New Year: Thrive (Day Eighteen)


a-new-year-thriveI can’t remember the last time I read a book from start to finish, but yesterday I did. Last night, bundled under a blanket and heating pad (I just couldn’t get warm), I read the last page and then closed the book. The hard cover and book back felt so good between my hands, every word between now my arsenal.

There’s something about January that makes us want to eat better, do better, live better. This book I finished, Present Over Perfect, was the reminder I needed that life can be more full when we rid ourselves of the unnecessary. People-pleasing and ceaseless hustling, the author Niequist suggests, can get in the way of joyful, purposeful life. I’m guilty of both people-pleasing and hustling, something I intend to change.

Along with getting up at a decent hour and starting laundry, it was my goal to immediately practice simpler living. So after sorting mounds of clothes and starting a load this morning, I threw together ingredients for a hearty soup we’d have for supper. I gave myself an imaginary check mark for following the meal calendar that hung on the fridge.

I quickly (something close to a hustle) assembled a lunch salad for Jason and pulled my hair back in a ponytail. Grabbing the first pair of jeans that came out of the dryer I got dressed. My youngest, Rylie, and I would spend the afternoon together.

We found a coat that fit her nicely and we both liked it. I gave myself another check mark (clothes agreement tends to be anything but simple). I even let her sit in a rolling chair with lilac cushions that invitingly sat in the middle of TJ Maxx. I was patient…not at all hustle-y.

I was so patient and lacks i daisical that I suggested we find a place in the mall to get her hair cut (She was in desperate need). Again we were in agreement. At this point I gave myself fireworks instead of checkmarks, because this mom and daughter date was booming.

We had no wait. A sweet lady that reminded me of my older daughter Hallie’s friend, took Rylie straight back and washed her hair. I sat directly across from the stylist chair, ready to watch the simple transformation, from messy ponytail to a shorter, smoother “do”.

We were having a great conversation about Christmas and good eating places when three employees (two girls and a guy) walked past us and into the workroom two chairs down and to the left.

Their conversation, which was much louder than ours, turned downright vulgar in a matter of moments. In patient mode I waited for the conversation to turn, or get quieter, but neither happened. My face burned with embarrassment and my heart twisted in agitation. My twelve-year-old daughter was hearing cringe-y information that she could live a lifetime without.

Just when I gained the courage to get up and go peek my head in and request that they turn their X-rated sex talk down a few decibels, one of them closed the door.

I sunk in my chair. The situation had been diffused, but not by any good choice of mine. Every checkmark and firework I’d accrued rained down in my head like ash. I hadn’t had the courage to do what was needed.

Though I refrained from hustling today, my need to people please rose above my parental duty. I don’t protect my kids from everything. They’re going to encounter unsavory behavior from time to time. The difference is, today I knew in my heart that it was in my power, and it was my God-appointed purpose to speak up, and I didn’t.

I was afraid of causing a scene. I feared I’d embarrass my kid. I felt sure that my efforts would be neither appreciated or understood. I also had little confidence that my words would change their behavior (They’d already walked by and saw us there).

In my effort to refrain from trouble-making, I’d silently pleased everyone in the salon except for the loud voice in my head urging me to do the hard thing, the right thing.

Fear of being misunderstood or offending, it seems, is more important than offending my God.

So hustling? I know what that looks like. I need less of it. I’ll continue to practice a slower rhythm again tomorrow just like I did today.

People pleasing? I saw that as large as life in a salon mirror today bearing my image. I was reminded what it looks like with my daughter looking on. Rylie received a simple transformation today. It looks like mine will prove to be a little more complicated.

just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

Kristi Burden

Wife, Mom, Pastor’s Wife, and Blogger at


(Originally Posted Here:


New Year: Thrive (Day Seventeen)


a-new-year-thriveFear is something I struggle with…fear of change, fear of new adventures, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and fear of not being good enough.  

Fear grips us and doesn’t let us move. It renders us incapable to feel, to think, to follow God’s plan for your life…if you let it.

I often find myself asking if I am hearing God’s plan for me right as fear sets in. But then I am offered the beautiful reminder in Jeremiah 29:11,

“For I know the plans I have for you,  declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future.”  

His plans are far bigger than mine and I am honored to be used where he sees fit even if that means I have to face my fears. I cling to the promise in Isaiah 41:10,

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  

Where I go I am not alone if I am walking in God’s word!  

Picture that!  

So as I face the New Year I am going to, “Trust the Lord with all of my heart and lean not on my own understanding” (Psalms 3:5). His plans are perfect and He will be with me to strengthen me in times of fear while I live life according to His plans.  

Let’s conquer fear together in 2018!

Nicole Euting



New Year: Thrive (Day Sixteen)


a-new-year-thriveToday at worship I sat in the next to the last row of our worship center, which meant that I was surrounded by young families on three sides. As a sixty-three year old my days of corralling a small child during a worship service are in my rear view mirror. Actually, they are in my wife’s rear view mirror, because as a pastor, I was always on the podium or in the pulpit during this time of struggle. She carries the battle scars of those difficult days, but I digress.

These young couples did a masterful job of working with their children. Yes, there was some noise. Yes, they had to go out with a child once (okay, maybe twice). But, they were doing something very important. They were teaching their children how very important worship is. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad don’t go to soccer games (or other places) on the Lord’s Day, but to church. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad pick up hymnals and sing songs of praise to God. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad confess their sins. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad pick up their Bibles and read along as God’s Word is read. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad put their tithe and offerings into the offering plate when it is passed. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad close their eyes and pray at the proper time (okay, maybe they peak to make sure no one escapes, but they work at it). Worship is so important that Mom and Dad are quiet and listen to the pastor open up God’s Word. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad do this Sunday after Sunday, month after month, year after year, and that lesson is not lost on a child no matter how small. It is a lesson that can never be learned in a children’s church or youth service. It can only be learned up close and personal by observing Mom and Dad on God’s day in God’s house.

Is it easy? No, but it is important. It is called parenting, and it is one of the most important things that we will ever do. So to all of those young families who are afraid that they are bothering the old guy with a gray beard and thinning, gray hair I say, “Thank you. Thank you for loving your children enough to accept the responsibility to teach them about the importance of gathering with God’s people and worshiping Him. And, by the way, I heard the sermon from 1 Peter about loving those around us with the overflow of God’s love, because of the foundation of God’s love, and the nature of God’s love. You didn’t bother me a bit. I heard every word.”

May the Lord bless the faithfulness of young parents!

Clifton Rankin


Retired Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Beaumont, Texas.

(Originally Posted Here:

New Year: Thrive (Day Fifteen)


a-new-year-thriveI don’t know about y’all, but some days I just get tired. Not necessarily the sleep deprived kind of tired; however, that does happen. I mean, just tired of everything!

Believe it or not, I even get tired of smiling! I love to smile, but some days I just don’t want to smile much. I get tired of trying to please everyone all the time. I get tired of wondering if my hair looks okay, if my stomach looks too big in this blouse, or wondering if what I said to someone offended them. I get tired of wondering if what I said to someone changed their opinion of me and made them see me in a less than perfect light. Some days I get tired of being the goody-two-shoes. I just get tired!

Do you ever have those days? Those days where you wonder what’s the purpose? Where you wonder, “Why am I doing this?” Maybe there are days you are working overboard trying to please everybody and make sure everyone is happy. Maybe there are days where you feel like you’re not good enough, like you’re lacking in every aspect of life and you just want to throw your hands up and say, “I give up!”

The one thing that keeps me going when I think I cannot take another step forward is Galatians 6:9. The bible says here, “

Do not grow weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up!”

God tells us to not give up! Even in those moments when you think you cannot take another step and you cannot try to please even one more person…DO NOT GIVE UP!! Keep striving to do what is best!

We are not always going to be perfect and we are going to make mistakes. We are not going to please everybody and keep everyone happy. However, we can move forward because we have the love of Jesus Christ in our hearts and He tells us do not grow weary of doing good. That right there helps me take one more step…and one more step after that! I just keep taking steps until I’ve got it and I’m back on track! I keep taking one step at a time until I’m no longer in the, “I give up mode,” and I’m back in the, “I can do this mode,” because GOD’S GOT THIS!!!!

Kristi Davis


New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Fourteen)


a-new-year-thriveHappy New Year, friends. If you’re anything like me, every last Christmas tree needle has been swept from the house, the gnarls of Christmas lights are tucked away in boxes, and you just found a stray ornament that didn’t make it into those boxes—one that will possibly sit on your dresser until next year, because you’re just not walking that thing down into your unfinished basement when it’s 6 degrees outside. Or maybe no one is like me. At any rate, here we sit at the top of a new year. A fresh slate prime for dreams and ambitions to be etched into its stone. Another chance to strive for what might not have been accomplished last year. A new beginning.

In the midst of the excitement and zeal for the months ahead, a stark reality exists—a change from one year to the next doesn’t mean we’ve changed. But you knew that. Whatever we hope will be different about ourselves in 2018 will only be so if we do something different than we did last year. If we make changes. Thus, the ever-popular New Year’s Resolution.

But I don’t want to talk to you about resolutions today. Rather, I want to talk about milk versus meat. I want to talk to you about being spiritual people instead of worldly people, or merely human people. This is actually really thrilling and may be our answer to not only a new year but also a newer us. Follow me for a moment into Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church—a letter particularly applicable to our day and culture.

Paul wrote that he was speaking to the church in words “taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.” (1 Cor 2:13.) As I sometimes struggle to understand the things I read in the Bible, or even the deeper Christian writings, my first thought when reading this passage this morning was, Lord, if the Spirit teaches spiritual things to spiritual people—and often I don’t hear you in the way I long to—am I not as spiritual as I need to be? Have I let the pleasures and comforts and selfish desires of this world overtake me?

 I know what you’re thinking— “Don’t be too hard on yourself or so legalistic, especially at the top of a happy New Year.” But it felt like a good and liberating question to ask the Lord. I continued reading…

“For my part, brothers and sisters, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, since you were not yet ready for it…because you are still worldly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not worldly and behaving like mere humans?” (1 Cor 3:1-4.)

Again, HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS! Isn’t this encouraging?

The freeing truth is encouraging, yes: when we evaluate the selfishness and envying and strife we often foster in our relationships, we begin to see how these get in the way of hearing the voice of the Spirit in our lives. When we’re competitive or unkind, or worldly in our thinking and passions, it reveals a spiritual immaturity we want to grow out of in 2018, not simply for better behavior’s sake, but so we can grow into being spiritual people who understand spiritual things…so the Lord doesn’t have to hold back a feast for mere formula.

One of the crucial processes to growing into spiritual maturity is through studying the Bible. The reason this is true is because both the Old and New Testaments testify of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ, the One whose grace forms us into His likeness so we can further grasp the way the Spirit would have us to live. The Bible reveals Jesus to us. So if we’re going to be different in 2018, we have to commit to studying His Word.

The most spiritually transformative period of my life took place over a decade ago when I realized that so much of my depression, anxiety, unrest, general stuckness, and perpetual unhappiness had to do with having placed my hope and affections on the stuff and the people of this world—some of which was inherently really good. These people and things had become harmful because they had become all-consuming idols. The Lord, in His kindness, stripped me of these false gods that weren’t bringing me lasting joy anyhow, turning my attention and affections to Himself. My whole life changed. Not simply because of a new year but a whole new way to live.

If you’re looking for joy, hope, or healing in the New Year—if you’re desiring not just a new year but a newer you—studying the Bible reveals where we find that joy, hope, and healing. It tells us how to be spiritual people who understand the secret of spiritual knowledge. It’s all found in Jesus Christ, and no other god rivals Him.

How will you be different in 2018? What steps will you take? What will you do differently? Whatever you do, make studying the Bible a top priority starting in January.

Kelly Minter


Author, Speaker, Musician

(Originally Posted Here:


New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Thirteen)


a-new-year-thriveFor I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

I was a church kid. Although my parents had strayed as adults, my mom decided to take me to church when I was born. Dad started going back when I started asking him why he didn’t go with us. He’s never been able to tell me no!

Our attendance blossomed over the years into very active involvement. If the doors were open, we were there.

About the middle of high school I hit a rough patch. I started to feel frustrated with the perceived expectation that my family would always be involved. I was tired and didn’t want to be at everything all the time. My irritation grew into resentment. Some leaders in our church made a couple of decisions that I deemed hypocritical and I was done. I didn’t want any more of church and wasn’t interested to hear any arguments otherwise. So began the next two years of what I like to call “temporary insanity.”

I walked away and made some very poor choices. I was angry. I was angry at God. I was angry at people. Deep down I was angry at myself. I partied. A lot. I was in a toxic relationship. He was not very nice to me. I took it because I felt like that’s what I deserved. I was lost. So very lost.

One day I took a long hard look in the mirror. Not the hypothetical kind. I literally stood in the bathroom at my parent’s house and stared at myself in the mirror.

“Who was that?” “What was she thinking?” “How did she get here?”

I didn’t like any of the answers that tumbled around in my head. I decided something had to change. I didn’t know what but I knew something wasn’t right. I didn’t like who I had become and I was terrified of the direction I was headed.

Over the next couple of months I made some very difficult decisions.

First, I broke up with my boyfriend. I thought it was going to be painful but was really more of a sigh of relief. I also stopped drinking so much. It was never an addiction but more of something to do.

I felt like I was headed in the right direction but still wasn’t quite sure how to get “there.”

About 3 months after my mirror stare down I met my husband. One of the first questions I asked,

“Will you go to church with me?”

I kept feeling this tug back to church but felt out of place going alone. He immediately said yes and the rest is history.

We are now actively involved and our best friends are Christians. While many view church as a building with people, I know it to be home with family. One of the sweetest things in life is having Christian friends who will support you and love you.

I believe God places these people in our lives for a reason. I have had many trials since my time of “temporary insanity,” but I always trust God to be there and know His plan is perfect.

Jennifer Henager


New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Twelve)


a-new-year-thriveI’ve been thinking for some time about New Year’s resolutions. I often read through Edward’s list for inspiration at the end of the year. He has a way of injecting our impending death into our living so that our lives are smaller and bigger all at once.

One basic theme keeps making its way to my mind and heart. It’s not exciting, not new, not deep or intellectual. It’s that I would stop sinning against God and the people around me. All the things in life I’d like to accomplish would be greatly aided if I could make even small gains in victory over sin. My hopes and dreams are great and many and all of them require Christ’s righteousness and a killing of sin.

I want to be the kind of parent that is parenting with the salvation of a thousand generations in mind, not merely surviving the irritations of the evening. I want to be the kind of wife that helps and doesn’t hinder, that does good and not harm all the days of his life. I want to be the kind of friend that is completely committed to another’s well-being, especially their eternal well-being, without worrying about reciprocity. I want to be the kind of church member that honors her leaders, that sharpens and loves them, and that sees and cares for the whole body–the unseen and indispensable. I want to be the kind of online person who is so earnest and sincere in her words and sharing that trying to people-please or schlep for popularity is a non-factor, but the glory of God is all.

You can see how sin, maybe especially inward sin without obvious manifestations, is a giant roadblock to all of these hopes and dreams.

I will not parent with a thousand generations in mind if I’m stuck in the sin of selfishness and laziness and can’t rouse myself to be laid down as a sacrifice on the altar of daily living. I cannot be the kind of wife who helps and doesn’t hinder, doing good everyday if I’m stuck in the sin of a critical spirit. I cannot be the kind of friend who has another’s eternal well-being in mind if I’m stuck in the sin of keeping tallies. I cannot be the kind of church member who honors her leaders and cares for the whole body if I’m stuck in the sin of desiring honor or a voice for myself. And I cannot be the kind of online person who is sincere in her service and brings glory to God if I’m stuck in the sin of people-pleasing or platform-building.

Edwards 56th resolution says this:

“56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.”

It’s that last phrase that must not be lopped off: “...however unsuccessful I may be.” If success is what keeps me in the fight against sin, then I’ve gotten it wrong. Especially since the more I see my sin and the more I try to kill it, the more God reveals deeper layers to my sin. How is it that twenty-five years of walking with Jesus and I sense more sin in myself than ever before? Shouldn’t the opposite thing be happening? Discouragement is the road to circular sin apathy. If I’m discouraged by my lack of success in killing sin, I think it’s hopeless and I stop trying so hard, which reinforces the evidence that I just can’t quit sinning in any capacity. Fighting sin can’t be based on how I feel I’m doing at it.

Don’t get me wrong, there must be growth and change and discernible progress––that is not optional. But it’s like coming a mile believing the race is a 5K, then to keep going with the new realization that it’s a 10K, only to find this some kind of marathon and the distance is unknown, but so much more than I would have ever dreamed when I started.

God tells us through Joel, “…rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster” (Joel 2:13 ESV).

God wants us to tear up our hearts over our sin, not our clothes. He wants us to see the consequences for what happens to us and our people if we don’t turn. What happens if I continue in sin? Biological offspring that are denied the tastes of an eternal Father and friend? A marriage that forsakes the log in favor of the speck? Friendships that offer smooth words and zero wounds and are destined for this life only? Church members that put their own needs first and others’ last so that the most vulnerable are forgotten, never seen? And online platforms and puffing up that normalizes self-promotion in the name of Jesus, blurring the lines between a selfish ambition and a holy one?

There are real consequences to sin that aren’t boundaried by the heart in which the sin happens. No, the consequences spill out and multiply.

And it is with these serious and fearful thoughts in mind that I make my resolves and invite you to join me.

  1. Resolved, to tear my heart to shreds over my sin, whether big or small, seen or unseen.
  2. Resolved, to return to the Lord as quickly as I can, making repentance a flat sprint, not a jog or meander.
  3. Resolved, not to look at my sin one second more than is helpful for making me sober and fearful, and then to look headlong at Christ, who has paid for every bit of it.
  4. Resolved, to let thankfulness and joy be the result of repentance as I enjoy increased fellowship with my Father, rather than assuming a posture of guilt or on-going regret.

Lord, would you replace sinful inclinations and actions with thoughts of the glories of Christ and willing hands for good works and happiness in returning to you over and over, so that the appeal of sin becomes bitter and dreadful and Christ becomes more of what he is: my whole life.

Abigail Dodds


Wife of Tom and mom to five great kids | Writer of articles, reader of books, baking enthusiast, garden fanatic, mediocre knitter | All of life for Christ.

(Originally Posted Here:

New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Eleven)


a-new-year-thriveNow to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.  Amen

Ephesians 3:20-21

I love this verse! Reading it always makes me wonder how big my faith is. Is it enough to know that God already knows my needs and my concerns even before I bring them to Him?

In every situation He should be our first source – not who we finally go to after we have tried everything else and failed.

Throughout my life I have found when I put my concerns in His hands, He comes through in ways I hadn’t even thought of…and much more abundantly than I could have imagined!

Often it wasn’t in the way I wanted it to happen, but there was always a lesson in there I needed to bring me closer to Him. Sometimes His way includes a season of learning rather than an immediate resolution. This process is usually not welcome as it is often painful, but always a needed one to grow my faith in Him.

NOW to Him who is able – Right now!  What are we waiting for?

He is able – He is worthy of our trust!

Exceeding abundantly beyond – I love the beyond!  

He is so much more that we can imagine!!

Ann Wilson


New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Ten)


a-new-year-thriveI believe in carbs. I trust their delicious, fatty goodness. I’m so glad they are a part of God’s creation. Someone I met recently told me they don’t eat bread or cake and they don’t eat any fried foods. I immediately questioned the future of our friendship.

I’m learning to fry chicken. I have always approached fried chicken as a consumer not a creator. I loved the site of Colonel Sanders’ bucket, the spicy crunch of Popeye’s, the familial and familiar taste of the way my grandma fried those drumsticks.

I am married to a fried chicken connoisseur. My husband’s love language is the fried bird so in our travels for his job as a deejay and my job as a poet we almost always try the fried chicken if a town is known for it. We’ve had Nashville’s hot chicken, our home city Atlanta’s chicken with honey and biscuits, LA’s chicken and waffles. This year I decided for my husband’s birthday I’d learn how to fry chicken so I could properly fry him the bird myself.

I took out my cast iron skillet. The one Ms. Dorothea from church bought me right before my wedding when she told me how beautiful marriage can be, how completely hard it could be, how she had known both extremes in her lifetime.

I called my grandma. She told me flour, seasoned right. Chicken, seasoned right. And basically enough oil to take a bath in. I googled fried chicken recipes and read the suggestions of TV-renowned chefs. Brine, they said. Buttermilk, they said. Marinate overnight, they said.

I told my mom this and she balked and scoffed.

“Nobody in real life has time to brine and marinate chicken overnight. I didn’t. Your grandma didn’t. Your great grandma didn’t,” she said, “And their chicken turned out fine. More than fine.”

Then she got quiet. I suppose to give me the room to consider if I wanted to trust some TV chefs over generations of shared family fried chicken knowledge.

So I kept it simple. Chicken. Seasoning. Flour. Oil. Skillet. My first try at the fried bird turned out some drumsticks two shades away from being too burnt to eat. My husband loves me so he ate them anyway. My second try produced a golden brown drumstick with undone chicken meat underneath.

I learned from my mistakes. No matter how bad you want to eat the fried chicken, you can’t fry it fast. Fried chicken wants you to take your time. Fried chicken doesn’t really care about your tablespoons or your measuring cups. You will almost always prepare way more then flour than you need and use more oil than you thought you would.

You throw your favorite seasonings in the flour until the mix looks good. Then you taste the flour. Yes, taste it. Does it taste like nothing? Add more seasoning. Does it taste too salty? Add more flour. Does it taste good? Yes? Then you’re ready to fry.

Oil gets hot in the skillet. I dredge the chicken in flour, eggs, then flour again. I put my newly dredged drumsticks in the skillet on medium for a few minutes on each side. Then on low for awhile. I wait. I turn them. They slowly brown. They slowly get done inside and out.

By the time I fried chicken for my husband’s birthday, I’d reached near golden, fried perfection. Crispy skin, tender done chicken, flavor a mix of sweet, savory and spice. I realized maybe God was using fried chicken to teach me something about life. Maybe God was using fried chicken to teach me to wait, surrender, trust.

There is a reason trust rhymes with cuss. I don’t like trust. We are not BFFs, friends, homies. Trust is always arriving just in time to ruin my best laid plans and all the things I thought I had control over. I want to break up with trust, never give it a second date. I want to kick trust to the curb, tell trust to talk to the hand and other nineties’ clichés.

Trust wants me to slow down and approach my faith the fried chicken way. Stop measuring everything down to the teaspoon. Mix in the things I know are required: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Walk with God through everything: when life hurts
and when life goes well.

What if we all tried a new method? What if we stopped measuring our life based on unrealistic social media standards? What if we all took the opportunity to go slow sometimes? Stop driving our lives like we’re on a motor cross speedway and take our time like we’re in a school zone.

Because aren’t we all, no matter how old we are, in a school zone? Aren’t we all learning how, learning when, learning why?

Whether you’re frying chicken, writing the next great novel, healing wounds or starting over, go slow. Don’t just look good on the outside. Let God and the lessons of life give you the strong character you need on the inside.

When you forget all this, fry some chicken. It will keep your hands and mind busy and the end rewards are worth the wait. God’s plans for your life are worth the wait too.

Amena Brown


Amena Brown is an author, spoken word poet, speaker, and event host. The author of five spoken word albums and two non-fiction books, Amena performs and speaks at events from coffeehouses to arenas with a mix of poetry, humor, and storytelling. She and her husband, DJ Opdiggy, reside in Atlanta, GA.

You can read more from Amena in her brand new book, How to Fix a Broken Record: Thoughts on Vinyl Records, Awkward Relationships, and Learning to Be Myself.

(Originally Posted Here:

New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Nine)


a-new-year-thrive“Count it all joy, my brother, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you now that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.”

James 1: 2-4

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

James 5:16

My friends, I must confess this has been a rough year.

Like Peter, God has allowed a sifting in my life over the past year that left confusion, doubt, disbelief, and a multitude of other struggles in its wake. Many times my prayer was simply,

“Lord, be real to me today.”  

I’ll never forget the day after confessing my struggles to a friend, knowing she would be in prayer with me, how God showed up for me. Most days were difficult to get through without being exhausted, but that day, God was truly amazing! For the first time in months, there was a peace in my heart that hadn’t been there in months and an ability to see Him move during the day. Praise the Lord, did Jesus show up that day!

I can’t say it’s been easy every day since then or that my sifting is completed yet, but God is good and will continue to complete His good work.

Let me make sense of my ramblings: My dear friends,

“Confession is good for the soul.”

We often, and rightly so, teach about confessing our sin to God, but how much we miss out on the fellowship, blessing, and encouragement from God when we refuse to confess our struggles and act as if nothing is wrong. Through the Gospels we see how Jesus meant to be a part of our lives and for us to be a part of others lives’ as well. He puts people in our lives to encourage us and to lift us up in prayer when we don’t know how.

I’m not sure what your struggle is today, but He is not afraid of it and is more than capable of dealing with all that we struggle with each day.

“That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”

2 Tim 1:12

Erica Farmer