When What’s Better Doesn’t Feel Better-A Study on the Phrase “It Is Better”

Once upon a time when my babies were small, kissing boo-boos satisfied them though the tears continued to leak from their eyes. I remember the day reality hit, and my five year old called me out on the whole “kiss-my-boo-boo-Mommy” tact. When I offered to kiss his owie, he promptly retorted, “That doesn’t work Mommy.”

So, we got out the wash cloth and medicine. As I went to work on his bleeding scrape he hollered at me, “That’s making it WORSE!”

But honestly? Sometimes things really do get worse before they get better. My recent Bible study on the phrase “it is better” was quite educational—in fact, I uncovered the idea that many of the feel bad things in life are actually “better” for us. So, the question becomes how can things that we think of as bad, actually be better?

The answer is unearthed by diving into God’s word and searching out His meaning by these words.

Sometimes things really do get worse before they get better. This mini-study on Ecclesiastes 7:2 helps us learn to say, "It is better" when the hard times come.

STUDY NOTEThe best way to discover what God means by HIS words is to press pause on our own pre-conceived notions about who God is and how He works. Ask God to help you extract His meaning in the words, rather than trying to insert a meaning into the words we already “know.”

Let’s come at the following texts afresh together looking to hear from God!

“Mourning” is Better?

My go-to verse whenever I am faced with death is Ecclesiastes 7:2—“It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” (ESV)

Yep. You read that right. King Solomon said it. And it’s in the Bible, so it’s true.

There’s MORE! Click here to pop over to arabahjoy.com see the rest!

Valentine’s Day-Haters Gonna Hate


Maybe you are jaded and maybe you h-a-t-e February 14th.

You might be the proverbial Scrooge of Valentine’s Day (aka “Love Day”), and it is “. . . all humbug, HUMBUG, I tell you!” as far as you are concerned.

Maybe the thought of lovers/friends exchanging flowers, stuffed animals, balloon bouquets, and chocolate in heart-shaped boxes makes you sick to your stomach.

The mere thought of love might even bother you. Images of foot-popping kisses, mushy-gushy chatter, and making “googly” eyes makes you want to roll your eyes.

Take heart (pardon the pun), you aren’t alone in the contempt for all things “Valentine.” The disdain for setting aside a particular day to show off expressions of love measured by human standards is understandable. The sentiment is shared by many.

And love? With all the mixed emotions and messages about what it really is, inevitably there are some bad thoughts associated with merely breathing the word. Not to mention all the misrepresentations people concoct while on a genuine search for love.

Is it possible the negativity we may feel surrounding this day comes from a false representation of love?

If so, then what is love . . . really?

Valentine’s Day-Haters Gonna Hate

This is Love

When we allow culture to define the things God made, we are bound to get them wrong—at a minimum they will be corrupted—but worse than that, we run the risk of missing God’s intention for this “crazy little thing called love.”

In fact, when we try to express the meaning of love apart from God’s word, we end up with a twisted concept. Then we can scarcely recognize true love even when we are “shot through the heart” with it.

1 John 4:10 says:
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (NIV, emphasis added)

“This is love.”

What is?

Interestingly enough, the next phrase is “not that we loved God.” And yet, God sent love to us through His Son, Jesus, while we were unloving, undeserving, and downright rebellious.

What is the essence of God sending His Son?


By Invitation Only

Sacrifice as defined by Merriam-Webster is “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.”

The ultimate sacrifice of death can be the greatest example of love there is, but what’s the big deal? People die every day, and some even give their lives in the name of love. Why is Christ’s death set apart?

Romans 5:10: “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (NIV)

Left alone in our sinful, rebellious state, we are alienated from God, facing eternal wrath. Our sins require atonement and our relationship with God is in need of mending.

Enter a perfect, spotless lamb of sacrifice that God is pleased to accept on our behalf.

The cost?

The God of the universe and creator of all things became as a created thing:

Philippians 2:6-10
Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! (NIV)

God is the initiator of love and He proved His love by providing what we need most. We need a Savior. We need atonement for our sinfulness so we can be reconciled to God.

And Jesus satisfied the price tag of our penalty. He bore the shame we had earned on our behalf. This expression of love doesn’t compare with a dozen roses sent to the office, or a romantic meal with someone special.

But God’s “Love Day” invitation?

It goes out to everyone.

So whether our Valentine’s Day is scattered with heart-shaped cards and candies or is spent alone, we don’t have to be “haters.”

There is love to be found—true love.

God gave us the ultimate love letter in the pages of His word. We are seen by Him and provided for.

And He extends the greatest gift of love to each of us that is available 24/7 if we will but by faith believe.

Photo Credit: Instant Volé via Compfight cc

Originally appeared at Ask God Today

Thankful for a Change of Heart

by Christy Pearce on November 27th, 2016


  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart
Romans 6:17
My heart just wasn’t in it.

As I sat warming the wooden bench at church camp, the Gospel message was sprinkled around the room. I counted the cost that sticky night as a 10-year-old girl. I had other plans that would interfere with waving the white flag for Jesus sake.

“Not now,” I breathed in my young ignorance. I arrogantly believed I had plenty of time to follow Jesus whenever I was done with all the (sinful) things that I wanted to do first. I whole-heartedly obeyed the only master I ever knew—sin.

Sin in our hearts opposes obedience from the heart.

Paul takes an adamant stance about the buoyancy of obedience in the heart and life of a Christian. But before obedience can flow from our hearts, we must first be changed by the power of the Gospel, specifically, by sharing in Christ’s death. (Romans 6:4)

So what exactly does Christ’s death do for us?

Paul puts it this way in verse 6: “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

“That the body of sin may be brought to nothing.”

Marinate in that thought for a second or three.

See the rest over at Sweet to the Soul blog:

Christmas Through the Looking Glass-5 Ways to Not Lose Sight of Christmas

Some thought to help us as we head into the Christmas season. It is a recycled post that originally appears over at Shattered Magazine! (Check us out: https://shatteredmagazine.net)

lights and ornaments timothy lester creation swap

Okay, I admit it.  I am the first one to become nostalgic this time of year.

Songs with the sound of bells tinkling playing over department store speakers melts my little heart into a puddle.  All I have to do is smell a little cinnamon while looking at Christmas decorations to feel that “It’s Christmas time again” feeling, and it doesn’t even matter that there are cobwebs and witches on the next aisle. I get giddy when I see snowmen and Christmas trees pop up in the mall, and I love the big puffy metallic bows on shiny gifts and stockings overflowing their capacity.

I confess. I’m a sucker for all things Christmas.

And yet I feel guilty, because I get so carried away with the holiday festivities, I need a microscope to find Jesus in all of the fanfare.

Even though the holly and jolly stuff isn’t inherently evil…

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When a Walk Through the Sisterhood Hurts Your Heart – Guest Post Over at Ask God Today


Today I am over with Brenda McGraw and our friends of Ask God Today sharing how God helps our hurts-even when trusted friends leave us. (And linking up with Grace & Truth for the first time in a while!) PS there’s a give away over there today! 😉

For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it.” Psalm 55:12 (ESV)

I scrambled to fill the gaping hole her words left behind.

Blows loaded with phrases like “I don’t want to get together” and “This will be the last time I respond” shot straight through my heart. Worst of all, they came from my sister-friend—my prayer companion and accountability partner. With the flip of a switch, the closeness we shared blew away like chaff quicker than you can say “David and Jonathan.”

Those messages she wouldn’t respond to were pleas laced with prayer and hope that we’d be restored to friendship. But now, four years of hoping and praying later, nothing. If anything, it feels like the chasm only grows deeper and wider with each passing day.

And the shadows of what we used to be makes my heart hurt. @christylouhooCLICK TO TWEET

I admit it was complicated. Our pastor (and my husband) was all but kicked out of the church. There was intense emotional wreckage in the wake of his resignation. I thought sisters knitted together in Christ could weather the storm together, but she wanted to get away from the storm even if it meant getting away from me.

Truth: Our earthly relationships are never going to be all sunshine and pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows. No way. We’ll all have tough times, empty space and hurt. But I know this—God has enough love to heal our hurts and enough grace to fill our empty space.

I totally get David’s heart in Psalm 55 when he writes “For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it.” He aches that loyal ones have turned against him. In the blink of an eye, my faithful friend turned away, too—and it was unfathomable.

But David knew his loving God would pull him out of the mess. He says this later on in verse 22:

“Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you.” Psalm 55:22 @christylouhooCLICK TO TWEET

David “cast his cares” on our trustworthy God to lift him out of sorrow, and as promised, the Lord sustained him. The Lord sustains us, too. My friend fell short, but the best friend I’ll ever have is Jesus. And it’s humbling. I’ve never been as good a friend to anyone as Jesus is to me. Not ever.

Jesus is the only thing that can cauterize our hurting hearts. Jesus loves us when we’re hard to love. Jesus loves us when we reject Him—even to the point of death on a cross. He loves my sister-friend the same way.

Sadly, there’s no happy ending for my friend and me. Just the hope that when Christ comes back all that’s broken will be mended. What’s lost will be found. Hurting hearts will be healed—forever.

Until then, I pray in the power that overcame the grave. I pray that my friendship will be revived one sweet day this side of eternity.

If you have lost a sweet girlfriend and want to share your story, tell
us about it below!


Full story originally posted over at Ask God Today, http://www.askgodtoday.com/2016/08/26/when-a-walk-through-the-sisterhood-hurts-your-heart-a-lesson-from-psalm-55/.


“You Don’t Mean Me Do You, Lord?” #ComeWithMe

The Come With Me online bible study is in full swing at over Suzanne Eller’s web home and all across Facebook! Click here to join us!


Suzie’s words are challenging women to “step out into the deep” toward what Jesus is asking them to do! You don’t want to miss being a part of this community! Don’t have the book yet? Get it here!

Today, Suzie lets me share how God has used this study in my life! Check it out over at tsuzanneeller.com!

You Don’t Mean Me Do You?

They won’t come, so why even bother?

Maybe, maybe not. Leave that to Me.

But you can ask.


Seven weeks ago, God was nudging me down deep to come with Him. It was simple, but hard. I was compelled to invite some young ladies to study the life-giving message of the Bible sprinkled throughout the mind-changing lines of Suzie Eller’s new book, Come With Me.

I ARGUED with God as the idea hatched.

I TOLD God exactly why it would never work…

Find out the rest of the story at:


Want to read more about Come With Me?

Suzie shares her heart over at Encouragement for Today hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries. Click here to check out her post for today!



Is There a “Grace Card” Left For The 9 Pakistani School Shooters?

Today we are writing about Grace over at Suzanne Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. This is an older post, but fitting… Check out the others here:

creation swap, mountain christian, burning questions,Is There a “Grace Card” Left For The 9 Pakistani School Shooters?


1 Corinthians 6:9-11

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

“At a city hospital, staffers laid out a row of children’s bodies as armed guards stood over a pile of small wooden coffins.”

That shooting in Pakistan yesterday?

It makes my guts ache deep inside.

I have three kids, and this tragedy forces me to see my babies’ faces on the…

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I Wanna Lay Down, Not Fall Down

Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” Mark 14:29, ESV

I didn’t plan on my mouth flying open, but suddenly it did.

The thought bubbles floating around my brain shed their delicate membranes. They mutated into words with sharp talons, and they flew straight out of my very own lips. Shooting harsh words wasn’t what I set out to do. But in the end, it’s what I did.

I fell down.

Have you ever fallen down? If you have, you are in good company. Falling is a reality for each of us. And our dear ancestors of the bible fell down too. A LOT. Even when they were they weren’t planning to—like Peter. Just like zealous, big-mouthed Peter who denied Jesus.

“I will not,” Peter said. But Peter did.

The fatal error of Peter is obvious to us, but Peter didn’t have a clue. Peter glanced around and piously set himself on a pedestal saying, “Even though they fall away, I will not.” Peter thought he was better than falling—better than the others.

Deny Jesus? No way! Peter arrogantly believed “the others” were subject to failure–certainly not him. But arrogance is the staircase we climb with nowhere to stand at the top with a guaranteed fall to greet us. All too often, we are confident in our own skin instead of dependent on the God who owns our skin. And we can be so bent on success that falling isn’t on our radars. But it should be—because if we don’t plan for a fall, we can count on a fail.


Failing to plan truly is planning to fail.

Man Woman with a Plan

Even though we walk with the Lord, we are still prone to wandering off faster than a three year old at the Dollar Tree. We’ll slip, trip and fall. It’s just in our nature. Knowing ourselves is half the battle, and it’s key to our plan of attack.

So, let’s just say it out loud together-

“I can fall. And sometimes, I will fall.”

But we have hope! Though our flesh is weak. the Spirit is willing! True—Peter had Jesus in all His glory right in his face, I believe we have a leg up on him. If we are new creations in Christ, we have the SPIRIT OF CHRIST IN US. And a mark of God’s presence in us is the move of His Spirit through us.


We literally have the power of Heaven residing in us. The power to keep us from falling if we would but plan to tap into it.

So, what’s the plan Stan? The plan is to know and decide to do the will of God:

To decide Christ is worthy of our sacrifice.

To decide Christ worthy of our time and resources.

To decide Christ is worthy of our obedience.

Basically, we decide to lay down instead of falling down. We lay down on purpose to live out our purpose.

If we are in Christ, our calling—our purpose is clear. To make disciples. To love others. To follow in the footsteps of Jesus. And Jesus laid down more than any of us could ever lay down. He laid down His very life, taking on human form to atone for the sins of man.

1 John 3:16 says this:

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (ESV)

And John 15:13 says,

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (ESV)

Laying down is leaving behind sin that besets love’s reach from our lives. A preemptive strike is order. It’s time to plan. It’s time to lay that thing down before we trip and fall over it.

What causes you to fall down?

What verses can we plan to obey and prescribe to our hearts so the love of Christ prevails in our lives?

If you need help planning, I’d be happy to help! Do not hesitate to ask!

Linking up with Suzanne Eller, #LiveFreeThursday, Kelly Balraie #RaraLinkup, Arabah Joy Grace and Truth

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When You’re Stuffed But Not Full


I had eaten so much; there was no room to even breathe. Our anniversary celebration at a fondue restaurant was a rare treat. From the steaming pot in the center of our table, we drew bite after bite of delectable veggies, succulent meats and mouth-watering desserts.  It was the source of pure joy—or so we thought.

After about 20 bite-size pieces of decadence too many, we were miserable. A moment that should have left us satisfied and completely full rendered us feeling gross and miserable.

Stuffed With Food=Stuffed With Stuff

As we sat down to the sumptuous meal it was no doubt, a beautiful spread. Granted, it was a fondue experience, so the meat was RAW—yet it was so beautifully placed on the plates ready for us to dip into the boiling pot.

Boil…Eat…Repeat. Boil…Eat…Repeat. Until all was consumed. In the end, we had nothing to show for the dining experience other than a fat bill and an equally fat gut.

We began ravenously hungry and ended up totally miserable. And oddly, about 12 hours later, we could have repeated the entire process, AGAIN.

Enter the world of STUFF. Things that should satisfy us often leave us feeling miserable. Or gross. Or overwhelmed. Or… And the truth is, no amount of stuff (or food) will ever fully satisfy.



Matthew 16:26 says this, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” There are so many things from our own lives we can apply in this verse:

What will it profit if I gain all the food that I want and yet lose my own soul?

What will it profit if I gain all the money that I want and yet lose my own soul?

What will it profit if I gain all the toys, fun and adventure I want and yet lose my own soul?

What will it profit if I gain all the blessings, safety and comforts I want and yet lose my own soul?


NOTHING. Comforts, adventures, food, money—STUFF—will be of no use. Zero. Because like Grandma always says, “Ya ain’t takin’ it with ya!”

The stuff that matters so much in the now, doesn’t really matter that much in the end. So, where does that leave us?


It leaves us to view things as God does. Does God bless us with stuff? Absolutely. He gives us good gifts all the time. (Luke 11:13) And we humans require provisions to make it in this life. But I can say with all certainty stuff isn’t what God cares about the most.

In Matthew 16:22, Jesus begins showing the disciples He will suffer, be killed then raised. And Peter, true to form, throws a little hissy-fit. He says, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

Well-meaning Peter wants to preserve Jesus here on earth, but Jesus corrects him saying, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (emphasis added)

Woah. Peter loved Jesus and didn’t want harm to come to Him. That is a good thing right? Even a “God” kind of thing, right?? Apparently not. Not when it is motivated by a human mindset.

Often, good stuff can even be a hindrance to a Godly mindset. And those things profit us zippo, nada, zilch.

No wonder we feel so bad when we’re stuffed! Stuffed after an extravagant meal, stuffed to the brim with earthly possessions, even stuffed with ideas that God would surely approve of…

Everything always boils down to this: Jesus’ suffering, death and rising from the grave is what matters most. Period.

It is ours to set our minds on the things of God. To set our minds to filter everything through the lens of the Gospel. It starts with a thought that this world isn’t all there is, but all that’s in the world can be used to point us and others to the cross.

Then we can moved from “stuffed” to fulfilled in Christ.


How do you struggle with the burden of stuff?

What ways can you change your mindset about stuff to think about it with a kingdom focus?

How has this posted encouraged you today? 🙂


Linking up with Suzanne Eller, #LiveFreeThursday, Kelly Balraie #RaraLinkup, Arabah Joy Grace and Truth

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The Adventure of the Half-Open (Closed?) Door


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 5:13, ESV

We’ve been there—asking God to “open” doors or to “close” them.

But what happens when the door stares at us with a half-cocked sneer? That moment when the door is clearly not open, but it’s certainly not closed either. If you’re like me, you’re tempted to think half-open (or closed) doors are a non-answer from God…or are they?

May I submit to you that the answer to a half-cocked door is this: Trust the Owner of the door.

Trust God in the Waiting…

Trust God’s timing…

But above all,

Trust God…He knows your unknowns and will work in your life for your good to His glory.

Two Pink Lines

I’ve stood in front of half-cocked doors before. Twelve years ago, I was a newly-wed of seven years. We were enjoying our time as a couple. Translation? While I spent my days climbing the corporate ladder, Hubby was in school and student teaching aaaand working.

We decided “No kids.” While my husband’s thinking was “Not now,” I was thinking more like “Not EVER.”

But God had other plans…

When the time came to investigate the case of “the missing period,” I took a pregnancy test with fingers crossed hoping for a “No.” But when I looked that little stick, the answer was clear as day—two pink lines pointing right at me. Yikes.

So, I showed my hubby. We were prepared to…get prepared. My doctor repeated the test, yet they didn’t get the same result. Blood tests were ordered.

I went directly over to the hospital expecting that nurse to tell me my answer NOW. You know what she said instead? “Come back in one week and we will re-draw.” That was it. I was standing in front of a half-cocked door, and I was irritated. It wasn’t brain surgery—I just wanted to know whether or not I was pregnant. How hard could that be?  A simple “Yes” or “No” would have been perfect. Instead, I was slapped with “Wait and see.”


Between the Lines

God knew what He was doing in the wait. While we waited for Friday to come, my hubby and I started our preparation. Soon, preparation became dreaming. That week changed me from a “Not EVER” kids point of view to “We will be great parents.”

Except, when the nurse came into the room after the re-draw, she said I wasn’t pregnant. She explained that I probably had a miscarriage during the wait. Initially, the pregnancy hormone was so low they needed to see if it would go up in a week’s time. She confirmed I was pregnant, but not anymore—the hormone level returned to zero. Door closed.

Today, I’m standing in front of another half-cocked door.

I had an MRI to figure out some answers, but instead I am left with more questions. They said they saw an “artifact” which the doctor translated to be “probably nothing.” He said it was a shadow that may have happened if I moved during the exam or a possible error with the machine, yet we are to “watch for symptoms” according to the radiologist. And consider re-testing in three to six months.

Half-cocked door.

Is it something or is it nothing-that’s all I wanted to know. But my answer is “I don’t know.” What do you do with that?

Here’s what I did—I put on trust. I stand trusting the all-knowing God of everything. Because it’s all I can do. And truth be told, it’s all any of us can ever do.

And you know something? I’m learning that trusting God in all I don’t have a handle on is enough, because He is enough to handle it all! The God who grants peace through the hope He offers to needy, sinful people is all you or I ever really need. Jesus’ blood restores us to God—God said so.

So, I am hanging on to the God of hope.

The doors on earth lose their importance knowing God has “prepared a place” for me in glory with Him behind the door of Heaven that stands wide open for those who love Him.

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Where you might find me:
Live Free Thursday with Suzie Eller

Rara Linkup With Kelly

Three Word Wednesday with Kristin