Teach Your Children Virtues, Not Just Rules

The internet is full of advice for mothers. Full.

Yes, motherhood is hard. It is. No denying it. Tough days, frustrations, exhausted nerves pushed to the limit of almost crazy. We all know this.

Yet, in all of these discussions, one topic is lacking: teaching virtue.

We focus on rules because we believe that rules get results.

Yes, rules are important, for sure. Boundaries should be clear, consistent, and enforced. But rule keeping is only one side of the coin.

The other side–the reason for law and order–the reason for the commandments is virtue that allows us to love God and others well.

Do most people know what virtue is? In a world that’s false and Photo-shopped and me-centered, where does virtue fit in?

What does the Bible mean when it says, “If there be any virtue…think on these things?”

Virtue and Integrity go hand in hand. Virtue is the sense of what is noble, fair, right, just. It’s all that’s good. Integrity is the character that allows you to pursue virtue. It is the same in the light as in the dark. Integrity does the same in private as it does in public. When nobody else sees, a woman of integrity does what’s right.

A mom lamented that her child was sneaking food. The food is an issue. Chocolate before supper is naughty. But the real issue is a heart that was willing to deceive—to do something that they wouldn’t have done if mom was there.

Look for ways to teach virtue. More importantly, live virtuously.

So, for instance, a mom who yells at her kids but then answers her phone sweetly is not living a life of integrity.

The mom who screams at her child and then expects the child to respect her might as well forget it.

The mom who lies to her kids or exaggerates to others can’t expect her kids to trust her when they are older.

Bottom line: What will stop a child from lying? Is it your threatening? No. Only an elevation of the truth and the love of it.
What will stop selfishness and self-focus? Seeing the beauty of generosity and kindness against the backdrop of our own dark hearts.

What will stop a teen from gossiping or laughing behind someone else’s back? A love for justice and for protecting people.

What will stop any sinful behavior? Nothing–absolutely nothing, until you behold the humility and perfection of the Savior and want it for yourself. Seeing the virtue in our Savior shows us our lack and inspires us towards goodness and godliness.

Behold the Lovely


Virtue is a forgotten tool in the mothering toolbox.

Highlighting virtue in our daily lives inspires our kids to be noble. When we see goodness, we want to be good.

When we experience grace, we want to be grace-givers.

And then when we see injustice or are the recipient of hurtful behavior like prejudice or gossip, we should abhor the behavior, and it should propel us to love virtue even more.

2 Peter 1–

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

…For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You might be caught in the “no” cycle–saying no for wrong behavior more than you highlight noble behavior.

Have you praised the generous child who shared a cookie, or the unselfish one who offered a better spot on the couch during movie time, or the compassionate one who offered a hug when someone was sad?

I remember the hard days of parenting, but the good news is that children can grow into lovely, compassionate, virtue-loving adults. (Why don’t more people write blog posts about that!)

I have three adult child and three younger ones in the home, and I have been on both sides of the “hard parenting” stage. Can I just tell you how much of a blessing older children are when they exhibit the virtue of scripture?

My daughter Emily is sitting out for a semester. While she’s home she’s been clipping coupons for me and writing out the local deals. She takes initiative to straighten out the house. She’s generous with her money and loves buying gifts for people. She plays with our foster child. She offers her clothes to her younger sisters. All these things are not part of the rule following, but are part of the virtues growing in her.

Rebekah is a dorm counselor at Bob Jones University and she has a coffee ministry in her room. She offers French pressed Starbucks and treats to anyone who needs to talk. Last week I sent her fall napkins in a care package and she was so excited to be able to give her girls a cookie on a “pretty napkin.” She’s concerned with the needs around her and when she comes home, she jumps in with the needs here.

Matthew is generous almost to a fault. He texts to ask how our foster boy is doing because he misses him. He’s always on the look out for his sisters safety and even, occasionally, for mine. There’s nothing more attractive than kindness and gentleness in a man.

Although I love to brag on them, (ahem) I’m not using them as an example to say what a great parent I have been. On the contrary. I’ve stumbled along the way and had to learn on the fly.

I’m saying that the tough days do pay off. You’ll wake up one day to these wonderful adults and, like the pain of childbirth, you forget the trauma. ūüėČ Well, almost forget.

If you are in the trenches of the early years, make your child obey the rules, yes. Be consistent, certainly. But train them to love virtue and give them plenty of good examples to follow.

Praise them when they are good, and make virtue something to be pursued and emulated.

Don’t let “first time obedience” be your end all. Who wants to raise a rule keeper who is heartless?

After your child’s faith in Jesus Christ, mind 2 Peter 1 and “add virtue.” Don’t skip this.

Need parenting inspiration? Get into God’s word and look at the life of Jesus and talk about it. When you read with a heart to imitate the goodness, it highlights the virtue instead of always focusing on the forbidden.

Does that make sense? Let me know if I’m not clear in the comments or tell me what you’ve done to instill virtue in your kids.

Have a great day!


God’s Wisdom for Little Girls: Virtues and Fun from Proverbs 31
The Book of Virtues
Loving God with All Your Mind

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You Need To Rest Because You Are Not The Savior

“You can rest in Heaven.”

I heard this blunt¬†one-liner many times as a child, and every time I hear it today, I cringe. I’m not sure who coined this callous phrase but I wonder if they had a “savior complex.”


In our pride, it’s easy to believe that WE are the reason that things get done when behind everything we do is the Lord, the Sustaining One, who holds us all together and gives us life and breath.

¬†Acts 17:28a,¬†for ‚Äú‚ÄėIn him we live and move and have our being…

Busyness seems to be the American norm. Everyone runs themselves ragged. We have more conveniences than any other era and we still have no time.

I believe busyness has its roots in idolatry. We run ourselves ragged because we’re trying to keep up the appearance that we are good moms, ministry wives, business women, friends, etc. We serve these idols tirelessly and “busyness” is the means to this end and our bodies and spirit become collateral damage and totally depleted.

Eugene Peterson says that busyness is an “illness of the spirit” and “we are busy for two reasons: vanity and laziness.”

In the Contemplative Pastor he says,

“I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself–and to all who will notice–that I am important.”

Can you relate with this quote? Do you feel a boost in self-worth when your phone is ringing off the hook or you are running here and there to meet the needs of all.the.people. (“savior complex.”)

Remember Martha? Her problem wasn’t serving others, but trying to find her self-worth, significance, and meaning apart from Jesus Christ.

I just had a lengthy talk about this with my oldest daughter as we hashed out what it looks like to “serve” others with a humble mindset while balancing our own needs and schedule and not burning out.

She said something along the lines of “There are certain people who think “Leadership” means always having the answers, being the one everyone goes to…like they have no needs themselves. I like to look at counseling as, “Today, I’ll help you, and tomorrow, you’ll most likely be helping me.” (I just love her!)

I thought this was a great way to avoid becoming too big in your own mind and burning yourself out meeting needs you weren’t ever meant to meet, because

We have a Savior, and He has already come.

So have you allowed busyness to become a measuring stick for your self worth or your commitment to the Lord or the church?

When we get too busy, our body will rebel.

We ran quite a bit the last few weeks, so yesterday we took a “Beautiful Day” to recoup and refresh.

Beautiful Days include staying in our jammies late, sipping coffee on the couch while checking email or reading a magazine, lunch, a walk, music, a candle. We went to the Plymouth Waterfront for lunch and enjoyed watching the boats. We were still and quiet. We noticed the lovely all around us.

Are you run down? Maybe you need to plan for rest and refreshment? Especially you moms of littles who believe that you couldn’t possibly get out/alone for a few hours of leisure.

Let me warn you, don’t be a martyr mom. Don’t kill yourself trying to do it all and never think about your own well being.¬†There’s nothing holy or noble about running your body into the ground.¬†¬†I don’t see Jesus burning himself out in scripture. I see Jesus resting, getting away for private prayer and solitude, enjoying meals and weddings, and connecting with His disciples.

And then we have his lovely invitation for rest: “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden (burdened down) and I will give you REST.”

Here are a few ways I’m resting and rejuvenating my body and soul these days:

How you exhausted? What are you going to do about it? :) Let me know in the comments.



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When Perfectionism Stops You

So, I haven’t been blogging much lately and a friend asked why. Know what? I’ve got all the excuses:

“I’m just so busy. I’ve got so many plates spinning. I’ve got a toddler again.” She could see through the words.

Truth is, I don’t like doing anything I can’t do well. I struggle with perfectionism.


So, since I can’t formulate thoughts as clearly as I like, and since I compare myself to other bloggers who are really gifted with writing, and who can actually edit properly, I’ve pretty much stopped.

My friend said, “I don’t think you realize what a blessing your blog is to so many women.”

I argued, “I can’t even think anymore let alone write. And my grammar– Ugh.”

She said, “You write really well. I don’t think you know that.”

This conversation repeated with another friend last weekend at a conference, and I finally decided that maybe the Lord was using these sweet friends to tell me something. God wants faithfulness not perfection. God honors obedience not ability.

So, my friends, here I am. Mumbled, jumbled thoughts and all. Less than perfect, but willing to encourage.

I’m hard on myself. Are you? Know what? Perfectionism is a lie that will paralyze and rob you of the blessings of obedience.

How do you recognize perfectionism?

It’s usually in those of us who have high ideals. We’re hard on ourselves and strive for excellence.in.everything. You’re afraid of failure. You’re hurt by criticism. You worry too much about what others think. You believe if something can’t be done well it shouldn’t be done at all. Perfectionism is self defeating and unrealistic. It’s dreamland, honey, because nothing is perfect and we all just need to lighten up.

You know what? I don’t have to be perfect–and neither do you. Isn’t that just great and grace? The gospel comes in to save the day, yet again, in our daily walk–Jesus was perfect for me! I don’t have to be perfect, because I’m already loved, accepted, and it’s all okay because of Him.¬†

Don’t we all need to stop waiting until life is perfect before we step out and really do what God has put on our hearts? Don’t we just need to take courage and lift palms upward and offer our here and now rather than our “As soon as I get it all together, Lord!”

Don’t we need to affirm the truth that God ordains all of our days and our meetings and that the people we serve and the opportunities He brings are not by chance?

If we wait until we all have it all together before we serve, the truth is, the body of Christ suffers and your “light” on a hill disappears.

How are you wired to serve? What gifts has God given you? What is the desire of your heart? Do you love to write, paint, or cook? Do you have the gift of wisdom, discernment, or helps?

Did you know that you don’t need permission to use those good things for God’s glory and you don’t need to wait until you’ve perfected your game?

Did you know that your imperfect words of encouragement or your invitation into a toy-strewn house for a cold glass of lemonade might be the only encouragement offered to a weary soul today.

Just do it. I am. It won’t be perfect, but it will be something. It may not be remarkable, but that’s okay.

Faithfulness not perfection. Obedience, not ability.

What has the Lord been prompting you to step out and do?

I’d love to hear in the comments!


Too Busy To Abide

Wanted to share some printables that I made for my home using the art of Helen Allingham, an English watercolor painter who lived during the Victorian era. Her scenes are domestic and soothing, cozy and inviting. They mostly depict cottage life and pastoral scenes. They make me want to step into the painting and stay.

In my own devotions, I’ve been meditating on God as our dwelling place.

We’re all busy, aren’t we? And slowing down is a choice. ¬†I’ve had to say “no” to good things so that I can make room for the “best” things and honestly, every fall as Peter and I evaluate our commitments, ¬†I have to make the choice all over again because I can’t afford to miss structured time, intentional times, with the Lord.

Psalm 90 “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.”

The words dwelling place¬†conjure up images of relaxing, enjoying, reclining, and staying in one spot for a long time. In a world that is fast paced and glorifies the “busy”, we, by default, hesitate to abide. In fact, we’re too busy to abide. Abiding is for the lazy. Abiding is for the loafer. We’re Martha people with things to do and kids to raise and all.the.stuff. And yet God has called us to rest and refresh in Him.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us relate better to God as a refuge or a tower or a place that we dart in and out of in times of trials. When things get really bad, we reason, I know who I can count on: My Refuge. And when trouble comes, I know I always have the fall back: our Strong Tower. It’s like God is our default–plan B when we can’t handle life ourselves.

God wants to be our Dwelling Place.  Period. God never meant for us to live frantic lives independently of Him.

This is what I’m focusing on this week.

Anyway, I was very much blessed by a talk by Holly Stratton (SermonAudio) on Three Laws for Christian Women and I’ve made reminders for myself that you are free to print and enjoy.

The Law of our Mind: Christlike Humility

Helen Paterson Allingham 1

Phil 2: 6-8

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

The Law of the Mouth: Kindness

Proverbs 31:26 “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

painting 2

The Law of the Heart: Forgiveness

image 3

Eph. 4:32

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”


I hope you have a great week. Feel free to share what you’re learning, reading, or listening to in the comments.



20 Homeschooling Articles {Round Up}

Several of you asked that I post all of my homeschooling articles in one place. Here you are. Happy Homeschooling!

20 Homeschooling Articles


Five Questions Every Homeschooling Mom Should Ask Before Choosing Curriculum

SomeOur Favorite Homeschool Resources/Tools Series :Part I, Part II, Part III

Good Advice On Home Education

The Early Years of Home School

Favorite Friends In the Early Years

Being Scared to Death Of Homeschooling

God Is Bigger Than Our Educational Choices

Grace For the Homeschool Mom

Homeschooling {or not} During Times of Crisis

One Reason I Love Homeschooling

Fun Things For Homeschool

A Little Trick I’ve Learned Through Homeschooling

We Censor Our Kids’ Books {And a trick that makes it easy}

Hey, What Are You Looking At?

Charlotte Mason on Taking our Kids Outdoors

Limitations Make Children Creative

Advice on Education from Across Party Lines

Summer: The Perfect Time to Start Nature Study

Adding Watercolor To Your Nature Study

An Example of Charlotte Mason Narration


Hello? Hello? Yes, I’m still here.

Hey guys. It’s been a while since I’ve written and I feel like I’m out of the blogging loop lately. We just got two of our kids back to college, we’re getting ready for school, caring for sweet Little B, ¬†and we’re gearing up for house renovations.



I was talking to a friend about how many transitions we’ve had in the past five years.¬†I’ve realized that I get emotionally tired during transition times and that being self aware is not one of my strengths. ¬†I’m super intuitive when it comes to caring for everyone else, but not when it comes to me. (Case in point: I was getting read for a dinner party last week when I realized that I had a headache. It was 5 pm and I hadn’t eaten all day. That.) Sometimes you need to plan for self-care. ¬†Physically, I need to plan rest. Emotionally, I need solitude, even for just an hour. And spiritually, I need to take in God’s Word in slow, careful amounts, meditating and ruminating over the truths in them. I really appreciated this article 10 Ways To Overcome Spiritual Weariness.


And although transitions are hard for me, it’s really exciting to see how God goes before, directs, and helps our hearts at these times. And can I just say that Peter is amazing during these times? He’s so wise about what needs to be done, what should be let go, what is primary vs. the peripheral. I’m so thankful for him!

Sometimes I really start to question what God is doing and if this is all going to work out in the end, and lately, everything that God has been pointing me to in my devotions, readings, and sermons can be boiled down to these 3 things:

1. The destination is not for me to choose. I go along for the ride and trust God.

2. The outcomes are not as important as faithfulness along the journey.

3. Sin is a daily companion that must be crushed. To overlook it in our own lives is to actually sow a crop that we don’t want to flourish.

I’ve been seriously overwhelmed by the news lately. Have you? It feels hopeless, doesn’t it? I recently read that nearly 400 pastors were “outed” in this Ashley Madison leak and can I just say that it is God’s mercy on them that they were exposed? And it was God’s watch care over His church that allowed such disgrace to be addressed?

And while we’re all wondering how these people could possibly be serving God and living such a double life, let’s remember our own propensity to sin and fear the consequences of it all the more.

I talked to my kids a little about it and explained that the fear of God is supposed to be our motivation not to sin. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” But honestly, because we can’t see God, sometimes we don’t respect him as we should. I told them that oftentimes, when I am tempted to sin, I think about the affect it would have on their father or them. I try to think about the look in their eyes. And then I came across this piece by Sarah Mae, What I Know About Cheating and Consequences, which expressed my thoughts exactly (and more beautifully than I could.)

This world is broken, and eternity looks better and better every day, doesn’t it? Key take-a-way from the nightly news? People need the Lord in a desperate way!

I tend to freeze up when I hear horrible news. OR I clean like a mad woman. I don’t know why. Does anyone else do this? Because I tend to be an Idealist, the enormity of the mess of this world makes me want to give up, which of course is crazy.

We can’t do everything but we can do something.

You can start right where you are, small. Start with you. Make sure your life is a life of integrity. Is your public life a true mirror of your private life? (Ask your family. They’ll tell you.) If not, this is the very definition of hypocrisy.

This article, The importance of What We Do In Secret is helpful. Then, be a light wherever you are. Do good, be kind, promote righteousness, and share the gospel.

What about you? Does the news make you want to shut down?

It’s been fun keeping up with your pictures on Instagram and Facebook and seeing what you’ve been up to. And I’m really enjoying Periscope right now. (I’m I’m @joyfilleddays if you want to find me.) Scopes I like: MacKenzie @BOLDturquoise and BoldTurquoise.com, @JessAConnolly from Naptime Diaries and of course, my friend, Ruth from Gracelaced.com @gracelaced.

What have you been reading and loving right now?

Happy end of the summer, you guys! Enjoy your weekend!

Thoughts on being scared to death of homeschooling, and thoughts on the thoroughly educated child

I’m entering my 17th year of homeschooling.

If you’ve read here for more than two minutes you know I favor the Charlotte Mason method, have an artsy/crafty bent, emphasize music and poetry, read a lot, and tend to be rather eclectic.

What you might not know is that I feel totally unqualified to do this job.

I’m not musical. I was an average student. I didn’t like to read. I’ve not mastered higher math or science, so how could I ever teach it!?

(I am artsy and that’s about it.)


I’ve always known that I could not give my children the kind of education they need.

This has been the cause of a lot of fear in my life. I love my kids and didn’t want them to suffer because their mom was a bumbling idiot who thought she could do a better job than an actual teacher. I’ve always realized that if I messed this homeschool gig up, my kids would be the one to suffer in the long run. No pressure there.

I decided early on that the best course of action would be to attend a local homeschooling conference. For me, it was overwhelming and seemed to confirm what I already knew–“I’m not cut out for this.” Walking the aisles, eyes scanning the mounds of curriculum (too many choices!) I literally feel dizzy. ¬†I was afraid that someone might try to strike up a conversation with me about what curriculum I’ve been using, and recognize me as the homeschooling fraud of a mom that I felt like.

I didn’t benefit from a homeschooling conference, but I did greatly benefit from an experienced lady at our local support group, Debbie. She listened and gave feedback. She encouraged me although she had a gazillion other things to do. She talked to me about all of the different ways people homeschool. She just gave me courage.

As I took each step, I also learned another truth: God had gone before me and was there to help me each step of the way. He was walking my homeschooling journey with me. He knew before the foundations of the earth that I’d be doing this job that I felt totally unqualified to do and that half the time I thought I’d lose my sanity performing. (You’re with your kids 24/7, ya’ll. That can be oh-so-good and bad.)

When I asked for guidance, He gave it. When I seemed lost, He helped me find my way through the advice of a friend or by information on the internet.

I learned that knowing my own limits as a teacher and understanding my personality mattered tremendously because I couldn’t be someone who I was not. And learning the personality of each child was crucial to understanding their learning style.

I devoured For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School¬†and A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning¬†and Educating the WholeHearted Child¬†¬†and realized that I was drawn mostly to the Charlotte Mason method.

I connected with Charlotte Mason’s respectful ideas about children:

  • that they are not creatures to be molded/created but were already born a¬†person;
  • that adults should not abuse power or use fear/manipulation to make a child learn; (all I can think about is Mr. Gradgrind in Dickens’ Hard Times!)
  • that the mind of a child thrives on quality knowledge.

I appreciated that she taught that children should be kept clean, taught good manners, never demeaned (this during Victorian England when children were to be seen and not heard).

In short, children are capable and deserve respect. You don’t teach them how to learn—they already have that capacity. You provide excellent resources.

I realized that I don’t have to be an expert on anything to read my children excellent books and to expose them to the lofty ideas and beautiful language of people more intelligent than I.

I try to lead a “beautiful life” (cultured) with my kids. Much of this comes by adding music, art, literature, and details to our surroundings during the day. For instance, I might add flowers or a candle to our school room. I display the artwork of one or two artists per month on my fridge to familiarize them with that artist’s style. We read the poetry of one or two famous poets per month.We bake and craft. ¬†We take nature walks to enjoy the creation. We have tea and cookies in the late afternoon in the fall/winter. We enjoy local produce and do seasonal excursions. These are all things that anyone can do. I’m trying to raise kids who notice and appreciate little things because education is more than taking in information.

To be truly educated, you have to care about how you fit into the grand scheme of life. Knowledge has to change you for the better and move you to action. You have to appreciate beauty simply for the love of it. You have to be curious about the inner workings of that concept you don’t quite grasp.

A truly educated person cannot be indifferent to the suffering of others no matter how “insignificant” they are on the social scale. I don’t care how much my kids know book-wise if it doesn’t cause them to be better neighbors.¬†

I think as a society we’re satisfied with a shoddy definition of education. As moms, we have to make sure that we don’t confuse taking in information with being educated or advancing through school with understanding knowledge.

We need to see our kids as whole people–education being a small part of who they are.

They need to know that they were created for a relationship with God and that outside of that relationship, nothing else makes sense. Their minds need to be informed and infused with the mind of Christ.

As I enter another year, I am confronted yet again with my own lack: lack of expertise, energy, and knowledge. And I know that though homeschooling can be lonely, I am not alone; God has gone before me and will be with me (and you!) as we start this new year.




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For the mom who had a rough day

For the mom who had a rough day, who didn’t live up to her ideals, who blew it with her kids, who wasn’t what she should have been, who acted like the mother she vowed she’d never be,

bad dayFor the wife who is discouraged and lonely, hopes dashed, carrying more than your weight of the load, wondering how you ended up here instead of happily- ever-after,

For the college aged girl who is struggling to figure out life, who can’t change her circumstances, who is just beginning her journey but is already afraid, can’t see light at the end of the tunnel, wondering if life is supposed to be this hard,

For anyone who is feeling the weight of discouragement,  the tension between the hurt you are feeling and the joy that you know you should have, I want to offer some hope that has helped me when discouragement seems to be the emotion of the day, week, month.

I know it seems that discouragement puts you in limbo, but it actually can serve a purpose. Discouragement can be a catalyst to drive you to God. 

Here are a few things that have helped me:

1. See where you’re stuck. Often it’s on the wrong things.

My thoughts are “sticky” and often get stuck on the negative instead of thinking Truth. Satan sends condemning thoughts:

You’re house is such a mess. You’ve failed your kids. You’re so fat. You’ll never have it together.¬†

Sometimes discouraging thoughts come from within: This will never change. She’ll always be a problem person. He’ll never change.

Grace says that I am not the sum total of what I did on my worst day. I am whole in Christ.

If I can change my situation in a godly way, then of course I should. But if I can’t, I need to make a choice. I can dwell on the negative and continue to¬†spiral downward¬†or I can take action and lasso my rouge thoughts. Take your thoughts to scripture and see if they line up with truth.

2. You Live Grounded.

Just like a boat has an anchor that keeps it from going adrift when storms come and the tides change, we need to be anchored in the truth about what we know about God. Grounded in grace, attached to the Vine, abiding in Him.


I’ve found this to be true especially in times of discouragement. Trials come, waves crash, and the water can be choking, but no matter how crazy the storm gets, we can only drift so far because we are secure in Christ.


Although my life may seem to be shifting out of control when I’m anchored in God’s word and my communion with Him is strong and focused, the storm almost doesn’t matter.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea: Though the waters thereof roar and be troubles, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” Ps. 46: 1-3

3.  Live With Expectant Hope

Even when things are unplanned and unpleasant and I feel the weight of the disappointment, I have hope. Like the Psalmist in Psalm 42 who laments his problems, but then reminds himself “Why are thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God. For I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”,¬†we, too can lament our problems, but then realize that we also have hope.

Our primary hope is God.

We pursue many things feverishly. The psalmist said that he pursued God and desired God like a thirsty deer after the chase of the hunt pants for cold water.

Our trials can drive us to thirst for God or to despair.

In “down” times, I have to ask myself, “Why are you so sad? What’s been taken from you that you love so much?” In other words, “Sarah, what are you hoping in? Why are you living like God is dead and not on the throne?”

What’s the remedy for my cast down soul?¬†Hope in God alone.¬†

When everything else has been stripped away,

When the thing you worked your whole life for crumbles before your eyes,

When the worst thing you can imagine becomes your reality,

you will still have God and He can never be taken from you.

This life is a moment, but my relationship with God is for eternity, so whether I feel like it or not, I must hope in God alone.

4. Re-train and renew your mind to remember the truth.

We are inundated with media and messages and they can really weigh on our soul without us even knowing it. The nightly news, the politics on Facebook, wars, killing, the inhumanity and cruelty we see on a daily basis can really discourage us. Negativity breeds negativity in the mind. We need to be super careful what we feed it.

This is why meditating on scripture is crucial for me. I can’t read the Word and walk away from it, because it won’t “stick” in my mind. I have to put it in front of my face. My friend Joy writes a verse on her hand so she can see it while she works. Do what you have to do to remember God’s word.



5. Walk with hopeful expectation.

Even though things are not what I expected right now, I can have confidence in God. I know that¬†God is with me, and is working this situation out for my good and His glory. Maybe I won’t get relief from my circumstances, but God is making me holy in the process of submitting to His will. He’s breaking my stubbornness and selfishness, showing me that my self-reliance was really living like an orphan when I had loving Heavenly Father. Not one detail of my life is out of control or overlooked.¬†

I know we live in a feelings oriented culture where if you do something when you don’t feel like it, it’s termed unauthentic or hypocritical.

But the Christian is reminded to “train yourself to godliness.” 1 Tim. 4:7b

Just like I don’t always feel like washing my dishes or saving money or dieting, I do it because it’s right. And,

whether I feel like living under the authority of the Word of God or not on a particular day, I train myself to do it because it’s right.

In times of trouble, seek God’s face.

When we can’t change our circumstances we should seek to change our attitude.

Hang in there, friend. Your God is bigger than this and He won’t fail you.

Your God-ordained Job for Today

“What does God want me to do?” or “What is God’s will for my life?”

These are two common questions women ask. They flounder: “I feel like I should be doing more…maybe I’m missing the boat somewhere.”


Have you ever felt this way?

I’ve come to believe that most women struggle with “God’s will” because they are comparing their life to others.

This mindset is especially tempting when we forget that God values what He calls us to do, whether we think it’s significant or not.¬†

Cleaning the house, changing diapers, making meals, running errands, caring for the sick–these unimpressive, mundane tasks bring glory to God when we do them with a heart towards Him.

We look around and compare our life to that woman over there who is thin, beautiful, rich, has a doting husband, cooperative kids, never-ending energy, and always has it all together.

We believe that we need to be remarkable and the comparison begins:

  • The younger mother whose days are full of caring for young children feels guilty for not getting out and visiting the sick more.
  • The daughter who is caring for an elderly parent and barely gets out of the house longs to start a ministry of encouragement to younger moms.
  • The financially struggling woman wonders if she should be entertaining more.
  • The single mom feels guilty that she can’t cart her kids around to every activity because of her hectic work schedule.
  • The older woman feels guilty that her arthritis won’t allow her to be out and about serving others like she once did.

Here’s the thing: Wherever you are today, the most remarkable thing you can do is to do good and serve the people right in front of you now, because the truth is that there are not many who are willing to embrace the mundane and obscure for the glory of God. So if this is where you find yourself, take heart and jump in:

  • If you find yourself with kids today, serve them.
  • If you are with your husband all day, encourage him.
  • If you are caring for the sick, do it with cheerfulness.
  • If you come face to face with a cashier, bless her.
  • If you have any human interaction, represent Christ well.

Be the hands and feet of Christ right where you are.

Don’t wish you were doing something “more”–more important, more visible, more life-changing.¬†The lie of “more” is a trap that keeps you from joyfully serving what you believe to be “less.”

The most remarkable women I know are the ones who don’t care who sees or applauds or appreciates—they just live a faithful life every step of the way, no matter where the path leads.

Where do you find yourself today? Do you believe that God ordains all of your days?¬†What’s on your agenda today? No matter how un-glamorous, be faithful and diligent to God right there.

What resources do you have? Are they meager? Use them anyway. If you have a teapot, use it. If you only have the gift of gab, use your words to bless someone else. If you have social media, make it a blessing.

Be so busy doing the will of God and serving others that you don’t have time to notice what others are doing.


Don’t Put All Your Eggs into One Basket

We’re reading through Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands and we’re working on chapters 4-6 this week.

Last week, my friend Lisa brought me eggs, and I found myself recalling this farm-y saying over and over again: “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket.”

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And as I read Instruments, I kept thinking of that “one basket” and realized that when we love or serve anything other than God, we’re putting all our eggs into one basket, and it’s the wrong one at that! I envision Ma Ingalls gathering her eggs and putting them carefully into a basket to sell in town. Now imagine that her basket has no bottom to it and consequently, can never be filled. ¬†Yet, she keeps dropping the eggs in over and over again as though eventually with enough energy, persistence, or creativity, the basket will somehow fill.

We do the same thing when we place our hope for happiness in things that weren’t meant to and can never deliver hope.

I’d just be happy if…

If only I had this…

Things will be better when…

That one thing. That one thing that can never deliver.

It might be a good thing that your heart dwells on for just a little too long.

It no longer becomes a “nice to have” but morphs into an “I must have” or else. Your fist tightens and your heart clings a little too tightly. An expectation, a demand, my ideal version of my life.

You hand craft this little idol in your heart and you now set out to worship it. You come to believe that you can’t live without it or you’ll never he happy. You make “provisions for the flesh” to accommodate it. You spend time and money on it. You get mad when someone else has it. You wake up thinking about it and go to bed dreaming about it.

“What our heart clings to and confides in is what we truly worship.”

We all worship. The question is who or what are we worshiping.

I think we often use God and others to get what we want.¬†Let that sink in. Instead of loving God and others first and best, we use them to accomodate our own ends. We wouldn’t actually say that, so we re-name the terms to make it more palatable, but the end result is the same.¬†We use God and people in our idol-serving, mini-kingdom-building endeavors.

We want to reign supreme, so we live life independently of God. We resist the authority in our life. We war with anyone who doesn’t see life on our terms. Life as an idolater is unhappy and hard, and when we are conflict we tend to blame others when our problems are really the fruit of our own idolatry. We’ve sown a harvest and now we are reaping it.

“All human desire must be held in submission to a greater purpose, the desires of God for His kingdom.” Instruments, pg. 85

God has a plan for our lives. He is going to use us for His kingdom purposes. I think the biggest lesson to learn from these chapters is that God will not use someone who is sinning to get what he/she wants. In fact, God will continue to make your life hard and resist you.

“The goal of God’s grace is his own glory, as he calls out and purifies a people that belongs to him alone. When he owns their hearts unchallenged, these people will be eager to do what is good in His eyes…His jealousy for our hearts is not a threat, but our ONE TRUE HOPE. Our God is eternally unwilling to share our hearts.” pg 85

I hope as you read, that you are encouraged to change as the Holy Spirit leads you and to do what is right regardless of what others around you are doing. Don’t wait for your husband to change before you change. Don’t wait for that prickly person to straighten up before you do what is right. You are responsible for you and God wants all of your heart now.

This is a wonderfully challenging and convicting book and one that will be life changing if we are meek enough to receive instruction. Let me know what you’ve learned so far in the comments or in the FB group.

Happy reading.