Tuesday, February 19, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Surrender, Part One

Have you ever wondered whether you are living up to your full potential, particularly as you straddle the doldrums of parenthood? If so, I invite you to join me in my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. Last month, I introduced the first step, which is longing. This week, I'm introducing the second step, which is surrender. Subscribers to my website will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here. Last week, subscribers received the story of my personal call to ministry!



As we have been exploring, the first step to living our life purpose is understanding longing. Given our multi-dimensional lives, it’s crucial that we create space for introspection to unpack the source of our longing as we strive to live our life purpose. When we do not take this time, our longing abides; we live with full schedules but thin souls. Keep in mind that thin souls result even when our schedules are filled with good things, as long as they are not the best things. 

Author Lysa TerKeurst takes up wise decision-making in her New York Times bestselling book The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in The Midst of Endless Demands. She describes a scenario that perhaps you will relate with too:
In this great day when most [people] wave banners of authenticity about our pasts, we crouch back from honesty about our presents. We’ll tell you all about our broken places of yesterday but don’t dare admit the limitations of our today. 
All the while the acid of overactivity eats holes in our souls. And from these holes leaks the cry of the unfulfilled calling [or purpose] that never quite happened. We said yes to so much that we missed what I call our ‘Best Yes’ assignments — simply because we didn’t heed the warning of the whispers within that subtle place…
I miss Best Yes opportunities sometimes because I simply don’t know they’re part of the equation. I get all twisted up in making the decision to check either the Yes or No box, not realizing there is a third box that reads Best Yes…
A Best Yes is you playing your part [in God’s plan]. *
Lysa’s words underline the concept that life purpose brings direction to our lives through the choices we make.

Direction and fulfillment hinge upon the quality of our choices. {Click to Tweet} Undergirding Lysa’s whole premise is the realization that our Best Yes opportunities, or best choices, stem from surrender. We discern them by seeking God’s will. We are selective in our scheduling to create space for what our Creator has destined for us. In other words, we’re not building our own vision of our lives; we’re allowing God to inform our choices so that we can increasingly embody his plan and reflect whom God created us to be.

In the next few weeks, we’ll explore the essence of surrender and what it asks of us. Surrender is not foreign to Jesus’ discussion of the pearl from step one either. The merchant had to sell everything he owned to grasp it. Living our life purpose demands that we put pursuit of God’s call before everything else too. Our goal is not self-serving, but God will reward our effort all the same, which I'll discuss in later steps. For now, stay tuned as we unpack surrender through scripture, another contemporary author, theology, and continued elements of my personal story.

* Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2014) 5.

Monday, February 4, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Longing, Part Three

Have you ever wondered whether you are living up to your full potential, particularly as you straddle the doldrums of parenthood? If so, I invite you to join me in my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. We are currently exploring the first step, which is longing. You can read the introduction or biblical discussion of this step from the past two weeks. Today, we'll explore the topic more theologically. 

Next week's post will conclude the first step. I will be sharing it exclusively with my subscribers; it will not appear on my website! Read about my own experience with longing and the day I first received my call to ministry. Be sure that you have subscribed here so that you do not miss it! I am excited to share it with you. And stay tuned for the next post here in two weeks. We'll begin step two, which is surrender. Thank you for your support!



Pacifying our longing will no doubt require our obedience to God in a variety of contexts, just as it did for Rebekah. She needed to express multiple roles such as mother, Christian, and writer to find fulfillment. While her expression meant adding something, for others it might mean pulling back. Regardless, its expression will not be unidimensional. Scholar Donald McKim agrees:
Our vocation is to be Christians in all we are, in all we do. For we are much more, as human beings, than merely our professions, important as they may be. We live as relational individuals, related to many, many people in complex networks of human communities. Should we not see our vocations as extending into all these arenas? Should we not see ourselves comprehensively as people called by God to involvement in all these fibers of human life and bring ourselves as Christians to them all? Yes, we should. *
In this context, living one’s vocation is synonymous with living their life purpose. A recognition of the complexities of life purpose allows us to better recognize and label our longing.

Mathew Arnold conveyed this truth poetically, “Resolve to be thyself: and know that he, who finds himself, loses his misery!” While longing and its associated misery can be alleviated by living our life purpose, there is a human tendency to avoid it. Theologian John Calvin observed “with what great restlessness human nature flames, with what fickleness it is borne hither and thither, how its ambition longs to embrace various things at once.” Living our life purpose therefore is a call to an obedient discipline of sorts. Its fruit is not only satisfaction, but direction. 

Direction is a gift ripe for our modern age. It’s so easy to live with full schedules and thin souls. We can live pressed for time and mired in commitment, such that life’s intangibles are choked out. These intangibles can include quality family time, faith experiences, relaxation, and the mental space for discernment. Checklists and resumes tell one side of the story; they don’t convey what opportunities were lost. Sitting with our longing, our thin souls, and taking time for introspection can allow us to make different decisions, better decisions. In effect, it’s God’s way of orienting our lives back to him as we grasp our full purpose like a pearl. In an exclusive story available only to subscribers next week, I will share what a moment like this looked like for me!

Donald K. McKim, "The ‘Call’ in the Reformed Theology," Major Themes in the Reformed Tradition, edited by Donald K. McKim (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1998) 341.

Questions to think about this week: Do you regularly allow time for introspection? How is it easiest for you to commune with God in daily living? Can you identify any challenges to proactively addressing longing in your life?

Monday, January 28, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Longing, Part Two

Have you ever wondered whether you are living up to your full potential, particularly as you straddle the doldrums of parenthood? If so, I invite you to join me in my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. Last week, I introduced the first step, which is longing. This week, I'll explore what the Bible and a popular modern author have to say about longing. Subscribers to my website will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here


When I open the pages of I Samuel, it is as if I can hear a woman crying. Hannah is crying so loudly at the temple gates that the priest thinks she is drunk. No doubt, she knows the emptiness of longing. That longing has rooted down deep inside of her and is bubbling out in hollow, irrational wails. Her heart aches, her soul cries, and she doesn’t care who sees it. While the scene initially offends the temple priest, what she is doing is right. She is taking her longing to the Lord.

Hannah wants a child. She feels becoming a mother is a part of her life purpose and her attempts have been futile. She feels the ache of her empty arms and appeals to the One who gave her that longing and could satisfy it in the first place. Upon learning about her situation, the temple priest blesses her. Priest Eli states, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him” (I Samuel 1:17). Soon, she has a newborn son.

While not everyone is a parent, all of us know the ache of longing. An important lesson from this biblical story is to remember to bring our longing to the Lord. It is Hannah’s boldness in prayer and willingness to approach the temple that brings about her fulfillment. God not only has the power to do what we cannot, but he yearns for us to approach him as the Wellspring of our longing. The psalmist describes our Creator God by proclaiming, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me” (Psalm 139:1). The church father Augustine, in turn, states, “Thou hast made us for thyself; and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee.”

Author Rebekah Lyons knows restlessness well. In her book Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning, she writes about experiencing depression and panic attacks until she unearths a new life purpose. Her experience is not unique, especially among women. She conveys a startling statistic:
One in four women will suffer some form of depression in her lifetime. From anxiety attacks, as in my case, to mood disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and so on, women are under siege. And the majority of women who are wrestling with depression fit nicely in the twenty-five to forty-four-year-old age bracket. We aren’t depressed because we are getting old; we are depressed in the prime of our lives. During the years when we ought to be making some of our greatest contributions to others and to the world, we are stuck. *
Rebekah believes the flurry of modern life with its constant demands plus a lack of felt life purpose feeds these numbers. Frequently caregivers for children during these years, women tend to overlook themselves. But overlooking ourselves is not limited to this predicament, gender, or age range.

Rebekah’s experience and statistics reveal longing. It’s important to recognize that she was active in ministry during this time of distress in her life. It’s not that she was making poor choices; her longing instead stood for a deeper need. Gifts were lurking beneath the surface. Once she started writing, she began to experience the freedom and relief of embodying her true self, whom God made her to be. Discovering her life purpose and giftedness enabled her to find healing.

While not all depression is rooted in a lack of life purpose, ignoring our life purpose will inevitably result in unhappiness. This is true for women and men. What’s intriguing about Rebekah’s example is that it recognizes the complexities of the enterprise itself. Rebekah is a wife, mother, ministry worker, and now writer. Life purpose is the compilation of many roles and many goals; it is a comprehensive expression of all of whom our Creator has designed us to be. {Click to Tweet} Whether it concerns a career, work inside the home, or volunteerism, it will look different for every person. For Rebekah, an important piece of that expression had been missing. 

* Rebekah Lyons, Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013) 66-67.

Questions to think about this week: In what roles or goals in your life are you happy, and which one or ones need improvement? Does either Hannah or Rebekah's ache resonate with your experience? Have you presented your ache to the Lord, and if so, how has God answered you or how is God prompting your heart right now?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Longing, Part One

Beginning a new year marks the opportunity for a new beginning. Have you ever wondered whether you are living up to your full potential, particularly as you straddle the doldrums of parenthood? If so, I invite you to join me in my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." 

In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. Further, each step has subsections. I will be sharing a new subsection each week. Subscribers to my website will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here

The parable of the pearl (Matthew 13:45-46) has long fascinated me. In it, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a rare and beautiful pearl, a pearl of great price. The merchant sells everything for that one pearl. While the reward is rich, the cost is steep—and many will walk away from the offer. Imagine that Jesus is stretching out his hand to offer you a single pearl right now. To grab it, you must go on a journey of six steps. Each of these steps will take you closer to understanding what you must leave behind and grapple with. It will also unlock greater value than you could know otherwise—a treasure from God’s own hand.

The pearl isn’t just about how we spend the afterlife. It’s about the choices we make right now. It’s about the various things, often compelling, that pull at us and effectively rob us of a greater prize. In this series, that prize is the monumental task of doing what we were meant to do on this earth. 

Living your life purpose is not a trivial pursuit. It’s living the life your heart beats for. It’s living the life destined for you by our Creator. Discerning and surrendering to it will unlock some of the richest fulfillment you can find on earth; that’s the power of living in sync with our Creator. Yet, while spiritual principles are plain and simple, living them is sometimes not as easy. We are often unwilling to grasp the pearl.


The first indication that we have not yet grasped the pearl is longing. God leaves his fingerprints on us regardless of our recognition or not. When we do not honor our God-given purpose with the everyday activities of our lives, we experience frustration and longing for change. Longing often feels like a consuming emptiness. Perhaps rallying for your day-to-day life takes a lot of convincing. That’s a sign that God has something better in store for you.

Because this longing can manifest itself in a variety of ways, we’re going to take a closer look at it. We’re going to look at a compelling example from scripture, a contemporary author, theology, and a story from my own life. Keep in mind that this is step one of the journey; God does not want to keep us here. But to grasp the pearl, we must come to terms with our longing for it in the first place. Just like the merchant who is searching for the pearl in Jesus’ parable, our longing is indicative of the need for our search.

Questions to think about this week: Do you feel like your heart is longing for something? Do you feel like anyone else really understands — whether you're experiencing a subtle ache or consuming dissatisfaction? Do you think that's God trying to lead your heart as only your Creator can? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

WINNER ANNOUNCED!

Author Glenys Nellist

Congratulations to Rachel Osborn, who registered on Facebook with a bonus entry — she is our winner! We had around 40 entries from across the country for this giveaway, and Rachel's name was picked at random by a third party name selector. Rachel, I hope you will be blessed by Glenys Nellist's words, but most importantly, I hope they will bring your family closer to the One who first authored them.

I love tallying the states of our winners. This giveaway adds Kentucky to our list of Georgia, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Texas, Indiana, Kansas, Illinois, South Carolina, and Arizona. Yay!

Stay tuned for the first installment of our life purpose series. Thank you all for your support!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Board Book Bundle Giveaway!


I am delighted to offer one lucky winner the board book bundle above in honor of our family's news — we're expecting our third boy in May! I have teamed up with popular children's author Glenys Nellist for this special treasury that she's written for wee ones.

Thank you to her and the Christian children's publisher Zonderkidz for making this special offer possible! I received a copy of each book in turn for my review:

God Made Daddy Special: This board book comes with an inscription page and describes ways that a father can teach his child through a variety of animals — the lion is my favorite! This book, which I can see a father reading to his child, ends with a precious Bible verse.

God Made Mommy Special: This board book comes with an inscription page, Bible verse at the end, and utilizes animal imagery to describe care for a child too. Tender, cuddly images are punctuated with ones of leadership and strength — I had many favorite pages describing a mother's care!

Snuggle Time Bible Stories: This new release covers major Bible stories in cute rhyme. It not only communicates the stories but makes them personal for the very young child — a great bedtime find!

Snuggle Time Psalms: The psalms remain a favorite collection of biblical prayers for all ages; this book brings many of them to life for the very young child. It communicates their comfort and promises with beautiful interplay from the illustrations — because of that, it's my favorite book of the bunch!

Want to win this bundle for yourself? As long as you are a US resident with a street address (no PO boxes for shipping purposes please), you are eligible to win. There are three ways to register:

1. You can comment below on THIS POST through my homepage.
2. Find the announcement of this giveaway on my blog's Facebook page. Comment on that post, which I will pin to the top of the page. Bonus entry: If you comment AND tag a friend, you will be entered twice! Note: Be sure that you have "liked" my page and are following it for updates on the winner!
3. Find the announcement of this giveaway on my Instagram page. Comment on that post to register. Bonus entry: If you comment AND tag a friend, you will be entered twice! Note: Be sure you have followed me on Instagram for updates on the winner!

The winner will be announced a week from today on Tuesday, January 22nd. In the meantime, I hope you read Glenys' special guest post on how to intentionally bless our children! The endearing ritual of blessing she describes takes less than a minute and will impact your child for a lifetime!

Stay tuned next week for the launch of my new series on life purpose, just in time for the new year! Also, subscribe here to not miss a post and receive my free, illustrated, and professionally-edited devotional ebook.

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