Conviction versus condemnation (and how to tell the difference)

I’m awful. I’m a lousy sinner. I deserve what is happening to me right now because of what I’ve done…..

Does any of that sound familiar?

Do you ever struggle with being able to identify God’s voice over the enemy’s lies—or even over that of your own thoughts and self-condemnations?

Recently, God has been convicting me of some sin that’s been buried deep in my heart for awhile now—sin that has gone undetected for a long, long time. While I’ve been living my life in blissful ignorance, the enemy has been crafting land mine’s of sin. Expertly placing them in my heart and mind, just waiting for me to eventually stumble across them and send shrapnel flying. Sins such as complacency, pride, envy, and self-sufficiency.

Having your sin brought to your awareness is not a fun prospect, and yet in this season of conviction something (other than my sin) really stood out to me. And that is that:

God is kind when He convicts.

God's conviction is kind

Which made me think:

How often have I attributed the enemy’s lies and condemnation to God?

How many times I have misinterpreted satan’s taunts for God’s truth?

As I was driving home one day last week, a faint whisper of a word floated through my heart. It was the word complacency. I found myself pondering the word and its source. For it’s not a word I use that much, nor something that comes up often in my self-talk. I mulled the word over during my drive, fighting the urge to ask Siri for its definition (I mean I functioned before she existed, surely I can find a definition on my own, right?! wrong…I couldn’t find a dictionary so, I googled complacency.)

Complacency: a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing condition.

Ouch! Can I get another definition for a 100 please Alex???

Yet, I still wasn’t sure why the word, and now painful definition of complacency, was floating around my head.

I opened my Bible and began my time of study and prayer. God, show me what you want me to see, I asked, turning to place where I left off in Jeremiah.

“‘Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,’ declares the Lord.”

Pretense. Hmm…

Later that day I was preparing a lesson from 1 Peter when this verse (1:22) jumped out at me,

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.”

Deeply. Hmm…

Throughout that entire day those words and verses floated through my mind like dandelions seeds caught in a gust of wind.


And then, late that night cloaked in quiet darkness I felt all the words come together in a gentle warning:

You have become complacent in your marriage. You are two ships passing in the night—two captains on autopilot, drifting further and further from each other. You have the pretense of lovingkindness for each other, but there is no depth. Look deeper, search deeper, love deeper.

And with that, my heart was instantly alerted to a hidden land mine of complacency.

Over the next few days other land mines would be unearthed.

And yet always with gentleness. Always with kindness. Never with condemnation.

Now, I have laid (or is it lain?) in bed many nights hearing taunts and accusations of condemnation: You are such a phony. You are such a hypocrite. You’re selfish. Insignificant. Unable. You aren’t good enough. Your not ready to serve God. Who do you think you are?!?

And I am sad to say that I have believed that voice far too many times. And worse, I have assigned those taunts to God’s voice.

When they most clearly are NOT!!

For the truth is—

  • God convicts, He does not condemn (John 16:8, Romans 8:1)
  • God whispers truth, the enemy shouts taunts (1 Kings 19:12, Matthew 4:1-11)
  • God alerts to sin, the enemy hurls accusations  (1 Peter 5:8, Revelation 12:10)
  • God seeks to build up, satan desires tears down (1 Peter 2:5, John 10:10)

And so today I rejoice in my conviction. For my God loves me enough to alert me to land mines of sin—and He loves my marriage enough to gently lift my head from its cradle of complacency.

Conviction is not fun, but our God is most gentle with His children, and He is for us so we need not fear.

God is most gentle with us

Today, I am praying that all His children will be sensitive to His conviction. And I’m also praying that when the enemy begins to condemn and taunt we would be able to boldly tell him that he can go to straight to his eternal home! 😉

Much love,
JB-7 (1) 2

When what you have to give feels too small, and yet it’s all you have (you go ahead and give it)

Earlier this year my daughter could not stop singing the song “Priceless” by For King and Country. We listened to it in the car, at home, while on walks. She made up a dance routine to it and I think even tried to get the puppy to dance with her. But one day, in the midst of Priceless overload, she came home from school discouraged and sad. There had been some kind of friend drama and she was feeling bad about herself. We processed the days events over some white cheddar popcorn (our snack food of choice!). And as I was gearing up to impart some motherly wisdom (insert slight sarcasm here), my girl stopped me in my tracks. I honestly don’t even know what I was going to say, but it was not going to be nearly as powerful as what she said.

“I feel really bad right now mama, but at least I’m priceless to God and still His girl, right?”

Um….yep. Totally what I was going to say!! (insert sarcasm again)

I’m sure I would have gotten there eventually. But I’m confident I would have taken a much longer route. Yet, those words were what my girl’s heart needed to hear. And they are really the words we all need to hear, right?

Well, that was the day an idea was born: Could I somehow turn the song into a little Bible study to help other girls discover that they too are priceless to God and His precious girls?


It was such a joy to write, what turned into, a four week study drawn from the lyrics of the song. My daughter helped me write it (so that it “wouldn’t be boring”….gotta love how your kids keep you humble!!) And she insisted on including a craft to go with each week’s lesson. We hosted a group of girls this summer to try out the study. And let’s just say those days became quite special. Seeing young girls discover who they are to God was so powerful (one might even say it was priceless 😉

And yet, life being the way it is got busy and I forgot about that little study, until this week. Seeing so many women, so bravely and courageously, stepping out and speaking out about the abuse and mistreatment they have endured brought the echos of the song back to my mind, and with it this little study.

Compared to what so many have gone through, it feels trite to share this resource in response. And yet, God keeps reminding me that all He asks us to give is what we have.

And so, while I do not have the ability to right every wrong, hug every neck, or cheer for every warrior woman standing up and choosing to fight back, I do have a simplistic little resource to point young girls to the truth of who they are. So that maybe one day, if they (God forbid) find themselves the victim of abuse, or mistreatment, or lies, they will have a seed of truth buried deep inside. A seed that has been watered and nurtured. A seed that is strongly rooted and unbendable that will remind them that in spite of what they feel or what others may or may not do, they are Priceless and Precious and Invaluable to the One whose Love will always be there and whose Power will one day make ALL THINGS right again.

And so, I offer this most humble of offerings on behalf of every Priceless girl and woman out there.

My beloved priceless sisters, you are stronger than you know, braver than you feel and LOVED more than you can imagine!

Priceless Bible study (a four week study)


Much love,

ps-if you haven’t downloaded the Priceless song or movie yet, I encourage you to do so. They are wonderful and incredibly powerful! You can find them wherever music and movies are sold. 

Some days are just like that…

Today is a hard day.


But of course some days are just like that.

It’s no one thing, but rather a slow crescendo of many things—countless annoyances, irritations, ailments and responsibilities all coming together in bitter resonance. Clanging their mournful taunting disharmony until its burdensome sound can no longer go unnoticed.

You smile through the cacophony, pretending to be oblivious to its screeching sound.

“How are you?” you are asked.

“Oh just fine, how are you?” you reply on autopilot—as if responding in any other way will mark you as weak, needy…vulnerable.

All while longing to cry out, “I am NOT ok! Life feels too hard right now. It’s all just too much!”

Why do we hide? Why do we insist on wearing masks? When did we as a community decide that being real with each other was too risky? Too burdensome?

For the truth is we all have hard days, and we are all familiar with the bitter resonance of life’s troubles. And yet there is great healing that can come from someone coming alongside another in a time of need and pain.

Words aren’t nearly as important as another’s presence—as one being willing to stand with you and declare with their presence that ‘you are not alone.’

But therein lies the trouble. We are all going through something, and yet so often we insist on going through it alone. On shouldering our burdens and pain on our own, even when the weight of them brings us to our knees and buries us under their weight.

‘Surely I can carry this myself,’ I moan, while feeling my strength waning.
‘I need to keep it all together,’ I whisper as my shoulders begin to bend.
‘What will people think if I’m honest?’ I question as my knees drop to the ground.

As I lay under the weight of my thoughts and unshared hurts, I hear the voice my heart craves above all others:

You were created for community, the tender words declare.
You were never meant to keep it all together. That’s My job. The control you think you have is just an illusion, designed to keep you from trusting Me. Let go, my love, and trust Me.’ My heart leaps at the realization that my burden is a degree lighter.
People will think that you are human—like them. Your willingness to share your pain may be what allows them to share theirs. Do not hide your weakness, for it is where My strength shines brightest. My shame is being replaced by light—by hope.


Yes, today is a hard day, but you know what? Hard days are going to happen. None of us are immune. And even though my pain and my burdens may not look like yours, we can both understand how joy-less they can feel.

And so even though I long to retreat to my covers and wait for this day to pass in hopes that tomorrow will be better, I will instead stand up and offer you my hand. And together we will shoulder each others burdens.

I may not have any words to offer you, but I will offer you my presence. And I will point you to the One whose Presence can heal and restore and redeem.

Today might be a hard day, but we do not face it alone. We face it together as we face Him together.

Maybe today is a day for rest and remembering Who He is.
Maybe today is a day for action and advancement.
Or maybe today is just a day to open up and share your pain with someone.

Today is a hard day.

But of course some days are just like that.

I would be honored to share your burden with you today. If I can pray for you, please leave me a comment below.

Much love,



Repeat after me: I am not an empty water bottle

I am by nature a scaredy cat. I always have been.


As a child I used to hide behind my parent’s legs to avoid talking to people.

As a teen I refused to go on church youth tubing trips down the crystal clear rivers of central Florida, because um…hello! Florida has alligators!! All I could picture was my backside hanging down from the tube looking like the center of donut just waiting to be snatched!


As a college student I lived in constant fear of a failing grade, because obviously my entire future and life success could be measured by the grade on my organic chemistry mid-term!

As a new wife I feared finding a roach when my husband wasn’t home, because…I mean, EWW!!! I can’t stomach bugs that crunch when you squish them!

As a new mom I feared…everything!!! Is the baby too hot? Too cold? Too smelly? Am I spending enough time with my husband? Am I totally screwing up the baby? What if the floor crumbles under the baby’s crib how will I get to him in time??? (yep! I really had that fear!)

Now, as a soon-to-be author (who suffers from both chronic introvert syndrome and a debilitating case of people-pleasing-itis), I fear the dreaded bad review. Or worse the even more dreaded “no one cares!” Or worst of all…having to speak in front of people, into microphones, or God-forbid on Facebook live!!!!


And don’t even get me started on spiders, sharks, jelly-fish, barracuda (or really anything that lives in the sea except dolphins), hair in the drain, my kid getting behind the wheel of a car, or gas station bathrooms!

You guys, fear is my kryptonite!

I know that God is stronger. I know that He is able. And I believe that He is with me.

But when faced with one of my laundry lists of fears, especially the ones in which the underlying fear is that of my own inadequacy, I freeze. I fret. I falter.

When facing my fear, I feel a lot like an empty water bottle, whose cap has been loosened. One hard squeeze and I will be crushed. I can almost hear the crunch of collapsing plastic.


I worry about failing, not being enough.
I wait for the inevitable emotional sucker punch life is sure to throw my way.
I will myself to try harder, do better, be braver.

I wince in anticipation of the squeeze.


Yet, I am met with a soft word not of a crushing vice.

My gaze is directed beside me—to the water bottle I have yet to open. It’s seal still intact.

I hold the water bottle in my hand. I squeeze it, hard.



I squeeze again, and again and again. I squeeze with two hands. I can’t crush it. Can’t make a dent in it, no matter how hard I try.

For the bottle is full—the lid is sealed.

I dig an empty bottle from the recycling bin. I easily crush it in my grip.
My gaze drifts back to the full bottle.

The difference isn’t on the outside, they are both made from the same material. What gives the one bottle its strength is what’s on the inside and the fact it is sealed.

My scaredy-cat lips part, “God, I see what you just did there!”

I can’t help but smile.

For the fact is—the scaredy-cat ending, fear destroying, bottle strength giving truth is—that I am not the empty water bottle! I am the full!!!

As a child of God (as one who has trusted in who Jesus is and what He has done) God is not only with me and for me but He is IN me!!!

He has placed in me (in all of His children) His Holy Spirit—His own power. The power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God is in me right this very moment! And as if that weren’t enough, He then sealed me with His unbreakable seal.

the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you

I am a full bottle!!

The words replay in my mind as I squeeze the full bottle again and again.

It’s gonna take some time to begin living like a full bottle, but I have no doubt I will get there. After all, I now realize I don’t have to do it on my own.

He’s been there all long, just waiting for me to notice Him. Waiting for me to acknowledge the power He’s placed in me.

So while I may always scream when I see a roach—because I mean they will always crunch when you kill em—I no longer need to live like an empty bottle.

I can go and face what is to come knowing that He who is in me will keep me from being crushed by my fears.

Here’s to living full!

Much love,

JB-10 2.jpg


Monday Morning Musings (with a side of muscle relaxers)

Monday Morning Musings


Ok, so it’s not still morning, but Monday Morning Musings sounds so much better than Monday Afternoon Musings, doesn’t it? (and besides I’m on pain killers and muscle relaxers for ongoing whiplash issues which now seem to now involve my jaw! so can I just get credit for writing anything coherent at all?? at least I hope this is coherent! 😉

I’m hoping to make these musings a weekly post—a way to process lessons, truths, and word pictures that stand out to me from Sunday.


And so my musings from yesterday:

  • (Ok, truth be told this was from last week, but it was too good not to include here) Our pastor, Brian Frost, was preaching out of Ephesians 1:11-14talking about how those who have trusted in Jesus are sealed by the Holy Spirit. He then told a story about how one of his sons always makes sure to seal his cookies by licking each one before leaving the table to get a drink. Which made me think….have those of us who have trusted in Jesus been licked by the Holy Spirit???


  • (This was another gem from last week) So not only have we been licked by the Holy Spirit, but as if Divine spit wasn’t enough, our pastor mentioned John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”Which tells us that those who have confessed Jesus as LORD and King are held firmly in His hands—in which we are un-snatchable. But as if Divine spit and the secure hands of Jesus are not enough of a guarantee—as if we could possibly be lost from the grip from the One who holds all things together, God takes it one step further. Look at the very next verse, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:29. In case you missed it (like I did the first time) Brian spelled it out. Not only are we held secure in Jesus’ hands, but then God takes His hands and puts them around Jesus’. Friends, we are licked by the Spirit and then held in both the Son and the Father’s hands. I don’t know about you, but I believe that is as secure as secure can get!
  • Now for yesterday: Brian, preaching from Ephesians 1:15-23, talked about living as we truly are—co-heirs with Christ! One of our greatest inheritances being that of access to the Father. He encouraged us to come to God as our good and perfect Father—not concerned with following a formula, but just coming to Him as we are—where we are. He gave an example of his boys hearing the ice cream truck and running in for a dollar. “I heard the truck,” Brian said, “I knew what they wanted before they ever burst through the door. So how silly would it have for them to stop everything and before they presented their most pressing request, they first stopped to adore me, telling me how great I am, how tall I am. And then they thanked me for the house I provided for them and the food they had already eaten. And then what if I watched as they debated what they were supposed to do next, remembered they were supposed to confess their sin and proceeded to tell me how they had been fighting earlier—All before they asked me for the dollar?” It made for a good chuckle in the church, but the point was made. Yes, it is important to adore God, to thank God, to confess our sin and intercede for others, but God knows what we need before we need it. He knows our hearts, our worries, our fears, and our distractions. And so isn’t it better to own those. To say, “God, I am so worried about this that I want to give it to you first.” And then as we lay our worries and distractions at His feet, we will be able to worship and adore, thank and confess.


  • Lastly, another part of our inheritance is power. (And this one blows my mind!) As believers in Jesus, we have within us the same power that rose Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God! Why should I ever be afraid to do anything God has called me to do??? Think about that power! I can choose what is right because that power dwells within me. I can do what is hard, because that power lives inside of me. I can go where I am sent because that power radiates through me!


Holy Spirit licking, Father/Son holding, access granting, power giving….it’s been a lot to ponder!

But alas, my muscle relaxers have kicked in and so that is all the musings I can muster for now.

But keep seeking Him! He’s there and He delights in revealing himself!

Much love,