Tired, but Trusting #fiveminutefriday

Earlier this week, I was so tired of the way things have been going in life that I just wanted to give up. I was tired of the financial strain, tired of plans not working out the way we’d hoped, tired of having to wonder what to do next, just tired of always feeling like the underdog. But I knew I had to just get up and keep putting one foot in front of the other and trusting God through it all. I realized as I sought Him that even though I’m tired, I still have work to do. Even if our situation never changes, I have to be faithful in the little things, day to day. He has given me tasks, mundane though they may seem, that do not change regardless of where we live or what our situation is. I can never grow weary of loving my children, of supporting my husband, of serving my church or of taking care of my own health. Yes, I may be physically tired, even emotionally and mentally exhausted at times, but I cannot let myself become so worn down by worldly cares that I stop being faithful to the Lord. More than any other time, I need to go to Him with my burdens and let Him renew my strength. I need to be refreshed by His Word and walk on, doing the good work He has given me to do in this season. I can rest in Him and know the harvest is coming!

“Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Galatians 6:9

“Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous fall.”
Psalm 55:22

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary;
they will walk and not be faint.”
Isaiah 40:31


This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here

Taking the Next Step

Taking the Next Step

Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn that sends us reeling, wondering how to take the next step. That’s what happened last week when we found out our house sale was not going to happen. After all the planning we had set in motion, we found ourselves back at square one, not sure what to do next. For several days I felt like I was just wandering aimlessly around the house, in a total fog. Yes, I was doing the necessary things to keep the household running, but beyond that, I had no sense of direction.

What can we do when life throws us a curve ball like that? Yes, we pray. We dig into God’s Word. We keep trusting Him. Those spiritual practices must be our anchors. We draw closer to God in the hard times than the easy ones, certainly. But what do we do practically to keep moving forward in the day to day? How do we come out of that fog and regain a sense of direction?

For me, I think I need to go back to the goals I made at the beginning of the year. I need to remember the fundamental vision I have for my relationships, my work, and my personal well-being. My situation may change, but the basic desires of my heart are the same. I want to grow in and through trials, and I need to remember that good growth happens slowly, one tiny step at a time. Even though I can’t see very far down the road, I can see far enough to take the next small step, to do the next right thing.

Drink an extra glass of water.

Do a load of laundry.

Read a book or two to my daughter.

Play a board game with my son.

Make extra time for my husband in the evening.

Set up some time out with a friend next week.

Create that new webpage I’ve been planning.

Finish that spiritual growth book I’ve been reading.

These are relatively small things. But they add up to growth. They get me moving in the right direction toward my goals. I have to keep just putting one foot in front of the other, trusting God to lay the path to bigger things before me while being faithful in the small ones.

What do you do when life throws you for a loop? How do you take the next step forward in faith? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. I try to reply to every one!

Fullness of Joy – New Scripture Printable – Psalm 16:11

Psalm 16:11 Printable

When I created this Psalm 16 printable I did not expect to be posting it on the same day that our family received some bad news about the pending sale of our house in Illinois. Some problems came up unexpectedly, and now we are uncertain about what is going to happen next. Everything is completely up in the air and out of our control. To say today has been difficult would be an understatement.

How timely, then, that our pastor’s sermon Sunday was all about giving God praise and focussing on His attributes in our prayers rather than on our problems. So all evening I have been praying and meditating on some of my favorite Psalms, trying to fill my mind with His truth in place of all my worries. When I considered what I wanted to blog about tonight, I saw this printable waiting to be posted. What better time than now?

Psalm 16:11 speaks to the guidance and sufficiency of the Lord. Even in the midst of difficult physical circumstances, He lavishes us with every spiritual blessing. I look around at my situation and feel like everything is fall apart at the seams. But if I look at my good Father, I am reminded that He is fully in control and will take care of me. He can fill me with joy and abundance by His Spirit, even if I have nothing on earth. I just have to choose to look to Him, not at my temporary troubles. Admittedly, that is easier said than done! (Printing this Scripture print, however is as simple as this: click on the image above to download the PDF and print it out.)

May this Scripture printable be an encouragement to you as it has been to me!

Time for a little update

Wow, I really didn’t mean to take an almost 2-week long blogging break! Life around here has been a bit busier than normal, and I have had a lot going on in my head, too. I just could not seem to get my thoughts in order enough to even consider writing anything until tonight. It’s been a while since I just sat down and wrote a chatty post about what our family has been up to lately. So I thought I’d do that now. I hope you don’t mind!

House Updates:

In answer to many, many months of prayers, we finally have a buyer for our Illinois house! We will be closing that sale in 2 weeks or less, hallelujah! We are so ready to have that burden off our minds. We pray the house will be a blessing to the new family as it was for us as long as we lived there!

The really crazy house news, however, is that just a couple of week after we close on our Illinois house, we will be finalizing the purchase of a new home here in Tennessee! We were not originally planning on buying a house here quite this fast, but the right house in the right location for the right price came across our path. We will be downsizing a bit, so we plan to unload a few more boxes and pieces of furniture we haven’t used since moving to Tennessee. And we will be painting the whole house and replacing all the carpet before we move in, so…um…there may be more unintentional long blogging breaks coming up in the next few months!

Job Updates:

I am not sure if I’ve mentioned it before here or not, but I started working childcare one morning a week. We’ve been attending a large church in the area for several months, and I found out they needed more workers for their weekday morning Bible studies. It has been nice to have a little paycheck, and the kids are able to come with me and play with friends while I work.

Again, the bigger news is that my husband will be starting a part-time music pastor position in the next few weeks. We visited and led worship at the church this past Sunday and enjoyed meeting the congregation. It is a small church that was started just 7 years ago as a church plant, and the people seem to genuinely care for one another and to be seeking to grow together in Christ. I look forward to growing along with them for however long God has us there to serve!

Homeschool Updates:

Homeschooling is going along well, in spite of our usual morning schedule being interrupted at least once a week. I don’t enjoy doing school in the afternoon, but it does work on those days when we have to be out of the house in the morning. My son is reading so voraciously in our free time that I am having to be very resourceful in coming up with age-appropriate, quality books to check out from the library. Thank goodness for the AmblesideOnline Advisory lists of family favorites that are not part of the AO curriculum. I simply do not have time to read everything before my son does, so I have to find people I trust to give me good book recommendations!

Random Updates:

It’s spring consignment sale season here already. The timing is actually pretty good since I need to get rid of some more stuff before we move! This week I have been pulling boxes out of the basement and washing, ironing, and tagging the kids’ clothes from last spring. I also am going through old toys and books and DVDs to see what else we might be able to sell. Next I need to work on my kids’ spring capsule wardrobe list so I know what to look for when I do my own shopping!

And the best thing about having all this time sitting tagging items for sale? I get to sit and watch the Winter Olympics and not feel at all guilty that I’m wasting time!

Now that I’ve shared all my news, I would love to hear what’s new with you! Leave me a comment and let me know how 2018 has been treating you!

Agree with God #fiveminutefriday

Agree with God, and be at peace;

thereby good will come to you.

Receive instruction from his mouth,

and lay up his words in your heart.

Job 22:21-22 (ESV)

When I read today’s prompt I immediately thought of the phrase “agree with God,” but I didn’t know if there was an actual Bible verse that used those words. So when I went to look it up, I was pleasantly surprised that the verse I found goes right along with the ideas I have been thinking and writing about lately.

When we agree with God, we will be at peace. How good is that promise?! Peace is sought after but seldom found in our busy, pressured lives today. When we agree with God, when we let Him be in control and speak His truth into our lives, that is when we find peace.

Good will come to us when we believe God’s words and take them to heart. When we believe lies and ignore God’s direction, bad things are bound to happen to us. But God promises blessing when we obey and follow Him.

Just like I wrote earlier this week, we need to lay up God’s truth in our hearts. We need to replace lies with the truth, receiving His instruction in the truth. When we do this, we agree with God about our identity, about His character, about the world and about what our role is in His kingdom. When we stop agreeing with the world and start agreeing with God, we are in for abundant blessing. Let’s get in the Word and start believing God!

More resources on this topic:

Lies Women Believe by Nancy Lee DeMoss (Wolgemuth)

Believing God by Beth Moore

P.S.—Did you know that if you sign up for my email list you get special subscriber freebies AND extra weekly bonus content not found on my blog!? Sometimes it will be a recipe, sometimes an extra free printable, sometimes a healthy living tip, sometimes a poem or song…you just never know what little bit of goodness I’m going to include next! Sign up here to get in on the fun…You can even choose whether you want to receive just the weekly digest with the extra goodies, just my blog posts (no extra weekly content), or ALL my emails so you don’t miss a thing!

This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here

Surrender: Thoughts on Psalm 37 #fiveminutefriday

Surrender: Thoughts on Psalm 37

In my devotional time lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Psalms. I feel like praying through the very prayers inspired by God helps train my heart and mind to desire what is right. Psalm 37 has been near and dear to my heart for a long time, but it has come to the forefront of my mind again lately as I have been working through some trust issues. This prompt of “surrender” took me back to Psalm 37 again. (I also found it a bit…um…interesting that I just wrote a post last week on the same theme of “letting go.”) The main verses that stand out to me with this idea of surrender are as follows:

Trust in the LORD and do good;

dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Delight yourself in the LORD

and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in Him and He will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,

the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him;

do not fret when men succeed in their ways,

when they carry out their wicked schemes.

–Psalm 37:3-7

The words in these verses that carry some of the same meaning as surrender are “trust,” “commit” and “be still.” Trusting God is letting Him be in control, surrendering the reigns to him and believing He will take good care of me.  If I commit my way to the Lord, I am giving up or surrendering my own way. “Be still” is also a reminder to surrender. If I am still, I am at rest. I am not struggling or fighting. I am surrendered and willing to be used by God. The problem with all these things is that they go against our (MY) natural desire to be in control of our circumstances and to do what we want to do.

The beautiful thing about the picture of surrender in Psalm 37 is that it also shows the good things God promises when we give Him control:

He will give us safety. (vs. 3)

He will give us the desires of our heart. (vs. 4)

He will make our righteousness and justice shine. (vs. 6)

We will enjoy great peace. (vs. 11)

He will uphold us. (vs. 17)

I could go on, but my time is already up! The point is this: Surrender is not easy, but surrendering to the One who holds our future in His hands is always, always, the best thing to do.

This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here

Lessons from Fasting: Letting Go

As I mentioned in my post on my personal goals for 2018, I am participating in a 40 Day Sugar Fast hosted by Wendy Speake. When I started this fast, I really did just want to get free of my sugar addiction. I know that sugar is not good for me, in more than just a physical sense. I can tell that it affects my mind and emotions as well. I have gone without sweeteners before when doing Whole30, but whenever the diet period is over, I always creep back into my old habits. This year I decided I had finally had enough of feeling enslaved to my cravings for cookies or candy, and this fast seemed to be the perfect opportunity to do just that.

What I did not realize was that through Wendy and the other fasting group leaders, the Lord was going to ask for more than just my sugar during these 40 days. Right from the start, I realized that I had two choices. I could go along day by day using will power to turn down sweet foods and hope that at the end of the 40 days I’d have replaced my sweet tooth with a taste for more healthy options. Or, I could actually treat this fast as a spiritual experience and seek the Lord at those times when I usually would have gone to the cupboard for a sugary snack, which was what Wendy suggested.

At first, I admit, I was reluctant to try the second option. Honestly, I was afraid of what God might have to say to me in those quiet moments. I was afraid of being uncomfortable, of feeling hungry. I did not want to admit, even to myself, that I had been looking to food for comfort and happiness instead of going to God for those things. Yikes. Finally, however, I pushed past all those fears and decided to let God speak to my heart during this time.

The first few days after that decision, everything still seemed very much the same. But yesterday, I felt a heavy weight on my heart. I knew that the Lord was asking me to give Him than my sugar addiction, and I didn’t want to hear that. All day long I was irritable and moody. When my husband got home from work, I told him how I was feeling, and he told me to take some time to myself after dinner. I went to my room and sat there with my Bible and journal and started the hard work of asking God what it was He wanted me to let go of besides my comfort foods.

Immediately, an image came to my mind of a toddler holding onto a sharp and dangerous knife. She thought it was pretty and looked like a fun toy, so she grabbed it and held on with all her might. But then her father came and asked her to let it go. He knew it was going to hurt her if she didn’t. He gently but firmly took her wrist in his hand, and the toddler started kicking and screaming because she didn’t want him to take her shiny toy. Her father told her he had something much better for her if she would only give him the knife. But she didn’t want to. She didn’t see anything in his other hand. She wasn’t sure if she could trust him.

That toddler was me.

I think the Lord gave me that image as an answer to a prayer I prayed earlier on in the fast, a prayer for a vision of what He wanted to do in my heart and life. I know that there are some idols I have been holding onto, some things that I have been thinking were good for me, that my Heavenly Father wants me to let go of. He wants to give me something better. I just have to trust Him, even though I don’t see how He is going to do it.

I know this is just the beginning of the work that God has started in my heart. I hope to write more as the fast progresses. I am looking forward to seeing how my faith increases and how He breaks through some strongholds in my life. I have some big prayers. But I have an even bigger God!

How about you? Have you ever had a time when God asked you to let go of something so He could give you something better? I’d love to hear your story in the comments!

My Goals for GROWTH in 2018, Part 2: Personal Growth

Welcome to the second post in my Goals for Growth series! Last week, I wrote about my goals for developing stronger relationships. Today, I want to share my 2018 goals for personal growth.

Physical Growth:

In the area of my physical health my overall goal is to get in better shape so that I can have more energy and strength so that I can better serve my family now and in the long term. Since my pregnancy with my daughter three years ago, I have had very little energy and strength. I have largely neglected my physical health, at least in terms of getting the exercise and intentional movement I need on a daily basis. I am not a highly athletic person naturally, anyway, and since it has been a long time since I have asked my body to move in many different ways, I am intentionally starting small and being very gentle with myself. My action steps to achieve this goal are as follows: complete the Foundational 5+ course from Fit2B, exercise at least 30 minutes 3-4 times a week (also using routines from Fit2B), and go outside for 30 minutes every day for fresh air and sunshine.

My second goal is the area of physical health is to break my addiction to sugar. I have struggled with craving sweets for a long time, even though I know that sugar depletes my immune system and causes blood sugar spikes and drops that contribute to bad mood swings. My first line of attack in this sugar addiction battle is going to be following the 40 Day Sugar Fast hosted by Wendy Speake, starting January 8th.

Spiritual Growth:

Tied closely to my physical health battles, my spiritual health is going to be of paramount importance to the rest of my growth. Recently I have realized that the scripts that run through my head are normally pretty negative. This negativity spills out into every other area of my life. My goal in 2018 is to exchange those negative thoughts with the truth of Scripture. This will increase my joy and gratitude and decrease my anxiety and discontent. My action steps to accomplish this goal include waking early each morning to spend time alone studying the Word and praying before the rest of my family gets up. I will also be writing down at least 3 things I am grateful for each day.

Educational Growth:

My goals in this area are not really new but more of a continuation of what I am already doing. My goals for my personal education in 2018 are to continue bettering myself through wide reading and learning new skills. I want to always be learning and growing my understanding of the world, of God and of other people. I never want to stagnate and stop using my mind or lose my sense of wonder at the marvels of creation. As I mentioned in my last Reading Report of 2017, I am joining the 2018 Back to the Classics Challenge. Of course, I also have other books that I want to read that are not on that list, and I am hoping to complete at least 30 titles this year. As for learning new skills, I am planning to study some basic drawing and watercolor techniques. I want to practice at least once a week, as well as using what I learn in my nature journal entries each week.

I will be back in a few days with the last post in my goals series, all about my professional goals for 2018. In the meantime, tell me about your personal growth goals for this coming year. What are you going to be doing to improve your spiritual, physical and mental health? 

Growth: Slow and Steady Progress

Here we are at the bright, shiny (and very cold!) beginning of the new year–2018. I cannot begin to describe the ups and downs that our family experienced in 2017, but I can say with certainty that we are happy we came through it all. We are stronger, closer, and I pray, more faithful now than we were when the year began. It was a year of hardship and testing, of waiting, of uncertainty, and of more waiting. We received many blessings and many of our prayers were answered in amazing ways. Other prayers still wait for answers, but that gives us something to look forward to in the year to come, does it not?!

I have been away from the blog for a couple of weeks, not intentionally, but because I have been spending a lot of my free time thinking and planning and writing in my journal. My thoughts have needed time to sit and soak before I could put them into words. Even now as I sit down to write this post, I am hesitant to put my thoughts into print because I am still in the process of sorting things out in my mind. Still, I wanted to begin writing some things here, partly for accountability, partly just so you all would know I am still alive over here!

If you happen to have come to Tuning Hearts from my old blog, then you may remember that a couple of years ago I jumped on the “Word of the Year” bandwagon. I don’t actually remember if I chose a word for 2017, though. And if I did, it probably should have just been “Survive” because that pretty well sums up what I felt like I did all year! But this year is going to be different. This year we are going to thrive!

Recently, through various social media channels, I found out about Lara Casey’s Goal Setting blog series. Even though I had already started planning and sketching out some goals for 2018, I decided to try her steps as outlined in the series. Can I just tell you how glad I am that I did this? Lara’s posts have inspired and challenged me to think even more deeply about the changes I hope to see in my life and in the life of our family in the future. And the best part of all her steps (for me, at least) has been the forward-thinking nature of goal setting. She challenges her readers not just to think about what they want to accomplish in 2018, but who they want to be when they are 80 years old. When you frame your plans and goals in light of who you want to be when you come to the end of your life, it really changes your perspective! Now instead of thinking just about how my goals and desires can help me “do better” in certain areas of my life,  I am thinking about what I should pursue to become the person that God wants me to be and how that will affect my family, friends, church and community as well!

The hopes that I have for 2018, the changes I want to make, all point to this one theme: growing what I have already been given. The Lord has been good to me. He has set me on a path, and I am moving forward. He has given me a strong foundation. Now I need to keep on track and grow in the things that He has set before me to do. I need personal growth, relational growth, growth in my work and in my habits and in my recreation. I never want to stop learning and growing and becoming more of who God wants me to be. I do not want to stagnate.

I know there is hard work ahead.  A lot of my goals are going to require a good deal of self-control and discipline to accomplish. But I also know that it will be well worth it if I keep moving steadily forward. I am not expecting or chasing after perfection here. I am just looking for progress. I am aiming for small improvements over the course of each day, each week and each month, until at the end of year I can look back and see a track record of steady growth.

In another post, I will talk more in depth about some or all of my goals. At this point, I am still fleshing some of them out, so I am not ready to write about them yet. So be looking for that post later this week! Until then, I would love to hear if you have a word or phrase that you are going to focus on in 2018. What do you want to see God do in your life this year? Tell me about it in the comments below! Let’s cheer each other on and keep each other accountable to keep moving forward and doing the next right thing!

Heart Work: Letting God Perform Spiritual Surgery

Has God ever invited you to undergo spiritual surgery? Maybe you were listening to a sermon on an average Sunday morning, when a certain word or phrase the pastor spoke struck you. Then later on you read something in a book or on a blog that addressed the same idea and kept you thinking about it the rest of the day. A few days later, you were driving around listening to a favorite podcast, when the guest mentioned dealing with the same thing that you have been mulling over all week. I am sure I am not the only one who has experiences like this, when it becomes abundantly clear that the Lord is speaking to you about a specific issue or area of your life. The question is, what do we do when we feel the Lord prompting us to listen?

I have had some recent experience like this, and as tempting as it is to just say, “Oh, yes, Lord, I know I need to think about that, but I’m pretty busy right now,” I know that cannot be my response. God has been speaking to me about some deeply significant heart issues that need healing and transformation. If I want true change, I am going to have to do the work alongside Him. I need to deal with the sin, the pain, and the ugliness so that I can experience the sanctification, the healing, and the joy on the other side.

The thing is, it is hard to open up, even to my loving God, and let Him shine the light on my darkest parts. It would be easier to just put a spiritual bandaid on it and pretend I’m doing fine. Listen to some upbeat worship music, commit to more Bible memory or more service at church, any busy work to keep from dealing with what is really wrong. But then the cancer of my sin and Satan’s lies are just going to keep growing and taking deeper root. No, I can’t let that happen. Not this time. The Lord has been speaking to me, and I am going to take the time to listen, to seek His will. It will hurt, I know, but I am willing to let Him do some serious spiritual surgery. I need His Truth to cut through those lies that have taken up residence in my mind and heart. I need the water of the Word to wash my heart and refresh my weary soul. I am ready for Him to do some deep heart work so I can experience deep healing. How about you?