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Faith

The Struggle to Keep a Godward Focus

Lara Casey posted this on her IG account yesterday and it had me thinking. While she was specifically speaking to the context of business, what she shares has been my greatest struggle as a believer in so many areas of my life.

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Not growing up in a Christian home, I learned to take care of myself early on. To say that my family was dysfunctional would be an understatement. I spent my childhood and early teen years focused on building a life that looked nothing like the one I came from.One where I was the boss, in charge of my own destiny. I was focused, smart and willing to do whatever it took.

Then, God saved me.

He plucked me out of true darkness and began conforming me to His image. So much changed drastically and quickly, but there were some deep places in my flesh that remained. They were hungry for comfort, stability, notoriety, and success. I learned to mask those desires on the outside, but they continued as driving forces in everything I did, and still do. They inform my work, my parenting, my role in marriage and virtually every other aspect of my life.

I know in a heady kind of way who I am in Christ and what that should look like. My knowledge of who God is, and the need to invest in eternal things, is not lacking. But, that’s just knowledge.

My anchor in Christ is not as deep as my knowledge of God is wide.  

This striving and busyness that Laura describe above, truly is tiring and frustrating. It is like squeezing a handful of sand so as not to lose any, only to watch it all trickle slowly through your clenched fist.

My flesh still rears its ugly head compelling me to hustle and work, and make things happen. It yells at me to be a better parent, wife, teacher, and overall better Christian. I live my life with a sense of urgency and hurry instead of in a resting, active peace.

I do believe that God designed me uniquely and on purpose. He gifted me with a childhood that made me a scrappy fighter. He gave me big ideas, dreams and a “let’s try” attitude. He educated me through intelligent, thinking people, both inside and outside of the church. He places me exactly where He wants me, because where ever I am, there is a need for the light of the gospel. He has redeemed so many broken pieces of my past.

The depths of my sinful heart never cease to both surprise and sadden me. At the same time, the expanse of His grace never seems to end. I long for a heart like David’s when He says, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere”, or like Moses who “…considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt”. My mind knows of the truth found in these verses, and a small piece of my heart feels the weight of them. But, if I am being honest, this isn’t always my default, my natural disposition, or the true direction of my heart. I am easily drawn to the world and its promise of comfort, ease, more, better, faster, and shinier.

Lara’s post got me thinking. Thinking about grace, and striving, and seeking to live a life that truly honors God. A life that desires to be with the Father, to walk in obedience to His calling and to do more than build something that will ultimately have no eternal value.

God’s grace has brought me so far, that at times I feel as though I couldn’t have possibly been the girl I know I used to be. But, this streak that lies so deep within me, often takes me by surprise. My heart is truly prone to wander, but His Spirit never lets me get too far. His Word, His people, and His presence draw me back into focus. I know He has already done a great work in my life, and know that He will continue that work until it is complete.

God plucked me straight out of true darkness and set my feet on His path. I sometimes get sidetracked, following down rabbit trails that lead me nowhere. But, my good Shepherd always brings me back.

I am thankful for His grace, the work of Christ and the restoration He grants believers.

I am thankful that we no longer have to walk in accordance to the patterns of our flesh and that we can joyfully walk in obedience to His calling.

I am thankful that we can have families, businesses and day to day interactions, using every ounce of who we are, to bring Him glory.

I am thankful that, as a believer, there is no rabbit trail that will ever bring us to our destination or completely out of the hands of God.

I am thankful that we have an eternity that is truly worth investing in.

I am thankful for a new heart, new identity and power in Christ.

I am thankful for His Word, that is truly a lamp for us, guiding our steps to live and serve and honor Him.

But mostly, I am thankful for a good, patient gracious Father. One who does not allow us to find lasting satisfaction in the temporary, but offers us full relationship with Himself, where satisfaction for all eternity is found.

Faith Filled Yoga; Why You Should Give it a Try!

One of the main keys to getting in shape is finding a type of exercise that you love…or at least one don’t hate! So, I am bringing in some friends to share about the types of exercise they love in the hopes that something will pique your interest, and get you moving!  Today’s guest is a good friend of mine. In fact, she was one of my very first friends in BKK and was definitely my “how to survive life in BKK life coach”. Kristi is a yogi, and a fantastic workout partner. She is also a rockstar runner (like the kind that wins races), and became a certified Holy Yoga Instructor about two years ago. You can check her out in IG, and follow her fun BKK life!

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faith filled yoga
I remember my first encounter with yoga my senior year at university.  I was experiencing some hip pain as a result of a car accident, and my chiropractor at the time recommended I try yoga to help in the healing process.  I didn’t take his advice right away, but as a committed runner, I was desperate to be able to get back to running regularly again; so soon enough, I found a local gym offering a yoga/pilates class and signed up.

To say I was skeptical is an understatement.  Yoga to me seemed like one of those things people did who wanted to just be still, stretch and meditate a little, which seemed so far from what I wanted in regard to exercise and fitness (I have learned to love a good, long sweaty run).  But next thing I knew, I was 3 months into the class and found myself showing up a few times a week, and looking forward to the next class.  And best of all, my hip pain had disappeared completely.

I was spot on in my evaluation of the class, being that yoga does offer all of the things I was skeptical of: the invitation to be still, increased flexibility, and an invitation to presence of mind, heart and body.  But the thing I was wrong about was my assumption that this practice of yoga wasn’t “my kind of thing”.  Instead, I found myself realizing two things:

1) How amazing of a workout yoga was, different than any of the other types of workout I had ever known; crazy hard in it’s own way and yet one of those workouts that my body seemed to thank me for at the end of every class (and a perfect counter-balance to my other weekly workouts for increasing flexibility and helping to stretch out crazy sore muscles).

2) That stillness, deep stretching and taking time to be present to my body and to my heart was something I needed more than I ever knew.  Something that once I got a little taste of, I found myself wanting more of in the midst of this crazy thing called life.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I attended my first Holy Yoga class, lead by a friend who was offering the class near my house.  Holy Yoga took all that I had experienced in other yoga classes, and incorporated a rooted meditation on Biblical truths.  I found that in this practice of Holy Yoga, as my body was practicing yoga, God’s word was at work within me, and so often I heard the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart.  It was 100% yoga and 100% worship – and this, I loved.

And now, 3 years later, I lead that very class that I once attended. Even though I still run regularly and love hitting up other fun workouts throughout my week, yoga has become as much part of my life as any of those other activities.

Yoga, as a practice, is intended to connect the whole being – mind, body and spirit.  Using a series of movements (“poses”) designed to allow for the use of deep muscles, and increase the bodies’ natural flexibility, you are able to develop space to experience things physically that may never have been accessible to you before.  But even greater than this, yoga is a practice intended to create space for mind, heart, and body connection.

I love that yoga creates a space to be still.  No phone, no have-to’s, only get-to’s.  And I love the benefits that my body experiences after a yoga practice, kind of like it screams THANK YOU at the end of a class.  But most of all, I love that yoga is for anyone.  No matter what your body type or how “fit” you consider yourself, you can practice yoga.  That’s why it’s called a practice, because it’s never finished.  We all start somewhere, and as we continue, we find ourselves slowly moving forward and finding deeper spaces and more things we are able to do.  A little like the practice of LIFE huh?

So how ‘bout it?  I was a crazy skeptic and now, am a crazy instructor.  All I can say is try a class, or a few (usually the first class is a lot just figuring it out, so stick it out a few weeks).  I have a feeling you’ll surprise yourself with how great your body feels, but even more so, you will find the delight of the stillness and presence in the midst of the non-stop rhythm of life.

And if you are ever in Bangkok, come join me for class.

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Are you a busy woman juggling faith, work, home and family?

I am too.

Sometimes women like us can get so focused on helping others that we forget to take some time for ourselves. We don’t set aside time to spend with God, and  workouts fall to the wayside. I get it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have another minute in my day to spare. But, if we don’t take our spiritual and physical health seriously, we won’t be able to work, serve and love well. We will end up a hot mess of frustration and anxiety.

I hear ya’ sister…that struggle is real, and I feel it every day!

That’s why I am committed to helping women like you refocus their faith and get in shape. Because when we are planted in God’s Word, and feeling healthy and confident, we can go out and do all of those things God calls us to do, and we can do them excellently!

Sign up below and get my 3 Day Faith and Fitness Quick Start Guide for Busy Women. In it you will find 3 days of Bible study (looking at a different Psalm each day), and 3 quick, effective and simple workouts for you to do at home! This guide is totally FREE and will take you less than 30 minutes to go through each day!

 Sign up here, to snag yours!

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In Faith

When Faith Doesn’t Come Easily

Faith

I have been a believer for 18 years now. Just writing that is so crazy to me, because there is nothing about me, how I grew up, or where I came from that would have ever indicated I would one day follow Christ.

But, He reached down, into total darkness, and plucked me right out. And, he has patiently walked me through many trials, some amazing blessings and everything in between.

So, you would think that trust, faith and hope would come easily.

Except it doesn’t.

I have studied God’s word. I went to Bible college. I listen to sermons in my free time, read amazing books, and have always been surrounded by believers who desire to grow in their faith.

Yet, I struggle.

I have seen God provide, over and over again. I have seen him change people; change me. I have seen Him work small miracles on my behalf, and on behalf of those I love.

Yet faith does not come easily for me.

When things get just a bit rocky, I get all kinds of stressed out.

When things don’t go as planned, I start maneuvering and cling tightly to whatever I can.

When I can’t see clearly, I push the person of God away and seek to solve the problem myself.

It is so dang hard for me to trust. To have faith in the things I cannot see. To remember the countless times we have witnessed God’s faithfulness in our lives, and in the lives of the people around us.

But God never lets me go too far.

He draws me closer, despite my doubting.

I am so thankful that He is the pursuer. That His grace far supersedes my lack of faith. That His Word is a double-edged sword that pierces through the deepest parts of my soul and lifts my eyes back up to meet His.

Faith doesn’t come easily for me. But in His graciousness, God gives me just enough to help me taste and see that He is good. And that always leaves me wanting more.

Maybe you are like me.

Faith and trust and hope are not your defaults, even though you have believed for a while.

Can I encourage you just for a minute?

He can handle your doubts…I mean, He already knows them. So, lay it out there for Him with truth and reverence. Pray that He would give you greater faith. Pray that He would help you see Him more clearly and remind you of His trustworthiness. Pray that He would remind you of all that you have to hope for. Wrestle through your times of doubt and lay down your maneuvering and controlling. His grace is greater, and He has an endless supply of faith and hope in Christ. The slightest glimpse of His character will remind you that there is no one more trustworthy.

Faith doesn’t come easily for some of us, but I promise you…it is available to all of us.

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Are you a busy woman juggling faith, work, home and family?

I am too.

Sometimes women like us can get so focused on helping others that we forget to take some time for ourselves. We don’t set aside time to spend with God, and  workouts fall to the wayside. I get it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have another minute in my day to spare. But, if we don’t take our spiritual and physical health seriously, we won’t be able to work, serve and love well. We will end up a hot mess of frustration and anxiety.

I hear ya’ sister…that struggle is real, and I feel it every day!

That’s why I am committed to helping women like you refocus their faith and get in shape. Because when we are planted in God’s Word, and feeling healthy and confident, we can go out and do all of those things God calls us to do, and we can do them excellently!

Sign up below and get my 3 Day Faith and Fitness Quick Start Guide for Busy Women. In it you will find 3 days of Bible study (looking at a different Psalm each day), and 3 quick, effective and simple workouts for you to do at home! This guide is totally FREE and will take you less than 30 minutes to go through each day!

 Sign up here, to snag yours!

Quickstart

In Faith

How to Choose a Spiritual Mentor

I recently did a post for my sweet friend Victoria on discipleship. Hop on over there and read it (because it is all of the basics) then come on back here. Don’t worry. I will wait.

In light of that post,which I hope you actually read, here are some things to keep in mind when you are looking for a spiritual mentor.

Disclaimer #1: Pray about who to ask. If you have peace and clarity about entering into this type of relationship with someone…do it! If you aren’t sure where to start, consider these things below!

SPiritual mentor

Look for someone who is accessible.

Does this person have margin in their life to spend some time (even if it isn’t a lot) pouring into you. This time might be in the middle of folding laundry, cooking dinner or going with them to run errands. They might have time to set aside each week to meet you for coffee. Either way, is there some room in their life to be intentional about spending time with you?

Look for someone who is willing.

Are they willing to make the time for you? Some people are just tapped out, or already pouring in to several other people. Is this person someone who is willing to set aside some time for you? This seems obvious, but often we want someone high profile, who is already meeting with several people, who doesn’t have the margin, and who really isn’t looking for a relationship like this. So, look for someone who is willing!

Are they someone who has made wise decisions, and learned from their bad decisions?

Can you look at their life and see a history of wisdom, and a heart that has learned from failure? No one is wise all of the time. But, is their life relatively characterized by wisdom, and have they learned from their bad decisions? If so, they are someone to consider!

Are they someone who runs to Jesus, or do they just try harder?

When this person messes up or sees someone else mess up, do they try to fix things  on their own or do they run to the cross? Do they recognize that they can’t just start doing the right thing and stop doing the wrong thing? Do they know that they need to cling to the work of Christ and pursue God over better behavior? If they never acknowledge their own limitations to live life in a holy way, I would be careful in starting a mentoring relationship with them. You want someone who will push you towards Christ, not try to clean up your behavior. (By the way, the closer we get to Christ, the more likely we are to behave like a child of God. So pursuing Jesus will almost always result in better behavior. But, better behavior does NOT always lead to pursuing Jesus. Often, it leads to pride. So this my friends, is a biggy. Consider what their tendency is when they mess up!)

Are they honest, open and real? 

Are they someone who can share their own struggles if it is beneficial to your growth? Can they be real about the ways that God has worked in their life? If they come across as someone who has everything figured out, then I would look elsewhere. You want someone who has figured out lots of things, but none of us have it all together. Anyone who tries to make you believe they have it all together, is not someone you want to mentor you.

Do they spend time in and know God’s Word?

Are they someone who knows the Word of God and how to apply it to life? Or, do they spend lots of time giving out their own opinions with little scriptural backing? If the foundation of their advice is not God’s word, DO NOT look to this person for mentorship.

Do they commit time to prayer?

Do they offer to pray for you and for others? Do they ask for prayer them self? This isn’t always the easiest thing to discern, but do your best. Someone who lives a lifestyle guided by prayer is someone you want pouring into you.

Are they humble?

There are lots of people who are available, willing and know the Word of God, but who lack humility. This is the biggest red flag to me. If someone lacks humility, then they are not someone you want speaking into your life in any kind of influential way. The more mature the believer, the more aware of God’s holiness they will be. The more aware of God’s holiness someone is, the more they will have a humble heart. The more humble their heart, the more gracious they will be when speaking truth into your life. Humility is truly a marker of someone you want  pouring into you.

*Disclaimer about humility*

Someone walking around saying they are so terrible, and not worthy, does not a humble person make. A person with real humility is someone who has a clear picture of who they are in relationship to God. That person might be confident in the way they teach the Word, and share the wisdom God’s given them, but they are fully aware that they are just as much “in progress” as you are. 

Finding a great spiritual mentor can take some time. In the beginning you might want to invite a more mature believer out to coffee just to chat. Or, join a Bible study at your church and listen to the other members of the study as they share, to get a good idea of who would be a good fit. You don’t have to propose a weekly meeting to someone right away. Start small with a coffee or side conversation here or there. Even if that person doesn’t end up being a long time mentor, you might glean some wisdom and grace from them after just a few minutes of conversation. And know that mentors might come and go. Learn from the people God puts in your path. Be teachable and open with someone once you have found a great mentor. Pray for one if you haven’t found someone, and be sure that you are on the look out for someone who might be needing you as a mentor too!

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Two Things to Keep in Mind While Reading Your Bible

In today’s world Bible study has often been relegated to a 5 minute search for some applicable truth or encouragement for the day. I will admit that I’ve been guilty of approaching God’s word this way in the past. But, as my love for studying scripture has grown, I have become keenly aware of how approaching God and His Word that way, cheapens the relationship He offers us in Christ.

As a teacher who works with struggling students, I spend a lot of time teaching high schoolers how to study. In all of my years of teaching, I have never once told a student to open their text book to the middle of a chapter, read two sentences and begin answering questions based on those two sentences. Yet, when we struggle with the goodness of God, we open up to some verse that tells us He is good, read it over and over, and close the book, hoping that it will stick with us throughout the day. No one has ever understood molecular bonds by reading three sentences about what a molecular bond is (and let’s be honest…I could read a whole textbook on that concept and still not understand). Why do we think that we will understand the riches of God’s character and the vastness of his story, by doing just that with our time in the Word?

God has given us all of scripture, because all of it is necessary. It is all part of us knowing Him, and being able to relate to Him. Making time to study God’s work can be hard. Understanding scripture can be hard. But, when we approach scripture with the right mindset, we are putting ourselves in a much better place to know God in a deeper, more intimate way. From that knowledge flows love, and a deep understanding of grace, mercy and what we are called to be and do.

I want to help us re-shift our thinking when it comes to spending time reading and studying the Bible, and think there are two main ways for us to do that.

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The Bible is not about you.

There is a lot about you in the Bible. There are things that apply to you all over the pages of Scripture. But ultimately, the Bible is NOT about you. It is about Him. It is about God’s character, His plan, and His glory. When you sit down to read the Bible, remember first and foremost, that the Bible is about God. In the same way a biography is about one person, with many relationships throughout that person’s life, scripture is always, mainly about God. Everything in it that has to do with us, or other people, will also point back to God.

There is a time and place where the Bible speaks about you. But, before you go there, ask yourself:

  • What does this passage say about who God is?
  • What am I learning about God’s will/plan/heart?
  • How does what I am reading help me to worship God more fully?

The Bible is God’s story.

There are many intriguing stories throughout the pages of scripture. People of great faith, obeying God with hearts of worship. There are battles and love stories, miracles and deep emotions.  While the Bible is filled with hundreds of individual stories, there one story that spans the entirety of the Bible, it is God’s story. He is weaving together the story of who He is, what He has done, and how He has done it throughout every small story we find from Genesis to Revelation.   If we miss this, we miss the point! Esther, Abraham, Rahab, Moses, Joshua, David, John the Baptist, every prophet, every apostle; their stories are only important in light of the one big story that unfolds on the pages of scripture; God’s story.

To keep this at the forefront while reading the Bible each day, ask yourself:

  • How does what I just read, fit into the bigger picture of God’s story?
  • What other pieces of God’s story does this piece of scripture shed light on?

You don’t need a ton of time to read scripture each day. But, we do need to come to those pages remembering their purpose. Coming to scripture with its main purpose and focus in mind, helps us to spend our time in the Word more wisely. It will help us to better understand the God that we are called to love and serve, and to walk more freely in light of who He is.

How does what I just read, fit into the bigger picture of God's story? Click To Tweet

If you are totally lost when it comes to studying God’s word, I cannot recommend the method outlined in Women of the Word more highly. If you haven’t gotten that book, I strongly suggest you grab a copy today.  Look through the chapters in the second half. They walk you through a great method of Bible study and teach you how to dig into scripture.

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Are you a busy woman juggling faith, work, home and family?

I am too.

Sometimes women like us can get so focused on helping others that we forget to take some time for ourselves. We don’t set aside time to spend with God, and  workouts fall to the wayside. I get it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have another minute in my day to spare. But, if we don’t take our spiritual and physical health seriously, we won’t be able to work, serve and love well. We will end up a hot mess of frustration and anxiety.

I hear ya’ sister…that struggle is real, and I feel it every day!

That’s why I am committed to helping women like you refocus their faith and get in shape. Because when we are planted in God’s Word, and feeling healthy and confident, we can go out and do all of those things God calls us to do, and we can do them excellently!

Sign up below and get my 3 Day Faith and Fitness Quick Start Guide for Busy Women. In it you will find 3 days of Bible study (looking at a different Psalm each day), and 3 quick, effective and simple workouts for you to do at home! This guide is totally FREE and will take you less than 30 minutes to go through each day!

 Sign up here, to snag yours!

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