media. She does not send words in a text message that she would not speak out loud. She will not display her feelings on Facebook, but later manipulate her personal relationships saying, “I’m fine.”

Again, her confidence to be trustworthy comes from her trust in God. Dancing with Him defines her. Because she doesn’t use different avenues to validate her life, she can be trusted to make a difference in those areas.

Trustworthy in a world of lost people:

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The woman at the well, in John 4, became a trustworthy woman. After trusting Jesus, she was faithful to share with her whole village the truth about her own life, and the truth about Jesus. She caught up her skirt and rocked out to the greatest dance of her life, inviting others to do the same.

A girl in today’s world can do the same. She should be willing to share her faith in Jesus with other people. Again, this requires complete trust in God first; otherwise, she will worry about what people think. Sharing your testimony does not have to be a huge project. Your testimony is simply your side of the story: how Jesus saved you.

Jesus tells a story in Luke 19 about a man who was faithful with the little things in life. Because of his hard work and wise actions, he was given responsibility over much more than he expected. Often, a Delight’s greatest longings is to hear God say “well done, good and faithful servant.” We often think we must do something extravagant or spectacular to earn this. But the man in Jesus’ story earned that label after taking care of just 10 coins; the 10 cities came later.

Like the Excellent woman, a Delight who trusts God is a woman who works hard (is completely trustworthy), but also rests well (trust’s God completely). God doesn’t ask us to save non-Christians, or share a convincing argument for the gospel. As we trust Him, He gives us the strength to simply share the good news of our story–our dance–with Jesus.

As Proverbs 13:17 says: “An unreliable messenger stumbles into trouble, but a reliable messenger brings healing.” (NLT) Being a trustworthy messenger will bring healing to a world dying in the pain of sin. Sometimes, people don’t want to hear this message of truth and love. Your friends may reject you for it, or call you a bad friend for sharing. Remember that, “The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.” (Proverbs 27:6 HCSB)

La Fin…

fcb8ad45623d489ca6c370a9c3b64b27_820x820This is the final unit of this journey. You have learned so much, and have hopefully grown in your closeness with God. Moving forward, from life as a girl into life as a godly woman, you will face many challenges and confusion. The changes in your life wont always be clear. You may feel stuck, or emotional, or like its all going too fast. You have only learned a speck of the things God wants to teach you as a woman who seeks to delight Him. Though this foundation is a great starting point, your journey is never over. Through it all, will you put your trust in God? As His delight, will you be trustworthy with every detail you have learned about being a godly woman?

Move forward in that trust, encouraged by the words of Paul:

“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

*For more from Delight: a Joyful Journey to Biblical Womanhood, visit here.

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On Weddings, Trusting God, and “Save the Last Dance for Me.”

Has anyone heard of the back-story to the song, “Save the Last Dance for Me”?

It is beautiful, touching, and you might need a tissue. I included it in my chapter on trusting God for Delight: A Joyful Journey to Biblical Womanhood. Here is a short excerpt from 7.4 Saving the Last Dance?”:

I love wedding receptions. Living in the sparse state of Wyoming gives me few decent opportunities to dance. My husband dislikes dancing, but he tags along because he knows it makes me so glad. One of my favorite songs for a wedding reception is Save the Last Dance for Me. With a latin flair and lyrics about devotion, it makes a great crowd pleaser between toasts and cake.

docpomusThe songwriter, Doc Pomus, actually wrote Save the Last Dance for Me about his own wedding reception. (Jeff Cochran, 2010, likethedew.com*) Pomus was born in June 27, 1925; at age six, he lost the use of his legs due to polio. Unable to dance at his wedding, he encouraged his bride to enjoy herself with other men on the dance floor. The only catch was: she must promise to save the “final dance” for him. He says, “don’t forget who’s taking you home, and in who’s arms you’re gonna be, save the last dance for me.”

I do not believe that the act of dancing is wrong, as long as the movement brings honor to God and respect to both partners. Still, any style of dance has the potential to bring connection and intimacy between partners. That connection, though trivial, is why the man in the song warns his bride not to give her heart to anyone.

Many girls need the same warning about their own relationship with God. After joining the dance, she willingly lives her life by trusting God’s leading. But every once in a while, she chooses to place her trust in someone else. She lets a new dance partner “cut-in” for a while; transitioning easily into his arms, she trusts every lead by the new partner. In her mind, the girl is always planning on coming back to full trust in Jesus; till then, she will explore and have her fun, always saving the last dance for Him.

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Pomus’s lyrics display the devoted yet sensitive nature of the songwriter. He is jealous for his bride, not in a sinful sense, but in a way that makes him long for her to prove her loyalty. The apostle Paul reflects a similar jealously that God has for us: “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.” (2 Corinthians 11:2)

The popular worship hymn, How He Loves, puts it this way: “He is jealous for me, He loves like a hurricane and I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of his love and mercy.” (How He Loves, by John Mark Mcmillan)

You may have heard some girls say, “sure, I believe in God, but I’m going to get my fun out of the way before I really follow Jesus.” These aren’t the “dance alone” girls. They aren’t being control freaks over their life; instead, they are allowing other people or things lead them. The girl who chases after anything but God is like a bride dancing with every other man in the room; we might think she doesn’t trust her one husband.

Anyway, I have always loved Michael Buble’s rendition of the song, but knowing the story makes it so much sweeter. Every time I hear the song, I will surely remember my relationship with God. These lyrics inspire me to greater devotion…. to display my love and trust for my Savior.

Want to go deeper? Read this full note here.

*http://likethedew.com/2010/01/25/save-the-last-dance-for-me/

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Heaven and Hawaii for Breakfast

I must say, Breakfast with Jesus was amazing this morning. We had a few left-over pancakes from last night’s Sunday Night Dinner for our college ministry; so I smothered one in crushed-pineapple and pecans. It tasted like heaven and Hawaii intermingled.

I love to “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Good food can never compare to the sweetness of Jesus love for me, but it is a good reminder of it.

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It’s blizzarding outside, but I’m cranking up a playlist of worship tunes mixed with reggae beats. Feel tropically-joyful in the Lord.

Its a good day to praise Him. How about you!? How has God allowed you to taste and see how good he is?

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“I got this”…… but I really don’t.

Proverbs 3:5

Here is an excerpt from a chapter on trust, from my book found at Delightbiblestudy.wordpress.com. There are a lot of things I am trying to handle on my own right now. This unit is a good reminder that life is a dance. I have been invited to trust Jesus and follow His lead, but sometimes, I prance around the dance floor on my own instead. Proverbs 3 is always an important reminder to let go, let God….

 

……
Proverbs 3:5-8 says

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.”

…….

trust chairFrom pastor and author J.D Greear’s perspective, a woman who trusts in herself is like a person who believes a chair can hold her weight, but she never sits down. She’ll stand next to the chair, praising it, but relies on her own tired legs to hold her up.

You might appreciate Jesus for inviting you to dance. You could tell Him how wonderful He is, sing songs about his love, study the “dance,” but never take His hand and twirl in His arms.

So many girls agree: the dance is beautiful and exciting. But there are many ladies, dressed in their finest ball gowns, dancing without a partner, awkward and alone.

Sarai was a self-trusting woman. In Genesis 15:4-6, Abram, Sarai’s husband, encounters God, who promises Abram to have many descendants. Genesis 16:1-4 explains how Sarai doubted her ability to produce these descendants, so she asks her husband to sleep with her maid, Hagar. Hagar’s baby brought much pain and fighting between Sarai and Hagar. Later, the Lord promises a baby to come specifically through Sarai (whose name was then changed to Sarah) when she was 90 years old (Genesis 17:15-19). This promise was repeated again in Genesis 18:9-15; this time, Sarah laughed at the thought of having a baby. Her journey was so bitter, so misguided when it came to trusting God; why would He use her now? Finally, in Genesis 21:1-7, we read of the blessed day that God gave Sarah her son, Isaac.

God had invited Sarah to trust Him, to take part in His plan to make a great nation. Unfortunately, Sarah chose not to trust God, and trusted her own ideas instead. Her plan, to give her maiden to her husband, was not something God had commanded. In the end, choosing to trust herself created chaos within her family.

A girl who trusts her own abilities and strength is volunteering for an awkward downfall.

Trusting self leads to the belief that sin is secret. This kind of girl chooses to “dance alone” so that no one will be close enough to see her faults, like her ugly shoes or clumsiness. Trying to live with self-confidence (instead of Christ-confidence) makes a girl so internal, she often isn’t aware of how her sin affects herself, or others: “You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; for you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’” Isaiah 47:10

Sarah believed this about herself. We can see it in her decision to take matters into her own hands. Remember the story about Hannah (Chapter 4: Integrity); she faced the same situation as a woman who could not bear children. Instead of trying to control the situation, she prayed. Weeping her concerns to God, Hannah joined in the dance, bringing every need into His arms, trusting in His plan.

Like Hannah, when we delight in the Lord, joining in the dance with Him, we discover just how trustworthy He is:

“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.” (Psalm 37:1-4)

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Thankfully, Sarah’s story also magnifies the faithfulness of God. No matter what Sarah did, God still chose to use her, and fulfill His promises to her. He never stopped inviting her to trust Him, to dance with Him.

Our God holds great promises for the woman who choses to trust Him, even when if feels easier to just “do it herself.”

  • Are you looking for peace? Put aside the need for control and micro-management, remembering that God “will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in [Him].” (Isaiah 26:3)
  • Do you feel hopeless? Stop relying on your own abilities “as you trust Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:13)
  • Are there wounds and pain in the core of who you are? Trusting in the Lord brings healing to your bones (Proverbs 3:8a).
  • images-1Are you tired or exhausted? God promises His girl to be refreshed when she trusts in Him. (Proverbs 3:8b)

A girl who knows the trustworthiness of God, and the truth of His promises, finds it a simple decision to trust Him. She sees the silliness of her self-trust dancing alone, and joyfully leaps into His arms for the next jitter-bug swing.

……………. Read the full unit, “An Awkward Solo,” here.

In so many ways, I need to return to the simple wisdom of Proverbs. I can’t do it on my own…. “it” being everything: meeting expectations, reaching goals, checking off my to-do list, becoming a godly woman, serving my husband, ministry….

The truth is, I don’t “got this.” But God does. I love that I can rest in the assurance of that. And I can stop “killing myself” to be the savior of the world (Jesus already did that successfully).

(P.S.: I’m not even a mom yet! How do moms function in a world of uncertainty like motherhood, if I can’t even let go of control in my kid-less world?! Anyone care to comment?)

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