Wisdom Wednesday

Favor or Punishment?

I wrote this post in 2019 but never uploaded it. God’s favor has been with us through some crazy times, and this post was a good reminder to me that His favor doesn’t always look like how we expect. Enjoy, and God bless!


The day after I experienced the favor of God in parable form, I woke up to a cold shower, snow, and a husband who needed to be to work 1.5 hours early. How could I still have God’s favor, even in the midst of these trials?

That’s when I learned my second lesson about favor: Favor does not always look like we expect.

Let’s start from the beginning. We have the favor of God because of the work that Jesus did for us on the cross. Because of the sacrifice of God’s Son, we have eternal life, and an abundant life that we can live now. The favor that is described in the Bible has little to do with material possessions. It really describes our relationship with God, that God is now pleased with us, and that He wants to grow us into efficient, joyful children that produce His fruit.

When we talk about favor, we usually think of Romans 8:28 — “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). Romans 8:29, the verse right after it, says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (NIV). God’s plan for us is not to have all the money in the world, all the status, or even all the power. God’s plan for us is to be like Jesus. That’s what God’s favor is.

One example of a human experiencing God’s favor in the Bible is Mary. The angel Gabriel said that Mary was highly favored with God, and that she was blessed among women (Luke 1:28). However, I’m sure she didn’t feel the favor of God when she had to tell her husband she was pregnant, and when she had to live with the ridicule of people not understanding the power of God at work in her life. And having been pregnant, I’m sure she wouldn’t have been thinking God’s favor was with her as she experienced morning sickness and all the other uncomfortable symptoms that come with carrying a child! Of course, the miracle inside her womb was the greatest blessing we could ever imagine, but to Mary, in that moment, it probably didn’t seem that way.

If she had favor the way that we view favor, her husband wouldn’t have sought to divorce her. If she had favor the way that we view favor, she wouldn’t have given birth where people fed their animals. If she had favor the way that we view favor, she wouldn’t have had to run from King Herod, who wanted every baby boy under the age of two killed. If she had favor the way that we view favor, she wouldn’t have lost her twelve-year-old son when He was in the temple.

God’s favor is God’s grace. The moment that brought you the deepest shame, in Christ, will be the moment where you’ve experienced the greatest grace. The moment where you’ve hit rock bottom is where you discover that God is everything you need. The moment you realize you have a debt you can’t pay is the moment you realize that God has credited righteousness to those who trust in His promises (see Romans 4).

Whether you’re in a good or bad season, God’s favor is with you.

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” – Isaiah 58:11

Encouragement Marriage

Overlooking the little things

And we’re back for another episode of “What’s going on in my life?” Except I’ve been so busy that I’m not writing about what’s going on in my life. This is a Marriage-Monday-on-a-Wednesday post I wrote in September 2019 but never shared. After reading it, felt encouraged, so I hope it encourages you as well!


I always make a joke that my husband leaves his socks on the floor. This is something he actually never does, but there are little quirks of his that annoy me. So as to not embarrass him, and to show respect to him, I’m not going to share those quirks, but I am going to talk about how those quirks make me feel. I feel like he doesn’t listen to me. I feel like I’m wasting my time. I feel like what’s important to me isn’t important to him.

But when I think about it, the “little things” that annoy me aren’t as important to me as Lenny is to me.

I finished a Bible plan on YouVersion (“Living Room Reset” by Kirk Cameron) with some of my friends from church. On the third day, Cameron shares a story about a man who was annoyed that his wife left her slippers on the floor every single day. It would drive him crazy. It annoyed him every day of their marriage, until the day that she passed away. After that, he wished he would trip over her slippers, because that would mean she was still around to leave them there.

Sure, Lenny and I may bicker or get on each other’s nerves, but what really matters? That we’re still together. That he’s still around. That I’m still around. And that we’re seeking to honor God in our marriage.

Because we’re both busy in this season, we’re finding that a lot more is annoying us about each other. We seem to be snippy with one another (OK, I’ll admit it, get snippy with Lenny because that’s how I handle stress), and there is literally friction between us. But we’ve forgotten that we’re busy because we’re building our lives together for each other. We’re working to make sure we have enough money to go on vacations and take care of our son and fulfill our dreams. To get annoyed that we’re getting in the way of doing our daily tasks is so backwards, because the daily tasks we’ve taken on are for the sake of each other!

Generally speaking, if you’re in a busy season with your spouse, you need to overlook the little things. You need to decide that your spouse is more important than whatever you have on your to-do list today. If your husband had a rough day at work and needs to vent, put down the book and let him vent, especially if he’s like my husband and chooses his words very carefully! If your wife comes to you crying and she confesses that she doesn’t feel good enough, take your eyes off the television and look into hers. Aside from God, your spouse should be your number-one priority.

So the next time your spouse leaves his socks on the floor, or he leaves his dish in the sink instead of putting it in the dishwasher, or she decides to have a deep conversation with you when you’re about to go to bed…just remember that the one you said your vows to on your wedding day, on one of the most important days of your life, is doing life with you now. He is still your prince charming. She is still your princess. You are still meant for each other, even when life happens.


It’s Time to Rest

I love my job. Working from home, writing thousands of words a day, learning a treasure trove of information, and being part of an uplifting team. At this job, I truly feel like I’m doing what God created me to do for this season. After each shift, I’m so excited and grateful that I have the opportunity to work in my dream career.

Except, why am I so tired?

I Experienced Burnout, Even in My Dream Job

Truthfully, my first month on the job was fun, but it was also information overload. As a result, I was tired. I could even say a felt a low grade of depression. For a couple of weeks I wondered, if this is my dream job and I’m depressed, did I follow the wrong dream?

Over time, I learned that I wasn’t in the wrong career. I was just burned out. Even though my job is exactly what I want to be doing, it was too much. I needed to make time to rest, especially since I hadn’t worked full-time in more than two years before this job.

We all need rest, even from good things. Just ask Elijah.

Elijah Was Burnt Out, Even in His Dream Job

Elijah was a powerhouse prayer warrior prophet for God. Everywhere he went, miracles followed. One of the most prominent miracles of God that he experienced was up against the prophets of Baal, a false god. You can read about it in 1 Kings 18. God shows up in a supernatural way, putting the doubt of all people to death. Oh, and He also brought rain down on the land after a long drought.

But shortly after all these miracles happened, Elijah wished he was dead. Wait, what? No, seriously. In 1 Kings 19:4, Elijah says what we’ve all said at one time or another: “I’ve had enough, Lord.” He asks God to take his life. You could say that it’s the one prayer God didn’t answer, but actually, He does.

Elijah Needed a Nap and a Snack

Right after this declaration, Elijah falls asleep. Sometimes, we just need a nap! But then when his nap is finished, an angel wakes him up and tells him to eat.

A literal angel made Elijah literal food. All of a sudden, there was bread and water in front of him. So, he did the wise thing. He ate. The food so strengthened Elijah that he traveled forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God.

During this dark time, Elijah learned the value of rest. He learned that, even when good things happen, these good things can’t sustain him. He’s human. Like all of us, he needed to rest after the emotional roller coaster he endured, even in the midst of the miracle.

The Importance of the Rest in Our Lives

Rest is so important to God that even He rested on the seventh day. He set an example that we all need to follow. The Sabbath reminds us that we’re human, that we can’t give our 110% all the time. We need to intentionally step back from our ministries, our jobs, our daily lives for just a moment to unwind and reflect.

Oh, and of course, to take a nap!

Most of my close friends know that I can’t stay out past ten o’clock at night. It’s a boundary I’ve set for myself, because I know that I can’t be (ahem) very Christlike past that hour. The truth is, I wake up early in the morning, so I’m tired by the end of the day. I’m human. I’ve recognized the importance of sleep for my sanity.

Key Takeaway

While most of us in the world are in isolation due to a virus that’s still not fully known to us. As a result, we have a ton of time on our hands. Of course, life goes on. We still have to work. But maybe, in our free time, we can make some time for rest.

Even though it seems like nothing is going on (you’re stuck in your house!), you’re going through a lot of mental and emotional stress right now. Recognize your need for rest, and make time to unwind.

This week, I challenge you to literally schedule time to rest. Here are some questions to get you thinking about how to rest properly:

  • What basic necessities (sleep, eating healthy food, working out, spending time with family, etc.) do I need right now? How can I fulfill what I need?
  • Think of your life as an empty cup. What activities and people fill the cup of your life?
  • What would spending a Sabbath with the Lord look like for you? What activities would you give up? What activities would you take part in?



What happens when you abandon your to-do list?

Last week, I wrote about abandoning your to-do list and giving God full control of your day. Did you try it? How did it go?

At the time of writing this post, it’s been six days since I’ve let God rewrite my to-do list. For one, I feel much more peace and joy. I’m disgusted at how much I do, and I’m making changes to my schedule to do a little less of the crazy stuff and a little more of what I actually enjoy.

But of course, not everything is sunshine and rainbows. I was 10 minutes late to work today, and I still have a pile of dishes to do before I go to bed tonight. I’ve learned through submitting my schedule to God that He is not a genie. He doesn’t exist to make my life easier or more enjoyable. So, I’m not always going to get to work on time (as a side note: this is not a sign of irresponsibility; my job doesn’t care if I’m late). I’m not always going to have a clean house. I’m going to do what is best for me, for my family, and ultimately for the glory of God, in each moment.

In Luke 10:38-42, we find a story that people often use to talk about slowing down and spending more time with God. Martha has a house full of guests in her home, so naturally, she is doing the chores and preparing the meal. Her sister Mary, though, is sitting at the feet of Jesus, clinging to His every word. Martha complains to Jesus Himself that Mary is not helping, and she asks Jesus rather forcefully to make Mary help her.

But Jesus, the Great Teacher, decides to teach Martha a lesson.

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.'”-Luke 10:41-42

What Martha was doing wasn’t wrong, but what Mary was doing was better. Truthfully, this small portion of Scripture taught me so much about my adulthood.

Now that I’m responsible for making my own schedule, I constantly have a choice. Do I read the Bible, or wash the dishes? Do I spend time with my husband, or go to a prayer meeting at church? Do I enjoy the beautiful day outside, or do I vacuum? Do I call a friend, or do I write a blog post? All of these are good things, but in each moment, I need God’s wisdom to decide which is better.

So, when I decide to let God tell me what is better to do in each situation, it changes me. Here are the symptoms of letting God have control in my life:

  1. I feel less in control.
  2. I want to control those around me.
  3. I realize the magnitude of God.
  4. (I have more in my journal, so we’ll see).
  5. Time passes more slowly.

I had a to-do list because I wanted to be in control of my day. While it’s important to be responsible and plan, it’s also wise to pray and ask God to help us prioritize.


Intimacy with God

Intimacy with God is made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are able to draw near to God when we accept Jesus’ sacrifice as truth, because we now have the righteousness of Christ.

A couple of weeks ago, I read Tauren Wells’ devotional on the YouVersion app called “Known,” based on his song of the same title. He said something on Day 3 that has stuck with me for about a week: “Access to information and an invitation to intimacy are two very different things.” Basically, God knows everything about us, but He doesn’t just want to know about us; He wants to be invited into those details.

As much as I hate to admit it, anxiety reminds me to invite God into my day.

Yesterday at work, I had a mini panic attack where I felt nauseous and dizzy. I looked down at the plaque on my desk: “Pray more. Worry less.” Taking a few deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth, I prayed that God would meet me in the office.

I hate to admit that my anxiety reminds me to invite God into my day, because without anxiety, sometimes I forget to invite God into my day. I feel like I don’t need God unless something is wrong with me. But the point of intimacy with God is, God doesn’t just want us to need Him. He wants us to want Him.

I’ve struggled with writing about this topic for several reasons, the most prominent being that I struggle with this topic in general. I’m a practical, to-do list kind of person, and intimacy is just not that easy. I wish I could give you a step-by-step guide to help you grow in intimacy with God, but there is none. I wish I could tell you exactly what to do to have the perfect relationship with God, but we’re all different.

All I can tell you is to be.

Unless we micromanage the other relationships in our lives, we can’t expect that micromanaging our relationship with God will work. While we should be intentional about spending time with Him, instead of squeezing Him into our schedules, we shouldn’t think that if we follow a magic formula, we can expect God to act a certain way. God is faithful, but He does not fit into the box we’ve created.

So, the point of this post is to tell you that intimacy with God is important. We were created for relationship, and that’s starts with a relationship with God. God is the only One who can fully know us and love us. When humans fall short, God reaches into the depths of us and pulls out things we didn’t even know were in there!

In Christ, there are multiple ways to experience God. Whether you enjoy music, journaling, dancing, meeting with other believers, studying the Bible, or taking a long walk outside, God can meet you when you invite Him into what you love. (As a side note: All of those things are necessary! You still have to read the Bible if you want to encounter God, even if you don’t like it).

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” While it’s not easy, it is simple. When we make time for God, when we invite Him into our day, He miraculously comes to meet us. Today, invite Him into your day, and begin that journey of intimacy with Him.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


Start with Me

A few weeks ago, I shared how we should start our years off on the same page as our spouse. We don’t have to be the same person, but we do have to make an effort to compromise and share goals with each other.

The best way to get on the same page as your spouse is through prayer. Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share how to pray for your marriage in specific circumstances. Before praying to change my spouse, I always want to examine my own heart for anything that needs to change in me.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to look at our own lives before we judge others:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).

This is not to say that we should not judge others, but that we should do so only after making sure our conscious is clear. Applying this to marriage, if I judge Lenny for leaving his dirty socks on the floor, and yet I leave my dirty socks on the floor, I need to get my priorities in order. If you don’t leave your dirty socks on the floor, but it bothers you when your husband does, there is a way to bring it up to him. We will talk about that in the coming weeks.

This week, we want our prayer to be three simple words: Start with me. The temptation is to try controlling our spouses, but in reality, we simply cannot control anyone but ourselves. No matter how much you nag or complain or even pray, you cannot change your spouse’s behavior or attitude. But you can bring your concerns to God.

I personally like to journal, so if you’re looking for a nice format to bring your concerns before God in a written prayer, here are some tips:

Be honest with God about how you feel. It may actually bother you if your spouse leaves his dirty socks on the floor, to the point where you can’t even sleep at night. If so, take it to God first! Your husband may not understand why it bothers you, but God does. Write down exactly how that action your husband does makes you feel. You’ll be surprised about what comes up.

Ask God to bring up any past hurts that could contribute to why something bothers you about your spouse. Looking back at the feelings you wrote down, think about why your husband’s actions invoke these emotions in you. Maybe your little brother used to leave his socks on the floor and it would stink up the whole house. Maybe you have an obsession with keeping your house clean. Maybe you want to control your spouse because you’ve put him on a pedestal and you don’t want him to disappoint you. Whether or not you know the reason why his actions bother you, ask God to reveal the meaning behind your feelings to you. If needed, ask God to bring healing into these hurts so that you can see past the faults of your spouse.

Confess your sins to God. This really should be before the other points discussed, but usually when we pray about our marriage, we pray to try to change our spouses or our situations. Now that your guard is down, and you’ve realized that whatever problems you have in your marriage are also your responsibility, you can deal with your own sins.

Ask for (and received) forgiveness. God wants a relationship with us. We can check off the list of sins we’ve committed, but unless we know that God forgives us, and we accept His forgiveness, we can’t fully, intimately connect with God. Don’t rush through this. Take time to receive the grace and forgiveness of God in your life.

If your marriage has problems, you are not the problem, but neither is your spouse. Before you blame your spouse for the chaos in your life, make your prayer, “Start with me.” Whatever you want to see changed in your spouse, ask it for yourself as well.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash


How Exercise Has Helped My Anxiety

At the beginning of this year, I made a commitment to lose weight that I’ve gained over the past couple of years. Since starting (and finishing!) the 21-Day Fix from Beachbody, I’ve been able to not only shed some pounds, but shed some bad habits as well.

My anxiety stems from emytophobia and agoraphobia. Although no one likes vomiting, I have such an intense fear of it that I avoid certain foods that could make my stomach hurt. I didn’t realize until I was required to fuel my body that I was also afraid of being full. I thought it meant I was sick, and it would scare me. But now that I’m burning calories and gaining muscle, I need to be full more than ever. And, thankfully, I’m learning to eat the right foods, rich in nutrients, so that I could have a satisfied tummy rather than a sick tummy.

Agoraphobia is the fear of being stuck somewhere. I get it when I’m at work, at a party, out with friends, you name it. Wherever I don’t feel in control is where I have anxiety. In an indirect way, working out has helped me to feel more in control. When I do anything out of my comfort zone, I think to myself, “If I can do a 30-minute workout this morning, I can do anything!” When I feel anxiety come on, I remember to breathe and get myself in a healthy mindset.

I’m not paid by Beachbody or anyone to say how I feel about the 21-Day Fix, but if you happen to be Google searching the program and stumble upon this post, my takeaway is that the workouts are awesome. Each week, I could feel and see myself getting stronger, so I knew it was working. However, the recommended nutrition plan didn’t work for me, as it didn’t allow me to eat enough calories. I ate a little extra carbs, and I used MyFitnessPal to keep track of my calories and nutrients. I also don’t plan on doing the Fix again for a couple of months, but most people get results by doing the program several times.

For those of you who want to incorporate exercise into your life in order to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health, here are some ways that have helped me stay on track.

Decide. You can start working out at any time, but no matter when you work out, you need to commit to a program. Whether you do a workout program, go to the gym, or follow a fitness instructor on YouTube, choose a program that works for you. You may think to yourself, “I’ll give it a try, and if I mess up, oh well.” Get that thinking out of your head! During the 21-Day Fix, I kept telling myself, “You can do this. It’s only three weeks.” I didn’t allow myself to quit because I knew that after the 21 days, I would see results, and I would be proud of myself for sticking with it.

Get an accountability partner/group. Over the summer, my friend would help me stay accountable to my running goals. There were days when I didn’t feel like working out, but I knew I had to text her to update her, and I honestly didn’t want to disappoint her! While working out, you’ll need people to encourage you. You also need people to tell you when you’re working yourself too hard and when you should take a break.

Do it first thing in the morning. I do my workout first thing in the morning because: a) I don’t have any excuses first thing in the morning; b) I usually work out on an empty stomach; c) It fuels me for the rest of the day. Set an alarm, roll out of bed, have your workout clothes folded next to your bed, suit up, and get started!

Push yourself, but don’t hurt yourself. I usually make excuses during my workouts because I have a screw in my elbow. Although I push myself beyond what I think I can do, that doesn’t mean I’m invincible! Push-ups are still hard, and using heavy weights can be a burden. If you’re finding yourself wondering when to push yourself, remember why you’re working out in the first place. You may want to lose weight, but the main goal is to take care of yourself.

The # 1 way that exercise has helped my anxiety is that it has changed my thought life. I catch myself thinking negative thoughts about my body, my personality, and my circumstances. That negative thinking is not going to get me the results I want. Instead, I think about what God says about me, and I look to Him to guide me for the rest of the day.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


Preparing for Marriage

Preparing for your marriage is vital for success. During engagement, you and your betrothed are laying the foundation for the rest of your marriage. If you get off on the wrong foot, of course, God is still able to help you and heal you. But while you have the tools now, why wait until things get worse to make them better? If you don’t want the house of your marriage to crumble, make sure you have a strong foundation, one that is built on Christ and His teachings.

Here are the ways that we prepared for marriage, and specifically, how they have helped us thus far:

Deciding you are a team. Lenny and I are a team, as we have been since we made our relationship official. Knowing we were a team made it easier to make decisions, and to show respect to one another. Your finances are connected, your boundaries are connected, and you are connected. Marriage connects you to your spouse on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level. Get accustomed to practice being a team, even as an engaged couple.

Pre-marital counseling. I struggled with pride big time in the beginning of my relationship with Lenny, so getting a diagnostic test of how well they thought we would do as a couple was both intimidating and eye-opening. It is a counselor’s job to be neutral, but reflective. If you get your pre-marital counseling from a pastor, you will get counsel from a person who loves you and cares about you, but will know how to keep it biblical rather than personal. We also had our pre-marital counseling at an office about forty minutes from where we lived, so we had the opportunity to catch up before our session, and then process on the way home. Most churches require you to have pre-marital counseling in order for you to get married there, but even if you aren’t required, I encourage you to find a local Christian counselor who can start you and your betrothed off on the right foot.

Other married couples. From the moment we got engaged, we were blessed with so much encouragement from more mature couples. A week after our engagement, one of our small group leaders saw me from across the atrium at church and invited us to their group specifically for newlywed and engaged couples. Since that invitation, we have connected with our small group, as well as other young married couples in the church who are just a little bit more mature in their marriage than us. It has been great simply to have people who understand what we’ve gone through, especially in a world that says that marriage is when your life ends. You would not believe how many people told us that we’d have a couple of good years, and then it would get very difficult and we wouldn’t be as close as we are now. Two years later, I’m not saying that marriage is perfect, but it has not been as bad as people had warned. I’m thankful for the people who have spoken life into our marriage rather than declaring our marriage a curse from the beginning. For those who are married, speak life into these newlywed and engaged couples, instead of setting them up for failure. For those who are engaged, find couples who will speak life into you and your betrothed.

Marriage devotionals. Lenny and I both like to read. In our small group, we’ve done several marriage Bible studies, that have each spoken to us in different ways and have helped us in each season so far. We also do marriage Bible plans on the YouVersion app and pray together as a couple. But we started that when we were engaged, seeking God’s will and blessing for our future marriage. You can search for marriage plans on the YouVersion app, or you can study a topic together from the Bible to increase your faith and grow in God together.

The heart behind Marriage Monday is to show you how to have hope and love in your marriage through the power of God. Lenny and I thank God that we have seen God’s power and blessing in our marriage, because we have chosen to honor Him from the very beginning. We challenge you to make the same decision. Put God first in your marriage, and everything else will fall into place. It may not be perfect, but it will be much easier and more fun with God on your side. I pray that the posts that follow and that I have written about marriage will encourage you in this next step toward your marriage. In this next season, have fun preparing for marriage!

Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash


Beyond Blessed: Give Your Budget a Heart Check

This post was #sponsoredbyfaithwords. I was not required to give a positive review, so my review is my honest take on the book Beyond Blessed: God’s Perfect Plan for No Financial Stress by Robert Morris.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity from Faithwords to read this book for free! I’ve enjoyed the other books that they’ve recommended to me as well, such as Pull it Off by Julianna Zobrist, Get Weird by CJ Casciotta, and You Are Enough by Mandy Hale.

Out of all the books I could have picked to review, I picked this one because it included a foreword from Dave Ramsey. My husband and I have followed Dave Ramsey’s financial advice since about a month before we got married. Because of his teaching, we’re debt free, and we’re making excellent progress saving for a down payment for our future house. Any book recommended by Dave Ramsey is a book for me!

Since I got the book before it was released, Dave Ramsey’s foreword wasn’t in it. However, I did enjoy reading the introduction from Robert Morris, founding senior pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas-Forth Worth. Beyond Blessed is a follow-up to Pastor Morris’ book The Blessed Life. Honestly, it was so refreshing to read a book from a megachurch pastor who didn’t preach the prosperity gospel. I’ve seen so many pastors pray over their wallets and ask for a donation to make their big church even bigger. Instead, Pastor Morris writes about his journey from humble beginnings to a church of over 39,000 active members.

God certainly has blessed Pastor Morris with an ability to teach us about our finances while also reminding us of our identity in Christ. He starts each chapter off with a word-picture, a parable, to introduce the topic. In each chapter, he debunks the myths of what the world says and what we’ve even been taught in church about money. While we all strive to be rich, he writes, “The rich are more likely to be on antidepressants or antianxiety medications than average working-class folks. Millionaires and billionaires commit suicide with shocking regularity” (15).

Pastor Morris spends the beginning of the book laying down the foundation of what it means to steward God’s money well. God owns everything, but He has entrusted His people with resources to be a part of His Kingdom. “Your little enterprise is an important part of a much larger conglomerate” (79). God has given us all responsibility over the resources, people, time, and energy with which He has blessed us. With this mindset, there is no comparison and no ownership.

While Dave Ramsey talks more about the financial aspect of money than the spiritual (although his teaching is biblical), Pastor Morris’ book truly digs deep into what the Bible says about how we should take care of our money. Using charismatic language that I personally agree with, he even discusses the demonic spirits that try to entice us to worship money rather than God. His teaching opened my eyes to what the Scriptures say about money, and how my perspective on money needs to change.

My favorite quote of the book, and a good summary of the book, is how Pastor Morris explains the gospel: “You see, contrary to what many would have us believe, the gospel is not a poverty gospel. Nor is it, as some preachers and teachers would have us think, a prosperity gospel. No, the good news of life in Jesus Christ is a provision gospel” (63). Praise God that He gives us enough. We don’t have to be rich or poor; we just have to have enough.

I recommend this book to anyone who has even a dollar to his/her name. Although I’ve written notes in it, I’m giving it to my husband so that we can talk about it and do a heart check about our finances. Beyond Blessed will be available on January 8, 2019. You can pre-order the book and also be entered to win a free copy here.


Be a Team Player

You may be wondering how Lenny feels about me writing about our marriage. Do you really think that I’m venting about my husband without his permission?

On this blog, I really don’t talk about deep issues in our marriage. I don’t believe an online platform is the place to do that. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe I should be complaining to my husband or my marriage about anyone. For those who like to vent about their significant others to your parents or your siblings or your best friend or even his parents (seriously?), read this clearly: STOP! Fighting in marriage should be like sex in marriage. Everyone knows you do it, but no one is involved in the details. When I share something about Lenny, I always ask his permission first, or I use an insignificant detail, like him leaving his socks on the floor (which he never does!).

You know why? Because we’re a team.

When we first got engaged, we spent a LOT of time preparing for marriage. We joined a Bible study for newlywed and engaged couples. We went through eight sessions of premarital counseling. We read whatever we could. And we prayed. A lot.

By doing this, we not only learned the value of teamwork, but we learned how to be a team. Now, in everything I do, from how I spend my money to how I conduct myself on Facebook, I have my husband in mind. I know he does the same for me.

While reflecting on what makes a good team, here are some attributes I’ve considered. I pray that you also think about making your marriage into a team effort, and that you and your spouse can both be team players.

Collaboration. In a team, each player has different strengths to contribute to the overall well-being of the group. We’ve discovered recently that we have different strengths and weaknesses, as well as different priorities. Not that we don’t care about each other, but that we are so focused on other things that we don’t think about everything. In our fight for control, we’ve learned how to let it go and let our spouse take control in the areas that matter to them. We’ve also learned not to compete in the midst of our different strengths and weaknesses. Instead of working against each other, we work with each other in order to achieve our goals together.

Respect. In a team, each player shares equal value. While my priorities may be different from Lenny’s, I respect his opinion and his feelings, as he does for me. I show respect to Lenny by listening to him, making eye contact with him when he wants my attention, and using an encouraging tone while speaking to him. He doesn’t want me to be his parent, so I shouldn’t talk to him like I’m above him.

Communication (and Prayer). I’ve always believed that communication is key in any relationship. Prayer is communication with God, and constant communication with our Heavenly Father is vital for us to have healthy relationships. Lenny and I pray on a daily basis and seek God’s will for our lives. We also talk consistently about our goals for the future and about our progress toward those goals. We discuss when incidences happen and how to avoid conflicts in the future. But even questions such as, “The dishwasher’s dirty. Can you put that dish in the dishwasher?” or “Next time you go to the store, can you pick up some more chicken?” are vital toward our marriage team. How is Lenny supposed to know I want that dish in the dishwasher if I don’t tell him? How am I supposed to know Lenny’s hungry for chicken if he doesn’t tell me? We’re not in the business of reading each other’s minds. We have to remain in constant communication, so that we can know what we’re thinking and make a game plan for the future.

Celebration. My favorite part of being on this marriage team is celebrating when we’ve done something right. We celebrate everything, from keeping our cool in front of difficult people to paying off debt. Life is so much more fun when we look back and see how far we’ve come, and how much God has done in our lives.

If you want to turn your marriage into a team effort, go for it. There is nothing stopping you from beginning this journey now. All it takes is a humble attitude, respect, communication, and celebration. Practice at least one of these attributes today, and let me know how it goes!

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