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