Tag Archives: attitude

The Grass is Always Greener—or is It? (Guest Post)

The Grass is Always Greener—or is It?

By Steph Beth Nickel

I had an epiphany recently.

I would have said, by and large, I was content—happy even. But then I took a closer look at my dreams and aspirations.

"The grass isn't always greener."

Work Life

I serve as church administrator. The hours are good. I have every Friday off. I enjoy interacting with the other staff members and those who call or pop into the office.

But part of me would enjoy earning enough money from writing that I wouldn’t need to work outside the home. Odd … because I’m an extrovert.

Ministry Life

I am involved with the Awana program at church. I love the kids and enjoy sharing the truths of Scripture with them.

But I would like to help develop a more active ladies’ ministry. Plus, I’d love to have the opportunity to once again speak to ladies’ groups at other churches and at workshops, seminars, and conferences. Years ago I spoke fairly regularly.

Writing Life

Most of my writing opportunities are in the area of nonfiction. And I’m honoured to be a contributor to HopeStreamRadio and to be working on a follow-up to Paralympian Deb Willows’s memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances.

But I have tried my hand at fiction and have gotten some great comments. The fact that I love to read novels is likely why I would like to write short stories, if not full-length fiction. Plus, I have an idea for a series I’d love to develop.

Spiritual Life

Having dreams and aspirations isn’t a bad thing, but it can get in the way of obeying Colossians 3:23, which says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (ESV).

Whatever you do …

So whether I’m creating the bulletin, cleaning toilets (as co-custodian with my hubby, I do that too), or hitting the best-seller list (not really a dream of mine, but you get the picture), I ought to be doing it for God’s glory. [Tweet this: Do each task in a way that honours God.]

While both women’s and children’s ministry are important, for now, I’m involved with children. Not only should I do it “for the Lord,” I must remember that I can be instrumental in pointing boys and girls to Jesus and that’s an incredible privilege (Matthew 19:14).

I have a number of writing and editing projects on the go. In order to fulfill these responsibilities, I must buckle down and focus. I must also, more regularly, give thanks for these opportunities. I have this moment; the next isn’t guaranteed. If I am to write fiction, I will—someday.

How about you? Do you consider the different aspects of your life and wish they were different?

Just remember … the grass isn’t always greener [tweet this].

As believers in Jesus, may we commit Colossians 3:23 to memory and seek to live it out.


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Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Residual Strongholds

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power.
Acts 8:18, NLT*

Simon had been a magician and a man of great influence before Philip showed up and began teaching about Jesus and doing miracles. Along with many others, “Simon himself believed and was baptized” (Acts 8:13, NLT).

Old ways of life die hard, and his request here shows that he still doesn’t understand the power of God. Peter’s stern response points out that Simon’s motives aren’t right, either. He’s not wanting to be able to do this for God’s glory. Peter sees evil thoughts, bitter jealousy, and captivity to sin (Acts 9:22, 23).

Simon had been using evil power before his conversion. Naturally there would be residual strongholds to tear down.

Whatever our backgrounds, the world around us and our own selfish sin-nature have formed mindsets, attitudes, habits we likely don’t even notice, that keep us from all God has for us.

But God is committed to completing His work in us. When He brings one of these hidden issues to light, it’s never to condemn us or to somehow revoke our salvation. It’s to call us to repentance and into cooperation with Him in changing us to be more like His Son.

Merciful, gracious God who is so kind to us, thank You for Your gift of salvation. You give us spiritual rebirth, and You grow us in maturity as Your children. Give us sensitivity to Your work in our hearts, and help us work with You in clearing out the garbage so Your good can replace it.

I love this song from Vertical Church Band: “Restore My Soul.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Review: The Menopause Guide, by Danna Demetre, RN

The Menopause Guide, by Danna Demetre, RNThe Menopause Guide, by Danna Demetre, RN (Spire edition, 2009)

I picked this book up years ago from a sale bin ($3 well spent) for reference “someday.” The cover offers help to “manage hot flashes, increase your energy level, understand hormones, reduce mood swings, and live with new purpose.”

What it doesn’t say is that this is a book for Christian women. I was delighted to find, along with the practical physical information, advice that integrated the spiritual dimension of our lives.

Each chapter addresses a relevant topic with compassion, humour, and a sense that the author and/or the women she quotes have “been there” and survived. Chapters end with health tips and a quick checklist where readers can make a note of the one thing that impacted them most in the section. So often we finish a book like this and have already forgotten the things we meant to put into practice.

The book includes tips on vitamins and natural supplements that may help manage various symptoms, always with the caution to consult with a health-care professional before making any changes.

My favourite part of the book focuses on how we may need to change our thinking (and the way we talk to ourselves) – renewing our minds as Romans 12 instructs. New to me was the candid assessment of how long it takes to regularly practice a new thought pattern before it becomes habit. Most of us give up way too soon.

Prayer is also mentioned as an integral part of a healthy journey through menopause. My favourite line:

My personal prayer for this season is to have a heart of contentment and an attitude of surrender at all times. [page 72]

Women struggling with specific symptoms may find help in the nutritional, exercise and supplement information. They’ll definitely find encouragement, a laugh or two, and reassurance that they’re not alone. And that menopause is not a sickness – it’s a natural part of life.

Danna Demetre has a background in health care, personal training and fitness. Her stated mission on her website is “transforming lives: body, soul & spirit.” Visit dannademetre.com for more about the author and her books, and to explore the free content she offers to help women find balance in their lives.

[Review copy from my personal library.]


The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT*

What’s your strategy against temptation? Common sense says it’s willpower and avoidance, and sometimes that’s enough.

But the Bible promises that God Himself will show us a way out of it.

God saved us, cleaned us up, and wants us to live for Him. He’s invested in our success, and He equips us with what we need. He’s given His own Holy Spirit to live in us, to lead and empower.

We still have a part to play. First, we need to be alert to recognize temptation. Not just the overt opportunities to sin, but the attitude triggers: things that spark complaining, resentment, bitterness etc. The Lord wants to keep us clean on the inside as well as the outside.

So first we need to recognize the danger. Then we need to ask for God’s way out. When He shows us, we need to seize it. No stopping to consider. Instant obedience.

It may be an obvious physical escape – leaving the scene. Or it may be re-setting our mind with a verse of truth that God causes us to remember. Whatever His way is, it’ll work – if we obey Him.

Of course we mess up, over and over, in our human weakness, but growing in Christ is about learning to live in His strength. We’re a work in progress, and He promises to forgive us when we ask Him.

Holy and righteous God, we’d have no chance of pleasing You without Your grace. You paid the price to reclaim us, You teach and equip us, You lead us. And You forgive us over and over again. Grow us in love and faithfulness, so our lives will become more pleasing to You and so others will see the change You can make.

David Meece’s song “Help Me Stand” covers more than just temptation, but it’s a powerful reminder of the difference a simple prayer can make.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Too High a Price

God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.
1 Corinthians 7:23, NLT*

How is it possible to forget the Cross… and the full cost of Jesus’ sacrifice?

Yet over time as believers, we get caught up in life and responsibilities, and it’s not foremost in our minds.

If God had simply found us at the side of the road while He was out for a stroll, just handed us spare change for a coffee or enough cash for bus fare home, it wouldn’t matter so much if we didn’t reach our potential.

Instead, His investment was huge. He came looking for us, in the person of His Son. He gave up His life to pay our ransom and to erase our sins.

That’s much too high a price to squander.

But if we’re not vigilant about our choices and attitudes, our focus can slip. We can find our lives diluted – even dominated – by things that don’t have eternal value. Sometimes that’s from buying into society’s mindset, but sometimes it’s from listening to our own selfish natures.

God may have given us many blessings to enjoy, and if so, let’s enjoy them. But let’s be careful to keep Him first in our hearts and to put His priorities above our own.

God our Rescuer and Redeemer, You know how often we need to be rescued again. Forgive our blindness, selfishness and inattention. Draw us closer to You, and teach us to delight in Your presence. Change and grow us, so we’ll forget our wandering ways and thrive in Your kingdom.

I didn’t realise how many artists had recorded “Lead Me to the Cross.” Here it is from the Newsboys:

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Some of my online friends have chosen (or discovered) their “word for the year.” Others seek out a Bible verse of the year. I knew one lady who spent the closing months of each year praying for a verse for each of her loved ones for the year to come.

Me, I’m usually scrambling to keep up with the close of a year, with no time to think about the one to come until it’s been here for a week or so. As I’ve been going through my “learning journal” from 2015, summing up what I need to take forward into the days ahead, I surprised myself by discovering one word that applied to each thing:

Intentional: worship, communication, behaviour, praise, submission, learning, attitude, availability, thinking, expectancy

These attributes would take lifetimes to develop, but they’re things I’ve felt nudged to be more intentional about. Not in a rigid or formulaic manner, but through paying attention, being present to what’s going on around me. Through anchoring my spirit first in worship, and surrendering to God’s leading in each day. What I really want is to grow in the practice of His presence: worship that affects all I do.

Clearly, this isn’t a measurable goal or one I’ll ever “master”. But we’re each invited to grow nearer to God, and I’d like to be more intentional about it.

What about you? Do you choose a word, phrase or verse for the year? For the month? Do you look back, look ahead, or just press on?

Living Worship

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
Colossians 3:23, NLT*

When I was in the workforce, I reminded myself of this verse to help my attitude and my conduct. One key is a willing heart – not a grudging, grumbling, bitter one. It’s not about what the management “deserves” – it’s about what our God deserves.

What does God deserve? Worship.

Paul expands on this in his letter to the Romans when he urges them (and us) to “give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (Romans 12:1b, NLT)

In all aspects of our lives, as employees, in relationships, volunteering, attending church meetings… in everything. We need to bring willing hearts, open ears, and eyes that are looking for what God might show us.

God isn’t distant, watching and waiting to reward us in the future. He’s present with us in each moment. Part of Brother Lawrence’s way of practising God’s presence was to do each task out of love for God and as an offering to Him.

Could we learn to live like that? We have the rest of our lives to work at it.

Our God, You formed us for worship, and we’re only complete in You. Forgive and change our forgetful, self-indulgent ways, and draw us to live and serve out of love for You… because You loved us first and saved us. Soften our hearts and help us to lift them up to You with each thing we do.

I loved this song from the first time I heard it, and recently God brought it to mind as a way to commit each task and responsibility to Him as worship. I’m praying to remember. Here’s Third Day‘s “Offering.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

How do You Handle Suffering?

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.
1 Peter 4:19, NLT*

Peter’s writing to Christians who are being persecuted for their faith, reminding them that this can go with the territory. He says there’s no value in suffering for doing wrong, but if they hold up under attacks on their faith, it’s pleasing to God and it may help others see the truth.

The context is persecution, but I think it applies to any form of suffering that we don’t deserve. Peter does warn them there’s no value in suffering as a criminal, etc.

Christians are risking – and losing – their lives for Jesus in parts of the world today, and it’s horrible. Here in North America, the most “suffering” we do for our faith is putting up with snide comments, misunderstanding, and a culture bent on denying our God.

But we’ll all face other forms of suffering, too. Sickness, financial crises, broken relationships, worry… it’s a long list. How do we handle these things as Christians, in a way that shows others who God is?

Peter says we’re to “keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you.”

What’s our confidence to do this? “He will never fail you.”

That means we guard our words and our actions, and keep our attitudes pure before God, because we trust Him. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”

It means we repeatedly choose to trust God instead of giving in to the fear and the pain. It means we make time to care for the person beside us in the hospital waiting room. (Sometimes I think God allows us to end up in those places just because there’s someone else there He wants to reach.)

It means… even when we “deserve” some self-pity, we need to ask God how He wants to use the situation.

And it means “if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it (1 Peter 3:15)”. Gently, not pushy. Tell the story of how He’s made a difference and strengthened us to endure.

It’s all about Jesus, and we sort of forget that in our daily routines.

Mighty and loving God, You saved us and called us to live for Your glory. Help us learn to walk with You each moment, living in response to You instead of reacting to our circumstances. Show us how to live in our relationships and our responsibilities with hearts turned to You and with spirits depending on You. Give us faith to know that You will never fail us.

A good song to keep us focused on the Lord’s care is “Your Faithfulness,” by Brian Doerksen.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

It Matters How We Live

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9, NLT*

“You are not like that…” Not like what? They’re not like the people who are still stumbling “because they do not obey God’s word” (1 Peter 2:8b).

Peter’s been reminding his readers that they’ve been saved from an empty way of life and that they’re being saved… growing and being built into God’s glorious kingdom. And that they will be saved on the last day.

It’s a process, and they’re living for God.

This isn’t about coming to Jesus and then carrying on with life, theirs or ours. We belong to Him now, and our lives need to reflect that.

Can our neighbours or co-workers see the goodness of God in how we live? In our behaviour? Our words, not just about Him but about one another? Our developing peace, patience, etc. as we grow in Him? If we’re learning to bring our thoughts under His authority, that will affect our attitudes, our body language, and what comes out of our mouths.

It’s not about being saved and then forgetting God in our busyness. (click to tweet) It’s about an ever-deepening relationship with Him, craving that “pure spiritual milk” (1 Peter 2:2), actively loving Him. Obeying Him.

If we don’t let our faith affect us, we’re missing a huge opportunity – and a huge blessing. And we’re letting down both God and the people He’s placed in our lives.

Father God, we have no words to thank You for saving us, for adopting us into Your Kingdom and giving us purpose. Forgive us for our distraction, and help us to focus first on You. Change us, so that others will see Your goodness.

This week’s song is Carolyn Arends’ “This is Who You Are,” sung here in concert with Steve Bell. It’s a good reminder of our identity.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Obstacles or Stepping Stones?

For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed.
Joshua 2:10, NLT*

En route to the Promised Land, Israel encountered two kings who refused to allow them to pass. Each king attacked, and was killed along with all his people. You can read the story in Numbers 21:21-35.

I can imagine the Israelites, thinking they were on the road to their blessing, confronted by an army. Twice. The way was blocked. Soldiers pointed weapons at them.

Do you think they were discouraged? Frustrated?

Being human, they likely weren’t as confident in God as He wanted them to be, despite His past care. Every time God intervened for Israel was a chance for them to develop confidence in His power. He was proving Himself to them. He gave them victory, and brought them to the Jordan’s banks with the river in full flood.

Today’s verse was spoken by a citizen of Jericho (Rahab) when the Israelite spies went to scout the city. Word of God’s mighty power had spread. The obstacles, like the Red Sea and the two kings (and the Jordan River), weren’t random challenges to make Israel’s life harder. They were stepping-stones to not only build up God’s people’s faith but to show others His power.

Can we look at the issues and setbacks in our lives this way? Learn to trust God to meet them, and recognize that however impossible they seem now, God can use them if we’ll only trust Him? Can we press on in the strength He gives, without grumbling or despair? Even with hope?

God our Provider and our King, forgive us when we look at the obstacles and forget about Your unseen power and Your love for us. Where You lead, You will make a way. Increase our faith and help us to choose to rely on you. Strengthen us to take captive our fears, doubts and complaints, and open our eyes to see what You will do.

I spent last weekend at a concert and conference led by Robin Mark and band. His song, “I Will Walk,” reminds us to walk with God: for His glory and for our sakes.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.