Charlottesville—Responding to the Hatred and the Horror

The shouting, the slurs, the swastikas, and hands raised in Nazi-style salutes. These types of images instill fear in my heart, thanks in part to the warnings of my Polish Jewish grandmother. Somehow these symbols and images have been resurrected in our time, now targeting not just Jews but also black people and Muslim people and immigrants. How can this be?

Seeing these images emanate not from black-and-white clips of Nazi Germany but technicolor shots of Charlottesville stoked anger inside of me. But the words of the Beloved Disciple rang in my ears: read more…

How to Study the Bible Through a Shepherd’s Eyes

The images and insights still haunt me.

I spent a year with shepherds and beekeepers and farmers and vintners and asked, “How do you read the Scripture—not as theologians—but in light of what you do every day?”

Their answers changed the way I read the Bible forever.

Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Spending time with Lynne, a shepherdess, revealed Jesus’ words weren’t just imagery or metaphor, but a daily reality for any good shepherd.

I’ll never forget the first time Lynne led me to her upper field. We slid through a narrow gate with sheep dotting the landscape like fluffy cotton balls.

Then she started whispering.

read more…

The Best Question You Can Ask When You’re Feeling Discouraged

Whenever I’m exhausted or hangry my mind starts spiraling down, down, down.

Small struggles magnify into immense hurdles.

Little discouragements become portals to dark, depressing thoughts.

Minor issues become monstrous.

Maybe you know that downward cycle, too.

The moment I’m self-aware enough to recognize the exhaustion or low-blood sugar hunger, I do everything I can to shut down the downward spiral and tell myself not to think about those things… but what is good, true, beautiful, high-protein, and low-carb.

Scientists have discovered a powerful question we need to ask ourselves whenever we’re spiraling—whether from lack of sleep, lack of food, or too much stress.

What am I most thankful for in my life right now?

Why is this so important?

Gratitude boosts neurotransmitter dopamine much like an antidepressant does.

When you start making a list of what you’re most thankful for in your life, the emerging feelings of gratitude activates the region of the brain that produces dopamine.

Alex Korb in The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time writes:

read more…

This ONE Word Will Change Your Life (Promise)

Do you ever take yourself and your work too seriously?

I’m guilty of this.

When I’m under stress, I become a task-oriented monster. Get it done. Get it done. Get it done. Then super frustrated if it doesn’t get done.

Just last week I had a day where I worked 10 hours and didn’t cross one thing off my list.

Leif said I was “grumpypants” and he was right.

One of the many lessons I’ve learned from being a writer is that when we’re feeling drained, running on empty, or frustrated with a lack of productivity, sometimes we need to take a step back.

And do the exact opposite.

Sometimes when I feel the most stuck, I’ll plan a wild caper. Do something I’m dead-dog afraid of doing. Attempt something I thought I’d never do. Explore an area I’d never consider knowing.

That’s why this weekend, after a frustrating week, Leif and I took time to go on a “Beeftastic” experience.

We said “Yes” to a 4.5 hour butcher class where we learned about raising cows, cuts of meat, and where the hamburger really comes from. (Eicks!)

Vegetarians beware: Graphic pictures of meat are about to appear. read more…

How to Overcome Perfectionism with Shauna Niequist

When my mom was young, my grandfather inspected her room on the holidays in search of anything out of order. Mom and her siblings called these “Hollerdays.”

As a child, my parents continued the practice of room inspection.

Clothes cascaded out of my dresser like a waterfall. Art supplies left uncapped and untidy across the floor. Three half-empty glasses of water on my nightstand. I’m always thirsty in the middle of the night.

I’d clean my room until I passed inspection.

That was 30 years ago. Yet I still wrestle with anxiety whenever someone comes over to our house—as if I must pass their inspection.

And whenever my parents visit, I feel like I’m living on high alert for smudges, spider webs, clutter and dust.

Perhaps, like me, you can find traces of perfectionism from childhood.

The way you were raised.

The reactions of your parents or grandparents.

The words that were unleashed on you.

I’m a recovering perfectionist, but on far too many days, more perfectionist than recovering.

Perhaps that’s why for me, Shauna Niequist’s, Present Over Perfect felt like such a fount of healing and renewal. I asked Shauna to give us insight on perfection and how we can overcome it. She talks about how she does it in her writing…and in the process, teaches us how to overcome perfectionism in every day life.

Lean into Shauna’s wisdom and words…. read more…

How to Live in Harmony When a Relationship is Out of Tune

Friendships are one of life’s greatest gifts.

They’re like treasures—you never know what you’re going to discover about yourself or someone else.

Friendships bring us joy and comfort, and contribute to our overall health and wellbeing.

A recent study found that just spending time with friends can help reduce stress and produce a calming effect. If that wasn’t enough, one study found that having friends can contribute not only to a happier but a longer life.

Not having friends or people you can really talk to can be as detrimental as smoking to a person’s health. Fact.

Despite all the great benefits and delights of friendships, it’s easy to find ourselves too busy to nurture strong relationships. Worse, we can allow petty grievances to slip into our relationships and eat away at our common bond.

Philippians 4:2 says:

“I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.”

Why does Paul call out these two women by name in a letter to an entire church? Because…

read more…

Why You’re Not As Close to Someone As You Thought You Were

Do everything with love….

Do everything without complaint….

Which do you find more difficult?

With love or without complaint?

I struggle with the everything.

In Overcomer: 4-Weeks in Philippians, we’ve discovered that the Apostle Paul loves that word everything.

“Do everything without complaining.” (Philippians 2:14)

“Bu-bu-bu-buttttttttt,” I protest.

Why does it feel so good to let it out to someone?

What if that feel-good moment comes at a cost?

What if the very thing that you think is making your relationships closer is tearing them apart?

That’s what I discovered in this week’s Facebook LIVE teaching in Philippians—a book that teaches us how to be overcomers in our relationships.

Modern science confirms what Paul—trapped in prison with a 1000 reasons to complain—teaches… read more…

How to Find Freedom From What Enslaves You

If we’re honest, we all are enslaved to something. Whether enormous or tiny, illegal or socially acceptable, we all have temptations that won’t stop whispering.

Danielle Strickland knows this all too well.

As a Captain in the Salvation Army, she spends her days scouring the streets to find drug addicts and pray with them and visits brothels to minister to prostitutes.

Yet addiction isn’t just something those she serves struggle with…it’s something she struggles with.

Her new book, The Ultimate Exodus: Finding Freedom from What Enslaves You, (NavPress) calls us to greater freedom than we’ve ever known before… listen to her words: read more…

What You Really Need When Life Goes Awry

The suffering I experienced during treatment for cancer shattered me. The illusions I once clung to of youth and strength and vitality vanished as chemical toxins stripped me of the life I once knew. Pain lacked a throttle.

The equations of God plus life I once knew no longer added up.

Perhaps those words seem strange to you, particularly if you’ve never had life go away.

But if you’ve known marrow cutting pain or blood curdling suffering or bone breaking loss, if you limp among the fellowship of the afflicted, then you know that hollow platitudes like…

It can’t happen to me…

It will all work out…

If I just do this and this then that won’t happen…

If I just pray this and this then that won’t happen…

If I just believe this and this then that won’t happen…

All. Wash. Away.

It can happen. It does happen. And sometimes it happens to you…despite all you’ve done..all you’ve prayed…all you’ve believed.

Then what? read more…

Why You Must Do This One Thing When You Read the Bible

Wahoo! So thrilled you’re joining us for week one of Overcomer. Watch the Facebook Live teaching by clicking here. (You’ll need to be sure you “like” my Facebook page to receive access and future notifications). Now let’s dive in to week 1:

We tend to have books we prefer to read—whether snuggling down with a great biography, savoring a collection of poetry, or enjoying a mind-bending mystery novel.

But have you ever considered that what you read affects how you read?

A stellar whodunit makes you flip the pages faster with every cliffhanger moment, while a rich, layered poem slows your pace, inviting you to reread and reflect with each passing line.

If you’re sitting down to light summer fiction, you might be carried away in the story—even choosing to read it in an afternoon or few days.

But if you’re about to crack open a 700-plus-page biography, you can expect the book to be neither short nor light. You’re committing to dive deep into a person’s life and topic, pay attention to crucial details, and learn with each passing page.

What you read affects how you read. read more…

Meet Margaret

Download your free Live Loved Devotional to reinvigorate your walk with Jesus.

You have Successfully Subscribed!