Bookworm: Books that change and challenge me

I love books that make me dig deeper into my faith and get closer to Jesus. I could probably stand to read more fiction and biographies, but I am just naturally drawn to books that dig deeper into other people’s stories and how they met Jesus along the way. Here are six books I’ve read in the last 6-9 months, a brief synopsis and why they were important to me…

  1. The Magnolia Story, Chip and Joanna Gaines – We’ve loved Fixer Upper, since we discovered the HGTV show a couple years ago. I like to tease Troy that he’s a bit like Chip. This book is a back-and-forth between Chip and Jo, telling the unlikely story of how they met, how they got into flipping houses, their early years as parents and shop owners, and how they’ve stumbled into fame. I love that they don’t mince words about their faith. It’s inspiring because they didn’t go out looking for ‘fame and glory’. They just pursued what they loved, alongside their growing family, and impact and financial blessing found them. An easy read for sure!
  2. Galatians for You, Timothy Keller – Can I say “I heart Timothy Keller”….? Troy and I read a lot by him, as he’s helped unpack years of gospel teaching that we’ve both had, into language that makes sense. And convicts. And challenges. This one is more of a study guide to the book of Galatians. The church in Galatia were trying to live out their faith in their own works, so Galatians’ six chapter book is letters to the church about what Christ has already accomplished and how to live out your faith leaning into the work of the Holy Spirit. As a new mamma, this book has been a good guide to still get some “Word” into me and have some direction when time is a little unpredictable now! I know Timothy Keller has other study guides on books of the Bible, so I’d love to find more!
  3. Heart Made Whole, Christa Black Gifford – This book is Christa’s journey from abuse as a little girl, to working in Christian music industry, to one day losing their baby girl at birth to anencephaly (no skull). She walks through how her heart found years of healing by facing the pain as she allowed God (LOVE) to take residence. It’ll make you cry. It’ll make you look at your own heart, and where there are hurts you haven’t faced. It’ll make you want to just sit and talk to God as a Father, more and more.
  4. Sit, Walk, Stand, Watchman Nee – This was a book a friend recommended a couple years ago; an old classic. Originally published in 1957, this book walks through Ephesians and how Paul admonishes the church in the process of Christian maturity: that we cannot walk out our faith or stand against the enemy if we are not first SEATED positionally and know who we are in Christ. Sitting is an attitude of ‘rest’ – a word that God has had on my heart, over and over. Learning to REST in Him and His already finished work. In his words, “And here is the gospel: that God has gone one stage further and has completed also the work of redemption, and that we need do nothing whatever to merit it, but can enter by faith directly into the values of His finished work.”
  5. Practicing His PresenceBrother Lawrence & Frank Laubach – This is the testimony of two different gentlemen and their journey to experiencing how to be aware of Christ’s presence moment by moment. Brother Lawrence lived in the 1600’s, and Frank Laubach was born in 1884. The back says, “Other than Pilgrim’s Progress, there is probably no other piece of Christian literature that has stood the test of the centuries so well.”
  6. A Shepherd’s Look at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller – This was recently given to our mom’s group leadership team, and looked like an easy read, so I read it over the last month (that’s quick for me!). Written by a shepherd, the man talks about the symbolism between humans and sheep, and why Christ is called our Shepherd. It brings light to every line of Psalm 23 from the biblical meaning of wool, to the need for a ‘rod and a staff’. It brought great comfort to me in a way that I feel I can see Jesus’ devotion to me in a deeper way.

Can you see a trend? Heart work. Digging deeper into knowing God’s presence, just for Him. That’s what I want, so that is what I am reading right now! Pick one up today! 🙂


After I Do – Book Now Available!!

After I Do Book CoverDrum rooollllll…… I am so pleased and honoured to share with you today my very vulnerable, practical, and personal experience of our first year of marriage through my self-published book, “After I Do: A first year marriage story”.

I wanted to share a glimpse into the changes, the adjusting, and the beauty of those first 12 months of marriage. When Jesus is the centre of your heart AND marriage, I believe that He can and will help us along the way. So while this is primarily for you gals who have yet to get married, perhaps my vulnerability and stories will inspire you to ignite something in your own marriage!

There’s three ways you can order the book, After I Do:

Print copies here, on Blurb

eBook copy on Amazon Kindle

eBook copy for Apple iPad format or search Lani Lupul in iBooks

Enjoy this little video as I share a bit of the ‘why’ behind this book… Thank you for all your support!

What do you want? A simple question, a loaded answer.


Lately, Troy and I have both felt challenged to ‘up’ our expectations. Increase our anticipation, so to speak. To not just strive in some areas of life, but to thrive. It can be easy to get into maintenance mode where we give thanks (as we should) for our daily bread and all the good gifts God has given us, but never anticipate and pray into what He wants for the next or present season of time.

We are in somewhat of a transition again, and more than just having a baby in four weeks! And it has caused us to really lean on the Lord as we welcome His good gifts, but also anticipate what treasure is in this season.

If I stop and picture our little girl, say, five years from now as we bake cookies together or dance with Daddy in the kitchen… I would hope that not only does she have a thankful heart, but that she knows her Mommy and Daddy WANT to give her good things. That she feels she can ask and hope. If she never asked for anything, I would wonder if she truly knew how much we wanted to give to her. Now of course, the decision is up to us, but in her asking she would be showing us that she knows we provide and love her and are there for her needs.

I almost feel as if Jesus is before me asking, “What do you want?” which caused me to go to my Bible and look up how many times in the gospels He would ask someone that same question, before He healed them. As if in establishing their desire, He was establishing their faith and trust in Him. 

Look for yourself. From the blind beggar Bartimaeus (Luke 9:41, Mark 10:50) to the man at the pool (John 5:6) to asking Martha “do you believe this?” before He brought back her brother Lazarus from the dead (John 11:26), Jesus would repeatedly establish someone’s desire and faith before bringing it about to reality. He didn’t do this with every person, but with enough that it stands out to me as something of importance. What do you want? Do you believe this? Do you want to be healed? Jesus questions as though challenging us to dig deep into what we truly believe.

Is He able?

Does He want to?

Will He show up?

And if I truly believe this, then why am I not asking more in my life?

John 16:24 challenged my heart with, “Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

There are some things I would really like of the near future. And rather than saying, “God, however YOU want it to go, I am okay with that. I will ride the wave. I will watch and see.” I feel like He is challenging me to ASK and believe in His good character and His heart. As though I underestimate His love for me and how much He is on my side, I almost hesitate to ask big lately. Do you? I feel like it is taking MORE faith to ask big things right now, than to let whatever will be, to be. The results are still up to Him, but there is something in the asking that establishes my belief that He is on our side, and that He is good.

Perhaps the asking is less about receiving whatever we want, and more about establishing relationship anyway. If Jesus says tells us to ask and we will receive, that our joy may be full… Well, we know that true joy is never is perfect circumstances or things anyway. That’s not what God teaches us! It’s about the closeness we can share with Him. So in asking, there must be something that He wants to establish in us … Don’t you think?

I don’t know what boat you’re in – trusting and seeing, asking and waiting, or holding on for dear life as God does some amazing things in your life – but there is something to be said for giving thanks along the way AND asking our good Father for big things for the next season of life. Because at the end of the day, the start of the day, and in the middle of it all, He truly wants to be there for us.

So go on. What do you want Him to do for you? Ask. I dare you.

Monday Minute: First Responders


phone-interview-2In an emergency situation, there is someone who is called. Be it your spouse. A friend. Or 911. And more often than not, it is the conversation or response of those “first responders” that largely determines the perspective or outcome of said situation.

Stay with me here.

I’ll be honest… As I finished a short time of reading and prayer this morning, I just prayed a simple prayer, “Lord, please help my first response to situations this week not be of comparison, fear, or control.” And immediately I thought of our first responders, and how important they are. Yet how moldable and changeable they are. They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and three times for an advertisement to be seen to really sink in. Repetition, in small quantities, done over a long period of time, is what will cause change.

As I read Romans 6, a chapter I have read multiple times, verse 22 stood out to me anew, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

I had never, until this morning, viewed sanctification as ‘fruit’. But here Paul is saying that the wages of sin is death, but once you believe in Jesus and start walking in obedience to His ways, sanctification is what follows – a reordering of our life and loves. And this is actually fruit!

Sanctification is a process, just as learning to respond in new ways to familiar situations is a process. But walking in obedience to the Lord, situation by situation, day by day, is where change actually takes place.

I finished a short booklet this weekend that I got at the Pursuit Conference I was at a few weeks ago. Written by Jess Connelly and Hayley Morgan, Wild & Free, one thing Hayley said stood out to me: “If we dedicate ourselves to meticulous life management that doesn’t lean on faith in a good God, we are signing ourselves up for a life of anxiety that comes from constantly chasing control.”

Our first response, more and more, has to be one that believes in a good God, otherwise, we chase control in every situation.

Just a simple Monday Minute to challenge you, like I felt this morning, to let our first responders be ones of faith in a good God.

Happy Monday!

Missing out on grace


3c2e351a045e6baaf579a04a43060b8dI’ve been on a journey the past few years of praying that God would reveal His heart, His character, Who He really is to me… in a much deeper way. It seems that when you pray that prayer, the Lord will reveal things in your heart that are in the way, so that He can be seen so much clearer. A process 😉

You see. I don’t think I truly ever understood grace, because in order to understand the astounding grace we’ve been given, we must see the sin in our hearts. Otherwise, we take grace for granted. Once we see the sin in our lives (which is actually a gift by the way), we must have a deep understanding of the gospel and how the Lord continually redeems us, so that we don’t just stay there – looking at the ugliness of our own hearts. I had never truuuuuly understood and walked in repentance and forgiveness in my own life, so that I could actually experience grace. Honestly, I lived as though I didn’t have a lot of sin to deal with; a good girl. I walked in guilt if I did see sin in my life, rather than grace and freedom to walk out of it.

If you want to learn more about grace, a study of Romans may be a good idea (And is now something on my ‘next’ list!). According to that book alone, grace is:

*obtained by faith – Romans 5:2
*brings obedience – Romans 1:5
*is a gift – Romans 3:24
*our justification in Christ is by grace – Romans 3:24
*when grace reigns through righteousness, it leads to eternal life in Jesus – Romans 5:21
*His promise rests on grace – Romans 4:16
*we access grace, by faith in Jesus – Romans 5:2
*grace is meant to help us reign in life, in Jesus – Romans 5:17
*not based on works – Romans 11:6
*grace enables our gifts – Romans 12:6
*gives us boldness – Romans 15:15

See how much we miss out on when we try to do things on our own, without leaning on grace? And how do we lean on grace, if we don’t KNOW the One who gives it so freely?

In the spring, I started reading Psalms again, and was prompted by some teaching on prayer by Timothy Keller, to really meditate on God’s character, through the Psalms.

I began writing down characteristics of God, when something stood out to me, and find myself going back to it to meditate on it. Worship with it. Pray it. And let a lifetime of things in my head, dig its roots deep into my heart.

I want to share my list of Psalms with you, as it may be something you need as well, to dig deeper into the heart of our Father. Watch for tomorrow’s post on a list from Psalms that I hope inspires you to dig into the Father’s heart just a little deeper…