Puzzles of Grace

I’ve memorized Proverbs 3:5-6, but what does it mean to trust in the Lord? To not lean on my own understanding? Will God really make my paths straight? These thoughts come as whispers into my heart:

My daughter, why don’t you try thanking Me for My plans for your future instead of trying to figure them all out? I love helping you to rest in My love right now, in the exact life you’re living right now. What am I asking you to do today? That’s what I’m taking delight in watching and helping and offering My grace and wisdom in. You are trying to fill in the gaps of the partly finished puzzle in your mind, but you don’t know what it’s going to look like when it’s finished. I haven’t given you all the pieces yet. Will you accept each piece as I give it, knowing that it might have different colors than you thought it would, but that it will all fit together perfectly in My puzzle of grace in your life? When you start to worry about the future, thank Me for the pieces I’m preparing for you, knowing that I will give each one at the right time.  


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.”

Christ, My Righteousness

What does it mean for Christ to be my righteousness? It means that each morning when I wake up, the Father is smiling down at me. He hands me a Math test with an A+ written on the top, next to my name. All the circumstances of my day are the “problems” on the test, and whether I make a mistake or even get so frustrated with the problem I’m trying to figure out on my own that it takes me lots of scribbling and erasing before I look over at Him, He whispers in my ear, “I love you. Never forget this test is meant to be done together, so keep confessing the pride that makes you want to try to do it on your own. You aren’t here to prove your love to Me but to receive My love with thankfulness, because even though I’m your Teacher, I’m also your Father, and your only identity is that you’re my daughter. That’s the kind of love you can whisper to others who are working on their own tests with Me.” (See 2 Cor. 5:21, Eph. 1:4, Lam. 3:22-24)


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!)

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.

When Our Inefficiency is Pleasing to God

My three-and-a-half year old son loves crawling up on the counter and helping me cook. He likes to taste the flour and basil and ask all kinds of questions about what I’m making. Cracking eggs is accomplished by simultaneously squeezing and knocking the egg on the side of the bowl, as the egg goo runs through his fingers.  

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Before I had kids, it was much easier to plan out what I wanted to get done on a certain day, with only the occasional phone call (or teacher request during my planning period). By working hard, I could get my lessons written out and be ready for the next day.  

In this season of life with little ones, my tasks are constantly punctuated by needs, requests, questions, and exclamations of “Mommy, look at me!” Many times, I feel like I’m swimming upstream, against the American value of efficiency. Efficiency is defined as, “able to accomplish something with the least waste of time and effort.” As some equate time with money, I have often associated efficiency with success

In the roles God has entrusted to me, I am certainly called to get things done, but when I dig down to the roots of my heart, I realize that instead of my actions stemming from a heart of active, humble service to my Good Master, the roots are really pride.

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One definition of pride is “pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself.” I want people to see what I’ve cleaned or written or decided is important and appreciate me. I focus on being an expert multi-tasker. When our pellet stove stops working, or my son chooses to whine rather than obey, I think that if I could only snap my fingers and fix the situation, I would be happier–until the next baby cry or unkind word from someone brings another wave of frustration.

In my pursuit of satisfaction in what I get done, I usually end the day feeling like a failure. And when I’ve been so determined to get everything crossed off my list, without considering anyone else’s desires or requests, I feel defeated in my relationships.

Transforming the Roots

I need to be brought back to the gospel. Today and tomorrow and every day until I reach eternity and fall on my face before the “Lamb who was slain.” (Revelation 5)

Jesus paid for all my pride, selfishness, and shame on the cross. He was perfectly faithful to the Father’s vision for His life, and He gives that faithful righteousness to me. His Spirit is living in me, making me more like Jesus and convicting me when I need to repent.

Through that repentance, grounded in His righteousness on my behalf, God has pointed me to a few ways to keep fighting the battle against pride.

  1. Be in awe.

The God who filled the oceans and flung galaxies into place created us to be in relationship with Him. The most popular movies and novels echo our desire to be in relationship with someone who will never let us down. Advertisements try to convince us to buy things for our benefit, yet the One who satisfies us invites us to “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1) His everlasting covenant is ours through Jesus’ death and resurrection before we ever lift a finger in service to Him.

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2. Rest in God’s Sovereignty.

Preparing meal after meal after meal for my kids is a constant reminder that God isn’t in a hurry. 2 Peter 3:8-9 says “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Sometimes, it feels like there are a thousand years worth of needs in one day, and yet God in His steadfastness, wants to carry me through each moment of my life.

3. Look back at His faithfulness as recorded in the Bible and in my own life.

God has always chosen to dwell with His people–through pillars of fire, the tabernacle, His Son clothed in human flesh, and now His Spirit at work in our hearts. His plan to save us literally unfolded over thousands of years (and is still unfolding as people from every nation are swept into His kingdom.)

4. Embrace His part for me.

God has given us limits for our good. Our limits point to His infiniteness, and the way He chooses to use a whole Body of believers in every part of the world to be a part of His kingdom work. Even when we are faithless and disobedient, He is always faithful to accomplish His purposes.

5. Keep working in gratefulness for His acceptance of me through Jesus.

Recently, Nathan Rittenhouse, a speaker for Ravi Zacharias ministries, came to our church to speak. He shared from Matthew 20 about the Parable of the Vineyard and the way it highlights God’s generosity completely apart from our ability to work. When we are satisfied in the good Master and what He has done for us, we can get up early the next day and be one of the first workers in the field. We can love and serve from a place of joy and thankfulness in the good way He wants to accomplish His will in our lives, rather than being stuck in our own vision or even someone else’s vision for our lives.

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If God wanted to appear efficient, He definitely wouldn’t have chosen to use us to be a part of reaching the nations with the gospel. Like my son trying help me cook, dropping egg shells in the bowl, splashing batter, and spilling oatmeal, God welcomes our uncoordinated help, worship, and love. If anyone else were to peek into our hearts, they would see a mess—toys on the floor, half-finished projects–they may even turn away in disgust when they smell the stinky diapers of our sin.

Yet, because of Jesus, God lovingly steps over the toys, picking up a few at a time when necessary, and changing us so that we don’t have to sit in our stink. When we cry, He holds us. When we pester Him with incessant requests and forget to thank Him, He listens. When we start to get the hang of walking, He celebrates with us, and when we lose our balance or hit our head on the coffee table, He picks us back up and holds our hand as we start again. Never longing for a break from us, he doesn’t sigh with relief when we finally fall asleep for the night.

His love is that unconditional.

How To Read the Old Testament to Treasure the Gospel

A friend recently told me that she’d been feeling overwhelmed by how much there is to know about God and the Bible. But then the Spirit reminded her that she has her whole life to learn, study, and delight in the God who made her.

At this stage of caring for my little people, my Bible meditations are constantly being interrupted by baby yells and requests from my preschooler to watch him knock his building down. Mealtime prayers are punctuated with bibs being pulled off and cries of “Mom, I dropped my spoon!”

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No longer can I count on having a certain hour of the day free to read the Bible and pray, which has challenged me to appreciate the gospel in a new way. Just like my kids’ requests (and cries) continue from the time they wake up to the time they ask for a story, a drink, a prayer, and music to listen to as they fall asleep, I am reminded of my constant need for Christ. That He is the only One who can satisfy me and give me the hope I need to get through days (and nights) of needy little people. It is His grace, pulling me out of what is predictable and into a life that demands that I choose where I am going to look for strength.

God has used this holistic way of viewing my need for Christ to challenge me in the way I read Scripture, and especially the Old Testament. Rather than going to Scripture for a verse to carry me through the day, I’m realizing that every God-breathed passage I read is shaping my understanding and love for the Shepherd who is leading me through the weariness, whining, and messed-up plans (and floors).

Digging Deeper

A number of months ago, God used my friend Jessie to lead me to a great resource called One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm, (which is also immensely exciting to use while reading Scripture one-on-one with someone else).

Since I’m reading through the Old Testament historical books right now, I’m using David Helm’s list of Old Testament narrative questions, first reading for comprehension–noting the context, time and place where the narrative is happening and writing down things that are confusing. It allows me to start with a real-place-and-time foundation before trying to look for a main point or theme.

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Once I think about the main point (or what I might be missing if God hadn’t put that passage in the Bible), I get to my favorite part, when I get to ask, “How does the passage point forward to what God is going to do in the future? Does it prophesy or anticipate Jesus Christ in some way?”

After asking myself this question day after day, the Spirit has given me a new lens to view each passage I read from the Old Testament. He brings to mind passages from the New Testament that help explain God’s purposes in the tabernacle, the priesthood, and His never-changing desire for people to reflect His glory.  (And if you want to help your children understand how everything points to Jesus, rather than as just a collection of so-called Bible heroes, The Jesus Storybook Bible is a great place to start).

Prayer becomes a way of responding to what I’m learning moment-by-moment. I can thank Him for the map of my life He’s ordained when I read about God leading Abraham, or how He works through all our mixed motives and even sins when I read about Jacob and Rebekah’s deception to receive Isaac’s blessing.

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When I get to the end of Exodus, where God gives the dimensions and instructions for the tabernacle, it’s a chance to praise our God of details, because if He gave such specific instructions for an earthly tabernacle, how much more will the place He has for us on the New Earth be carefully prepared?

When I read about Aaron and his sons being clothed in their priestly garments, I can praise Jesus for clothing me in His righteousness, for being faithful on my behalf so that I can be inscribed with “Holy to the Lord.”

Even as I read Leviticus, I can rejoice that one reason for the animal sacrifices was “that the glory of the Lord may appear to you,” and that Jesus was clothed in flesh to become the true sin-forgiving, righteousness-giving sacrifice and to reveal the Father’s glory so that we might worship Him as His children.  

Rather than taking what I’ve learned and figuring out what I need to do, Helm provides the last two questions to lift my chin back up to God, asking:

How does this passage challenge your understanding about who God is and what he is like?

And then, as I invite the Holy Spirit’s specific conviction, I can ask:

Is there some attitude or behavior you need to change?

The sorrow I experience over my sin is a gift as it draws me to repentance and remembering again the grace and forgiveness Jesus stayed on the cross to give.

Like a diamond, when we study each facet-passage of Scripture, we can enjoy a different glimpse of Jesus and His glorious gospel. It doesn’t matter if we have six years left or sixty. Every day that we take time to read His Word is a new chance to treasure Jesus and hold our gospel diamonds up to the light for others to see.

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Which facet of Scripture will you ask Him to help you understand so that you can enjoy Him more?

You can get the free PDFs of David Helm’s questions for each genre of Scripture here.

Or you can get the entire book here.

Jen Wilkin also has an excellent guide for deepening your study of Scripture called, Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds.

How to Fill Your New Year’s Resolutions With Hope

I wrote this article last year, but as I look forward to what God might have in 2017, I wanted to share it again. 

I can’t even count the number of times growing up, whether it was public school or youth group that I was challenged to “make a difference in the world.” That I could be a part of seeing life-changing transformation in the lives of those I reached out to.

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Fast forward a few years to my current life filled with laundry, meal preparations, and conversations about screwdrivers, milk, and pretending to jump in imaginary pools of water.

Surely if I could somehow get these responsibilities over with, I could get to the really important stuff, (followed up by letters of appreciation from people telling me how their lives are so much better because of me and God must surely be pleased with all the people I am impacting.)

At times, it’s easy to see my toddler as an obstacle to what I am trying to accomplish, rather than part of my purpose.

It feels like the Christian life should be separate from wiping the hairs off the bathroom sinks, paying the electric bill, and picking up another box of diapers from Walmart.

But most of the time, those tasks are exactly what my days consist of.

What happened to changing the world?

How do we have a vision while still holding our plans loosely (because little people aren’t as predictable as we might like them to be)?

How do we invite our families to be part of that vision, instead of imagining all that we could do if we had a break from them?

In Philippians 3, Paul lists his accomplishments and reasons he would look pretty important to the average Jew. But in verses 7-9, Paul says,

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

In verse 14 he goes on to say, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

What is Paul’s goal? It wasn’t changing the world (though God used Him to share His truth in many places).

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His goal was knowing Jesus and living in the hope of the gospel for today and for eternity.

This goal was meant to be pursued as we go about our responsibilities, instead of getting our everyday tasks finished as quickly and efficiently as possible so we can get to the really important work.

Picking up toys for the hundredth time and organizing leftovers can be part of God’s work as we let His pleasure and presence give each task meaning.

Rachel Jankovic, in her book Fit to Burst, shares that “It does not matter what is on the table when the people around it aren’t at peace. It doesn’t matter how clean your house is when bitterness is growing in the hearts of your children.” (p.31)

Goals vs. Desires

So is it pointless to have dreams? Should we throw all our goals out the window?

It’s important to make a distinction between goals and desires. Goals can’t involve others’ behavior, because we don’t have control over that.

I can desire to get my closets organized, but if my son starts running a fever, or my husband has to work late, I can’t consider the unaccomplished task a failure.

On the other hand, if my goal is to invite Jesus and His joy and favor earned on my behalf into every task and interaction I have, I can keep working and fighting to reach it.

Rachel Jankovic shares that “[Our children] should see us setting realistic (but maybe difficult) goals, and working hard toward them. They should see us being visionaries who are anchored firmly in reality. . . They should see us laboring hard to make a beautiful life for them while not losing sight of the them in it.” (p. 31)

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It’s exciting to be around people who are passionate about something. When my husband comes home telling me all about how he’s learning to use the incredible software that designs the metal parts at his company, it makes me smile.

When I have the chance to talk about the draft of my novel with someone, I can hardly choose whether to talk about plot, character, or the storylines I’m trying to weave together.

It’s good to want to make changes to be healthier in mind, body and spirit.

But when the snooze gets pushed too many times, or moments to write get sucked up by phone calls, or I end up dealing with a tantrum when he should have been napping, I can still be succeeding.

If my ultimate goal is to know Jesus and invite His gospel truth to fill my mind each day, the actual circumstances are only the avenue for accomplishing the goal.

John Piper, a pastor and teacher shared in one of his sermons that “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.”

Will you trust the God who shaped the universe and has all the power to accomplish His perfect plan (and let you be a part of it) as He leads you into the future?

Will you lay your desires for this next year in His hands?

Will you let your children see what it means to “press on toward the goal” in His grace?