for heavy burdens :)

I’m still in Isaiah 58 🙂 Want to visit this passage with me again?

Is not this the fast that I have chosen:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the heavy burdens,
and to let the oppressed go free,
    and break every yoke? (Is. 58:6 NKJV)


I can imagine the oxen hooked up to this yoke. I imagine it is already heavy and uncomfortable, even before it is hooked to its load.

Such powerful words. In response, I prayed to my Father: “Lord, I do pray for bonds to be loosed, burdens to be eased, oppression to open to freedom, yokes broken…. I pray that You would show up and accomplish what we cannot accomplish without You on our side.  I pray that we would have the boldness to step out in faith and confidence, moving us forward to the very thing You are calling us toward…..”

your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard 

The phrase “your righteousness shall go before you” made my curiosity spark. That pronoun “your” wasn’t referring to the Lord, wasn’t referring to something belonging to Him.  That pronoun “your” was referring to me, to something belonging to me.  MY righteousness. My go-to is my old Strong’s Concordance when I want to dig, so here’s what I found there:

righteousness: Strong’s #6664: justice, rightness, what is right or just normal

(Let’s not skim over this phrase from the Strong’s: “what is right or just normal”.  You know, what is found in the Word of God is what is normal and right – we ought to get used to this prescribed way of right-living until it is our normal too!)

from Strong’s #6663: to be right, to make right, to cleanse, clear self, be or do justice, be or do rightly

Made me think: if it is MY righteousness that will clear the path before me, and if I believe my righteousness is rooted in the Lord…. As I do the next right thing, obeying the Lord, doing the best I can with the insight and knowledge I have, continuing to grow in Him – then the path is being cleared before me.  Seeking the Lord more fervently makes the path more clear. As I am doing what is right, I am believing the the Lord to cover my back (be my “rear guard” like 58:8 tells me). I am believing the Lord to come when I call.  I am believing the Lord to break yokes and free oppressive situations in my life and relieve heavy burdens.

That’s MY part: growing and going in righteousness.  The Lord’s part is ALL the other benefits there.  🙂

The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail (58:11)

I returned to prayer, with a little more desire to see the Truth of the Word come alive in my life: “Lord, I pray to You because I am in desperate need of Your continual guidance.  When I am in drought, even now, I need to BE a spring of water. I don’t only need to HAVE a spring, I need to BE the spring, rushing waters of life coming from Your fullness in me.  Lord, You know where I am bound.  Lord, You know where I am oppressed.  Lord, You know where I am yoked up in something You didn’t ordain in my life.”

Thinking about unhealthy yokes and burdens, thinking about being entangled, bound in areas where I was not meant to be bound, it came to me: It is a wrong thought to expect the Lord to send blessing to an area He did not ordain.  The Lord’s blessing begins at obedience. The Lord will not yoke Himself to our mistakes or to our past.

If your burden is heavy, it may be that you are in a season of growth and the Lord is there with you. Continue practicing righteousness, trusting Him to be there when you call, trusting Him to have your back.  He will give you strength and He will give you peace. However, there’s another side: if your burden is heavy, it may be that you have taken on something that God did not ordain in your life.  If this is the case, have the boldness to step away from it, ask forgiveness if you need to, and draw on the Lord’s strength to turn back to the right path.

If our burden is heavy, it is time to evaluate the burden.  Ask yourself and be honest: did God tell you to carry this burden? Is God giving you grace for this hardship? Sometimes the load is heavy AND the Lord is gracious to you AND you know you are making progress.  A struggle can be good for us.  A struggle can help us grow.  The presence of a struggle does not mean the absence of the Lord.

However – sometimes the load is heavy and while the Lord is present (He’s always with you), He is not necessarily yoking Himself to the burden. Why not?  Perhaps you have taken on a burden that was not yours to carry.  Perhaps God did not ask you to labor under that thing, He did not assign those people to you, He did not ask you to accrue that debt or make that investment, He did not ask you to make those commitments….. ideas that were GOOD, but were not necessarily GOD.

Being able to evaluate your burden, and being able to either trust the Lord in it or let it go entirely – that’s not easy.  Being yoked with God is a treasure.  Praying you find that balance today –

Jennifer ❤



for every action :)

Newton’s third law of physics states, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.  No disrespect at all to Mr. Newton, but did you ever think how the laws of man, even the laws of physics, don’t apply to God?



The benefits and “up sides” of serving the Lord are many. God is generous and kind to us. I love Isaiah 58 – I read it and think about it often. Read this piece of the passage – I emphasized a few important words not be missed:

“If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday” (Isaiah 58:9b-10)

The “if“s are my part – those are things that I need to be careful to do consistently.

“The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail” (Isaiah 58:11)


The “then“s and the “and“s are the Lord’s part.  If I do this, then He will do that and that. There’s always an “and” with the Lord – He’s all about addition and growth and increase!

We don’t have to perform in order to be worthy of God’s love – He loves us already, just like we are.  However, just like showing up at work and doing your job daily is key to benefits like paychecks and health insurance, obedience to God is key to receiving spiritual benefits.

You know what stands out to me the most today?  There are way more “then“s and “and“s than there are “if“s.  If I do a few things, the Lord will do LOTS of things.  If I “take away the yoke from my midst” (that means if I will release the people around me from the pressure/oppression of meeting my demands, do my best to operate in graciousness and peace), if I take away “the pointing of the finger” (if I refuse to play the “blame game”), if I stop “speaking wickedness” (well, you know what that one means)…. If I “extend my soul to the hungry” and”satisfy the afflicted soul” (if I willingly and happily share with those in need)…. then what will the Lord do? Take a look at this amazing list:

  • He will cause my light to shine in darkness
  • He will guide me continually
  • He will satisfy my soul when I am in need
  • He will strengthen my bones
  • He will cause my life to be like a well-watered garden, green and healthy and growing

Want some more “and”s?  Well, good news: there’s more!  Not just for you, but for those who are within your sphere of influence, those who come after you:

“Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In” (Isaiah 58:12)

Simply beautiful.  If I operate in obedience, then my legacy will be one of peace and restoration, building foundations and restoring that which is broken…. The Lord will multiply our small actions into a ripple effect that continues on beyond us.

Please forgive me, Sir Isaac Newton: for my small action, the reaction was not opposite nor was it equal.  The Lord took my small effort of kindness and cheerful giving, and His reaction was abundant and multiplied, far beyond what I did.  You may have found the same to be true in your life, or maybe you’ll take this on as an experiment today and try it out: every time you take a step of obedience to the Lord, His reaction is so much better and sweeter and kinder than you could have reasonably expected.

Every single time you perform your “if”, the Lord will perform His “then” and His “and” on your behalf – and that, my friend, is a treasure every time 🙂

praying you find yourself on the sweet end of the deal today,

Jennifer ❤

the paralyzing pursuit of perfection :)

Paul wrote to the Philipians,

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (3:12)

Paul communicated that he “pressed on”, even though he knew he wasn’t perfect.  There’s freedom in that phrase if you look hard enough – we’ll circle back and see it together!

Knowing that I love to entertain, my parents gave me both of my grandmothers’ formal china – and both sets are beautiful!  I love dishes, I love a well-appointed table, I love serving and blessing my friends…. Recently, I invited our church staff wives and board members’ wives over for a “tea” and I had so much fun serving on my formal china!

Let me take a pause here and tell the truth, before any of you get the idea that I’m some amazing housekeeper or hostess: I’m not at all. My kitchen is SO VERY ill-equipped, I’m not a good cook, I just wish I was!  What I like is having people over!   Anyone who has been to my house knows this is true – it’s just not perfect!  Just this past weekend, a friend brought over a crockpot of grits (de-lish!).  She asked me if I could put out the butter – guess what? I didn’t even have any butter in my fridge! Who doesn’t have a staple like butter? Me – me and my ill-equipped kitchen.  I don’t have a full set of measuring cups either – I’m winging it over here! What I do have is pretty dishes and a desire to be a blessing! Now that I’ve “told on myself” and there is no pretense between us, we can move forward!

Some years ago, I thought about the times I’ve been invited to someone else’s house. I wasn’t looking for dust or matching silverware or chips on the dishes – I was just glad to be there. I’m excited about the conversation and the comfort, and I’m thankful for the invitation – I’m glad to be with my friend!  Those thoughts led to this one: “just like me, most people aren’t looking for perfection, they are looking for relationship.” What I do have is a desire to be a blessing and create a comfortable space for my guests.  What I do have is a desire to enjoy their company and share my home. No perfection over here – but I sure like relationship!  Realizing that most people feel the same gave me freedom from the paralyzing pursuit of perfection.

I have friends who feel as if they can’t have a guest in their home – they think it isn’t clean enough, it isn’t nice enough, it isn’t fill-in-your-own-blank enough.  Sadly, this feeling of not-being-enough or not-attaining-perfection doesn’t stop in one area of our lives.  We can talk ourselves into “not enough” in any area: maybe we aren’t not good enough parents or maybe we are not good enough writers or maybe we aren’t good enough prayer warriors or maybe we aren’t good enough singers or maybe we aren’t good enough fill-in-your-own-blank-here.

Once we convince ourselves that we aren’t enough, the next step in that downward spiral is shame or embarrassment. We create walls between us and the people around us. We hide because we are afraid someone else might realize our lack.  From there, we step into comparison – and trust me, we can always find someone who IS enough and someone who CAN do successfully all the things we can’t do.  Finally, we convince ourselves that we don’t have anything worthy to give, and we stop giving altogether.

I have another thought: I think that we cannot put up walls between ourselves and people without also putting up walls between ourselves and the Lord.  If we are hiding and not using the gifts that God gave to us to bless others, isn’t it in some way disobedient?  I’m ready to circle back here if you are –

Paul wrote to the Philipians,

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (3:12)

Paul knew and readily admitted that he wasn’t perfect. However, his very next words were “I press on”.  In spite of shortcomings, in spite of insecurities, in spite of imperfection, he pressed on toward the high calling of God in Christ. His is an example to follow – especially for a type-A-personality like mine!  I need that freedom from the paralyzing pursuit of perfection!

Let’s say it together, and commit to it: My house isn’t perfect – but I’ll still share the blessings I have and enjoy friends. My prayer life may not be perfect, but I’ll keep speaking to the Lord even when I can’t find the right words. I may not be the best singer, but I’ll continue making a joyful noise. I may have made a mistake today, but I won’t let that mistake stop my progress.  I’ll continue to press on, using my gifts in the best way I can today, trying to be a blessing in my imperfections. I’ll trust the Lord to fill-in-my-blanks and help me grow.

Being able to let go of the pursuit of perfection and just press on. You’ll find (in spite of your shortcomings) that your offering is a grace and gift to someone in your life. Freedom from the paralyzing pursuit of perfection? That’s a treasure ❤

Praying that you are able to press on today!

Jennifer 🙂