Is _______ Growing? I Can’t See It!

Maybe you haven’t asked this question in this particular way, but you may have asked something like:

  • I’m obeying what You asked me to do, LORD. Why is this happening?
  • I’m obeying you. I’ve stepped out and am following where You’ve led me. But is this REALLY is the path You have for me? I’m not seeing what I thought You’d bring from this.
  • If You told me to go this way, LORD, why do I feel like I’m going solo?

Have you been there? I have…a number of times. Even in writing this blog, I’ve been there! I’ve wondered how He’ll use each post He’s led me to write, the blog as a whole, and even my obedience. Will He grow fruit now or further down the road?

We’ve been studying the book of Ruth at church. I love that book. I’ve deeply studied it other times in the past, and I’m still gleaning (no pun intended) truths that apply to my life today.

I was asking the LORD for direction in my alone time with Him this week. He specifically led me to a pod cast by Kelly Minter on His faithfulness. He so faithfully tied together these messages with the themes of Ruth, and, truth be told, they’re an excellent reminder for me.

While I’d love for all of you to take in the entire pod cast episode, I know you may not have over a half an hour to listen to it. So, to save you time, I’m listing some of her notes, some things that stood out to me, and what God’s revealed to me. I believe we all want whatever we’re doing to matter and point others to the One Who gave us our lives.

“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you. And I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative], He may give to you.”

Jesus (John 15:16 AB)
It Was God’s Intent from the Beginning That You Bear Fruit

In, Genesis 1:28, God blesses Adam and Eve, THEN He commands them to “be fruitful and multiply.” Isn’t it interesting that we oftentimes equate being fruitful with God’s blessing? Notice that His blessing (or benefit) was on Adam and Eve BEFORE he commanded them to do something. God’s blessing could be the ability to do something. His blessing doesn’t lie solely in the outcome. He blesses us with Himself, too: He’s chosen us and set us apart for a purpose (John 15:16), which He will, obviously, enable us (through His power) to do!

God didn’t just give Adam and Eve the command to “be fruitful and multiply”; this command was repeated with Noah, Abraham, Israel (Jacob), and us (spiritually, in the New Testament). Note, again, in Genesis 9:1, that God blessed–or benefited–Noah and his sons BEFORE He give them this command. This command in Genesis, obviously, refers to having kiddos and populating the Earth, but it also has spiritual implications, too. We’re all to grow kids (even if they’re spiritual kids we’re mentoring) who’d “walk in the way of the LORD, who would love the LORD, and…enjoy [His] presence.”

God’s Fruit Can Only Be Borne God’s Way
Our Fruitfulness is Based on God’s Faithfulness (Not Our Ability to Make It So)

I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.”

God Speaking to Abraham (Genesis 17:6-7 NKJV)

I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”

God Speaking to Abraham about Abraham’s Wife, Sarah (Genesis 17:16 NKJV)

“…Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.”

Jacob Recounting God’s Spoken Promise to Him (Genesis 48:4 NKJV)

God’s the One who causes growth in and through our lives! Growth may happen in the unlikeliest of places or circumstances, and it may look different than what we imagined, even on a different time scale.

Like Abraham and Sarah, we may see circumstances stacking up “against us” and feel the need to take matters into our own hands to “help God out,” but this only tends to make a mess of things. So many times, too, we do what Abraham did and, basically, ask God to bless our way…our plan, but then we hear God say, as He responded to Abraham, “No…”

“We cannot bear our own, spiritual fruit! We have to participate with God, and we have to do it the way that the LORD wants it done…[which is] rarely what we think and better than what we can imagine.”

Bearing Fruit is a Process, and Processes Take Time

Abram (later renamed Abraham by the LORD) was 75 years old when he left the land the LORD told him to leave, saying “I will make you into a great nation; I will bless you…All the families on earth will be blessed through you (Genesis 12:2-4 NLT).” He was 99 when the LORD told him He would make him fruitful through Isaac, son of Sarah (Genesis 17). That’s 24 years between the two conversations, and Sarah wasn’t pregnant yet with Isaac! And THEN, Isaac didn’t marry Rebekah until he was 40 (Genesis 25:20) and was 60 when she gave birth to Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:26)! Twenty years had gone by!

There are definitely areas in my life, too, where I’m in the waiting between the commission and the fruit.

Some days feel like a famine, and some days feel full of great growth. In the midst of every day, even if “famines” or “losses” abound, let’s remind ourselves that God is faithful, fix our eyes on Him, remember His promises/commission, and trust Him!

If you have time, dive in by clicking on the link below for Kelly’s full episode.

Soaking in the Light

You probably know that sunlight is powerful, necessary, and good for Vitamin D, but did you know that there are certain parameters in which soaking it in is most helpful to your body?

I’m sure you’ve heard people talk about getting time in the sun, saying they’re going to soak in some Vitamin D. Can you spot the error?

During a few recent classes I took on detox and toxicity, sunlight was often mentioned as a beneficial way to nourish the body. With my movement sometimes being limited, I know I don’t get out in the sun as much as I should. This led me to ask a couple questions:

  • How much sun do I need?
  • What’s the best time of day to soak it in?

As I searched for answers to these questions, more questions were raised in my mind. I realized there’s much I didn’t fully understand. Maybe there is for you, too.

When people say they’re going to soak in some Vitamin D by being out in the sun, they’re, actually, incorrect. The sun ISN’T the SOURCE of Vitamin D! Our bodies, actually, CREATE Vitamin D from “The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit[ting] cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for Vitamin D synthesis to occur.”1 The sun IS, obviously, NECESSARY for PRODUCING Vitamin D; it’s just not the SOURCE of it.

So, How Do We Safely Get the UVB Rays We Need from the Sun?
  • Spend 10-30 minutes OUT IN THE SUN a few days a week (sitting in a car with the windows rolled up, wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt doesn’t count; glass blocks the needed UV rays from reaching your skin). Those of us having light skin may need closer to 10-15 minutes at a time as opposed to our darker skinned friends who may require more time in the sun to get what they need for adequate Vitamin D production. You can still get UV rays on a cloudy day, too, so don’t think that doesn’t count! Clouds covering up to 90% of the sky still allow around 70-90% of UV rays through (unless it’s an overcast day–95+% covered by clouds, which then limits UV ray transmission to around 30%)!
  • Go out in the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are stronger and more direct (some sources say as late as 4 p.m., but 10 a.m.-12 p.m. is best for other reasons, as well, like shrinking fat cells). The closer to noon you soak in the rays, the less time is required for your body to produce the necessary Vitamin D for optimum health.
  • Expose your skin as much as possible. Clothes block the sun’s UV rays, which are necessary to produce Vitamin D. In the Spring and Summer, exposing 25-30% of your skin during the above intervals should provide you what you need to absorb adequate UV rays from the sun. A person wearing a tank top and shorts, sitting under a tree in the shade, will, actually, soak up more UV rays for Vitamin D production than a person out in full sun, wearing a long sleeve shirt and jeans!
  • Protect your skin with sunscreen after your 10-30 minutes. If you plan on being out longer, put on 30 proof sunscreen to protect your skin from harm AFTER you’ve absorbed your sufficient amount of UV rays (re-apply every 2-3 hours after that). Why put it on AFTER the 10-30 minutes? “Some studies estimate that sunscreen of SPF 30 or more reduces Vitamin D production in the body by about 95–98%.”1

So, if you have trouble getting all of your Vitamin D requirements for the day from eating foods like salmon, herring, sardines, canned tuna, cod liver oil, beef liver, egg yokes, mushrooms, and other Vitamin D-fortified foods (i.e., cows’ milk, soy milk, orange juice, cereal, oatmeal), taking advantage of the sunshine, as listed above, especially during the summer months, should give your body what it needs to produce the recommended amount of Vitamin D.

Did You Know That Vitamin D is Tied to Strong Bones and Their Ability to Function and Carry the Load Put on Them?

You may think that’s the job of Calcium and Phosphorous, and it is! However, Vitamin D “instructs the cells in our guts to ABSORB Calcium and Phosphorous!”1 You can take a Calcium supplement and think you’re all good, but if your body isn’t getting the right kinds and amounts of Vitamin D, you may, literally, be flushing your Calcium supplement down the toilet.

So, What Happens if You Don’t Get Enough Sun Outside or Consume Enough Vitamin D?

Depression (you know this full well, if you live in colder areas in the winter and can’t get out in the sun much with exposed skin), muscle weakness, osteoporosis, and even cancer have been linked to Vitamin D deficiencies.

Do You Ever Feel Spiritually Deficient?

If you feel that way today, like you’re just not connected to or hearing from the LORD, think about these things:

  • Are you focused on and purposeful in carving out time to bask in His presence?
  • Are you spending sufficient time with Him?
  • Are you giving Him the best of your day or distracted time?
  • Do you come before Him, baring your heart, mind, and soul; or are you covered in shame, busyness, and not wanting to expose your sin (John 3:20)?

Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 ESV

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light”

Ephesians 5:8 NIV

If you have the Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, in you (you’ve accepted Him as the sacrifice and payment for your sins before a holy God), then you are to shine the light of His goodness, Truth, and what He examines and approves to others (Ephesians 5:9); He will use this to reveal the life He gives. Shine on, Liv!

Photo by Kent Pilcher on Unsplash

1 Raman, Ryan. “How to Safely Get Vitamin D From Sunlight.” Healthline, 4 April 2023,

Bitterness and the LORD’s Passover

He hurt our kid…and that hurt us. Unfairness screamed in our minds. We tried to see things from his perspective and even understand possible reasonings for his decision, but it didn’t take away the grudge…the bitterness…I felt rising inside.

Some time later, I was talking with a dear friend, who was going through some unfairness of her own (what I love about surrounding myself with believers who passionately follow their Shepherd is that sharing life with each other tends to herd me back to following the One Who’s everything I need). As my friend shared her grief, she also shared how she’d been forgiven because of what Christ did for her, so she was choosing to follow Christ’s example and extend forgiveness to the individual causing her pain. It was while she was talking that I heard the Spirit say to me, “You need to forgive him.” I knew whom He was referring to–the one who hurt my kid. With this beautiful example of forgiveness before me, I recognized the bitterness that had started growing in my heart, and I was responsible for it. I was humbled…and ready. After my friend and I got off the phone, before God, I dumped off the load of bitterness that had opened the door for Satan to take advantage of me (2 Corinthians 2:10-11) and forgave the offender. It felt so good to change clothes…to put on the humility of Christ, instead of wearing the pride I donned when I thought I had the right to hold the grudge.

“…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], Who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be]. To Him be dominion (power, authority, sovereignty) forever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 5:5b-9 NIV; vv. 10-11 AB

Bitterness enslaves us. Pride binds us. These two sins go hand in hand. The opposite of bitterness is forgiveness, and the opposite of pride is humility; forgiveness and humility are both key in releasing the grip bitterness and pride (and the devil) have on us. Forgiveness isn’t saying what someone did to us is okay; it doesn’t mean we forget; it’s just making us right with God, releasing the offender and situation over to the ultimate Judge, the One Who’s in control, the source of power, authority, and everything/everyONE who exists. When we choose humility and forgiveness, we look more like Christ and give Him glory!

What Does Bitterness Have to Do with the Passover?

According to Exodus 12:8, there were three foods that the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron to have the people of Israel eat every time they’d observe the LORD’s Passover:

  • A one-year-old, male lamb (a sheep or goat) without blemish or bodily defect (its flesh roasted in fire)
  • Bread without yeast
  • Bitter herbs

See that word, again? Bitter.

Photo by Jacqueline Brandwayn on Unsplash
What Do Bitter Herbs in the Passover Symbolize?

Bitter herbs were incorporated by the LORD into His Passover to “symbolize Israel’s bitter existence under [Pharaoh’s] oppressive rule. As the Hebrews ate, the bitter herb would remind them how their cruel Egyptian enslavers ‘made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor, the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly’ (Exodus 1:14).”1

“Maror” (“bitter herb”), found in Exodus 12:8 and Numbers 9:11, refers to what was included in the LORD’s Passover, but the same word is also found in Lamentations 3:15; it’s translated “bitterness.” “Bitterness,” in this verse, embodies the prophet Jeremiah’s state and feelings–full of distress. I’d say the Israelites felt that way in Egypt, too.

Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings,

Exodus 3:7 ESV

Life IS hard…severe at times. It’s easy to feel “a mixture of anger and resentment generated by the experience of unjust suffering;”1 that’s what bitterness is. Rest assured; God sees it all.

How to Fight Bitterness

Situations will feel unjust, but our war doesn’t need to be against the one who wronged us; fight against the true enemy (the devil) and sin itself. In 1 Peter 5 above, we’re instructed to clothe ourselves in humility. Why? Because God opposes pride; it’s against His character! He squares off against everything that makes up pride! “Opposes” is a military term; it’s an organized resistance.

So, how do we resist pride (and the real enemy)? With humility! How do we resist bitterness? With forgiveness!

Our Passover Lamb

This week, as we remember the LORD’s Passover as well as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, we can be reminded of the bondage of our pride, bitterness, and any other sin that controls us; we can also remember the ways we may have seen the LORD leading us out of that bondage, unshackling those chains. Praise the LORD for His ultimate “organized resistance”–the forgiveness we’re freely offered because of Christ’s death on the cross and the conquering of sin and death through His resurrection!

Keep in mind: “…Jesus was offered the bitter cup of wine mixed with myrrh [meaning “bitter” in Arabic] at His crucifixion (Matthew 27:34Mark 15:23)”1–talk about pain and unjust suffering! Thank you, LORD, for Christ, our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), and His humble sacrifice, covering our sin with His blood once and for all!

As you remember Christ’s example of sacrifice to provide the gift of forgiveness for you, is there someone in your life you need to forgive?
Are there things in your life that have been unfair, and you’re holding onto them with a club of bitterness? Are you ready to throw them off, like a dirty shirt, and trust that God will work ALL things TOGETHER for good, just as He did the Israelites, because you love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)?

1 “What is the meaning of the bitter herbs in the Bible (see Exodus 12:8)?” Got Questions, Accessed 4 April 2023.

Beliefs: They Affect Our Physical Health More Than You May Think

It’s been a while since I posted. This post is longer and contains a health update; it’ll take approx. 9 mins of your day.

We all know that our thoughts are powerful, but did you know that our beliefs impact our actual physical health? I guess it doesn’t seem far out there, but I never gave it a lot of thought…until two weeks ago.

I was blessed with the opportunity to take part in a masterclass on detoxing and toxicity. In one of the classes (Appropriately Pacing Detox for People with Chronic Illnesses), the doctor of clinical nutrition who led the class talked about our beliefs and how they impact our physical bodies. She explained that fear can be more damaging [to the body] than actual exposure to a toxin;” this surprised me and is, probably, one reason why “Do not fear” is displayed all over Scripture. She also mentioned that changing someone’s beliefs about their illness can positively improve their chronic pain levels (up to 14%) during rehab. If a person believes they have control over their treatment options, this belief also makes a striking impact on his or her ability to manage chronic illness(es), especially in kiddos.1

“Pain” is when we encounter something (including an event) that triggers a reaction in an organ or tissue; this encounter can be from outside OR inside our bodies. “The information regarding the [actual OR potential] damaging impact of these [encounters] on bodily tissues is [converted] through neural pathways and [passed on] through the peripheral nervous system to the central and autonomic nervous systems.”4 Belief and safety are valid factors, when it comes to the autonomic nervous system (a part of the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord that regulates the functions of the body that you don’t really think about, like heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and digestion). Amazingly enough, if there’s stress on this system (from belief systems, unsafe feelings, etc.), there’s a high risk of cardiac and/or neurologic damage.1

Case in Point

At the end of each class, the masterclass host did a follow-up Q & A with the instructor. During that time (and to illustrate the doctor’s points above), the host shared about his wife, an ER nurse, who had dealt with a lot of pain! She’d tried all sorts of things and was coming up short…until she met a particular doctor. The doctor she met took time with her, listened, and validated the reality of what she was experiencing. They came up with a treatment plan, and he told her he’d write her a doctor’s note for work–that she needed to take six weeks off and rest. Then, and only then, would they be able to attempt to work into the treatment plan. Not all people work for someone who’d allow them to have six weeks off (doctor’s note or not), but for her, the combination of the doctor’s approach, knowing that someone was on her side, that there was a reason behind the approach (not just shoving “fixes” at her), and the thought of allowing her body time to rest had a profound impact on her physically! After meeting with that doctor (before ANY treatment was put in place), her pain reduced by a good 50%!!1

Please hear me! Physical issues are physical issues and NOT just dreamt up in the head, like some people think (I know this full well)! It’s just amazing to me how much we can help or hurt them with the thoughts that accompany them! Pain is just one example and, “whether linked with injured tissue, inflammation, or functional impairment, [it’s] mediated by processing in the nervous system. In this sense, all pain is physical. Yet, regardless of its source, pain may result in hypervigilance, threat appraisals, emotional reactions, and avoidant behavior. So in this sense, all pain is psychological.”4

How I Related

As the class was ending, I was thinking there was food for thought regarding this area, but it wasn’t until the host said something else that I realized how much. He mentioned that there were probably people listening who felt like they might never get better; wondering why things worked for other people, but they didn’t work for them; that there was something wrong with them. Tears streamed from my eyes. “Yes! That’s me!” I thought.

Some of you may know that I’ve had a set-back, if you will. I rarely have symptom-free days, and I went down, again, for a week and a half stint this past month, which hasn’t happened in a long time. This confused me and surfaced a lot of questions!

  • Why was this happening?
  • Why did it help so much for a while, but then it didn’t?
  • What was I doing wrong?
  • Why weren’t the positive changes I’d been making to get these bad things out of my body working?
  • Why was I going backwards (at least, it felt like)?

As much as I’ve tried to keep a positive attitude and look for the good in all of this, this last stint has taken more of a subconscious toll than I realized, and I’m sure, knowing this, I haven’t helped my body any with my myriad of self-questioning thoughts.

It turns out, I now have a reason for my set-back: Chronic illnesses are, indeed, special and require a different approach. Unfortunately, I dove head-first into detoxing before my body was correctly supported and nourished, and it wasn’t physically able to handle the detox process properly. This, actually, broke down toxins in my body only to make them more toxic and lacking the proper, supported pathways to get rid of them. Strangely enough, knowing the reason, being armed with new information (including new steps I can take), and being “given” scientific “permission” to take this process ultra slowly and purposefully calmed my body and spirit.

Why Did a New Way of Thinking Calm My Body and Spirit?

“…When the brain is making a decision, different neural networks compete with each other. Eventually, one of the networks becomes activated and produces the desired behavior. This happens through nerve cells in the spinal cord…that fire and send an impulse down their axon. [This] travels to the muscle and causes the action” (like “throwing the covers over your head or actually getting out of bed,”2 when you hear your alarm).

So, repeating the same decision (or thought) over time will wear a “desire line” in your brain, if you will, that immediately associates thoughts with their triggers; this, ultimately, causes an action.

If you want that action to change, “you either need to change the trigger OR break the association with that thought.2 This will take some effort! Ask yourself, “What’s my trigger? Is it something around me (i.e., an alarm clock) or from inside me (i.e., beliefs)?”

“When we have a thought, it…creates an electromagnetic [electric and magnetic fields] and neuroendocrine [the interaction of the nervous and endocrine systems] signal that causes our organs and muscles to react, brain chemicals to respond, and our glands to secrete hormones like cortisol [“stress!”]. So, our thoughts cause our bodies to change. This is basic science…known as the fight or flight response. Positive, healthy thoughts cause positive, healthy changes in our bodies. Negative, toxic thoughts cause negative, toxic changes in our bodies.”3

…Our thoughts cause our bodies to change...Positive, healthy thoughts cause positive, healthy changes in our bodies. Negative, toxic thoughts cause negative, toxic changes in our bodies.”3

Dr. Jamie, Ph.D.
So, How Can I Change Negative Thoughts?

We can consciously try to replace a negative thought with a positive one anytime we’re exposed to a trigger that would, typically, produce a negative response. This will take some consistent training, as does any new way of life.

For example, the pick-up lanes at my kids’ school are intentional. Those parked in the waiting lane on the right are to wait patiently for their kids. When their kids get in the car, they can carefully pull out to the left and pass the parked cars in the “continually flowing,” left lane. Unfortunately, more and more people are PARKING in the LEFT lane to wait for their kids, because they don’t want to wait ALL THE WAY at the back of the line! Yeah! You can imagine how this works out (or doesn’t) and is entirely inconsiderate (Sorry! Can you tell this annoys me a bit?)! Rather than exclaiming, “I just can’t believe people! They’re so rude!” which send signals from my brain to my body to accelerate my breathing and tighten my muscles, I’m working on focusing on my driving, making sure I’m being kind and considerate, and just looking forward to seeing my kid; this sends signals from my brain to my body to calm down.

All of this gives a renewed meaning for me to:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:2 NIV

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Philippians 4:8 ESV
Join me in asking, “What do I believe, deep down, about ________? What does God say about this? Do my beliefs line up with His truth?
Keep an eye on how positive, mental changes you make affect your physical health for the better!
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

1 Drummond, Jessica. “Gentle Detox: Appropriately Pacing Detox for People with Chronic Illness.” Rebel Health Tribe, February 2023,

2 Cuncic, Arlin. “What Happens to Your Body When Your Brain Is Thinking?” Verywell Mind, 3 March 2023,

3 Dr. Jamie. “Your Thoughts Change Your Biology–Why Your Mind Matters.” Dr. Jamie, Ph. D. Accessed 1 March 2023.

4 Garland, Eric L. “Pain Processing in the Human Nervous System: A Selective Review of Nociceptive and Biobehavioral Pathways.” National Library of Medicine: National Center for Biotechnology, September 2012,

Can I Endure This?

“If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you should be able to endure,…”

Exodus 18:23 NLT

From morning until evening, people needed him. They came to Moses to decide cases between them, when they had a falling-out; to make God’s laws known to them, and ask questions of God through him. Been somewhere similar? Do you have little ones, co-workers, customers, and/or family members needing something from you all…day…long? Worn out (or close to it)?

This is where Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, stepped in. He’d brought Moses’ wife and two boys to reunite with Moses (Exodus 18:2-5).

Backdrop, if you’re wondering why Moses was separated from his family in the first place: His wife, Zipporah, and his boys aren’t mentioned in Scripture between when Zipporah circumcised their child on their way to Egypt, where Moses and Aaron would confront Pharaoh (Exodus 4:20-26), and Exodus 18. Moses may have sent his family back to Jethro right after the circumcision, or it may have been later; all we know is that Moses DID send her back (Exodus 18:2). Later, Jethro heard of everything God had done for Moses and His people, Israel, bringing them out of Egypt, and he brought Moses’ family to him at Horeb, the mountain of God (Exodus 18:5); this mountain is where Moses was shepherding Jethro’s flock in Exodus 3:1-2, when the Angel of the LORD appeared to him from the flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Why did He appear to Moses? The LORD heard, saw, and knew His people’s physical pain (suffering)–Exodus 3:7–and was sending help. According to Exodus 3:12, God’s sign to Moses that He’d sent him was for Moses to serve Him on that mountain after he led the people out of Egypt (Exodus 3:12), so here Moses was at the mountain, again!

When Jethro arrived with Moses’ family, he saw what was going on, first-hand, and asked Moses what he was doing and why he was doing it alone. Exodus 18:15-16 tells us that Moses answered Jethro’s first question, but he didn’t fully answer the second–why he was doing it alone.

Why Were Moses’ Actions Troubling to Jethro?

Since Jethro was reuniting Moses and his family, it’d be logical if he saw how busy Moses was, how the people sought much from him, and knew he wouldn’t have the time or energy to be what he needed to be for his family. What we see in Scripture, though, is that Moses’ work load, investigating and judging all the people’s cases, was what was noted as “not good.” Notice: The rest of what he was doing (bringing difficulties before God for the people as well as teaching the people laws and what they were supposed to do, so they knew the way to live) was to continue (Exodus 18:19-20); it was just the judicial process and “work force” that raised a red flag. Moses was going to grow weak, if he kept it up. Judging all the cases alone would zap him of his energy and strength. It’s interesting that two similar Hebrew words have the exact same Strong’s Concordance number (5034b–“nabel”, meaning “to sink or drop down, languish, fade”) and are right next to each other at the beginning of Exodus 18:18, really emphasizing Jethro’s point–it was just too heavy a task for Moses to do alone!

Have things in your life ever felt too big or like you took on too much?
Questions to Ask Yourself, Based on Exodus 18:
  • Do you have able, efficient, faithful, reliable people in your circle; who fear God; have moral value; hate getting ahead by doing something wrong; whom you can receive help from?
  • Do you allow others to help/share your load, or are you trying to do it all yourself?
  • Do you listen to those who are trying to help when they offer advice?
  • Do you micromanage the faithful people in your circle, when they’re helping you?
  • Have you confirmed with God that He’s commanded you to do whatever you’ve taken on?

“If you do this, AND God so commands you, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people, too, will go home content.”

Exodus 18:23 NAB
Suffering is Part of Enduring

In the midst of our mountain, we, sometimes, jump right into serving, believing it’s good…and it is, until it’s not. If God hasn’t commanded a specific task, delegation, any of it, our service will be heavy and, likely, wear us out; however, if He does command it, and we’re surrounded by the right kind of people, who can help lighten the load, God will enable us to suffer through difficult things patiently. Did you hear that?!? Suffering, according to Scripture, doesn’t mean we have to be worn out, and it isn’t a sure sign that we’re out of God’s will!

Suffering, according to Scripture, doesn’t mean we have to be worn out, and it isn’t a sure sign that we’re out of God’s will!

In fact, Colossians 1:11 says suffering well is part of a life lived in a way suitable to who we are in Christ (Colossians 1:10). It says that part of suffering well is not responding with a knee-jerk reaction (patience); rather, we’re to wait an adequate amount of time before expressing anger to avoid improper anger and it’s effects. Another part of suffering is to remain under tasks or situations that we find taxing (steadfastness). According to Colossians 1:11, we’ll be strengthened…empowered…one area at a time, so that we can accomplish the task at hand through God’s power/ability! When this happens and the task is completed, His power will have been on display and elicit a good opinion of His worth. The key to remaining under the difficult things in our lives, patiently, is joy–recognizing that God is leaning in toward us, extending His favor. Joy isn’t acting like Pollyanna, playing The Glad Game, choosing to be thankful; thankfulness is a response of joy, seeing and knowing that you have God’s attention and favor (for more on joy and it’s Biblical meaning, in case you missed it, check out the link to that blog post at the end of this one).

Who’s Got This?

One saying I hear a decent amount that rubs me the wrong way is, “You got this!” The focus of that, in my opinion, is on us and our insufficient power that, ultimately, leaves us worn out! It’s only when we’re led by God, actively following Him, and allowing Him to showcase His power in us as well as those around us whom He’s put in our lives to help (yes, accepting help showcases His power through humility) that we truly endure!

Words and Hearts: On a Cliff Edge or Plummeting Down the Mountain?

It was nearing the end of the season. A snow storm was coming toward California, and the time was now. Alex Honnold (Free Solo climber and the first person to climb Yosemite’s El Capitan without a safety rope) and Emily Harrington (five-time US Sport-Climbing champion) set out to free climb Yosemite’s El Capitan. They chose to simul climb, which is where climbers ascend at the same time on the same rope.

“It’s essentially done for speed,” Emily said.

This, admittedly, wasn’t the safest way to climb, but it was a risk they took in order to climb it in 24 hours, a vast difference from the six days it took her years earlier.

Emily led and kept gear between her and Alex on the rope. It was cold (25 degrees), and Emily remembered her toes were numb. Obviously, for a rock climber, this wasn’t good, as you need to be able to feel the rock; it affected how she stood on her feet. Her foot “skated off.” She fell about 40-50 feet and hit her head. She told Alex she was ok, but she was hurt. He lowered her down to safety, a ledge on the wall of the mountain, where they waited 90 minutes for Yosemite’s Search and Rescue.1 During the wait, Alex “calmly maintain[ed] spinal immobilization on the wall, g[ot] things ready for an evac, and t[old] stories and ke[pt] her talking throughout.”2 Spinal immobilization uses different ways to stabilize the spinal column to keep the spinal cord from being damaged. Amazingly, she didn’t break any bones or have any spinal injuries, though she did injure her left leg and left elbow, lower back/tail bone, and neck!1

“May my words and my thoughts be acceptable to you, O LORD, my Refuge and my Redeemer!”

Psalm 19:14 GNT

The Holy Spirit’s put this verse on recall, over and over, again, in my heart and mind this week. It’s a well-known verse, but I feel it gets misquoted, sometimes, and I lose the full meaning, if the end of the verse, “my Refuge and my Redeemer,” is left off.

Absorbing These Honorifics (LORD, Refuge, Redeemer)

In order to absorb these honorifics, I looked deeper into this verse. The Hebrew word for “thoughts” (“meditations” in many translations) means they’re concentrated on one area or subject, and they’re very thorough.

When was the last time you took a really thorough look at different areas of your heart and thoughts (what you dream about, think deeply and carefully about, are sad about, frustrated about, even angry about)?

What comes from the heart is serious business. We’re talking about the center of our feelings, will, and even our reasoning and understanding…things public (words) AND private (heart). The heart affects everything, so it needs a good, frequent walk-through!

Take a minute. Pick one area of your heart and give it a good look. If Jesus, the Son of God, saved you, God’s with you! When you think of it that way, is what you find in your heart acceptable before Him? The Hebrew word for “acceptable” is like a person offering a sacrifice. Am I (are you) sacrificing? Are we throwing off what’s not acceptable to Him and offering Him what is?

LORD, in these verses, as you probably know, is “Yhvh,” pronounced yeh-ho-vaw’, which is where Jehovah comes from. It means that He’s self-existent and eternal. No onenothing else caused Him to exist! He’s always been there; He always will be!

“Refuge” is a figurative description for a place of safety from pursuit, danger, or trouble. It refers to an area that’s next to a dangerously high, steep, cliff drop.

“Redeemer” refers to One Who saved another. When someone saves you, whatever they save you from, that action should, naturally, bring about a bond between the two of you. It’s a different kind of relationship than you have with others, and it changes your life.

Fitting into Psalm 19

Verse 14 is the last verse in Chapter 19. The rest of the chapter talks about creation continuously declaring the glory of God everywhere and how obeying God’s code of law, etc., brings great reward. After recognizing the weightiness of all of this, David goes on to petition God to “cleanse [his] secret faults,” keep him from those who don’t pay attention to the limits of what’s allowed or is appropriate (and keep them from controlling him), and that he’ll “be blameless” (Vv. 12-13). He, then, prays that the words that come out of his mouth as well as what his heart ponders will be offered to the One Who saved him and keeps him safe as an offering…and that they would be acceptable before Him.

Burrowing Roots
What was the last conversation you had with someone? What (or whom) did you talk about? What did your words say? Did you give God’s glory away to anyone or anything else?
When did you last talk something over with yourself or respond to your thoughts while alone? In the privacy of that moment, what did you say?

What He’s done for me is weighty!! He’s saved me and is still keeping me safe! Why would I put myself in a position where I’d slip off the cliff with my tongue and heart? I want to cling to Him and focus on His being my edge, the One Who saved me, who’s always been and always will be; He’s my safe place! Because He’s so good, I want to honor Him with my words that well up from my deep, secret places. Cleanse me, LORD! I want to join creation in using my words and thoughts to continuously give You glory…not just out in public, not in certain places, but everywhere!

Photo by Bradley Pisney on Unsplash

1 DangerStikTV. (2020, January 2). S2, Episode Two: The Accident [Video]. YouTube. *Warning: This does have some language in it.

2 Daily Mountain. “Climber Emily Harrington Rescued by ‘Free Solo’ Star Alex Honnold after Fall.”, 2020,,Climber%20Emily%20Harrington%20rescued%20by%20’Free%20Solo’%20star%20Alex%20Honnold,Free%20Solo%E2%80%9D%20star%20Alex%20Honnold.

Rejoice! God’s with You!

This season’s looked different for us. From my going down again off and on (mostly on) for a couple weeks, affecting our plans to get together with my side of the family for Thanksgiving; to both of our kids having jobs, now, and seeing them less; to a weird situation, where I have a migraine hit during most church services, limiting or squelching opportunities to connect with others after those services…time with others has been restricted. Sometimes, this can leave a void, as we’re created for relationship.

A bright spot to my season was a recent invitation from a dear friend to attend an auction/bizarre at the school my kids used to attend. The LORD blessed me with pretty good health that day, and I was able to go! I found a small sign, made by one of the school’s teachers, that caught not only my eye; it caught my heart. Tears welled up in my eyes as I read its words: “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel!” Its message captured my affection and flooded my emotions…my inadequacies…my lonely feelings. “Rejoice!” God’s Spirit within told me; “God’s with you!”

What Does Rejoicing Mean, and Why Should I?

We sing songs; we know the name–Immanuel–and Whom it belonged to; we know what it means (God with us); but do we pause to really reflect on what this means?!? Do we rejoice that GOD is with us? I mean, REALLY rejoice? Do we even grasp what rejoice even means?

“‘Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel.'”

Isaiah 7:14 NKJV

“Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste…and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy! Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.’ And Mary said: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

Luke 1:39-47 NKJV

“Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.’ When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them until it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.”

Matthew 2:7-10 NKJV

The prophet Isaiah told of Immanuel’s arrival 600-700 years before the Son of God actually arrived on earth. The excitement experienced by those who believed Who Jesus was, that Immanuel was finally here, and the reality of His presence was recognizable! John (the Baptist), while in Elizabeth’s belly, leapt for joy, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, her relative, carrying Jesus, God’s Son, in her womb. The Spirit of God filled both John and Elizabeth (Luke 1:15, 41) and allowed them to recognize the presence of Immanuel…that GOD was with them, though inside Mary’s belly!

The wise men, when they, again, saw God’s sign of the star, leading them to where Jesus, the Son of God, was, “rejoiced with exceedingly great joy!” What does that look like?

REJOICE (“chairó in Greek)

Rejoice means to experience and be glad for God’s favor…for His favorable leaning in toward you.

JOY (“chara” in Greek)

If you’re experiencing God’s favorable leaning in toward you, it’s enough to ignite great joy! You know how you experience something, but don’t always understand it? Joy isn’t ambiguous. It’s recognizable! You see God leaning in! You see His favor…and you get it! You’re aware of it! You know what it is! You know Whom it’s from! THIS is JOY!

EXCEEDINGLY (“sphodra” in Greek)

“Exceedingly” means “done all out…with total effort!”

GREAT (“megas” in Greek)

“Great,” obviously, means “large,” but in Matthew 2:7, it’s referring to the intensity and measure of the wise men’s joy–their awareness of God’s favor, His leaning in toward them! The effort is totally intense; the measure is all out! It affected what they were fond of as well as what they felt and thought about!

What This Means To Me

This is really resonating with me right now! No matter what situations arise that affect my plans, what lies or distractions Satan hurls my way, what family is or isn’t around, what choices I see others making that I feel I should have had more of an impact on, MY GOD IS HERE WITH ME!! He sees me! He’s leaning in toward me! The reality of this needs to affect what I like, what I put value in, how I feel, and what I think about! When I stop long enough to really soak this in, to be aware of Him, to recognize Him, His Spirit inside me wells up like a fountain, and I can’t help but want to shout, leap, do everything He’s laid out for me to do today with total effort! He’s with me! I believe this, and His presence, interest, and attention gives me renewed strength, value, purpose, and confidence!

What I Pray For You

I pray this for you, too, friends…that you will more deeply cultivate your relationship with Him; find peace and rest in Him; and go all out in serving Him, as you experience, recognize, and are glad that He’s near!

Tell your spirit to rejoice! God, Your Savior, is with You!