He’s Always been Faithful

I’ve been waiting to update readers on my health because I myself have been in a holding pattern for weeks waiting on test results. After my mastectomy September 25, chemotherapy was scheduled to begin October 27. Then, right before I was to start, a CT found a mass in my stomach that does not appear cancerous, yet may be. That prompted a train of events that included new specialists and lots of new tests, each one taking about a week or so for results, one after another, so that, here I am, seven weeks after finding the mass, finally with a plan.

The waiting for test result and doctors’ appointments nearly drove me batty. Sweet friends sent me passages on waiting that were helpful, and I can give testimony on the back end that God was kind to me in the waiting. But there is a reason that God left us a lot of promises in the Bible about waiting. Waiting is hard! And we desperately need encouragement in the middle of it.

The result of this convoluted chain of events the last few months is that new tests show I am at low risk of recurrence of the breast cancer, and chemotherapy offers negligible statistical benefit for me. In other words, I don’t need chemo after all. This is very, very good news! And, now, the waiting makes sense. I have been humbled before God through it, and I thank Him daily for this kindness to me.

Because I don’t have to complete four to six months chemo, I am now scheduled to have this new mass removed Friday, December 15. This sounds like a more involved surgery than my last one, and that one was a doozy it seemed to me. Or maybe I’m just a weenie.

After that, I’ll have five weeks of radiation, and then, there’s a very good chance that I’ll be cancer free. I’ve had enough unexpected turns in the road to know I may have some more unexpected turns ahead of me. I appreciate your prayers for this next surgery, particularly that recovery isn’t as unpleasant as they say it potentially can be. Again, I’m a weenie.

I’ve found a lot of encouragement to persevere in the stories many of you have shared with me the last few months. There is definitely a fellowship in suffering. A lot of readers have faced much longer and harder journeys than mine so far. Your perseverance has been a gift to me, helping me face something with the hard won wisdom that only comes with experience. Mostly, I appreciate that you guys keep me from running screaming from the room. Your “Buck it up, Buttercup” spirit is actually really helpful. We gotta do what we gotta do, and like it or not, I’ve got to do this. At first, I didn’t appreciate tough love in this journey, but throwing things in frustration only gets you about 15 minutes into a multi month or year journey. “Put your big girl pants on.” “You can do this.” That’s been the advice from many who’ve gone before me. God has equipped me to really believe, through Him, that I can, in fact, do this recovery too, even though the last one was pretty rough, and this one goes further and deeper than the previous one.

Maybe I am growing in strength and perseverance after all.

When I got the results of the tumor test that showed I didn’t need chemo (after waiting two frustrating weeks through Thanksgiving for the result), I felt the Spirit strongly reminding me, “I’ve always been faithful to you.”

He has. He’s always been faithful to me. In this series of convoluted turns of events, and the frustrating time of waiting between each turn, He has been faithful. I haven’t been faithful so much, but He has held me fast to Him anyway. In His covenant with Abraham involving firepots and animal parts, God took both sides of the covenant while Abraham slept. I have felt this truth deeply and personally the last few weeks. And I am thankful anew for it.

I’ve been listening to Sara Groves a lot lately, and she has helped put to words my praise and my anthem. God’s always been faithful. Though the clouds obscure His hand at times, He’s there, and He’s working. Be encouraged, friend. He has not left you an orphan to navigate your own convoluted road any more than He has me. As you get bad news upon bad news, as you wait for some answer that makes sense after a series of ones that don’t, just know that He’s faithful. And He’s good.

Withering Wives

There is a deeply concerning epidemic among Christian marriages. I wrote about this once before, but it’s come to my attention again, a devastating trend among friends and acquaintances in Christian marriages far and near. It’s what I call the Withering Wife.

Psalm 128

1 Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.

This epidemic I am witnessing is the opposite of the beautiful vision of Psalm 128. At first, I saw it with one friend, then two, then four, and now it seems daily my attention is drawn to yet another wife in this condition. Instead of being a fruitful, flourishing vine, I watch my friend withering under the hot sun. No water comes her way, and instead there is cracking dry ground at her roots. Her leaves start to curl into themselves, and her vibrant color fades. She goes through the motions. She starts to shut down. She disengages from her husband emotionally. Why stay engaged in her marriage when she receives no encouragement or emotional support?

I note two things that contribute to this withering – active scorn and passive neglect by a husband.

Some husbands freely communicate to their wives their active scorn. They despise their wife, and she knows it. One friend shared with me how in the middle of a conversation in which her husband talked to her with scorn, he picked up the phone and completely changed his tone of voice to one of kindness and respect with the other party on the phone, and even in conflict at work on the phone, she heard a patient tone that he never used with her. She longed to hear him engage with her that way, but he felt free instead to despise and dismiss her with his tone of voice as well as his words. He talked to her in a way he would never use with anyone else.

Equally harmful (but easier to excuse) is passive neglect. This is when a husband simply ignores his wife’s needs. She may share tearfully that she is struggling, and the husband shuts her down with his lack of response. Or he says they will talk about it later, but he never brings it up again. In so doing, he communicates through his passivity that her emotional struggles are not worth him engaging. He sees her struggling with the children, but he doesn’t actively step in. He watches her frustrated work to keep the house in some order, but he treats her like a nag or control freak that she feels the kitchen should be cleaned or the laundry put away. I ache watching loved ones demoralized by being in partnership with someone who sees them struggling day after day, but the only way to get their spouse to engage is to have a near melt down.

Passive neglect and active scorn may start as two different responses. But I have seen them slowly coalesce into one unified, degrading beast in many marriages. This is the degradation of looking your wife in the eye, hearing her request, maybe even agreeing to it, and then never acting on what you said you would do. That isn’t a small problem, and husbands who do it (I believe) know the power such a thing has to demoralize and wound a wife. Husbands who do it do not fear the Lord. They do not honor God’s command to not lie. They sin grievously against their wife and their God with this lie.

We call such a thing “passive-aggressive.” That’s because, though the husband is passively not doing what he said he would do, the result is an active violation of the sanctity of his relationship with his wife. He lied to her. He looked her in the eyes, committed to something, and then conveniently found reasons to not follow through. He knows it will demoralize his wife, and he has added ammunition to use against his wife when she cries out against his lies to her by claiming she is an impatient nag or manipulator. He was always going to do it after the next round of video games, after the next football game was over.

Pastors, I hope you notice these trends in your churches, preach against them, and call husbands to repentance. In my medium size realm of family and friends, it’s a raging epidemic that is destroying many more marriages than adultery.

On the flip side, I also note strong marriages among loved ones. I see particularly in these marriages that husbands NOTICE. They are proactive. Notice what, you may ask? What are they proactive about? Well, that depends on the marriage. That depends on their wife! Peter exhorts husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way. In other words, understand your wife. Not all wives, but YOUR wife. It’s not generic to wives in general. It’s particular to your unique spouse. Know her loves. Know her gifts. Know her needs. Your wife’s needs aren’t necessarily going to be the same as whatever illustration your pastor gives in his sermon about his wife. Know the difference through intentional conversation and relationship with your wife.

None of this can be remedied without the gospel. Because a wife’s needs can quickly feel threatening to a husband’s identity, husbands must know who they are in Christ and be confident in their standing before God that puts Satan’s accusations to rest. A husband can’t find his identity in his wife any more than she can her husband. But if a husband is secure in Christ so that he does not feel threatened by his wife’s concerns, there is great room to know his wife even when her needs and gifts don’t at first fit a husband’s desires or expectations.

If you are at this crossroads, husbands, I wrote before on praying with your wives . This is such an easy, hopeful, helpful first step! Seriously, this is super easy and will minister a lot of grace to a withering wife. Even if it’s just once a week on a Saturday or Sunday morning, ask your wife, “What’s burdening you right now? What can I be praying for you?” Then right there with her, pray about it. That is an incredible ministry of grace to her in that moment. It’s water for her withering vine. If it’s something about you that’s stressing her, well, pray honestly with her about it. If you as a couple have any kind of faith, you must believe that you access supernatural help in that moment.

I don’t have a second step to offer, but I think it’s better if I leave the second step to the Spirit anyway who works after the first step in a couple’s heart according to their needs for their specific relationship. I am hopeful that if you pray with your wife, you will see movement in a good way.

This dynamic of course does not characterize all husbands and wives. Like I said, I know many great husbands of flourishing wives, and it is perhaps that I get to watch those healthy relationships that also helps me see dysfunction in others. And there are wives who likely need to notice their husbands. But today, husbands, I encourage you to look over at your wife and notice her. If she is withering, take the steps you need to stir up your own love and concern for her and then minister grace to her that will revive her. Christ in you equips you to minister this grace to her.

The 500th (and 1 day) Anniversary of the Reformation

I tend to miss bandwagons, and though I read my fair share of Reformation articles over the last few weeks, I didn’t write any. But I did listen yesterday to a sermon preached Sunday by Rev. Howard Brown to our local Lowcountry presbytery. Howard is a PCA pastor in North Carolina who is also originally from the Lowcountry of South Carolina. As an African American, his experience of the rich history of this part of South Carolina is distinctly different than mine. He came back home to preach on the Five Solas, but he did so with an honest assessment of the issues in our culture. He was BRUTALLY HONEST, with no attempts at that good (but unhelpful to long-term, real change) Southern coping mechanism of smoothing over uncomfortable situations.

Rev. Brown was brutally honest. But not without HOPE. Because that’s what the Five Solas give us. Not hope for humanity 500 years ago, but hope for humanity now. The emphasis in this 500th commemoration shouldn’t just be on what Luther did hundreds of years ago, but on what this understanding of the gospel brings us in THIS moment. Because the Five Solas are worthless if they don’t speak into this cultural moment, and Rev. Brown reminded us that they indeed do.

This hope of the gospel reclaimed through the Reformation gets lost unless it is seen in contrast with the fallen nature of mankind. Rev. Brown didn’t let us shy away from the fallen nature of humanity in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, with its parking lots paved over black cemeteries with the bodies still in them, the headstones removed to make pavers in white owned front yards. Personally, I have witnessed the devastation up front of the segregationist private academies that dotted South Carolina after integration, only allowing blacks to enter their schools when forced by the federal government in the mid 80s. And just two years ago, we had 9 black Christians brutally murdered while worshiping at church simply because they were black.

By Scripture alone … we know the truth of God, including the worth of those created in His image.

By grace alone … we are brought back into relationship with the Creator God, and by grace alone we are equipped to obey His commands on loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

By faith alone … we are saved, not by any version of cultural good works.

By Christ alone … are we brought to and sustained in this faith, and by union with Him we are able once more to be imitators of God who love our neighbor and treat them with their inherent dignity as image-bearers of God.

For the glory of God alone … we persevere in a hard cultural work, not looking to set ourselves up as great social justice warriors. For we can not turn men’s hearts to love their neighbor. We can not even turn our own hearts. Only God can do that. We give glory to God alone and humble ourselves in praise to Him for any healing and reconciliation that the gospel brings to our communities.

Jesus likened this gospel to a little leaven. Put a small amount in a lump of dough, and it eventually leavens the whole lump. He also likened it to a tiny mustard seed that grows into a twenty foot mustard bush. The point is that it doesn’t look at first at times like this little gospel seed has the power to change anything, and yet it does. May this season of reflection on the Five Solas of the Reformation give us hope anew that, in this cultural moment, one not so different from Luther’s, we have hope for an even greater reformation, one that includes the dignity of Jew and African image-bearers in a way that Luther’s did not. Because the reformed church is always reforming.

Semper Reformanda

Producers and Consumers

For the last few months, I have been thinking about my life in terms of being a producer and a consumer. Let me explain.

Politically, Donald Trump made this idea (without using this exact language) front and center in minds and hearts. He emphasizes American businesses that produce, that manufacture new products, as he seeks to undo systems that aid those some see as consumers, those who only use resources while being unable, often physically, from producing.

Locally, I live on a farm with a lot of producers. The farm here epitomizes the concept of production. The farmer plants a seed in the ground, and it grows into a tall stalk of corn, producing food for livestock that then ends up in our grocery stores and restaurants, or a peanut plant, which ends up in the peanut butter on our grocery store shelf. Folks here drive out in their pick up trucks at 7:30 am, work a hard day tending the ground, and come back in the evenings to turn off equipment and settle in for the night. They consume resources, but they produce much more than they consume. Nations can’t survive without producers. Our government subsidizes farms in particular because, in time of war, we can not be solely dependent on a foreign nation for our food. If nothing else, in World War 3, the United States will still have some cotton to make clothes, peanuts to make peanut butter, and corn to feed the cows, in part due to the labor of folks around me at Oak Lane Farm.

I don’t know if others experiencing long term illness think about this, but I have become consumed with the producers around me as I sit on my couch into week 3 of recovery from surgery, now contemplating another 6 months of chemotherapy, which will include a lot more sitting on my couch watching the rest of the world go by. I consume resources, particularly the time of others who already have busy lives. But right now, I don’t produce anything.

In times past as a stay at home mom, I had a few things that, along with parenting my children, helped me feel … well … productive. I taught Bible studies, I wrote books, and I taught part time at the community college. If nothing else, I produced some income for my home, and that helped me feel like I was a contributing member of society (another political phrase I think about).

Being a non-producing consumer for this season has raised my awareness of others struggling with long term disability. I have one friend in particular confined to a wheel chair with multiple physical issues who still struggles to produce. He writes. He creates art. His God-given desire to create remains in his heart though his physical and financial resources are slim. He is often thwarted in his attempts to get something to market, and yet the creative, productive urge remains, and he never quits trying.

I got the news yesterday that I would have six months of chemo, with all the ins and outs that usually accompany that. I have a good prognosis long term, for which I thank God, but I wept in the doctor’s office as I contemplated six more months consumed with doctors appointments and physical struggle, six more months of being a consumer unable to produce. Despite all of the down time, I can’t even write very well. My brain remains slow and fuzzy and overwhelmed. And chemo brain is a real thing I hear. Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised, but I have low expectations for productivity the next six months (other than the occasional blog article).

I am tired of consuming resources. I simply want to produce.

I want to show up with resources to help my son’s public school marching band. I want to put together a women’s Bible study for our local new PCA church plant. I want to take my dad to doctor’s appointments. I want to write another book. I want to teach at the community college. I want to learn to manage the farm.

Yesterday, after returning from my appointment with my oncologist, I sat down with the Lord to read the next passage in my Bible, John 15:1-8. I am reading from the new Christian Standard Bible. Verse 2 struck me loud and clear.

2 Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.

I noted the word produce, because that is the language that has been rattling around in my head for weeks. I want to produce more and consume less. I want to help more and need help less. But God spoke clearly to me. If I am going to produce more fruit, I have to submit to more pruning. There was something sweet and kind, though also pointed and confrontational, as God used the language in my head to remind me of this truth from Scripture. I have felt that God was far away from me at multiple points in this journey, but He again showed me that He is right here, well acquainted with my suffering and mental struggle, and indwelling me to aid me through it. He is aware of the battles in my head and spoke to me clearly to confront them. My Counselor. My Comforter. My Helper.

I got the message, Lord, and I thank You for it. I will buck it up, by God’s help, and do this thing. I will submit to more pruning, because it is necessary for producing more fruit, fruit that remains. That’s the best kind of producing and the best kind of fruit. I want it for my life, and I submit to Your process to do it. Apart from You, I can do nothing.

Is this the fruit of the Spirit? I trust I will grow in love, joy, peace, and longsuffering. I need it. Is this the fruit of discipleship? I hope I can help more women grow in a knowledge of Jesus that leads to their flourishing in His kingdom. Whatever form the fruit takes, I know that pruning is the path to it, hand in hand with the One who prunes.

If you are struggling today, I encourage you to sit down with a short passage of Scripture wherever your Bible reading has taken you. Read it slowly several times, asking God to open your eyes to behold wonderful things in His word (Psalm 119:18). Slow down, remove distractions, and give Him time to speak to you clearly through His words. Hear Him, and be comforted.

Humbled, but not Humiliated

I am one week post-op, having spent two nights in ICU after surgery and two more in a regular room. It was the worst of times – but, oh, the grace of God made plain to me through it. I get it in a new way, that supernatural grace of God that helps you through what you could never endure on your own, that enlightens your soul as you pass through the fire.

I have been brought low, ultimately humbled. Many of you have been through similar and know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not the first time I’ve been brought low physically. I have had two c-sections and several outpatient surgeries. But this was a lower low. I’ve thought a lot about how frustrating it is to be brought so low. I want to be the helper, not the one being helped. I want to be strong for another, not to need another’s strength. It’s humbling to value the strong helper God created Eve to be in perfection but to feel so far from Eden’s ideal. But there is a great difference in being humbled and being humiliated. God humbles us, but He does not humiliate us. And I had many who were His hands and feet to me demonstrating this truth to me again and again. I was humbled. I was dust. But I was not shamed.

I woke in pain to the voice of a sweet anesthesiologist helping me get comfortable. Woke a second time to my cousin putting lip balm on my lips and feeding me ice chips. Oh the ministry of grace of lip balm and feeding ice chips to ICU patients. Woke another time to my pastor’s wife and my sister sitting with me in ICU. Woke many times to see my cousin and another friend from church wide awake at 1 am, 2 am, 3 am, 4 am in the ICU, because the hospital policy was that visitors could be in the ICU with a patient, but only if the visitor stayed awake. So though I could nap, they couldn’t. They were each the hands and feet of Jesus, ministering His grace to me in tangible ways.

During a few times of lull between visitors, I hit lows as the pain spearing through my body was compounded by the pain of knowing cancer was found in a lymph node.* At one particularly painful, low moment, God whispered to me, “the fellowship of my suffering.”

Phil. 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;

The gospel hit me, overcome with pain in the ICU, in a way I had never gotten before. Jesus experienced that level of pain and worse, not to save His own life, but to save mine. I wept under the covers in ICU as the searing pain pealed layers off of my understanding of what it meant that He was wounded for our transgressions, to see the nugget of truth obscured from my vision before. I lay wounded for my own healing from cancer, for my own peace. But He received no benefit from His wounds in my place. I get the Garden of Gethsemane at a different level. I wept under the sheets in the ICU, not at the pain, but at a new awareness of His agony in the Garden. Unlike me, who really didn’t fully understand what I would be facing in recovery (a blissful ignorance I still recommend), He knew exactly what He’d be facing on the cross. And He did it, not to His benefit, but to ours. Oh, precious Savior!

I’ve also thought a lot how much I want a return to Eden. I want to be Eve as she was created in the Garden, that strong warrior helper in the great Creation Mandate. But instead of God allowing me to build my own Tower of Babel, attempting to build my own resources to do for Him what He created us for in perfection, He requires of me something completely different. I can’t build a tower, because I am flat on my face, unable to lift my head. He instead condescends to me. He comes down. He lifts my head, and He helps me up to limp along, functioning only through His lifeblood in me, incapable of producing anything on my own. The image-bearer functions best through the life-giving blood of the One who came down and was wounded in her place. Only His blood can nourish us. Only His blood can equip us to do any Kingdom good in this world.

I want to be what God created me for in perfection, and that makes sense. I cry out for an end of sickness and suffering, murder and rampage. I long for God’s kingdom to come. I cry out in my own life for an end of limping and crashing and feeling wiped out. But instead of ending my suffering, God chose to come down and enter it that one day we could be fully restored. This is a beautiful truth I seem only able to fully grasp in weakness.

I hope later to write on lessons from reading the book of Job through the last month leading up to surgery. But these are two poignant lessons pressed on my heart through this last week.

Thank you to so many who have expressed love, prayers, and concern.  Many have asked how they can support me. I have a good support system through church and family here. But I have a friend in Seattle battling later stage cancer without the same level of support. If you would like to send her a pizza, you can sign up at her Take Them a Meal website. She and her daughter love Pagliacci Pizza , which delivers to her house and request Canadian bacon, pineapple, and olives. Or you can donate to her You Caring page here.

*Pathology reports show that though the cancer was in my first lymph node, it doesn’t seem to have traveled beyond. This is very good. Verdict is still out on whether I will need chemo.



Three Books

I’ve had two books I’ve been working through that I have wanted to mention here for a while. They really go hand in hand for my burdens for ministry.

The first is The Imperfect Disciple by Jared Wilson.  Jared writes in an earthy, accessible style. He hooked me in the early chapters as he looked at Romans 7 and 8 “spooning in a full size bed.” The good that I want to do but don’t do fits right next to the fact I have no condemnation in Christ Jesus. He teaches similar truths with illustrations that flesh them out and settle them in your brain. I highly recommend it.

The second book is Natasha Robinson’s Mentor for Life.  Natasha writes in a clear, pointed way. She lays out a simple framework for mentoring as intentional discipleship and inspires readers to get up and do it. With her practical advice, she helped me get together a plan for several relationships that I want to pursue in an intentional way.

But, then, after setting up times to mentor/disciple, inspired and directed by Scripture applied in both of these books, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Everything I thought I was going to do this semester fell apart. Every last one of my plans crashed to the ground. And I was faced, after just starting to emerge from the last storm of life, with being pushed under the waves once again.

I broke down and bought The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts.  Broke down is the right phrase for it. I did not want to read this book. I did not want to consider my own mortality. Kara, after all, got bad news after bad news with her cancer, ultimately dying in 2015. Since being diagnosed, I have become painfully aware of every person that comes across my path who has died quickly of cancer. The Hawaiian vet on one of my son’s favorite veterinarian shows. Nabeel Qureshi, author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. The young man who sprayed our house for pests. The friend who helped build my front porch. And countless other local friends and former classmates.

I am a single mom of two middle school boys. Seriously, I can’t die right now.

But I haven’t been able to get away from my own mortality. Though it’s looking more and more like this cancer is quite treatable, thoughts of my mortality aren’t going anywhere. It was time to face them head on, and so I literally broke down and bought Kara’s book. I’m pretty sure I was crying as I bought it.

But you know what? Like so many times before this, I found that there is a lot of grace for facing the worst head on. An hour ago, I turned the last page in Kara’s book and shut it for the last time. As I put it down, I thought, “I am SO GLAD I read that.” One of the most beautiful things about suffering is that the things of this world grow a little dimmer. But that is also the thing I always resist most. I don’t want to lose my grip on this world! But whenever parts of life are pried out of my grasping hands whether I like it or not, I find that what I receive in awareness of eternity is so much better.

Kara, Nabeel, and Joey (who built my front porch) stand alongside Paul, Silas, Corrie ten Boom, Jim and Elisabeth Elliott, and a thousand other heroes of the faith, cheering us on from the sidelines in our own perseverance in the marathon of life.

Hebrews 11:32-12:2 (CSB)

32 And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received their dead, raised to life again. Other people were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. 38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

39 All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.

12 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I love that cloud of witnesses!  Having finished The Hardest Peace, I think of Kara among them, giving testimony of God’s faithfulness as I look to Him in my own suffering.

For my own personal growth, this mishmash of books has been important at this stage of both ministry and suffering. I want to disciple, to mentor others for life, as Jesus sent us out to do in Matthew 28. I am certainly an imperfect disciple, but my Romans 7 inadequacies are hugged tightly by my Romans 8 covering by Christ. I can face the hard of life head on, confident in the grace of God that meets us not outside the hard but in the darkest innermost recesses of pain and suffering. This message that I need at my own lowest points is the same message others I hope to disciple need in theirs.

I have a free copy of The Imperfect Disciple to give away. Comment below if you’d like to enter the drawing.

Children’s Bible Study

I have been frustrated for some time trying to find an appropriately written children’s Bible study for my boys, ages 11 and 12.  They are at an age now where I am looking for a few key things in a study:

  1. Uses actual Scripture.
  2. Focuses on the good news of Jesus throughout.
  3. Invites them into the Word (less lecture, more inquiry).
  4. Treats Scripture as the story of Jesus more than individual moral lessons.
  5. Moves them through Scripture in developmentally appropriate ways.

I was talking with the wife of one of my pastor’s, and she too was looking for something along those lines.  I have written the first two weeks and plan to continue for 52 weeks, though there likely will be a bump in the road as I recover from cancer surgery in the coming weeks.

If you are looking for something along those lines (geared probably for 4th to 9th grade, depending on reading level and comfort looking up Scripture), email me at theologyforwomen@gmail.com, and I will send them to you weekly as I write them.  Right now, I’m printing them off, hole-punching, and putting them in a three-ring binder for my two boys.  They consist of 4 lessons for the boys to do each week.

The first one is an overview of the command to love God and love our neighbor.  Since all the Laws and Prophets hang on these two, it seemed a good place (at least for my boys) to start.  The next week begins in Genesis, to start our march through Scripture.  I’ve included the first two weeks here. If you want to continue receiving them, email me at theologyforwomen@gmail.com.

Bible Study Week 1

Bible Study Week 2

I appreciate your continued prayers for me as I prepare for surgery.  So many of you have sent me love and encouragement.  You have gone before me in your own suffering and come out with beautiful faith as you endure in your own trials.  I have been blessed by your emails to me, comments on my blog, and notes in the mail.  I can’t thank you all enough.