The One Word that Forever Changed How I Approach the Bible


One Halloween about eight years ago, I was at Disneyworld, the happiest place on earth, with the unhappiest Minnie Mouse on earth. She was 8 years old, with a painted black button nose, full Minnie costume, sequin ears, and red glitter shoes. I don’t remember the details of the tragedy but it had something to do with real Minnie leaving the party before mini Minnie got a chance to see her.

It was a moment, let me tell you.

Mini Minnie was inconsolable. It didn’t matter that we were at Disneyworld, that she was the world’s most adorable mini Minnie, that we had all sorts of excitement planned for the rest of the evening.

It was the most epic and magical of meltdowns. And the emotional unraveling seemed to know no bounds.

At some point, we realized that mad mini Minnie might be hungry. I don’t remember what we fed her — a $7 Disney muffin, a Lunchable, I honestly have no idea. But within minutes, sanity was restored. It was shocking, a real-life Jeckyl / Hyde sort of moment. Mini Minnie stopped crying tears of rage and began speaking rational words. We could actually reason with her again. To a certain extent, she rallied.

All it took was a snack.

I’m sad to say, she comes by it honestly. While on our honeymoon at the beach, my husband recalls his hysterical new bride stopping in the middle of the bike path, dismounting the bike, and sobbing / sweating / claiming she was going to die.

One Sprite from a nearby vending machine and she was back in business.

The point is, we can get a little crazy when we don’t eat (or drink.) We lose all perspective. We despair. We cry. We don’t think or feel or act as we should.


Last week I began a new series here: The Sacred Art of Receiving Your Right-Now Life. 

MI walk

Daily, I live in the tension between my right-now life / roles / responsibilities, and my hoped-for life / work / dreams. Like the rest of you, I’m knee-deep in the dailyness of dinner, the relentlessness of laundry, helping with 4th grade math that’s too hard for me, raising kids in a crazy world, living in community, and working an actual job.

I have a beautiful life. Every day, I count the gifts. Living in the frustrating tension between the right-now and the hoped-for doesn’t mean I’m not grateful; it simply means that I wrestle. Peace and acceptance can be a challenge for me because Longing and Envy are always nipping at my heels.

I’m writing this series because I want to know what it looks like in our real, messy, daily lives to receive the life of Christ, broken for us, and then to “receive our own lives” with humility and trust, living broken and poured out as He did.

I’m learning that these complicated questions find their answers in the simple places and ordinary tasks of our daily work and regular lives.


That doesn’t mean it’s all happy-clappy-dishwashing and dinner-prepping and kid-raising. We’re going to get to these topics in our series but the reality is, we can’t even begin to talk about feeding and nourishing others until we first have been fed.

We have to eat.


What’s the one word that forever changed how I approach God’s word?


You may be familiar with the story of Jesus in the desert for 40 days with Satan.

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’

Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Jesus, the Son of God, fought against the temptations of power, pride, greed, influence, and acclaim with the Word of God.

He even fought physical fatigue and hunger and loneliness with the Word of God.

How much more must this be true for us?

God’s Word was Christ’s hope, his consolation, his power, his perspective, his sustenance.

It’s taken me years to learn that it’s all of these things for me too.


If you’ve grown up in Christian culture, you’ve probably heard “being in God’s Word” presented as a number of different things:

spiritual discipline

— something you should desperately desire if you’re a devoted Christian

— where you find answers for life’s questions

the story of God’s people

the story of God’s love for the world

And all of this is true. But for me, I began to love and pursue and desire God’s Word when I realized it was my food.

Without it, I ricochet through my days much like mad mini Minnie with low blood sugar. My life is easily defined by my frustration, devastation, bewilderment, anger, and selfishness.

With it, I’m more grounded and centered. I have a perspective that’s so much bigger than myself and my own little kingdom. I walk in a spirit of truth instead of a spirit of crazy.


I realize this is the least theologian-ish post ever on the Word of God, like I see the Bible as some sort of therapeutic, self-help tool.

Actually, the Word of God is God. It’s alive and active,” the Living Word. 

Crazy, right? I can tell you from experience, we can’t control the ways it may work in our lives. We use words like “quiet time” or “daily devotions” and that makes it sound so tidy and polite. In reality, the word of God is sharper than a two edged sword.

The hope, revelation, conviction, identity, power, and perspective it can unleash in our right-now lives is untamable.


It’s been a hard week around here — a week of grief, stress, and overwhelm. There have been many circumstances, tasks, and emotions just this week that I have not wanted to receive. I’m depleted in every way.

The only thing that has kept me putting one foot in front of the other is the food I’ve eaten each morning, not out of duty but out of sheer desperation.

“Lord, I’m opening your word this morning. You know that I’m starving and desperate. Please feed me.”

And He has.

I realize that this post may raise more questions than answers.

How do you spend time in Scripture?

It’s hard to understand. How is it so meaningful to you?

I’m super busy / unmotivated / apathetic / cynical / ________. Any suggestions for me? 

laptop coffee

Yes! Let’s talk about all of these things. The next post in the series will get super practical. We’ll talk about everything from how your personality may influence your approach to studying the Bible, to real-life solutions when you’re busy, and even some helpful tools.

But here’s the thing: I can help inspire you to receive your current season of work, to find joy in feeding your family, or to find right-now ways to use some of the gifts that don’t feel like they have a place. These are the struggles of our regular lives and I long to encourage you in all of these areas.

But you’ll still get hungry, lose all perspective, and make it about your own little kingdom without God’s Word influencing and empowering your daily rhythms and pursuits. Ask me how I know. : )

I can only begin to receive my own life — heartache, limitations, frustration and all — when I begin to receive his Word as my truest and most beneficial sustenance.


I can’t wait for us to get practical about all this. If you have questions you’d like to see me address, I’d love that! You can leave them in the comments section or email me directly.

If this series sounds like something you need, all you have to do is subscribe to this online space. (You can do that in the box below this post.) If you’re already subscribed, yay! You’ll automatically receive it. The series is totally free.

Simply come and receive.

Whenever the latest installment of the series is published, you’ll be the first to know and you won’t miss a post.

the sacred art graphic

Post 1: How to Live Your Ordinary Life with Extraordinary Purpose

You may also enjoy

When Your Right-Now Work Feels Extra Ordinary but Not Extraordinary

Learning to Love the Work of Our Hands this Year by Kimberly Coyle for Grace Table

How to Pursue Your Hoped-for Work in the Midst of Your Right-Now Life {a series)

How a 92-year-old Woman Taught Me the Value of My Right-Now Work

Finding the Unlikely Path to Gratitude

fall windows light

I’m an Accidental Optimist.

Thankfulness and positivity are just not the natural ways of me. I’ve alway been a glass-half-empty girl who faked that I’m not unless I was around those safest and closest. Bless their hearts, they have long borne my frequent lament, my incessant pining, my uncanny ability to see all that I was missing instead of all that I had.

My journey from empty to full began about nine years ago when I began writing on the internet. Turning the everyday stories of my messy, post-career life as a mother of three littles began to reorient my perspective. I’d begin a post with some sort of frustration or less than ideal situation, and lo, by the time I was finished, lemonade had replaced the lemons. Gratitude had replaced complaint. Grace had replaced failure.

It was the most serendipitous thing of my life. My own words would show up, one at a time, and take me somewhere else, even though I still lived in the same life. That’s still the way it happens. I never know exactly where they’ll lead; I simply follow the letters like bread crumbs toward a destination.

Usually that destination is a hopeful one, but not always. Like the Psalm that ends in honest declaration instead of victory and refreshment,

Darkness is my closest friend. 

Even then, our souls can find consolation as striving and pretending come to a halt, giving way to the strange peace of acceptance.


Through writing, I discovered that that even our messiest of days are tinged with possibility. Redemption awaits. We only need to find the smallest of pathways and choose to keep walking.


The gateway to a life of gratitude looks different for each of us — nature, reflection, rest, stepping away from it all for a moment or a day, prayer and meditation, a needful anti-depressant, reading Scripture, helping someone else, counseling, books.

I’m not talking about escapism or running away; I’m talking about reorientation. We find a way to see the same situation with different eyes.

We do this in both everyday and epic ways. I’ll share a story for both.

For years now, my vehicle has felt like a second home. With three kids in three different schools, with sports and youth group and all the things, I became downright bitter about the constant running around. Sadly, my martyrdom wasn’t a silent one.

And then I began doing the math, realizing that my days in the minivan with these kids were numbered.

Picking my daughter up from cheerleading practice every day felt like an inconvenience and an interruption until I began to see it as an opportunity for connection. Sometimes that connection looked like listening and biting my tongue as she vented her anger. Sometimes the connection looked like swinging by Sonic on the way home and laughing together as we listened to the Popcast. Sometimes it looked like arguing and steely silence. But always, it was an opportunity to water the soil of relationship.

And then there are the “epic” reorientations.

This usually requires divine intervention because it means life has so completely gone off the rails, all we can feel and see is that last line of Psalm 88: Darkness is my closest friend.

In 2011, I had just finished reading Ann Voskamp’s modern classic, One Thousand Gifts. It was providential to say the least, though I had no way of knowing it at the time.

Life did go off the rails.

And through the most unexplainable yet clearly divine power, I dropped to my knees, face to floor and gave thanks. I remember exactly where I was in my house. I remember the time of day.

I had never done that before and I haven’t done it since. But the message of that book had prepared my soul for the uninvited story I was just beginning to live.

Though I didn’t stay in that posture of gratitude moment by moment and day by day, I believe that experience shot a sacred arrow into an unseen battle. I knew my circumstances weren’t a cruel cosmic joke. This was all out war. And the battle was for my family. I resolved that day to fight for what was mine and for what was God’s.

boys beach

It’s the strangest, most counterintuitive thing to say but it’s true: the grief and the fight began with thankfulness.

Whether it’s something as inconsequential as a disappointing grade or something as devastating as family fracture, redemption begins when we dare to look Devastation in the face and call it Possibility.

Ann Voskamp says this,

That which we refuse to thank Christ for — we refuse to believe Christ can redeem.


It’s the season of thanks but that doesn’t mean it’s all holiday drinks from Starbucks and happy Thanksgiving anticipation. I’ve learned that giving thanks isn’t a list or conjured up sentimentalism or an obligatory thing we do around the family table.

The deepest gratitude often looks like surrender.

It looks like humility as I relinquish my rights and expectations to receive what life is instead of what I want life to be. 

It looks like a discipline that doesn’t get easier but comes to me more quickly over time.

It looks like fighting the emotion of resentment with the counter emotion of thankfulness. 

It looks like choosing to see the good that’s there instead of the good that’s missing. 

It looks like receiving the everyday and epic moments with a heart of faith and trust in the One who lived and died and lived again — teaching us that every death actually holds the potential for new life. 

leaves + mirror


Resources and Inspiration

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are :: This modern classic is one to return to over and over again.

Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love :: The real life story of Katherine and Jay Wolf. Their lives point others to choose hope and gratitude, no matter the circumstances. I love following them on Instagram too!

The Lazy Genius Practices Thankfulness {short podcast} :: “It feels right to give thanks in November, but it also feels forced and annoying sometimes. Let’s get back to the basics of gratitude and actually enjoy a season of giving thanks. No daily journals necessary.” Yes and Amen.

How to Give Thanks for Your REAL {messy * beautiful * laughable * sorrowful * honest * hopeful} LIFE :: a November post by yours truly : )

Follow me on Instagram for 30 days of thanks!


My friend Kimberly invited me to join her in this endeavor. It’s something she’s done the last few years and she said it’s helped to prepare her heart for Advent. I need that. My hope is to inspire all of us to give thanks for the ordinary gifts of our real lives. 

“30 Days of Actual Gratitude” :: Because we should never take ourselves too seriously. : ) You guys, Knox and Jamie from the Popcast are doing #30daysofactualgratude on Twitter. It’s the best.



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Remember Who the Real Enemy Is

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Two weeks ago, I slipped away for 48 hours to the beautiful North Carolina mountains to speak for a women’s retreat. The theme for our time together was “Receiving Your Own Life: How Your Story Can Shine with the Beauty of Redemption.”

It’s the theme of my own life. And as I learned after two days with about 30 new friends, it’s not an unfamiliar theme. Live any length of time and you will find yourself with a story you probably would have written differently, even if it’s just an unwanted chapter or two.

Pinterest tells you to receive a curated life.

Experts tell you to receive only your best life.

American culture tells you to receive a prosperous life.

And I gulp it all down. I do. I want a life that’s lovely and charming, one in which I never feel any real lack or desperation. I want a life filled with beauty, adventure, abundance and peace.

These deep-seated longings are not wrong; they’ve been inside us all along, caged in our hearts and passed down throughout the ages. Man woke to life in a perfect garden, a place of unimaginable beauty, abundance, fellowship, and perfection. A place where work was delight instead of drudgery. A place where relationships were free from pain and complication. A place where shame and anxiety were not even words.

We’re all trying to get back to that place, aren’t we?


On my way home from a literal mountaintop, I drove through the worst rain I’ve ever experienced. And then, forty-five minutes from home, I was warned of tornado sightings and took shelter at my sister’s house.

Two days after I returned, a hectic morning resulted in a driveway accident that left two cars {one of them purchased only weeks before} dented and damaged. Just a couple of months prior, I backed my own vehicle into a mailbox. We still need to replace the entire back door. So now all of our vehicles need repair. It’s frustratingly symbolic.

We are not in Eden anymore.

On the mountain, I told the women to expect these sorts of “enemies.” We’d spent some time talking about truths we have to remember if we’re going to “receive our own lives” and reflect redemption on a daily basis.

We have to remember who the real enemy is.


Sometimes I re-watch The Hunger Games movies when they’re on TV. Just last night I tuned in at the part of Catching Fire when Katniss has her arrow pointed at Finnick, one of the other tributes in the Game. He says to her, “Katniss, remember who the real enemy is.”

{Spoiler alert.}

Once Katniss remembers the real enemy {the Capitol}, she redirects her arrow away from Finnick, her supposed enemy and rival tribute, and instead shoots into the forcefield of the Game itself.

In doing so, she shatters a false world and everything the real enemy had so carefully crafted to distract and deceive everyone.

And so it is with us. There are actual enemies at work: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

I know, I know. That sounds fine and normal if we’re talking about a movie or a dystopian book series. But when we’re applying these concepts to our real lives? Well, it sounds like crazy talk. Surely we are too rational for this.

Even if we acknowledge the broken world as an enemy —

Even if we acknowledge our own flesh or ego as an enemy —

We often fail to acknowledge that there is real darkness waging war against real light. And so, like Katniss in the Game, we instinctively choose counterfeit enemies instead of the real ones. In the heat of our emotion and in the trenches of our mess, we simply forget.

Functional amnesia causes us to disregard the unseen enemy and to aim our arrow at the lesser foe right in front of us.

Our spouses

Our kids

Their decisions

Our co-workers

Our jobs

Church and its leaders

Elected officials


If we can direct our anger, our energy, and our words toward a counterfeit enemy, the real enemy can prowl around unnoticed, growing all the more powerful as we become all the more blind. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have antagonistic people, legitimate conflict, and tangible forces working against us. We do. But consider the real enemy before you waste all your energy going to battle against a puppet or a distraction.

My enemy can look like a million different things, depending on the day:

It looks like 3 dented cars in my driveway.

It looks like someone I’m angry with.

It looks like the cancer that’s making my friend sick.

It looks like certain circumstances that will never change.

It looks like a nation viciously divided.

It looks like abuses of power and heartbreaking victimization.

It looks like poverty.

It looks like wealth.

It looks like the internet.

It looks like rejection of truth and beauty and peace.

I don’t know what enemies you face today. But my prayer in writing this post is that you may have the pause, the grace, and the wisdom to discern how to approach your own enemies.

My husband and I are no strangers to conflict, but several years ago we began reminding ourselves of this truth: We are on the same team. In a way, it’s just another way of saying, “Remember who the real enemy is.”

It doesn’t always solve the problem, but it does remind us to stand beside one another in solidarity against the actual enemy of our marriage, instead of facing off against one another as counterfeit enemies.

Real life is full of enough threats to our security, our peace, and our perspective. Let’s not make our own team members part of the opposing side.


I was reminded a few days ago that God doesn’t tell us to wait for the enemies to be vanquished before we receive our own lives with trust and gratitude.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies. {Psalm 23:5}

I’d honestly never noticed this before. This is a Psalm about being led by still waters and having a Shepherd who quiets our souls. It’s a song about goodness and love and being anointed with oil and having a cup that overflows.

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All while enemies are still present.

As we remember who the real enemy is, may we also remember who the real Savior is. {Hint: It’s not us.} Jesus is both a warrior and a shepherd, a king and a servant.

He deals powerfully with our real enemies even as He cares for our wounded and weary souls.


For further reading, Psalm 23


New here?

I’m all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life. Each post provides courage, companionship, and resources for life lived real.

If that sounds like something you need, sign up in the box below to receive fresh hope and possibility delivered to your inbox.