Unsatisfied Thirst

When I think of being hungry or thirsty, my mind goes to one thought, “never satisfied.” It’s annoying really. We have to eat and drink fluids or we die. Somehow, the body is never satisfied. We fill it knowing we will continue to be thirsty.

The Samaritan woman in the Bible felt that frustration of nagging thirst. In John 4 (NIV), Jesus goes to a well, tired and thirsty, and asks the Samaritan woman approaching the well for a drink.

Hunger and Thirst Sarah Clews“The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.  But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

Jesus is offering the gift of eternal lifethe chance to never be thirsty again—the chance to be satisfied!

Hunger and thirst can be a metaphor for the constant striving we call life on Earth. We’re always hungry for something more. Sometimes we look for it in community, hungry for human connection. To find no friend can love us enough to fill the longing in our hearts. Sometimes we look for it in pleasure, hungry for more fun. Yet it’s so dissatisfying. No sooner is the vacation over, then we are longing for the next one. Sometimes we look for it in money, always looking for that higher paying job. This quote by Will Rogers is hauntingly true, “What’s considered enough money? Just a little bit more.”

Sarah Clews Hunger and ThirstCommunity, pleasure, money—none of these are inherently bad. But getting more of them will always leave us empty. They won’t satisfy our souls. When we look for satisfaction in the temporary, we’ll always be disappointed. I must know in my heart that I’ll only find full satisfaction in heaven and in my relationship with the Divine Creator.

For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”- Psalm 107:9

Being in the presence of Jesus, that’s an amazing thing to look forward to. Satisfaction is out there, but it won’t be found without him! When I draw near to God, my hunger and thirst are sated. He isn’t disappointing. He is forever. His love is perfect. His gifts are good.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”-Psalm 16:11


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.

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Prioritizing Hunger and Thirst

Author: Karly Grant

Recently I had one of those hard/sweet times with God as He has graciously showed me some of the areas in my life where I am hungering and thirsting after other desires instead of Him and His Word. Some of these areas may appear to be good things on the outside, but inwardly they are at war with the place that belongs to God alone. Sadly, he hasn’t been number one overall. As things that I took for granted have been stripped away, my need for God is causing my Spirit to growl. I’m being renewed and reminded that He is truly all I need.

So what has been so distracting? Let’s start with actual, physical hunger and thirst. For the first time in my adult life, I find myself unemployed and waiting on God to provide a place to live as I take steps of faith that He has called me to take. My moving date has come and gone, and all the pieces I thought would be in place have still not revealed themselves, so I am waiting. However, waiting has a cost.

Hunger and Thirst Karly GrantGrowing up, I was taught to be independent. Suddenly, I find myself with no income, and honestly, some days, not knowing where my next meal is going to come from or if bills will be paid. I don’t like to ask for help and feel like I’m doing something wrong without a job or way to provide for myself in the meantime.

When I can’t provide for myself, God provides for me. When I do provide for myself it is actually a gift from him anyway. As I wait for His timing and provision He has provided for my basic physical needs. Just when I don’t know how I’m going to buy groceries, I get a call asking me to babysit, someone invites me over for dinner, or I have even had people give me money. God has satisfied my physical hunger and I know He will continue to do so.

But what about areas of hunger that are not life threatening but feel like it? I have been known to thirst for relationship. I have wanted to be a wife and a mother all my life, but that has not yet come to be. Unfortunately, the lack of this sometimes leaves my emotions weak.

Yet as I find myself seeking God more, I can truly say that I am satisfied single. I’m an introvert, yet I like having close friends to do things with. Though, when waiting for God to open the door to the next phase of life it’s not always easy on the wallet to go out and do things with friends. Those who understand that hanging out in the parks or on couches with conversation, are like water to dry bones. I am assured that the relationships that are woven with fabric stronger than circumstance and convenience will continue, and in the meantime I am cherishing the super sweet times with Jesus I am finding in this time of transition.

Karly Grant Hunger and ThirstThis season of life is about God and my reliance,and I have made peace with that. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

I definitely don’t have it all together, and I am okay with that. I am willing to let God strip away the parts of my life that skew my priorities. I haven’t prioritized time in His Word or prayer enough, but I am asking and trusting Him to help me hunger and thirst for those things. I know He is faithful and will always be there. I may chase other things in life, but the God who loves me calls me back to Himself. He is quick to forgive and providing what is needed, so I don’t need relentlessly worry for anything. I can rest in Him and His ways.

 


Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption. God has laid this heavily on her heart and she is willing to trust Him. This homebody is taking the biggest leap of faith yet this spring and moving 1,700 miles away from the life and people she has known as long as she can remember. She is  both terrified and so stinking excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

 

Indescribable Glory

We all have defaults. The route we drive if we’re not thinking about it. The dinner we make on stressful days. The comforts we turn to when life hurts. They tend to pop up most in the hard times. When there isn’t enough time, the money is short, or emotions are frazzled.

But sometimes the default turns out to be faulty. I know for me, default mode just isn’t working for day to day life. I must pause and consider. Why?

Why is this my default mode or belief?

How did I choose it?

What did I know then?

What do I know now?

What will I do next time?

The trouble is, defaults run deep. We often don’t even realize we have slipped into one until it is in some way challenged. This is particularly true in what we believe about God. Our actions and attitudes swing on a spectrum in response not to what we have heard or have understood, but to what we deeply hold to be true, whether or not it is in fact true.

Holly Hawes Character of GodMany people believe in “a god” out there somewhere. Perhaps one who got everything started and flung the stars and planets into motion, but who is far off in their daily experience. Or they see God as someone looking to catch them in something, or they simply deny the existence of God entirely. I grew up in church, and the thoughts I had of God were colored through the lens of the interpretation of the people around me. Some resonated with or emphasized different characteristics while others were left out all together. It is vital to be aware of how I can default to seeing God through the interpretation of my own experiences, knowing my interpretations to be fickle and changing things.

We walk in dangerous territory when we try to manufacture our own ideas about God. The only trajectory that seems secure is to read what God says about himself. As Francis Chan simply stated,“ We don’t get to decide who God is.”

So how do we find out what God is like, and how can we know if we are making up a “god” of our own ideas rather than discovering who our creator is?

  • Story: God is described throughout the Bible primarily in narrative, the story of the actual events as God interacted with his creation through which we glean understanding. It can be confusing and filled with tensions we would rather not fight with, but what can be discovered is worth the wrestle. Try reading with a pen nearby and keep track of patterns or attributes you notice. Some are straightforward and stated in the text (God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love), others are described and must be inferred (God created all things, and must enjoy diversity and beauty).
  • Names of God: The Bible is clear that there is one triune God, but there are so many facets to his character that throughout the Bible God is described by using different parts of his character: The God who sees, the living God, God who provides (to name a few). Find a devotional, or free online tool that delves into the places where the original text of the Bible uses different Hebrew words to illuminate for us what God is like.
  • Are you uncomfortable?: If you never have to grapple with an aspect of what Scripture says about God, you may be cherry-picking verses to create a God you are comfortable with, rather than discovering all of who God says he is. This is important, because we are responding to the reality of who God is and who he has revealed himself to be, not creating who we think he should be.

 

For the rest of eternity, we will go deeper into our understanding and relationship with the inexhaustible God who cannot be defined or limited by our human categories.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV

The Character of God Holly HawesThere are so many facets to who God is. The creator, redeemer, triune God of the Bible is constantly surprising me with aspects I have never considered. It is astounding that God has chosen to reveal himself to human beings at all, much less that he decided to love us, and be known by us.

“But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29

 


holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part-time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail, and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

An Extravagant God

After a cold, rainy, windy, bleary winter, I welcome the signs of spring with open arms. The bright pops of yellow in clusters of daffodils, the tentative pink clusters of cherry blossoms, the days when the sun is actually providing a little warmth; lately, I’ve felt struck by the unnecessary beauty of these things.

I’ve felt that in these “extras” is bound the loving kindness of God as he shows us his kindness and mercy in a million beautiful colors and ways. That he made so many marvelous things leaves me in awe. That he created food to not only provide nourishment, but to also be interesting and delicious fills me up. That he placed intricacies into the people around me that point to who he is astounds me.

Sarah Clews The Character of GodOur heavenly Father, in his great kindness, loves to give us good gifts! The gifts of beauty in creation, the gifts of friendship and fellowship with others, the gifts of laughter.

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB

And when I think of the greatest gift He gave us, I overflow with reverential wonder . He gave to us the gift of his Son’s life. In his kindness, God allowed Jesus to enter into our world, and redeem us from our sins. This in itself would certainly have been far more than we deserve. Yet God doesn’t stop there.

I recently attended an event called The Freedom Project featuring speaker and author Jennie Allen. She focused her presentation on pointing to the gospel and explaining it through the scriptures. Towards the end, she said something striking as she explained God’s plan for eternity. “He [God] could have made us slaves. He could have saved us, but made us slaves, but instead He made us coheirs.” Coheirs. Wow! How unnecessary and extravagant.

In his kindness, God has gone over the top for us. He made the earth for our enjoyment. He created an eternity and He wants us to be part of it! Forever.

The Character of God Sarah Clews (1)But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.Titus 4:3-7 (NIV)

Generous. Extravagant. Kind. That’s the God I worship and look forward to the privilege of eternal life with. That’s the God I love.


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.

God is My Provider

One of the most powerful ways I have seen God’s love and presence is through his provision. Whether it’s a physical need or something deeper, God knows it every time. He discerns what things I think are needs that really aren’t, and He also attends to the deep needs I don’t even recognize are there.

As I think back over the last few years, I am in awe of the many ways God has personally provided for needs in the world around me.

I have seen God provide:

Rachel Olson Character of GodHope to people who had none.

Healing to patients who seemed far too sick to find it.

Unexpected gifts to meet financial needs at exactly the right moment.

Tangible comfort and peace in times of grief.

Opportunities for connection between believers on opposite sides of the world who needed each other’s community.

A place for me to put down roots and find community with other believers after the go-go-go atmosphere of the last few years.

Ways for old things to get stirred up from the nooks and crannies of my heart so they could be resolved.

Sometimes in the moment it’s hard to see what God is doing, or it seems like he’s taking a lot longer than we want. But our God sees every need, and he provides for it in his timing.

When the Israelites left Egypt and wandered the desert, they had a hard time finding food and began to question God. Some even talked about going back to Egypt. But God saw their need and showered down manna from heaven, providing the exact amounts they needed to be filled each day. (Exodus 16)

When Abraham agonizingly prepared to sacrifice his son in obedience to God, he held fast to faith that God would provide another way. At the very last moment, God sent a ram in the thicket; the perfect substitute for Abraham to sacrifice. (Genesis 22)

Character of God Rachel OlsonWhen Adam and Eve disobeyed God, all of creation fell into chaos. On our own, we had no hope of recovery. But God provided his own son, making a way for us to be restored to him. (Genesis 3, 1 John 4:9)

It is in our God’s nature to provide.

I write all of these stories and moments down so that I won’t forget. Each one is a tangible reminder to me of God’s sovereignty, his nearness, and his goodness. It stretches and strengthens my faith to see that every time I step out in risky obedience, God meets me there and provides for my needs. He is present, at work in our world, just as he was in Bible times.

Remembering all the times God has provided in the past gives me patience and faith for tomorrow. Whatever life brings, it gives me hope to know that I can always depend on the God who can do more than I might ever ask or imagine; who loves, and does not hold back what I need—even when my deepest need required his Son.


Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.

5 Seeds of Bitterness that Need to be Uprooted

Two tiny leaves popped through the newly thawed soil. Stretching toward the sun, they began to grow, each extra bit of sunlight and water fueling them to become the exact imprint of the seed that had been planted months before. Laid dormant through the harsh winter, it was finally time for this new life to break forth into the world.

I watched with delight as the seedling burst forth. I hadn’t lived long in this place, and certainly didn’t know what may have been planted. In the beginning, the tiny leaves were indistinguishable from one another, so I waited with baited breath while I imagined what beautiful things had been sown in this place. I watched carefully, at first, but as they continued to grow I lost track and checked in less often. Until, one day, I rounded the corner to find that the innocent tiny duo of leaves had somehow transformed overnight into a gnarly tangle of thorny foliage.

A weed. In fact an army of weeds, had invaded my yard as I stood there watching. I didn’t have the time to wrestle with it that day, so I left it and went about my business, sure that it would be there to face another day.

Sure enough, when I came back, it was there. Nearly as tall as I am, with a thick stalk and strange alien defenses, the weed defiantly stared me down. Inch long thorns drew blood and precariously fragile fluffy seed pods drifted defiantly in the air around me.

In the cool of the day, as I yanked out the deep roots of this intruder, I began to think of how similar my heart is when infested with unexpected bitterness.

Bitterness Holly HawesBitterness has never been something I saw coming. Instead, it always appears as an unexpected invader. As a seed dormant for a long time, promising new growth, all hiding and disguised bitterness. Death that masqueraded as life until it was so deeply entrenched that tearing it out tore me up in the process.

The seeds of bitterness are tricky, because the same experiences can lead us to different places, depending on how we respond. One way leads to death, and the other to life and peace.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6

Here are some unexpected seeds of bitterness to watch out for:

Pain

Pain becomes bitterness when we don’t allow God to heal us. The source of the pain doesn’t really make a difference. Loss, betrayal, physical anguish, and the things that make our heart hurt can either push us away from one another and from God, or pull us closer.

When we face pain points in our lives we need to watch carefully. Guard against bitterness towards God by meditating on and wrestling with the truth of his goodness, faithfulness, and power despite the current situation. Guard against bitterness towards others by not expecting them to fix it, or say exactly the right thing.

Avoidance

Relationships become filled with bitterness when we don’t bring up hurts or offenses. We try to get past problems without facing them, and in the process drift away. Soon we realize we haven’t seen the person in months, and it would be quite uncomfortable to encounter them. A gnarly bitterness has grown where there needed to be a simple conversation. In confronting hurts rather than avoiding, we guard our friendships and relationships. The initial plucking out is far less destructive than what we could allow to grow.

Control

Control produces bitterness when we discover that control is a mirage. Whether it is a cancer diagnosis, or a person you’d rather act a different way, any effort to control things can quickly turn into bitterness.

Longings

Holly Hawes BitternessWe all long for something, but if we make our happiness contingent on the fulfillment of our longings, we will discover that none of our longings truly satisfy. That specific person’s approval. The next step in your career. A child. To be included. It isn’t as if these desires are for “bad” things, but the overwhelming nature of the longing can easily elevate it beyond what these good things were meant to fulfill. Long-term lack of the very thing you feel entitled to moves quickly from disappointment to bitterness.

Expectations

How can bitterness grow in the solitary mind? Unspoken expectations can quickly pile up, until our thoughts become centered on how “He never______ ” or “She always____.” This is especially true of roommates, or family members. The people we share close physical proximity with have ample opportunities to fail to meet unspoken expectations. Instead of letting expectations morph into bitterness, have a conversation.

This year, I am facing spring head on. Trowel in hand, I am heading into the mud to root up the seedlings that I have seen turn into painfully-spiky alien invaders. And as I dig, I am examining my heart once again. What have I let grow that God would ask me to dig out? What at first glance looked like innocent leaves, but is beginning to grow into bitterness? Are the things in my life full of the Spirit? Life and Peace? These must be answered if I want true life to flourish.


holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Sweet Freedom from a Bitter Heart

I crammed the square of chocolate into my mouth in wonderful anticipation of the smooth sweet taste.   My salivary glands were already reacting when my brain fired off an alert and my senses went reeling.  Something was terribly wrong.  I glared at my older brother who sat nearby with watchful eyes and knowing smirk while I spit the bitter brown nugget from my mouth.

“What is that?”  I yelled at him, my eyes flashing in anger and horror.

“Chocolate,” He replied with a laugh forming on his lips.

“No it isn’t!”  I protested as I tried to punch him; he was too quick for me.  My Mom emerged from the house, “What are you shouting about?”

“He’s trying to poison me.  He said it was chocolate!  It tastes like death!”

She turned toward my brother as he shrugged with a smile, “What?  It was chocolate.  Baker’s chocolate, but still chocolate,” he looked at me, “relax, you aren’t gonna die.”

My Mom sighed, “Kinda mean though.”

I shot darts from my eyes at my brother as I went to get a drink and wash the bitter taste from my mouth.

I’ve never forgotten that taste of baker’s chocolate, but I’ve come to know another kind of bitterness as well; the pain of a bitter heart.

I’ve also discovered that it isn’t as easy to wash away the bad taste in my heart as it was the bitter taste from my mouth.

It hurts more.

And when something once sweet turns bitter, the result seems all the more pungent; all the more unbearable.

Maybe that’s why addressing bitterness is a long, hard road.

You can’t just cover bitterness up, it has to be washed away and cleansed completely.  I only know one Person who can totally manage my heart.

Bitterness Jacqi Kambish (1)I’ve faced my fair share of bitterness.  In the past, I’ve try to force myself to get over it, but some things aren’t that easy.  Even when I thought I’d moved passed it, I’d come to realize I hadn’t.  I’d see the person in church or at school or wherever I ran into them and suddenly I would know.  The taste of loathing would find its way to my tongue, and I would know I hadn’t fully addressed the shadows in my heart.

Not very long ago, I had to work through those dark corners within me once again.  I stared at the object of my dismay across the room as she tipped her head back and laughed.  I knew from the ugly feelings bubbling up inside me that I hadn’t properly dealt with the hurt.

Had we been friends…once upon a time?

I supposed, in my grumpy state, that perhaps I had only thought we were friends.  Perhaps we never had been friends at all.  I felt betrayed, cast aside, and neglected.  I felt foolish and alone.  But even more, I felt ashamed that those feelings were twisting up inside of me because when I looked in the mirror and faced them, I saw how ugly they really were.

Every time I thought I could stuff them down and make them go away, I was reminded that the bitterness still raged like a monster inside of me.

It wasn’t totally her fault; life had happened and I got left behind.  It wasn’t malicious, but it still hurt.  My problem wasn’t her though.  Not really.  It was all the lies I believed about myself.

The lie that I was better than my feelings and that I didn’t need to address them because they were silly.

The lie that I wasn’t worthwhile or valued.

The lie that I wasn’t pretty enough, or smart enough or good enough.

The lie that I wasn’t needed and that it made me void of purpose.

The lie that I could be easily forgotten.

The lies hurt, the loss of friendship hurt and bitterness crept in.  I wanted to spit it out, but I couldn’t.  It stayed with me far too long.

It was then that I confessed to the LORD and asked the LORD to heal my wounded heart.  It was then that I confessed my feelings to trusted members of my church and asked for prayer, and it was then that the healing truly began.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:16

Jacqi Kambish BitternessWhen I finally faced the darkness in my own heart I realized I needed to confess and ask for prayer.  The change in my heart didn’t happen right away.  It was slow progress.  Still, God began to soften my heart toward the other person.  He started to show me that she was hurting in her own ways as well.  He started to create compassion within me.  Slowly, the compassion edged out the bitterness until all that remained was a genuine love, peace, and freedom I didn’t know was possible.

It wasn’t my doing.

I didn’t change me; God did.

But I let him.

And as I let him change my heart, he also showed me the truth about myself:

That those lies I believed where indeed lies. My value doesn’t come from being loved by people, but by belonging to God and being loved by him. That is the sweetest truth of all.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook.

The Faith-Inspired Books We Loved in 2017, and What We Will Read in 2018

We asked our contributors to tell us their favorite faith-inspired book read in 2017 and what they look forward to reading in 2018, so we could share the book love with you.

We would love to hear your recommendations in the comments!

The Books We Loved

Britney Bradley: The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch

Sarah Clews: Heaven by Randy Alcorn

Sarah Dohman: Uninvited by Lysa TerKerst

Chara Donahue: Dance, Stand, Run by Jess Connolly

Kate Franken: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Holly Hawes: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

What We Plan to Read

Kayla Anderson: Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore

Britney Bradley: Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul Tripp

Sarah Clews: If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey

Sarah Dohman: At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider

Chara Donahue: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer

Karly Grant: Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

Holly Hawes: The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Timothy and Kathy Keller

Jacqi Kambish: Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach

Kimberley Mulder: Imaginative Prayer: A Yearlong Guide for Your Child’s Spiritual Formation by Jared Boyd

Keri Nikkel: Mother and Son, The Respect Effect by Emerson Eggerichs

Rachel Olson: Ministering in Honor-shame Cultures by Jayson Georges

What are you reading in 2018_

Leaving Behind Consumerist Thriving

What exactly is a good life? How can I find it? No matter where you come from, this is a question everyone finds themselves trying to answer. It is also the source of the myriad of products, remedies, and regimens that bombard any kind of social media platform. Take this. Eat this  Use this. Try this. IT. CHANGED. MY. LIFE.

I mostly believe you.  Quite a bit of my money has been spent because I completely believe that you must be thriving (because you told me so on Instagram) and this thing really helped.  Don’t we all want  life to be more {Choose one: Organized. Healthy. Youthful. Exuberant. Energetic. Pretty. Fun. Whole. Toxin-Free. Eco-Friendly. Simple. Clean.}? There is nothing wrong with trying new things to help us in life as we seek to use the days God has given us well. Attempts at thriving may be great for a time, but one by one they all will eventually fail. Even good things make a poor god.

thrive Holly HawesThings are a poor substitute for what we are meant for. At the end of your life, your heart will stop beating, no matter how many smoothies you drank. Youthfulness will not last. It isn’t supposed to. And you can be lonely even if you have the “perfect” everything.

In the age of lifestyle bloggers, there is a constant comparison and expectation I often don’t realize I have ingested until I begin to feel the ramifications of the poison.  Envy.  Discontent. Jealousy. Idolatry develops as I expect life to feel better “when” the next big thing is achieved, only to find that my desires are a moving target that cannot be satisfied. How easy it is to let the lives everyone else is living consume my thoughts as they are  thoroughly scrolled, liked, and commented.  All the while, leaving the actual life God has given me on the sidelines.

I know not everyone is held captive by the lives they see others living, but I have found that this is the battlefield of my soul, where God fights for me, and teaches me that he alone can satisfy. Only he offers the abundant, thriving life I am looking for. It just looks different that I thought it woulddifferent than the cultural air I breathe would ascribe to.

holly hawes thriveJesus says that something altogether different makes for a thriving life.

  • He said he came to serve, not to be served, and the greatest in his kingdom would live out this upside down economy of love.
  • His word says not to be surprised that we face trials, for the Lord is near to the brokenhearted.
  • He says we are blessed when we are persecuted, peacemakers, or poor in spirit. The things we try to actively avoid are exactly where we will be most fulfilled in Him.
  • His life was cut short, he was betrayed, he never married or had kids, and yet Jesus is the only one to have lived a perfect life. A life without many of the blessings I feel are “owed” to me.

As I look to the next season of life, I want to wash my cultural lenses through the truth of the gospel, so I may see clearly. No circumstance, product, or relationship can meet the God-given desire for wholeness that only comes from being in relationship with the God who created us with purpose. Nothing less will satisfy, all else eventually falls apart. As you begin to live with Him, with new motivations, and a new upside-down economy, know the kingdom of God will begin to bring the joy you were seeking. When you find the sense of thriving in Him, don’t be surprised if it looks very little like Instagram but is still more beautiful than you can imagine.


holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.