From the Archives: A Prayer for Thankfulness in Times of Pain

Today I wanted to repost a prayer I wrote last year. The original post can be found here.

Father God,

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:





hurting people…

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. 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 the rest of the year give us a renewed sense of genuine Thanksgiving in each of our hearts regardless of our circumstances. We love you.

In Jesus’ name,


30 Things I Know Now That I’m 30

Well, it’s true friends. As of today, my 20s are behind me like a vapor in the wind. It’s surreal to say and I’ve been a bit nervous to approach this day, but so far it’s going well.

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?

From the Archives: An Anthem of His Faithfulness

Every seat in the chapel was filled. The doors on each side stayed open for Michigan’s August breeze to make its way in. I looked for a place to sit and found a spot on the end of a pew. As I sat down, I felt relieved that my husband was keeping the kids so I could have some time to sit and be still. Besides, this was my vacation.

God, I want to hear you tonight, prayedIt’s so hard to hear you when the daily grind can get so noisy.

Sara Groves started playing the piano and singing:

I can’t remember a trial or a pain He did not recycle to bring me gain

I can’t remember one single regret In serving God only, and trusting His hand

All I have need of, His hand will provide

He’s always been faithful to me

I tried to recollect a time when God was unfaithful to me and I simply could not. Even at a point in my life when I chose the temporal pleasures of sin over following Him, He remained faithful- patiently pursuing me and calling me to his side.

And all the needs I have ever had, great or small, he has provided regardless of my worry and doubt.

I thought about the concerns and fears I have with the future and I was comforted that God knew those too, but my uncertainties don’t change the fact of Who He Is. And if I had to follow Him all over again, in the joys and the hardships, I would still surrender my life to Him.

Sara played on and transitioned into the old hymn:

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Morning by morning new mercies I see

All I have needed thy hand hath provided

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me

A man in his 60s stood up as she sang. I imagined his life and the possible trials he’d probably faced. I thought about how he’s further along in the journey than I. Then another person in the distance stood and then another. I got goosebumps. Before I knew it, handfuls of people were standing.

Knots grew tight in my throat. God had been so faithful to me and rarely did I thank Him and stand upon that. I felt such conviction. My pride tried to keep me planted in that hard wooden pew, but I rose to my feet anyway. Tears filled my eyes and I confessed to God where I had fallen short.

God, forgive me for not regularly expressing gratitude to you for all you have done. Change me.

I observed all that was happening around me and soon enough, everyone was standing. Some lifted their hands in humbleness. God’s presence filled the air and it was heavenly and so sweet. It didn’t matter what journey any of us had traveled, this was our anthem together.

An anthem of His faithfulness.

Remember Your Creator

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them” — before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain. – Ecclesiastes 12:1-2

I was reading these verses last night before bed and I was struck by the incredible wisdom is King Solomon’s words.

A friend of mine in college had told me once how as the years passed by in her mom’s life, her love and passion for God faded away. She told me how her mom was once “on fire” for God, but how that fire was extinguished because “life just happened.”

I remember thinking, Oh I don’t want that to ever happen to me. How sad.

Little did I know as a college student just how much life would happen… to me. As I got older, I started to understand and sympathize with my friend’s mom. I’m seven years out of college and I’ve gone through my share of suffering, trouble, trials, and pain. Life has squeezed me in ways I never thought it could and at times I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel in following God’s ways.

As I read these verses I realize that I’m still in my youth so to say. I’m healthy (as far as I know), just about to reach 30, have young kids, and I’m able to draw upon the Lord whenever I want. God has given me the strength emotionally, spiritually, and physically to do so.

But Solomon reminds me that there will be a day when it might not be easy to call upon God. “Days of trouble” will happen. That could mean old age, a disability, sickness, handicap- anything that is a barrier to enjoying life to its fullest. Solomon is saying to enjoy God in your youthful years, when your strength is still available to do so.

He pleads for us not to waste our life on evil or meaningless things that can cause our hearts to harden. These could be things that are good, that we find great pleasure in, but can turn into idols. These can also be things that can distance us from God.

Solomon pleads with us to focus on the Eternal, rather than the temporal, worldly pleasures that beckon us in our youth. The pleasures that try to snag and pull us away from God.

The bottom line is that there is no room for excuses, no matter how hard life can get. Loving and knowing God begins right now, while I have been given the strength and everything I need to pursue Him.

Big Life Changes and a Never-Changing God

A few weeks ago, Jeremiah accepted a new position at a well-known hospital where we live. Just a few days into his nursing job, the higher-ups decided to get rid of the entire floor he was working on for budget reasons.

All of the staff including his manager are seeking new jobs, hoping that the recruiters in the hospital can place them on another floor soon.

Of course this came out of nowhere for us. Jeremiah was so excited about his new job and I was happy too. We were excited about the awesome benefits and convenience in him walking to work. Clearly, it was God’s will. How could it not be?

But in an instant, that security vanished like a vapor.

Just before Christmas? Really, God?

I’ve asked him many times.

Not only that, in October, we found out we’re expecting a special little gift at the end of June- our third child to which we are very excited!

A job loss while I’m pregnant? Really, God?

I’ve asked him many times.

And in May, Jeremiah will graduate from seminary and before the summer ends, we will have to move out of seminary housing and know where we are going to live and do ministry.

Where do you want us, Lord?

I’ve asked him many times.

Right now, there have been no clear answers to my questions. But I know it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”

And even in the midst of my questioning, a sweet, still voice has spoken truth into my heart. Truth that comes straight from His Word, reminding me that He. Is. God. The God of the Universe who created me and loves me and my family deeply.

When life is crazy and ever-changing, there is no shadow of turning with him as the old hymn says. He is constant, yet fully engaged in the details of our lives.

What I am starting to understand more as He takes me through trials is that he is teaching me God-reliance instead of self-reliance.

Way too often, I love to have the control and to tell him my plans. I’m often wrapped up in self instead of what God is doing. I often forget the bigger picture at hand.

God has proven himself in the past and has always been faithful as I wrote about this past summer, I have no reason to doubt him. It would be foolish to not trust Him this time.

So in this Christmas season, my prayer of course is that Jeremiah will have a job again. Soon! But more than that, my prayer is that God will change me and teach me what it means to cling to Him in the good times and the trying times. I want to look more like Him and give him glory no matter what season of life I’m in.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:5-9

Finding Hope in the Valley

This past year, eternity has been on my mind a lot. A close friend of our family was diagnosed with breast cancer, tragedy struck with the loss of an old friend, and I’ve experienced hardships in motherhood and marriage and my own sinful nature.

While I often ask God to remove trials from me and to keep me from pain, I have been molded and shaped the most in the valleys of life.

The valleys are where fruit is produced- not on the mountaintops. God gives me mountaintops for a season to encourage me, but the real work of my faith happen in the valleys- in the everyday, mundane details of life.

Trials and suffering remind me that this earth is not my home, even though sometimes I’d really like for it to be. Trials bring me to my knees in humility. They cause me to confess that God is all I have when life lets me down and when hardships are just too heavy.

At the time, I often hate going through the valleys, but God has used them in my life to keep my focus and perspective on Christ. And somehow on down the road I end up being thankful for them. I’m thankful that God grew me and that I’m not the same person I was.

At the end of the day, none of us are alone in the struggles of life, whatever they might be. Our hope is in Jesus alone and one day, our pain and tears will be no more. We have a great hope awaiting us!

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things have passed away. – Revelation 21:4

The song You Hold Me Now has encouraged my faith in so many ways lately. I first heard it during worship at Watermark Church in Dallas and I fell in love with it. It is such a beautiful expression of Revelation 21:4. Here it is played at the gorgeous Hillsong Chapel in Australia.


What if Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights 
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

I heard the lyrics to this song “Blessings” by Laura Story, writer of the worship hit “Indescribable,” for the first time on my way home the other day and it was as if the world stopped and God spoke straight into my heart.

I often pray for comfort, peace, blessing, and for suffering to cease but as I reflect on my life, it’s been the trials and struggles that have humbled me, shaped who I am today, and drawn me closer to Jesus. When I think of “raindrops” that were blessings in disguise, I think of just a few:

  • Dating relationships that never worked out… the unbelievable blessing in God giving me Jeremiah
  • My dad’s two surgeries on a brain tumor… teaching me reliance on the Lord and how to pray
  • Jeremiah’s job loss 3 months into our marriage… leading us to a better place geographically, emotionally and spiritually as newlyweds
  • Broken sleep, postpartum symptoms, and the daily sacrifices as a mother… so I can learn to die to myself and help other moms who also struggle
  • Dealing and wrestling through my hurts, habits, and hangups… so that God can continue to heal the sinful parts in me so I can best glorify him as a wife and mother
  • The excruciating pain, tears and suffering in having two natural births… and the reward of staring into the eyes and holding my precious children

The difficulties in life have also taught me and will continue to teach me how to serve and have compassion on other people because you never fully understand the shoes of another person. Above all, they have taught me to continue to hope for something more.

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise


Read the story behind the song


This past Sunday, I struggled with anger. And it came out of nowhere.

Everything under the sun bothered me and I let it out on Jeremiah. I remembered a blog post I read a while back from a well-respected Christian man who discovered that his feelings of discouragement and depression at the end of the day were often just a result of being overtired.

I came to the conclusion that my anger must have been from being overtired. So I went to bed.

I woke up in a better mood, but I still had feelings of guilt from my behavior.

I sat down on our lazy boy and picked up my pen, journal, and leather-bound Bible. I begged God to show himself to me. That he would help me swallow my pride and confess my sin from the night before. That he would fill me and give me his grace in my weakness.

I read the words from my quiet time: “For in this tent, we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened- not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Cor. 5:2-4).

I was totally there. I felt myself groaning, longing to have a new, sinless body. I wanted to give up, but was so encouraged as I continued to read in verse 5: “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” His Spirit is within me as a seal to help me persevere when I’m not living how I should.

Knowing that my earthly body will one day be clothed in the perfection of Christ gives me so much hope. What a beautiful promise that is for each of us, especially on those days that are frustrating. Maybe for no reason.

That scripture was all I needed to be refreshed at the start of a new day. And by grace, Monday ended up being a great day!

How has God’s word encouraged you in your struggles?

Newest Bible Studies: Prodigal Perspectives, Keep Climbing, & Why Jesus?

One thing I love about being a writer for our Bluefish TV Bible studies is the faith journey I get to take in the process of writing. It’s often that I’m experiencing something on the topic I have to write about (crazy how that works out).

Prodigal Perspectives with Chris Seay is a study that blew me away in the process of writing. I had never truly studied the Parable of the Prodigal Son within its proper context and culture. I was amazed at how in my life, I have been both the elder son and the younger son and that I’m in desperate need of the Father and his grace. The dramatic monologues performed by actor Jason Hildebrand are so powerful. This study is my favorite this year. You’ll have to take a look at the trailer to see what I mean (click on the purple title).

Keep Climbing with Todd Phillips. In the time-frame I had to write the leader’s guide, I was going through a few mountains of my own in life: my Dad’s surgery on his brain tumor and the difficulties of being sleep deprived with a newborn baby while being heavily involved in full-time ministry, work, and my husband’s schooling. It was neat to see how God helped use what I was going through to write the study. I’m not so sure I could have written it the same without going through those trials.

Why Jesus? with David Nasser is a study that David himself wrote and that myself and our publisher Jackie edited. It was filmed on the streets of Israel and answers the tough questions people about Jesus and why they should follow him. I don’t really have words to describe this study because it’s just so amazing.

It’s rare that really any of our team knows the exact impact that our work has on people’s lives, but that’s probably a good thing. The impact is up to God. It’s his kingdom and his work. We just get to be a part of it. And that is what makes it all so awesome.

Why brokenness is what I need

Well I want to thank you for your emails and comments of encouragement the past few weeks. I strive to be authentic on this blog, and sometimes it’s tempting to ignore the harsher realities of life and just write about well… prettier things!

But I want to be real with you.

The other day on my way home from a busy day at work, the words of an old worship song, Take My Life, randomly popped into my head:

Brokenness (Brokenness) is what I long for
Brokenness (Brokenness) is what I need
Brokenness (Brokenness) is what You want for me

Those words shot straight to the core of me. I need to be broken before God in order to be used by him. I need to be broken so that any pride that exists can slowly fade away. As I sang those words aloud as cars passed by me, I knew God was showing me that this is where he wants me. 

To be broken over the things that break his heart. To be broken over my sin and how it affects others. To allow Christ to break me so that I can better reflect his image to the world around me. To be broken enough so that I realize life is just not all about me (something I really struggle with).

I then started to sing the Chorus:

Take my Heart and mold it
Take my mind, transform it
Take my will, conform it
To Yours (to Yours) oh, Lord

I’m so thankful that I can give to him my heart, mind, and will so that he can do what he pleases in my life, even if that means quite a bit of brokenness.

Switch to mobile version