Insights from Seminary

As many of you know, I started seminary at Liberty University this past semester.  I’ve shared bits and pieces of major takeaways on the blog’s social media platforms, but the bulk of the learning has really been shared in the local church ministry setting.  Today, though, I’m sharing an assignment with you. Actually, as I type this, I’m doing the assignment. 

The assignment?  To write a blog!

The class?  Research, Writing, and Ministry Preparation (or, as my schedule shows, RTCH-500). 

Every student in the same degree path is required to take this class within their first two semesters…and here we are!

Part of the class focuses on Hermeneutics (fancy word for studying the Bible).  Another part of the class focuses on presenting information in the Turabian Style (like APA or MLA but on steroids….and yes, it’s as invigorating as it sounds). Then, a final part of the class brings me to this assignment: spiritual formation. Yes, spiritual formation can still happen even though I attend remotely!

I know, there are naysayers who don’t believe that true spiritual formation can happen in virtual settings, but then again, that’s probably not you since you’re the one reading a Christian blog right now 😊 The book we used, Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age, puts a lot of those objections to rest, or at least gives them a run for their money.  It is well worth the read if that’s something you’re into.

Who doesn’t love killing two birds with one stone?! (Apologies to my animal rights activist friends, it’s the best phrase I have at the moment, but I’m happy to be more inclusive…or exclusive as it were…if you have a suggestion you know how to find me).  #worksmarternotharder

OK, so back to this book and the assignment. 

We were asked to reflect on what we read (students are still being asked to do that, apparently) and share two main takeaways that we want to bring along with us on our walk into ministry.  I actually think that my selections can have broader implications than just to the seminarian or pastor so I’m hoping that you can glean something worthwhile as well.  I’ve always said here that I won’t ever share guidance that I wouldn’t or didn’t actually follow myself so you can be rest assured that any takeaways will be incredibly practical. 

A Perspective Shift

The first takeaway is more of a perspective shift than something which ought to be carried out.  That said, I think this shift can greatly inform future actions.  Also, I’ll note that the general sentiment is not new to us, but the authors present it is such a way that I have a new appreciation for how we fit into God’s plan. Here’s what they have to say:

As far as Scripture is concerned, growth is growth…God did not establish two separate laws of growth—one governing flowers and trees and another governing the Kingdom and the church. Growth in nature and growth in the Kingdom, the church, and the Christian partake of essentially/virtually identical patterns that require ecological connections and reciprocal interactions expressed as nutrient exchanges. In nature, the connections and exchanges are organic, while in the Kingdom and church, they are spiritual. In nature, the exchanges involve physical nutrients (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, etc.) In the church and Kingdom they involve spiritual nutrients (milk and meat of the Word) exchange through interactions with one another.[1]

Lowe & Lowe, Foundations of Faith in a Digital Age

If we keep this general framework in mind, we can apply what we know about growth to any of the organic metaphors in Scripture (i.e., I am the True Vine John 15:1, Body of Christ 1 Corinthians 12:27, etc.), which I think is probably what most of us have tried to do for an extent.  After all, we understand the idea that a metaphor is meant to refer to something else so we glean what we can from the imagery provided. Here, the authors explain how the growth metaphors work.

Taking it one step further, I think it’s not only important to understand individual spiritual growth and corporate spiritual growth, but also how the two should be necessarily reciprocal to one another.  There should mutual benefit whereby one strengths the other, so that neither is one always sucking the life out of the other nor is one always a consumer. 

No. This won’t do. 

Think of your best friend.  Not the one that always only texts when there’s drama.  Not the one you have to mentally prepare yourself to have a latte with.  The friend that you are happy to be around.  The one who is equally excited to see you.  The one who you exchange gifts with just because.  That’s what our relationship to the church should be like and vice versa.  Here’s how the author describes it with, you guessed it, another metaphor:

Psalm 1:1-3 draws a comparison between the ecology of trees and the righteous person–who like the tree is “planted by streams of water” and “yields its fruit in its season”. Trees do not grow alone; they grow as they connect to and interact with a greater ecology that provides part of the nourishment and nutrients needed to sustain life and produce growth. The tree also contributes to the ecology in which it lives by adding nutrients to the soil and atmosphere and by hosting birds who will build their nests in its limbs.

All of this the psalmist understands, not only about the ecology of trees but the ecology of the righteous person who does not flourish alone but as he or she is planted within a defined ecology. Righteous people avoid the detrimental social ecology described in Psalm 1:1— “council of the wicked,” “path of sinners,” “the seat of scoffers” — and places themselves within the beneficial ecology of the law of God and of God’s people who follow that law…

The flourishing trees and the righteous give evidence of health and vitality through observable indicators that confirm growth while also confirming the viability of the natural or spiritual ecosystem that produced them.[2]

Lowe & Lowe, Foundations of Faith in a Digital Age

Isn’t that incredible?! I don’t know why I never thought of our life in the church in such a way before, have you?  In some sense, my analogy to your best friend was flawed; it still focused on individual-to-individual relationships.  Here, we see how we are part of something bigger, something more lifegiving while we also serve to give life to it. Kinda like how Penn State alum are all part of a massive group of people who bleed blue and wear white to a football game once a year…but not.

So that’s the perspective I’m taking away from this class.  It’s much more wholistic than what I had going on in my brain prior to seminary. 

Now, and much more briefly, here’s an action step as my second takeaway:

I am intentionally going to work toward keeping human interactions human. 

Sounds easy, enough, right?


How many  hand-written letters did you write last month? Year?

When was the last time you didn’t text your sister when you wanted to tell them something? 

Technology is AMAZING and a timesaver in soooo many ways, but if we rely just on technology then we are missing something.  Perhaps facetime works best instead of coffee dates because of busy mom lives.  That works for a season, but don’t allow that to be diluted even more to only emoji-filled texts. 

Believe me, this message is for me more than anyone.  I would rather do almost anything at all then pick up the phone, but human interactions are necessary. As the authors mentioned, “technology alone cannot maintain human relationships and should not attempt to replace them.”[3]  So what does this mean for me, personally? 

If I’m shepherding a group of leaders at church then I need to be intentional about connecting with each of them individually outside of a group chat. If I’m hosting an online study, I need to create opportunities for interaction: interaction with me, with the content and between the participants themselves. I need to connect with the participants outside of the zoom, even if its just another zoom.

But, maybe your connections look differently.  Maybe they look more like mine when my ministry hat is swapped for my mom hat. 

Maybe you’re consistently opting for grocery delivery orders (guilty!) as opposed to getting out and have an opportunity to interact with, extend grace to, or bless someone.

Or, maybe you stick to streaming home workouts, but never interact with other health-minded adults irl. I’d say I’m guilty of that one, too, but tbh, I don’t work out at all and, at the moment, I don’t seem to have a shortage of health-minded friends…but you get the idea. 

Technology is great, but in moderation. 

Now, to wrap up today’s blog I’m going to leave some advice for a future seminary student. Yes, this is also part of the assignment, just bear with me and don’t despair! This tidbit will serve all of us well, whether we are pursuing higher education in ministry or not. My advice is borrowed from another book we used in class: Surviving and Thriving in Seminary. It’s straightforward, life-altering, life-giving, and usually easier said than done.  Ready for it?

Spend time with God.[4]

I just wrapped up the entire Simply Still Series so I won’t revisit everything we reviewed over the last few weeks, but think about it: how much time do we really spend with God.  Not for God. Not learning about.  Just with.

John 15:1-5 teaches us how Jesus is the true vine, and we are to abide in Him.  We can actually apply the brief growth teaching from before to this metaphor as well.  How does one abide?  One is consistently with. Vine branches don’t just pick and choose when they get to be on the vine.  They are in a constant state of mutual benefit with the vine itself. 

How can we remain in Him if we don’t spend time with Him?

In His Presence?

In His Glory?

Praising Him for His work on the cross? For the mercy He shows us, not because we are worthy but because He is? 

While we can certainly present petitions, sorrows, and thanks to our King (and we should!), there is also something to be said about just being with Him. Not asking for a single thing; just being an open vessel to receive whatever the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to us, as opposed to coming forth with a pre-populated agenda. 

Friends, if the idea of meeting God with a blank slate is scary to you, try just starting with 5-minute intervals.  Also, check out an earlier series on Meditating Biblically.  There’s a lot of suggestions there for those who desire to plunge into more intimate times with God.  If you’re not there yet, that’s OK.  Take what you can and leave the rest.

Well, friends, if you’ve stuck with me this long I appreciate you coming along for the ride of this assignment! As some of you know, I went to Asbury this week so I’m praying through what to share from that experience. It’s a lot to digest, but I’m sure you’ll be hearing about bits and pieces of it in my next few posts!

All my love,


[1] Stephen D. Lowe and Mary E. Lowe, Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2018), 42.

[2] Ibid., 29-30.

[3] Ibid., 91.

[4] H. Daniel Zacharias and Benjamin K. Forrest, Surviving and Thriving in Seminary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2017), 42.

Simply Still Series: Is Keeping the Sabbath Still for Real?

I used to think that the idea of “keeping the Sabbath” was totally old fashioned and didn’t relate to me in any way whatsoever. I was so wrong!  While Sabbath keeping is deeply rooted in Jewish law and tradition, it couldn’t be more relevant to modern Christian living and being still. It is still very much for real!

Before I delve into various aspects of the Sabbath, today and over the next few weeks, let’s take a moment to establish the concept of a Sabbath rest as part of God’s design for creation.  The Creation account in Genesis declares:

On the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.

Genesis 2:2

In this way, one way to look at the Sabbath is as a physical time of rest.  However, this doesn’t necessarily mean napping, binge watching Yellowstone (although I’m totally guilty of that!), and taking relaxing baths.  It is not a rest as in merely abstaining from activity. Rather it is an intentional action which results in a much deeper, soulful, fulfilling time of replenishment.  This type of rest is known as menuha in Hebrew. Rabbi Heschel explains:

Menuha, which we usually render with ‘rest’ means much more than labor and exertion, more than freedom from toil, strain or activity of any kind.  Menuha here [in Genesis 2:2] is not a negative concept but something real and intrinsically positive.  This must have been the views of the ancient rabbis if they believed that it took a special act of creation to bring it into being, that the universe would be incomplete without it.  What was created on the seventh day? Tranquility, serenity, peace and repose.

Rabbi Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man

Since the creation story is indeed seven days long, and not six, that necessarily stipulates that rest is also part of what was intended to be created.  Rabbi Heschel goes on:

We would surely expect the Bible to tell us that on the sixth day God finished His work.  Obviously, the ancient rabbis concluded, there was an act of creation on the seventh day.  Just as heaven and earth were created in six days, menuha was created on the Sabbath.  After six days of creation, what did the universe still lack? Menuha. Came the Sabbath, came menuha, and the universe was complete.

Rabbi Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man

We’ve established that rest was intentional. However, it was also so important that God Himself partook in it, regardless of His own strength or actual necessity for such a pause.  I doubt God actually needed to rest, as we often think of the word, but He did it anyway. He did it within the confines of what was intended for the created order. How can such a realization change the way we think of rest?  Would anyone dare judge the Lord’s need for rest as weakness?  Perhaps, there is wisdom in the stillness. Perhaps there is something more to this Sabbath rest as implied by the Rabbi.

The act of resting is also intended for us.  With that truth in mind, we can also know that God wouldn’t intend rest for us if it wasn’t possible. 

So why don’t we rest when we know we ought to? While there are likely many reasons, some of which we’ve explored together in the Be Still Series, I think much of our apprehension to rest comes from a lack of trust in Him.

While we can say we trust the Lord, its an entirely different ballgame to actually align our lives in such a way which demonstrates our proclaimed trust.  It is this very concept which we will explore next week, followed by additional thoughts on how we can incorporate a Sabbath mindset into our everyday lives. 


Father God, thank you for giving us an example of not only how we should live our lives through your Son and written Word, but also how we should rest. I admit that sometimes I worry about not being able to accomplish everything I want to accomplish, so I forego resting as I ought. I need to trust you more, knowing that if you desire me to rest, I will be able to accomplish everything you desire me to accomplish while still being able to press pause and press into you. Help me trust you more.

In Jesus’ Holy & Precious Name,


Simply Still Series: Saying No

We need to get better at saying, “No”.  There, I said it!  I know, I know…we don’t want to let people down. We want to be reliable.  We want to come across as if we can do it all.  We want to help and not be helped.  I get it.  Here’s the thing: we can still be reliable, help and be helped all while also saying, “No,” when that response is what God would want for us.

Be wary of putting helping and declining at odds with one another: choosing between the two does not have to be an either/or decision. It can, and should, be a both/and dichotomy whereby one furthers the other: saying “no” to pave the way for something better and having the ability to better serve because something else was turned down.

When discerning what is aligned with God’s will for your life there are three main resources at your disposal: scripture, prayer and other believers.

We can’t do it all.  We weren’t meant to.  What if our saying, “No,” allows for someone else to say, “Yes?” Why would we allow ourselves to get burnt out over doing all the things when we could really excel in fewer areas that really highlight our gifts from God? A key component to being still is only taking on what God intends for us to take on.

Remember, just because we could doesn’t mean we should.

If turning down opportunities to serve (in the church or out of it) sounds like it could be challenging, take some time to practice.  Yep! Practice saying, “No.”  There’s two main approaches here: 

  1. Start with something small so you can build up some resistance, or
  2. Just go all in and decline a larger commitment.  Consequently, in turn, all other rejections may seem like a piece of cake. 

If this is something you really want to delve more into, I recommend the Cloud & Townsend book, Boundaries.  Part three, Developing Healthy Boundaries, might be especially useful for you. 

Here is an analogy from a Christian counselor I once saw.  It goes something like this:

A juggler, even the best in the world, can only juggle so many balls at the same time.  Even if every ball up in the air is “good”, there is still only so much that can be suspended midair at any given time.  Be intentional about what you pick up and allow to be juggled by you. 

My insightful therapist, a much wiser human than I


Father God, my desire to help others and do for my family is a double edged sword at times. Sometimes I have nothing left to give, and yet that still doesn’t stop me from taking on more commitments. I’ve already proven to you and others that I could do these things, but help me focus on what I should do. Give me the strength and discernment needed to respectfully decline the next opportunity that is not aligned with your will for me. I know that such a task will be done even better by someone who is truly called to play that role. Allow me to only commit to those activities which make the best use of the precious gifts you have graciously given to me.

In Jesus’ Holy & Precious Name, Amen.

Simply Still Series: Resting Better

When last I shared here, as far as the Be Still Series goes, I suggested that some of us struggle with resting well. Although there could be many reasons for this, today we are going to focus on one reason in particular: perhaps, just maybe, our ability to truly rest is lacking because we lack a deep enough trust in God to provide for us while we attempt to press pause in any real meaningful way.  Do you think this could be true for you?  It can be for me.

What if I miss that deadline?  What if I don’t have time to give all the kids baths later? What if someone has to cover for me?  What if….? 

Here’s the thing:  although I am guilty of not always putting the Lord first, I have never put the Lord first and been short on time because of it. As we learned elsewhere in this series, if we rest the way the Lord has designed us to rest, we are following a part of His will for our lives.  Therefore, we can have a blessed assurance that by resting in such a way we will still be able to accomplish everything we need to accomplish on any given day.  We may not get to everything we want to complete on our self-fabricated to-do lists.  But, in such cases, rest assured those tasks bypassed for another day or season wouldn’t be essential to that day in question anyway. He always provides what we need.    

One of my first blog posts was on the lesser known names of God.  One of those names is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides, and it applies to the 16th chapter in Exodus, which is where we are going to spend some time today.

Exodus 16 tells of a time when the Israelites were instructed by God to go out into the dessert and gather food (manna) for one day; none was to be saved for the next day. Think: you get an allowance each day, but then also have to spend down to zero each day, trusting you will have another allowance out of nowhere in the morning. I can feel my anxiety rising just thinking about it!

The Israelites continued in this way for just about a week. On the 6th day, however, they were to gather twice as much so as to last for the next day as well. Why? Because God instructed them to rest on the next day…the 7th day. Sound familiar?

And just like that, we can clearly see the nexus between trusting God while also honoring His command to rest a Sabbath’s rest.

The Israelites needed to trust in Him, that He would provide, and that they would not go hungry. They needed to practice a daily dependence on their God…our God. Then, they needed to do all this while they were “left” of the sidelines, allowed to rest, but not to gather any sustenance for an entire day.

Do you know what happened to those Israelites who took it upon themselves to harvest on day 7? They couldn’t harvest. There was nothing there for them. They could not get any additional nourishment that the Lord did not already provide. Verse 29 says:

Bear in mind that the Lord has GIVEN you the Sabbath; that is why of the sixth day he GIVES you bread for two days.

Exodus 16:29, emphasis mine

Do you see? The sustenance and the sustaining rest are BOTH gifts to us from God. Who are we to manipulate such a divine plan for humanity?…especially one which commands rest?!

Can you think of a time when you were stretched beyond thin and yet you got through it all in tact?  That was God.  Can you think of a time when you didn’t know where the next paycheck was coming from but your bills still got paid?  That was God.  What about a time when you were so sick that you couldn’t bring yourself to sign into that zoom or drive for your turn in the carpool?  Did everything work out? I thought so!

Friends, don’t wait until you are forced to stop from pure exhaustion, sickness or anxiety attacks.  Even if you don’t get that far, I’ll bet none of us are all that pleasant to be around when we don’t press pause as we ought to.  By obediently adhering to His commands and trusting in his provisions, you are proactively protecting your relationship with Him and others. 


Father God, Jehovah Jireh, you are so reliable!!  You conjured manna out of nowhere…in the middle of nowhere!  Of course, you will provide for me and your church as I take a day to rejuvenate and focus on you alone.  Remind me of that as often as I need to be reminded of it! Forgive me for being so stubborn and still wanting to get in all the things, especially in the time that really isn’t mine to begin with.  Let me rest so you can provide and be glorified.

In Jesus’ Holy & Precious Name,



Simply Still Series: What can we Learn from Children about Rest?

As we wrap up this series, I want to accomplish 3 things: briefly summarize previous posts in the series; leave you with a gentle word of caution; and, finally, impart final words of encouragement.

Now, here’s the simplest part.  Lets review the topics covered in each of the 6 parts published so far (all are hyperlinked for easy reference):

Part 1

An Introduction to Being Still explored how being still is an imperative from God. In this way, being still isn’t a form of weakness; there is boldness in the obedience and stillness.

Part 2

Emptying Our Plates provided some advice on how to go about emptying already full plates. How can we be still if we are too busy to be still? Remember, we will be able to accomplish infinitely more for those entrusted to our care and for the kingdom if we surrender to God’s will for our lives. Sometimes less is more!

Part 3

Living it Out attempted to put my own advice and the Word of God into practice. Instead of spending more time on writing than I reasonably had to give during the busy holiday season and while my family quarantined; I opted to share some of the best content ever created: Scripture. Verses focusing on the need to rest were highlighted as I took a step back for a few days.

Part 4

Saying No offered additional examples of life application as related to being still, specifically on how to say, “No.” The latter skill is key if we want to keep our schedules balanced once we get them to where God would like them to be.

Part 5

Is Keeping the Sabbath Still for Real? established the Sabbath rest as part of God’s design for creation. God set the standard and the example for us, his creation, when he, the Creator, rested on the 7th day. Creation was incomplete until it encompassed the act of resting.

Part 6

Finally, Resting Better suggested an antidote to our restlessness: trusting in the Lord more during the times when we are asked to slow down. A biblical example from Exodus set the backdrop for this important and sometimes sensitive discussion.

Now, speaking of sensitive discussions, here is that promised word of caution I mentioned earlier: be wary of keeping “sabbath” rest for purely legalistic reasons.  While I understand we all have seasons where we need to “fake it until we make it,” Sabbath rest should be more of a mindset than something we feel obligated to squeeze into our schedules.  Once rest becomes something else to check off we are missing the point. Yes, we are to be obedient and be still, but its a heart change as much as it is either a scheduling or cerebral change.

The essence of the Sabbath (and being still) is to cease, stop striving and trust in Him.  As long as you are doing this intentionally out of a pure heart, you are doing just fine! Do not get hung up on the exact day you are keeping your Sabbath.  Doing so can push up against some dangerously legalistic territory!

Now that we have recapped the series as a whole and have received our loving dose of caution, let me share some final words of encouragement.

But first…

Do me a favor, and scroll up for a quick second.  See that picture?  That’s my 8-year old daughter, Kaleigh, laying on my lap during church two weeks ago.  Do you know what else she is resting on?  There’s something between her head and my lap…My Bible! The Word! She is literally and figuratively at rest on and in the Word during a worship service! 

Next time I need to be grounded and be still, I’m going to think of the simultaneously simple yet profound truths portrayed in that picture. The Word is around her; she’s soaking it in as she peacefully listens to the message. The Word is in Her. She loves Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is alive in her! The Word is touching her. She is literally touching it, but it is also moving her heart! This 8-year old had not a care in the world that Sunday: she just needed to be still while existing and absorbing His Word.

After looking at the picture some more I started to wonder what light a childlike faith could shed on the idea of resting on God. It is that simplicity and pureness of heart I’d like to leave you with today, which is why I asked each of my three children what resting on God meant to them. Here’s what they said:

Following what He says.

Kaleigh, age 8

Believing in God and putting faith in God.

Keira, age 10

Relying on His Word. Relying that He is there when you need Him the most. Relying that he is just there.

William, age 14

Right out of the mouths of babes, am I right?! Do you have a child in your life you could ask the same question to? See what they say! Perhaps their answers, lacking any pretense whatsoever, will provide you with a refreshing perspective: a perspective that can’t easily come from many well-read or even well-intentioned adults.

Friends, although I’ve now spent several weeks recounting scriptural truths and practical how-to-style advice, please know that resting on the Word of God doesn’t have to be difficult; but it does take our willingness.

As our pastor pointed out this morning during service, “we need to step back and step toward God.” Go to Him…be still…and find rest. It will change you.

Please be sure to check out the blog’s fb page for this 40-day posting eggtravaganza!

Also this week we reached 400 followers on fb! I’m doing a giveaway to celebrate! Leave a comment on the giveaway post on fb by 7pm to enter!

Simply Still Series: Top 6 Stillness Verses

Well, with my first full week of seminary behind me and almost a full semester left to go, I am definitely feeling the need to rest! How hypocritical would it be if I wrote about being still but did not also live it out?! So…although I am leaving you with very little content today, in all the ways that matter it’s all that you need: God’s own Words. Here are some verses to pray over which reinforce the biblical imperative to be still:

Be still, and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Exodus 14:14

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

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.

Psalm 23:1-2

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:9-10

Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!

1 Samuel 12:16

The Lord continues to do remarkable things, just as He did in the time of Samuel. Awe-inspiring works in those around us and in you. Follow me this week in being simply still and let’s see what divine works we can notice! What may He change or soften in us?! How much more will we be restored this time next week?!

As as a closing devotional, here today’s Jesus Calling which seems to be especially fitting:

Let my love enfold you in the radiance of My Glory. Sit still in the light of my presence, and receive My Peace. These quiet moments with Me transcend time, accomplishing far more than you can imagine. Bring Me the sacrifice of your time, and watch to see how abundantly I bless you and your loved ones.

Through the intimacy of our relationship, you are being transformed from the inside out. As you keep your focus on Me, I form you into the one I desire you to be. Your part is to yield to My creative work in you, neither resisting it nor trying to speed it up. Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting Me set the pace. Hold My hand in childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step.

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, January 25

Missed other posts in the series? I got you… ❤

Simply Still Series: How to Forego What is Good for What is Best

In a short video for my first post, I mentioned how I didn’t want to start this blog unless I knew that God willed me to write it.  Over the years I learned that one of the most significant contributors to burnout is piling responsibilities on top of responsibilities, without ever considering if those commitments were actually willed by God to be a part of my life at that time.  Of course, we will experience burnout if we fill up our time with things that were never meant to be there to begin with!

Today’s post in the Simply Still Series will focus on shifting away from being overcommitted. If you didn’t check out the first post in the series from last week, please be sure to do that!

Here’s a gentle warning: even commitments which are “for God” or which are “good” and “healthy” are generally not worth the trouble if they are not aligned with God’s will for our lives at that point.  That means praying through some hard choices.  It also means possibly foregoing what is good for what is best. 

If you struggle with being overcommitted and a general lack of stillness, there could be a number of contributing factors.  Maybe there is a value system which does not prioritize time and resources the way God would prefer? Maybe there is apprehension around saying, “No.”. The possibilities are endless, none are mutually exclusive, and I have been guilty of most!  Regardless of why you are overextended, today, I’m going to offer two pieces of advice on how to reduce your current commitments:

1st Piece of Advice

Make a list of everything on your plate right now.  What can you outsource (i.e., shoppers at the grocery store or pick up options)?  What can a spouse or significant other do or be taught to do?  An older child?  What can you do away with all together? What needs to be put on hold for a period of time? Sometimes seeing things on paper can help make sense of what stays and what goes.  Of course, pray on it!

2nd Piece of Advice

If you are really struggling (or even if you are not), consider clearing as much as possible from your schedule. This may sound like a silly or extreme idea, but I LOVE doing this each winter.  We live in the Poconos and although I love looking at the snow, I don’t necessarily love being in it.  It also gets dark very early in the winter…very, very early. 

Needless to say, winter in the Poconos really lends itself very well to a homebody seeking to lessen their load.  Also, with all the hustle and bustle of beginning a new school year finally far enough behind us, it really is an opportune time to deliberately press pause on activities. 

Maybe those expensive gymnastic lessons lose some appeal after taking a break from them?  Maybe that ministry you are serving in will be able to open the door for someone else to come in and serve in your absence? Only move toward reintroducing or introducing a commitment once you are certain it is meant to be there. More on this in a future post!

Now, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I will never offer advice that I don’t follow myself or that is not a product of my own experience.  Here is one example of how God worked through my commitments, or lack thereof, about a year ago. 

I found myself in school (yet again!), only this time for my Doctorate. At the time, I really sensed God wanted me back in school to open up new doors with a higher level of education. I was right about the school part, but wrong about the focus area. You see, I was pursuing a Doctor of Public Administration to supplement my Masters in the same subject area. I was about a semester or two in when I sensed God gently pressing me to stop. I had no idea why; nor did I know what else He might want me to pursue.

Nonetheless, I obeyed and withdrew.

Within a few weeks, God was igniting a long-dormant call to pursue ministry. Within a few more months I started down a path which could culminate in ordination, and just this week I begin a new higher education journey in seminary. What a whirlwind! Do you think I could have been able to identify what God wanted my next steps to be if I didn’t create margin by first relinquishing some responsibilities on my plate? Maybe. Probably not.

You see, I LOVED going for my doctorate! I thrive when I’m surrounded by minds brighter than my own, pushing me to think beyond what I’m currently capable of. Is pursuing a higher education bad? Nope! But here’s the thing: those were my plans, not His. Once I sensed that God had different plans for me, I adjusted my course. I didn’t know why or to what end. I simply obeyed.

God took care of the rest of the details and revealed some of the missing pieces once I was open to seeing them. I still don’t have all the pieces in front of me, but I trust Him and now I know through Spirit-led affirmations that I am indeed on the right path this time…at least until God gives me new directions.

Our stories will look different, but there will be a common dominator between you and I:  we can accomplish infinitely more for those entrusted to our care and for the Kingdom if we surrender to God’s will for our lives.  Sometimes less is more!

Don’t get me wrong, I can still overcommit, but I am getting better about consulting with God while I decide what to take on. 

Now that we have reviewed some ways to think about and actually create more time in our busy schedules, we will spend the next posts delving into some ideas around how to keep our schedules manageable.  Without that, we will be back to square one in no time at all. Think of it as the maintenance phase in weight loss. That juice cleanse won’t help much if we drive to Starbucks for some creamy, caffeinated goodness as soon as the cleanse is up!


Father God, in your infinite wisdom, help me to discern which responsibilities are really mine and mine alone.  I feel comfortable when I am in control so I don’t delegate as often as I should, but I know this is not your desire for me.  It can’t be!  Trusting you is more than enough. When I feel led to transition out of participating in an activity in some capacity, I will trust that you know what is best for me and the others around me.  I will humbly follow where you lead.

In Jesus’ Holy & Precious Name,


Simply Still Series: Tired of Being Tired?

Why do we let ourselves run so ragged? I mean think about it…why do we let ourselves become so depleted? No one is forcing us to chair that fundraiser. If we have kids, no one is asking us sign them up for yet another extra curricular…except perhaps the kids themselves. So why do we do it? Surely we have the capacity to take on or not take on the vast majority of activities which vie for our time and money. Yet, here we are.

Running on empty is clearly not God’s intention for us.  He could never want this lifestyle of perpetual exhaustion and restlessness for us, His children whom He delights so much in.

So again I ask, “Why do we let this happen?” Do we think we know better than God does when it comes to what’s best? 

Over recent weeks I have had different versions of the same conversation with various friends.  These conversations are what prompted me to address the topics we are covering over the next few weeks together. “I just don’t know how to say, ‘No’,” said one.  “I don’t even know myself anymore,” said another. 

In fact, we know from David that our Almighty Father desires the complete opposite of this for us:

Be Still and Know I am God. 

Psalm 46:10a

Be Still. This is not just a mere suggestion. It’s an imperative straight from the Lord, calling upon us to take up stillness as a part of our very being. This is more than acting still or desiring to be still, or thinking about being still.  It’s actually a state of being.  A state of being still. But how do we get there?

I don’t pretend to know all the answers, or even a fraction of the answers.  However, I do know what it is like to experience burnout and have nothing left for the people I should have the most for. I know what it’s like just going through the motions, too worn and defeated to even know I was worn and defeated.  I know what its like giving God my leftover time and energy, if anything at all, and not my very best.

I know what it’s like to try and remedy this imbalance on my own.

Once I got clued in that my body was keeping the score, I knew some changes were in order.  I read the books.  I did the things (think yoga, breathwork, and other practices).  None of these are bad things! In many ways, they are quite helpful, especially when they promote self-healing. However, they won’t sustain us, and they shouldn’t be done apart from a larger framework defined and ordained by God.

I also do not pretend to live the most balanced life at all times. Nonetheless, by the grace of God, I also know what it’s like to surrender a worn-out body and mind to Him. This allowed Him, not I, to re-prioritize how I spend my time and who I spend it with. 

The Lord had a great deal of heart work to do within me (and he still does). That is not something anyone but God can do for you, and will only come from abiding in Him. That said, I also learned a lot along the path toward balanced living where the Lord is prioritized above all else. When doing so, believe it or not, I still had more than enough time and energy for anything which followed Him.

In 2021 I published a similar series, Be Still. I have taken that content and reimagined it, additionally applying what I’ve learned between then and now. Snippets of content may be the same, but I don’t know about you but I forget A LOT and need gentle reminders even more than I forget. So what about it, will you join me?

Over the next few weeks, let us seek out simplicity.  We will explore priorities, commitments and boundaries so that we may be obedient in Being Still. We will see what God has to say about all this since our actions and thoughts must be grounded in Truth…His Truth…if they are to be sustained and done for His glory.  In doing so we will be set free from what we were never intended to take on to begin with. Is there a bolder way to enter the new year than declaring that our time and priorities are His?  Don’t be fooled!  There’s boldness in the obedience and stillness. 


Father God, Help me to slow down.  I am tired of doing things my own way.  Literally tired. Mentally tired.  Spiritually tired. At times, I have nothing left for my family, myself or you.  I know there must be another way. I know you desire me to be still.  Can you help me with that, please?  You are far wiser than I, and I seek to do your will! 

In Jesus’ Holy and Precious Name,



Prodigal Series Day 1: Younger Son, A testimony

Y’all, the Lord has put this series on my heart to write for months already!  The content was originally shared July 2022 as a 3-part sermon series at my home church.  The focus: the parable of the prodigal son.  The effect: perspective shifts, convictions and a new appreciation for a very, very old story. 

Now I know what you may be thinking: “What can I possibly learn from this parable that I don’t already know? It’s so basic: sinful son leaves home, returns, and is accepted back by the father.”  But is it really that simple?

I PROMISE that it isn’t.  By spending the next three weeks together in this story, as Jesus told it, you will learn things you didn’t previously know, and the Spirit will reveal biblical truths that were previously imperceptible. We will spend one week focusing on each of the main characters: the younger brother, the older brother and the father.  Sound good?!

Now, before we dive in, I want to share the redeeming tale of another prodigal.

This person was born into a typical Christian home and was exposed to God’s love from the time they were born.  They went on family retreats for vacations and sang in the choir.  They were a straight A student through 16 years of Catholic school, and proudly walked with their dad as he graduated from law school. 

However, for brevity’s sake, let’s fast forward to their teen years. This is when a decade-long string of poor decisions really started. This is also when they walked further and further away from the God of their childhood. At this time, they began drinking, first socially, but then every day.  By their late teens, a second life their father had been leading was exposed, and that was right around the time he was disbarred.  Simultaneously, their mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time.

Despite the world rapidly changing around them, they got a full academic scholarship to college…but the daily drinking continued…a modest inheritance from their grandfather was squandered, in full, before college’s first semester came to an end. Without money, drive, or a relationship with God at this point, they were suffocating by their own internal and external turmoil.

Poor decisions ensued. I think you get the idea. Before ultimately leaving college (and their full scholarship) to get a job for cash in a restaurant, they were diagnosed with major depressive disorder. They often thought that if they just disappeared no one would notice or care.  This person would end up with several other diagnoses as a young adult, including Anxiety and PTSD. 

By their early 20s, they shut out those who cared for them the most.  They didn’t want others to see how far they were falling. At one point, a pastor told this person that nothing of value ever came out of their mouth.    

They moved back home after leaving college, but their mother’s heart broke as she watched her child destroy their body and waste their mind.  The mother told them to change their lifestyle or move out.  The individual left, but not before their depression and the enemy took full hold of them and convinced them that ceasing to exist was the best for everyone.

God had different plans, but it took a few more years for this person to start to embrace what those plans could possibly be.

You see, several more years of selfishness and disregard culminated in unexpectedly expecting.

In that moment, the solid childhood foundation of knowing God’s love flooded back.  This person knew that if God intended the child to be born…the child would be…and God, Jehovah Jireh, would provide.  In that instant, priorities began to shift and a longing to know God better overtook this person’s heart and mind. 

This person suddenly couldn’t get enough of Him! The new little family moved out of state where they didn’t know a single person. Bit by bit, God replaced old parts of their life with Him. He placed godly women in this person’s life and provided examples of how someone could walk with Christ while navigating marriage and parenting. They began to engage with Christian mom groups and the local church. They went on mission trips and saw people hungry for the Word.  They wanted that, too.

Slowly but surely,  depression was replaced with joy, and indifference transformed into passion. Netflix was replaced with CS Lewis and psychological thrillers were replaced with Tim Keller and Kyle Idleman. 

There was an insatiable desire to learn everything they could about God. The more they learned, the more their heart changed. At some point, they started to feel led to share, both the information they had been acquiring and the life changing relationship they had been experiencing with God. After all…what good is knowledge and experience if either remains merely in one’s memory, especially if such an intimate relationship with God could actually change someone’s life?! 

This person stopped drinking.  They went back to college and finished with a 4.0.  After having two more children they went on to get their masters, again with a 4.0, and later began to get their doctorate, but pressed pause on that only because the Lord redirected their path…get this…toward seminary!

They still had their share of messy life to navigate, even after turning toward God, but they did so with a blessed assurance that God was in control and would provide.  And God did provide…each and every time. I know.

It was a long and windy road for this person, but it ultimately led to them being able to sit in this coffee house today and type these words to you.

It was me.

I once was lost, but I have also been found, and I am His.

I’m still very much a work in progress as I grow as a person and in my relationship with our God, but I can’t wait to see what he has in store!   I let Him change me and hope you’ll let Him, too.  His way is better. I promise!

Now that you’ve heard a bit more about how God has worked in my life, and my journey of finding my way back to Him, let’s meet back here, same time same place tomorrow, and we will learn about someone else who was lost and found.

All my love,


Accompanying Playlist

Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!

Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Beating the Enemy at His Own Game

A few weeks ago, I had a foreboding feeling that the enemy would attack either my friends or myself.  Some girlfriends from church and I planned on going to a weekend women’s retreat (that’s actually where I wrote a bulk of today’s content). 

If I’ve learned anything from my walk with God over the last few years, it’s that the enemy is just as determined as my God to capture my attention.  We can be certain that if our intent is to spend time in fellowship with God, the enemy would assuredly want to keep us from that sacred time.

I thought about emailing my girlfriends a few days before the getaway: “Beware!  The enemy will get in your head and try to be present in your circumstances.  Do not fall for it! He wants to keep you from going on the retreat as much as the Lord yearns to have you there. Pay close attention to how the enemy tries to get to you through your family.  He loves using what’s most dear to us to accomplish his wicked schemes.”

I never got around to sharing the proactive reminder, but the message still got told as, one by one, friends experienced obstacles, potentially preventing their attendance.  Each time I shared the advice I wished I had shared just days before.

I wasn’t immune to attacks, either.  My youngest called a few minutes after I left: she had a splinter and wanted me to come home to take care of it.  I didn’t, nor did I go home after each of the ten or so times she called throughout the weekend.  She was ok!

The enemy will do anything in his power to keep us from being with the one who created us.  He actually takes delight in it.  So, knowing this, we can be on the offensive and recognize when he is more prone to attack. 

Got a mission trip planned? Gear up. 

Going to a bible study on Wednesday?  Hold your hats. 

Driving to church on Sunday?  Young families, ever notice how getting out the door on Sunday is hardly ever the highlight of your week?  Even if you successfully make it to worship, how present are you, really? If you are stressed from the fighting, distracted from the nagging, and unsettled from the rushing…you’re probably not very present at all.  I wasn’t in that season.

The enemy is unrelenting, but so is our Lord, and He is so much greater than anything the enemy can try to throw our way.  

That said, I do get it.  Real life happens.  For better or for worse, valid reasons come up and our plans have to adapt accordingly.  This is not about those circumstances.

Before I wrap up today, I want to leave you with a quick story of when God provided in the midst of the enemy’s schemes.  

A few years ago, I was away on a mission trip.  I lived in PA, but my mom was back at her home on Long Island with my kids.  While I was away, one of my daughters came down with pneumonia.  No one would have blamed me in the slightest if I packed up and went home. In fact, some may have even judged me for staying…but here’s the thing: the Lord already knew about her sickness when He placed it on my heart to go on the trip.  

My mom masterfully cared for me when I was a sick child, and no one else could have given my own daughter better care than the woman who raised me. Not only that, but there was another woman who also felt led to go on the mission trip: my daughter’s pediatrician was away with me! 

She walked my mom through all the things and even instructed urgent care on how to treat her. When my mom was back home with my daughter, our pediatrician walked her through how to do the nebulizer treatments.

Can you imagine?!  My daughter responded to the treatment by the time I arrived home, and I was grateful for the time away with God.  I was in awe over how He provided! I was also keenly aware of how if I had left early, I would have missed the opportunity for God to show his faithfulness.  Not only that, but I would have handed the enemy what he wanted right on a silver platter. 


Father God, Fill me with your Spirit so I may more easily discern when the enemy is attacking.  Help me to remember that battles between myself and my loved ones are actually battles with the enemy itself. Although I know Satan would like nothing more than for me to believe otherwise.  I must not forget that you supply my every provision, and I will have everything I need in every circumstance.  Do not allow well-laid out schemes prevent me from spending time with you or in the fellowship of other believers. 

In Jesus’ Holy & Precious Name,