This week, Moody Books sent me The Quiet Place devotional by bestselling author Nancy Leigh DeMoss for a book giveaway. I’ve always known about Nancy through my mom who absolutely loves her teaching on the Revive Our Hearts radio program. When I first heard her teach several years ago, I was hooked. She has a contagious passion to see women transformed by the word of God.
In The Quiet Place, Nancy adapts the core themes of her teaching into 366 days of Bible study and practical application. If you’re struggling with having a consistent quiet time or you just need something to spice up your time with the Lord, I highly recommend diving into The Quiet Place for encouragement and refreshment for your soul.
Nancy has authored fifteen books, including Lies Women Believe, A Place of Quiet Rest, and Seeking Him. More than 2,000,000 copies have been sold, and they continue to transform women’s hearts and lives.
If you’d like to enter to win this devotional or consider it as a gift to someone else (Valentine’s Day is approaching!), please leave a comment. The winner will be announced next Tuesday, Feb. 5.
This morning I woke up to thunder, sleet, and snow. And every time winter rolls around in Dallas and if we’re lucky to have snow on the ground, I’m always reminded to be still. More specifically, to be still about the future and God’s plans for my life.
And on a morning where I planned to go to my exercise class at the gym, I’m now sipping on a cappuccino, watching my son make snowballs and footprints in the snow (he’s always the first child to rise), and thinking about what my morning will look like cozied up inside.
I love how snow also reminds me that I’m not in control.
Part of today’s devotional in Jesus Calling further confirms these truths:
The closer you live to me, the safer you are. Circumstances around you are undulating, and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance. Fix your eyes on me, the one who never changes. By the time those waves reach you, they will have shrunk to proportions of My design. I am always beside you, helping you face today’s waves. The future is a phantom, seeking to spook you. Laugh at the future! Stay close to me. – Jesus Calling, January 15
I don’t know about you, but I think way too much about the future. Where will God lead me and my husband? What plans does he have for my children? Will he take care of all my needs? How will I handle the really difficult days yet to come?
I also think of my daily responsibilities. What about all the laundry piled up on my couch? All the dishes yet to be washed? Meals needing to be made? Love needing to be given? Appointments to set? Emails to answer? Articles to write? Relationships to invest? Gospel needing to be shared?
The daily list goes on.
For today, I just want to be fully where I am and not worry so much about what’s ahead. To stay close to Jesus and hear His sweet, still voice. To love on my children well and be the person God is calling me to be today.
And to know that even in my failures and shortcomings that are possible any day of the week, He is still with me. His grace is always here to draw upon. His grace helps me hand over my future, grandiose plans and surrender them to His will.
Every time I look out our french doors and see the blanket of snow covering our backyard, I’ll be reminded of those awesome truths.
In what ways have you experienced God’s stillness and grace in your life? Do you trust that He is with you?
Yesterday morning my four year old John scooted our bench over to the kitchen countertop so he could stand on it. He wanted to spread his own peanut butter on his toast, which happened to be a first.
“I’m going to make Daddy’s for him too. He will love me for it and give me a kiss on the cheek!”
I thought how sweet that was for him to do and I figured I’d turn his little comment into a teaching opportunity.
“Well John, did you know that you don’t have to do anything to make Daddy love you more? He loves you just for you, no matter what,” I replied.
“Oh,” he said thinking about it.
He continued spreading in between the crust and topped it off with some banana slices and honey, just the way Daddy likes his peanut butter toast.
Then I could only naturally think about God’s love for us.
God loved us while we were still sinners and loves all sinners presently. He doesn’t need us to prove anything to him. And contrary to popular opinion, there is nothing we can do to earn his love.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
I admit that at times I have a hard time accepting these truths about His love. Sometimes I feel that if I’ve screwed up and failed to be the person God has called me to be, that my behavior changes God’s view of me.
Or sometimes I feel I have to “do” more: read more of my Bible, pray more, do more ministry, go to church more, walk in the Spirit more, give more… you get the point. Those are all blessings and necessities that come with following Christ- not a checklist or legalistic duty. God uses all those means as gifts and tools to help me love him more and know him more fully. But they don’t for one second change the way He loves me.
The truth that God’s love is a gift of undeserving grace is mind boggling and so incredibly freeing. It’s like the image of grace you’ve probably sung about in David Crowder’s, “How He Loves” song:
And we are His portion and He is our prize, Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes, If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
I don’t know about you but in 2013, I want to know His love more deeply because I haven’t even swam close to the deep end when it comes to understanding his unending grace, love, and redemption. There is so much more my heart has yet to be filled with. And as I get more situated in to this new year, I’m excited about the new truths God has yet to reveal.
Well John got to enjoy his toast with his Daddy and heard words of gratitude for his hard work. Even though later in the day John disobeyed, fought with his sister, and had a few fits, Daddy corrected him and disciplined him and showed him love.
And even as a young child, I think John is able to understand that he’s still loved no matter what he does.
Well today marks seven years that I’ve been married to my husband Jeremiah. It’s crazy how much life can change in just seven years and honestly it really doesn’t feel like that many years have passed by.
I’m grateful for the gift of marriage. God continues to use marriage to sanctify me, show me my sin, and teach me selflessness. Daily, I’m humbled that God gave me such a loving, hard-working, godly, selfless leader to follow, who I proudly call my husband. Just like any other couple, we’ve had our share of struggles and trials but God has been faithful through every step and we give him glory for all that he has done.
We are committed to one another till death do us part and we will continue to do what it takes to keep our marriage from merely surviving to thriving. And we have learned over seven years that this is hard work.
Just last night, we were watching the CNN vigil for the community of Newtown, Connecticut. We heard President Obama’s thoughtful speech and watched the slideshow of photos of the children and adults whose lives were taken from this world on Friday.
And I wept in Jeremiah’s arms. Tears were all I had. Tears for those precious children and for our nation as a whole. I thanked God that I had someone to grieve with. My heart ached and I longed for Jesus’ return. I asked the “why’s?” and dealt with the anger.
And today, on our anniversary, that ache is still very present. I’m celebrating these past years with my husband but I’m also praying that God would heal our nation and comfort grieving Newtown. I’m praying that the next seven years Jeremiah and I will have a fervency in our faith like we’ve never had before.
There is work to be done and it starts with us. It starts with the church, whom God uses as a means to bring light into the darkness. And I have needed this wake-up call out of mediocrity and waiting for others to start the conversation.
I want to love louder and unashamedly share the gospel.
There is no other choice and as Obama had said in that speech, “we can do better” as a nation. But I also know that the church can do better too and that it starts with me.
My prayer is that the next seven years will be less about “us and our marriage” and more about Christ and his kingdom and how he can use us to make a difference. Time is running out in reaching this world with the hope that is found in Christ.
And I think more than anything that is where the real ache inside me is coming from.
Until then I hope you will join me and take a look at your own faith and life and how God might use your time, talent, and treasure to make an impact in this world. I promise to do my best to encourage and spur you on as we seek God’s will together as broken, feeble people yet nonetheless people who have been radically changed by Christ.
And this will be the sign. You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger (Luke 2:12).
The sign had been fulfilled. The angel’s words were true.
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child (Luke 2:16).
And the shepherds’ desire to see this sign was no Sunday stroll in the park. I can just imagine them running as fast as they could, sweating, hearts racing, maybe even stumbling through the fields because it was night.
I can imagine their hearts pumping through their chests as they reach their destination and look Mary and Joseph and Jesus in the eye for the first time. I doubt many words were uttered on their part but just sheer amazement. And this amazement could only lead them to make known what they had just seen.
The glory of God had just come down from heaven- a shining light in the midst of evil and darkness. Love had come down to save them and set them free from their sins. God had chosen them, lowly shepherds, to be the first to see this humble King lying in a manger.
They couldn’t help but spread the news that Peace was here. They shared the news to everyone and it spread far and wide.
And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. (Luke 2:18).
But not only that, all the hearers of this good news marveled too.
And it’s this word “marvel” that jumps out at me today. It’s a word that I can’t skip over when I’m reading Luke’s account of Christ’s words and works.
Do I marvel at the gift of God sending his son Jesus down to this earth to save us? Has this good news so impacted my life that others see it and believe it as well?
Have I taken the time in these days leading up to Christmas to sit, reflect, be still and marvel at the mighty, mysterious works of God?
Because truthfully, I know there is a marveling that needs to be done in my own heart that has yet to happen. And there is a mending of brokenness needing to be done too. Both of which require God’s hand to awaken and heal.
And then I am reminded again of why Jesus came…
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
I want to see Jesus for who He is. To know him more. To put him first. To share his love to everyone he puts in my path. But I have to understand that this can’t be accomplished in my own strength. It has to be his mighty work through me for his glory.
Like the shepherds, when we see Jesus for who he really is, we are changed forever. Light pierces through our darkness. Our lives are radically different. And we can’t help but desire to see that change in other people too.
Congrats Ashley! Praying this book will have a great impact on your marriage and in your ministry in New York!
I wish I could give all of you the book, but hopefully you’ll be able to get your hands on it anyway. In the next coming months, I’ll be doing a few more book giveaways so stay tuned.
We acknowledge that you are the giver of all good things. We live and breathe because of you. From your hands, You supply all that we need and so much more. But we confess that sometimes we are:
I confess that at times I don’t see all the gifts you have given, are giving, and continue to give in my life. I confess that my ungratefulness at times has left me angry, bitter, and wanting. My unthankfulness has made me blind to all that I have. And even as I approach this Thanksgiving, I know my heart needs radical change.
Some of us are unthankful because we’ve experienced a great amount of pain and suffering this year. We’ve lost loved ones and unborn children. Our marriages and relationships are broken. We’re dealing with sickness, injustice, and depression. We’re struggling financially and need a miracle. Circumstances don’t seem to be in our favor. Ever. Some of us wonder why in the world you work the way that you do.
I confess that at times I have caused my own pain and have projected that hurt onto other people.
God, help us to lean into your grace when we’re weak and feel like giving up. Because Lord we are so frail apart from you. Help us to give you thanks because when we choose not to we know that our wounds and pain only grow deeper.
Will you teach us and show us that you are good regardless of the pain and hurt we may feel in this life? You are worthy to be praised in the valley and on the mountaintop. Remind us that you still:
turn ashes into beauty.
instill life into dead bones.
give the oil of joy for mourning.
soften the hardest of hearts.
change sinners into saints.
transform brokenness into wholeness.
wash our sins and make them white as snow.
redeem and restore the years the enemy has stolen.
And let us remember that you have already endured the ultimate shame and suffering on the cross for your glory and our good. Help us to persevere to the end until we see you face to face.
In the meantime, may today, this week and all of November give us a renewed sense of genuine Thanksgiving in each of our hearts regardless of our circumstances. We love you.
In Jesus’ name,
You’re 21. You just graduated from college but, to your dismay, after four years of rigorous studies, you never got your MRS degree. All your roommates had serious boyfriends who became husbands, but you’re still wondering when it’s your turn.
You’ve dated some really good guys but nothing serious ever came about. You’re remembering the advice from your dad who said you didn’t need a serious boyfriend in college. But… college is over. You’re on your way to Nashville for a publishing internship and you’re praying God will bring you someone special.
Well at this season in your life, if I could have a heart-to-heart conversation with you over coffee (or rather tea—your Starbucks addiction won’t come until you have a newborn), there are just a few things I’d say to you while you’re still single…
My 20s were some of the best years of my life. I graduated from college, got my Master’s, ran a marathon, started my writing career, married my husband, moved across the country, landed a real job, bought a house, became a Momma to three children 3 and under (whoa!) and more. There is so much to be grateful for.
The following is a random list of things off the top of my head that I know to be true about myself, faith, and life coming out of my 20s. Maybe you’ll find some things to be true if you’re no-longer-in-your-twenties.
1. All of life really comes down to two things: Know Jesus and make him known
2. Don’t cast judgment or assume something about someone until you know more of the story
3. Fear and worry do nothing for you except cause stress and unnecessary problems
4. Working out and staying fit is a non-negotiable
5. When you get older, you start to see the sad reality of death & disease more
6. Life doesn’t get any easier. In fact, it gets harder with more responsibility
7. Marriage to my husband is my favorite thing in life
8. Switching from a PC to a Mac has made life so much easier
9. I hear my mom’s voice in my head and quote her with my own children
10. It’s impossible to live life in isolation. We were created to know others and be known and loved in return
11. Celebrating my child’s birthday is way more fun than my own
12. Starting a family and sharing my children with my parents, sister’s family, and in-laws brings so much joy
13. The people you hang out with is who you’ll become so choose your friends wisely
14. God uses pain and suffering in our life to make us like Him and to trust him more fully
15. I was the perfect mother (parent) until I became one
16. You can’t trust your wavering feelings but you can trust truth. Always side with truth.
17. My parents are the wisest, most loving people I know
18. Driving a mini-van isn’t so bad after all
19. Being a mother is the greatest, most challenging calling
20. This world needs to see more married couples who love each other, have fun, and are committed to one another for life
21. Comparing yourself to someone else is foolish. God made you unique and has a purpose for your life
22. Coffee is a necessity in motherhood
23. Good relationships and friendships require vulnerability and authenticity
24. My husband should receive several crowns in heaven for putting up with me, especially on the “ugly” days
25. Asking for forgiveness and forgiving others must happen daily
26. It’s okay to dream big, but don’t forget to enjoy where you are and what you have in the present
27. Facebook is awesome but so addicting
28. Being intentional is a must to get anywhere in life
29. To lead is to serve & love well
30. 30 sounds so much older than 29!
What would you add to the list?