This is no Lake Michigan! I breathed as I pulled up to my timeshare on the Atlantic Ocean at midnight this past week. I’d grown used to the calmness of the lake, but this was alive—wild and churning.
That first night was eerie—thirty-five plus miles per hour winds howled under my door as if someone wanted in. Morning wasn’t any different. As soon as I opened my eyes, I threw open the sliding glass door to study the ocean, desperately wanting to go in.
But I wasn’t stupid. Red flags flew, indicating the ocean was not safe. No lifeguards manned their posts; no humans dotted the ocean. The beach seemed a ghost town, with meringue-like tufts of ocean foam blowing about like tumbleweed. Signs posted along the beach warned of rip currents, and while there was no mention of it, I knew sharks hunted those waters.
Other than one evening when I spotted a couple swimmers and quickly pulled on my suit and joined them in a wonderful salty thrashing, I safely enjoyed the ocean from its edge. I wonder-walked along it each day, biked through its surf, and slept with the sliding glass door open so I could fall asleep to its steady pounding.
Then at SeaWorld that Saturday, I learned something surprising. Only five humans die worldwide each year from sharks. Why was I so cautious then? And . . . do I take my everyday enemies as seriously as I took the potential danger of riptides and sharks?
Over the next few weeks here on the blog, I’d like to study our enemies together. More than that, I’d like to talk with you about how we can not only avoid them but overcome them.
Let’s start with this. As a follower of Jesus, do you know who your enemies are? Do you have a healthy fear of them as I had of the ocean? Beyond that, do you know what your "life jacket," "rescue boat," and "lifeguard" are? Do you know how to stand strong against your enemies? I’d love to hear from you.
2. In the areas where I do realize I need help, I think God will get fed up with me calling out for help again . . . and again . . . and again . . . and again . . .
But I heard Nancy say it. “Jehovah Ezer never gets tired of us calling out for help.”
What holds you back from asking for Jehovah Ezer’s help more often?
Did you know Jehovah Ezer is one of God’s names?! Jehovah Ezer, The Lord My Help. The One who helps me, supports me, comes to my aid, rescues me in my time of need. The One who comes running when I cry for help:
“There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty” (Deut. 33:26).
But I have to make the call first. Nancy likened it to needing an ambulance. Just thinking about an ambulance doesn’t do anything—you have to dial 9–1–1 before one will come racing to your help.
So it is with our God who needs no one and nothing and yet delights in riding to our help. “Lord, I need You!” are some of the sweetest words to God’s ears, Nancy said.
So I’m curious. Am I the only one? If not, what holds you back from asking for Jehovah Ezer’s help more often?
Back in April, my sweet friend Pat pre-ordered Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom just as soon as I let her know she could do so. Being the thrifty woman she is, she also purchased 12 pounds of rice to take advantage of the “Free Super Saver Shipping” on orders over $25.
Experience assured Pat that Amazon’s superior customer service antennae would realize my book wouldn’t be out for several months and would send Pat her rice within the week.
But a month later, the rice still hadn’t arrived.
When Pat realized she wouldn’t be receiving her rice until September 1, she went ahead and ordered another 25 pounds. She had just started to put a dent in the rice when she opened her door one hot July day to 12 pounds of rice. Tucked in the box was the following note,
“We thought you’d like to know that we shipped this portion of your order separately to give you quicker service.”
Thirty-seven pounds of rice rich, Pat messaged me,
“I will begin to research luscious rice recipes for your book launch party in September.”
And here it is—September 1—book launch day! I don’t know if the book launch party will materialize, but here’s what I do know. You can now order Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom without any fear of a sticky pre-ordering rice run-in!
Good morning, girls! Today I’m excited to share a fantastic post with you by Carolyn McCulley. I couldn’t help but think about you as I read it. It’s chuck full of important tips you should know before you land your first big job. Honestly, I’ve been working for eight years now, and I needed several of these reminders! I’ve included the first of Carolyn’s four points here. You can catch the rest of her article over on TrueWoman.com (our blog for women who are a little older than you). By the way, we’d love to have you join our community over there as well. You’re a woman, after all, and the women there would totally benefit from interacting with you!
When I was hired for my first job, my father took me aside to give me an important insight. “Carolyn, you are motivated by gold stars, high grades, and lots of regular feedback,” he said. “But you won’t get that at work. Don’t expect praise for merely doing what you were hired to do. If you keep getting paid, you will know you are doing a good job.”
I’ve thought of his advice nearly every time I’ve received a paycheck. Over the years, I’ve learned other valuable on-the-job lessons, lessons that were amplified once I became a believing Christian. So for those who are beginning their careers, here are four key principles for on-the-job success:
1. Pay your dues. In any job, it’s important to understand you have been hired to fill a position on a team with one critical mission: to make and sustain the organization’s profitability. You have a role to play in this mission, but it’s not the starring role. In fact, you have to prove yourself to the rest of the team that you are worthy of that role. It’s called paying your dues. To that end, you need to know that no one really cares about how fulfilled you are—or are not—in this role. It’s not about you, but about the organization.
I lead a small documentary film company, but it’s not unusual that I receive unsolicited résumés. Most come with sincere letters explaining how much the applicant likes film, how the applicant grew up watching film, and how the applicant loves to travel and how filmmaking can provide that opportunity.
Honestly, I dismiss those letters right away. Don’t tell me how a job at my company can fulfill all your dreams. Tell me why I need you for my company’s critical mission. Then I will know you understand the big picture and that you might make a significant contribution.
Your goal with any new job is to figure out how to add value. Know exactly how your position contributes to the company’s bottom line. Be prepared. If you don’t know, ask informed questions, but only after you have done some research. Never ask busy people questions that you have not researched. I repeat, don’t make other people do your homework. Those of us who were already working when the digital age arrived marvel at the wealth of information available through “the interwebs.” Fire up your keyboard and do your homework so that you can come up with the one really insightful question that proves your worth simply because you figured out what was valuable to ask.
One more vitally important tip: Respond. As in, respond to your emails. Respond to your phone calls. Respond to your invitations. Never think it’s a good idea to ignore your boss, your clients, or your colleagues. Or anyone who is trying to throw a party, plan a wedding, or invite you to dinner, for that matter. It doesn’t matter if you “don’t do email” or you “don’t like talking on the phone.” Get a response back in a timely manner because it honors others’ work and time. These few practices will show that you understand the process of paying your dues and will help you move up in an organization.
You should’ve seen it. This Sunday, the church gymnasium was transformed into the bustling city of Jerusalem around A.D. 30. After I’d joined the tribe of Ephraim and received a bag of denarii (Roman money), I sat down cross-legged in the temple, right in front of the veil leading to the Holy of Holies (where I never would have been allowed in real life!).
That’s when little Sarah came over and squeezed herself onto my lap. Then, when the shofar blew signaling it was time to move on to the next station, Sarah slipped her little hand into mine as we walked a few steps to the synagogue. She sat in my lap again as we learned to sing the Shema in Hebrew and stayed close all morning as we went from booth to booth.
And then, while we were at the potter’s shop, I heard a shout, "It’s Jesus!" If I hadn’t already been told that the Sunday school teacher Chris was playing the part, I wouldn’t have recognized him with that wig of long, curly, dark hair. He slowly wove his way through the crowd of 400 people, hugging the children as he went.
Sarah pulled me forward, not content to watch from behind a wall of people. I let her pull me so far, and then I slowed, not wanting the adults to wonder why I was crowding Jesus and not letting others have their turn. But Sarah wouldn’t let up. I stopped, she strained. She pulled, I resisted. Finally, she dropped my hand and went around the mountain in the middle of the room so she could get to Jesus.
Sarah wasn’t the only child who did this. Instinctively, without any scripting, all the children wanted to get as close as they could to Jesus. Maybe that’s why Jesus told His perturbed disciples so many years ago,
"Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it" (Luke 18:16–17).
As I saw the difference between me and Sarah, I couldn’t help but wonder how close I would’ve tried to get to Jesus if I’d been alive when He walked this earth. Would I have been willing and desperate enough to cry out loudly with Bartimaeus, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me"—even when everyone around me was telling me to just be quiet? Or would I have been more like Nicodemus who came to Jesus under the cover of night so no one would see?
More importantly, how desperate am I today to get as close as possible to Jesus? Am I content to hang back and observe Him along with the grown-ups, or am I pressing forward with the children to stare up in wonder at Him?
I’m afraid I know the answer, and oh, how I long for that to change.
So thank you, Sarah. You have no idea what you taught me this week. I want to be like you when I grow up.
PS: I’m curious. What do you think it actually looks like to want to get close to Jesus today?
After watching her message for myself, I couldn’t agree more. Joni relives her life story as if it’s happening in the moment—with tears, singing, and heartfelt emotion. I thought I knew all about Joni’s story, but most of what she shares in this video was new to me.
Journey with Joni through . . .
her disappointing pursuit of physical healing
the “tired middle years” of her marriage
her husband’s “I feel trapped” admissions
Through it all, trace the deeper healing that Joni has received. The deeper healing that can be yours, too.