Category Archives: Bible Study

No Other Gods

I’m part of a Mom Bible study group this fall, and we are studying Kelly Minter’s No Other Gods study about the false gods in our life. I’m right in the middle of the study, but man, is it convicting.

Of course, most of us don’t have actual idols in our houses, like the ones that the Israelites had in their homes in the Old Testament. But we definitely still have false gods that we turn to for the security, value and identity we are supposed to be seeking for in God. The big one that I’ve heard about before was money, how we will do anything for the security that money supposedly provides, but she also touches on good things in our life that can turn into gods.

Which is where I felt the sting of conviction.

Because you see, I like to make people happy. I like to encourage them, support them, make them smile. I like to please them.

Pleasing people sounds good. What is wrong with wanting people to like you? With being kind to people? With serving other people sacrificially? Aren’t we suppose to think of others as better than ourselves?

But being a people-pleaser, to me, means being held captive by other people’s opinions. I’m not just sacrificing myself, but other relationships, especially the ultimate relationship in my life, the relationship with God. I placed the opinion of people above everything else and allow it to affect my decisions, choose my paths, and define who I am.

It has become so ingrained in my life, that when I started to see it for the idol that it was, I realized I don’t actually have that strong of an identity on my own. My confidence has been eaten away. My sense of worth is low. Frankly, I don’t have a high opinion of who I am. I’ve been relying on the opinion of others for that.

I also realized that being a people-pleaser is not just a victim mentality, but it is also quite self-centered. Other people’s actions and reactions are taken personally. I would look inward at ways I could improve or change, thinking it was to better myself as a person, but really it was to appease someone’s opinion of me.

I couldn’t look outward to helping other people because I was so dependent on their opinion. I couldn’t look inward to work on the very low self-esteem because it had been so long dependent on other people I simply couldn’t do it myself. I needed to go up.

God, the creator of the universe. The Heavenly Father who sent his son to die for a world that was deep in their own sin. I can only imagine how long he has been watching me suffer in this captivity, waiting for me to simply look up.

I need to go to him for my worth, identity, and security. He is the solid ground that I crave. As I’ve been reading through the Bible this year, I have seen a God who is desperate for his people to love him, not because he needs it but that he desires us. He created us, and he knows what we need, and he actually wants to give it to us.

We don’t need the opinion of others to drive us. But, friends, this is really hard. I’ve been doing it for so long in one way or another. I’m not sure how else to be. But I rest in the fact that God knows the way out. He separated the Red Sea for the Israelites, surely he can rescue me.

I don’t know how this will play out, what tests and trials are ahead. I’m afraid I will fail and turn back to the false gods with their false promises. Working through this study is helping, but ultimately, I know that I need to just keep trusting God, knowing that he will reveal my identity, worth, and purpose, all in his good and perfect timing.

Watched Vs Seen

I remember a song that we sang in Bible School, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see….For the Father up above is looking down below.” We didn’t sing it often, but it was enough to give me spiritual paranoia. God is watching. All. The. Time.

When I know I’m being watched, the walls go up. One time at the grocery store, I picked up and promptly dropped a jar of preserves. It was an accident, but I felt every eye in that store watching me. I wanted the aisle to swallow me up in that moment, or at the very least I wanted to quickly develop an invisibility superpower.

But most of the time, I don’t think about it. When I put up a post or picture online, I don’t really think about all the people who view that post. I usually think of a few people who might read it, but not much beyond that. However, if I realize just how many people are looking at something I wrote, all I can think about are all the flaws in that post, or flaws in other things I have posted that people might also be looking at. It can be paralyzing!

While being watched is a kind of exposure that gives way to paralyzing fear, being seen means being made vulnerable in a safe, non-judgmental place. Being watched is passive while being seen seems more active. And I think that is what God does, instead of just watching us, he truly sees us.

Yes, God sees your flaws and your brokenness. But he also sees your broken heart as well. He didn’t just watch his creation from afar. He came down close to it. In Jesus, we see a God who looks us in our eyes and sees us. Really sees us.

Photo by Frans Van Heerden on

Like the woman at the well in Samaria, Jesus watched her approach, but in conversation with her, showed her that he truly saw who she was. He listed her living reality with no judgment and allowed her to respond. She was a woman used to being watched. Why do you think she went to that well at the hottest part of the day? But when she was truly seen, her life changed. Transformed.

So, if I’m suppose to be a Jesus-follower, then I need to learn how to see, not watch. It’s so easy, even in social media, to scroll through and consume the stories of other people, making easy, fast judgments, instead of taking the time to really see people for who they are.

It means prioritizing my time and my relationships with other people. It means that I focus less on the number of followers I have and more on the people God has sent into my life. It’s being open. It’s not putting too much stake in what people think when they watch me. It’s slowing down. It’s trusting God to pull down some of my own walls that are blocking my ability to see others.

Sure, God is watching. But more importantly, God is seeing. He walks with me. He guides me. And I pray that I can continue to embrace vulnerability and humility in the same way Jesus did, trying to be more and more like him every day.

Anxiety Update

I wanted to write an update on my anxiety, but I’ve kind of been in the thick of an anxiety storm. And when I’m in a storm like this, it’s harder to really articulate what I’m trying to say. Every time I try to put pen to paper (or in my case fingers to keyboard), I’m constantly deleting what I’m writing because it sounds like gobbledygook.

Overstimulated has been a well used word in my vocabulary lately. Usually, it is used to describe my son when he is really in need of a nap or is experiencing big feelings. It’s been interesting how helping him to navigate his feelings can help me navigate my own.

Which brings me to what I learned about my anxiety. I realized that my anxiety ramps up after a string of days of being overstimulated. Mix that with major changes in my schedule and it becomes a perfect storm for an anxiety episode.

Photo by on

Autumn has always been a busy season in the year with a completely full schedule. All fun and exciting things, but a lot of changes to my schedule – travel, events, new experiences. Knowing what I now know about my abilities and limitations, I want to be able to incorporate times of rest and reflection between the craziness of the weeks and months ahead. I also realize that sometimes it might not be possible to balance everything perfectly.

In those moments when things are out of balance, it’s so important to give myself enough grace to learn from the experience and adjust. Of course, this is all easy to say and not always easy to do in the moment. I just need to keep reminding myself that I’m growing and learning about this season in my life. It’s okay to make mistakes.

But I’m not a mistake. Even though my limitations and my anxiety are a part of who I am, they are not the whole package. I am a daughter of the living God who created me as a part of His plan. I have purpose in that fact. Even in the darkest parts of my journey, God is the light guiding my way. So I’m making Isaiah 43 1 (the second half of the verse) my mantra this season to hopefully remember that I’m not alone in my anxiety, and that God will see me through all of it, one step at a time.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1

An Ecclesiastes Woman

I think most of us are familiar with the Proverbs 31 woman, that quite unattainable checklist of things every woman has to live up to. Early to rise, works late into the night, successful, wise, put together, children and husband love her, the community honors her. I mean, we probably add a few more descriptors to this ideal woman (looks perfect running errands, has thousands of followers on social media, flies through any struggle with grace and poise).

And I know that there are theories about this described woman – that it was multiple women or a tribute to a particular woman recognizing her and honoring her at a special moment in her life (cause we really don’t list flaws at that event, right?) But, there is another book in the Bible that both seems more relatable and challenging to me that I thought I would share.


I’m not saying that as a woman I should go around saying everything is meaningless (although if you have ever tried to keep a house clean despite its occupants, the word might have passed through your mind). But it’s what the writer means by calling it all meaningless.

The writer is saying that it’s meaningless because we are doing it with the wrong motivation. We are simply chasing after the wind.

We can be wise, successful, rich, and experience everything this world has to offer, but if we live just to be wise, successful, rich and experienced, then what’s the point?

Social media is a really great example. It’s really easy to get caught up in the likes and follows and comments, allowing them to feed validation. And then there is just the mindless scrolling or the outrage posts that seem to eat away at our time and energy. It’s where we low key (or sometimes outright) brag about our accomplishments, family milestones, amazing trips, and new toys. I’m not referring to family updates, but you know what I mean about the brag or humble brag I’m talking about. Meaningless! Meaningless!

But social media isn’t always meaningless. I mean, most of you are reading this post because you probably saw a link on my social media. Social media is ultimately a tool, just like the things listed in Ecclesiastes – riches, labor/toil, wisdom, pleasure, etc. But it’s what we do with them, it’s why we do what we do with them that changes the meaning of them.

If I am successful just because it makes me feel good and that success becomes my identity, I am more likely to sacrifice other things in order to maintain or increase that success. And a big sacrifice that I can make to attain some status or accomplishment is my relationship with others. One of the points in Ecclesiastes talks about how important relationships are.

Two are better than one,

    because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down,

    one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

    and has no one to help them up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

    But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered,

    two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

I think it’s really interesting that the chapter before he talks about how important relationships are, there is this whole section about a time for everything.

a time to be born and a time to die,

    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

    a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

    a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:2-8

If this doesn’t speak to my own case of FOMO (fear of missing out), I don’t know what will. The writer seems to be saying, “Chill, your time will come. You may be in a season of war, mourning or tearing down, but that season will pass and you will experience a season of peace, dancing and building up.” I get so focused on holding on to the tools God has given me to try to protect myself from any pain or discomfort in my life that I forget what gifts that pain can give me. Compassion. Understanding. The ability to dive into the nooks and crannies of other people’s lives because I have literally been there.

That’s how I see the loss of my daughters. I didn’t want to lose them, but I see the gift that loss can give. The greatest gift is giving purpose to my pain. So that it’s not meaningless. It can help others to see hope in their own lives. We aren’t meant to live as islands, and when we understand we are meant for relationship, we don’t have to fear because we aren’t going to go through it alone. We have each other, and most importantly, we have a God willing to walk through it with us. I think that ultimately, that is the beauty of what this life is all about.

Our success, riches, labor, pleasure, experiences, everything given to us is meant to glorify God and uplift others. The harder we hold on to these to build ourselves up or use them as a security blanket, the more meaningless it can get. Life is about using whatever God has given us to love others, to boost them up and encourage them. And that, in my opinion, is far from meaningless.

Genesis 2:3

Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Genesis 2:3 (NIV)

I thought this would be an appropriate verse to enter into the sort of Sabbath I’m doing this month, taking a break from blogging for a bit.

It can never be said enough how important rest can be. And yet, rest always seems to be last on the list. Or, if I do manage to get rest, I tend to feel guilty afterwards because I could have been doing things.

To be transparent, I struggled with this idea of resting for the month of May, even though I have done it in years past. I love writing, but I also know that I can burn out with the best of them. And it can be weeks past the burnout before I even know that I have burned out. Because I just keep moving from one checked box to the next until I break.

America doesn’t really do rest well. We aren’t taught how to rest in school or church. Colleges don’t encourage rest on transcripts. Every hour is filled with extra curricular or community service or productive hobbies (the kind that can make you a little extra money on the side). And as an adult, I find myself patterning my life in a similar way.

So, this month, I’m going to try to rest. God did it. And after he rested, he continued on with his creative work. Rest is not the end. It’s a continuing. So, I choose to embrace it, and I will talk to you again next month.

1 John 4:10-11

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.

I John 4:10-11 (NIV)

Somewhere in my childhood, I learned about the meaning of retaliation. If I hurt someone else, then they will hurt me. And it might come when I least expect it. They could hold this hurt over me until they deemed that I had paid for it.

So, I embraced it for myself. Retaliation seemed like a way to hurt someone else so they would never hurt me again. Though, really, it didn’t seem like the hurt ever really stopped, but instead just kept cycling.

This verse is saying that retaliation, or punishment, is sourced from fear. That fear I knew well. But there is a perfect love can drive out that fear, leaving forgiveness. It ends the cycle.

And this love that enables me to forgive others doesn’t come from being a really awesome person. In fact, I doubt I could really forgive well without the Holy Spirit guiding me through it. It is the love of Christ that teaches us how to forgive, a love that pours into our spirit so that it can overflow into the people around us. The ones who need to experience compassion, forgiveness, and a respite from fear so they can be freed from their own cycle of pain, retaliation, and punishment.

Psalm 22:11

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

Psalm 22:11 (NIV)

Today is Good Friday, the day that Jesus was hung on the cross to die. One of the things he said while he was on the cross was, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me,” which is a reference to Psalm 22, where the above verse was also taken.

Several different parts of this psalm are prophetic to the day Jesus is on the cross. Verse 8 recounts the insults that are hurled at Jesus. Verse 18 talks about how they cast lots for his clothes. The end of the psalm celebrates God’s faithfulness and victory, but it takes a while to get there. There is much sorrow to get through before that.

I wanted to really meditate on this verse in particular today. Because it is something I have felt in the past and will probably feel again in the future. It’s that moment when I go through the hard, low, dark, and scary places in life. When I lose a friend, a family member, or a child. When the things I put my faith in (finances, relationships, passions, or success) fail. When depression or anxiety take over my life, bringing embarrassment, guilt or shame. When community fails.

I talk a lot about the amazing community I have around me. All of you have propped me up with wonderful and encouraging comments during some really hard times. Your prayers have been felt in these past six years, and I don’t want to treat that lightly. But I know that sometimes, community has their limits. Sometimes it’s because I don’t share everything. Sometimes it’s bad timing. Sometimes it just is what it is.

But the amazing and awesome fact that God is still there keeps me going. Even when I can’t feel his presence, I have his promise. I remember the times in my life that God’s presence was felt, that his plan was made apparent, and I cling to those moments in the silence of isolation.

I know that some of you have felt let down by your community, and it’s hard. It’s heartbreaking. But I want to tell you that God is still there. He is limitless. His plan is perfect. He is mourning with you. When Christ died, the world turned dark, the veil was ripped in two. God was there. The Spirit was there. And they are still there, walking each agonizing, hard step with you.

Psalm 40: 1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV)

When I was in middle school, there was a huge storm that came through our town. I mean, thunder and lightning and heavy raindrops. When we woke up the next morning, the street in front of our house had turned into a river, and the backyard had turned into a lake. School was canceled.

My friends came over and we were exploring everything (Though we did not play in the water. That would have been nasty.). As we were walking around the side of our house, my foot got caught in some mud. This wasn’t like a little mud you might slip in, it was more like quicksand you sink in. And I started to sink. I has to cry for help and my friends pulled me to out.

I think about that day when I read these verses. Mud clings and wraps and pulls. You can’t pull yourself out, you have to be pulled out. When God pulls us out, three things happen.

When you are placed on solid ground, it gives you a different perspective than when you are sinking in the mire. From that perspective, you are given hope and faith that can be shared with the people around you (singing a new song). And by sharing that hope and faith, others can put their trust in God and find their new perspective on their own solid ground.

It’s amazing to see the power of God in the struggle. How he can equip us to do the hard stuff. God did not create you to sink, but to sing.

Psalm 37:7

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Psalm 37:7 (NIV)

This verse feels like the opposite of the American reaction to adversity. The “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and outwit the enemy” mentality. Instead this Psalm encourages stillness and putting trust in God, letting go of jealousy.

We want to see the bad guys lose, the underdogs win, but it doesn’t always happen that way. And we get frustrated. But we don’t understand the bigger plan the way God does.

Ultimately, there is a bigger picture. Whether we are called to be still or called to move forward, whether or not we overcome the obstacles and defeat the adversaries, may we continually wait on the Lord, be still in his presence and put our trust in him.

Philippians 4:12-13

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

That last sentence is pretty familiar. I hear it used whenever someone wants to accomplish something big or coming through something hard.

As I was reading the verse before it, though, I saw it from another perspective as well. The first verse is about finding contentment in all circumstances. In plenty or in want. And the way Paul finds contentment is through Christ’s strength.

Which means….

Finding contentment is hard. Being present and content in your daily life requires the strength of Christ in order to accomplish it. And Paul was saying this. It makes me feel so much better when I struggle with my own contentment. Plus, I have access to Christ’s strength.

So maybe, I can learn to be less hard on myself knowing that Jesus is there with me and willing and able to help me learn to be more content in my own life.