The Time Is Now

“If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s family will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)

Perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.

Have you heard this phrase before? It's one that tends to be thrown around and shows up on a variety of mugs, towels, and graphic prints. During this past year or so where I've consistently read the Bible and really fallen in love with God's Word, I've learned the stories behind popular verses like this one. My friend Laurel is an incredible artist, and one of the things I love so much about her work is that she never throws a phrase onto a product just for the heck of it. She prays over everything she hand-letters, and she explains the "why" behind it.

Because these words are not simple words. They're God-breathed and given to us divinely through scripture.

Those two sentences in the book of Esther hold so much more weight once we know the story.

Esther is a beautiful—yet ordinary—young Jewish woman. After King Xerxes disposes of Queen Vashti, he begins the search for a new queen. He's completely floored by Esther, and without knowing her true ethnic identity, he gives her a place of honor as new queen. She wins his favor, and he dotes on her with gifts, beauty treatments, and gourmet food. This ordinary woman is now living a life she could have only dreamed of.

The story starts to shift in chapter three. Haman, the king’s adviser, develops a plot to kill the Jews—all men, women, and children—due to their ethnic identity and their worshipping the Lord over the king. (Think about it: This is still happening today. Christians are killed all over the world for their faith.)

Mordecai, a Jewish man and Esther’s cousin, stands firm against Haman. In Chapter 4, he encourages Esther to do the same. Mordecai tells Esther that as a Jewish woman she will not be safe, even as the queen. The palace walls cannot protect her from the massacre Haman is planning. He implores her to act:

“Don’t think you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:12-14)

Esther rises up and tells Mordecai to assemble all the Jews to fast. After three days of fasting, she will go to the king and talk to him.

“If I perish, I perish,” she says.

She prepares a banquet that both the king and Haman attend, and she boldly asks that both she and her people would be spared. Esther tells the king of Haman’s plot, and Haman is hanged. She then begs the king to revoke Haman’s evil plot against the Jews. King Xerxes allows her to sign an edict in his name declaring that the Jews can defend themselves and be ready against their enemies.

“In every province and every city, wherever the king’s command and his law reached, joy and rejoicing took place among the Jews. There was a celebration and a holiday. And many of the ethnic groups of the land professed themselves to be Jews because fear of the Jews had overcome them.” (Esther 8:17)

Mordecai and Esther take a stand for the Lord. My study bible points out that Esther is a parallel to Jesus. She comes alongside her people and intervenes. And at this time, in the Old Testament, she did not even have the example of Jesus Christ yet! She stands up based on faith and trust in God’s grace.

How much more should we take action having the knowledge that Jesus came, died, and rose for us?

I am not facing death like Esther. Most of us are not. Most of us live quite comfortable lives. God has called us to exactly where we are for His great purpose. We’re called to be bold and to serve others right here, right now.

In Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller uses the story of Esther to illustrate how our work is not for ourselves. If we work and build, and we stay in that palace we build, we become slaves to it. It's a terrible place to be. Our work and our gifting are given to us to serve others and ultimately the King.

We have to remember that Esther is an ordinary woman. She’s not a minister or teacher. Yet God used her mightily. He wants to do the same with us.

What does that look like practically in your life right now?

I’ve been thinking about the book of Esther and her character throughout this summer. Her story applies to my current season in a few different ways. I've set four goals as I face the second half of 2017:

1.  Work with excellence and with a mindset of service.

Make the time count. My work is not about my resume, my recognition, or my success. It’s about other people and the Lord. Whether your work is in full-time ministry or not, it is meant for service. Think about how your gifts at work and beyond can be used for God.

2. Actively pursue health in mind, body, and spirit.

I want to be the full woman God intended me to be. I pray I surrender total control to him in every area of my life. Give anxiety and worry over to Him, trusting that He has a plan and provision. I want to steward my physical body well and feed my emotional health through time with Him. 

3. Pray with focus, meditate on God’s word, and fast.

Esther assembled her people to fast before she spoke to the King. I won’t be fasting from food given my medical history, but I can fast from other things. I can fast from social media and my phone, for one. Take one day a week to step away. Fasting means intentionally saying no to myself to say yes to more of God. We often see great men and women of God fasting in the Bible. That’s not a coincidence. They were putting their heart and head in a place to hear from God by shutting out the distractions that would get in the way.

Praying with focus goes beyond a quick grace before dinner. Praying with focus is specific conversation with the Lord to help me align my heart with His. This won’t happen unless I’m practicing prayer on a daily basis. And it really is a practice.

4. Take bold steps to share Jesus.

Let us speak the Truth! Sometimes I like to stay in my comfortable bubble where everyone around me is a Christian. I know the Good News of the Gospel, and I desire other people to know it, too. To have a relationship with Jesus that changes their life. Our great commission is to make disciples. I’m praying I would confidentially and without fear share the Name above all names.

The time is now. What will you do with it?

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

Beauty From the Inside Out


Let’s talk about a gentle and quiet spirit.

I can’t really remember a time in my life when I was called “quiet.” Nor have I really been deemed “gentle.” Adjectives like “talkative,” “outgoing,” “independent,” and “ambitious” more typically fit the bill. To this day, I can vividly recall the moment in my freshman high school classroom in which I leaned over in my desk to talk to a friend in the row next to me. My desk promptly fell over, with me still in it, much to my teacher’s and my own dismay.

Talkative? Check.

So you can imagine why in all the years I’d heard the phrase “gentle and quiet spirit,” I simply brushed it aside.

I’ve been slowing reading through 1 Peter the past few weeks, and In 1 Peter 3, the apostle Peter talks about the inward characteristics that make a woman beautiful. Rather than focusing on the physical and the external, Peter emphasizes how much God cares about the heart. In fact, he names one quality in particular:

Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the weaving of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes.
— 1 Peter 3:3-4

I like looking at how other versions of the Bible translate this same passage:

“... You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within…” (NLT)

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (NKJV)

“... Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…” (NIV)

Real beauty isn’t defined by a great haircut, jewelry, or clothes. Real beauty is what’s inside the heart—the incorruptible gentle and quiet spirit.

Here's where I think we get tripped up. Peter isn’t saying women cannot wear jewelry. He isn’t saying women cannot be perceived as physically pretty. What he’s saying is that your beauty cannot rule you. Our physical attributes fade away. They die with our bodies on this earth.

God is after the internal.

Godly womanhood is imperishable. It’s the kind of beauty that lasts a lot longer than any waterproof mascara.

But, How on earth can I measure up to this gentle, quiet woman? That’s not me. I’m the chatty one, the one who got in trouble for talking too much at school.

You might be saying the same thing. Or maybe you’ve never thought of yourself as having a gentle and quiet spirit because you’re a driven career woman, you speak your mind, and you love talking to other people.

Peter’s description absolutely can be us, extrovert or not.

If we think of the woman Peter describes as simply one who is introverted, soft-spoken, and not ambitious, then we totally miss the point. Peter isn’t saying you cannot have goals or that you must refrain from speaking up. Quietness doesn’t refer to being completely silent.

Gentleness and quietness are qualities you can practice and grow into. They’re traits I’m learning to appreciate more as I get older. Gentleness and quietness are strengths. They’re characteristics of a strong woman of the Lord. Jesus was described as gentle. And gentleness is a fruit of the spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
— Galatians 5:22-23

Recently God’s been showing me why gentleness and quietness are beautiful—and how I can actually be that while still being chatty and outgoing.

At the core, these characteristics are defined by reliance on God.

A quiet soul trusts the Lord. A quiet soul gives control to God and knows His ways are best. A quiet soul is not anxious or worried. A quiet soul is content in Christ alone. A quiet soul submits to the Father.

If you look back a few verses in 1 Peter 3, you’ll see how Peter describes the beauty of submission: submitting to your husband and ultimately submitting to the Lord.

That is the quietness that makes us beautiful.

I can easily fixate on outward beauty. I enjoy fashion and makeup. I like physical activity and eating well. I know God wants us to steward our bodies responsibly and in a way that honors Him. But we’re not to honor our physical bodies more than Christ. When clean eating, exercise routines, meal planning, and my shopping budget get bigger than God, it’s a problem. When my hair, makeup, clothing, shoes, and the definition of my ab muscles take up more brain space than Christ, I have a major issue.

Where is my heart in all of this?

When I’m concerned with all those above things—or even only one or two of them—I’m a woman striving, competing, and placing hope in my physical body. That doesn’t sound like a gentle and quiet spirit at all. That sounds like a woman who’s stressed out and worried way too much about the temporal. God doesn’t see that as beautiful.

Beauty is a woman whose heart loves, trusts, and finds full satisfaction in the Lord.

What if we lived in a world where Instagram likes were determined solely by a person’s heart? Where holiness outweighed physical beauty every single time?

I think we can start to create that kind of world. But we have to encourage one another. We have to keep returning to God’s Word to know the truth when we’re bombarded with everything but. The culture we live in doesn’t want to equate beauty with a gentle and quiet spirit. You can’t sell a gentle and quiet spirit.

Framing beauty in the way Peter describes is so much better. There’s something incredibly freeing about it. We don't have to get stuck on the merry-go-round of culture's ever-changing beauty ideals. God's definition of beauty isn't changing. It's from the heart. 

We can pray for a heart that matches the Lord's. A heart that rests in Him. A woman fully at peace because her hope is in her King. There's nothing more beautiful than that.

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

We’ve heard the parable of the Good Samaritan many times. Typically when we think about it, we think about how we as Christians are to love and help others. But have you thought about how the Samaritan went out of his way to help a Levite–someone completely different from him?

He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind;” and “your neighbor as yourself.” 
— Luke 10:27

It’s easy to develop relationships with people who are similar to us, who have similar interests, hobbies, and backgrounds. Often times our neighbors don’t fit those criteria. What if we talk to the neighbor we have nothing in common with? Initiate conversations with the person at work who’s in a totally separate life stage than you? Strike up a discussion with the person at Starbucks you always see and who seems nothing like you?

We have to get outside of our comfort zones if we're ever to reach people with the Good News.

“Have you ever considered that interruptions and distractions in your life are divine appointments by God?” my pastor said during his message Sunday.

When your waitress at dinner is taking an especially long time, when you’re asked to head up a special event at work, when you’re assigned a middle seat on the flight, when your neighbor you barely know wants to talk as you get the mail, embrace the uncomfortable. Step into those situations with grace and patience. God doesn’t orchestrate accidents. He can use our experiences at any time as a way to spread His truth. We may never know when an inconvenience in our life is actually divinely and specifically created for us.

Head over to for the full post, inspired by my pastor's recent message.

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

Room for One More

I don't know my neighbors. I've lived in the same apartment for almost a year now, and I've yet to have a real conversation with them. I met one couple because they helped me move a couch. But we haven't talked since then except to say hello. And I don't know any of the other people in the apartments around me.

It's so easy to head into my home, preoccupied and focused on whatever it is that I want to do at that moment. Maybe you can relate.

In Luke 14, Jesus shares the parable of the large banquet. This banquet is for everyone. Jesus makes a point that we must be generous even to people who may not be able to give us anything in return. We must live generously because God has given generously to us.

If God can invite us as sinners into his perfect Home, then what stops us from inviting our neighbors into our homes here today?

Over and over in Scripture, eating a meal together connects people. In the Old Testament, God uses food to not only bring His people together but to show them more of Him.

There is always room for one more at Christ's table.

Head over to for the full post, inspired by my pastor's recent message.

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

My Life-Changing Week at Camp

Thank you so much for praying for the high school girls and me while at camp. Your prayers were felt, and God was present in countless ways in those mountains. I've been back to Nashville a bit now, thinking about exactly how to share my experience with you. Camp was one of the greatest weeks of my life. I've never been a part of something so physically exhausting yet so spiritually renewing. I kept thinking, "Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be a part of this."

A few years ago, I never would have dreamed I'd be leading fifteen 15-year-old girls for six days and talking about Jesus with them every day. But there I was. As always, God put me right where He needed me to be. I pray that I helped encourage those girls toward a deeper love of Christ. I pray they take what they learned on that mountain into their lives back home.

A typical day at camp meant we’d wake up early and read the Bible individually, going through the first six chapters of Daniel (one of my favorite books). We’d discuss each chapter together as a group and then head to breakfast and morning worship. I cannot put into words how powerful, moving, and, well, fun, the worship services are at camp. Picture an intimate concert with 500 people, add in hands raised in praise, bumping speakers, and a whole lot of Jesus. That’s camp. We’d sing and then hear a challenging message from one of the pastors. After worship, we’d have another discussion within our cabins. The rest of the day included lunch, ample time for outdoor activities (hello, wave pool), dinner, another powerful worship session, and a final group discussion before bed.

The days were long, but the Lord was sweet. He brought me a co-leader who knew some of the girls and had been to camp before. She who so kind and able to help guide me. And when she had to unexpectedly leave camp early for a funeral, God gave me the energy and the wisdom to lead our group solo—a group I felt God specifically placed me with.

My job as a leader was to help point these high school girls to Jesus. I was there to not only watch over them but to care for them for the week. I thought of them like my little sisters. I wanted to make sure they felt loved and encouraged.

Camp is designed specifically for the students. The thing is, these girls and this camp impacted me, too.

I walked away with a greater love of the Lord and a greater desire to serve him wholeheartedly.

As the week went on, God revealed to me that when your attention is on serving others, you don't have space to stress about the little (ultimately selfish) things you normally might. I couldn't worry about my body, or my bank account, or my job. I didn't have the time to feel anxious about this stuff because I was focused on ministering to those girls and hearing from Jesus.

It was freeing.

Seeing the way hundreds of high school girls and boys worshipped and openly loved Jesus all week long was so beautiful. Their passion and joy for the Lord is contagious. I couldn’t help but lift my arms in praise and dance around with the high schoolers as the worship band played Hillsong Young and Free and other upbeat songs. And when we sang “A Beautiful Name,” I let tears stream down my face as I thought about all He has done for me, transforming me from death to life. To God alone be the glory. The name of Jesus deserves all the praise!

When you witness the pure love a new Christian has for Jesus, it stirs something in you. These students demonstrated the true joy of salvation. The deep desire of so many of them is to share the truth of the Gospel and to share how God has changed their lives. They recognize the fact that news this good simply must be shared. When you’ve been saved from the power of sin and the schemes of Satan and then graciously offered eternal life through faith in Christ, that affects you big-time.

The students reminded me that if you are a Christian, then Jesus is not just a part of your life. He is your whole life. Do you live that way, too?

I carried home a few other lessons from camp, things I plan to continue doing back here in real life:

1. Spend less time on my phone.

We were in the mountains with little service. I could call and send a few texts, but I couldn’t be constantly available like I usually am. You know what? It was great. We could all use time away from our devices every now and then.

2. Start every morning with the Bible and prayer.

This year has been the year I’ve developed the habit of morning Bible reading. Camp helped solidify the importance of that. You can read the Word any time of day. But for me, my day feels off without reading and praying first. My goal is to intentionally set aside 30 minutes before work to read and let the message sink in before I start my day.

3. Eat freely.

Future blog post on this to come! Camp showed me not every meal has to be Instagram-perfect and blow our taste buds out of the water. Sometimes lunch is a blah ham and cheese sandwich, and that’s okay. Food sustains us and energizes us—and meals that aren’t this amazing experience can serve to remind us of the Bread of Life who truly satisfies.

4. Share the Truth.

As Christians, we have the greatest news of all time. Not sharing that really makes zero sense. I pray that when people know me, they say I’ve been with Jesus.

When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.
— Acts 4:13


I’m an ordinary woman, but God continually does extraordinary things for His purpose and His kingdom through ordinary people. I don’t want to be known as a “good person” or a “sweet girl” but rather as a woman of the Lord. Others will only know that if I share with them the Gospel and my own testimony of His saving grace. I have to share my story whenever possible, with whoever possible, especially the people who are already around me.

I want my life—however short or long—to count for His Kingdom.

Let’s be Christians who demonstrate the deep and profound joy that comes from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Let’s proclaim Him with the same boldness of Peter and John, the same boldness of a newly saved high school kid. There’s nothing more exciting or worth sharing.

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

How to Make Godly Decisions

We’ve all been faced with a big decision at one time or another. You might even be there right now. Trying to figure out where to live, what job to pursue, what school to send your child to–the list goes on and on.

We have to make decisions on a regular basis. Yet too often, we turn to Google, we text a friend, or we try to strategize our way through them. What if we turned to God instead? What if we sought His will by spending time in His Word and by asking Him directly?

Head over to for the full post, inspired by my pastor's recent message

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

I'm Going to Camp

I’m going to camp! In fact by the time you read this, I may already be there. Today is the first day of my church’s high school camp in the beautiful mountains of the Cherokee National Forest in East Tennessee. I’ll be there through Monday, and I am so excited. Another woman and I will be co-counselors to a group of about 15 girls. I can’t wait to meet them and get to know each of them throughout the next six days.

This is my first time at a Christian camp. I went on a youth group trip the summer following my senior year of high school, but this week’s camp is going to be pretty different. A few hundred high school boys and girls are expected to attend. We’re booked from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. every day, praying and worshipping together, learning about Jesus, and of course having fun in the pool, at the ropes course, and on the zip line. The biggest difference about this camp is that we’re focused on discipleship. We want to help these students know and love Jesus and then go forth to make disciples.

I’d love for you to cover me, the other counselors, and these students in prayer. Because I’ll confess: I’m nervous! This is a totally new experience for me. But it dawned on me during these past few days that the things that scare us the most end up being the most worthwhile. God goes before us. He knows all the details that we don’t. He’s paving the way. And He’s called me to camp with a purpose.

Praise the LORD of Hosts, for the LORD is good; His faithful love endures forever
— Jeremiah 33:11b

Will you pray for me?

Pray for wisdom.

Pray that God would speak through me and give me the words to say, especially when counseling girls one-on-one.

Pray for confidence.

I’ll be sharing my testimony. Pray for confidence in what God has done and continues to do in my life.

Pray for joy and freedom.

I get nervous when I enter into new and unknown situations because I idolize control. This week God is totally stripping me of that. I don’t get to control my schedule, my sleep, my meals, my alone time. Pray against anxiety and that I would remember His way is so much better than mine. He’s got this.

Pray I would spread the light of Christ in both my words and actions.

I strive for my actions to match my beliefs. This is especially important this week while I am surrounded by young, impressionable 14-to-18 year old girls. Pray I would show them what it looks like to walk with the Lord.

Pray for patience.

High school girls. Hormones. Need I say more? Pray my co-counselor and I would have patience and extend a whole lot of grace to our group.

Pray for spiritual rest.

Each day is jam-packed. Pray I would find spiritual rest in the Lord, even when tired physically.

Pray for an overflow of coffee.

Just kidding. Making sure you’re still with me. 

Will you pray for the girls?

Pray for a deeper love of Jesus.

For knowledge, love, and obedience of Him. Pray that the girls who do not have a relationship with Christ would turn from sin and surrender to Christ for the first time.

Pray for one girl who struggles with food, exercise, or body image to be placed in my group.

Pray these chains of sin in her life would be broken.

Pray for discipleship.

Pray that each girl would leave with friends who can help hold her accountable and sharpen her as a Christian.

Pray for continued movement after camp.

This is only the beginning as God sends us out. Pray the spiritual high of camp wouldn’t end when we leave the mountains but would grow and catch fire as we head back to our regular lives.

Pray for all glory to go to God.

Lord, keep our hearts fixed on You! To You be the glory. 

I know He will show up in powerful ways this week, and I’m thankful to be a part of it.

You can watch the camp worship services live every night at 8:30 p.m. CT:  

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

The Comparison Game


I moved to Nashville nine months ago. In that time, I have received three couches from friends and family. Yes, three. My initial thought was one of gratitude and appreciation. I have a new couch! For free! But if I’m honest that very quickly dissipated and morphed into, This couch doesn’t fit with my aesthetic. This isn’t what I’m going for. My apartment doesn’t look good enough to invite friends into. I want the clean, white, perfect Joanna Gaines home that so many other people seem to have.

Hello—talking about a couch here. Interior design. A first-world problem if there ever was one.

I’d say to myself, I’m a 27-year-old woman living in my first apartment alone, and I want it to look good.

It didn’t take long for my boyfriend to call me out. Leave it to a male to speak the obvious truth:

Why does it matter?

Desiring or possessing a nice house or apartment is not an inherently bad thing. We’re allowed to have living spaces that fit our style and make us feel at home. But I think it’s important we ask ourselves the state of our hearts in desiring these things and building them up.

Surely you can relate, whether with your home, your body, your job, or your relationship status. After all, we live in an image-focused world. I read a statistic that Instagram has 600 million users, 400 million of whom are active every day. And 95 billion images and videos are shared on Instagram every 24 hours. How crazy is that? We’re inundated with images from other people—some authentic but many not. Images of fitness routines, “clean” meals, beauty tips, high fashion, celebrity lifestyles, career accomplishments, perfect homes—the list is never-ending.

I look at Instagram and compare myself to women who “have it all”: a successful blog or book, a cute body, great fashion sense, a perfectly decorated home, a nice husband, and maybe even a sweet little one.

These things will ultimately pass away. That vintage clawfoot tub and the number of blog followers aren't coming with us to heaven. We’re not guaranteed our six-pack abs are either. I don’t want to store up so many treasures for myself here on earth that I’m reluctant to leave them behind when I’m called to glory and life eternal with Jesus Christ.

Let my wealth be in the Cross.

This truth applies to any of our ventures. I know when I am not on guard and spending time in God’s Word, my tendency to compare can take deeper roots in my life. I imagine comparison like a nasty weed that makes its way into the flower bed and destroys every blossom. It digs in, plants roots, and grows deeper and wider until it has thoroughly wrecked the entire garden.

At that point, my comparison turns into jealousy and envy.

My friend Paul Maxwell had this to say about jealousy:

"Through jealousy, God shows us two things. First, he shows us himself. He is a jealous God (he even says “my name is Jealous” Exodus 34:14). It is part of his character as the covenanting God to take on the pain and hurt of experiencing his bride’s unfaithfulness (Hosea 4:13–14). Through our jealousy, we experience a communicable divine emotion (Deuteronomy 32:21).

Second, he shows us ourselves. Through jealousy, the deepest desires of our hearts are elicited and amplified (Genesis 22:12; Psalm 66:18–20). The fire of jealousy burns away the distractions of life’s details to show us the things we treasure. This process of internal emotional suffering—of jealousy most pointedly—can help clarify and bring to the surface all that we would otherwise have kept hidden from God and even from ourselves."

My jealousy indicates where my desires are. My jealousy for someone else’s beautiful home is about more than decor. At its core, it’s about approval, recognition, and admiration.

I even get jealous about friend’s successful blogs, books, and creative pursuits. Deep down, I want God to widely use me and my writing, to allow me to publish a book and to impact other women. The jealousy that can come from that desire is not a pretty place for my heart to be.

In 1 Kings 20 and 21, we see Ahab fiercely jealous of Naboth and his vineyard. Ahab wants what he wants, and his wife Jezebel encourages him to assert his power to make it happen. God had commanded earlier,

Walk in my statutes, execute my ordinances, and keep all My commandments by walking in them.
— 1 Kings 6:12

Ahab and Jezebel completely disregard God and pursue their own desires in selfishness and sin.

Later, Ahab repents and walks around subdued—and The Lord honors His humility. God is just, yet He is full of mercy. He wants our humility and reliance on Him over our own pride. And He wants our contentment to be in Him, not in what other people have.

Immorality comes into my life through comparison, jealousy, and pride. Can you say the same?

I want my focus to be on my holiness, my becoming more like Jesus and more consistently in step with Him. This has to be elevated above any striving for success, approval, or acceptance. 

This is what the Lord says: Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. Where could you possibly build a house for me? And where would my resting place be? My hand made all these things, and so they all came into being. This is the Lord’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at my word.
— Isaiah 66:1-2

God created heaven and earth; He created us and every part of our lives. He's looking for the person who is humbly willing to follow Him. When I notice myself in the trap of comparison, I ask Him to create in me a humble heart and a spirit of obedience to His will. I need His help so that my focus rests on Him, not on others. Let my life be about Jesus and the things He wants for me.

Rather than compare to others or long jealously after what they have, we can root ourselves in the Lord. When we align our hearts with His, we understand and experience what He wants for us.

This is the long game. It's not an overnight process. It takes work, and it takes continual turning back to Him.

When we do that, we get to rest because we're not constantly striving. We get to experience real peace in a way we cannot with anything else. While it may not garner us a bestselling book or a cute home like the comparison game could, it will allow God to use us as He sees fit, for our overall good and the good of His kingdom.

I'd take that any day. 

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

A Follow-Up on Body Image and Recovery

Friends—thank you so much for reading my blog post on body image. I really think God was using me for that post, and I am glad His Word was such an encouragement for so many of you.

After publishing it, a couple of you reached out to me to ask for more specific advice. You wondered about any helpful suggestions I might have for someone going through recovery from an eating disorder or disordered eating.

First of all, for each of you who confessed to me that you have struggled with body image or eating and no longer want to walk that path, I want to say I am so proud of you. Being honest and admitting body image struggles, exercise addiction, or an eating disorder is the hardest part and the first step to recovery. And I would encourage you if you are reading this and thinking that you might be struggling, too, would you confess that to someone? Share this burden with someone else. Invite them in and push back some of the darkness that has a hold on you.  

Give up your struggle to the Lord. Cry out to Him. Talk to Him specifically about what you’re going through. Someone once told me you have to claim your struggle—meaning you have to name it aloud and ask very intentionally for healing. Prayer is the most powerful weapon we wield. Use it. Don’t let sin and Satan’s grasp keep you trapped.

I think that has been one of my biggest revelations in recovery—the knowledge that I cannot do it alone. Other people are not here to judge you; they want to help you.

Even more so, God is here for you. If you are a Christian, you have been sealed with His Spirit. He dwells within you! Take a moment to soak that in.

When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
— Ephesians 1:13

God hears you, and He loves you so much. He doesn't want you to spend your life hyper-focused on your body and your weight, your fitness routine, and your food intake. He has so much more in store for you. You have to believe that. If you are wrestling with the same struggle again and again, continually hitting a dead end, and you are not a Christian, would you consider how a relationship with Jesus changes your life? How He enables your healing, recovery, and redemption?

Read my story. I can’t make this stuff up—I’m alive today because of Jesus. I’m still a work in progress, and I will always be. But He has given me new life. You can have new life, too.

If you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and you proclaim that, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

My next step for you would be to start meeting with a non-diet dietitian in your area. I cannot emphasize enough how much my dietitian has helped me and continues to lead me on the road to full freedom. When seeking out a dietitian, be sure she has her credentials and really does specialize in eating disorders and intuitive eating. If you cannot find someone in your area like this, there are some great RDs who offer phone/Skype sessions. Consider Robyn (a friend and fellow church member from New York City!), Kylie (adore her), or Reba (my dietitian!).

Another thing that was super helpful for me was doing a detox for my mind. I re-evaluated all the media I take in, and I looked specifically for healthier outlets that would encourage me and build up my body confidence. I now regularly read blogs like Imma Eat That and The Real Life RD, and I listen to podcasts like Food Psych with Christy Harrison. I look for books on recovery, such as Life Without Ed (could not recommend this more), The Eating Disorder Sourcebook, and Intuitive Eating (a game-changer for everyone, not just those who struggle with an ED).

I stopped following a lot of people on Instagram who made me feel guilty about the food I eat or the way my body looks. I stopped following most celebrities. I often found myself comparing my life to theirs, and it wasn't healthy. About a year ago, I stopped all my magazine subscriptions. I read magazines here and there, but not the way I use to legit study them from cover to cover. I even stopped watching "The Bachelor/Bachelorette"—I know that sounds silly, but it's helped! I didn't realize how much I compared myself to the "real" women on those shows and held them as a standard for what I should look like and what men desire. Let me tell you: That could not be further from the truth.

I have to take solace in the real Truth—God's Word. Psalm 139 and Proverbs 31 are beautiful reminders of who we are as precious daughters of Christ. Our worth is so much more than our weight or the food we eat. Pick a verse that especially speaks to you and memorize it. Pull that out when you’re tempted to fall back into old ways.

For me, that’s 1 Samuel 16:7:

But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.

Remember who you are and whose you are. Keep fighting. Recovery is a battle, but full freedom and restoration are possible.

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

What Does The Bible Say About Body Image?

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a long time. I haven’t written it because, well, there’s so much to say. I’ve written plenty on body image in the past, but not always from a Biblical standpoint. I’ve written about honoring our bodies and how to talk to a friend who has an eating disorder. I’ve encouraged us to quit dictating the morality of food and to forget about weight loss resolutions.

But talk about the Gospel and how that affects body image?

It’s a tougher topic entirely.

A writer at Christianity Today had this to say about the issue:

“Every time a woman turns on the television, strolls past a magazine aisle, watches the numbers rise on the scale, or spots that first gray hair, the battle wages on.

I cannot speak to the experience of men, but studies show that men fight this battle too. Images of six-pack abs, athletic builds, trendy clothes, and perfectly styled hair are all over the media…and if we're being honest, in many an evangelical pulpit.

For these two reasons—physical and spiritual—Christians need pastors to talk openly and thoughtfully about body image. The problem is, very few are doing this.

I can only speculate about why church leaders are largely silent about body image. Perhaps it's seen as a ‘women's issue,’ whereas the majority of pastors are men. Perhaps the topic is just too sensitive. Perhaps it speaks to a theology more concerned with the spirit than the body. Or perhaps it is an idol so entwined in Christian culture that we hardly even notice it.”

I definitely notice it, and if you’re reading this, I bet you do, too.

I thought moving from New York City to the Nashville area would mean I’d escaped the pressures of an image-focused and success-hungry society. That has been true to some extent. But the reality is the same across America: We are hyper-focused on our bodies. We are bombarded with images and headlines on a daily basis that tell us what to look like, what to eat, and how to work out.

Christians are not immune to this. I’ve heard beautiful, Godly women many times compare their diets and discuss the things they don’t like about their bodies. Men may not be talking about their body dissatisfaction in the same way, but body image is still a part of their lives.

So while I am not a pastor, I am a woman of the Word and a woman who loves the Lord. I’m also a woman who has experienced the deep pain and destruction of an eating disorder and poor body image—and the immense healing a relationship with Christ brings.

Throughout my years of struggle with food, exercise, and body image, the thing that has brought me the most comfort and encouragement is the Word of God. My identity is rooted in Him. When we accept Christ and live our lives for Him, that changes everything—including body image.

Paul writes in his first letter to Timothy, 

for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 
— 1 Timothy 4:8

This verse always stands out to me. It’s been helpful for me whenever I think “I just ate [insert “bad” food here] so I better [insert strenuous exercise] to burn those calories.” That sort of thinking is not the way God created us! I cannot stress this enough. That thinking comes straight from the devil. It tempts us and tricks us; it certainly doesn’t make us more like Christ.

Exercise is an amazing thing when done with a joyful heart and a true approach to health. But when exercise impedes your holiness, it’s time to take a step back. Reading the Word and praying has to come before time at the gym. Physical fitness and clean eating are not number-one priorities in God’s book, despite what culture may have us believe. We don’t need to work out six days a week, or sculpt six-pack abs, or force ourselves to run a 10K when we don’t even enjoy running. Those actions don’t make us healthy. God has created us with a beautiful mind, body, and spirit. Physical training of the body can only go so far when it comes to eternal life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t picture weight machines in heaven. Godliness, on the other hand, is with us for forever.

How much time do we think Jesus spent meal prepping, pondering his next workout, or deciding what He was going to wear? If I had to guess, I’d say approximately zero percent of His time was spent on this. He knew His Father would provide. He was concerned with His ministry and fulfilling the Father’s will. He wasn’t stressing about such relatively insignificant things as weight and clothing.

We know through through the book of Matthew that Jesus said,

“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?... For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6: 25-27, 32-34)

I love this picture Jesus gives us so much. Life is more than food and the body more than clothing. And God provides what we need.

Over and over in the Bible, we see God using the small and the weak. He picks the most unexpected people and utilizes them to advance His kingdom. He’s not looking for the people who look good and seem successful by societal standards. He’s looking for the people who love Him with all their heart.

Think of David, who becomes King of Israel and whose line leads to Jesus.

But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.’
— 1 Samuel 16:7

One of David’s seven older brothers would have been the logical choice for King. Yet the Lord chose David, the youngest and smallest, who was out tending to sheep at the time. David, the one who no one took a second look at.

We don’t have to look a certain way for God to see us or use us. What God cares about more than anything is our hearts. When I find myself tempted to restrict my food intake or believe the lie that I am weak because I don’t adhere to a regular exercise routine, I try to remind myself of this verse. What is my heart motivation behind eating healthy and exercising? What drives me to do these things—godliness or something else like public perception, approval, physical beauty? 

Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

I pray I honor the Spirit within me by treating my body with love, kindness, and respect. I know that when I stand before God on judgment day, He won’t ask me about my dress size or how fast I can run a mile. 

From the very first book of the Bible, we see that:

“God created mankind in His own image; in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

God created us in His image.

The Creator of the universe, the almighty, all-knowing, and all-powerful Father, is perfect. He created us to reflect His image. That means He created us perfectly, too.

He created us in a remarkable and wonderful way. He knit us together in our mother’s womb before we were born. Psalm 139 reminds us of how much the Father cares for us in the way He created us. Our bodies, our minds, our personalities are all from God. They are not an accident. I believe God designed us exactly as we are—what we view as flaws are precious in His eyes. That extra skin around the waist of your jeans, those strong and muscular calves, that thick and curly hair, those smile lines around your mouth and eyes—all are beautiful in His eyes.

If God sees us as precious and beautiful, and we care about His opinion more than anyone else’s, then why wouldn’t we see ourselves as precious and beautiful, too?

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.