Dragon Layers

“Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through Your law.” -Psalm 119:29

The psalmist loves what God loves and hates what God hates. Deceit is lying, either to another or oneself. Here the psalmist does not want a false view of himself and mistakenly think his spiritual condition is better than what it actually is. People deceived in this way are blinded by their own spiritual pride. The psalmist is aware of this pitfall so he prays for the Lord to help him see his inner man rightly through the lens of the law. It is a grace for God to show us our sin so that we may return to Him in confession and repentance, restored in happy fellowship. In His loving-kindness our Father does not reveal all our hideous sin nature to us at once.

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, there is a scene in which the miserable Eustace turns into a dragon after pursuing dragon-ish (sinful) desires. Aslan restores him back into a boy by tenderly though painfully taking off many dragon layers which Eustace was not able to accomplish on his own. God prunes our hearts in a similar way, so that as His disciples we will bear fruit. Through gradual understanding of His truth, He peels off our dragon layers one by one with the goal to make us look like Christ.

“I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on Your laws.” -Psalm 119:30

The psalmist has prayed for God’s strength and grace in his pursuit of truth. Now he makes a bold declaration, a line in the sand, of where his allegiance lies. Only a changing heart can utter these words and mean it. This is the pilgrim’s banner. When we see God’s ways as good and even to be desired, instead of burdensome, His good work is taking root in us. There is sure to be fruit.

Grace upon grace,


Grow deeper: John 15

Purity and Holiness (part 2)

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word.

I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands.

I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.

Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.

With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.

I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.

I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.”

Psalm 119:9-16 (Beth)

With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth. (verse 13)

Remembering- this is the key for the Christian to persevere. We recount God’s faithfulness to mankind through His redemptive work on the cross; we recount God’s faithfulness to us individually through the life story He weaves for us; we remember God’s laws and His promises. Do not forget what God has done, is doing now and what He will not fail to do in the future. Remember and tell others the wonders of our Lord. 

I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. (verse 14)

When we find the Pearl of Great Price, naturally there is rejoicing. The riches of God are true but require faith and patience to take hold of. In Christ the believer is rich and has everything he needs. Yet these riches are not the material possessions the world treasures. To be rich in the Lord first means you have found forgiveness of your sins, eternal peace and fellowship with God through Jesus. Second it means that the Lord will be faithful to help extract you from the vanities of this world. We begin to truly see for the first time, our satisfaction, joy and purpose is in God alone. Thirdly, it means Jesus will give us Himself to imitate as He tenderly guides us on our pilgrimage. He gives us His fruit to cultivate in our own hearts which slowly manifests in our thoughts, speech and actions over the course of a lifetime. So be deeply happy Christian- Jesus is yours and you are His. No person was ever richer than the one who belongs to God. 

I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. (verse 15)

To meditate and consider a matter is wise. Such a thoughtful person will look at an argument from all sides weighing the outcomes. When we study God’s Word we cannot approach it as a purely academic exercise. One will only gain head knowledge, neglecting to allow the words of God affect their hearts. This is where change takes place, in the inner man. We need God’s Spirit to help us know how to think about Him and His will. Our prayer each day can sound like David’s psalm, “Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long (Psalm 25:4-5). How can we know the path He has charted for all His children? Look to the Scriptures. The King’s royal words are true and for our own good. They will not fail you because God will never fail you.

I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word. (verse 16)

To delight and neglect are opposite in desire. We delight in what we hold dear, our treasures, our hopes and interests. We neglect what seems dull, hard or irrelevant- it does not captivate us at all. This is the challenge placed before each child of God. We can go to Him, asking for His help in our unbelief, when our faith is shaken or stagnant. The more we read and comprehend truth, the more our belief and love contain the proper nutrients to grow. The flame of our heart’s desire will burn brightly as discipline welcomes delight in the duty of seeking the Lord our God.

Who is God in this passage? (Psalm 119:9-16 Beth)

God is our Teacher. He helps His children live according to His Word. His Spirit ignites the flame of love and belief in our hearts. God says to seek Him and love Him above all else because He knows that HE is the very best for us. The Lord is the Pearl of Great Price.


Grace upon grace,



Grow deeper: Matthew 13:44-46

Purity and Holiness (part 1)

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word.

I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands.

I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.

Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.

With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.

I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.

I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.”

Psalm 119:9-16 (Beth)


Verse 9 is the main question for the rest of this octave. The psalmist shows how our faith is to be daily active and very practical. Christians are called to reflect the beauty of God’s commands, His holiness, and His character. This is what it means to become like Christ. 

The psalmist lists a number of actions to take as believers discipline themselves under the delight of doing God’s will. Most of the actions are things we do positively in pursuing a life according to God’s Word. But there are negative activities we must avoid as well, as a resolve to not displease the Lord: 


I seek You with all my heart; (verse 10a)

This is a positive action. Do I seek God each day with all my heart? Is He my treasure and delight? (Deuteronomy 6:5)

do not let me stray from Your commands. (verse 10b)

A plea to not let the psalmist stray from the truth. Our hearts are prone to wander, looking for love, identity, or satisfaction in someone or something other than our Heavenly Father (Isaiah 55:6-7).

I have hidden Your Word in my heart (verse 11a)

Hiding God’s Word in our hearts is a result of treasuring Scripture. When we love His Book we learn more about God- who is He? who am I? The Bible tells me I am a sinner saved by the blood of Jesus. He is patiently and tenderly transforming His saints by His grace, through the help of the Holy Spirit. 

that I might not sin against You. (verse 11b)

A desire not to sin blossoms from a regenerate heart as he gazes intently on God’s law. He sees how he has fallen short, failed God, but is also aware of the great cost to win us back into fellowship with Him. The deep deep love of the Father sent His Son Jesus to pay the price meant for us. Christ inherited our just judgement, we inherited merciful righteousness. Pray we will not grieve the Spirit over careless words, thoughts and actions! 

Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees. (verse 12)

The Holy Spirit is our Teacher. The psalmist did not have this permanent blessing as we do today. Praise You Father for this wonderful gift! Anything we learn from His Word is because God has graciously revealed it to us. The Lord gives us eyes to see, ears to hear, a soft heart to respond and obey. As He teaches, our love for Him will grow. Bless You Father. 

Grace upon grace,




Grow in Grace

“You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.” -Psalm 119:4

The psalmist in Psalm 119 rightly understands pursuing God means living out the commands He has given. It isn’t enough to mentally assent to the words of Scripture. We must be people activated in the power of the Holy Spirit, putting hands and feet to what our mouths profess. We also acknowledge that no one fulfills the ways of God perfectly except Jesus His Son. Our failure to carry out God’s standard shows us our need for Christ. Only then can we persevere in faith, pursuing holiness because of what Jesus has done for God’s children. A regenerate heart will want to follow their Shepherd, knowing we will stumble but equally aware of our King’s grace toward redeemed sinners. He keeps pouring out more mercy, more love, more fellowship with Himself. We serve a just and gentle Savior. God is faithful to help us obey when we abide in Him. He is faithful to pick us up when we fall into the miry pit as well.

God demands submission to His authority but not as a harsh taskmaster. He expects us to follow Him out of love and trust. What do you know about God? What is His character like? His faithfulness in past events? The same God who rescued His people from slavery in Egypt through Moses, the same Father who allowed His only Son Jesus to die for sinners, is the same Lord over all today. He does not change (Hebrews 13:8). We can trust a God like this. He is willing and capable to deliver His people from bondage, to grow us in grace, guiding His children in obedience to His will.

Grace upon grace,


Grow deeper: Isaiah 40:25-31

Liberty of Conscience

This is a helpful article regarding the heated debate: To take the Covid vaccine or not? I think it is a balanced and charitable argument regarding a Christian’s liberty of conscience. There are other issues where my convictions differ from my brother or sister in Christ. It does not dissolve our bond, but gives each an opportunity to exercise grace. God does deal with His Church corporately, but He also addresses us individually. When areas of this kind are difficult to navigate, we always go to God’s Word and remain vigilant in prayer. It is not my desire to wrongfully judge another Christian who arrives at a different conclusion than me on matters of conscience. My hope is wherever you land on this issue, we will not shame or bully one another to “our side”. That is sinful, for, “anything not done in faith is sin” (Romans 14:23) for the person whose conscience it violates. May God’s tender mercies and lovingkindness be over each of us, quickening our hearts according to His love.

Grace upon grace,


Falling and Rising

Sometimes life is heavy and confusing, hanging us upside down by our toe nails. That’s alright because God still has His firm grip on His sons and daughters. What if we need to be sifted? What if God graciously uses a situation to show us blindspots of sin? What if our faith needs refining to burn away the dross? Rest assured, the fire will not consume you. It just makes our zeal for Him stronger, stoking the fire in our hearts, for those who belong to our Lord. 

The doubts, hardships and sin battles are not something unique only to us today. Christians since the Fall have engaged in spiritual warfare typically compounded with situations which test our faith. Sometimes circumstances happen outside our control, sometimes we bring the consequences of sin on ourselves. But you are not any less in His eyes during moments of weakness or trials. Think of our great heroes of faith from Scripture. Noah drank too much after God rescued him and his family from the flood; Abraham on a few occasions let his fear overcome him and he lied about Sarah being his wife; Moses got angry with the Israelites and disobeyed God’s command to speak to the rock and bring forth water. He angrily struck the rock instead and took credit for himself. Then there’s “the man after God’s own heart” King David, who sinned in adultery and murder of Uriah. Even Saul, later renamed Paul, was a persecutor of Christians before Jesus changed his life. Paul would later write, “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20). These men understood God’s discipline and His grace.

So when we fail God is faithful to humble us, show us our sin leading to repentance. Then we get up again. And again. And again. Grace isn’t a license for us to sin, but a declaration that we are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1). This is the wonder of God’s grace to His children. The MacArthur Study Bible states this redeeming work in our struggle with sin combined with pursuing righteousness:

“Believers receive the imputed righteousness of Christ at salvation (justification) . The Holy Spirit works practical righteousness in the believer throughout his lifetime of struggle with sin (sanctification). But only when the struggle is complete will the Christian receive Christ’s righteousness perfected in him when he enters heaven (glorification).

Dear Christian, this is our promise, this is our confident hope. Rest in the finished work of Jesus today.

Grace upon grace,


Strangely Glorious

The more I press into God the more I realize how little I know of Him. You think it would be reverse. Yet He is so vast, so rich and inconceivable to the human mind and heart. The Lord reveals to us as much as we can stand, to behold His Glory.

Just like my sin, if I really understood the horror and magnitude of it all, it would crush me. So God graciously puts believers under the knife of life-long sanctification. Some incisions cut deeper than others, but all are necessary to shed the dragon layers that keep us from complete intimacy with Him.

As when Moses’ face shone with the glory of being in God’s Presence, God knows His Shekinah Glory is more than mortals can bear (Exodus 33:12-23; 34:29-35). Instead, He mercifully shines His reflection in the face of Jesus- and there we behold Him. It is through the loveliness of Christ we see who we really are.

I am covered by His blood and can say I am His daughter. Simple though I am, He is patient to teach me for eternity (Isaiah 54:13).


Grace upon grace,


A Gracious Receiver


I just finished a Bible study in the Gospel of John with a group of women all over my city. One of the questions in our lesson asked, “How have you seen the Lord’s love and knowledge of you in the way He tailors His correction especially to fit you and your circumstances?”

For me it continues to be a lesson of accepting God’s grace and forgiveness. I’m no longer “just a sinner”, but covered in Jesus’ righteousness. God wants to show me the freedom I have in His forgiveness over my sins, yet I stay wrapped up in all the ways I fail Him. Isn’t that silly? He has made believers as new creations but I cling to dust and ashes. I resist receiving what is already mine.

The past few months have been painful to learn this lesson. I feel like it should be the easiest one to have down pat. Grace is grace and believers live in a “sea of grace” (BSF Notes, Lesson 28, p.4). Yet growing in spiritual maturity is sometimes remembering that we forget the easiest lessons. And I need to remember every day.

Quick to acknowledge that I’m a depraved sinner, I often miss the very real truth that because of Jesus I am forgiven; redeemed. How many times we miss this life giving principle. When we can’t even accept our own failures as forgiven, how in the world do we forgive someone who has wronged us? Or ask for forgiveness from someone else?

We are hidden in Christ, cleansed from all shame. And the best part is that we have done nothing to deserve such mercy- it is all by the grace of God. That is the most humbling and gracious news.


The Lord is actively at work in us, in the world, through all the brokenness. He is redeeming all things for His Glory, and He first starts with His Beloved- you and me. If we want deep faith than acknowledging our deep sin that cannot be cleansed apart from Christ is the first step. Then we move forward and receive the gracious forgiveness extended to us, bought for you and me on the Cross.

Live in freedom.

Walk in freedom.

Satan thrives on paralyzing Christians with our failures, but we have an Intercessor who prays for us- Jesus Himself (John 17; Luke 22:31-32). Even though we might stumble and fall, God is faithful to love us perfectly and patiently. All praise belongs to God, because anything we have already comes from Him, even faith. You and I can receive His grace and not live as one condemned.



Grace upon grace,




Grace in the cracks


Before my son was 8 months old he had no trouble sleeping. What I mean is, he slept like every other baby. In the early months, a couple times a night he would wake to nurse. Then came a few longer stretches of sleep. Usually rocking would work or the amazing mechanical baby-swing. Wind it up and he was as good as gold.

I thought we were nearing the edge of the woods in the sleep deprivation world. My mom always said you can endure anything as long as it doesn’t last forever. Her words rang in my ears those 3 a.m. nights that seemed endless.

And yet, somewhere around Christmas his sleeping habits grew worse, and so did mine. Frustrated and foggy-brained, I went into survival mode. Just make it through this day. Steal sleep in the cracks. An hour here, a cat nap there, or just close my eyes for a few minutes.

As he out grew the baby-swing, he struggled to sleep through the night. When rocking didn’t work even his naps grew shorter. He woke up crying most days and I scooped him up, weary and defeated, to cradle him on my chest while we both laid on the couch.

My sweet boy would often finish his naps cuddled safely in my arms. This forced me to stop everything else and just rest and be present. His breathing became steady and calm again, as I watched his little body relax into sleep. It was in these moments two verses came to mind as I marveled over God’s way of taking care of me:

“He makes me lie down in green pastures,

He leads me beside quiet waters”

 Psalm 23:2


“He gives strength to the weary and

increases the power of the weak”

 Isaiah 40:29

 Flock of sheep, New Zealand, Pacific

            God made me physically rest when I needed to. He does this in a way that isn’t militant or harsh, but lovingly.


Like a Shepherd over His sheep, God knows what is best for us before we do. And I remember laughing over the irony. I was trying to help Jesse rest as God helped me rest. I was a child in need of a nap!


We sometimes forget how important physical rest is and that it can affect our spiritual health as well. We think we can “do it all”. It humbled me to find out that I can’t. Something has to give. It was about this time that Jason and I started praying at night for our son, and for us as well, to have the gift of sleep. I didn’t realize sleep as a precious gift until it was taken away.

And rest came in ways I didn’t expect. Even though the nights were still interrupted with his hyperactivity, God’s grace took shape on that couch during nap time. There were dishes in the sink, laundry to be washed, and a list of to-do items, but the only thing that mattered was the only job I had in that moment: to be still.

And that was enough.

The Lord taught me that I often forget how much I need Him to take care of me as I take care of the sweet, autistic son He has entrusted to me. God delights in ministering to our hearts as well as our physical bodies! He reminds me that He will provide grace even in the cracks.

Grace upon grace,


6 Things Every Special Needs Parent Wishes You Knew



“but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” -Romans 5:3-5


I hesitate to even write something like this because I can see how it would easily be interpreted as complaining. However, I think that sometimes when one can serve as the voice for many to be heard, it is beneficial for all. I have met other parents with special needs children and while our stories don’t look exactly alike, this list I think addresses issues most parents feel. Even parents with typically developing kids will identify on some points.

Children are a blessing from the Lord, and as we learn what struggles each of us face, “to walk in one’s shoes” so to speak, maybe there can be room in our hearts for patience, compassion, encouragement, and even prayer toward one another.


  1. We often feel overwhelmed mentally.

Feeling physically exhausted goes with the territory of any parent with small children. And you do sometimes feel like you will lose your ever lovin’ mind. But raising a special needs child is especially mentally taxing. There is a steep learning curve for parents to learn medical language for example. There are encounters with neonatologists, neurologists, audiologists, optometrists, GI specialists, geneticists, podiatrists, sleep specialists, along with his general pediatrician.

Then we learn the ropes (and jargon) for therapy with Early Intervention, the “experts” in Autism (or whatever the disability), speech, occupational, physical, and playgroups. We find out what our insurance will and will not cover, and then play phone tag with the insurance companies.

Parents with special needs children are later immersed into the world of education (and there’s a whole set of special terms to learn here as well). Obviously we want the best for our child, and I am personally grateful for the educational opportunities we have been given. But this also involves 2-3 hour long IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings with your child’s “team” to write out goals and services for him that are legally binding.

Sometimes when we don’t agree with the educational team about his placement or switching schools (again) there is push back. We are their advocates and sometimes that requires fighting “the system” to do what we feel is best for our child.

Most children with Autism have sleeping problems (as high as 80%). This affects not just the child, but also everyone else in the house. Parents are sleep deprived long past the newborn stage and are expected to function as if nothing is wrong.


  1. We worry about our child’s lack of development

We wonder if they will ever become independently functional. What will happen if one or both parents die? What will happen to her once she becomes an adult? Will I still be able to care for her?

Worrying about the future is fruitless because no one knows the future except God. But the fears still haunt us and for me it calls for daily trust in the One who designed my child.


  1. It can feel very isolating

We can’t carry on the same conversations with other parents about our kids. While yours is playing tee-ball and learning about rockets, mine just learned to drink from an open cup without spilling. We celebrate in a big way those little milestones because it’s a small step toward progress for him.

I have to work at not feeling angry or cursed in isolation just because others “don’t get it”. Honestly, it isn’t their job to understand my situation although it would be nice. I have to remember that Jesus sees me and He has carried us through so far. When Christ lived on earth He was misunderstood and even rejected. The Lord sympathizes with my heart.


  1. We love our kids!

It pains us to see them struggle or not quite fit in but its just part of the deal. Other special needs parents I know Google like crazy, research like grad students, take their child to a renowned doctor states away, sit in a waiting room while their son has a 6 hour operation, inquire over the best therapy places in town, or special sports teams/activities and attend parent support groups.

These parents are warriors for their kids, utilizing all the resources available to them. All so they can give their kids their best chance to thrive.


  1. We may not be great at relationships

This goes back to the isolation thing. It is very hard to connect with someone who looks at you as if you’re from a foreign land when you tell them about your day-to-day activities. And sometimes when we sense a lack of grace in how we raise our kids, we draw back. If you thought there wasn’t a manual for parenting a typical child, there definitely isn’t one for raising a special needs kid. It is a vast frontier of uncharted territory for us and we are doing the best we can just like you are.

I also just do not have the mental energy at this time right now. Even scheduling lunch with a friend outside the regular routine makes me want to hyperventilate.

Friends and family who stick by us understand if we don’t call enough or visit enough. There is already a load of guilt for not doing “all the things we should”.

We long for community and a support system, and some of us have it, but some are in a season of life where survival mode is the only option.


  1. We connect differently with our kids

Like I said before, we love our children, but for me personally, communication is an obstacle. I understand (and interpret) what he says some of the time. My little guy is persistent though and will repeat the same word a few times hoping I’ll make sense of it. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, and we just move on both a little disheartened.

We tell our children we love them over and over, even if we never hear it back. We play their games, the habitual ones (spinning, anyone?), because we long to meet them where they are, so we step into their world.

It’s mind numbing for sure, but for that time he looks in my eyes, holds my hand, falls asleep on my chest, or squeals with delight? Well, that makes all of this totally worth it.

To the parent of a special needs child, you are doing a great job just for getting out of bed each day ready to take on the daily challenges and demands. Don’t give up on your baby.

To others who know of someone with a child who has special needs, show them grace. Understand that their lives function differently than the rest. Give them a hug or shoot them an email of prayer/encouragement. Parents need it!

Hopefully we can all take a step closer toward loving others right where they are, however messy or hard. It is in those moments the light of Jesus Christ is reflected back to the ones you reach out and serve. And isn’t that what we all want in the end? For the world to see Jesus in us, because He is the very best thing for every parent and every child and every person.


Grace upon grace,