focus 2016: faith

In 2016, I've decided to pick four areas to focus on: family, faith, wellness, and enough. Yesterday, I shared how I plan to be intentional with my family and today I want to talk about faith.

My faith isn't something that I talk about a lot but it's one of the things that's been most important to me throughout my life. There are times when I'm more and less intentional with my relationship with God but it's foundational and I want to be purposeful about that relationship this year in a way that I haven't been recently.

I have always had a hard time with discernment. What is God trying to tell me? How is He trying to work in my life? How do I know if it's God telling me something or if I just hope that it is? This past fall I started feeling little tugs, little moments when I felt God's presence or saw little reminders of His will. Over and over this was happening, just very small things in the midst of the bustle of returning to work, managing two kids, and trying to keep my sanity. This was the first time where I really felt that all of these small things were definitely God trying to remind me that He is there and that He needs to be at the core of everything I do. 

At the same time, we have been teaching Elia about God, Jesus, and the Bible and teaching her to pray. Praying aloud has always been uncomfortable for me but as we've been teaching her to pray, I've become more comfortable and consistent with my prayers. It's humbling to see what God can teach us through our children.

This year, I'm really looking forward to continuing this journey of spiritual growth and am planning to use the following resources to help me:

1. She Reads Truth
This is a daily devotional website and app that is beautifully designed especially for women. The Bible text is integrated so you don't have to have your Bible handy to do the studies, you can just read along in your app on on your computer. They have many different study plans such as Women in the Word, Hymns, The Bible in a Year, Lenten and Advent studies and many many more. The studies range in number of days and while I wish I could say that I make time for devotionals every single day, I just don't. The shorter studies allow me to focus on devotionals for 5 days or 14 days or 30 days at a time. They also have print editions of the studies available and they are just gorgeous. For the men in your life, try He Reads Truth.

2. Savor by Shauna Niequist
If you are a woman of faith who is connected to the Mars Hill community or follow social media, this book has likely been all over your radar over the past year. I bought it when it came out and have been reading through it sporadically since then. This is another daily devotional and the devotions are relatable and short, easy to commit to. Shauna's books always make me feel like I want her to be my best friend because she just seems to get it. She has walked where you've walked and sees God's presence in her life through both profound and mundane happenings. With the new year comes the opportunity to start this book from the beginning and I'm looking forward to winding down with this before bed every evening. 

By the way, I have all of Shauna's books and my favorite is Bittersweet. It's a collection of short stories about the ups and downs of life and seeking grace in the midst of change. One of my favorite lines is from Bittersweet, “When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” There is such wisdom in that sentence.

3. God-Centered Mom Podcast
I was introduced to this podcast by a friend and just love that it's by moms, for moms. Hosted by Heather MacFadyen, the podcast features women who are going through or have gone through the same things that I am facing now and it's refreshing to hear them talk about how they're getting through it and keeping God at the middle of it. The episodes vary in length so I tend to turn on shorter ones while I'm out running errands of on the way to and from work and the longer ones if I'm on a leisurely walk with the kids in the stroller.

And finally, the faith-related thing that I am most excited to do this year is...

4. IF:Gathering
The IF:Gathering. I first heard about this after a friend invited me to join her at last year's gathering. I was busy and declined but then several friends were posting about in on Facebook and have all said that it was a wonderful experience. Throughout the year, it keeps coming up, another of those little moments, those little nudges that piqued my interest. So what is the IF:Gathering? From their website: 

"The IF:Gathering seeks to gather, equip, and unleash this generation of women to live out God’s calling on their lives. We are a generation of women that believes God at His Word that He called us to our places and will use us for His glory and for the good of His people. Our goal is to make the name of Jesus great in and through the women of our church, neighborhood, & city."

This is a two-day gathering that will take place in February. The main event is in Austin, Texas and I will be participating remotely, along with thousands of other women across the country at a local gathering. Honestly, I'm not sure what to expect and I'm nervous. A gathering like this is out of my comfort zone in a variety of ways but I have been so compelled by the rumblings I've heard about previous gatherings that one day back in November, I just registered before I could talk myself out of it. I am anxious and excited to see how this gathering impacts me and shapes my year.

If you are interested in attending an IF:Local event on February 5 and 6, please visit this page. There are tons of options, especially in West Michigan. If you're interested in joining me, let me know, I'd love to have a friend along with me!

So there you have it, specific ways that I am hoping to grow my faith and connect with God throughout the year. It's easy to get wrapped up in other things and ignore your faith. That's not the kind of woman, wife, or mother I want to be and I'm looking forward to seeing where He leads me in 2016.


  1. Hey there! I found your blog via your profile on FB via the Eastgate page... so that sounds kind of stalker-ish, ha! Anyway, just wanted to say that I'm also going to IF for the first time this year, and I'm going alone. Are you going to the GR Christian Middle School location? If so, maybe we could meet up ahead of time and sit together. :)

  2. That would be great. I just sent you a message via Facebook, looking forward to it!