When I turned 50, I said to myself, “I am not THAT old.” When I turned 60, my friends told me, “Sixty is the new forty.” Finally, when I turned 70, I admitted, “Seventy is THAT old!”

Now I am almost a decade older. I’ve written a book on aging. But I am still surprised by the experience of getting older.

My soul is growing as my body is aging.

To grow means to change. Paul wrote, “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” (Ephesians 4:23). As we age, we are invited to allow the Holy Spirit to change the thoughts and attitudes we have held for decades. Some perspectives and spiritual disciplines that helped me when I was younger are no longer life-giving.

As my body ages, I have less energy and fewer opportunities. The Holy Spirit is changing my expectations and priorities.

I need to unlearn some of the things that I used to believe.

I used to feel responsible for many things. Now that I can do less, God is inviting me to think about my days in terms of fruitfulness rather than productivity.

The list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23 reminds me that it is more important to love others than to finish my “to-do” list.

I want to focus on the invitations God gives in my losses.

Jesus said,“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20). When I was younger, I had important jobs to do and places where I found significance. Now I am losing some of that sense of importance. Some days my spirit feels “poor” about all I have lost.

Jesus promises I will experience the Kingdom of God even as I experience this part of aging.

He said God’s Kingdom is like “a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens.” (Mark 4:26-27)

What a comfort this is! I can toss seeds on the ground (when I have the energy!) and then go to bed. I don’t understand it, but whether I am asleep or awake, the seeds are growing.

I thank God for the fruit of this season of life.

*For deeper reflection, listen to Ephesians 4 today.

  1. Ephesians 4

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I picked up my phone off the nightstand that morning and opened it with dread. I felt anxiety fill my body. On social media, I knew what I would find: other people enjoying their lives while I cried about mine.

Life felt so unfair. Hot tears filled my eyes, and I immediately tried to blink them back while I whispered a desperate prayer, “Lord, am I going to feel like this forever?”

As I poured my coffee, I made a mental list of what I felt like I could no longer handle.

For starters, I battled relentlessly with my mental health. And I also juggled two kids under five, my husband’s unforeseen job loss, the sudden passing of my father-in-law, and ongoing financial pressures, just to name a few.

I saw no relief in sight. It was hard not to feel frustrated, fed-up, and maybe even a little forgotten by God.

My soul was exhausted, and I was tired of trying. It seemed I had prayed every prayer I knew how to pray and read every Scripture I knew that pertained to my circumstances. Yet, nothing seemed to change.

Maybe you know this season all too well. Maybe you’ve been hurting so deeply and for so long. Maybe you expected to handle this better and to be stronger when everything came crashing down.

But it’s okay that you’re feeling weak and unsure. God wants us to let go of trying to figure it all out, and let him do what he does bestsave us.

When God commanded Moses to save his people from their slavery in Egypt, they never expected their journey to freedom to take so long or be so very hard.

But God had not taken them to the wilderness to simply punish them. Instead, he brought them there to both teach them dependence on him and bring them to the good land he had prepared for them.

In Jeremiah 31:2-3, we see the Lord say in reference to that time, “‘This is what the Lord says: ‘Those who survive the coming destruction will find blessings even in the barren land, for I will give rest to the people of Israel…I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself.'”

God hears your cries for deliverance, and he has grace for you in your wilderness.

I continued to walk through my own wilderness. I realized God was using those things I thought were breaking me to make me more like Jesus.

I felt exhausted because I believed it was all up to me.

When I chose to trust him to hold my broken heart and receive his grace, he began to reveal the good plans he had all along.

Friend, will you dare to remember the heart of God when it is hard to understand why he is not fixing your most hurtful seasons?

Will you trust that, like the Israelites, you, too will find grace in our wilderness? Will you cling to the truth that he has rest for your worn-out souls and that he will never stop loving you?

Regardless of how you feel, you can stand in confidence that God will continue to be faithful.

Dear Lord, Thank you that you hear my prayers when my life feels like it is too much, and I am desperate for solutions. I pray you would help me to hold onto you in faith. Cause me to stand on the truth of who I know you to be; a good, faithful and loving Father. Thank you that you always have my best in mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*For further reflection, listen to Jeremiah 31 today.

  1. Jeremiah 39

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Enjoy further insights with Ashley Morgan Jackson in our interview with her here.

God understands what it means to feel alone. Mark writes this about Jesus, “Then everyone deserted him and fled” (Mark 14:48–50).

It’s kind of hard to believe this verse. At first, I read it and wondered, Is Mark talking about Jesus?

The one who died for us—that Jesus?

But yes, it was Jesus who was grieving. He knew that he was about to go to the Cross.

And yet everyone deserted him.

Jesus experienced one of the deepest grief moments of his human life, and those closest to him deserted him. They abandoned him, left him, let him down, and didn’t come through.

Abandonment and desertion can crush the spirit and be traumatic experiences themselves. But this happened to Jesus; everyone deserted him.

My mom used to say, “If it happened to Jesus, we are no better than him. So it could happen to us.”

True, but thanks be to God, Jesus has already walked in all our shoes to truly understand what we feel, sense, and struggle through.

And the best part is that he knows how to help us, heal us, comfort us, and give us peace.

Further, in understanding how God understands our grief, the prophet Isaiah prophesied this of Jesus, “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).

God, in the bodily form of Jesus, bore our sorrow, our grief, and our pain on the Cross. Not that we wouldn’t experience them, but instead he would know how to comfort us. Knowing someone knows what you are going through provides a sense of comfort all by itself.

It comforts us when we meet someone with a similar shared experience. It excites us even. I become super excited when I find out someone is creative or loves art because I am a low-key art fan. I have been since I was single digits.

And it is the same with our grief. Think about it, how relieved would you become if you met someone who had experienced—even remotely—what you have or even slightly understood your grief? Wouldn’t it make you feel less alone?

I know it would make me feel better. Well, guess what? God knows fully what you are experiencing or have experienced in the past, and he understands.

In his humanity, Jesus even wept.

Lazarus, a dear friend of Jesus’s, was sick. Jesus heard this news, and instead of going to see him, he remained where he was for a few more days. And Lazarus died.

Before leaving for Bethany, Jesus was already aware of the fact that Lazarus had died. He told his disciples that Lazarus was instead sleeping, but he would go to wake him. When Jesus arrived, Martha confronted him, saying that if he had been there, her brother would not have died.

As described by John, Jesus was “deeply troubled” (John 11:33). Then the story goes on to say, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

Jesus seems to embody the words of Paul, who wrote, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Jesus saw their grief, and he had compassion for them. He grieved with them.

In fact, when Jesus heard about the death of John the Baptist, he also grieved. John was Jesus’s cousin. We first hear of this relationship when Jesus’s mother, Mary, went to see her cousin Elizabeth. They were both pregnant. There was already a kindred connection between Jesus and John while they were still in their mothers’ wombs.

Then this same John later prepares the way for Jesus. In the end, John becomes a martyr in the name of Jesus.

So, when Jesus hears about the death of John the Baptist, Matthew wrote, he “left in a boat to a remote area to be alone” (Matthew 14:13).

Jesus took time to grieve and honor John the Baptist.

I think as believers, we often forget this. Maybe we think about how strong and powerful God is; we think about how nothing moves God or hurts God.

I believe we forget how God became flesh and felt every single thing that happened to him. When people hear of your loss and immediately say, “I can’t imagine.” know that Jesus can imagine and knows your pain.

In the same way that people would become much more thoughtful and compassionate by trying to put themselves where you are, if we were to put ourselves in Jesus’ shoes (I know, big shoes to fill), we would have such a better perspective.

A better view. A lens of what it may have felt like while Jesus was praying in the garden. We would have a better understanding of the loving way Jesus understands us. Just as Jesus grieved, he understands that all people grieve, and he understands your grief. As he felt alone, he understands how you feel alone. He knew and he knows.

He knew one day you and I would grieve, and so God made a way for us to come to him for comfort and to obtain peace, simply through the name of Jesus.

So, no matter where you find yourself right now in your grief journey, God is asking, “Can you just sit with me?”

For further reflection, listen to Mark 14.

  1. Mark 14

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*Adapted from Can You Just Sit with Me? by Natasha Smith. ©2023 by Natasha Smith. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press. www.ivpress.com.

My working philosophy of God was this: Following Jesus can feel brutal. Living a transformed and transforming life, though, is everything and more.

Scripture says, in Colossians 3:23, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” And I had taken “Work willingly at whatever you do” to heart.

So when I received a job offer to promote The Chosen television series worldwide as Angel Studio’s Head of Global Expansion, I threw myself at it wholeheartedly. Two weeks after moving to Rome, I was too sick to work or even fly home.

It felt as though my heart had been twisted like a rag with its vital contents wrung out.

The whole thing left me asking, “What if my definition of wholeheartedness was just an over-functioning, all-in and all-out mentality?”

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

When I was in Rome, I was operating with the broken belief that I needed to prove myself and showcase my value to those around me.

So when I entered rooms with my version of a whole heart, I stood heartless, mindless, and unaware.

I couldn’t hear what people were saying because the explosion of my neediness was ringing in my ears.

However, when God calls us to work at something with our whole hearts, he asks us to bring our wholeness into his presence. God calls us to be guardians of our hearts because they determine the course of our lives. Our ears must be open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, who brings clarity and discernment.

With God, there is no burden of proof. God doesn’t require us to showcase our worthiness. Instead, he asks us to find our worthiness in him and then show up in the room——present, listening, clear, rooted, discerning, observant, and whole.

This is what it means to be “working willingly for the Lord.”

From this place of wholeness, the presence of God shines through and allows everything we do to flow.

*For further reflection, listen to Proverbs 4

  1. Proverbs 4

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May Cordila’s story encourage you in our interview with her (watch here).

We’ve all had that friend—

  • who had a life-threatening disease,
  • who lost a family member or
  • who has experienced abuse.

Still, she can put her faith in Jesus and use her pain to help others.

Those people know there’s a sovereign God who gives us hope when all seems lost.

“I look up to the mountains–does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” Psalm 121:1-2

How can we be women of hope?

It’s one thing to wish for a better life and another to be assured of a better life—because you’ve experienced the hope of God.

So, what does a hope-filled life look like? You can expect it to be hard in some moments. I know that’s not the best thing to read right after you’ve proclaimed hope. But I’m not here to sell you falsehoods.

When hard times come, you can also expect to endure them through a lens of hope. Remember the promise in Philippians 1:6, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Let’s say you suffer a financial loss. Instead of allowing financial stress to consume you, take this heavy burden to the feet of Jesus, to your safe community, and to your counselor. You will find hope for those parts of you, and you will pick up your head and pursue other means for your financial needs.

If you go through a hard breakup, it’s ok to spend some days curled up in a ball, crying—but you can’t stay there. (And you probably shouldn’t call your ex.)

Instead of begging to be taken back, producing more wounds of rejection and abandonment, you will take your heartache to the Lover of your soul, your Heavenly Father, who freely offers intimacy whenever you need it. You will know that while being lonely is a real feeling, you are never, ever alone.

When despair settles in, you will remember that the closer you are to God, the closer you are to joy. When any form of darkness comes into your life, the same God who brought you out of you troubles will do it again.

He can handle your sorrow and is not afraid of your sadness.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6

When you claim the promise of hope and allow God to strengthen your faith, you will be that woman people look at and say, “Wow, she’s got bruised knuckles and a hope she’s fought for. But, she’s fighting through all of it, with Jesus leading the way, and she ain’t giving up!”

Living in hope is not easy, but it’s so worth it.

*For further reflection, listen to Philippians 4.

  1. Philippians 4

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Please enjoy more of Toni’s heart in our interview with her by clicking here!

Adapted from Brave Enough to Be Broken by Toni Collier Copyright © 2022 by Toni Collier. Used by permission of Nelson Books.

Living in downtown Chicago for the past ten years has given me an ongoing noisy soundtrack of trains, buses, sirens, and the clamoring of the city.

I love any chance I can to leave the concrete jungle and purposefully put myself in God’s creation. My ability to turn down the volume down on all the busy interruptions that bang around and bully my mind moves those worries into their proper place.

On a recent trip to Colorado, I gazed at the vast expanse of trees perfectly placed on the snow-covered mountains. I noticed that each part of creation chose to play its inspired role.

Not a single ounce of God’s creation was stuck in a comparative glare with one another. I did not see a mountain, wondering if it stood taller and prouder than the next mountain.

Not a single bird looked worried about what it needed to get done that day. Yet, I wondered why I struggled and worried so much about my to-do list.

Jesus uses creation to call us back to his presence.

But, unfortunately, living with the volume up at all times eventually leads to anxiety. Learning to adjust the volume and turn it down creates clarity.

We all have limits. Your limits are designed to help you live at a healthy pace and practice peace. At first glance, they may seem like a barrier, but God sees them as blessings.

Unfortunately, when we refuse to live within our limits, we eventually find ourselves broken down and sapped of energy. Worry feeds on itself at an out-of-control pace.

As we own our limits, God supplies us with strength. Think through some of your personal limitations right now. Are you opposing them or owning them?

These are vital areas where we often turn the volume up. We try to answer our worries by doing more, running faster, and pushing a pace we can’t sustain.

You can turn down the volume at a rapid pace by slowing down your life.

Jesus uses the birds of the air and the flowers of the field as the authorities on worry because they are never in a hurry (Matthew 6:26).

I used to think the problem was that I just needed more time. But we all have the same amount of time that Jesus had in his life.

The solution is to slow down, because slowing is what settles the soul. Vincent de Paul says, “The one who hurries delays the things of God.”

Worry takes up residence in our minds. It pays the rent in lies such as “I am less than, more than, not enough, too much.” So turning down the volume on worry is the perfect way to evict it from your mind.

There is some noise in a city like Chicago that you cannot turn down, but you can choose how you quiet your soul. Peace is a much better resident.

*For further reflection, listen to John 14.

  1. John 14

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*Please enjoy our conversation with Jeanne here!

Some mornings, my inner critic wakes up with me. As I eat my breakfast, my first thoughts appear auto-populated by what I “should’ve-would’ve-could’ve” done.

Instead of songs of deliverance surrounding me like the psalmist wrote about, my mind becomes filled with a noisy parade of troubling thoughts—regrets over what I wasn’t doing well, relationships that had turned hurtful, and indecisions tearing at my soul.

Why are you obsessing about things you have no control over? I lecture myself. Stop worrying about nothing. What’s wrong with you? I beat myself up, and I haven’t even finished my first cup of coffee.

I pray and read Scripture, but my heart doesn’t feel right. One morning, I tried to forget my troubles by diving into my emails. On the outside, all was good, but being hard on myself wasn’t what I needed.

What I need when I’m stuck in negative self-talk is God’s kindness and gentleness.

The world teaches us to quiet our inner critic by striving, networking with people of influence, and working very hard to be valued, find belonging, and acceptance.

But God’s way of restoring the soul is very quiet: real experiences of beauty, gentleness, and kindness.

We need two fruits of the Spirit: gentleness and kindness.

Later in the afternoon, I drove out to my favorite trail and stood quietly by the creek, listening to water bubbling over rocks and pebbles. Without any words, I felt God’s gentle love hold my heart.

My soul exhaled, and as the sun warmed my heart again, I heard God tenderly whisper, “You are safe with me. You are important to me.”

God draws us closer, saying, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love; With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself” (Jeremiah 31:3).

In a quiet place of beauty, my heart opened up. I shared my honest feelings with God—not trying to solve them but to confide in him.

Being in nature soothes us and gives us permission to slow down.

We observe how everything organic undergoes changes in different seasons, and we instinctively relax our shoulders and exhale.

As the breeze brushes our cheeks, we feel a softening. We notice how everything beautiful moves in quietness.

It was only there by the creek, only after I took the steps to enjoy something beautiful to refresh me, that my heart experienced God’s songs of deliverance.

Many times, we try to lecture ourselves out of a tough situation, but God’s gentle voice is always found in places of quiet beauty and intimacy.

Don’t be harder on yourself. Be gentle with yourself. God’s love is gentle.

*For further reflection, listen to Jeremiah 31 today.

  1. Jeremiah 31

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Excerpted with permission from Breathe by Bonnie Gray published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 97408. Copyright 2023, Bonnie Gray. harvesthousepublishers.com

*Please enjoy our conversation with Bonnie here!

Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

“Well,” they replied, some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” (Matthew 16:13–14).

Jesus then asked one of the simplest yet most profound questions in Scripture: “Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15).

The twelve disciples had spent almost every waking moment with Jesus for a couple of years at that point. They had witnessed him heal people, perform countless miracles, and teach with authority in the presence of the Pharisees and Sadducees. If anyone should’ve known who Jesus was, it should have been them, right?

They saw his power with their own eyes and heard his words with their own ears.

And yet when Peter rightly responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being” (Matthew 16:16–17).

Here is why Jesus’s statement is so profound: The people who saw and heard Jesus identified him as John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah because they compared Jesus’s ministry and teaching to that of these men.They identified Jesus based on who he reminded them of, and we do something similar when we identify people based on who they remind us of.

We say our daughter is cheerful like Aunt Sally, or our boss is mean and gruff like our old volleyball coach. We tend to identify people based on our sensory experience—what we see, hear, touch, or smell—and how it reminds us of someone else. This is part of what makes Jesus’s question significant.

He wanted to share this truth: people’s experience of you is not who you are.

Just as Jesus wasn’t John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets, you aren’t who other people say you are.

Jesus essentially said, “I am more than what you see me do. I am more than what you hear me say. I am more than what you feel when I’m around. I am who the Father says I am—and so are you.”

*For Further Reflection, listen to Matthew 16 today.

  1. Matthew 16

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Taken from KILLING COMPARISON by Nona Jones. Copyright © September 27, 2022 by Nona Jones. Used by permission of Zondervan.com.

“Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry” (Luke 4:1-2).

Hungry Son,

The Father called you Beloved

and then the Spirit

led you like a lamb

out into the scorching sun

where you

chose trust

in your Father

over proving

your own power.

Lead us to landscapes

we would not choose

to feed us with trust we cannot lose.

Because for far too long

we’ve been fed sugar

by shepherds on stages

in words that say fame

and power

and the removal of pain

are the proof

of bearing your name.

But your sonship reveals

what no stage can show:

it is into vulnerability

that you choose

to go.

Amen.

Show me a shepherd who listens long, who is not afraid of being seen as wrong.

Show me a shepherd who will sit on your couch, who asks how you’re doing when you’ve dropped off the earth.

Show me a shepherd who cries when you weep, whose heart is still moved by every hurt sheep.

Show me a shepherd who gives up their time, who counts not the minutes they’re falling behind.

Show me a shepherd whose kindness can preach louder than any sermon could reach.

Show me a shepherd who studies the language of hearts as much as Hebrew or Greek, who conjugates the verbs of being meek.

Show me a shepherd who dares to believe stories whose truths might make people leave.

Show me a shepherd who reports abuse, who respects people for more than their use.

Show me a shepherd who assumes there’s no stage as important as sitting with sheep in their pain.

*For further reflection, listen to Luke 4.

  1. Luke 4

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To enjoy our interview K.J, listen here!

Jesus says, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10).

In Deuteronomy 30, God addresses the whole company of Israel through Moses and says, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessing and curses. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”

We experience daily choices of “life” and “death” that we can be attentive to and receive guidance from God. 

They could be that slight tension headache we get as we interact with a particular person or the aspect of our job that is draining, or the life-giving energy we feel in the presence of art and beauty. They may also include the sensation of being “in the flow” when we are engaged in a particular activity, the feeling of peace we notice as we walk into a particular building or space.

God’s will for us is generally to do more of that which gives us life (Deuteronomy 30:11-20) and to turn away from those things that drain life from us.

Furthermore, God points out that the wisdom that enables us to choose life is not something we will find outside of ourselves – in heaven or across the ocean, but this knowing is very near to us; it is in our mouths and in our hearts for us to notice and to observe (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

Many of our smaller decisions and most of our significant decisions – even decisions that require you to choose between two equally good options – involve the ability to notice what brings a sense of life, freedom in the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17), and the peace that exceeds anything we can understand (Philippians 4:7).

These inner dynamics need not be attached to anything that is particularly momentous; in fact, they might seem relatively inconsequential until we learn to pay attention and trust what they have to tell us.

The opportunity to choose life is ours—in the day-to-day choices we face as well as in the larger decisions of our lives.

When we make it our habit to notice and respond to that which is life-giving, we are in touch with what is truest about God, ourselves, and our world.

*For further reflection, listen to Deuteronomy 30 today.

  1. Deuteronomy 30

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