Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Baby Boy Kirchner #3 Is Here!

Dear Readers,

My apologies for the lag in my life purpose series and delayed delivery of your bonus content! Baby Boy Kirchner came early! My water broke two weeks ago, and he arrived in the world happy and healthy...but I have been playing sleep catch up ever since! I am finally awake enough to post an update! It is with great thanksgiving that I share these pictures. Please expect your awaited bonus content this month, and my life purpose series will resume next month, probably mid-month. Check out my social media pages in the meantime for updates.



Thank you for sharing in our joy, and we would relish your love and prayers during this special time! Our new baby is a miracle in every sense, as every child is!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: An Inventory of Strengths, 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 this series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." This week continue step three, an inventory of strengths, with a theological and biblical discussion. For material on the first two steps, longing and surrender, be sure to read previous posts on my website. Also, subscribers will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them next week, so be sure that you have subscribed here.

Discerning our strengths, also referred to as our talents or gifts in this series, is key to living our life purpose. I use life purpose to mean God’s comprehensive plan or direction for our life. Another term that is important to a theological understanding of this topic is vocation.

Theologians John Calvin and Martin Luther both developed specific teachings or doctrines on vocation. They understood its scope to extend well beyond traditional ministry positions, such as the monastic life, which was revolutionary in their day. Their broad description of vocation included “even the lowliest daily tasks” as means of responding to God. * Calvin believed that one could even sweep the floor for God’s glory!

The aim of Christian vocation is to give God glory. “As we honor and serve God in our daily life and labor, we worship God. Whatever our situation, we have opportunities each day to bear witness to the power of God at work within us. Therefore, for Christians, worship, work, and witness cannot be separated." * It is our responsiveness and the pervasiveness of our worship that gives God glory. 



How we honor God through our lives will vary. God left his creative thumbprint upon us as our Creator. While we have been infused with different strengths, we are all united as Christians as we serve God through them. “We all, each of us, will write the definition of what this service means as we live out our calls. Whether in the ministry of word and sacrament, in teaching, specialized ministries, administration—whatever and wherever—the common thread of service to God in Christ ties us together.” * In other words, though we have different life purposes, we have one goal. 

While God wants to utilize our strengths to do his work “whatever and wherever” in the world, God has set apart some tasks for the church. Paul addresses the concept of spiritual gifts three main times in scripture in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. Because every Christian is given at least one spiritual gift or strength, they should be included in this step’s discussion too.

There two kinds of spiritual gifts. First, there are extraordinary ones like speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, and miracles. Scripture also names others that are more commonly used in church life. These are the gifts of administration, artistry, discernment, evangelism, exhortation, faith, giving, hospitality, intercession, knowledge, leadership, mercy, vocal and instrumental music, pastoring/shepherding, service, skilled craft, teaching, wisdom, and writing. While it’s clear that certain gifts can carry over into work outside of the church, the primary function of spiritual gifts is to unite, grow, and mature the church. *

An assessment of our spiritual strengths is a factor as we live our life purpose. What unites our gifts—whether spiritual or otherwise—is that we’re meant to employ them to give God glory. Also, they are just that—gifts. They are not something we choose; they are given to us. Uncovering and utilizing them will unlock a greater joy in our lives through our Creator!

* John R. Walchenbach, "Vocation," The Westminster Handbook to Reformed Theology, edited by Donald K. McKim (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001) 231.
* Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Order, "Directory for Worship," W-5.0105.
Donald K. McKim, "The ‘Call’ in the Reformed Theology," Major Themes in the Reformed Tradition, edited by Donald K. McKim (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), 342.
* “Finding Your Spiritual Gifts Scripture Review — Printable Version,” Elca.org. 

Subscribers will receive exclusive material, sent right to their inbox, to conclude this step next week! I will continue sharing my personal story with them as I have found my life purpose—don't miss it! 
Have you watched my recent interview? It's hit over 2K views! Watch here. To see my most recent sermon, click here.

Monday, April 8, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: An Inventory of Strengths, 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 this series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." This week continue step three, which is an inventory of strengths, with six specific pointers. For material on the first two steps, longing and surrender, be sure to read previous posts on my website. Also, subscribers will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here


Assessing and inventorying our strengths takes time and effort; it is a process. Some have likened it to completing a dot to dot picture. As a child connects the numbered dots, a picture takes shape. Likewise, as we faithfully inventory the gifts we’ve received from our Creator, an image of our life purpose will form. It’s important to recognize that while this image involves our surrender and service, it should not feel imposed. In fact, surrendering to it paradoxically brings us freedom and life. Author Rebekah Lyons describes our purpose as living the life that makes our heart sing.

Asking insightful questions of ourselves can unearth our strengths and God-given life purpose. The following are pointers to help us do that; watch how they are rooted in what brings us joy:

1.     Describe a memorable life experience in which you felt “most alive, creative, inspired, in harmony with yourself and the world.”
2.     Can you recall a time in which you felt the things listed in pointer one specifically in a productive work environment? 
3.     Describe a time in your life when you were “most aware of the Holy, the sacred, or God’s presence.” If you are new to faith or unaware of such a time, use this description as a guide: “Many such experiences are associated with feelings of timelessness, harmony, peace, unity with all people and things, a sense of well-being, or a sense of being part of a loving mystery that is bigger than the person.”
4.     Take an inventory of what you value most about yourself, home, work, and work environment.
5.     Think intentionally about meaning by discerning how you derive it, i.e. from what kinds of values, activities, or things? 
6.     Finally, take an inventory of your wishes for the future by including two wishes each for your personal life, work life, and the world.

These pointers are taken from a book designed to help people discern their life purpose comprehensively by saying yes to God, their neighbor, and themselves. * Our strengths will factor into this assessment and undergird several answers. For instance, pointers one and two will probably reveal them to you in action and pointer four will help you articulate them about yourself. What did you discover? Stay tuned as our exploration continues next week!

* Robert and Kim Voyle, Yes 3! Participant Guide (Clergy Leadership Institute, 2006), 32 and 34.

Did you miss my recent sermon or Chaos to Calm show with NYT bestselling author, Dr. Leonard Sax? To watch the sermon and a surprise reading by acclaimed children's author Laura Sassi, click here. To hear Dr. Sax weigh in on boys' education and the effects of video games, click here. Don't forget to "thumbs up" the videos! Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: An Inventory of Strengths, 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 this series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." This week we begin step three, which is an inventory of strengths. For material on the first two steps, longing and surrender, be sure to read previous posts on my website. Also, subscribers will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here.



Pinpointing our longing and surrendering to God are key factors to living our life purpose. Another aspect that’s essential to living it is an honest assessment of our strengths and a willingness to use them. In other words, we must discern God’s plan and then give the best of our very selves.

Sometimes it’s easy to be nitpicky with ourselves. Rather than having gratitude and appreciation for what we’re doing right, we focus on our shortcomings and what we’re doing wrong. Living our purpose calls us to use and build upon our strengths. One psychologist claims, “I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.” * We can't forget that our Creator has gifted us for a reason.

Sometimes we are aware of our signature strengths because we’ve manifested and cultivated them from an early age. Sometimes they need some reflection. Maybe they’ve long been latent, and it takes the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement of others to bring them to light. Or new experiences unearth talent we never knew we had. Or we see our strength functioning one way, but God takes it in a completely different direction that somehow still “fits.”

Being mindful of our strengths is essential because it is a biblical imperative that we use them. Jesus teaches us this in the Parable of the Talents. In Matthew 25, a master gives three servants a sum of money to look after in his absence. Two of the three servants successfully trade and double their master’s money. One servant, however, buries his money in the ground in fear. Upon his return, the master commends the first two and banishes the third.

While the talents are money in the parable, they also represent our own giftedness or strengths. We are to use those our Creator God has given us in Jesus’ service. Rather than shrink back in fear, we are called to employ and multiply those gifts for God’s glory. The parable is clear that God will not only acknowledge our willingness through a close accounting but will also richly reward it.

This conclusion fits with the parable of the pearl too. In that parable, the merchant receives a great reward indeed. This exchange costs him everything he owns, however. Mining our gifts for our Creator’s plan shows the wise investing of our very selves for God’s glory. Stay tuned for helpful pointers to help us do just that from a contemporary resource, continued study of theology and scripture, and examples from my own life story as we further explore this step!

* Robert and Kim Voyle, Yes 3! Participant Guide (Clergy Leadership Institute, 2006), 32.

Did you miss my recent sermon or Chaos to Calm show with NYT bestselling author, Dr. Leonard Sax? To watch the sermon and a surprise reading by acclaimed children's author Laura Sassi, click here. To hear Dr. Sax weigh in on boys' education and the effects of video games, click here. Don't forget to "thumbs up" the videos! Thank you for your support!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Watch NOW: Extended Chaos to Calm Episode Special!


I had the honor of sitting down with the New York Times bestselling author Dr. Leonard Sax for a second Chaos to Calm episode this month! This time, I interviewed him on his most popular book to date, Boys Adrift. We talked about barriers to boys' education and the effects of video games on boys' development—issues that are so important, we shot an extended episode special!

Watch HERE:


Dr. Sax delves into issues like:

What is the evidence that boys are lagging behind girls in school?
What can a parent do to advocate for their son?
What can educational experts do to make schools more boy-friendly by using the research?
How do video games really impact my child?
Are some video games more "dangerous" to my child's development than others?

For all of these reasons and for many more, you won't want to miss this expert's opinion and practical advice that you can implement right now to help your son, your school, or your community.

Next week, we'll be picking back up on our life purpose series with step three. Are you already a subscriber? If not, subscribe here to receive future exclusive bonus content from this series!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Watch My Newest Sermon: "The Best Legacy"

I'm excited to share with you my favorite sermon yet—one from the heart! I returned to preach at my church's contemporary service this March seven months pregnant. For the message, I shared my grandmother's miraculous faith healing from cancer. Her story challenges us to believe in God's continued miraculous work in the world and also encourages us to share our faith, which is her most lasting legacy to me. 

As a special treat, acclaimed children's book author Laura Sassi read her newest book, Love is Kind, for the children's message. Watch as she relates to the children in an endearing way to equip them to share their faith and love with others too! I hope you enjoy it!

Watch HERE:


The story of my grandmother's miracle reminds me of I Chronicles 16:8-12:

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.
Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles...

After watching, I hope you will consider all that God has done for you and feel inspired to tell others about it!

Stay tuned for another recording coming next week! I've also taped an extended episode special for my TV show, Chaos to Calm, with repeat guest Dr. Leonard Sax. I interviewed him on his recently updated and most popular book, Boys' Adrift, for this boy-centered episode. Hear this New York Times bestselling author hone in on the modern challenges to boys' success in education and the effects of video games on boys' development. He offers parents loads of practical advice that I hope you won't miss!

Our life purpose series will begin again in two weeks!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Sneak Peek into Bonus Material!

Next week, subscribers to my blog will receive the second installment of exclusive material relating to my newest series, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the series, I divide living your life purpose into six steps. The exclusive material relates to my own journey of living my life purpose for each of those steps. As a courtesy, I wanted to share what subscribers received as the first installment; it relates to longing. Next week's installment will pick up there and relate to surrender. Be sure that you have subscribed here to follow along!



The Day I First Thought Minister

I discovered the orienting principle of life purpose one day by a lakeshore. As I reflect on it now, it was a moment reminiscent of Jesus’ call to his early disciples by the seaside. Matthew 4:19-20 describes how they put down their nets at the sound of his voice. Centuries later, his voice calls on. I heard it call to me one spring afternoon.

I sat in prayerful tears by the quiet shores of Lake Michigan. I was experiencing longing and petitioning God like Hannah. I was in your typical college uniform — worn jeans and a loose T-shirt, and I was leaning against my pre-med backpack that was always too heavy. As the waves repeatedly crashed on the nearby shore and the winds softly stroked my cheek, it was as if I had climbed into the lap of the Father. My frustration was not your typical overworked, worn-out pre-med one. I was presenting my Father with a hole in my heart — I could sense that something was missing — but I knew that only he and I could understand it. That’s when my soul heard the word, “ministry.” It was not what I expected.

A divine word. The entire world came into being through them. Jesus was the living, breathing existence of them. And now the Creator had spoken one to my very spirit. Words of God bring direction, purpose. They turned a formless void into miraculous earthly life. They allowed us to see with clarity the incredible heart of God through the God-man Jesus. And now, one word had granted me a vision for my life. I only had a glimpse, I only had the notion, but this new seed sunk deep within and resonated with the soil of my past. I had wanted to heal as a faith-filled doctor, but God opened me to the possibility of healing souls instead of bodies. While my pre-med work was draining, the very idea of ministry inspired me.

I realized the One who knew me and shaped me had been guiding me all along. In that one word, I experienced God’s love and pleasure. In that one word, I felt overwhelming elation and awe as he revealed his purpose for me, a creation forged and covered with his fingerprints. Isaiah professes, “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (64:8). I was sticky with clay, opening my eyes as if for the first time. 

I left that lakeshore rock with my answer just as Hannah had left the temple. But little did I know this divine answer was just the beginning of my journey.

Questions to think about this week: Can you pinpoint a time that you have experienced answered prayer? Did the answer surprise you? In what ways, overt or subtle, have you felt God lead your heart in terms of your chosen life direction?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Surrender, 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 second step, which is surrender. You can read the introduction or biblical discussion of this step from the past two weeks. Today, we'll explore the topic more biblically and theologically. 

Next week's post will conclude the second step. I will be sharing it exclusively with my subscribers; it will not appear on my website! Read about my own experience with surrender and my life purpose. Be sure that you have subscribed here so that you do not miss it! I am excited to share it with you. Thank you for your support!

Discerning the footprint of the Creator in our makeup is the first step of surrender; the second step is actively responding to what we discover. The idea of God’s call and our response is integral to theology. God starts the process with a call to faith. Our response is then two-fold: to believe and to act obediently to God’s direction in our lives. The latter certainly includes our willingness to assume our life purpose. It’s important to recognize that God is always the initiator in this process: “God in Christ is always the subject. God issues the call, the invitation, the summons. It remains for humans to respond.” * And our response to God matters.

A well-known biblical character receives a direct summons from the Lord and, instead of obeying it, runs away. God not only calls Jonah to a place where he doesn’t want to go, but to his worst enemy. God’s message for the people of Nineveh could in fact redeem them, and Jonah wants no part of it. As he is fleeing, his boat encounters stormy waters and he is thrown overboard, only to be swallowed by a whale. He isn’t spit out at once. Instead, he lives in the fish.


This kind of engulfment has spiritual resonance. We may not have been eaten by a fish, but we can certainly be mired in depression and longing when we do not surrender to God’s plan for our lives. In some instances, it feels like we are living in a self-imposed trap. The redeeming element of Jonah’s story is not only the deliverance he experiences from the fish through his eventual obedience, but an acknowledgment that sometimes this act of surrender can be hard—very hard. 

It’s no mistake that the first two Ten Commandments concern the primacy that God wants to have in our lives. I’m convinced God is aware of the strength of the forces that would pull us otherwise. God’s call and our surrender can challenge our comfort-level, security, need for social approval, and the expectations of our parents or boss, for instance. For Jonah, it even offended his sense of personal justice! Our willingness to obey and surrender despite the perceived costs not only effects our own deliverance of sorts, but it also unites us with other Christians who are resolved to do the same. No matter our different lives, different directions, or different challenges, we are all called by God.

Donald K. McKim, "The ‘Call’ in the Reformed Theology," Major Themes in the Reformed Tradition, edited by Donald K. McKim (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), 336.

Questions to think about this week: What forces are particularly strong in your life that challenge your obedience to God's call? Have you experienced a kind of engulfment as a result? What would surrender look like for you? 

Monday, February 25, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Surrender, 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 month, I introduced the first step, which is longing. The second step is surrender, which I introduced last week. Subscribers to my website will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here. Stay tuned for part three on surrender next week!

Surrender is a counter-intuitive step to living our life purpose given the nature of most self-help literature today. We want to do something; to make something happen. But the spiritual path differs from this perspective. Vocation and life coaching experts Robert and Kim Voyle write, “Your life is not something you own. You did not create it and it’s not for you to tell it, or God, what it should be. You may however gratefully and humbly awaken to your life, discover its purpose and manifest it in the world. In this your deepest longings will be fulfilled…” * To do so, we must tune into the voice within and to our Creator.

The Bible says that our Creator formed us with purpose and intention. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably seen hard proof of this. Children can express tendencies and personalities that are unique to them instead of cultivated by you. We can raise each of our children the same way, and yet they can turn out so differently. Psalm 139 confirms this by testifying that our Creator God is at work forming us with a plan before birth.



Christian author Parker Palmer realized this not as a parent, but as a grandfather. He marveled at the unique tendencies of his granddaughter from birth and decided to start recording them in the form of a letter. Parker had experienced depression in his own life before reconnecting with his purpose, and he didn’t want the same thing to happen to his granddaughter. In his book Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation, he explains, 
When my granddaughter reaches her late teens or early twenties, I will make sure that my letter finds its way to her, with a preface something like this: 'Here is a sketch of who you were from your earliest days in this world. It is not a definitive picture – only you can draw that. But it was sketched by a person who loves you very much. Perhaps these notes will help you do sooner something your grandfather did only later: remember who you were when you first arrived and reclaim the gift of true self.' *
Whether it’s a rediscovery or kind of evolution, the spiritual life requires the time to discern and surrender when it comes to living our purpose. *

* Robert and Kim Voyle, Yes 3! Participant Guide (Clergy Leadership Institute, 2006), 32.
* Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation (San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2000), 12.
* Note: This material is an excerpt from my article for iBelieve.com, "How to Know Your Life Purpose" (April 13, 2017), and is reprinted here with permission.

Questions to think about this week: What are some of your earliest memories of things that you have enjoyed doing in your life? What persistent personality traits have you expressed? How well do those observations marry with what you do now?

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.

Questions to think about this week: Do you resonate with the expression that it's easy to live today with a "full schedule and thin soul?" What forces contribute to your full schedule? How do you experience a thin soul? 

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 and 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.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Guest Post: Five Powerful Blessings to Speak over Your Child

One of my favorite authors whom I've had on my site is Glenys Nellist. I had the privilege of meeting her at a conference in Michigan a couple of years ago. Her English humor, clever wit, and warm spirit made this grandma and Christian educator shine. She has guest posted here before. She is passionate about Jesus, which is evident in her children's books that start for wee ones. 
Speaking of wee ones, I am excited to announce that I am pregnant with our third child, a boy due in May! In honor of our family's news, I have teamed up with the Christian children's publisher Zonderkidz to give away a special bundle of Glenys' books for one lucky reader of my site this week! Stay tuned tomorrow to learn about those four books and how to win them! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Glenys' guest post on blessing our children — I know I did! Here are her words:



It wasn’t until I read a wonderful book called Blessed to Be a Blessing that I fully realized the simplicity and power of speaking blessings into our children every night. When I was a young mom, I would pray with my children each evening, but this idea, based upon the blessing given to Abraham, is more than simply praying over your child or with your child. When we bless our little ones using this method, which literally takes less than one minute, we create a truly sacred moment when our words, like seeds, take root in our children’s minds and hearts. If you begin when your children are newborns, they will grow up believing that they are blessed to be a blessing. 
Here’s how to explain the process to an older child:
  • When your child lies down at bedtime, tell them that you are going to give them a blessing.
  • Explain that you will draw a cross (or a heart) on their forehead or on the back of their hand as you say a special blessing for them. Let them choose where they want it drawn.
  • If desired, you may opt to use water or an essential oil as you draw the symbol.
  • Establish eye contact with your child.
  • Draw the symbol slowly as you look into their eyes and repeat one of the five blessings listed below.  Always begin with your child’s name. The five word blessing that I use with my grandson is very simple: Sam, you are a blessing.
Can you imagine the power of my grandson hearing those words repeated every. single. night? My little Sam will grow up knowing that he is a blessing. What could be more precious than that? Except, perhaps, when your child automatically turns to you and asks if you want a blessing too? This is what happened when I first tried it with three-year-old Sam, who simply lifted up the bangs of my hair, drew his own little shape on my forehead, and looked into my eyes as he said, "Grandma, YOU are a blessing." I pray that you will discover the power of this simple act for you and your own children.
Here are five powerful blessings to speak over your child. Choose the one that means the most to you and substitute your child's name:
  1. Sam, you are a blessing.
  2. Sam, may the Lord bless you and keep you. (Numbers 6:24)
  3. Sam, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace. (Romans 15:13)
  4. Sam, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God be with you. (2 Cor. 13:14)
  5. Sam, the Lord will watch over your life no matter where you go, now and forever. (Psalm 121:8)
Stay tuned tomorrow for details on how to win FOUR of Glenys' children's books! They are perfect to bless the shelves of your own growing family.

And don't forget that my new life purpose series begins next week on the blog — begin your new year intentionally! Subscribe here to receive my free ebook and don't miss a post.


Monday, January 7, 2019

Moms, We Have a Microphone

Happy New Year! This week I wanted to share one of my favorites to start the year off right. It challenges us to think about the ways we speak to our children — and ourselves — in light of what God says about us. I want this year to be full of blessing, and the best way to start that is by examining the very words we speak. Here is the start to my article; click the link to read the rest at (in)courage...and don't miss the note below!


This winter I am challenging myself to be positive. And I don’t mean positive in a superficial kind of way. I mean being intentional about what I verbalize about myself, my husband, and my children. It’s one thing to have a negative or discouraging thought; it’s another to speak it aloud and allow it to take root.
There are so many things that can plague our minds as moms. Our job can come with a lot of responsibility and little accolades. And to make matters worse, we can be hard on ourselves all the while. “Why am I having trouble losing weight…praying more…scheduling it all…” Sound familiar?
As much as we need to be mindful of the beautiful creations that we are, we also need to think about the creations who are forming under our watch. What we say about our children in their presence and behind closed doors helps to foster an attitude that will influence their development. In effect, what we say about them, they will believe about themselves...
Continue reading at (in)courage
Stay tuned next week for a guest post that will speak to blessing our children as well. The post will be paired with a generous giveaway and some exciting news! 

TODAY Video Clip