Craving Eden, Choosing Egypt
Our annual destination was always the same— Kiawah Island, South Carolina. In my eyes, it was absolute paradise. The days were carefree, filled with sea water and sunshine. It may sound strange, but I always felt closer to God with my feet in the sand. Every night was an endless feast, welcomed after a day of playing hard with my cousins.
Kiawah is what I’m reminded of when I read God’s description of the Promised Land in Deuteronomy 11. Through Moses, God tells the people of Israel that the land they’re about to enter into isn’t anything like the land they just came out of (Egypt). Instead of laboring to produce everything themselves, He would provide for their every need. Their job was simply to trust God and put Him first.
It didn’t take long for the people to fail on their end of the bargain...
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When I was 15, my family fell apart and, with it, my general belief that God was good and He was for me. I was left with a lot of questions and not a lot of great advice, much like our friend, Job, in this week’s reading.
In two short chapters we watch Job’s life fall apart— his family, his wealth, and his health. Job wrestled to reconcile God’s justice with his own personal suffering, because it’s clear he had done nothing wrong. We read in Job 1:8 that Job was “a man of perfect integrity, who [feared] God.” Job’s story challenges Western ideas that are basically “Christian karma”— that if we’re good, God will be good to us, and if we’re experiencing suffering it’s because of something wrong we did.
The mental anguish revealed in the subsequent dialogue is not grief over loss of Job’s possessions, rather grief over his perceived abandonment by God...
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However, there is one thing that can ruin that good feeling quickly: coffee grounds.
It’s amazing to think those beloved beans that make such a glorious concoction can also create quite the ruckus in my mouth. Who has ever wanted to chew their coffee? Certainly not me. No thank you. This is why it is so important to use the right filter.
When I think about it, the key to enjoying both my coffee and my life in peace aren’t all that different. Pleasant coffee and a pleasant mindset both require the same thing: good filters.
In Philippians 4, the apostle Paul is dishing out some practical advice to new believers—specifically, how to live in peace...
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(I Am Not) The Hero
As an 80’s baby, I grew up in the Disney princess era. Our VCR couldn’t rewind Beauty and the Beast fast enough for this impatient second-grader. Yes, every story was essentially the same: love, a villain, a hero, and a damsel in distress. But I loved the characters, the songs, and yes— the romance.
Growing up in church, Jesus was often compared to these fairytale heroes— making me the princess. I didn’t hate it. After all, Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine were strong, independent, and intelligent. Sure, they needed physical or emotional rescuing at some point, but they ultimately played some part in defeating the enemy.
Now that I have a deeper understanding of the Gospel, I realize that’s not at all how God’s love story works. I love Paul’s rich letter to the church at Rome, in which he thoroughly and beautifully unpacks the doctrine of salvation to new believers...
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A Word for Christian Leaders
This is a word for Christian leaders. (We are all, in some capacity, leaders.)
Today, my Bible reading was in Isaiah, chapters 6 and 9. There are so many observations to make— from the timing of Isaiah’s call to ministry, to the posture of the seraphim (angels), to the promise of the Messiah’s coming. Despite prophesying Israel’s fall and God’s coming judgement, Isaiah’s words are rich with God’s holiness and goodness.
However, there is a verse that caught my attention above the rest— “The leaders of the people misled them, and those they misled are swallowed up.” Isaiah 9:14
If you don’t know Israel’s story well and you’re wondering how they got from the Promised Land to destruction and exile. The roots of their judgment go all the way back to 1 Samuel. The people begged God for a king, so they could be like all the other surrounding nations. God advised against their request, yet they persisted, and God gave them over to their desire.
Because they looked to human (fallen, sinful) men to lead them, instead of a perfect and holy God, they were led into sin themselves. The people who had been delivered out of Egypt and into the Promised Land forsook the One who called them.
Now, you may read Isaiah’s proclamation of judgment and view God as harsh, but keep in mind this was not the first warning given to Israel. Over and over again, leading up to this point the prophets have warned of the need to rend their hearts, repent, and return to the Lord—or face inevitable discipline.
The people did not listen. They gave themselves over to the sin of apostasy. And here, in Isaiah 9, the prophet delivers a strong rebuke aimed at Israel’s leadership: Instead of leading the people to follow and worship God, they led them to follow and worship other gods and even themselves. Because of their reckless leadership, now the people would be “swallowed up" in destruction.
Whether we lead only our children, or a small group, or small business, or an entire church or other ministry, this word applies to us. Who or what are you leading the people God has entrusted to you to follow and worship?
Who or what are you leading the people God has entrusted to you to follow and worship?
Are you leading your children to follow your desire for their life, or seek God’s? Are you leading them to love sports, material things, comfort, or accomplishment— or are you leading them to worship the Giver?
Are you leading your employees to remain loyal to you rather than follow the will of God for their lives? Are you leading your employees to worship your establishment rather than worship the God who initiated it in the first place?
Are you leading them to place activity for God before adoration of Him? Are you leading them to love you, or love the Lord?
These are some very tough, introspective questions.
I think Isaiah’s encounter with God, chapters earlier, reveals the key to humble leadership. In his encounter with God, the prophet is completely undone by His holiness. In the presence of the Lord almighty, Isaiah recognizes the extent of his human condition--
“Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
Through Jesus’s final work on the cross, we have the privilege to enter the Holy of Holies. God’s presence dwells within us. Every day we can— and should— behold Him like Isaiah did. This posture of humility reminds us, as leaders, is that HE alone is the King of Kings, and HE alone is worthy of our following and our affections. There is no name higher than Jesus.
This posture of humility reminds us, as leaders, that He alone is the King of Kings, and He alone is worthy of our following and our affections.
As leaders, we will make mistakes. We’re human. God already knows that. The wonderful thing about our God is He delights in using “jars of clay” to allow His light to shine. When we repent, He responds— forgiving us and helping us move forward in obedience.
I would love to say “it’s never too late,” but the Bible makes it clear there will come a time when it will be. God says, on that day, those of us He has entrusted with leadership positions will be judged more severely (James 3:1). In that day, will your people stand before God, arms lifted high in worship? Or on that day, will they be swallowed up in destruction?
Jesus left us with this one command— to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Not disciples of ourselves, or any other created thing, but disciples of the Creator.
Let us lead in humility, truth, and in action so that others may know Him.
Roots and Fruit
There’s a woman in the Bible who I’m reminded of when I think of Angel Oak. She, too, is a sight to behold. She is trustworthy, hardworking, secure and kind. She’s got all of her ducks in a row... she is utterly and completely awe-inspiring.
Her name? We’ll call her Mrs. Proverbs 31.
I can’t remember exactly when I discovered her tribute, tucked away in the center of my Bible, but from that day forward I knew I wanted to be just like her. I made my to-do list and set out to be the best Christian wife and mom I could be. But all my efforts seemed to produce was a life that was far from “abundant” (John 10:10). It was completely exhausting.
Being like Ms. P was a noble goal, but the truth is that I had missed the point completely...
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Case in point: Exodus 12 is the first time Moses addresses the entire community of Israel as a congregation, a united people. In this inaugural address, do you know what he tells them to do?
Then, and only then, would they be saved from God’s wrath about to be poured out on the Egyptians. And this event wasn’t just meant to be a one-time ordeal, God told them to observe “Passover” indefinitely, in the first month of each year.
So what is the deal with all of the blood in the Bible?...
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It's Not All White
White. I just needed white paint. But which white was the right white? (I dare you to say that five times fast.) In other words, which white was true?
I don’t know about you, but I get a little sad every time I read the opening of Genesis. As a middle child, I’ve never been a fan of conflict. Knowing the impending doom of Adam and Eve’s decision makes me want to fast-forward to the end of the script, when Jesus swoops in to make all things right again.
However, I believe it’s important that we pause here because we can all learn an important lesson. In chapter three we meet the enemy of our souls, Satan. If there’s one thing I know to be true about him it’s that thousands of years later he’s still using the same tactics. When we know our enemy, we can know how to fight him . . .
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I’ve been sitting on the couch since 7:00am, trying to study my Bible, but finding myself processing ALL THE THINGS instead.
And, my friends, there is a LOT to process.
It has been a month, y’all. My husband has been out of town for work, and I’ve been juggling all the ins and outs of single parenting during a literal world-wide outbreak (while launching a nonprofit). WHEW.
Add to the fun: a trip to the emergency room with my 6-year-old (of all times!) after she nailed her head on the corner of a kitchen cabinet. Fun times. (She is doing fine now, BTW.)
Yesterday, when our county announced they will be closing schools due to COVID-19, effective Monday, the enormity of the situation we’re in fell on me heavily.
I must admit, until quite recently I was one of “those” people. Who joked. Who complained. And (worst of all), judged actions I deemed “extreme and unnecessary.”
As He usually does, the Holy Spirit dropped in to convict and course correct. He helped me begin to see things from a broader perspective, and He pulled back the curtain on the source of my frustration: the need to feel control over the situation.
But the truth is I’m not in control. You aren’t either. And that’s a good thing.
HE is in control. We don’t have to stress or fear because our lives are never outside of His hands.
So, if we can’t control everything, what is our job right now? Most of us have never experienced anything like this before. What does following Jesus look like during this season?
Today, I’m going to share a few things our family is doing from a Biblical perspective during the COVID-19 pandemic:
We're learning to love our neighbors better, and submit to governing authorities.
As Christians--Christ-followers—Christ commands (not recommends) that we put our neighbors first. That means setting aside our plans and preferences when it comes to the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of others. We are to treat others the way we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
These are just a few of the things I’m thinking about as we ride out this big, uncertain wave. As a mom of three germ factories- err, young kids, I’m choosing to abide by the recommendations of the government and CDC and stay in. This choice is not out of fear for what we might catch, but concern for what we may spread. Jesus protected the vulnerable, and we should too.
(For more on this topic, check out this wonderful article by Andy Crouch.)
We're stepping up our prayer game.
After being called out (thanks Holy Spirit) on my initial stinky attitude, I decided this: every time I am tempted to complain about the situation, I’m going to pray about it instead.
As I said on social media yesterday: Science is real. Germs are real. Pandemics are real. But God is also real. He made the sun stand still, the seas part, and donkeys talk. He controls it all.
Now is the time to lift our voices and cry out for help in our time of need. Yes, we need to do our part by using wisdom to protect the most vulnerable among us, but we also need to ask for His mighty hand to intervene.
Psalm 50:15 says, “...call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
Our bold prayers honor God.
It’s time to pray...
For our government.
For our healthcare workers.
For the elderly.
For the media.
Will you join me in lifting our collective voices to the heavens today?
We're walking in wisdom, not fear.
We are doing what is within our control (washing our hands, and practicing social distancing), and trusting God with what is not.
It’s obvious God cares about our health (hello, Levitical law). He has given us an entire book of wisdom, and expects us to walk in it.
Remember that through wisdom and action, Joseph saved an entire nation from obliteration (Genesis 41). He could have disregarded God’s instructions in the name of “faith”, but the results likely would have been devastating. We cannot excuse reckless behavior, then blame the results on “God’s will.”
That being said...
We are choosing faith over fear.
We believe in a God who protects and provides. So we are taking any and all anxiety to Him, and picking up His peace instead (1 Peter 5:7). Knowing God is for us and never leaves us nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5) gives us peace that passes all understanding— a peace no amount of preparation can give (Philippians 4:7).
We’re doing our part, and trusting that God is doing His.
We're seeking out safe ways to stay connected.
I stand by the actions of government, schools, organizations, businesses, churches, and others who are taking every precaution to “flatten the curve.” I don't believe for one second that it demonstrates fear, or a lack of faith.
But while large-scale meetings simply aren’t going to be wise in the coming days, I believe we need to be more intentional and creative than ever before about authentic connection. With every passing year, I am more convinced than ever that community is crucial to our joy, our spiritual growth, and our sense of belonging.
Here are some ways I’m being intentional:
I took this picture today, before my kids’ last day of school for what will probably be a month.
They protested, but I told them they would appreciate it one day when they tell their kids and grandkids they got out school for a month for the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
My kids don’t understand the magnitude of the days we’re living in and, in many ways, I don’t think I do either. There are so many unknowns— how long will it last? Will our elderly loved ones be safe? What will happen to the economy?
Only time will tell. In the meantime, this is what we’ll be doing. Leaning in, and allowing it to shape us into the men and women of God He desires us to be.
In conclusion, here is a scripture from James 1, from The Message translation:
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so that you will become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get His help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought…” (James 1:2-8)
I'll share more thoughts, as I process, over on social media (links in my "about me" page).
Know that I am praying bold prayers for you, your families, our nation, and our world today!
Love Notes (plus a free download!)
My daughter, who turned six last fall, is in love with love.
Love notes are her latest obsession. If she’s not playing with dolls or riding on her scooter, you can most often find her in the study where she sits at her white desk carefully cutting and folding. Then, with great focus, she practices her very best Kindergarten handwriting…
“I love you so much because you are so nice.”
“I love you mom and dad. From Bethany.”
“You’re sick. I’m so sorry for you.” (My favorite.)
At this point, her love notes grace nearly every room of our home. She lavishes her love on every resident, even down to the smallest pet— my sister’s cat (who, unfortunately, doesn’t return the sentiment).
Everywhere I turn, little red hearts and those three simple words remind me how my daughter feels about me, her Mama. Y’all most days I feel like I’m failing, and yet she is enamored.
My printer paper stash is empty, but my heart is full.
The truth is, friends, whether married, single, or “it’s complicated,” we all have a not-so-secret Admirer this Valentine’s Day.
Now, you’re probably thinking, I know where this is going, as you hover over your browser’s back button. But if that’s you, I dare you to hear me out…
You see, I’m the kind of girl who grew up wondering if she was noticed. I’m the kind of girl who grew up wondering how God felt about her. And I’m the kind of girl who grew up wondering if she was even worthy of taking up space on this earth.
And now I can’t help but wonder if you are the kind of gal who wonders the same things?
Even though I went to church, served God with all my energy, and said I believed He loved me, deep down I felt that love was contingent on me doing everything perfectly.
I look back now and I ask, “How could you miss it? How could you miss God’s love?” Only in looking back can I see it so clearly.
I realize I missed it then—and still miss it even now, at times--for the same reasons I miss my daughter’s love notes even though they’re right in front of my face…
Mainly: busyness, pride, and shame.
There’s nothing new under the sun. If we open our Bibles to the New Testament we see story after story of people who missed God’s greatest Love Note, Jesus, for the very same reasons…
Any of us would give our left arm to sit at the physical feet of Jesus for two minutes, but Martha missed her opportunity because she was preoccupied serving.
The Pharisees were so offended by Jesus they couldn’t see He was the very Savior for which they were waiting.
The Samaritan woman almost skipped out on a life-altering conversation with the Son of God, because of the labels she had allowed to define her.
It’s crazy to think we have an Admirer whose love for us never wavers— not once— nor will it ever go away. But at some point or another, we all become blinded to the love notes that are right in front of our face.
What is it that is blinding you, today— busyness? Pride? Shame?
I ask not to point a finger, but to pull you in close and whisper these words of hope: just because you can’t see or feel it right now doesn’t mean His love has gone away.
James 4:8 makes it clear that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. It makes me think of Jesus’ description of the Prodigal’s father who sees His son “a long way off” and begins running toward him.
Regardless of whether you’ve been trying to do life on your own, or hiding in shame, or if you’ve simply stuffed your life with distractions, the Father is moved with compassion when He sees us moving in His direction.
Your desire for the Father’s love could never surpass His desire to give it.
A year ago I began praying this simple prayer, that became a catalyst to greater intimacy with Jesus, a greater revelation of His love for me:
“Lord, I want to know You more. Open my eyes to see.”
If you find yourself feeling weary, worthless, or wandering today, let that be your prayer. (By the way, His answer to this prayer is always yes.)
Friend, His love notes are all around us. There’s no mistaking His affections. He is enamored. With you. With me. And not because we’ve done anything to earn it, but simply because we are His.
The truth is He could fill an entire house with love notes to us, and never run out of words because love isn’t just what He does, it’s who He is.
May He open your eyes to see, and may you be filled to the brim with His love this Valentine’s Day.
P.S. No matter how long you've been a Christian, we all need reminders of God's love for us. God's love energizes us, gives us confidence, and calls us home when we are lost.
I created a FREE download for you this week— "love notes" filled with scripture to help you meditate on God's love. Simply print, cut, and place around your house for ongoing encouragement! Click below for an instant download, no strings attached.
A little about me...
Hi, I'm Katie!
Wife to Craig, mom of three, author, writer, Rooted Moms founder, Jesus-follower, Bible teacher, and coffee enthusiast.
Follow me as I follow Christ and share my heart throughout the journey.