Monday Morning Meditation: And All That is Within Me

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name. 103:1” Psalm

I have just finished 30 days of concentrated prayer, something that Mark Batterson suggests in The Circle Maker. I asked a few of my closest friends what they would like me to pray about for them, and prayed for those things most days. Somewhere in that process I was reminded of Psalm 103, and read that psalm out loud many of those days.

This psalm has special meaning to me. Long before I knew much about Jesus, I loved using the gifts He gave me. One gift He has given me is music. When I was a tormented high schooler, ostracized among my peers because of my sexuality, I auditioned for the musical, Godspell. I was given the part in the production that sang, “O Bless the Lord, My Soul,” a song based on Psalm 103.

During a time of turmoil, God gave me moments of peace among my musical peers and even my non-musical ones. We performed pieces of the musical in front of the whole school. From that moment on, I may not have been liked by some, but in my small town, they respected me because of my talent.


Oh bless the Lord my soul!
His praise to thee proclaim!
And all that is within me join,
To bless His holy name!

God’s truth is still truth, no matter what its source or circumstance. Despite the fact that I didn’t know much about God, at this early age, God began to allow His truth to take root in my heart.

I auditioned again for another production of Godspell 5 years later at a theater company where my girlfriend worked. I was once again given the same role and sang the same song.

He will not always chide
He will with patience wait
His wrath is ever slow to rise
And ready to abate
Oh bless the Lord

Psalm 103 begins with self-directives. David sings (as psalms were sung) that he is to bless and praise the Lord with all that is within him.

As I have repeated this psalm many times in recent past, I recall the truth God began to weave into my soul decades ago. I am reminded of His faithfulness and sovereignty in a time when I did not recognize Him as Lord.

I also plainly see that there is much within me that does not bless Him at all: my complaining, my procrastination, my fear that paralyzes at times, my unloving and prideful attitude.

Oh bless the Lord my soul!
His mercies bear in mind!
Forget not all His benefits,
The Lord, to thee, is kind.

How would my life change if I were to choose to allow “all that is within me” to bless His holy name? No allowing the negative thoughts to take over my mind but instead, pressing my fears into God’s heart and choose to praise Him?

Take this thought with you for the week. Ask yourself: are my words, whether spoken or thought, allowing all that is within me to bless His holy name?

*Words in italics are from the song, O Bless The Lord My Soul, by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak.

Freedom Friday: A Lesson in Priorities

I’ve been re-reading Joshua for my next book project (details later!). Reading at least a chapter a day of Scripture really has helped me keep the events in perspective as they relate to one another.

Chapters 7-8 is a slightly painful section of Joshua. After several stories of victory and radical obedience on the way to the Promised Land, Israel loses its battle with Ai. You can read the story here.

Here are some lessons we can gather from the story.

Ask God, Why?
Joshua immediately goes before the Lord. He tears his clothes, falls facedown, and begs God to answer his cries and pardon him.

Often times, we are told that good Christians don’t question God. Just accept His sovereignty and whatever He sends your way. While that can be very good advice at times, there is also wisdom in reminding God of His promises (I’ve blogged about this in one of my most popular posts) and finding out where you might have gone wrong.

James wrote, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking (1:5, NLT).” If you need understanding about a situation in your life, ask for it. If God doesn’t give you insight, then trust Him to guide you through.

Don’t settle.
Joshua does go immediately before the Lord, but his prayer is eye-opening. Rather than simply asking God, What happened? he says, in essence, Why did we ever cross the Jordan? This whole “getting into the Promised Land” is too hard! Why didn’t we just accept “good enough”?

Joshua, a man of great faith, was settling. He was falling into “wilderness mentality.”

Joshua likely spent decades in the wilderness. His traveling companions weren’t exactly pillars of confidence. If only we never left Egypt! they cried. Egypt was good enough!

Joshua was so happy to be out of slavery and out of the wilderness that he thought maybe the Israelites should have permanently made camp on the other side of the Jordan. It was, after all, “good enough.”

But it wasn’t God’s perfect plan.

So how did God reply to Joshua in this situation? Verse 10 records, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?”

This isn’t what I have for you, Joshua. Get up, and I’ll show you my best.

We must choose not to settle for what appears to be good. As a pastor of mine says, “The good is often the enemy of God’s best.”

Give God your best first.
In chapter 6, Joshua is clear in his directions to the Israelites as they prepare to circle Jericho: “Don’t keep any of the devoted things.” Achan disobeys and hides some things under his tent.

What made this account extra sad in my recent reading is that in the following chapter, when Israelites attack Ai again, God allows the Israelites to “carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves.”

Why would God do this? Why couldn’t they just take plunder from Jericho? Was it just an arbitrary lesson in obedience?

As I shared in this post, one of God’s main directives to the Israelites as they prepared to leave the wilderness behind was that they continue to walk in obedience to His commandments. They would not be successful in the Promised Land if they did not choose to obey whatever God required of them.

That said, I heard someone say recently that this is an example of the firstfruits principles. God wants our best first. He wants our offering (tithe) first. It can’t be an afterthought to be a worthy offering. Thus, God wanted the plunder from Jericho to first be an offering to Him. He was asking the Israelites to trust that they would receive their own blessings in due time.

God wants our best, and He wants to give us His best. He wants us to align our priorities with His priorities. We need to ask, we can’t settle, and we must give God our best.

Empty Shelf Challenge Book #6: “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” by Mark Batterson

I finished my 6th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive when Opportunity Roars by Mark Batterson

This book was a little different because I actually listened to the audio version. Every month, has a free download. All you have to do is sign up for their email newsletter, and they will let you know what the free download of the month is. You go to the site, enter your email, and it downloads. This month, the free download is When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. I’ve downloaded in the past The Hiding PlaceGod’s SmugglerGod is in the Manger, and quite a few others. You can’t beat free!

That said, I’m not sure I absorb as much from audio books as I do from actual hold-in-your-hands books. I also don’t absorb as much when I read on Kindle. Perhaps it’s because a hardcopy of a book is more conducive to taking notes and jotting things down in your journal.

The book was inspired by the following passage of Scripture:
2 Samuel 23:20 (NIV): “Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.”

Notice he followed the lion into the pit.

The book addressed regret and risk-taking. Most people, at the end of their lives, do not regret the risks they took. They regret playing it safe. The book addresses risk-taking and overcoming some of the challenges that come along with it, such as adversity, doubt, and fear. It also discusses how to seize opportunities and overcome your concern with looking foolish.

One main thing I took away from this book is that most people never feel 100% sure that the risk they are about to take is the right choice. In a study Batterson quoted, most people only feel about 50% sure they are doing the right thing. That made me feel better!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! If the concept sounds intriguing, you can download the series of messages that the book is based on here.

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge:

Empty Shelf Challenge Book #5: It Starts With Food by Melissa & Dallas Hartwig

I finished my 5th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.

It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig

This book is a little different than my usual fare 🙂 I mentioned in my last #EmptyShelf post that I struggle with overeating, and I was doing a modified fast with my church. The Whole30 program is based on this book, and so I borrowed it from the library.

I enjoyed the book. I can’t say I agreed with every conclusion. Some sections, I did not meticulously read word for word as I would other books. It’s not really that kind of book 🙂 I was interested in what it had to say about inflammation and some other health issues I face.

Well, the proof is in the pudding, right? Or lack of pudding, since pudding is definitely not allowed on Whole30 🙂 Now that I’m done with the fast/Whole30, I have noticed some changes. I do not crave sweets – at all. In fact, yesterday, I have some banana bread that I made, but that was the first time I had something that could be considered a “sweet.” I also notice less aches and pains post-exercise, but I’m still on a modified workout plan due to injury. I eat a pretty clean diet anyway (gluten-free, low grain, and mostly dairy-free, with lots of veggies and daily green smoothies), so the biggest change for me was not cutting out grains; it was eating so much fat.

All and all, it’s an interesting book/theory, and can be very helpful if you’re trying to clean up your diet. The program seems particularly helpful to those who have autoimmune disorders.

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge:

#FreedomBook is Here!

It has been one challenge after another in getting my paperbacks of Learning to Walk in Freedom to actually arrive at my home. After a long string of issues, I was told my books would arrive Monday. When I checked the tracking Sunday, it said the book would arrive 1/28 (6 days prior). I called Monday, and the terminal was closed due to weather. They are supposed to call to schedule residential delivery, so when I hadn’t heard anything at noon Tuesday, I gave them another call. They said my books were out for delivery! I turned to tell my husband, and he said, “I think I hear a truck.” Don’t you know – it was my books!


My 4 year-old JJ is guarding the goods.



Don’t worry. It wasn’t loaded.

18 boxes of #FreedomBook!


Order your copy today!