This is Christine.
Her drink is bone broth (now there’s a first for Sips & Scripts!)
My favorite part of my talk with Christine was how many times she stopped to say, “All for you, heavenly father! All glory to you!” She just radiates the love and joy of the Lord.
If you aren’t familiar with Christine’s account on Instagram, The Four Four, let me just say that you won’t find anything else like it. And that is because Christine is not trying to copy or imitate any other account that is out there; she is–as she phrases it–“downloading” her content from the Holy Spirit.
Christine began The Four Four account as a response to God calling her to use Instagram as the vehicle for spreading the gospel. So she does, in her own way using multiple modes of artistic expression to spread the good news.
We chatted about the recent devaluation of art in American society and how there is no greater expression of who we are than when we embody our Creator and let ourselves create. I know you will love what she has to say.
“I was severely ill with the very first strain of COVID in March of 2020 and as I was struggling to reclaim my health, the enemy attacked me. These were the things he was telling me:
Your life, your ministry, everything is over. You’ll be lucky to get out of this. PTSD will await you.
Everything was stripped away. All I could do, through rivers of tears, was worship— just listen to music and sermons and worship; it was my life buoy.
I remember telling God that if He healed me, I would do anything he wanted me to do.
I felt Him speak to me very clearly one day: I want you to preach the gospel through social media.
I was full of hesitation because I was still so sick. I could barely get on top of my physical/mental health— on top of being a mother. I didn’t feel like myself or super functional. In addition, I had not had social media for 15 years and was intimidated and concerned about the negatives of social media.
Over the period of a month or two, I kept going back and forth with Him, but the message was clear: I needed to start an online ministry via Instagram.
I said, ‘Ok, Lord. I trust you.’ And that is how our art-filled account, The Four Four began.”
“My home life is the foundation for The Four Four.
As a family, we believe in working on missions for the Kingdom together. And that has looked different for us in different seasons; at one point, it meant serving together in children’s ministry for the church. At another, we were serving and evangelizing our neighborhood and hosting revival meetings in our home. So we always do life together, as homeschoolers, and Jesus is always there—in the midst of the messy.
So we jumped into this social media mission. I landed on the theme of God’s unity and the guiding verse was Ephesians 4:4:
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (4-5).4-5
We made a homemade logo based on this verse:
I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t understand technology. But I thought— what do I have?
And so we started on Easter Sunday, 4-4-21, which felt like such a confirmation of the Ephesians 4:4 motto. We like to preach what I call the “organic gospel” which means the gospel stripped away from modern politics and religious pretenses and simply focused on God’s Kingdom.
I started by writing up a sermon series, and my 16-year-old daughter would read it over and use her tablet to create the accompanying art.
And to be totally transparent, she is no different than any other teenager in that she and I have differing opinions sometimes. I never pressure her to put out a product if she doesn’t feel inspired— that’s not how our artful worship is meant to be created. But as far as 16-year-olds go, I am incredibly blessed that she is willing to collaborate with me on Kingdom art.
And because I was called to create this account by God, He has provided for every single bit of content! Because it is His and it is my offering of worship to Him, I have never doubted what my voice was supposed to be.
With every step, God shows me the next one. It’s all for Him and from Him and by Him. And that is my greatest joy. This account will always be a testimony to Him! Not to me. It is a testimony to His provision.”
“I love when genres and modes of art cross-pollinate (visual, auditory, etc.) because it gives more depth and substance to the message. If we can mix artistic styles and collaborate with different artists, it gives the audience an opportunity to be reached in more than one way.
I met the main artist that I collaborate with, Santi, in the most divinely organized way! Santi is in London, UK, and I’m in California, USA, so we had no other bridges into our individual worlds. But somehow, we connected on Instagram. I looked at his art for Christ, and loved his passion for the Lord, even though his art wasn’t exactly the same style as mine. We both are raw, but my art tends to be lighter and his is more dark and edgy. But I was drawn by the Holy Spirit to his work, and he was drawn to my poetry.
I got the sense that Santi was a worshipper even more than an artist, and remember God highlighted this to me so strongly! I could’ve teamed up with any other artist, but God linked us for a reason.
On a whim, I said ‘when I write my next piece of poetry, do you want to draw the art to go with it?’
The Holy Spirit gave him this amazing visual image to go with my poem. We were blown away by what God had done through the two of us, with the outcome of the final project.
And a couple of days later, I realized just how powerful that particular image was for my own testimony. It directly related to my experience of coming out of severe illness and surviving brokenness, and from so many hard circumstances and struggles I’ve had to walk through, and the triumph of the enemy ultimately losing. These are things only God knew and could have impressed on Santi’s heart to depict, because he didn’t know my personal testimony yet.
Our collaborations have always been by the Spirit, with all glory going to God!”
“For anyone out there who might be reading this and thinking but I am not an artist— I want to emphasize that art is subjective, like beauty. No one can tell you that your art is wrong or bad. You can still creatively express yourself and get a message out there. And artists shouldn’t compare their art to others’—there is room for all expressions of art. Praise God!
Lately, I have been calling creative people to get their voice and art out there. We need to mobilize all the artists and creatives— without competition— to put the art out there. We need (and I believe are in) an art renaissance: a movement of beauty, light, truth, revelation and exploration that isn’t boxed, caged, or legalistically condemned.
We need to rally the artistic community right now. God will use a gospel-led renaissance in an incredible way. God will touch broken people with it— prodigals, too. We can help people fall in love with the Savior through art, because Spirit-led messages translated through the art will target individuals uniquely.
In light of tragedies like Uvalde (which occurred a few short days before this conversation took place), art can speak boldly, clearly and loudly into these dark situations, bringing reform, validation and expectancy of hope, because art appeals to love, passion, and inspiration– a language that everyone speaks.”
“We are made in our Creator’s image as creators. We are in our purest form when we are creating. We are not in a state of striving, we are in a state of being.
The whole point of creativity and the arts is that they are acts of worship to Him. It’s being with Him, and allowing the creative force that He is to flow through us for His glory and adoration which in turn, soothes us and connects us closer to him. Worship diverts attention away from distraction and puts the rightful focus back on Christ. On adoring Him. On trusting Him. On believing He is in control. and And when we get out of the way, we make space for Him to move and do what only He can do!
Art is a reflection of Him. A piece of Him. To be immersed in art and creativity is to be in his presence and be in that place of healing. Art can heal – our physical, mental, and emotional selves.
And last but not least, art brings heaven to earth. We are fulfilling the commission of “on earth as it is in heaven,” by engaging the creative storytelling realm. Art can penetrate the divide between earthly and divine!
In summation, The Four Four is leveraging arts as a vehicle for evangelism. We believe that every human being— believer, atheist, agnostic, etc. is impacted by love, passion, and inspiration, and the arts touch all of that in a powerfully deep way. This is why art is an effective vehicle for preaching the gospel. It’s a language that everybody speaks. Times are dark right now. But if people are open to love, passion, and inspiration, Jesus and the Spirit can get in there and enter through that door!
Everything that Christine says about art rings true in my own experience. Engaging with art has been cathartic for me in different periods of my life.
The first time anxiety was severely impacting my life, I met with a Christian counselor. We worked through my triggers and underlying beliefs in a variety of ways. We prayed, we dug into past trauma, and she also had me create a piece of art that reflected a positive emotion.
I bought a little canvas and created a painting of the bottom branches of my childhood Christmas tree and the tree skirt. I chose this scene because when I was young, I used to slide my upper body underneath the tree and look up at the lights from that perspective.
I absolutely loved the feeling of being encompassed by twinkle lights and Christmas tree branches. I felt safe and full of joy and awe.
I still consider the act of creating that little painting as a memorable part of my healing journey. It should come as no surprise that engaging in creativity accesses parts of our brains that can mitigate stress, anxiety, and depression. God made it so. And thank goodness for that.
Creativity will look different for each one of us, but we are never closer to piercing the veil between heaven and earth than when we create.
With His love,
To connect with Christine and The Four Four, click here.
To connect with Santi, click here.
Ok. Here it is. The issue that has plagued me for the entirety of my adult life as a Christian: how to approach the issue of LGBTQ+ individuals as a believer.
Every June, when the Pride flags are a-flyin’ the message boards light up with the firm divide of whether or not Christians can support gay marriage.
I’m not here to dig my heels into my standpoint. That’s not what God asks of me. As Brian McLaren puts it, “you have to admit that Jesus didn’t say ‘they’ll know you are my disciples by your firm stance on divisive social issues” (13).
But I, and all Christians, also can’t shy away from continuing the conversation with LGBTQIA+ supporters.
No stranger to divisive issues, Martin Luther King Jr., in his famous Letter to Birmingham Jail, discusses the difficult topic of racial injustices in America and concludes “There is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.”
I’m here to lean into the tension regarding those who are proponents of LGBTQIA+ rights and marriage and determine where in fact there is common ground between the two groups.
Holy Spirit, help me uncover even a mustard seed of hope that we can bridge this ever-growing gap of hate and misunderstanding.
After all, Jesus did not say “blessed are the argument winners” but rather “blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5.9).
Much of this blog post is informed by Andrew Marin’s book Love is An Orientation which will be linked at the end of the post.
The main point of contention between Christians who support gay marriage and those who don’t is whether homosexual marriages are considered a sin in the eyes of the Lord.
Proponents of gay marriage who identify as Christian maintain that the laws against homosexual relations are among the antiquated parts of the Bible that no longer need to be observed along with covering one’s head or separating certain foods on the plate. In a letter to her son, openly gay blogger Glennon Doyle Melton confirms this standpoint:
Recently there was some talk in my Bible study about homosexuality being sinful. I quoted Mother Teresa and said, ‘When we judge people we have no time to love them.’I was immediately reprimanded for my blasphemy by a woman who reminded me of 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. But I was confused because this woman was speaking. In church. And she was also wearing a necklace. And I could see her hair, baby. She had no head covering. All of which are sooooo totally against the New Testament Bible Rules. And so I assumed that she had decided not to follow the parts of the Bible that limited her particular freedoms, but to hold fast to the parts that limit the freedoms of others.“A Mountain I’m Willing to Die On”
Melton and others who identify as LGBTQIA+ Christians believe that Jesus would not condemn married homosexual couples who are not having sexual relations outside of that union.
Christians who oppose gay marriage assert that Jesus clearly states that marriage is a covenant between a man and woman and no consideration of context changes that statement.
They respond to the claim that the parts of the Bible that are considered antiquated and should be dismissed by asserting that there is a difference between moral, ceremonial, and civil laws.
Jonathan F. Bayers in his article “The Threefold Division of the Law” explains the following about these three categories of Biblical law:
Traditional Reformed theology has distinguished God’s law revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures into three parts, moral, ceremonial and civil (or judicial).“The Threefold Division of the Law”
He later explains why the moral laws of the Bible are still to be upheld unequivocally:
…the moral element in the law focused on the Ten Commandments is of permanent application, while the ceremonial and civil elements were for the duration of the Old Testament economy only (3).“The Threefold Division of the Law”
Bayers refers to an anecdote to support his argument of the moral law: the Pharisees challenge Jesus over his disciples’ failure to wash their hands as an infraction directly opposed to the commands in Exodus 30:19.
Jesus side-stepped the issue, and turned instead to the fifth commandment. He evidently had different priorities in legal interpretation from the Pharisese. In other words, his concern was moral where theirs was ceremonial (14).“The Threefold Division of the Law”
Traditional Christians maintain that sexual purity within the context of marriage is a moral law, not a civil or ceremonial law to be disregarded with the change of culture.
It is in the issue of sin in which complete agreement will never take place: one group claims it is not a sin and the other does. However, do we continue to spew hate in Instagram comment sections under the guise of defending our position which furthers the divide between LGBTQIA+ and traditional Christians? This would get us nowhere and it drives these individuals further from church.
Marin has a better solution: “I propose a new paradigm: it is possible to disagree and yet still peacefully listen, learn and dialogue so that something significant can happen for the kingdom.” (39). And if you get a chance to read his book, Marin demonstrates how he elevates the conversation with the gay community from vitriolic online comments to genuine listening and compassion.
And here, under the symbol of a holy handshake, let’s see where both factions have common ground to remind us that we are all children of God with a command to love one another.
We need to thwart the idea that homosexual relations are somehow a “special” or “worse” sin than the sins that you and I struggle with daily. The counter-argument given by traditional Christians is that the LGBTQIA+ individual is accepting a life of sin without repentance. I understand that, but I ask this: how is that different than a gossiper who repeatedly and consistently speaks ill of others for the entirety of her life?
We need to stop treating those who identify as homosexuals as something worse than the rest of the sinful congregation.
In Marin’s section on love, he reminds us that “love is being the first one to drop the stone because you know your life and sins are no less than any other” (110).
Let’s work on the logs in our own eyes before working on the planks (or specks!) in another’s (Matt. 7.3-5).
I feel absolutely sick when I hear stories about gay individuals committing suicide because they can’t reconcile their same-sex attraction with the church community and ultimately determine that they belong nowhere and are better off dead. If there’s one place that gay people should feel safe, it’s the church. You better believe that if Jesus were alive today, he would willingly share a meal with people who identify as gay.
Mark 2:16-17 reveals that Jesus accepted everyone in every state of sinfulness: “When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
I will never forget what our late pastor, Dean Rutherford, used to say about sinners in the church; it has become my mantra when talking to those who are fearful to attend: “Church is not a hotel for saints. Church is a hospital for sinners.” Church is a body of people who fall victim to sin time and time again and need other people to love them as they work on turning from their sins.
In his article “How Christians Can Disagree in a Loving Way” Jonathan Merritt includes a testimony from a gay Christian and the response of her pastor.
I came out publicly when I was 17, and remember how horrible I felt leading up to the conversation I was going to have with my pastor, and ultimately my church. And because I live in a small town I knew I was coming out to my whole town at that point too. To my complete shock, the most memorable response I got actually came from my pastor. He said, ‘We are going to learn to overcome hate together. We aren’t going to hate each other. Then we’re going to help our congregation learn to not hate either.“On LGTBQ Issues, How Can Christians Disagree in a Loving Way?”
Hate does not get us anywhere.
I’m reminded of the oft-quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in one of his speeches: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Love has the ability to drive out hate. Let us not forget.
Being attracted to the same sex does not automatically cover heterosexuals from sin. Sin is very much still present in the heterosexual world.
Heterosexual people have sex before marriage– or outside of marriage in affairs. Heterosexual rape is just as horrifying as homosexual rape. Heterosexually-married individuals struggle with addictions to pornography. And perhaps most disturbing, some heterosexual individuals struggle with pedophilia.
The one unfortunate difference between LGBTQ+ who are “out” and heterosexual people who struggle from the heterosexual sins just listed– everyone can see and identify the LGBTQ+’s sexual choices far more than the latter group.
In church, you may be sitting next to a woman who struggles with pornography addicition or a man who is having an affair outside of his marriage. But because their sin is not readily apparent, they do not suffer the same fear of rejection from the church that LGBTQ+ people do.
But where is the very place that all of the above need to be? Church.
Perhaps the most ubiquitous modern example of a self-identified lesbian opposed to gay marriage is Jackie Hill Perry, Christian author and speaker, who renounced her same-sex relationships and is now married to Preston Perry with whom she has four children.
In the article, “Sexuality has Nothing to Do With Salvation” by Nicola Menzie, she reiterates Perry’s self-attested sexual identity: “[Perry] has previously explained that while she loves and enjoys her husband and considers herself ‘functionally heterosexual,’ she remains ‘very much attracted to women.’ […] But believing that God ‘makes us new people’ doesn’t mean Christians are then exempt from struggles and temptations.” Later in the article, Perry punctuates this ideal with the following statement
Yet I love God more than what I am tempted by.Jackie Hill Perry in “Sexuality Has Nothing To Do With Salvation”
In 2022, both sides mainly agree that antiquated “forced conversion therapies” are not a successful way to bring LGBTQIA+ individuals to Christ.
When Billy Graham was seen at a rally supporting Clinton in the middle of his sex scandal, a reporter asked him how he could support Clinton after everything he has done. Graham responded in a beautiful succinct statement: “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”
We are asked to love, yes. We are asked to contend for the faith. But we have absolutely no responsibility to save anyone. That’s God’s job.
Common ground is a start, but how does it inform traditional Christians moving forward?
We don’t have to compromise our convictions to do any of the above things.
To bring this blog post full circle, I’ll nod to Martin Luther Jr. once again by using the closing statement form his famous letter to help me end my meditation on this subject:
If I have said anything in this [post] that is an understatement of the truth, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything in this [post] that is an overstatement of the truth, I beg God to forgive me.King Jr. from “Letter from Birmingham Jail
with His love,
Here is the link to Andrew Marin’s Love is An Orientation which (at the time of this post) is on sale for less than $5!
This is Jessica.
Her drink is coffee with caramel and cream.
Though the enemy tried to thwart this conversation a few times, Jessica and I were able to prevail and connect on Zoom one quiet spring morning to talk about step-parenting.
Jessica must get a lot of Brady Bunch jokes in her current situation: she and her husband both brought three children to their marriage making them parents of six. Collectively they have children aged 7 years to 19 years old. And five years ago, when they blended their families, Jessica found herself without guidance for navigating such a difficult life stage.
Though Jessica had started dental school, she recently made the weighty decision to step away from that and, as she termed it, “reset the tone” of the household. Having half of one’s children as step-children must present daily–if not hourly– challenges. She sat down with me in the throes of a busy life season to tell me all about it.
“We know that divorce isn’t God’s design. We have free will and made our own choices and now we have to deal with the results of those choices. It isn’t God’s design for us to have a split family engaging in co-parenting, but here we are and we need to do the best we can from here.
The biggest challenge in step-parenting is knowing my place when it comes to the relationship with my stepchildren. These kids have gone through the heartache of divorce, the confusion of accepting a new parent into their lives, and the sudden onset of new siblings. And stepkids are often stuck in the middle of mom and dad wondering can I like my stepmom? Should I not like her? It’s not that their biological mother is telling them not to like me, yet there is some sort of unspoken loyalty and taking to me may feel like a betrayal. I understand that. I also understand as a mother how it can hurt to give up a little bit of your child to someone else.
So my role is this: to help heal their hearts. My stepchildren have been through something really tough and they are likely still aching from these events. I am not their mom; they have a mom. I am not their dad; they have a dad. I am a guardian who can offer love and support as they navigate this new future.
And don’t get me wrong, parenting pre-teens and teens is not easy even in typical households. I frequently default to Proverbs 15:1 ‘A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.’ I am here to build all of my children up with gentle dialogue, not to break them down by reacting out of my flesh.”
“If I were to offer advice to parents who are about to have step-children it would be this: bolster your marriage. A strong marriage is required to withstand some of the storms that occur with blended families. Put God first, then your spouse, and then your children.
God’s design is to have the spousal relationship before your parent-child relationship. I know this stance is not culturally popular, but if you are not strong in your marriage, how can you two be strong for your children? Pray together. Talk about the kids. Build that solid foundation for your kids that they may not have always had in the past.
Step-parents, accept that this situation is complicated. There are going to be hard times. You are going to make mistakes. You have to give yourself some grace.
Create healthy boundaries. It will be tempting to want your stepkids to like you and think you are cool and fun, but that’s not actually what you or they need. You need to develop firm relational boundaries from the start that indicate that you are going to make decisions that keep them as healthy and safe as possible.
When respect is established, the fondness will follow.
And lastly, getting to know your new extended family and building relationships is so important. When divorce happens, there is also a wider range of people stepping in. So you are parenting not only with your ex-spouse or your new spouse, but with grandparents and aunts and cousins who swoop in to help (for better or worse). The stronger you can make these kids’ tribe, the better.”
“When my three step-children moved in, I looked around for help and I wasn’t really finding it, so I had to just figure it out.
There are so many blended families in the church and yet they are never talked about. And ironically, If we really consider Jesus’ earthly family, we must recognize that Jesus was raised by a stepfather– Joseph. And yet there is still no conversation about it in our churches.
What we need is to hear the truth from other step-parents.
My goal is to write a book that is a collection of stories from step-parents–the good, the bad, and the ugly. We need to know that we are not alone.
Someday, it would be cool to see a ‘stepmother’ and ‘stepfather’ version of these books because men in particular have even fewer resources for this kind of thing.
Last but not least, churches could start a support group for blended families to come together and pray through some of these issues.”
Jessica concluded our discussion with the statement that a step-parent has the potential to have so much impact on a child’s life.
In fact, Jessica’s own father is technically her stepfather and she has had such a wonderful relationship with him. In fact, for her 37th birthday this year, she asked him to adopt her officially.
Christianity is nothing if it is not about redemption and second chances. Though blended families have had their share of hardship, it does not have to end there– that would be like the crucifixion without the resurrection.
I am so grateful to Jessica for sharing her heart and story about being a mother in a blended Christian household and trailblazing the way for future families to find Christian support in this situation.
With His love,
To connect with Jessica, click here to be taken to her Instagram profile.
The day I Zoomed with Bethany Kimsey, I was sick with COVID and quarantined in the smallest bedroom of the house (the preschooler’s room). I sat there in his wooden-railed twin bed, appearing on the Zoom image like I had just done hard time in the state penitentiary.
There was something about Bethany’s big heart for the gospel and her charming Southern expressions like “it’s a real slippery pig” that made me feel like I was transported from my sick bed onto her porch with a glass of iced tea.
I expected that Bethany and I would talk about motherhood since Bethany is a proud mother of eight children (yep… not a typo)–and that we did. But I also left our conversation with such helpful and practical advice for how to handle the everyday challenges of a mother with the gospel as our guide.
“When I attended Baylor University, Louis Giglio (of Passion Church) was the college minister and was a huge proponent of life-on-life ministry in the discipleship sense.
Discipleship is something much deeper than just sitting at a Bible Study table. At its core, discipleship is the act of sharing my life with you to the extent you are willing to hear, and you sharing your life with me to the extent that you are willing to share.
The effects of life-sharing are support, encouragement, prayer-covering, wisdom, guidance, counsel, and an open invitation to ask questions. Living a life of discipleship means you are investing in–and actively pouring into–another follower of Jesus.
There are clear examples in scripture of what it means to walk relationally with one another like when Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess 5.11).
As I grew into adulthood and then parenthood, I’ve developed a passion to walk with other mothers in discipleship. And I suppose the passion for motherhood makes sense– I have children ranging from 5 years to 21 years of age.
And now, with 25 years of experience discipling women, I think that there are still many women out there who don’t understand true discipleship and so they don’t even know to hunger for it. It’s a shame because there is a huge need for this relational community concept especially in our current culture.”
“My heartbeat in whatever I do– whether it’s in my writing, my social media content, or my involvement at women’s conferences–I want these ladies to understand how to marry the good news of the gospel with their everyday lives. From what I’ve seen, most of the women I disciple to have a good handle of Biblical knowledge, but the knowledge often sits stagnant and isn’t readily applied to their life circumstances.
In other words, young mothers know and understand the truth of the gospel but they haven’t allowed it to seep into their current experiences.
And it’s understandable that there is a disconnect. Where does the gospel come into play when my toddler is tantruming in the middle of the grocery store? Where does the gospel come into play when my teenager tells me that they don’t believe in Christ anymore?
Mothering is a holy invitation though it doesn’t always feel like it.
Raising Christian children can often be misinterpreted as a bit of a checklist: make sure they know the Bible stories, make sure they go to church, etc. And this, in fact, may be a byproduct of being American; we are conditioned to seek the end result and to get things done.
What is the end result to raising children? We hear ‘get them to 18 and get them out of the house.’ But that’s not what God intends for our parenting journey to look like.
I want to be able to reach our children in meaningful ways; you know, not just slinging a ‘Jesus Juke’ at them (i.e. Jesus teaches us to be kind to one another! Knock it off!). I am as guilty as anyone to slapping a scripture onto a problem without remembering the heart of the gospel.
It is much more important for us to walk side-by-side with our children through life and using the gospel as our guide through every sticky situation.
I want women to understand that even in the most tedious, mundane situations like wrestling with a child over bedtime, we can remember the truths of the gospel to reframe our situations.”
“Our natural reaction to discord with our children is often, ‘You know better than this!’ or ‘I have told you this 14 million times!’” Now, don’t be fooled into thinking that I am preaching from a high horse. I have messed up as many times as any other mom. I have reacted out of my flesh. I have weakened relationships. I have condemned out of shame. It is but the mercy of our God who guides me every day. He is patient with me even when I mess up several times in a row.
Now, the unpleasant feelings in and of themselves are normal. We are human. We give ourselves grace if we react out of our flesh.
But a better approach is to reframe through the lens of the gospel. Before I talk to my child, I
need to do the 5-min bathroom reframe (Free PDF printable included below).
First, I separate us. I put the child in a safe place where he/she can experience quiet (not the same as time-out; this is not a punishment), and then I do the same for myself. I like to use my Master bathroom as a quiet space for a few minutes. When we are quiet, we are going to have a much better chance of hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.
I spend a few moments sitting with the Lord to examine what is going on inside of me and how it might need to be adjusted. There is so much purpose in the pause. There’s so much that God can do when we take that pause.
In fact, I created a reminder to myself for these very moments. I wrote out the process of the reframe and taped it to my bathroom mirror.
This reframe can set our hearts free. A battle was just waged. The Spirit has helped me reframe what might have gone the enemy’s way.”
Feel free to download this graphic and add to your bathroom mirror just like Bethany has done.
“You know, we live in a culture that tells us that what we feel is our truth. But feelings come and go and don’t necessarily reflect our truths at all. So allowing the feelings to be processed is important, but our truth in the Lord is an anchor despite the crashing waves of feelings.”
It is sage guidance like this 5-minute bathroom reframe that mothers would glean from having a mentor like Bethany to disciple to them. Finding a local women’s Bible Study or MOPS group may allow you to either learn from someone further down the parenting road, or pour into someone who is not quite as far as you are.
Let us not leave alone the women who are in the throes of these spiritual and parenting battles. Strength in numbers, mamas.
Sometimes I wish I weren’t so achievement-driven. While I am a fairly motivated person, I also come down really hard on myself when I don’t think I have achieved enough.
Cue December 2021. I have been reflecting on the past year of the Stone and the Oak, and my first response was to criticize myself for all I didn’t do.
I set the lofty goal of reading half of the Old Testament in a meaningful way, and then… well, it didn’t happen in its entirety. I read all five books of the Torah along with Job, Hosea, and most of the Psalms, but I did not get to the history books of the OT that I had hoped.
We had an unexpected season of turning our home into a rental property and then moving into a rental of our own which was a multi-month endeavor.
Regardless, my inclination is to wallow in all that I didn’t achieve. In fact, I almost started down the road of beating myself up (figuratively of course) so I am here to intentionally catalog all that I did in fact do in the Spirit of the Kingdom this year.
I hope you see something here that is helpful to you in your current walk.
I wrote up a post for anyone struggling to read the Bible in a meaningful way. Not all Bible plans work for everyone. Here is what works for me:
I did a little bit of investigation on one phrase in the Abraham and Isaac passage that I found to be poignant. Fellow Bible Nerds, have a look:
I learned a lot as I worked my way through the Torah this year. Each image corresponds with a post on my Instagram feed:
I had the privilege of Zooming with six incredible women of God from around the world for Bibles-open, mugs-full chats about what is on their hearts. I left each chat feeling equally impressed with my new friends and inspired to heed their sage advice.
Brenna is a sweet and enthusiastic young woman who speaks candidly on the topic of premarital sex. In our chat, she discusses her lack of information and guidance on sex and how informing our Christian teens about temptation and purity can equip them for sexual struggles. Click here to read my chat with Brenna.
Through the Joyful Life Magazine, I met Aimée Walker who I am proud to now call a dear friend. In our chat, she offers encouragement for discernment in our current season and obedience to what God asks us to do in it. Click here to read my chat with Aimée.
Another sweet friend made through the Joyful Life community, Vicki Bentley and I decided we are kindred spirits. In our chat, she offers four powerful steps in lessening anxiety when it hits. Click here to read my chat with Vicki.
Deidre is the sweetest mom of two little ones, and in our chat she reflects on the toughest 18 months of her life and considers what God is doing when he allows destruction. Click here to read my chat with Deidre.
Another new friend through the JL community, Carina Alanson, details her own struggle to find clarity in purpose and to discern her calling in Christ. Now, she offers a course to help others, like herself, determine their purpose and callings. Click here to read my chat with Carina.
Christian speaker and mother of five, Erica Renaud, discusses her upcoming book on developing prayer in children and offers some practical tools for getting started. Click here to read my chat with Erica.
His Wear is a response to Luke 9.26: (Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory). Our response is that we are His— we are His creation, His disciples, and His loved ones— and we are not ashamed to claim this identity.
To read more about the development of His Wear, click the image:
The beautiful photos for the line are taken by the amazing Ashley of Ashley Norton Photography (click here to be sent to her website).
And if you’d like to browse the shop, click here. In fact, for being a blog reader, use the code STOAKED20 for 20% off!
In 2021, The Joyful Life Magazine brought me on as a blog contributor to their DIY section. I wrote up five seasonal DIY posts and was able to have two articles published in the print magazine.
My favorite part? Getting to know so many different Christian writers and creatives. I absolutely adore working with my DIY partner, Loralie Hoffort, who is a very talented photographer.
I will be continuing my partnership with the JL for 2022!
Last but certainly not least, some of the most impactful experiences of the last year grew out of collaborations with fellow women of God.
I contributed a story on hearing the voice of God in Marnie Hammar’s Hear Him Louder series. Click the image to read how God spoke to me in the midst of crippling postpartum anxiety (and then check out the rest of Marnie’s powerful series).
I was invited by Twyla Franz to add a post to her gratitude series: Begin Within. In it, I ask the question: can gratitude lessen anxiety?
Aimée Walker, founder of the Devoted Collective, asked me if I would come on to the podcast to speak about being a Christian with mental illness. I said yes in a heartbeat and was able to have another friend, Ellie DiJulio, as my co-interviewee. Click the image to give it a listen:
Aimée Walker does it again! In addition to launching The Devoted Collective, Aimée compiled a book on prayers for our children. I am honored to have a prayer for spiritual armor against pornography included in this beautiful bound collection. Click the image to check out the book:
My dear friend Ann-Marie and I co-hosted an advent book club in which we guided readers through John Piper’s The Dawning of Indestructible Joy. It was a joyous collaboration!
Let there be no confusion: we do not get into heaven by works. There is no earning our way into heaven— that ticket was bought by Jesus alone. I could have done none of the above and still— I will find my home in heaven by the grace and mercy of God.
However, as a follower of Jesus, I believe my spiritual gifts should be used for the Kingdom. We are saved by grace through faith in order to do good works for the Lord.
But in terms of taking stock of your year, I hope you’ll learn from my mistake and focus on what you did do rather than what you didn’t do.
All the best of God’s blessings for you in 2022,