What Does "Chosen-ness" Look Like in Daily Life?

If you missed the first post in this series, start here.

You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as [a]presenting all that I Am], He may give it to you.

John 15:16

 Instead of accepting, acknowledging our chosen-ness we sometimes are like the toddler who lost his grasp on his helium balloon who walks around, head down, searching for it while it floats on the ceiling. Our chosen-ness is there, up there in God, not down here on earth in taking spa days and having luxury cars. When we put our self-worth in those, yes, it’s going to fail us and make us miserable. We cannot have self-worth without God-worth, that’s the way God created us. 

The Donut Man said it best. “Life without Jesus is like a donut ‘cause there is a hole in the middle of your heart.” Instead of focusing on choosing to fill our hearts and lives with Jesus, we may walk around empty and stuffing that hole with whatever we think will build our self-esteem. And we will fail. EVERY TIME.

What does “chosen” look like in daily life?

If you read all of John 15, there are some startling revelations about what it looks like to live chosen. First of all, a sign of being chosen is we bear fruit. As I apply this to my own life, I realize that if I’m not bearing fruit in the purpose God created me for, then I’m going to wither up and be miserable.

Being chosen means getting pruned. Have you ever used pruning shears to prune a bush or tree? You’re cutting parts off. Sometimes it means cutting little new growth called suckers. These suckers sometimes grow at the base of shrub and suck out nutrients before they get to the top of the plant. They are “wick” as Mary says in The Secret Garden but they are actually life sucking. Not life giving. Being chosen looks like pruning all the things out of my life that do not bear good fruit whether they seem “wick” or not.

I may be jumping around in the chapter a bit, just bear with me (get is? bear fruit, bear with me?) Another important sign of our chosen-ness is we “abide” or “dwell” with God. When I think of the word dwell, I think live. We live with God . We invite Him in to all parts of our lives. We depend on Him in all situations. He is our source. Our life-line. Sometime we fight our life-line like those times when I was in labor and I fought the oxygen mask because I was focusing so much on surviving the pain. We must remember, apart from Him, cut off from Him, we can do nothing. He is our oxygen. When our version of self-care cuts off our union with God, we will lead fruitless lives that don’t effect eternity in positive ways. Our treasure will be here on earth amassing material things or coddling earthly bodies that age, wrinkle , and pass away.

Your essence (who you really are and Were created to be) vs your personality (the armor you adopt to protect yourself in a broken world).

Your essence is the part that is made in the image of God. Essence is the part that is fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s the part God sees and loves and says is good.

Then we, adapting to a broken world filled with broken people, adopt a personality that puts up a barrier between us and God, and us and others, and us and our essence. And it causes all sorts of problems until we make our way back to our essence and live from there instead of from our personality. We end up looking for the balloon in other ways. We define and defend our personality instead of going back to our essence and our chosen-ness.

Chosen is not self-serving, it’s Christ serving.

It’s probably our own fault but when Christians begin speaking of self-care and chosen-ness, we get the wrong mental picture. We picture ourselves on a massage table being served fruit-flavored sparkling water. It’s okay to do those things, it’s not what chosen means. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Chosen as a daughter of the king means we serve the king. We serve others. Not ourselves. 

In my short minds-eye vision of being a child and coming to the table (I shared here), being chosen means accepting the invitation to dwell with God. It means accepting the invitation to enter the conversation with other family members in the body of Christ. For me it means writing this post. It means writing and speaking the words God has put on my heart instead of shrinking back and thinking I’m an afterthought and no one wants/needs to hear what I have to say. I’m not sure what it means for you. I encourage you to think about it. To pray about it. Have some thoughts on your chosen-ness? Feel free to share in the comments!

* Kristin collaborated on this post, specifically the section on essence! Thanks Kristin, our conversations always stimulate deeper thoughts and good words!

My Word for 2020

I started choosing a word a year many years ago because some friends told me about it. Actually, God chose it for me. Some years it took months for me to hear it. Some years I tried to reason it out of existence. The word would sneak into my thoughts again. The word would suddenly appear in my Bible reading, in conversations,  and on signs. Then I wrote it down in my journal. (You can read about last year’s word here). About four years ago, I found out Debbie Macomber wrote a book –

ONE PERFECT WORD: ONE WORD CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE

I checked out of the library on cd and listened to it on a solo trip to South Carolina. I had lots of “aha” moments during the listen and wished I could write and drive. If you are wondering what all this “Word of the Year” stuff is, I recommend you read or listen to her book! On to my word. 

My Word for 2020

In September I attended Winsome Retreat for women at White Sulphur Springs. I really needed some time with the Lord. My stress level was on overload. I needed to make some drastic decisions or my body would go into full-on CFS crash mode. I’ve been there before (almost bedridden) several times. I know the signs. 

My problem? I like to work. Really. I do. I like to do good things that help people. I like to do ALL the things. What happens is I treat life like a buffet, I put all the good things on my plate, I try to do them all well and I get sick. Literally. Then one by one or all at once, I have to quit, I have to scrape all the things into the metaphorical trash.  My body crashes. 

My Vision

I was really hoping for an angel appearance at the retreat. I wanted an angel to show up and read a list of items to “scrape off my plate” followed by a “thou shalt do this.” I didn’t get one. What I did get was a tiny vision in my minds-eye during a worship session. I was suddenly a freckle-faced toe-headed little girl with my hair sticking out on the sides. The table was laden with food and adults were sitting around it. I heard a voice say, “Act like you are chosen, come to the table.” I walked to the table and climbed up on a stool. I was grinning. That’s it. 

As I drove home, I kept thinking of the word chosen as I listened to Taylor Leonhardt’s “Diamonds.” Here are some of the lyrics:

Shadows can speak louder than anything

And you believe the lies they’re saying

You are not an afterthought, love himself dreamed you up

Dressed you in diamonds, called you his star

Been hiding all this time, your hands over your eyes

I see you, darling, you have my heart

Not good enough, that’s what you tell yourself

Invisible, nobody notices

You are not an afterthought, love himself dreamed you up

Dressed you in diamonds, called you his star

Been hiding all this time, your hands over your eyes

I see you, darling, you have my heart

I see you darling

You’re a precious thought hidden in the heart of God

How good it is to know you

You became a word none of us had ever heard

How good it is to know you, how good it is to know you

I cried as I listened to “Diamonds” over and over the hills and around the mountains. I often think of myself as an afterthought and truth be told, I hide behind work. 

With all this talk about self-esteem and the Christians yelling things on social media, “Don’t talk about self-care or self-love, just talk about Jesus.”

Before you pick up a stone and pelt me with it, may I point out that being chosen was God’s idea. Not man’s. The whole reason we live and breathe on this blue and green orb is that God chose to create us. He chose to love us. He chose to adopt us as His own because it was his kind intent.

Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.

For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [[a]because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—

– Ephesians 1: 4,5


I’ll end with the above Scripture which is one of my favorites! Make sure you read it a few times and let it soak in. Did you chose a word for 2020? Feel free to share it in the comments! Join me here next time for “What Chosen-ness Looks Like in Daily Life.”

When We Don't Like Our Children

When We Don’t Like Our Children

Years ago when I was a young parent with only three children (pre-adoption), I joined a friend, Kelley,  for a talk she was giving. The talk was held at a low-income housing development full of Moms who were desperately trying to keep their families together. They had endured all sorts of difficult life circumstances and needed some friendly encouragement. I’m glad my friend was there to give it. I was just tagging along.

Kelley began her talk with, “Some times I don’t like my kids.” There were audible gasps in the room. That’s just generally a statement Moms are not allowed to say. As she continued her talk, she explained the difference between loving her kids unconditionally and liking them (or not sometimes). I’m sure every woman in that room breathed an inward and a much-needed sigh of relief (including me).

If you really think about this, it’s true of all relationships even our relationship with God. Sometimes we don’t feel “liked” by God. It’s just a feeling but we try to get back in His good graces. We like being liked. So when I began to have children, I assumed I should like them and love them all the time. As my image of God changed, so did my understanding. God loves us unconditionally but He doesn’t like it when we sin because sin separates us from Him. 

The burden of Mom guilt.

If you’re a Mom, you know that you can love your child unconditionally and still not like some of their behaviors just like God. As Moms, we carry an extra load of Mom-guilt. I’m not sure where we got it. Maybe we all picked it up at Target by mistake. It seems to be a universal item we carry on our shoulders. We feel bad when we’re mad. (I rhymed). Right?

 Do you know who has an extra load of guilt? Foster parents. Adoptive parents. I’m not sure why. Maybe when we were signing all of those papers, we accidentally signed one for an extra bag of guilt with some fine print that said, I will always like this child no matter what he does. That’s just not realistic. In one day, I witnessed two foster Moms feeling guilty because they didn’t like their child that day. 

Guess what? I love my husband but sometimes I don’t like him. I don’t like him when we leave the house to run two errands and he turns it into ten and I don’t get Starbucks. We don’t like our children when they don’t do the right thing, have a fit, steal, lie, or fill in the blank. It’s a given. It’s what we do with the dislike that matters. 

What to do with the dislike.

I’ve watched Moms in the grocery store telling little tiny kiddos, “You’re getting on my nerves! Stop it!” I don’t think that’s the way to handle dislike. There are no clear directives for the kiddo to make amends or change the behavior. Does a three-year-old even know what a nerve is? 

The best practice is if a child needs to change the behavior, give him clear short concise instruction. Much shorter than that sentence. If the dislike is super strong and lasts for a long period of time -get some space. Be still before the Lord. Examine yourself. What’s causing your frustration? Is it your unrealistic expectation? Is it the child’s past trauma causing mayhem? Is it your lack of planning?  Lack of consequences? Lack of sleep? Or it a more serious issue that you need extra help overcoming. 

Ask God for wisdom and be honest with yourself about how you are feeling. 

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

James 1: 5


Have you experienced a season of dislike for one of your kiddos? How did you handle it? Feel free to share! Want to here more on this topic? Check out Podcast Episode 120 here.

2020 Is Going to Be Messy

2020 is going to be messy. I don’t mean that as an ominous prediction. It’s just a fact, because life is messy — despite my best efforts to tame it with preparation, organization, and excellence.

And this year, I’m going to be okay with that. Instead of spending all my mental energy trying to make everything perfect, I’m going to focus on being present. Present for my kids, present for my husband, present for God, and present for myself. Active and intentional in my relationship with God and others.

This year, I’m letting go of the illusion of perfection and control, because that’s exactly what it is: an illusion. “Which of you,” Jesus asked, “by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” And the answer is, Not me. As much as I like to think that all of my planning, worrying, and toiling are productive, they’re really just distracting me from being fully present with the people I love.

So rather than refusing to rest until things are excellent, I’m going to stop at enough. When I say “good enough,” I’m going to mean it. And I’m going to practice not cringing inwardly or feeling like a failure. Stopping at “good enough” isn’t admitting defeat; it’s setting my priorities straight so that I have time and energy for the people and projects that matter most.

I’m afraid 2020 is going to be sloooooooow. Too slow. Painfully slow. But also too fast. So fast that it feels dangerous and out of control. 

Why? Because that’s how life goes — too fast and too slow, all at the same time.

But it will also be too fast and too slow by design. Because I need to learn how to move forward before I feel ready, and how to hold back when everything in me wants to go and do. My usual patterns aren’t working, so I’m going to try something new. I’m going to try leaning in when I want to check out, and backing off when I want to double down.

It will be a learning process, with a lot of trial and error. But I’m going to show up and give myself permission to win ugly.

2020 is going to be messy. But I’m here for it.

Gearing Up for the New Year: Renewing Your Mind

Many of us start each new year with a plan. We have clear goals in mind, and we know what it will take to accomplish them. But then that initial burst of enthusiasm we felt on January 1st wears off. The year doesn’t feel bright and shiny and new anymore. We gradually lose our motivation and slip back into our old patterns. We forget about our goals or despair of ever reaching them. We encounter some difficulty and give up.

To follow through and reach our 2020 goals, we must constantly renew our minds. We must wake up each day and recommit. After a setback, we must pick ourselves back up and keep pressing on. When achieving our goals seems impossible, we must keep going.

That’s why we focused on mindset this week. In the daily devotionals, I highlighted verses that can help you maintain your faith and resolve throughout the year as you pursue your goals.

Here’s what we talked about:

Rejecting the Spirit of fear

We all have fears. It is inevitable that you will, at some point — or, more accurately, several points or even during long periods of time — feel fear. But we do not have to be controlled by our fear. 

The voice inside you that whispers fear and doubt into your heart is not from God. The voice that tells you you aren’t good enough. The one that says you can’t do big things. The one that discourages you from setting goals and going after them with everything you have. The one that urges you to avoid all risk. The one that keeps you from being real and vulnerable. The one that constantly worries what others will think. The one that is terrified of failure. 

That voice is a liar. It may seem like it’s building a wall between you and the world to keep you safe, but it’s really building a wall between you and God to keep you stagnant. As soon as you put your fear in the driver’s seat, you’ll start drifting away from the path God has laid out for you.

Action step: Refuse to be ruled by your fear. Instead, allow God’s spirit of power, love, and self-control to guide you.

Building With God

There are two ways to pursue your dreams: with God, or without Him. Obviously, the latter is the wiser choice. Why? Because any happiness or success we achieve without God will be fleeting.

This truth brings to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:24-27, where he speaks of the wise man who built his house on a rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand. After the storm, only one house was left standing. The other builder, as it turned out, had labored in vain.

Your foundation matters. That’s why Proverbs is full of exhortations to seek God, trust Him, and align ourselves with His will. When we take that advice to heart, we can labor confidently rather than anxiously and find rest even as we work hard.

Action step: Instead of making your plans first and then asking God’s blessing, invite God into the planning stages. Ask Him for wisdom and guidance.

Taking Care of Your Soul

As Christians, we know the here and now isn’t the whole picture. We know that below the surface, we each have an internal life — a soul — that needs God in the same way our lungs need air. And we know it is our souls that will endure long after our earthly achievements have been forgotten. Our souls are eternal.

It can be so easy to neglect your spiritual health when you’re chasing after physical, professional, or financial goals. However, our soul should always be our top priority. In both the Old and New Testaments, Scripture reminds us that when we focus on our spiritual growth, everything else tends to fall into place.

Action step: Take time to care for your soul. (I also highly recommend reading Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg.)

Having Faith

To accomplish big goals, we must have faith. You have to step out in faith, and you have to follow through in faith. 

Scripture is full of stories where, in His name and through His power, God’s people accomplished big, impossible things by faith. Think of David defeating Goliath, Elijah calling down fire on Mount Carmel, or Gideon’s army routing the Midianites. These people certainly felt fear, but their faith was strong enough to overcome it — and that didn’t happen by accident.

You’ve probably heard the saying, often attributed to Sitting Bull, that compares “good” and “evil” to two dogs fighting inside us. The lesson is that the dog we feed the most will win. This principle applies to the struggle between fear and faith, as well. If we don’t feed our faith, it won’t be strong enough to overcome our fear when we need it to. 

Action step: Be intentional about nurturing your faith, and see what you can accomplish.

Remembering the lord and fighting

We serve an awesome God. The same God who parted the Red Sea. The same God who toppled the walls of Jericho. The same God who made the sun and the moon stand still. The God who fights for His people and keeps His promises.

Sometimes we need to be reminded of just how great and awesome our God is — not so that we can feel warm and fuzzy inside, but so that we can push through our fear, doubt, apathy, or anxiety and FIGHT.

We can find several examples in Scripture where God worked miracles for His people. Time and again, we witness God working miracles, removing obstacles, and leading His people to victory against seemingly insurmountable odds. He fights for us and with us — but only when we step out in faith. 

Action step: Whatever goals you set for 2020, step forward in faith and fight for them. When you feel like giving up, remember how great and awesome your God is and KEEP FIGHTING.


As we conclude our Gearing Up for the New Year Series, I wanted to leave you with one final challenge: 

Make your relationship with God your number one priority. Don’t leave your faith on the sidelines or turn it into just another item on your to-do list. Instead, make it a central part of your plans. Commit to taking care of your soul, growing your faith, and seeking God in everything you do.