Wiping His Feet

How can I respond to the love that put Christ on the cross? The love He shows me everyday as I picture my sins like dirt on my feet that He gently washes away?

I want to be the one kneeling on the floor, like the woman who washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She was perceived as shameful. What does the world see as shameful and ridiculous today? Admitting my wrongs through confession and repentance. Making meals, cleaning up, pouring out my time to discipline, train, instruct, and laugh with my children. Claiming no identity but being His daughter.

Lord, would you help me to picture each of these acts, each confession of my need for You as a way to wipe Your feet with my hair?

And it is precious to You. (Luke 7:36-50)


Grace in Motion

This year, I had the chance to share a testimony at our church’s Thanksgiving service, and I wanted to give praise to God by offering it here as well.

I want to give praise to the Lord for the grace of His presence and work in my life in the area of anxiety. I have been humbled and amazed by all the help He’s given me in the ongoing battle. 

I’m speaking not from a place of complete healing, but as someone who’s still plunking away at the piano with Him, knowing that Jesus already played a Mozart piano concerto on my behalf. My prayer is that as I share what He’s done in my life most recently, He would bring to mind all the ways His grace has been meeting you in your battles. 

He sent a text message from a friend, pointing me to Christ’s righteousness on my behalf right when I was tired and discouraged about my parenting. 

He’s graced me with Paul Tripp’s devotional New Morning Mercies (where I found the phrase for the title), drawing my thoughts back to the gospel each morning. 

He’s provided life-giving conversations with friends to share what God has been doing in my life and hear how He’s met them. 

He’s brought me a mentor to meet with me week after week and point me back to God’s sovereignty and love and the way He’s using everything in my life to make me more like Christ. He’s strengthened my heart as I’ve met many of you, and right away you shared your testimonies of how God drew you to Himself and how He’s continued to sustain you. 

He’s brought me a sliver of time almost every day right before dinner to go outside to see the sunset and remember again His greatness through listening to a worship song. 

He’s brought to mind picture after picture to help me see Him as my loving Father–picturing myself as a child sitting on His lap, a baby bird who can’t fly but has her mouth open for what He wants to fill it with, a tiny person sitting on the palm of His left hand as I watch His right hand control the universe, and a toddler who can keep taking tiny steps forward while His strong hand holds mine.

 And He has shown me the gift of repentance as a daughter, not an employee trying hard to be perfect and not mess up so my boss will be pleased. 

As I’ve offered him the measuring stick I’ve used on myself and others, He’s taken it and nailed it to the cross. In exchange, He’s shown me His Shepherd’s staff that he’s using to guide and comfort me. 

I’ve had to repent of the roles where I’ve tried to find my worth, imagining them as nametags stacked up on top of each other: Wife, Mother, Church member, Friend, Musician, Writer, Organized, and Disciplined. I’ve imagined myself ripping them off so that the only nametag that’s left on my shirt says, “Pleasing, Beloved Daughter of the Heavenly Father. 

It’s all because of Christ’s sacrifice and the righteous life He lived in my place that I’ve been able to really believe I can sit in this reality, to confess the lies that have kept me from believing that it’s safe to repent and receive the gifts He wants to give me in exchange. 

I’ve been so afraid of not being in His will, of not doing the right things, not believing that he can move me where He wants to, like a hot air balloon. 

He is showing me His will is for me to live in peace, not fear. Resting, not striving. Repentance, not condemnation. Humility, not pride. Faith, not unbelief. Love, not selfishness. Trust, not anxiety. A child, not a boss. Obedience, not self-righteousness. Hope, not discouragement. Righteousness covering me, not shame. Patience, not trying to control everything. 

His understanding and wisdom, not what the world says. His circumstances for me, not my own expectations. His daughter, not His employee. His friend, not a performer. Being carried, instead of always deciding. Justified, not trying to earn His favor. These are His priorities for me, His will for me, and are the gifts He delights in giving as my loving Father. The gifts He is teaching me to receive.

Lamentations 3:22-24 says, The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”

He’s Holding the Dollies

I woke up recently, feeling burdened with the needs someone had shared with me, wanting to help. Not knowing how. Feeling my own limitations of weariness and caring for three little kids and whatever I do not being enough. Soon another friend came to mind, obviously still blind to the truth of the gospel. . . Then Daddy reminded me that I’m His little girl, and I don’t have to understand. Not right now. He holds out His hands for me to hand Him each dolly I’ve been so worried about. Because when I try to hold them all, they keep slipping out of my arms. I can’t fix any of their rips and stains. So, one by one, I place each dolly in His hands–the grown-up dollies, the dollies that are my children, the sister-dolly, my husband-dolly. He never drops one. And He still has room to lift me onto His lap and hold me. When I crawl down again, He offers the hand of one of the dollies He wants me to hold for the moment and shows me that He’s holding the dolly’s other hand. And then He leads us where we need to go. (See Psalm 68:19, Ps. 55:22)


He is Strong

In my weakness He is strong. My life motto has been, “Be perfect.” It’s a great way to feel like a failure most of the time. As I sat against the washing machine, crying because I couldn’t control my feelings of worry, couldn’t trust God, couldn’t remember who He is, He whispered, “I’m using this.” Later, He showed me how much more clearly I could see His amazing grace when I came face-to-face with my own failures. How unconditional His love is. How glad He is to offer mercy. Not because I’d proved my devotion to Him, but because He proved His love for me. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9-11)

New Resources!

Some are for free. Some are for purchase. All are resources I’ve enjoyed for myself, with other believers, and with my children. If you haven’t checked out my resource page in a while, you’ll be able to discover some new treasures (and get ideas for birthdays, weddings, and baby showers!)

New Resource

I recently had the chance to read with my five-year-old son the first book in a series being released in April, and because we enjoyed it so much, I wanted to tell you about it.

The series is called The Bible’s Big Ideas, and here’s a bit from the GospelGrown website:

The central message, or The Story, of the Bible is the Gospel, the Good News about Jesus Christ. However, the Bible is a Story made up of many stories, sub-plots to the Gospel Story, each with their own setting, characters, and plot. These stories highlight, develop, and illumine the various themes of the main plot, the Gospel Story. Therefore, knowing the parts well will deepen our understanding of the whole.

The first book in the series is called The Promise of Life: A Big Story about God’s Law:

God’s Law promised life for all who would obey. But instead of giving life, God’s Law brought death, imprisoning the whole world under its curse and revealing their slavery to Sin. But there’s more . . . God’s Law also pointed to a better way, the only way, to life with God. From the pages of this book, help children see their own slavery to Sin and point them to the One who can rescue from Sin and give the free gift of life to all who would trust Him.

You can also check out a short video about it here and find out more on their Facebook page.

I Will Return!

Dear friends,

I’m looking forward to what God has for me to share with you in this next season of life, but for now, I’ll give you a glimpse of how He is filling my time each day and night.

Faith Adeline Yoder, 9 1b, 6 oz.

And if you want something great to listen to, you can check out Ellie Holcomb’s new kids’ album Sing.

Two Questions to Help Pursue God’s Purposes

I don’t know Greek. I can’t read Hebrew. There are Bible study tools I learned about in college that I haven’t tried to fit into my toddler and preschool-filled schedule. Sometimes, my brain has had a hard enough time comprehending the English words stringing together into sentences if it’s early enough in the morning or late in the afternoon.

But something that’s helped me immensely in getting to know God and His purposes for me through His Word is by asking questions.

Questions help me start to figure out what a passage says, what it means, and how it applies to my life. And when I take time to ask my own questions about a passage, the Spirit often uses them to help me find some answers.

I recently put together a guide for our women’s Bible study through 1 Samuel, using some great resources like Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word, Jack Klumpenhower’s Show Them Jesus, and David Helm’s One-to-One Bible Reading book. These questions could be used for any Old Testament narrative passage in the Bible, so you can check it out here (or get the whole books for more expansive tools to explore each part of the Bible).

As I’ve studied God’s Word, different seasons have allowed various degrees of study. But as He’s invited me to join Him, revealing His plan of redemption through His Word, I’ve realized that every day I need a constant perspective shift.

I need to zoom out, using God’s Word as a telescope, to remember His kingdom coming, power at work, plan to save, and hope of eternity with Him.

I also need to use His Word as a microscope, zooming in on the miracle of my salvation, adoption, and the righteousness He has given me through Jesus’ obedience and sacrifice. I need to zoom in on the good roles He’s placed me in and how they are lived out in His kingdom, asking His Spirit to lead me in my daily decisions.

And I need a panoramic camera, to see how the Spirit is using believers all across the globe to invite people from every nation to know Him.

If I don’t ask His Spirit to help me zoom in, out, and around, I often fall into depending on my own strength or ability to obey. I compare my pitiful abilities to others’ seemingly-less-pitiful abilities and feel discontent, rather than looking up to Christ, who is completely able to accomplish the Father’s will. I try to figure out a list of what God wants me to do, rather than asking the Spirit to lead me in His good purposes.

Like the stones of remembrance in the Old Testament, each passage I study helps me to remember God’s involvement in a specific place and time, reminding me of His unchanging character at work now and for all eternity.

Here are two questions I like to ask the Spirit to show me when I read a passage:

  1. How does this passage challenge your understanding about who God is and what He is like? How is this aspect of God revealed–most fully–in Jesus?
  2. How does this aspect of God’s character change my view of self? How does believing the good news change how I live in attitude or behavior?

What questions has God used in your life to show you more of Himself and lead you in His ways?

When You’re Sick of Always Running Out of Time

How do you decide how to spend your time each day? Maybe you have a boss breathing down your neck for forty or more hours each week and can barely fit all your other responsibilities in the scraps of time left over. Maybe caring for your kids is forcing you from one bone-weary day to the next.

As a mom who works at home, it has felt daunting to be aware of so many good things I could spend my time on, in addition to planning around the unpredictability of caring for a preschooler and a toddler.

When I was in school, I gave most of my time to my teachers and the homework they assigned. When I was teaching, I gave hours and hours each week to managing my classes and preparing lessons.

I once heard a speaker compare the time we have each day to a pie. At the beginning of each 24 hour day, it’s a fresh-from-the-oven pie, and by the end, it’s an empty pie plate, instantly refilling for the next day.

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My tendency has been to want to figure out how to slice the pie and slice it the same every day. But then I start living like my pie is my own, rather than a grace God has entrusted to me. I begin to resent the times when my kids or husband want a bigger slice, or when the pie is empty before I had the chance to do everything I wanted to do. When I call the pie mine, I’m also tempted to set my pie up next to others’ pies to see how they’ve sliced theirs and feel my pie is wrong because it looks different.

So how do I receive the pie of a day, or the pies for a week, or the pies for a year with an open hand? How do I let God do the slicing?

I ask Him to show me His values.

The pie of my time can be an offering back to God when I let Him shape my values. I spend time on what I value, but I can only value what God values when I make space for Him. Though the slice of time to pray and read the Bible might not be the same each day, (and may be slivers or crumbs collected throughout the day), as we read His word, He uses it to direct all the other slices and even the attitude we have as our slices are eaten up.

He gives us a vision for what He is doing in the world–bringing all things together in Christ–and reminds us of the privilege of resting in the gospel and running with the good news to all who will listen, (even if they are trying to do handstands or smash a tower of blocks at the same time).

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I don’t make every decision about how thin or thick a slice is cut.

When I plan my day so rigidly that everything extra is an inconvenience, I am easily frustrated and might miss what the Holy Spirit is wanting me to join Him in.

When my husband is home and our pies are overlapping, it’s not loving or respectful to cut his pieces for him. Instead, it’s another chance for me to serve him and receive the blessings he gives to our family as we work together.

When I’m not always thinking about the next task, I can also have space to enjoy the things I am spending my time on, rather than flipping to the end of the picture book to see how much longer it will take to read.

I ask God to help me value each role He has given me to steward.

Meal planning often makes me tired. Picking up toys feels pointless when they get dumped out again two seconds later. But when God helps me see the bigger picture of why He’s given me the roles He has, I can flip through one more grocery ad and throw the Duplo blocks back in his room again.

When I clean my house, it’s easier to welcome other people into it, even if it can only be described as “relatively clean and picked up.” God brought an ordered universe from the chaos of the waters of darkness, and I can reflect His desire for restoration as I snap the lid on the toy box again. (And for some reason, the toys become fun again once they’ve been put back into baskets.)

Planning and preparing meals is a way to meet the needs of my family and any others who come during mealtimes. Any time invested in finance, health, car, and home details is a way to love my family and take care of some chaos my husband won’t have to deal with.

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I anticipate what God might let me join Him in.

Even when I feel God has given me an idea for using the gifts He’s entrusted to me, it’s tempting to want to control it, to try to make it happen in my way and my timing. But when I allow God to choose slices for certain things, He can use my entire pie along with millions of other pies to fulfill His perfect plan.

It might mean letting go of some of my own expectations in my child and home-care roles. Or laying down my preferences for how to load the dishwasher or get the oil changed in the van so that I don’t have to do it myself. And it might mean using my slices to relieve tasks I might prefer my husband to do so that he can serve in something God is inviting him to.

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An Undercooked Mess

Maybe it seems like others have abundant energy or health to devote to each slice. Maybe a grief or underlying tension or stress is making you struggle through caring for the basic needs that fill each pie. Maybe you feel like by the time all the slices are devoured, there aren’t even any crumbs for you, and you wouldn’t have energy to even enjoy them if you did. It’s okay to be frustrated with a hard season or string of seasons as you remember the truth:  

Jesus has lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father’s will for us, so that we can enjoy Him for an eternity of pain-free pies. Whether we feel like our pie is an undercooked, blueberry mess, or whether the cross-hatched top came out perfectly, God sees us the same. He sees Jesus’ perfection. And He loves us, sticky hands and all.

Why You Don’t Have to Have All the Answers

“How can Jesus be with us? I can’t see him!”

“Why did Adam and Eve eat the fruit they weren’t supposed to?”

“Are zebras good or bad?”

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Though I know this will change, my three-and-a-half year old son has a hard time believing I don’t know everything. Sometimes, he gets downright frustrated when I can’t give him an answer.

There are times when I wish I could reflect God in being all-knowing, especially when I read the Bible or interact with others about spiritual things. Studying Deuteronomy alone has led to many questions about nations being blotted out, sins that were supposed to result in stoning, or children from forbidden religious unions being excluded from the tabernacle.

Even reading through the gospel of Mark with a friend makes me wonder over Jesus’ words about being salted with fire, forgiving others so the Father will forgive my trespasses, or believing that I have received what I ask for in prayer.

No Questions? No Answers.

A recent speaker at our church shared that if we are willing to articulate and wrestle with our questions, we will be able to better recognize when we’ve found the answer.

God has also used a book called Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower to encourage me in my question journey and as I seek to walk alongside others with their questions.

When reading the Old Testament, Klumpenhower challenges us to look at the overall character of God–how He cares for his people in the Old Testament, and how He does the same and even better for us in Jesus.

He also invites us not to ignore the tensions in the Old Testament, but instead look to the good news of how it is solved in Jesus. (Impossible to follow the 10 commandments perfectly? Jesus has done it for us, and in His death, offers His righteousness to those who are joined to Him.)

When we study Jesus’ teachings, we should zoom out to also consider the larger context of His work, and what kind of person He is.

Sometimes God’s ways seem mysterious, but He showed us from the time of walking with Adam and Eve in the garden, to tabernacling with the Israelites, to coming to earth as a baby, that He wants us to know Him and experience His presence. When we know His character and consider His themes of love, redemption, and forgiveness through all of Scripture, we can trust that the One who knows the answers can lead us in His wisdom.

In Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9 David prays:  

Show me your ways, Lord,

   teach me your paths.

Guide me in your truth and teach me,

   for you are God my Savior,

   and my hope is in you all day long. . .

Good and upright is the Lord;

   therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.

He guides the humble in what is right

   and teaches them his way.

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But What About Everyone Else?

I’ve often been scared of someone asking me a question about Jesus that I don’t know the answer to. In fact, I still get scared about that.

But if Jesus was concerned about simply answering people’s questions, he wouldn’t have given these sorts of responses when He was on earth:

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. (Mark 10:17-18)

They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”

Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!” (Mark 11:27-30)

Jesus looked into people’s hearts to see what they were really asking. He always knew the perfect response, and didn’t care whether people thought He was smart or not. (Or even whether He’d make people mad enough to kill him.)

When Job lost everything, he asked all kinds of questions as he spent chapter after chapter processing his pain. God responded with teaching Job about His greatness, which left Job nothing to say but:

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:3)

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What if, by asking questions, God led us and others to acknowledge His power and understanding, to grow in faith, and to find rest in a God who satisfies us whether we find all the answers or not?

What if, by insisting that God answer my questions, I miss what He does want to show me?

What if He wants me to search for answers with my husband or other believers?

What if I don’t need to know how every little piece fits together because God has already brought everything together under one Head in Jesus?  

What if Jesus doesn’t care whether I win an argument with someone who believes differently than I do? Can I trust Him to give me the words I need and the faith that He can work in others’ lives whether I come up with the right response or not? Or even if I give the wrong response?

Jesus is interceding for us. Will we receive what He’s praying for us?

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. . . I have made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:24, 26)