How to Activate the Word of God

When I was a young Christian I knew I should be reading the Bible. I believed it was "the truth," and that I should be obeying what it had to say. I embraced that mind frame early on, by the grace of God, but I didn't know how to activate it, or actually make it make a difference in my life. I know (because you tell me) that many of you struggle with the same issue:

"I believe God's word is true, but now what? How do I take it from just being a book of words to truly changing my life?"

We can go to God's word with expectation—expecting to hear from Him, expecting the words on the page to transform our hearts.

First of all, it's important to note that the Bible is unlike any other book out there. It's not just a book of good stories about men and women who gave their lives to an important cause. Those books are valuable (I read them to my boys every day in school) and help us aspire to being a better person, but they're not like the Bible.

The Bible is alive.

The words we read on the pages of our Bibles are living, active, and the very breath of God. The Bible is actually "activated" even if we don't choose to embrace its benefits in our lives, because the words have the power to change from the inside out, "piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

What does that mean?

God gets you. He knows you. He understands you. And because He calls Himself the Word (John 1:1), we know that in some miraculous way, the words we're reading aren't just from God, they are God.

Knowing this, we can go to God's word with expectation—expecting to hear from Him, expecting the words on the page to transform our hearts. But so many Christians still struggle to feel anything when they read God's word. It just doesn't seem true to them because they don't experience anything when they read it—especially in the hard times of life.

Before we jump into the hows of activating the word of God in your life, I want to say this: what you feel and what is true may be two different things. Just because I sometimes feel abandoned by God, doesn't mean I am. His word tells me He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5), so when I find myself feeling abandoned, I have to choose to believe I'm not. Most of the time, when I make that choice, my feelings will soon follow the choice of my heart.

How to Activate the Word of God in Your Life

1. Open it

When my oldest son first started playing the fiddle, he wasn't very good. He was pretty terrible the next day, too, and even a few weeks after his first lesson. He learned to play Twinkle, Twinkly Little Star pretty quickly, but little violins have terrible sound quality, so he still sounded pretty bad.

Now, almost five years later, he's performed Ode to Joy in front of 500 people with his little brother and is gearing up to compete in a local fiddler's convention this summer.

Get in the habit of spending daily time in your Bible, even if it's just to read a Psalm and a Proverb. It may not come easily, but just as my son needed time spent practicing his instrument to improve, we need time in the word of God to begin trusting that it's true.

2. Know it

As you spend more and more time reading your Bible you'll see something amazing start to happen! You'll find yourself thinking about or living in a certain situation when a verse you just read (that applies to what you're going through) will pop in your head! That's God! That's the word being alive and active in you! And it's amazing.

I can't count the number of times I've been comforted by a verse at just the right time. Whether God drops it in my heart, or the heart of a friend, He chooses to use His word to comfort, correct, sustain, and build us right when we need it most.

But if we don't open it, and don't know it, that won't happen.

3. Speak it

When I was younger I battled fear. One of the ways I went to war against this attack of the enemy was to speak God's word out loud, and even though God has given me a significant measure of healing in this area, I still speak Bible verses out loud when I'm afraid.

My favorites are Psalm 4:8 and Psalm 23:4

"In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety" (this one gets spoken when I'm trying to fall asleep), and "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (I use this one when I'm walking into a dark house alone and feel threatened). 

Sometimes, I even just say Jesus' name out loud, because it's the name above all names (Philippians 2:9-11) and is mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:17).

Speaking a verse or two out loud—whether you're afraid, or confused, or hurt—reminds us of what's true, and has the power to make peace settle in ours hearts.

4. Use it

Ya'll know about my fascination with sticky notes, right? If you come to my house, you'll see them all over. Written on them are Bible verses that focus my attention on Jesus, and help me remember what's true. I have them strategically placed in the house where I need them most. For example, there's one in the bathroom to remind me that my greatest need is Jesus. Why? Because the bathroom is where I tend to go when I want to lock myself away.

I also have my favorite scriptures printed out and framed around our house. I use them as reminders and as prayers. When I walk by my sons' room, I pray Psalm 92:4 because it's hanging in a frame outside their room. These are simple, inexpensive ways to fill our hearts (ours and our family's) with the word of God. I can't necessarily afford those beautiful framed scriptures from my local Christian bookstore, but I can afford a $5 frame from Walmart, and a little ink from my printer.

5. Love it

This one may be the most important of all, because loving God's word starts with loving Him. If we don't have a deep sense of gratitude and love for God, we won't love His word.

How do we "fall in love" with God? For me, it's a simple matter of remembering all He sacrificed for me while I was still stuck in sin (Romans 5:8). I'm so grateful for forgiveness from my sin, so grateful that I'm not who I was, so grateful to have right standing before the Lord, so grateful that I can call on Him, so grateful that He sees me and loves me, so grateful that He protects me and provides for grateful that all I can do is love Him.

Because of that, I want to know Him, know His character and His ways, to the best of my ability. I love His word, the Bible, because it's how I get to know Him better and learn about His great love for me.

The Bible has amazing power to transform our lives when we open it, know it, speak it, use it, and love it. Why wait?


What is an Extraordinary Life?

What does it take to go from ordinary to extraordinary? How does a life go from boring to beautiful? What does it require to live a life in passionate pursuit of God, His plan, His purpose?

I've been pondering these questions for quite some time now, and I think the answers might surprise you.

I say it requires an even greater degree of faith to stare down deep into the eyes of the ordinary and call it extraordinary. There seems to be a push among Christians to "do something big" for the Kingdom of God. Rightfully so—with children starving, women being raped, babies being forcefully aborted, and families drinking sludge instead of clean water.

Clearly, there is much work—good work—to be done, and I'm not against any of it. My family is passionate about supporting our local Crisis Pregnancy Center, the MOB Society is gearing up to support a missionary through Wycliffe Bible Translators, and I give my time and words as often as I can to those without the Bible in their own heart language as a support to the Seed Company. I love the work of Freeset Global, and I kind of help run this online ministry for mothers of boys.

All of these are good, necessary, worthwhile things.

They're real. The people they serve are real. The needs are real. Some of the situations are desperate—life and death—and require deep personal sacrifice to make even the smallest of changes.

I admit, as I've read the stories of the people whose very lives are changed through these ministries—some coming to know Christ for the first time—I've been moved to action. I've watched as women I admire travel abroad, bringing attention to those who need our care and love and money so very much, and thought, "that must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life!" Traveling, seeing, spreading the word so that others can get involved.

I've listened as Christian writers and speakers passionately share the Word of God in front of thousands, changing the lives of countless people for the better, and thought, "that must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life!" Studying, training, offering pure hearts so that others can know the truth.

I've watched from afar as millions of women gathered together because "what if?" What if they could change the world and make all those bad things go away in Jesus' Name? And I've thought to myself, "that must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life!" Thinking, brainstorming, creating ways to help others get involved and think outside of the boxes of our individual expressions of faith.

I've read stories about women whose words light up the screen with passion for freeing women to serve in the church, lead, grow, and be everything Jesus died for them to be and thought, "that must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life!" 

A life that really matters. A life that's truly beautiful. A life spent for God's glory. Those things...they must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life.

And yet...

And yet as a mom—just a simple, stay-at-home mama—who works from her office that doubles as a homeschool room, and who has to move that plastic globe (the one she uses most weeks to teach her boys that the world is much bigger than what they can see) hanging from the window out of the way so you can't see it on a home grown video—I sometimes look at these world changers and am tempted to think my own efforts fall sadly short of the extraordinary. 


The mom who says, "love others more than you love yourself" for the 100th time in one day...

Who does the dishwasher for the second time in 24 hours...

Who struggles just to find a second to wash her hair...

Who puts the work that means the world to her on hold because that little one needs to hear he's loved one more time...

Who prays and prays and begs God to move in something so very small, and notices He seems to be interested in bigger things...

Who asks God daily to give her joy in the mundane, to keep her from losing her mind as siblings fight over nothing AGAIN...

Her life can feel a little like that plastic globe hanging from the window—with a glimpse of the most extraordinary things so far away—the things yet to be seen, yet to be fixed—and the ordinary staring her in the face, leaving her feeling like her contribution to the world isn't all that important.

And I wonder when motherhood lost its extraordinary.

Not that the people in foreign lands, or even right down the street, don't need someone to come to them in Jesus' Name, but that the people right under our noses, and all the sacrifice required to love them well, need us just as much.

When did encouraging women to "love their husbands and children, be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands..." become passe'? When did we stop believing that a call to motherhood, loving one man, service in our homes, and sacrifice for the sake of raising godly children was truly extraordinary? When did we start believing that there had to be something more, something bigger, something more important to qualify us for the extraordinary?

Motherhood IS extraordinary...

But it's often unseen. Unnoticed. And the change it evokes in the lives of generations upon generations—while having the potential to impact the Kingdom in untold deep and profound ways—is slow, tedious, and requires diligence and patience and, after day, after day.

There aren't blog posts written about the reality of life in the motherhood intended to raise money for those feeling helpless in its trenches. And there's no glory in the calling to bring forth life until that child rises up and calls us blessed...IF that child rises up and calls us blessed.

But I say it requires an even greater degree of faith to stare down deep into the eyes of the ordinary and call it extraordinary. 

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Not that our command to "go therefore, and preach the Gospel to all nations" shouldn't cause some of us to physically go. It should, and it will, and there will be big sacrifices required of some to obey the call. Not that we shouldn't go if we get the call, just that those of us not called to go there should be deemed extraordinary here, and that going to the nations should include the little heathens at home.

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Here, in the throes of dirty diapers, runny noses, selfish hearts, bratty brothers, and sinful, slothful, needy, sometimes unloving children. Here, in the throes of sometimes thankless marriages. Here, in the throes of important callings that play second fiddle to that which is even more important—loving our families well. Extraordinary here, regardless of what's happening there.

Mama, your life—with all it's ups and downs, starts and stops, victories and defeats, praises and heartbreaks—is extraordinary. You don't need to add anything else to your to-do list to be beautiful. You can passionately pursue God, His plan, and His purpose right where you are with the people group who need to hear the Gospel from you most.

All the little ways you serve, sacrifice, believe, pray, share, and love...all added up together make you extraordinary. You are nothing short of extraordinary, and God says that's enough.

*Note: Please don't think this blog post is intended to make fun of or downplay foreign missions, or the important work of ministries seeking to help those in great need. It's not. It's simply meant to remind moms that their work is just as important, albeit overlooked—and that most of the time, loving their families well is the biggest thing of all.

Here's where I am...

It's been a while... And I just wanted you to know that I'm still here. I've been working hard to hear from the Lord recently, asking Him to be so very clear in the path He has for me. He's been faithful, and I've been taking notes like a crazy woman!

In addition, my family is gearing up for a run of speaking engagements over the summer, and there's a remote possibility that my husband might be speaking with me at one of them. We'll be sharing about how to fight for those hard-to-handle boys, and we've been asking the Lord what, if anything, he should contribute to the session. He's an Appalachian-style storyteller, you guys, and while he's confident among friends, he's a bit hesitant to share his gift publicly. So we'll see. But let's just say that if he comes out of the background, I may lose my job!

I've been honing some messages the Lord has on my heart for these sessions, asking Him exactly what to share with those of you who will be there, and to minister the truth of His Word to me, too. Cause I'm still a mom in the trenches, who needs to #ChooseHope as much as the next mom. So I'm here, fighting alongside you, pressing into the Lord for hope and watching Him fulfill my prayer for 2014 in incredible ways.

If you're interested in where I'm speaking this year, there's a fun schedule in the right sidebar. Just scroll down a bit and you'll see it. Hope to see you there!

We Will Be Hope Warriors

When my two uncles, friend, aunt, grandfather, and baby all died in a six year period it occurred to me that it might be easy to lose hope. I didn't lose it easily for other people. I still prayed for good things in the lives of my friends, and I still asked the Lord to move in situations outside of our family. But I did struggle with wondering if God had decided not to be good to me anymore. During that season—many, many times during that season—I wrestled with a persistent feeling of expectant grief and lost hope.

Like I was waiting for the next sucker punch of life.

I lived that way—like the next major loss was hiding around the bend—for several years. Even smaller losses crumbled me, like totaling my car, or losing our beloved English Bulldog, and in many ways, I felt like God was being silent. I couldn't hear Him well, my times with Him in His Word were dry, and when I wrote here in this space it was raw and fragile. I wore weariness like a straight-jacket, all bundled up inside of my low expectations and heartfelt disappointment.

Thankfully, things have changed.

I'm still easily emotional. I still have a gut response to take things personally, and I still wonder how God can seem so far away even when He says He's so close. But in the last two years I've realized the secret behind why a man (or woman) can say of the Lord, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him (Job 13:15, ESV).

Hope is a Choice

Weariness is a feeling. Grab onto that for a second with me?

Today, I choose hope. I will be a Hope Warrior, and fight for it with everything I have.

Hope is a choice. Weariness is a feeling. 

Feelings can lie, and they don't have to direct our lives. But we women, we get a little feisty when someone tells us our feelings are wrong, don't we? We say things like, "don't tell me how to feel," and, "I can't change the way I feel!" But the truth is, if our feelings don't match up with the Word of God, something needs to change. Only one source can be 100% right, and I've walked this road long enough now to know that when I feel the most right, I'm probably wrong—in presentation, if not in truth.

If my feelings and the Bible don't match up, what needs to change? Me.

Here's where the application comes...

During my season of grief, I often felt like God wasn't there, like He didn't see me, didn't hear my prayers, didn't care. But the Bible says all of those feelings I had were wrong. It doesn't negate my feelings to know they're wrong—I very much felt alone, and unheard, even a bit unloved—the Bible simply tells me a different story.

God loves me, hears me, sees me, and yes, is fighting for me, even if I can't see it. 

I believe it's true, because God's Word says it's true. And it's that simple truth that kept me from staying in a place of perpetual hopelessness.

"I'm not trying to say our emotions are always wrong or that we don’t have a right to our own feelings. Sometimes our emotions are very good, alerting us to danger, or revealing a deeper issue within our own hearts that needs attention, healing, and the grace of God. But they certainly can be wrong . . . or at least in need of tweaking. God gave us emotions as a barometer—they tell us both what's happening in our hearts and in our surroundings. Sometimes, they're right on the money, but more often than not, they need to come under the authority of the Word of God." (From How to Control Your Emotions, So They Don't Control You: A Mom's Guide to Overcoming).

Oh, my weary friend, I know you feel like giving up sometimes. I know you feel like God is far away, and that maybe He doesn't really care about what you're going through. But it simply isn't true. He sent His Son to die for you, to prove His love, and really, what more could He sacrifice to prove it than to give up Himself? He loves you...and today?

Today, I'd like to start a hope revolution.

A movement that says, "WE WILL CHOOSE HOPE! We will be hope warriors—fighting, clinging, desperately holding to the truth of God's Word that says He loves us, and is fighting for us, even when we can't see it or feel it."

Why could Job choose hope? Because He knew who God was. He trusted God's character in spite of great loss, great disappointment, great grief. He chose to believe in things unseen, and trust in truth over feelings. We can, too.

We can fight for hope with everything we have. And as we choose to believe what God's Word says about our lives over what our circumstances tell us, no matter how horrible they are at the moment (remember the story of Job), we'll find that our feelings will follow suit. I don't write this as a woman who has never known pain, or heart-wrenching loss. I write it as a woman who knows loss and disappointment, and has come out on the other side.

This is the secret to joy in the midst of pain. This is the secret to overcoming on a daily basis. This is the secret to finding, and keeping, hope.

Today, I choose hope. I will be a Hope Warrior, and fight for it with everything I have. I hope you'll join me. (<<---Tweet that!)

Pray with me, friend?

Jesus, help me. I do believe, Lord, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24)! Sometimes, when I just can't see You, or feel You near, I lose hope. But today, with your help, I choose hope. I will be a Hope Warrior. Help me fight for it with everything I have. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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Why a Weary Mom Can Keep Fighting

I had a fight at obscene-thirty in the morning. Maybe it was because I was alone in the hotel room, and felt vulnerable. Or maybe it was because I'd had my breath taken away with an insult two days before, and was fighting to hear the word of God over hurtful words. Or maybe it was just that I held the weight of 120 women in my heart who had come to us for hope.

Whatever the reason, I was in a fight with the enemy of my soul at about 5:30 in the morning and I was determined to win.

I'd spent the day before telling mamas not to give keep fighting for their children. During my Hope for the Weary Mom talk with Stacey Thacker, I'd shared the story of how God told me my children needed someone to fight for them, and that He'd chosen that person to be me. It's a powerful story...I know it is because it's one of my most tweeted posts here...and one that He reminds me of every time I throw my hands up in the air and want to quit.

Brooke and Stacey in NY

But there I was, lying in the bed, feeling the temptation to quit fighting. 

I've fought the fiery darts of the enemy for a lifetime—fear of being hurt, fear of rejection, fear of failure. But the difference between now and ten years ago is that I know what to do with it.

Fight Anyway

It occurred to me though, as I laid there in the bed telling the enemy where to go, that I hadn't told those mamas who filled up the chairs, packed the floor, sat in the closet, and spilled out the doors into the hallway during our session, why they can keep fighting.

It's one thing to tell her to keep fighting. But when a mama is having her moment...when she's done, deflated, depressed, and ready to denounce motherhood altogether...she needs to know why she can. Because it doesn't feel like she can (<<---Tweet that!)

Why can a mama keep fighting for her children, even when every ounce of her fight is gone?

She can fight for her children, because God is fighting for her. 

"And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14 ESV

Do you remember what it felt like to have your mom or dad cup your face in their hands and tell you they believed in you? Or maybe a good friend just looked you in the eyes one day and said, "I've got your back."

It's kind of like that, only much better, because this time, the person who's on your side, fighting for you in ways you can't even understand, is God Almighty—the one who loved you so much He let His Son suffer and die in your place.

  • When you're convinced that thing you just did is going to be the thing your daughter talks about with her therapist later in life, He's fighting for you, giving you strength to go ask for forgiveness.
  • When you can't imagine going back in that house, back to the noise, back to the bickering, back to the same thing every single day...He's fighting for you, giving you energy to open the door.
  • When that loved one sucker-punches you with words meant to crucify, not edify, He's fighting for you, making His word and His heart available to help you choose the truth.
  • When you're scared and vulnerable, He's fighting for you, protecting you within His will.

God is on your side. He loves you. You're the apple of His eye. He's got your back.

So you keep fighting, mama, because the God of the universe is fighting for you

Pray with me, friend?

Lord, sometimes I want to quit fighting altogether. I don't know why life has to be so hard, or why people have to be so mean, but I know You're there fighting with me, for me, and in me to give me hope and the strength to be victorious. Help me to never give up. In Jesus' Name, amen.

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P.S. I stole that photo from Stacey's IG account, but I know she doesn't care. And yes, we've been told we look a little alike in it. We think it's the glasses.