Sweating in church

Welcome Encouragement for Today Friends. I’m glad you popped over for a visit. We are casual here. Kick off your shoes…you’ll find the book giveaway at the end of this article…

Recently, I was studying what causes people to feel spiritually frustrated. The two top reasons? Bible study and prayer.

I get it.

I can clearly remember being a young girl sitting in church sweating because everyone else knew instantly how to get to every passage in the Bible the preacher man referenced. But not me. I was more interested in counting the preacher man’s spit droplets that came flying out with his punctuated words.

I respected that man. But boy could he get fired up and entertain this lost girl.

Others seemed all wrapped up and excited in what this preacher man had to say. They’d shout loud, “Uh-huh’s” and “Amens!” What was I missing?

And then there was my prayer life. Or the lack there-of. It’s not that I didn’t want to pray, but the whole concept of talking to God felt weird. I tried to copy the prayers of those who seemed like they knew they were doing more than talking to the air.

But then my quirky self would sneak in and leave me feeling foolish for what I’d just said to the God of the Universe. “Dear Lord, take this food to the nourishment of my body. (Good so far.) And if you could change the molecular structure of these cheesy fries to be like carrot sticks that sure would be bomb-diggity.” (Huh?)

Like the saying goes, “We’ve come a long way baby.” Except that I’m pretty sure you could still trip me up in finding certain passages in the Bible. And I’m pretty sure you might still hear me say bomb-diggity in my prayers. But according to what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:7, I think He’s okay with that.

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

For me, there are two keys to unlocking spiritual frustration with both my Bible study and my prayers:

* Sincerity — coming to God without an agenda honestly wanting Him to teach me.

* Simplicity — talking to God as the loving Father He is.

Why do we make it all so complicated?

I think a few honest moments spent with God reading His Word, sharing our heart, and listening for His instruction are quite perfect. Jesus might even say they are bomb-diggity.

What do you think? Have you struggled with spiritual frustration?

I talk quite a bit about practical ways to grow in your walk with the Lord in my book, Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Today, I’m giving away 5 copies! Just leave a comment below telling me of a friend you’d like to bless with this book. I’ll announce all winners on Monday.


Cross my heart and close my mouth

If you clicked over from Encouragement for Today I’m glad you’re here. Below is an article I pulled from my book “Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.” If you’d like to win 2 copies of my book, one for you and one for your friend, see below.

One day I got a phone message from a neighbor named Holly. She said that she knew I liked to run and suggested I give her a call if I ever wanted a running partner.

What I didn’t know until much later is that God had been prompting her to call me and wouldn’t let up until she did.

Holly and I did start running together and what began as a simple act of obedience on her part developed into a deep friendship. This was a huge answer to prayer, because I had been praying for a friend exactly like Holly.

Not only is Holly one of my closest friends, but she is also now my executive assistant. In other words, she keeps me straight on many levels, and I love every minute of it.

One day Holly gave me a unique gift that made my heart feel forever safe with her. Though it wasn’t costly to her, it became priceless to me. She committed to me that she would never say anything dishonoring about me. It was more than just a commitment to me; it was a covenant promise she’d made with God. I can’t even express what peace this brought to my heart.

It’s not that I feared my other friends were gossiping about me. I did not. And I can’t say that my other friends wouldn’t make this same promise. They probably would. But Holly verbalized this commitment boldly—in a way that has defined our friendship and built a beautiful trust rare between women.

Since we know the tsunami-type destruction gossip can cause, why is carelessly tossing out hurtful words about others so alluring? Gossip is easy to slip into and hard to walk away from.

If we just assume we won’t be tempted to gossip, we are fooling ourselves and potentially setting ourselves up for trouble. Verbalizing to a friend that she can trust we will never betray her puts action wisdom Bible teaches us about our words:

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity” (Proverbs 21:23).

Before I get together with friends, I do two things: I consciously decide not to utter a negative comment or “piece” of gossip I might have heard, and I prepare in advance some positive discussion items. Instead of hoping conversation with friends goes in a healthy direction, why not help steer the conversation?

Imagine the number of relationship issues that would simply vanish if we were all more committed to loving words. Why not commit today to make this kind of love a reality with those you care about?

Not only was I encouraged by Holly’s commitment to never say anything dishonoring about me, I was challenged by it as well.

Refusing to gossip is a rare and beautiful gift. Would you like to join me in accepting this challenge by making the same promise? It not only makes friendships richer but, more importantly, it makes our relationship with the Lord more authentic and believable. We honor God when we honor each other.

I’m giving away 3 friendship packs today – 2 copies of “Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl“. Please leave a comment below telling us who you are going to commit to making this same friendship challenge with.



When My Heart Feels Desperate

Today, I want to talk about asking the Spirit of God to lay across our heart.

For the past couple of months I’ve sensed I need God’s most tender mercies more than ever right now. It’s not that I’m going through any kind of crisis. I just feel completely desperate for Him.

If you’ve ever heard me give my testimony you know part of what I share is being a little girl twirling around next to my Daddy wishing I could know for sure that he loved me. I think in his own way, he did love me. But something was broken in our relationship that left me feeling desperate for reassurance.

Over the years, God has healed my heart in miraculous ways. God has whispered all those things I wished my earthly father would have said. I know for sure God’s love for me is deep, unwavering, and certain.

But there are still times I catch myself twirling again. Crying out again. Wishing I could feel totally secure. Hating my insecurities. And mad that this struggle I thought was over, surfaces still.

Maybe it always will.

And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

For it keeps me desperate for a reassurance I can’t get any other way.

I can stand in an arena with thousands of people clapping for the message I just gave… and still feel my heart desperately twirling.

I can hear my husband tell me a hundred times that he loves me and no, my butt isn’t big… and still feel my heart desperately twirling.

I can conquer my food demons and finally fit back into my skinny jeans… and still feel my heart desperately twirling.

The only thing that stops the desperation, the uncertainties, the insecurities, the twirling… is for the Spirit of God to lay across my heart and make it still. The blanket of His presence and His protection is the only perfect fit for the deep creases and crevices carved inside me.

I don’t know what tough things you’ve been through in your life sweet sister, but I do know brokenness is universal. We all have things in life that trigger deep insecurities and our own personal twirling about looking for reassurance.

But here’s the amazing thing.

While brokenness is universal- with God redemption is also universal. No matter what cracks and crevices we have in our heart, if we seek the truth of God above all else He will work all things out for good. “Whatever is true… think about such things… And the God of peace will be with you,” (Philippians 4: 8-9).

Lord, may your spirit fall fresh upon each of us today. Remind us. Reassure us. Rest upon us. Help us to be still and know that you are our God.

It would be my complete honor and privilege to pray for you and whatever circumstance you are facing right now. Please leave your pray request in the comments box below. Throughout the day my team and I will be lifting you up.

This weekend I will be speaking in Fort Wayne, IN with EWomen at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum. I would be honored to meet you at my book table. Please click here for more info on this event.