Paula Writes Header

About Paula (Hendricks) Marsteller

Posts by Paula (Hendricks) Marsteller:

Life Is Too Short to Clean My House . . . Or Is It?

Life Is Too Short to Clean My House . . . Or Is It?

Some men don’t care if their home is clean or messy. Not my hubby. He grew up with a mom who could challenge anyone to the Heavyweight Cleaning Champion of the World title. Trevor is used to a spotless home (and I really do mean spotless). Mess stresses him out. But his high expectations for a clean house stress me out. Sounds like a killer combination, huh? Yes, I’ve shot lots of heated words his way over this volatile subject. 

The Clean Freak I Married

You know from my first book how for thirty plus years I ached for a pair of strong arms to hold me close. In God’s extravagant kindness, He granted that gift. However, in all those years of pining, I never gave a thought to what might accompany such a gift. 

Turns out, marriage involves more than being adored by a man. With a husband come kids, and that husband and those kids must live in a house, and that house must be cleaned, and those hubby and those kids must be fed and clothed with freshly laundered clothes . . . again and again and again. 

I was not prepared for that kind of service. In one childish-sounding journal entry I spewed, 

“Cleaning is stupid. As soon as you finish, it’s messy again. It’s futile . . . It’s not creative . . . I hate it.”

Truth be told, I thought myself above such dull tasks as dusting and mopping and window washing. After serving in women’s ministry for well over a decade, these sorts of tasks felt like the demotion of the century. 

My Cleaning Conundrum

Now, lest you think him a chauvinist pig, let me clear the record. Trevor does pitch in and help me clean. If it weren’t for him, our fridge, oven, and floors would never get a deep cleaning. But we’ve worked out a deal of sorts. 

See, he’s handy, and I’m not. We have been—and still are—in the middle of a home renovation. So anytime there is something I can do, I try to do it myself rather than asking him for help, in order to free him up for the tasks that only he can accomplish. 

In Search of Answers on Why a Clean Home Matters

There was simply no way around it. I needed to clean, and I didn’t want to hate every minute of it for the rest of my life. I desperately needed some big questions answered. Is there any redeeming value to cleaning? In light of eternity, why does cleaning matter?

By the grace of God, I finally stumbled across the answer in Courtney Reissig’s book, Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God.  

First, she showed me how housework is connected to the two greatest commandments of loving God and loving neighbor. My closest neighbors are my husband and kids, and work in the house is for them. This was an “a-ha!” for me:  

“Laundry is for people to wear. Food is for people to be nourished. Clean floors are for people to crawl around on. Dishes are for people to eat off. The people and the physical work of the home are not in competition. They are two sides of the same coin. . . . The physical work of the home exists for the physical people in the home.” 

I was wrecked (in the best kind of way). 

Another paradigm shift I experienced from reading her book is that work is not about my personal fulfillment; it is for the good of my neighbor. How have I missed that for all these years?! I wondered. Courtney quoted Martin Luther more than once in this regard: 

“If you find yourself in a work by which you accomplish something good for God, or the holy, or yourself, but not for your neighbor alone, then you should know that that work is not a good work.” 

Ouch. 

Keep the Whole Law with a Clean Home

Ever since I read these truths, things have been changing in my house and my heart. As long as I keep the big picture in view, I don’t resent the poop stains I have to magically remove from my son’s shorts. I don’t mutter about the smooshed grapes I have to clean off the floor. I don’t cry over the onions I have to chop for supper (well, actually I do, but for a different reason!). 

Life is too short not to love my closest neighbors with a clean house, clean clothes, and food on the table. Do I do it perfectly? Not even close. But I keep working hard at it, because in this small, ordinary way, I can actually fulfill the whole law (Galatians 5:14). 

Thanks to Crossway’s generosity, I’m giving away five copies of Courtney’s book, Glory in the Ordinary. If you think you or someone you know could benefit from reading it, enter here.

Potty Training Or Bust

Potty Training Or Bust

You guys, we survived potty training! The first day was exhilarating. (And no, I never imagined using those two words in the same sentence!)

Potty Training, Day One

Around lunch time, Iren sat down on his potty chair and laughed with delight as he saw pee coming out. “Do some more!” “Do some more!” he squealed. And he did. He’d sit back down, let a few drops out, laugh, and go dump it in the big toilet. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. 

That first day felt like my first major “mom win.” I needed that. In one sense, I had nothing to do with the day’s success. But in another sense, I did. I researched, prepared, and coached Iren along. At the end of the day, I wrote in my journal, 

“God has equipped me to do my job as a mom well. I long to embrace it and one day soon say without hesitation, ‘Yes, I love being a Mom. Yes, I am content with the lot God has given me.’”

Potty Training, Day Two

The second day was exhausting, just as author Jamie Glowacki warned it would be. 

Iren resisted potty training, and I found myself resorting to bribing him with a pretzel or a piece of Trader Joe’s Pickle Popcorn, because that seemed the only way Iren would agree to go. 

I was much more uptight than I was Monday, and as the day went on I remembered just how important it is not to prompt him continually, and to give him space to have accidents. I wrote in my journal, 

I hope this isn’t telling of future parenting; I need to be okay with him making mistakes. Only God is perfect. 

Potty Training, Day Three

On day three, new help arrived. (Did I mention that I recruited back-up?) The first two days, an unemployed friend joined me to watch Hudson while I trained Iren. For days three and four, my mother-in-law joined me. I wrote in my journal that morning, 

“I see how every day there’s something new to be anxious about. Rather, to trust God for! Today’s area for trust is that Patti will cooperate with our potty training method. Please help us work well as a team today, Father.” 

The day felt like an emotional roller coaster ride, it was all so fast-paced. The highlight of the day was when Iren pooped in his potty as I was reading him a book. We praised him up and down. 

At the end of the day, I recorded, 

“My fear was unsubstantiated: Patti was calm and cool and played according to my potty training rules. She also brought us breakfast and lunch. Amazing. . . . I could never have done this without help. Thank You for sending Patti, God, who also did my laundry and more. Please help me love and bless my future daughters-in-law, should I have them, half as much as she blesses me and our family.” 

Potty Training, Day Four

By day four, I felt confident enough to leave the house for a small test outing. I brought Iren to the library for the first time ever. He had a blast. He asked me to help him get a “ball” (the library had planets hanging from the ceiling). We colored, he made some new friends in the play area, I checked out some books on going to the potty for him, and he went potty on their big toilet. 

A Potty Training Promise I Couldn’t Pass Up On

I knew the real work of potty training was done in just three days. That was the “carrot” that had me drooling when I first heard about the book, Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right

My friend, Caitlin, told me about this method where you could train your kid in just a couple days. That sounded too good to miss out on. So I got the book. (I only discovered recently that it has 1,166 Amazon reviews, so I’m not the only one who has found this author’s advice to be spot on!) 

Psyched Out by Potty Training

At first, what I read psyched me out:

  1. I was supposed to keep my eyes on my two-year-old non-stop for the entire process?! I’m more of a hands-off mom, plus I have a five-month-old, so that just didn’t sound doable. 
  2. I also read that Iren’s success would depend upon me not being stressed out. Ha! Anxiety has been my middle name for years now. So I put it off for a few more weeks. I think I’d rather have changed two kids’ diapers for years than potty train!

But after Iren got blisters a second time from sitting in poo overnight, I knew it was time. Iren was ready; out of love, I needed to do what was best for my boy. The author also explained that it gets harder–not easier, as many believe–the older kids get. So after blocking off a week on my calendar two times, and bailing twice, I finally “set my face like a flint.” No turning back. July 8-13 we would do this. 

And we did! I never could have done it successfully without Jamie’s book. Do yourself a favor and get a copy. If not for you, then for a young mom. The idea of potty training initially made me want to hide in a corner, but this book gave me the confidence I needed to empower my boy to learn a life-skill that he will use for the rest of his life. Thanks, Jamie! 

If You Weren’t Afraid, What Would You Do?

If You Weren’t Afraid, What Would You Do?

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

That’s the question Typology podcast host, Ian Morgan Cron, posed in an episode I listened to yesterday. I’ve heard a variation of that question before, and it’s such a powerful one! Ian mentioned that he has started a list of what he would do if he weren’t afraid, so I started my list yesterday.

I imagine that when Ian posed that question, he had in mind big feats, like:

  • Climb Mt. Everest,
  • Write that book, or, 
  • Start that business. 

If I Weren’t Afraid, I Would . . .

But when I face that question head on, ordinary tasks come to mind:

  • Pick up a paintbrush,
  • Create a Facebook event page, 
  • Hang a picture frame on a wall,
  • Cut a piece of wood with a machine,
  • Figure out why the video isn’t working on my computer,
  • Etc. 

My lack of confidence isn’t a new revelation; marriage to Trevor has revealed just how dependent and helpless I’ve become. (He’s always trying on new hobbies for size; watching YouTube videos and then renovating our house . . . amazing!) 

Thankfully, Trevor continues to encourage me, “You can do it.” And slooooowly I’ve started to respond, “I know.” 

Goodbye Fear, Hello Freedom

In fact, the other day I was thinking,  I’ve given birth. Twice! Oh, and yes, I’ve written a book. But, I’ve given birth . . . twice! In light of that feat, I sell myself far too short. And I’m finally fed up with playing the role of helpless damsel. 

So while Trevor practiced his sermon last night (he’s preaching on Mark 14:1-11 this Sunday), I pulled the Knackwurst out of the fridge, fired up the grill, and went for it. 

I wonder if you can relate. You don’t have to tell me your answer. But do yourself a favor and ask the question of yourself. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Are you selling yourself short? Are you walking in the freedom Christ purchased for you, or are you still living as a slave to fear? 

(Happy Independence Day, by the way!)

Help the Trouts Find Their Child (Lord’s Day 6.9.19)

Help the Trouts Find Their Child (Lord’s Day 6.9.19)

This past Lord’s Day, I was tempted to skip church. Trevor was leading worship at our church plant, so I was on my own for the morning. And when I woke Sunday morning, Saturday’s tears were still flowing. I did not relish the idea of causing a scene. Like, not at all.

But I hurried out the door, Rudolph-red nose and all, because I remembered that these are my people, and it is okay–even healthy–for them to know when I’m struggling.

In this week’s Lord’s Day post, I want to tell you about “our people”–just one of many families we love. They have an important need you can easily help meet, as long as you have the ability to communicate and the willingness to love a family you haven’t met yet.

Meet the Trouts

Meet Jon and Christina Trout. They were preparing to adopt back in 2016, when they learned they were pregnant with Grant. Adoption plans weren’t forgotten; just postponed.

In addition to his obsession with trucks, Grant also loves babies. Christina once told me that the greatest gift her parents ever gave her was a sibling, and she and Jon want the same for Grant.

So they’re ready to adopt again. Court certified and everything. Only thing is, it’s up to Jon and Christina to find the birth parents themselves.

The Part Where You Come In . . .

This is where you and I come in. Will you mention Jon and Christina to your friends, families, co-workers, and neighbors? Will you like and share their Facebook page on your social media accounts?

In this case, there is no such thing as oversharing, and you don’t even have to live in New York to do so. For all we know, their child could be in . . . Montana . . . or even Mongolia!

Thanks so much for loving our friends in this important, doable way.

The Lord’s Provision of Tuna Melts on the Lord’s Day

The Lord’s Provision of Tuna Melts on the Lord’s Day

I went into this Lord’s Day with a near-empty fridge and no menu plan. That’s not good any day of the week, but especially on a Sunday. For months now I’ve been working toward having my grocery shopping and cooking done Saturday so I can truly rest from my work and worship God on the Lord’s Day, as He designed.

So this morning, I asked God to please provide food for us this day. Here’s how He did.

A Favorite, Easy Breakfast Recipe: Floppy Eggs

Thankfully, Trevor didn’t have to lead worship at our Cazenovia church plant today, so I asked if he’d make his delicious “floppy eggs” for breakfast. He whipped them up—along with the last of the frozen hash browns—all while carrying Hudson in the carrier. What a “super-mom” dad!

God’s Daily Provision

I saw Steve walk into Missio with his arms full of fresh baked loaves of bread. Pick us, pick us! I silently wished. (Steve is an older widower who gifts homemade bread to congregants each Sunday.) Steve chose my father-in-law for his first gifting, and my father-in-law passed it on to us! God’s kind provision.

A Favorite, Easy Lunch Recipe: Tuna Melt Sandwiches

After service, we met a young woman who is newer to Missio, and invited her to lunch. While I nursed Hudson, I asked Trevor to pull some cans of tuna out of the pantry, and start making these yummy tuna melt sandwiches.

It’s a gamble, serving someone you don’t know tuna fish. But of all things, she exclaimed with delight when she saw it! Apparently her college housemates used to protest her use of tuna in the kitchen. Again, God’s sweet providence.  

Our Lunch Conversation

This young woman is a speech pathologist resident who works at a nursing home. We learned a bit more about how unethical most nursing homes are due to insurance requirements, how patients’ health usually declines upon arriving, and how this woman is often asked by her patients to “please just kill me” (seriously).

It made me ask new questions like,

  • “Do we have more nursing homes in the United States than in other countries, due to our every-man-for-himself mentality?”
  • “How many nursing homes per capita does Syracuse have?”
  • And maybe most importantly, Am I willing to walk into those dreary, sterile places to offer hope? Maybe even with my sweet boys? (I have a few memories of playing the piano at nursing homes when I was younger.)

Song: “Is He Worthy” by Andrew Peterson

After lunch, Trevor and I “snugged” on the couch while listening and re-listening to a powerful song we sang today at Missio. Have you heard Andrew Peterson’s call-and-response song, “Is He Worthy?” I can’t recommend it enough.

Supper (Or Do You Call It Dinner?) Provision

After a long walk (we kept running into people we knew), Trevor asked what was for supper. “I don’t know; God will provide,” I responded.

And then I remembered. Our sweet Muslim neighbors had brought us “Iraqi KFC” the day before, and we still had some in the fridge. We have some lettuce already growing in our garden, so we served it with a simple salad.

I’m so grateful for how God provided today—through my husband, through Steve, and through our neighbors. Now it’s time to buckle down and menu plan for this new week. Because most of the time, God provision for my family includes me planning ahead. 

An Apology from Our Worship Leader + Jesus Wasn’t Hangry + Korean Egg Bread (Lord’s Day Highlights, 5.5.19)

In an effort to get the most out of each Lord’s Day, I’ve been sharing highlights on my social media accounts the past couple of weeks (here on Instagram, and here on Facebook.) Today I’m bringing my Lord’s Day to the blog. Here are a few highlights from this past Sunday, May 5, 2019.

An Apology from Our Worship Leader

Our worship leader, Nate Maxfield, apologized to us for not including more songs of lament in our services. “The lament is our song this side of heaven,” he said.

If you think church music has to be upbeat and peppy, think again. Here’s the song we sang; a song for the suffering.

Jesus Wasn’t Hangry

If you’ve wondered if Jesus was “hangry” , think again. Here are a couple details I found helpful for understanding Jesus’ actions in Mark 11:12-33 from Adam Bregou’s sermon:

  • The Fig Tree: When Jesus curses the fig tree, He’s acting out a parable rather than telling one. This particular parable is against Israel, as Israel is often described in Scripture as a fig tree or a vine. (See Jeremiah 8:13 as an example.) In this moment, Jesus is setting up what’s about to take place in the temple.
  • The Money Changers & Pigeon Sellers: Who are these men whose tables and chairs Jesus flips over? “Money changers” were the guys who exchanged travelers’ money for Jewish currency. These money changers were charging exorbitant exchange rates in order to pocket some hefty change.

We also know from the Old Testament that pigeons were the offering the poorest of the poor offered to God. These pigeon sellers were taking advantage of the poor, hiking prices for pigeons way up.

In his sermon, Adam pointed out that this whole scene was a battleground for glory. The religious leaders of the day were incensed at Jesus. They were fighting Him–the true Temple, the true High Priest, and the true and final Sacrifice–for power and glory. Why? Because they–and we–don’t easily give up what gives us significance. They were using what God had intended to be a place where people from all nations were welcomed to meet with Him, as a means to personal gain.

Again, I was challenged: Am I using Jesus to attain my dreams and gain significance, or am I on board with His mission, bearing good fruit as I seek to share the good news of the gospel with my neighbors all the way to the ends of the earth?

And what incredible news it is. As Adam shared, this whole temple system was about to change. Jesus started shutting things down, as He was about to make the final (and only!) sacrifice necessary for sinners. The thick curtain that separated mankind and God was about to be torn!

Christian, are you using Jesus as a means to an end, or does your heart beat for His agenda and glory?

Korean Egg Bread

I love it when Trevor cooks. He made Korean egg bread for breakfast. It had us oohing between each bite. If you’d like to make it, watch this video and find the recipe in the description. Then, if you’re interested, check out for more pictures from our day on Instagram, and Facebook. 

Why I Chose to Have Babies, Against My Feelings

Why I Chose to Have Babies, Against My Feelings

I’ve never shared this publicly, but . . . I’ve never been one to “ooh” and “aah” over babies. As a twelve-year-old eager to start earning money, I chose to detassle corn and work on a turkey farm (think hard, dirty, physical labor) rather than babysit. When I did babysit as a favor for my neighbors in my late twenties, I put the baby’s diaper on backwards. And while I longed for marriage for years, I never once dreamed of becoming a mom. First female president of the U.S., sure; mom, no.

And yet here I am, less than two weeks away from giving birth to our second baby. So what would motivate me to have not just one but two babies?

A practical factor that forced me and Trevor to address this issue early in our marriage was my age. We married when I was already in my thirties, and we knew our time was limited if we were going to have babies.

So several months into marriage, my husband asked one of our church elders, “Why should we have kids?” I will never forget his response:

“Why shouldn’t you have kids?”

From that moment on, I knew our course was set. I would not have babies because they made my heart melt; I would have babies out of obedience to Christ.

What Motivated Me to Write This Post On Babies

Forgive me if I sound like a martyr; just being honest here. I write this post for different people for different reasons: 

  1. If you feel like something is wrong with you because you’re not yet excited about the arrival of your baby, I want you to know you’re not alone. Sidenote: We took this selfie just after learning we were pregnant with our firstborn. Notice my red nose. (I turn into Rudolph when I cry.) I may have chosen to say “yes” to having a baby, but that didn’t mean I was excited about it!
  2. Non-pregnant women, rather than asking a newly pregnant women, “Are you excited?!” consider asking, “How do you feel about being pregnant?” Give women room and permission to mourn the loss of their independence and dreams, and allow them to be honest about their struggles. (Yes, myself and women like me know that many women long to have babies and can’t; trust me, we already feel guilty enough about our lack of excitement.)
  3. With less than two weeks ’til D-Day, I write this post for myself. I could use a reminder of why I said “yes” to another baby, as this season will not be easy.
  4. And for the Christian woman who refuses to even open herself to the idea of having babies, my hope is that something here will challenge your thinking just a bit.

What Motivated Me to Have Babies

That said, why would I—a woman who values deep, adult conversation—choose to forfeit that, and more, in lieu of a baby’s cries?  

  1. In Genesis 1:27-28, God commanded us, as His image bearers, to be fruitful and multiply, so the whole earth would be filled with images of Himself. While I believe this can be applied to producing spiritual children (see 1 Tim. 1:2), I don’t think it negates God’s call to married people to physically have babies if they’re able to.
  2. Christianity is a call to die to self. Didn’t Jesus promise: “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25). I know by now how life works. If I live for self, I end up the loser.
  3. God’s ultimate purpose for me is re-forming me into Christ’s image (Romans 8:28-29). How can having babies not help accomplish this goal?
  4. God says children are a blessing and a reward (Psalm 127:3). Will I take Him at His Word—this God who never lies—or will I choose instead to listen to myself and the culture? Who will I ultimately believe?
  5. These reasons aren’t as big, but they’re timely: I just watched my husband’s grandma die. It was heartbreaking. I want someone there with me when my time comes (1 Tim. 5:16)–someone who will care enough to bury me.
  6. I just read 1 Timothy 5:9-16, which includes “bringing up children” as a good work. Verses 13-15 even seems to indicate that having babies is a protection for me against becoming a lazy gossip who strays after Satan. Again, I’ll take God’s Word for it. If babies can help keep me from selfishness and sin, I’m interested.  

How God is Changing My Heart Re. Having Babies

God has already moved and changed my heart. When I was pregnant with Iren, I was full of dread, anxious that I wouldn’t love him. But God took care of all of that, and Iren has brought such unexpected joy to our lives!

While I’m still not excited about baby number two, I’m also not filled with dread or anxiety. This is progress! Having babies has been a big faith journey for me–and I’m sure it will continue to be if we choose to have more in the future. It has been a death to self in many ways. But as can only happen in God’s economy, much life, laughter, and joy has come from that death.

How about you? Do you think it’s a prerequisite to being a good mom to feel excited about having babies before you hold them in your arms? Why or why not?

If you’ve had babies, what was your reasoning for doing so? If you’re currently opposed to having babies, how you would answer our elder’s question: “Why not have babies?” Do you think your reasons are selfish or wise?  

Turning Down a Great Job Offer

Turning Down a Great Job Offer

“I feel like I’m in a pinball machine,” Trevor told me. I felt like I was in a pressure cooker.

A few weeks before, Trevor’s sister had told him about an amazing opportunity with her company. Trevor has lived in Syracuse his whole life; I remember him telling me when we were dating that he had no plans of ever moving.

Still, I encouraged him to interview for the position. A former elder from Missio is co-leading a church in that city, so we would have a place to plug into. Plus, the job would provide a substantial pay increase and growth opportunity for Trevor’s career. “What do you have to lose?” I asked. And so he dusted off his suit and traveled to the interview.   

Weeks passed, and we thought that was that . . . until he received the job offer. We had just one week to decide.

Should We Stay or Should We Go?

We were torn down the middle; we both believed we could say yes or no in good conscience. We could glorify God and be devoted to good works in either place. Neither decision was sinful. “It’s not even that one decision would be wiser than another,” one of our elders remarked.

We prayed, we searched Zillow.com, we talked, and we both completed an exercise of best and worst-case scenarios if we did or didn’t go. We also sought counsel. A couple helpful pieces of advice/questions we received:

  • The burden of proof lies with the new place. It’s up to them to convince you that it’s worth all you’d be giving up. If you are divided right down the middle, it doesn’t sound like there’s enough there for you to say yes.
  • Who do you want to do life and ministry with?

“I want you to weigh in,” Trevor told me more than once. It was a good opportunity for me to learn not just to dutifully say, “I will go wherever you go,” but to really engage my mind and heart in deciding along with him what would be best for our family. 

As Trevor processed the potential move, he said more than once, “I feel like I’m missing an opportunity if I don’t take it, but leaving family and friends . . . I just don’t know that I can put a number to that.”

The night before he had to give his answer, we sat across the table from each other. “On the count of three,” he said, “show by thumbs up or thumbs down if you want to move. One, two, three.” And both our thumbs pointed down.

Syracuse, We Choose You . . . Again

We felt relief, but also a mixture of sadness the next day. It would have been an adventure, for sure. But there’s something about suddenly being given an opportunity to start over somewhere that shows you just how much you have right where you are.

God has blessed us big time, and unknowingly, we had begun to take this place and these people for granted. But thanks to this difficult decision process, we are recommitting to this place. Syracuse—among the top ten most poverty-stricken cities in the U.S.—is where we want to be a part of giving every man, woman, and child repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the gospel. And the people at Missio church are the ones we want to do this alongside of.

In a world full of pressure to climb up, up, up, I am so grateful for a man who is committed to this cold, needy place. Syracuse, we happily choose you. Again.

How about you? Are you fully engaged where you live, or have you grown lax? Are you taking your influence on the people around you for granted?

In the words of Jim Elliot, “Wherever you are, be all there.”

PS: Through this process, we prayed that God would keep or move us to the place He knew would be most strategic for His kingdom advancement. That appears to be Syracuse. When you think of us, please pray for increased boldness and gospel-success in our neighborhood and city. Thanks so much!

Four Gifts from My Desk to You

Four Gifts from My Desk to You

Dear blog reader, Today I want to share four gifts from my desk to you. I haven’t posted here for a couple months now—not ‘cause I’ve had my feet up—but ‘cause I’ve had my bum in my chair and my fingers on my keys focusing on several projects for Revive Our Hearts. I want to share them with you now, in the hopes that something here will bless you today.

Gift 1: Living with the Difficult People in Your Life

From July 31 to September 11, I had the privilege of leading a seven-week Facebook Live study for our newly released Bible study, “Abigail: Living with the Difficult People In Your Life.” I taught two nights—once on God’s providence and the other night on the sticky Imprecatory Psalms. The other evenings I interviewed guests. I found Vaneetha Risner’s story on forgiveness especially powerful. Enjoy! (And thanks to my hubby for taking care of Iren while I recorded these live segments!)

Gift 2: Ten Truths to Set Leaders Free

I then contributed a chapter to this new ebook, which you can download for free. My chapter  addresses the lie, “My ministry is insignificant compared to leaders with larger platforms.” Plus, read other lies and truths for leaders from nine other writers.

Gift 3: I Choose Truth

Three coworkers and I wrote this 30-day “I Choose Truth” email devotional. Here are the six weighty truths I covered:

  • “There is no one I cannot love.”
  • “There is no one I cannot forgive.”
  • “It’s not about me; It’s all about Him.”
  • “I can keep God’s commands.”
  • “The cross of Christ is sufficient to conquer my sinful flesh.”
  • “It is impossible to be godly without suffering.”

You can sign up here if this interests you.

Gift 4: My Favorite Conference Yet

Finally, today I’m over at TrueWoman.com writing about My Favorite True Woman Conference Yet. Trevor and I just got back late Monday. Usually, I’m holed up transcribing messages or writing blog posts, but this year, I co-hosted the livestream. Because I knew I’d need stories to share on the stream, I was “forced” to interact with women and not simply type on my computer. What a gift!

I wrote this post to share some of these women’s stories with you. Thank you for praying for them as many of them have just returned to difficult life situations.

I hope these four gifts from my desk to you encourage your heart today. I’m grateful for you!

The Good Gift of Relational Conflict

The Good Gift of Relational Conflict

Relational conflict has dogged me recently, in spite of the fact that I’d naturally rather offer up a limb than experience—or inadvertently cause—conflict.

When someone accused me of sin, I prayed, “Lord, don’t let me flatter myself in my own eyes that my iniquity cannot be found out and hated” (Ps. 36:2). I know I’m stained with sin, but I couldn’t see my specific sin in this particular situation.

But then, through Romans 5:3–4, God called me to get off my knees, climb out of the weeds, and look at the bigger picture:

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.

Perseverance: One Gift of Relational Conflict

Hadn’t I just bemoaned to a friend that I had no perseverance? I realized this after a difficult week with my husband. He was depressed, and I took it all personally and acted desperately. My friend’s response was enlightening: “Don’t beat yourself up. You’ve only been married two-and-a-half years. You haven’t had enough hardships to grow that perseverance in you.”

Oh, right. Perseverance is produced through suffering.

Do you want the peace and fortitude you see that woman exhibiting in the midst of chemo? Do you long to withstand raging winds like that flexible palm tree? The only way to grow this kind of perseverance is through accepting the suffering God sends your way. How thankful I am for John Calvin pointing me back to God’s providence:

The Lord has willed it; therefore it must be borne, not only because one may not contend against it, but also because he wills nothing but what is just and expedient. To sum this up: when we are unjustly wounded by men, let us overlook their wickedness (which would but worsen our pain and sharpen our minds to revenge), remember to mount up to God, and learn to believe for certain that whatever our enemy has wickedly committed against us was permitted and sent by God’s just dispensation.

Today I’m writing over at TrueWoman.com. To read more about how relational conflict also produces character and hope, click here. More than that, though, I discovered that God uses these conflicts to draw us back to Himself, our great and only Good. This is the best gift of all. More on that too over at TrueWoman.com. 

An Invitation If Relational Conflict Is Part of Your Life

I want to invite you to join me tonight (Tuesday, July 31) for a special event. Through my work with Revive Our Hearts, I’ll be leading a six-week online study on Abigail: Living with the Difficult People in Your Life. If relational conflict is part of your life right now, I’d love to have you join in at 7 p.m. ET. You can catch all the details here, and this is where you’ll go to watch the Live broadcast at 7 p.m. ET. Hope to see you there!

PS: If you missed the Live video, you can still watch it here.