Month: January 2022

  • Starting Your Day With Open Hands

    I recently took on a challenge by the pastor at my church that has changed the way I approach my day. He challenged us to start the day with open hands to the Lord. For many years now, I have started my day spending some time with my Lord in prayer and in His word, but I never realized how something as simple as physically opening my hands to the Lord can affect the posture of my heart.

    Our pastor invited us to start each day with physically opening our hands to the Lord, ready to receive all that the Lord has for us that day. He explained that when our hands are open, they are ready to receive, and our open hands make it possible to freely give as well.

    So, I decided I wanted to give it a try. Each morning, I started my prayer time by opening my hands and praying, “Lord, I come before you with open hands, ready to receive what you have for me today.” You may be thinking, in my heart I come with open hands already. I know it may sound strange, but actually opening my hands while I prayed changed my whole focus and countenance.

    Each morning as I came to the Lord with open hands, it became a time of prayerful expectation, knowing that God had good things in store for the day. I wanted to be open to receive all that God wanted to give me, such as his love, his joy, his peace and his goodness.

    But sometimes when our hands are full, there is no room to receive. Our burdens can be too heavy to hold. So, I started using this time with my hands open to not only receive, but to give God the burdens I was carrying. I began offering up all my fears, worries, and any bitterness and pride that might have crept in. As I released each of these things to God, it became easier to receive all He wanted for me in return.

    As the weeks went on, my heart became more and more open, as I continued to open my hands to the Lord. My prayers became “I bring you all I have to offer–all that I am and all that I have.” Through this prayer, I realized that part of what God wants to give me each day is an opportunity to be a part of His great work in this world.

    When we start our day with open hands we are expectantly looking toward what God might do throughout our day. We enter the day knowing He has something for us and we are ready to keep our eyes open to the possibility, and to where He is at work around us so we can join Him.

    Coming to God each day with open hands and an expectant heart allows us to see where he is leading us and the divine invitations He gives us each day, so we can be a part of the miraculous work He is about.

    So, will you join me in this challenge? Will you start your day tomorrow lifting open hands to the Lord? You can just start there, simply opening your hands to the Lord–it only takes a moment. But as you do it each day, you will find that your heart leans into the Lord a little more. Increasingly, you’ll find yourself open to receiving all the Lord has for you, and you’ll be ready to give Him all that you have in return. My prayer is that you will experience God in a fresh and new way and grow deeper in your relationship with Him.

    Read more

  • Intentionally Building a Firm Foundation

    The other morning, as I shuffled out into the kitchen to make my breakfast, my husband called to me, “Hey! You have to come watch this with me.”

    I peered over his shoulder and saw a picture of the Oregon State University football stadium. Nothing was happening. The camera was focused on an area of seating. No fans. No music. Just empty seats. So far, the video wasn’t very exciting.

    Uncertain of my husband’s sanity I asked, “What are we watching?”

    “The imploding of the seating on the west side of the stadium.”

    “Oh! That does sound exciting. Let’s get the boys up and have them watch, too.”

    So my husband, two older boys, and I sat and stared at the computer screen for 15 minutes waiting for the exciting moment, when the athletic director would push the magic button, and the whole structure would come crashing down.

    At around 8am that morning, he finally pushed the button. Immediately we saw a flash of light cut through the bottom row of bleachers, the foundation of the structure. In 3 seconds, it all toppled over. In 3 seconds, a structure that held thousands of people every football season, was just a pile of rubble. All because they took the foundation right out from underneath it.

    While it was fun to watch the destruction of such a massive structure, it was also disconcerting that it was so easy to bring it down. Just take out the foundation and everything comes crashing down. A good foundation is essential. Without it, nothing can stand.

    Jesus talks about the importance of a solid foundation in Matthew 7:24-27. In this parable, the wise man built his house upon the rock and when the storm hit, his house stayed firm. The foolish man built his house upon the sand and when the storm hit, his house went SPLAT.

    This Scripture got me thinking about the importance of having a strong foundation in my life. Recently, I’ve come to realize that I have been the foolish man a lot. I work really hard to balance all the things I think I should do, but wind up basing my actions on everyone else’s expectations of me. Then, all it takes is one criticism, one imperfection in my work, and my world comes crashing down, leaving me too fragile to overcome even the smallest obstacles. Then I begin to doubt my self-worth, wondering why I fall apart so easily. Could it be from building my identity on the shifting sand of what I want everyone else to think of me or on what I think I should be?

    No one wants a fragile foundation, so what does a good foundation look like? What will stand the test of time and the storms of life?

    We need to be constantly reminded of who God is and who we are in him. That’s exactly what Paul does when he writes his letter to the Ephesians. Paul starts out his book, reminding the Ephesians of what they gained when they chose to follow Christ. They were chosen by God. They were adopted into his family. They were redeemed, forgiven, and most importantly, loved. (Eph 1:3-14). Ephesus was a center of trade, and home to the temple of Artemis. Since they were surrounded by pagan culture, they needed to maintain a strong foundation to be able to stand up to the pressures of the world around them. They needed to remember the great lengths that God went to, to show His love for them. Paul reminded them who they are in Christ, and that they needed to stand firm in that reality.

    Knowing who they are in Christ was only part of the puzzle. Paul also knew the Ephesians needed a firm understanding of who God is. In Ephesians 1:15-23 Paul prays for them.  “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” When you know God, like “deep in your heart” know, the hope he has planned for you, your rich inheritance, and the incomparably great power that lives within you, then you will have a firm foundation that Satan cannot destroy. When the storms of life hit, you will survive. You will have the power to be strong.

    How can you and I build this kind of strong foundation in Christ? Here are three practical ways that have helped me:

    1) Spend intentional time with God
    To know God better, we have to spend time with him. I know this sounds cliché, but it is true. You can’t get to know someone without spending time with them. You can’t trust that God’s promises are true if you don’t know what his promises are and how he has fulfilled them in His word. Make it a priority to build an indestructible foundation by spending time with God in His word, and choosing to take that wisdom and apply it in your everyday life.

    2) Statements of affirmation
    As you read through God’s word, find Scripture verses that encourage you. Then take those Scriptures and change them into personal, affirmative statements. For instance, when I am getting in my head and feeling down on myself, I recite that “I am worthy and valuable because I was not redeemed with money, but I was bought with the precious blood of Jesus.” (1 Peter 1:18-21). This statement of affirmation reminds me that I am loved enough for someone to die for me, even though I didn’t deserve the sacrifice.

    3) Memorization of Scripture
    This is similar to the statements of affirmation, except you memorize Scripture word for word. One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Psalm 27:13. It says, “I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” When feeling overwhelmed, I recite this verse to myself. Rather than continue in the emotional storm, this verse is a reminder to stop, take a breath, and see how the Lord is working in the situation.

    These are a few of the building blocks for a firm foundation in Christ. They remind us of God’s truth, give us strength when we are weak and help bolster our faith.

    In this new year, there are still many things that are uncertain, but God is the solid rock upon which we build our life. I hope that you will take the time to intentionally build a firm and solid foundation in Jesus, so that whatever 2022 brings, you will be able to stand firm in the unfailing love and confidence God provides.

    Read more

  • Setting Our Minds On Things Above

    “New Year, New Me”  You’ve probably seen this phrase in several places already, along with other familiar mantras that circulate every time the calendar switches from December to January. ‘Tis the season for goals and resolutions, and regardless of the details, at the root of all of them is a desire and drive to be more intentional. Whether we’re more intentional about what we eat, how often we exercise, doing a regular quiet time, or finally getting the garage cleaned out, we are setting out to make a purposeful change for the better.

    One of the areas that can feel a little more challenging to be intentional about is our thought-life. We aren’t always aware of the tape that’s running through our minds at any given moment throughout the day. Or how what we consume is affecting us over time. But if we pay attention to it, and closely examine what we are setting our minds on, we might be surprised.

    Colossians 3:2 urges us to “set our minds on things above, not on earthly things.” I know for me, on any given day, it’s way too easy to get distracted running a lap around the social media track, or getting sucked into the latest news headlines and forget completely to open my Bible or pause to pray. If I’m not intentional about what I’m setting my mind on, while also inviting God into my daily rhythms and setting my mind on Him, I wind up feeling spread thin and run down, with foggy thinking and no peace in sight.

    It’s even more challenging when life throws us a curveball. We may find ourselves dealing with a flood of negative or anxious thoughts, struggling with insecurity, or feel stuck in a season of loneliness and despair. But when we set our minds on Christ, He is also hard at work within us to renew and transform us so that we can walk in step with Him.

    Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

    Renewing the mind is an intentional choice that we make to align our thoughts and our spiritual perspective with the mind of God. This leads to a transformation that we cannot simply manufacture on our own. It is the love and grace of God at work in us that brings about radical change for the better in our lives.

    James Bryan Smith coined a term that I love: “mind-discipleship”. So often we think of discipleship as doing– learning to follow Jesus, walking and talking as He did. But when it comes to our thought-life, it’s easy to forget that we need to be just as intentional about how we think, process, and respond inwardly to what is happening to and around us. It begins with an intentional exercise of obedience, first our obedience to God, and then making our thoughts obedient to Christ.

    “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

    In every situation, we have a chance to stop right in our tracks and choose which way we will allow our thoughts to take us. Will we see everything that is going wrong and let our minds wander to the worst case scenario? Or will we zoom out to an eternal perspective and trust that God will never forsake us and has planned ahead for our every need? Will we allow our thoughts to control us, forcing us into a defensive and reactive posture? Or will we capture our thoughts and measure them against what Jesus says is true about who He is and who we are?

    It is in the light of His truth that we can turn our minds away from the tape playing over and over in our heads and focus on Jesus instead. It takes practice and we have to work at it, but the reward is fresh clarity, unrivaled peace, and incomparable joy.

    Philippians 4:8 says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

    The first word in the list of things to focus on, is whatever is true. When we hold firmly to the truth about who God is and who we are in Christ, we have freedom, peace, and joy. We are transformed to be more like Christ and we are no longer shackled by insecurity or fear. We are free to love ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. We are free to step into our calling when God says go, and free to say no to the things that are not in step with the Holy Spirit’s lead. We are free to live life abundantly in the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

    I want to encourage you to take some time this week to pray about any areas in your thought-life that could use some renewal and transformation. If you like, play this song and sit still in His presence. Remember that God loves you as his daughter right now. You don’t have to be perfect to come to Him. He is your safe space, your protector and friend. Be open and honest with Him and with yourself. Spend time with Him and see if there are any thoughts that look more like the world than like Christ. As you grow in the practice of “setting our minds on things above”, God will renew and restore you, and bring you wholeness and peace.

    We know this isn’t always easy stuff and we’d love to pray for you too. Drop us a line at and our prayer team will link arms with you in prayer. Together, let’s make this a year of intentionally setting our minds on Christ and being renewed in Him.

    Read more

  • How To Press On When The Going Gets Tough

    Happy New Year! It is common this time of year to look forward to what a new year may bring and resolutely set out to do and be better. We set out with a vision of who we might become and set goals on how to get there. But so often, by February 1st (if we are lucky), we have already given up because it was too difficult, we got discouraged, something threw us off our game or we just ran out of sheer willpower to keep going.

    Last week, I challenged all of us to consider how we might grow in the Lord in the coming year. Whether it is to start each day looking at your Bible app instead of social media first thing in the morning or getting more involved with your church community or saying “yes” to something you know God is calling you to do, or whatever your next step toward a deeper relationship with God might be, each step we take toward this goal is a worthy one to pursue.

    But just like with other goals, when it comes to growing in our faith and setting out to seek the Lord more in the new year, we must be prepared to face some difficulties and obstacles that will try to discourage us and make us give up on our goals. Even with our best planned efforts, we can get disheartened when the change we want doesn’t happen as fast or in the way we had hoped for.

    This year, I want us all to make it past February 1st and be able to look back at the end of this coming year, seeing how God worked mightily in each of our lives! In order to see growth in our lives and not grow discouraged when challenges or difficulties arise, we must know how to press on.

    In Hebrews 12:1-3, we find a verse that speaks directly to this situation:

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

    The author of the book of Hebrews is encouraging us with these verses in chapter 12 to not give up–the reward of our efforts will be worth it! Growing in our faith and in the Lord is a worthy goal and one that we must continually seek in life as we “run the race with perseverance”.

    In the times when it gets difficult and I start to get discouraged, I try to remember that I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses–people who have gone before me in faith and in whom I can find encouragement. Knowing others have conquered something that I want to conquer helps me stay the course. Their victory over the finish line or through a season of difficulty, helps me remember that there is victory waiting for me too. By our own strength and willpower we can accomplish good things, but when we are being encouraged by a faith community, we can do so much more. Our faith is built upon the faith of those who have gone before us and we are encouraged by those who are alongside us now.

    In addition to the encouragement we receive from those around us, we must also be intentional about reaching our goal to grow deeper in faith. We need a steadfastness that says, “no matter what, I’m committed to making this happen.” Verse one says that we are to throw off everything (not some or just a little, but ev-er-y-thing!) that is hindering our faith and growth in the Lord, especially the sin that can entangle us like a vine and pull us away from God. Part of the “no matter what…” is to be willing to let God take away the things that are not helping us but hindering us in reaching our faith growth.

    Once we have removed what’s hindering our progress, it can feel like smooth sailing until you hit the first obstacle. Things will be going well, and then you or someone in your family gets the flu or you go on vacation and your rhythm gets disrupted and next thing you know you get thrown off the path toward your goal. Has that ever happened to you? I know it has for me! It’s in the face of these challenges that we must rely on God’s strength and the encouragement of others to persevere when the going gets tough. We have to make an intentional decision: Are we going to stay the course or give up? Will we lean into God and allow Him to cultivate perseverance in us?

    You are able to persevere only when you have our eyes on the prize–staying focused on who you want to become and where God is taking you. We must all fix our eyes on Jesus! Not only is He our example but He is our guide. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. He is the only one who can bring the growth we long for in our lives. God not only created us but is the author of life! He probably knows something about how to live that life well. He has gone before us and endured more than we can possibly imagine, but was still the ultimate example of how to complete the race in victory! As we allow Him, by His grace, He will transform us into people of deep and rich faith–people who walk more and more into who He is calling us to be!

    So, while there may be times that you start to grow weary, do not give up. Stay the course and keep running that race to the finish line! You can do it–you got this! And more importantly, God’s got you!

    If you have a faith goal this year, please email us and let us know. We would love to be praying for you!

    Read more