Psalm 23 : Collision

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear…

Psalm 23:4

Rocking my youngest child to sleep, I sing Psalm 23 over her. I just read “The Gospel Comes with a House key” (highly recommend by the way!) and it stirred in me a longing to sing Psalms over my children, and this is one I know by heart, so I sing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he restores my soul… my cup overflows…

Psalm 23:2, 3, 5

Each night I sing and she breaths soft baby breathes and gulps at her bottle. Though over a year and half, she still feels so baby, so round and snuggly. I breathe her in and breathe God in and sing.

Just before Thanksgiving I took her in to the ophthalmologist for what I thought would be a simple visit. For months one of her eyes had been dilating differently than the other and we had set this appointment. It all seemed routine to me, so we made it a day out with the family, my husband dropping us off and taking our older girls to play Pokémon and eat ice cream.

The doctor came in after an initial exam and dilation and said frankly and briskly, “She has Horner’s Syndrome.” Horner’s syndrome is a condition caused by damage or disruption to the sympathetic nerve. She explained it was probably due to some sort of birth trauma and that we could come back to check it again in 6 months.

Eisley’s birth had not been traumatic, anything but, really. However, as I walked out of the office something in the back of my mind gnawed at me. Why did I know this diagnosis? We quietly got in the van and I pulled out my phone to look it up. Then it hit me, I knew Horner’s Syndrome because I have written about it on here, on this blog.

Years ago I had the privilege of interviewing and sharing the story of Micah Ahern and specifically his mother, Linda, a powerful woman of faith who walked alongside her son as her superhero battled neuroblastoma. His diagnosis was discovered as an infant because of a diagnosis of Horner’s.

I emailed Eisley’s doctor, who was as concerned as we were, and we began testing my daughter for cancer.

The tests were simple enough for an adult, urine sample, some scans. For a child under 2 however, it was tricky. Just getting a urine sample was a feat. We began testing one week before Thanksgiving.

Now, I am going to stop here and say this: Eisley does not have cancer. Rejoice with me! My daughter does not have cancer! The phone call that told us this came the day before Thanksgiving. The doctor herself was shocked that the tests came back so quickly. I explained that we had many people praying and that God was so good and she said, “Yes, we will be praising Jesus this Thanksgiving!” I called Joe and we both wept over the phone.

I could easily go on and talk about those days between finding out and knowing for sure. About the terrifying thoughts I had to think, about the strange plans that you make when simultaneously clinging to hope and preparing for the worst. I could write pages about the fear of it all, about the intense emotional breakdown I had in the bathroom of Luna Grill- and subsequently a work meeting, or about the mental fall-out even after the relief of clear tests. But that is not Eisley’s story, that is not mine.

No, our story is this: the Valley of the Shadow of Death is where suffering and worship collide and come to coexist. While there, Jesus sets a table before us, our enemies watching, and on our heads he pours abundant peace and joy that makes no sense in context but total sense in light of the bread and wine sacrificially laid before us.

I would never claim to understand the heart of a woman who has walked this road, or others like it, for years. I cannot tell anyone, let alone a parent walking through unimaginable suffering, how to walk that road well. The people I have seen walk this valley, draining it’s pain to the dregs, have taught me many things, some of which I was able to recall when staring down into its darkness.

  1. Share your story. Not only do we invite the power of prayer and the support of the body into our suffering, but we share with them the glorious things God does. Someday, they may find themselves in a similar place and look back on all that God did today and find faith to trust him tomorrow.
  2. Do not pretend. The Church does the world a deep disservice by pretending the Christian life is about comfort. That is a lie straight from satan’s mouth, one that will cripple the faith of many when they follow Jesus in His suffering as says will happen.
  3. Accept help. There is no shame in being unable to carry your burdens alone. Let that sweet lady from Bible study make good on her offer to clean your house. Send your grocery list to the friend who offers. Ask. For. Prayer.
  4. Dance. Dig into the deep well of the Psalms and practice worship in the way they emulate. Lament as you cry out to God and remember his goodness and mercy. Preach what he has done in the past over yourself and remember that he has not changed. Let your soul sway and lurch with the storm, keeping one eye on the One who can still it with a word, even as you cry out to him to save you. Be real. Be broken. But don’t stop worshipping.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Psalm 23:6

Featured photo by Matt Hoffman on Unsplash


Breath of God

My hands rest on the familiar pages. Isaiah 40, so fitting to read just after Christmas and at the dawn of new year. Forgetting to exhale I wonder at the voice who cries to the wilderness “Prepare!”

Christmastide has passed, but that cry; “warfare has ended, iniquity pardoned!”(Is. 40:2) rings like bells through the walls of my home. Oh how I long for that that word, how it satisfies and stirs up all in one swift cadence.

The Word of God will stand forever- I exhale. What peace, what security!

Wait, what does it say just before this firm promise?

A voice says, “Cry!”
and I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it…

There, when the breath of the Lord blows on it. I type the word into blueletterbible.org and search for it’s usage, it’s meaning. I know this word, breath, and my search confirms my thoughts. Breath in Hebrew (ruwach) is the same word as Spirit. The Spirit that was over the waters before the beginning–ruwach. The breath that made clay come alive (Genesis 2:7)–ruwach. Every instance of the Spirit of God coming upon people so they would prophesy or do the miraculous in the Old Testament–ruwach.

But here, in Isaiah, after the wilderness voice cries pardon for all, the breath of God breathes on man and withers him away. Isn’t the job of the Spirit to bring life, I wonder, to give us daily renewal, to make us stand tall and bold?

How do I ask for an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit (Luke 11) with confidence that God desires to give us good gifts (and those gifts being this helper and comforter)? When right here in black and white it says his breath (ruwach, spirit) will wither me like grass and I will fade away?

It comes down to my understanding of the Spirit’s purpose? God is about His Glory. Yes, He gives good gifts to his children, yes, he is kind and gentle and merciful beyond imagination. Yes, he calls us friend and leaves the 99 to find the 1. Yet, all of that falls within Him being glorified. The gift of the Spirit is not about elevating our status or platform, it is about God being glorified through us and to us.

Jesus came so that all flesh might see mountains and hills made low and the beauty of men wither and fade. God’s best for us is not in increasing our merit or worthiness, it is decreasing the very essence of us in flesh and raising to glory the ruwach that dwells in us through Him.

It is the mystery of Romans 8:11 If the spirit of him who raised Jesus from he dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit who dwells in you.

We are the walking dead in our bodies of sin, but as his spirit is breathed out we inhale and come alive, not to glorify ourselves, because we have faded in light of His glory and strength. So we cry out for his Spirit so that we might wither away and be made alive.

Photo by Adi Ulici on Unsplash


Everybody Poops: and other lessons learned as a ministry wife

Over nine years ago, my husband started his first full-time position on staff at a church. We had both been active in our local churches for years, teaching and leading in various areas of ministry. After a year and a half of marriage we packed all of our belongings, a grumpy cat named Gus Thompkins, and one rotund corgi, and headed to Texas to start our new adventure as a family in full-time ministry.

Nine years, three children, 2 dogs, and 1 cat later, we are looking back on the roller coaster that is church work. Now to be clear, my husband is not a preacher, his ministry is in church tech… a need that we did not even realize existed, but a world for which he was obviously created. The world of church tech is quite foreign to me, and I joke that I simply provide the coffee and try not touch any of the shiny knobs or buttons. FaceTime is an act of sorcery to me. Yet, I am married to a tech guru.

Church work is an all-consuming vocation. We went into it understanding that it was a commitment not only for my husband, but for our family. Our community, our spiritual growth, the rhythm of our daily life is all intertwined with how we make our living. There is no coming home and switching off “work mode” for “home mode” because my friends, my outings, my service are all connected to his work and vice versa.

Ministry hours can sometimes be extensive. There is a church tech conference aptly named: FILO (First In Last Out). Working in a church is often full-time plus. We are all (myself included) painfully naïve of the amount of time that goes into preparing a sermon, creating a worship set, or creating that 30 second promo video.

There we were, two newlywed little babies with dreams of changing the world with the local church and Jesus. We spent many years treading water, not realizing the extent of the commitment we had made. Whether you are answering the office phones or leading the elder board, ministry is an all or nothing sort of lifestyle.

After 9 year’s in full-time ministry, here is what I’ve learned: EVERYBODY POOPS.

By this I mean: everyone is human. We may be living under the gracious, life-change of the Holy Spirit, but we are still, at our core, sinful human beings living only by grace.

I know you have heard it a thousand times, “Well, of course the church isn’t perfect, it’s run by humans!” The unspoken expectation though, is that the staff of a church (and their offspring) live their unmarred, orderly lives in a lovely little glass house. One on which we will graciously leave our anonymous sticky notes of “encouragement” (change the music, turn down the volume, preach for less time but with more jokes). And when their humanity shows itself (as it is bound to do–imagine trying to poop in a glass house) we ready our stones and share them with friends.

This country club approach to church leaves ministry families isolated and unable to work through life’s hiccups in healthy ways. Your pastor, worship leader, children’s minister, they need a community that is genuinely in support of them.

We forget that those called to serve the Church body are all of us. We have different gifts, but are part of the same body, working together for the same purpose.

Yes, we should hold our pastor in high regard, but don’t separate them from yourself based on your “levels of holiness.” The church and your leaders aren’t tallying your attendance or shocked when you accidently say “damn it” in our presence (I promise the steering wheel in my car has heard far worse.) Christians are not here to monitor your language; we are here to love you radically because we are radically loved

Over the last nine years of our ministry adventures, I have learned that I have my own unrealistic expectations of those serving alongside of us. I have held them to these standards of perfection and been painfully unforgiving at times when they fail me. Long hours and intermingling of work and personal wear on all of us if we are not truly on the same team, not truly working under the same vision. Your leaders covet your interceding on our behalf. Pray for your pastors!

Wherever you fall on the spectrum as far as church goes- maybe you’re an elder, the janitor, the tech guru, or the woman warring for the body through prayer. Maybe you’ve never stepped foot in a church.  Know this, the church is made up of flawed humans. We don’t hold the keys to some secret society. We aren’t waiting around to see you screw up so we can hit you with the bag of judgmental rocks we keep on hand.

The church is unified under this one truth: we were all prisoners in cruel chains because of our rebellion against God, and He, in His unfathomable mercy, reached down and saved us from our distress. He brought us out of darkness and gloom and broke our chains apart. So we come together as a people to give thanks to God for his faithful love and his wonderous works for all humanity [1].

Let us hug your neck, let us cry with you when life is hard– because we are all completely human dripping in grace.

[1] Psalm 107:10-15

Featured Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


Raising Obedient Children

One day after church, one of my daughters approached me requesting a popsicle. I was mid-conversation and tried to quietly tell her no. (I mean seriously though, where am I supposed to get a popsicle on a Sunday morning standing in front of the church!?). Sundays are hard, especially for ministry families who are down a parent for most of the day. She chose to let all of her pent-up frustration from our frenzied morning fly. Kicking me in the shins, she huffed her way straight to her daddy’s office. . .  and I let him take it from there.

In these moments, I throw up my hands and think, “What is wrong with this kid?” I find myself surprised by selfishness, mean spirited sibling fights, and disrespect.

I want to be the mother with the kind voice and the endless wisdom. I want to be the mom who has charts that organize, and energy that engages. I want to grow into a woman who speaks kindly to her teenagers and not down to them. I want to finish this race and think, yes, worth it. I want my life to matter and I want my children to prove it.

When I base my discipline methods on these goals, this whole parenting thing becomes about me and my desire to look put-together. I want people to look at my kids and be fully impressed with my sweet, sweet parenting skills.

But man, that’s a LOT of hard work for some pretty surface and fickle rewards.

This realization begs a question : if not for me, if not even for them to be functioning citizens one day, then WHY do the hard work of disciplining my children? I would much rather be a friend, give them what they want, and be loved and adored by them.

Sinners in Need of Grace

Children do not grow into a sin nature, they are born sinners. And when I argue with this tiny person and my voice whines and my blood blood boils, I  remember what I am fighting in her is the same thing driving me to the feet of grace.

When my child (any of them) acts out, I want to be fully aware of her sin nature that so mirrors my own. She needs of the mystery of surprising grace too. To say a child is not born with sin runs contrary to what every toddler mom knows deep in her belly. When that little cherub looks up at you with perfect, blue eyes and slaps you squarely in the face with a handful of mashed potatoes, or kicks and screams at bedtime as if auditioning for a part in the Exorcist- you’ll know my theology is on point.

My goals have to change. I need to aim higher. I cannot look into my threenager’s white-hot anger and be shocked at her emotional response. Paul tells us plainly that the sin of people who do not know Jesus should never surprise us. [1 Corinthians 5:12-13 CSB] I myself cannot act outside of my sin nature on my own strength. It is only the Holy Spirit living in me that produces even the desire to honor God, let alone the ability to obey him.

So what does this mean for my children? Should I stop disciplining them until they become believers because it’s useless anyway? Ha! “In God’s economy, what we love we will discipline.” [Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert]


The fifth commandment requires that children honor their parents. For years now, when I talked to my children about obedience, I pictured the “Christian” families on reality TV with their spanking strap hanging by the door–their children too afraid to not obey. I cringed as I tried to explain why my discipline was somehow connected to their relationship with God. I knew they needed it, but never really understood why outside of my own selfish needs or social constructs.

Paul reiterates this command, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.” [Ephesians 6:1-3 CSB] In Romans 1, he groups disobedience with a multitude of other, really horrible sins (like murder!). In each of these sins, the sinner has “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man . . . They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.” [Romans 1: 23, 25 CSB]

Children who disobey their parents are rejecting God’s authority over their lives [paraphrased from JR Vassar]. Essentially, they are saying their authority lies within their own selves–they are lord and master.

So now, what do I really want for my children?

The Lord.

I want for them to be free in salvation to love him more than themselves, more than what people think, more than any social construct that vies for their identity. I want it to go well with them. . . so I teach them to obey, because in obedience they will learn to trust the one they are obeying. Patterns of obedience can ripple from the boot camp of toddler years to their eternal relationship with God.

I want them to have a long, full life—to understand that grace is offered because a Holy God requires holiness. I want to protect my children, I can choose to helicopter parent, or I can choose to teach them that in obedience they can safely grow up into the protection of God, rescued from his judgement.

All of the things I long for them find their yes and amen in Jesus alone–and in obedience to his authority.


Photo by David Beale on Unsplash


Moms with Grit:: Sarah and the “S” Word

I am currently doing a Bible study by Jen Wilkin on 1 Peter (I highly recommend this by the way!) The last few weeks of the study have been on one of the cringiest words in all of the Bible (and no, it’s not loins.)


It’s ok ladies, take a moment, let it knot up in your stomach a bit, roll out all of your knee-jerk preconceptions and ice them over with some Christian-ese sugar. This word that has been abused and twisted, power-played and thrown like daggers.

Now, I can’t assume that everyone reading this has the same authority issues I do. I will however, make a sweeping generalization and say that you, as a living, breathing, thinking human being, have some area where you NEED to be in control. In each of us there is an area (or areas) where the word submission pokes at our fight instinct and we raise our fists — DON’T TREAD ON ME!

Peter spends nearly two chapters on this word. He is writing to newly converted Christians who are facing some of the most gruesome persecution in the history of the church. Peter tells these believers to submit to every human institution, to honor the emperor.

Now unless you’re up on the historical context of this letter, you might not understand the severity of this command. Nero was the emperor at the time. If you don’t know about him, here is a brief summary: it is suspected that he set Rome on fire (it burned for days), he then blamed the arson on Christians. Then to punish them he did things like dressing them in animal skins and letting packs of dogs tear them apart, or dressing them in hard wax shirts, setting them on fire, and using them to light his elaborate parties.

Honor Nero, says Peter, the emperor who would eventually be the cause of not only Peter’s gruesome death, but his wife’s as well.

Then comes chapter 3: the notorious chapter on marital submission. I’ve known women who have specifically crossed out the submission part of their marriage vows, so disturbed by the concept that they can’t even utter such a promise. I’ve often skimmed through this chapter, but I noticed something that grabbed my attention this time. Peter uses Sarah, wife of Abraham, as his example of how a woman should submit. Let me tell you why this could potentially be problematic. . .

Sarah and the “S” word

Sarah, in her submission to her husband leaves her home, her family, to follow him to a foreign land. On the way, he fears for his life, not once, but two times, and tells her to lie and say that she is his sister. The lie is awfully convincing to the rulers old Abe feared, and Sarah was apparently quite the looker. On both occasions the rulers TOOK Sarah to be their wife! Can you even imagine! With our society in the era of #metoo, this one would go viral! Her husband sold her off to save his own skin–TWICE!

Dear Abe, misogynist much?

Sarah is saved both times by none other than the God of the universe. She continues to follow Abraham, and years later, when she is wrinkled and tired, bent over from life, they receive some visitors. She serves them and listens in on their conversation. One man promises old Abe a child by Sarah. She laughs, because even she knew menopause had taken that hope away decades ago.

Yet, she has a son!

When God speaks His words become flesh. Isaac (son of laughter) is born and grows, no doubt, under the joyful eye of his elderly mum. Still a young boy, Isaac learns from his father how to worship the Lord. The rhythms of their daily life revolved around the need for sacrifice and cleansing from sin. Yahweh required it, and they desperately needed it.

Abraham, still chasing after the Lord, faithfully obeys when He tells him to take Isaac (the promised son) up the mountain to be sacrificed in place of a lamb. Isaac carries the wood for the burnt offering on his back. He walks the path he had walked so many times with his father, probably chattering on as young men do, but this time, his father walked silent, sullen.

Sarah’s voice is never hear during this part of the narrative. Her son is spared by the same God who rescued her so many times before–and yet I still wonder about Sarah.

Playing Interference

My most common internal mantra lately is: “Don’t play interference.” Within our family dynamic it is natural for me to want to jump in and smooth over any rough patches between my husband and my daughters. As the parent that stays home, I tend to have a fuller understanding of their day-to-day. I also just really really want them to have a good relationship. I jump in when I feel he’s being to overbearing, or too soft, or not giving them enough attention. I find myself making excuses for either side’s behavior rather than letting them work through the necessary tension of relationship.

Now, looking at Sarah I cannot imagine the inner turmoil she must have felt. Even if she was fully in the dark about the plan to kill Isaac, there was no way she didn’t suspect something was up (this is fully assuming Sarah was still alive during this event, she was over 100 after all!). Here is where submission and faith collide–and, I believe, where we find our answer to what it truly looks like to submit.

Sarah’s submission to Abraham came from a heart that was submitted to God first and foremost (and thereby under HIS protection when old Abe failed). I think in order to understand this we have to grab hold of some hard truths.

Christians are not promised a life of safety, health, or happiness. In fact, we are guaranteed quite the opposite. We are not put on this earth to fight for our rights or freedom, Jesus did that on the cross. Our day-to-day is not about finding our intrinsic value or worth, in fact, without the cross, we are all totally destitute in our sin. In this, the playing field has been leveled. Those with authority have been given it by God for one purpose: His glory. Those who are called to submit do so with the same purpose.

ALL is for His glory. Authority and submission are not a system of organizing worth, but an intimate design of checks and balances that should cause each of us to fully place ourselves under the authority and protection of Christ.


Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash


Labor Pains: The Road to God’s Goodness

Suffering. I’ve written about the topic more than I care to think about. It keeps coming around, keeps popping its ugly head into the ins and outs of Jesus relationship. Why is it that while the TV evangelists are telling us Jesus wants comfort for us, blessings for the here and now, we trudge through depression, miscarriage, loss, divorce, cancer, children who leave, spouses who cheat … ? Can we even begin to make sense of suffering in a world ruled by a good God? A God who invites us to call him Father?

The answer is a resounding yes.

We can only make sense of suffering under the sovereignty of a good God if we first believe that God IS good. We need to know it in our bones that He is good, that he is for us. Then we press in.

When I went into labor with my each of my children, the stories varied, but all ended with an abundant joy. Before the joy came, there was a level of pain I hope to never know outside of that setting. I remember groaning, mentally chiding myself to press into the pain, allow it to happen. Human nature wants to fight or run from what hurts us, what scares us. In childbirth, though, the only way to get to the joy at the end is through the life-altering pain.

As each wave crashed over my body, consuming my entire being, I fought it, tensed against it. I spent 24 hours in labor before anything changed in my body, talk about defeat! The nurse came in and said, “When the contractions come, you need to relax your body, breathe. You will only progress if you relax.” WHAT!?!?! She was officially black-listed—but I quickly learned she was right.

In order for the pain to be useful, you must press into it, you must walk through it (or sit and rock through it if we are talking actual labor). Paul says For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now [Romans 8:22, ESV]. Earlier, in verses 16-17, he says The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Groans: guttural cries that escape a body uninhibited—calling out for rescue—pain that crushes you, changes your very makeup, opens you up so that you can do nothing less than usher new, vibrating, shimmery life into a world unaware: this is childbirth. Victory cries reverberate off white washed walls, held breath releases and the suffering is forgotten in the majesty and miracle of the new. Suffering is for a time, groaning lasts for the night, but shouts of deliverance are eternal. Joy that comes in the morning comes through the mourning.

Suffering with Christ is the avenue to knowing His goodness in your bones. “Heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,” the intimacy of a Son and the hope of an heir is ours. Like a woman in labor, we groan for what is to come, and our hope is met ten-fold in Jesus.

Now here’s the kicker; suffering is how we get to know God’s goodness, and God’s goodness is what we cling to as we suffer. Circular thinking unless you consider this: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. [Romans 8:26 ESV]

The Spirit groans along with us. Talk about the most hardcore doula we could ask for. God’s spirit is groaning for us, crying out our pain in an empathy that we cannot begin to comprehend. His Spirit in us testifies that we are his, chiding us from the inside to believe it for ourselves. We are children, heirs, filled with hope and made for eternity. His Spirit is that same that walked Him from the desperation of Gethsemane to the destination of the cross. The same spirit that raised Him from the dead lives in you, groaning your suffering before the God who speaks existence. He is listening, and the world trembles in anticipation for the glory to come.

Wait. Press in. You are heirs.



Featured photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash



I Will Let You Go- A Letter To My Daughter on Her First Week of Kindergarten

To My New Kindergarten Baby,

When you were in my tummy, I prepared a room for you. I spent hours choosing colors and painting furniture. I even hand-made a chandelier. I worked on our little nest, I prayed for every detail of your being, and when you came I cried hot tears of joy mixed with the grief of knowing my job is to let you go.


You grew. We still rocked with your head on my shoulder, but your feet kept moving; long strides as they inched across my body and over the side of our glider. I hugged you and you felt solid, grown. When did this happen? The c-section scars faded, and yet, I still feel like part of me has been taken out and set to run the world.

Squeaky new sneakers skip daintily between tile squares. I watch your movements, seeing the tiny tremble underneath; the tremble only a mom can see. You move forward in boldness, your eyes drinking in every aspect of this new season.

Your classroom glows fun. Tiny chairs and lockers punctuated by puzzles, books, games. You float from one excitement to the next, pressing fingertips as if to test for the sturdiness of your surroundings. You explore, seemingly forgetting me, and then you run back, pressing your face into my belly; you’ve always had to check in. Lonely checks, we call them. You move about with boldness, you’ve always been so brave. And yet, the invisible tether that binds you to me draws you back for just a moment.

I’ve never not been there. The first time you stayed away over-night we returned to each other’s arms and stared—green eyes to brown—as if to be sure the other was real. Now we stand together in this room. A room that has been nested. A room filled with things prepared, tidy and just-so. A room for you. But I did not prepare this room. I smile at the woman who did. I squeak out my name and breathe a sigh when she bends low to high-five your hand.

I watch you flutter around, watch you twist up the corners of your skirt when the nerves jumble in your tummy. I stand, I exhale, want to leave my essence in this room. Create immediate memories with you so when you walk into it without me, you will remember I was here. Remember, mom sat with me in the beanbag chair? We read those books and toppled those blocks. Mom was here, this is safe.

I grasp for tiny glimpses of comfort. The Bible verse in a frame. The way your name is already on so many things. Not my nest, someone else’s: but it’s time to let you go, let you fly; let that tether stretch down the block into this giant classroom in these halls for giants. When did you get so giant?

Then it happens. After an hour of exploration we trickle out of your new digs and you beam with joy! This room is SO cool!! We head down the hall, getting our bearings.

Here’s the bathroom! Right next to your classroom! The doors are aqua! Your favorite! The potties sit low…but wait, they’re self-flushing. We stop and stare. Brown eyes flush with fear. “Let’s practice,” I say.

“I won’t be here,” words I’ve never said come quietly, “you’ve got to try it on your own so you know that you can do it. Jesus tells us he gave us a heart that is brave not afraid, he can help you.”

Bottom lip quivers and eyes brim. All brave-face is lost. I slide my back down the wall, on your level I gather you up. My voice chokes as I whisper, “we can do this”-—and I preach to my heart more than this moment. “I’ll go first, watch me, now you, that’s it! It didn’t flush! Now you have the control, push the button! You did it!” We hug. Your tears dry and mine sink back into my throat for later.

You are so brave.

I watched you face your fear, watched you conquer it, watched you turn to Jesus when your sweet tiny world got rocked. I’ll let you go because I know He promises a place for you at His altars, and it’s there I will continue to build our nest.

I love you with my whole heart,


The Power of Flesh

My mind is weighty with new old truth. Does the gospel ever just hit you fresh and fiery like the first time again? It’s like digging a well you’ve dug for years when suddenly, fresh, cool water streams in, turning dry cracked earth back into fertile life-bearing soil.

Incarnation: a word that typically brings to mind tunes from Nacho Libre and stirs up Chipotle cravings (don’t ask why my brain is wired this way- just roll with it). Today, incarnation has begun to take on flesh. Today, incarnation does something in the pit of my belly that stirs my heart and mind.

God made man. Then God becomes man. He wraps the fullness of himself in the flesh of the beings He created.

Incarnation: All God packaged as all man.

(“PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS . . . itty bitty living space.” —-Name that movie— )

I’m reading about this truth in Knowing God while my four-month-old stirs next to me in her bed. Looking at her tiny frame; she’s so helpless. So completely dependent on me for all things. She has no life apart from me—I am her source. Me. Broken, weak, grumpy, tired, sinful . . . This is what she looks to for all of her needs: a faulty finite source.

God made baby. Not just human with frailness; but human in most dependent form; baby with symbiotic relational need. Giving his life wasn’t just in death—it was in life—all of him subject to all of our vulgar, lazy, selfish ways. All of God subject to the failings of human parenthood. All of God bowed low in tiny babe so that we might look up into hugeness of grace.

Then I remember the story that has always troubled me—Jesus, the tween, hangs out at the temple while mom and dad look frantically for him. In my brain with all of its preconceptions this feels wrong, disrespectful somehow. Come on, tween Jesus! Don’t freak out your mama!

Yet again I am missing something. Jesus, culturally and religiously, stands on the precipice of manhood. His parents have proudly discussed and prepared him for the coming days of accountability. Soon he will be responsible for the state of his soul.

(On a side note: can you imagine being Mary in this moment? Not only are you dealing with the terror of a missing child for THREE days, you are also keenly aware of the fact that you have misplaced THE MESSIAH! Talk about some serious mom guilt!)

Jesus has lived as a child in the home of Mary and Joseph for twelve years. Now, as religious society begins to accept his manhood, he reveals his true nature. He will be considered a man—responsible for the commandments and the state of his soul; he is showing them that he is God—The Word, taking on the weight of all souls.

As happens repeatedly throughout Jesus’ life, he tells people directly why he is there (he is there to do his Father’s business), and they don’t understand. How can they? We have the full picture, literally spelled out before us in a variety of editions, and we struggle to comprehend. This however, is not the part that causes my breath to catch today.

“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.” (Luke 2:51 NIV; emphasis mine).

This idea that Jesus in his unfathomable power became so indescribably weak is not a new revelation. Today, though. Today the reality of the incarnation changes everything. To love like Jesus means to live outside of myself. When everything in me revolts against the very real, everyday need to submit myself to mundane service. While dishes and diapers do not compare to saving the world, Jesus taking on baby form pushes me to stop grumbling. Who am I to believe I should be placed on a pedestal for all of my “many” acts of service?

My prayer is that as I grow to comprehend this mystery I will accept suffering, humility, submission, even pain, as gift—that in these moments I will hear shouts of deliverance resonating in place of my groaning.


Featured photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash
“Knowing God” by JI Packer



Child’s Pose

Anxiety is there when I wake. I crawl out of bed, the sick baby who slept in my arms stirs and cries. I stumble into the kitchen to pour cereal and make coffee. Now two of three of my children are crying, the third is so glued to a screen she is oblivious to the others. The husband woke up with the older girls to let me sleep in, gracious and thoughtful, but my mind still groans under the weight of sleeplessness.

“I may need you more today than most days, Jesus.”

Then I think, “Well, that’s a dumb thing to say, I need you desperately every day.” But it rings a little true as I try to keep up with three people’s immediate needs while neglecting all of mine. I need coffee, I need food so I can take medication, I need to pee, I need Jesus.

Just Jesus.

“Sustain me, fill in where I lack. I am not enough and I feel like I am about to break. You are greater than my mind, greater than my brokenness.”

Every morning starts this way.

I get to the settled part, the moment when everyone’s needs are momentarily satisfied and they run off to giggle and play. I get to the quiet, and my mind’s noise consumes.

I turn on some worship music and tuck my knees under me on the floor, head in hands. I need to posture myself in submission, to accept his grace and remember that I don’t have to stand on my own two rickety legs. I tuck into “child’s pose” because I am a child. I need His arms to wrap around me.

Tiny feet pad down the stairs. Tiny ponytail standing straight up. She crawls next to me on the floor, whimpering. Pushing herself under my chest, she curls into a ball and rests her head on my arm. Tears still cling to her cheeks, but I feel her body relax. I feel the wetness of her dress, the cause of her tears­­—she’s had an accident. Mouth covered in the crumbs of stolen cookies, her clothes wet and smelly. I pull her close to my chest, my own child’s pose wrapping around hers.

Her mess cannot deter my love.

We rest there, breathing in each other’s air. I am her and she is me. We roleplay the state of my heart right there in my living room. My mess does not stop Jesus’ steadfast love. It comes at me, violent, tearing up the world to curl itself around my filth. HESED. Covenant love is one way. Covenant love cannot be repelled or repulsed.

He has traded His good for my sorrow.

And so, we start our day.


Dawn Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash
Cover Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

Finding Jesus

My eyes welled as they scanned the words−each one spreading salve on my current situation. I had just traveled through a dark valley, overcome by depression and wracked with physical sickness. I had spent the night before crying on my bathroom floor to the God Who Sees. I poured over Psalm 116, reliving the big emotions I had felt only hours before, this time with the hindsight of one rescued. He had heard my cries as I begged him to pull me up from the darkness of my little world as it crumbled around me. I woke that morning with a renewed joy, not free from circumstance, but rescued all the same.

Psalm 116 was perfect for my current dark valley, meeting me where I was−but there was more. You know those sweet moments when Jesus stretches you from your little bitty worldview into His BIG one? The words of this Psalm did that in me. My eyes began to see a bigger picture in the tapestry of the words.

“The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul” (Psalm 116:3-4, ESV).

My trial, and God’s merciful response to me, was just a tiny picture of what He did for me on the cross. I have been rescued from death, pulled from the very pit that threatens to swallow up every one of us. I have been graciously included in the great Rescue Plan of God.

Of all the things to love about God’s Word, my favorite has to be the little sneak peeks God placed from beginning to end revealing to us His plan for our rescue. He is never lacking; from Old Testament to New, from our personal testimonies to our present day struggles, He has hidden models of the Gospel within the folds of our human existence.

You see, while we tend to see the Bible as a two part system−Old Testament, New Testament−there is, in fact, an intricate cohesion throughout. “In the beginning was the Word…” (John 1:1) and that Word was Jesus. We are told everything was made through Him and He is the light that darkness cannot overcome. Jesus was part of the plan from the very beginning.

Soon after all things were made, Adam and Eve chose to believe the lie we all live−God doesn’t really love us−and they took on the covering of death. God meets them in their darkness, sending them away from His holiness, but with a promise of rescue. [1]

Years later, the whole world is hurtling headlong into hell, while Noah and his family build a boat. God, yet again, reveals His pattern for salvation: sin leading to destruction; provision of a narrow, but sure means of escape; the promise of a new creation. [2]

God’s people find themselves again, staring into the hungry mouth of death, but God sends Joseph on ahead (through suffering and betrayal) to prepare a way of rescue for His people. [3] He then leads them both into and out of bondage in order to connect their hearts to the necessity of sacrifice. In Egypt they see the death of a son and the covering of sacrificial blood are their one means of escape. God paves the way out of slavery by way of innocent sacrifice. Outside of Egypt He orders their daily lives around this need for atonement, that they might not miss His heart for them. [4]

Rahab and Ruth, both outsiders−not called children of God, are not only rescued, but patched into the people of God by way of His mercy. [5] The Psalms are ripe with God’s rescue plan, played out through the daily trials of the Psalmist. The Prophets all but spell out God’s intricate, intimate, life or death plan of salvation. Look at Hosea, his entire story is to show God’s tireless pursuit of the unworthy in order to make them right again.

Even when Jesus finally steps on the scene, He is consistent in dropping hints of what’s to come. He raises people from the dead and says they’re sleeping. [6] He straight up tells His disciples that He is going to Jerusalem to be killed and then raised back to life three days later (and they don’t get it!). [7] God’s plan for salvation is mysterious on so many levels, but it is not hard to find!

God has been gracious to us from the beginning of time, not hiding His purpose to gather His people back to Himself. He has given us types of the Gospel throughout His word, Jesus shows up EVERYWHERE!  We must learn to mine for them, to train our minds and hearts to see them the way we did with Where’s Waldo when we were young. I encourage you, as you read to mark these places where you see Jesus. Discipline yourself to find Him in the places you least expect.

As you cultivate these new found Gospel eyes in your daily study, you will be surprised by how wide the periphery of your vision stretches. Just as my recent dark trial revealed to me, you will see that He has woven the Gospel into the miniscule moments of everyday life. Those little hiccups and dark valleys, those moments of rest and rejuvenation, let them become the words of His Rescue Plan sung over your world. Let them ring out through the wrinkles and grey hairs. Let them shine from behind your eyes, and be the gut-cry of your heart: “I love the Lord, because he has heard me…” (Psalm 116:1a).

Seek out these treasures and hide them in your hearts for those rainy days.






[1]Genesis 3:15

[2] Genesis 6-9

[3] Gen 39-41 and Psalm 105:20-22

[4] Exodus 12:33-50

[5] Joshua 4:22-23, Ruth

[6] John 11, Mark 5:35-43, Luke 7:11-17

[7] Matthew 16:21



The Sloth Raising My Kids

I am a creature of comfort. I love my bed, naps, and temperate weather. Ask my husband: I freak out over twisted bed sheets and transform into a snarling, wild-eyed, beast when hangry.

I nest smalls comforts around myself (Facebook, coffee, isolation) with the ever echoing excuse of “I need to stay sane enough to survive the day (morning, hour).” My desire for comfort devolves my thought time into fantasy, fueled by need for escape. I long to be alone, long to be on vacation, long to crawl into bed and never look through that revolving door of  laundry, dishes, sticky faces again. Motherhood feels like monotonous repetition: wrestle, wipe, wallow, repeat…

Do you ever have those seasons when God is chipping away at something? Every couple days it seems He reaches a new layer of my hard heart, and I think, “OH, now I get it!” Then He starts over again- for months. I am there. Each revelation has been subtle-a moment of peaceful release- until this week.

This week my pastor, JR Vassar, spoke on sloth. This week, after an 8 month whirlwind of life in the raw (preempted by me saying, “God, help me to stop being selfish”), Jesus whispered and it rattled my cage to the core.

This week, I saw what drives me: and it is ugly.

Vassar defined sloth (this is my loose paraphrase from hurried notes) as, “Hating the place, the responsibilities, and the design that God has placed upon you.” So here I am. A mom of 3, blogger on behalf of moms, a stay-at-home advocate for motherhood and childhood in all it’s glory and grunge. Here I am confessing to you (the internet): deep down I have hated my purpose.

I have an odd dichotomy when it comes to the view of myself versus other mothers who do what I do. I respect and honor their sacrifice, while disdaining my own. In my youth, I wanted to travel, to be a missionary and give my everything (home, heart, comforts, closest loves) to Jesus by way of great adventure. Now, when someone so innocently asks me “What do you do?” I inwardly cringe. I stumble out some version of being “just a mom” and then try to pad my answer with a more honorable resume. Then I walk away, feeling belittled by my own prejudice.

In the last weeks as selfishness is revealed and aching heart clings, I find myself clawing at comfort and left wanting. Weeks of staying home with sick children drives me to social media and I wallow in my lonesomeness. I look in the mirror at my bulging, aching body, and can’t see past the ill-fitting shirts to the co-creation happening below. My clothing is composed entirely of spandex and snot (or is that bananas? It’s hard to tell). So I wrestle.

I fight at my purpose, picking at it like an ugly scab that maligns my self-image. I shirk my responsibilities because they feel unimportant. I ignore my children because they need me, and I want to not be needed. The image-bearer forgets she is made to love and clothes herself in self-indulgent grief. He holds up a mirror and I realize: I am the sloth in my home.

In believing my design is boring and insignificant, I am believing the Designer is as well. Vassar said there is no virtue without repetition. “My life is a revolving door”, I think, “I’m the holiest donkey in the world!” (if you haven’t seen the video, sorry for the obscure reference). Then Jesus whispers, “Faith without deeds is dead;” virtue without love is empty.

 Gracy Olmstead says it better in her article, Don’t Dismiss Housework, “In his book You Are What You Love, James K.A. Smith argues that our daily habits reveal what we truly love. The daily rituals of virtue (or of vice) that we cultivate are most often happening “under the hood” of our consciousness. There’s a “liturgy” we’re repeating with our daily actions—one that informs our most basic desires and wants.”

My very DNA means I have creation built into my marrow. I can create, birth, and nurture LIFE in the quiet inner sanctum of this temple. Will I embrace all that comes along with this honor or will I spend my days in the rinse-repeat cycle of escapism and survival? Will I find joy in the unseen, private sacrifice of bringing order to chaos within the walls of my home?

I hear the whisper again, “I would have left the glory of heaven even if you were the only one who needed my sacrificial love.” My brain bites at this thought, so contrary to our human economy. The reality of leaving all glory and honor and comfort for such a “minuscule” and ordinary purpose rakes against my natural inclinations.

He gave His everything (home, heart, comforts, closest loves) to show me that the very essence of motherhood IS my great adventure. He saw the wholeness of His children as ultimate. He entered into the pain and heaviness of relationship because His nature is composed of love. He brought cosmos from chaos, and each morning sings it over my burrowing, fearful heart again. Now He whispers into my restless sloth: “Join me.”


I’m Moving In: How Should Christians Respond to Those Suffering

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you…as they go through the Valley of Baca [weeping], they make it a place of springs…they go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.” Ps 84:5-7

It comes as no surprise to any of you that our world is suffering. Entire communities of people are stirring and frustrated under injustice and oppression. Living in the Dallas/Fort Worth area gives me a tiny glimpse of the immense loss felt by families nationwide.

In closer proximity, friends and family are dealing with terminal illnesses, depression, failing marriages, dying children. To walk through the Valley of Weeping is to be human, we will all make frequent visits.

My worship pastor and good friend, through choked emotion, said a few weeks ago, “For some…life is the Valley of Weeping−it is the Valley of Tears. So it’s not just this issue of deliverance, it’s not just God delivering you out of it, which he does, praise God that he does, but he doesn’t do that for everyone, some he keeps in this valley. So this whole life is passing through the valley of tears.”

He then posed the question I think many of us ask ourselves, how can a person who seems to have been given permanent residence in the Valley, experience God as good, as kind, as loving? How can they find strength in him while they dwell, some for their whole lives, in this valley of weeping?

He continued to explain that we must impress on our hearts the truth of 2 Corinthians, where it says our suffering is light and momentary in view of the Gospel. That is, our strength in suffering is found when we run to the protective covering that is Jesus’ suffering on our behalf. There we find compassion and empathy. There we find God, who, while fully capable of deliverance, can and often does more in the passing through than the climbing over. There we find the man who left Heaven to live among us in our filth and heartache−to bring us back.

So I sat in church as he said this, ugly crying (not unusual, really. I fully expect they will soon designate me a row −covered in protective plastic, boxes of tissues and tubes of waterproof mascara). I wept, not for my own sorrow, but for the pain of those I know who truly have a permanent address in the Valley of Tears. I longed to act on their behalf, to cry out in their stead. I began to ask myself, “What is our response as the Church, as members of this Body, to those suffering?”  For those Valley dwellers, how do we as fellow Image bearers step into a role of responsibility without being overbearing or self-serving?

The answer, I feel, is this: Move In With Them

There is an old movie called “What Dreams May Come.” (Though theologically unsound, I still HIGHLY recommend this movie. It has all the feels). In it, a man’s wife commits suicide after his death and goes to hell. He decides to leave heaven to find her. When he does, she is sitting in a replica of their home that is falling down. She doesn’t recognize him and he can’t bring her back from her place in the shadows. So he joins her. He moves into her nightmare−giving one of the most Gospel-rich, yet cheese-tastic lines of all time− “I forgive you…for being so wonderful a guy would choose hell over heaven just to hang around you.”

For those dwelling in the Valley of Tears, sometimes the only thing you can do for them is set up residence next door. Romans 12:15 sets out our mission pretty succinctly: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

Our responsibility falls not in being a fixer, but sometimes in just joining them.

I don’t tell many people this (so you are welcome, internet stranger!), but several years ago, when my husband and I were first married, I got perpetually sick. For months I was tested for autoimmune disease, and told I most likely had Lupus. I had been tested for years before this, all without answers. I was anxious, stressed from graduating and stepping out into the ‘real world’. I was battling depression−and now finding out that I might have a disease that would drastically change my life, and my new marriage. I became despondent, medicated, and lost in the dark storm of self-pity and fear. My marriage was suffering, and I had nothing to offer to fix it. Then one day my amazing husband brought me a gift. It was a pink hooded jacket. He explained that it was specially made to block UV rays (one of the things that causes Lupus flare-ups).

He had found a way to move in with me.  To show me that, while he couldn’t understand, he was trying to join me.

That pink jacket hangs in my closet to this day, relatively unused because our God is a merciful healer (another story for another day.) It is a daily reminder of the impact of empathy and fierce healing love. It is a reminder that in my darkest hour, in the depths of the Valley of Weeping, a man chose to dwell with me in the muck−and in every way it saved me.

I totally get that you can’t go buy a little pink jacket for every hurting person in your life. What I am suggesting is to find practical ways to encourage them as they reach out to Jesus for strength. I am admittedly very bad at this, with a long list of my own hurting people that I have run from or isolated. But here are a few ways this has been done for me, and maybe they can help us both be better at it:

  • Intercession through prayer. Don’t just say you will−DO IT! You will be amazed at the insight and the power God will give you to further minister.
  • Just listen.
  • Send encouraging texts, cards, wall posts… doesn’t matter the medium, and it’s quick and easy!
  • Ask how things are and be ready to listen, then ask how you can pray.
  • Don’t change how you act around them. Let them just “be.”
  • Hugs-they fix a lot.
  • Try some good old-fashioned non-complementary behavior (a psychological term for what I think of as grace). Meet their hostility with love, their grumps with joy and understanding.
  • Remind them of what God has done. Don’t be obnoxious, but be to them like a Psalm, looking back on who God is. We fight the lies of darkness with truth.

What are some ways people have moved into the Valley with you? I would love to hear them!


Helpful Links:
-Check out the awesome sermon that inspired this post at Church at the Cross




everyday holy

I have probably said this before, but I love how the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper are so similar to things we do daily. We eat, usually communally, and we bathe (hopefully daily, unless you are a new parent then it might be bi-weekly). Tonight as I washed my littlest little’s hair I watched as the water rippled down her forehead. I was reminded of my own baptism, done as an infant, and the covenant made on my behalf by my parents−to raise me up to know and love Jesus. I was reminded of my own covenant, made years later, as an adult, being dipped under the cool water, running through my hair and eyes, telling the world that I was His.

The sacraments are defined as “outward signs of an inward grace”*. We do these things as memorials, celebrations of grace lavished. Charles Spurgeon says, “It is intended as a memorial of Christ, and it is intended as a shouting or a manifestation of our faith in Christ, and of Christ’s death, to others.” We do them ceremoniously, and yet, we find glimpses of them in our every day−as I serve dinner plates, and cut food into bite-sized pieces. As I wash away the grime of the day from rosy cheeks and chubby fingers, I can see, feel, touch the Divine in the midst of my mundane.

How quickly I forget! How hasty I am to bog down under the weight of terminal laundry and dishes that multiply. How forgetful I am to find gratitude for grace when all I see are startling news alerts and the piling of bills.  And what grace it is, that He gave up heaven to live the grunge existence of broken beings. He left the feasting table of His father to sit at one his calloused hands made, with people who smelled of fish and sheep. How quickly I forget that the bread broken and wine poured was His body on the cross−for me.

“Believe me, Beloved, this Truth of God is so simple, that while I speak, I can half fancy some of you saying, “Why does he not tell us something new?” But let me say to you, it is always a new Truth and there is no Truth which the Christian heart more readily forgets! Oh, that I could always feel that He loved me and gave Himself for me!” (Spurgeon)

Let my daily tasks, my monotony, change in the ever re-creating hands of the Father, that they become joy-filled monuments to all He has given me in His mercy. And as I take a moment in breaking bread and washing feet and heads, that I would be filled with the surprise of joy that is gratitude. That I would invite Him in−even into my laundry room, piled high, or my kitchen, full of dishes and stray Cheerios. To hear His song in the giggles of little girls, and to find His voice over the drone of the vacuum. That my familiar world-view would shift into an everyday kind of Holy. Spurgeon, again, said it best, “Familiarity with Jesus is the highest reverence!”

Oh, that we would become familiar with Him in our day-to-day! That we might taste and see and remember all that He has done. That He has woven the treasure of the Gospel even into the cotton lining of our human existence!



*Definition found on dictionary.com

**Spurgeon quotes taken from his sermon “The Lord’s Supper—simple But Sublime!” JULY 1, 1909. Read the full text here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons55.xxvii.html



Psalm 127: The Mommy Psalm

There’s a part of me that takes a step back from my life and evaluates. Is what I am doing worth doing? Is staying home with my children going to prove to be a fruitful task? What if they grow up and move away and never speak to me again? What if they never come to love the Lord? Is all of this exhaustion, this budgeting and stress-eating in my closet, worth it if somehow things don’t go as planned? What if they grow up to be “just” a mom−will it be enough? What if they look at me someday as “just” a mom?

The Psalms describe parenting in such detail, I can’t help but think their historical experience must have resembled ours in some way. Psalm 127 talks about rising up early, going to bed late and anxious toil. I don’t know about you, but this looks like the lines of my day planner year-round. Raising small children or building a family can be a taxing experience to say the least. The sleepless, anxiety-filled work is not just for those who already have children, but for those who long for them as well. And, from what I hear, it doesn’t stop as your children grow and have children of their own. (I cannot tell you how many times my mom has called me to subtly mention that I still haven’t put that baby gate on the stairs…love you, Mom!)

The Psalmist clearly understood that the process of parenthood and weariness often come hand-in-hand. They even sang about it in Psalm 127 as they prepared their hearts for worship! What is it about being a parent that we should be preaching to ourselves, in and outside of parenting, as we prepare to step into the throne room?

First, this Psalm reminds us that our hard work must have one singular Master. We can spend our strength to build our home−to overcome infertility, fill out piles of adoption paperwork, climb mountains of laundry, raise children that fear God and love others, make wise decisions for everything from nutrition to education to “screen time”. We can obsess over them, wake up in the middle of the night to check their breathing, stalk their smart phone GPS to be sure they’re safe, lie awake and wonder if they did finally install that darn baby gate. Yet, unless Jesus is the architect, contractor and security guard, our anxious toil is useless− and we become, in essence “just.” Just surviving. Just making ends meet. Just getting through the day.

We are called to hold our families, our hopes for them and their well-being, with open hands. Jesus calls us into His rest. He gives sleep to His beloved [Ps. 127:2a] (to the weary parent of a newborn−or a self-proclaimed nocturnal 4-year-old, this just may be the most beautiful verse in the Bible.) True rest, the kind that our wearied, nap-grubbing hearts long for, comes only in the presence of the King. Each time rest is mentioned in the Bible it is a calling into the throne room, and in His throne room you lay down your burden of control.

He builds your house. He waters the garden. He keeps watch­­−and you? You breathe. You worship. You rest your head on the shoulder of the only One who can carry that heavy burden−the One who has defeated the pain of bearing children. You remember that your desire for, and your exhaustion from, children are all part of being an image-bearer of the Most High. You nurture, correct, and pour out all you have because that is His nature, and you are His, so it’s your nature too.

Psalm 127 (which I have hereby dubbed “The Mommy Psalm,” tells us the WHY. The how is, as with everything, done by  letting go of our need for control into the unrelenting grace of Jesus. Then there’s the WHY. I’ve chewed on these verses for weeks now:

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies at the gate.”

First off, let’s just get this out of the way… saying “My quiver is full” is just straight creepy. Can we just nix that from Christian speech from here on out? Every time I just want to yell, “EWWWWW! I don’t want to hear about your quiver!!!”

But I digress…

There is a stigma on parenting. I battle it every day. Not because I am externally judged−far from it! But because I am constantly asking myself the aforementioned questions, and referring to myself as “just” a mom. My heart, though, is restless in the “just,” and I think this Psalm has something to do with it. Gloria Furman writes about it in her book, Missional Motherhood. “I need to know that life is not meaningless, my work is not in vain, and the night is almost over. I need to experience something far bigger than myself−something grand, solid, divine.

Children are a heritage from the Lord…a reward.

Your children− biological, adopted or spiritual, are a story you and I have the privilege of co-authoring. Our heritage is being written, read, and virally shared through our nurturing. They are the gifts we pass on to the next generation, and the next, and the next.

Just a side note: this heritage and reward are not just for those who carry the title of “mom”. As Furman puts it, “…missional motherhood is for every woman (not just biological or adoptive mothers), because mother is a verb too.”

When your enemies meet you at the gate−when they count your children with judging eyes as you walk into Wal-mart. When they ask about your adopted son’s ‘real mother’. As they wonder why your grown children no longer attend church, or they make careless comments about your empty ring finger or empty womb. When they sit on the edge of your bed, keeping you awake with lists of failures. As you lie awake wondering if all of this pouring out is ever going to reap anything but tears−remember this promise: you will not be put to shame.

Your hard work, sleepless nights, anxious toil−they are handed over to Jesus. In His hands, the burden of control becomes light. His nurture becomes our nature, and the goal becomes the same−to posture ourselves and others before the throne of Jesus; who gave his all so it wouldn’t hurt so much to give ours. We are blessed with the gift of pouring out, of seeing those first steps, first “a-ha” moments, first heartbreaks, first falling into their Father’s arms. We are blessed to be called to make disciples−and blessed to have the desire to wrap-up the hurting in hugs and bind up the broken in truth. The desire that’s engrained in our image-bearing, mothering souls.




The Surprising Way We are Combatting the Grumpies (and winning!)

My mom has always warned me about age four. I’d heard about the terrible two’s, and now the    “three-nager.” But four, four was always the one my mom shook her head at and said, “Just you wait.” She recounts the way she wrestled me down the hall, every limb and digit clawing against the paint, only to put me in my room for time out. She fails at hiding a chuckle as I tell her about the sassy responses and rolled eyes spewing from my own mini-me. I feel her satisfaction as she tells me again how she had asked me to be civil only to have me retort, “If I knew what civil meant, I could be it!” Call them what you will, “Furious Fours”, “Ferocious Fours”… having a four-year-old is living up to all the hype my mom had built. It wasn’t too long ago that I had to say, all too seriously, “You cannot answer me in toots!”

While our newest “milestone” has not taken me by surprise, I cannot say I am celebrating it. Constant arguing and complaining are my sweet daughter’s newest M.O. Seriously, this kid could put The Good Wife and all her cronies to shame. Every meal is eaten with this self-proclaimed food critic. Every outing is narrated by lists of how much she “hates grocery shopping,” or how her legs are far too tired to keep walking.


We have tried everything from losing privileges to time-out to logic (desperate measures, my friends). Nothing has put a dent in this new wall of compulsive arguing and complaining.

Until now.

A few days ago, while trying desperately to keep my cool in the midst of yet another session of “But moooooooommmmmmmm…” and “Well, actually…” It dawned on me. I quickly googled the phrase floating around in my head and found what I was looking for. Philippians 2:14-15 “Do everything without complaining or arguing. So that you may be blameless and pure.” (Mind you, this is the Abbreviated Mommy Version, not yet published.) I grabbed the orange crayon I had been stepping over all day and quickly scrawled the verse on some paper. We began chanting the verse all day. Every time the whining started to creep up, I would say “Do everything…” and she would finish it. Each time her attitude would change and we would move on without a scene.

In the days following we added another verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all things, this is what God has for you to do.” (again, AMV). It occurred to me that my own complaining heart, my own tendency to argue when I felt God’s direction wasn’t fitting into my plans, grew out of a lack of thankfulness. Are not all things grace? Isn’t this Good Father holding back what could be, what is deserved, and offering us endless grace in its place?

So we are combatting the “grumpies” with thankfulness. When she isn’t deterred from her complaints and argument by remembering God’s words to her, she has to find 3 thank-you’s to replace them. In reminding her to surrender her right to critique and argue, I am learning to surrender as well. Watching her find joy through thankfulness is making me confront my own dissatisfaction and restlessness.

I’m sharing this, not because I think it is a cure-all formula for dealing with your child’s behavior. I am simply realizing what I am sure you all already know: God’s Word is living and breathing, sharp and cutting even to the sin of a discontent four-year-old and her weary mama. We are finding joy together as we train our hearts and eyes away from our lists of criticism towards a shower of graces.

I say this is the surprising way we are combatting the “grumpies”. But it shouldn’t be all that surprising. Aren’t we given this plan in Deuteronomy? “You shall teach them [my words] to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.” (Brackets added; Deuteronomy 11:19)

We are learning to multiply our days instead of simply survive. We are trading our “grumpies” for “thank you’s” because there are deep wells of joy to be explored. God’s Word is a gift to us, meant to shape us and refine our rough edges. I have agonized for months watching my child become angrier and more discontent, feeling like I have already failed at the only job I have- to help guide and shape this tiny human. All the while, forgetting that He has already given me all I need.


Mom, You Need A Friend

I stare at the text messages. Reading and rereading them, parsing for subtext and hidden emotion in the midst of emoji’s and autocorrect. I hand the phone to my husband, discussing whether or not I have unintentionally sabotaged a potential friendship. We have relived this conversation far too often, because, frankly, making friends as a grownup is hard, and uncomfortable, and sometimes really embarrassing.

Having never lived in one place for more than five years, creating new friendships should be second nature. However, if making normal situations exceptionally awkward were a superpower, it would be mine. It started back in grade school. I really wanted to be friends with the cool new girl. It was going well until one day on the monkey bars I sneezed. On her face. It was one of those surprise sneezes, where there is not time for coverage. I sat in panic for a minute. “I think you have something in your hair,” I said nonchalantly. With all the coolness I could muster I reached out to grab the monstrous booger resting in her pretty brown hair. I almost got away with secretly tucking it into my pocket until she asked what it was. Did I mention I don’t lie well?

I have on occasion unintentionally, and very loudly, laughed like Goofy (“HuhYUK”) in response to human interaction (once during a job interview). Procreating has only furthered my unfortunate handicap. While trying to invite a new neighbor to church, my daughter peed from the top of a sloped sidewalk. The man was standing at the bottom. Needless to say he did not find Jesus that day, and may have lost some freshly baptized leather loafers.

Remember the old days, before that first sting of rejection, when friendship was as easy as, “Wanna be my friend?” The two of you would run off hand-in-hand and find some hole to dig or boy to chase.

Boom, bonded.

Not today though. Today it’s a matrix of insecurities and scheduling and apparently, bodily fluids. Top that off with the delicate balance of the “play date,” AKA “Listen up, children, Mommy needs a friend. So don’t be weird and don’t be mean and whatever you do, don’t embarrass me in front of Chick-Fil-A.” Conversation punctuated by nose wiping and emergency toilet breaks is the mother-friends’ lot in life.

Why go through all the trouble? Why do we continue to pursue friendship amidst the chaos of raising young children?

Because it’s how we stay sane. It’s how those children survive to adulthood.  But mostly, it’s how we all thrive.

Poet Matthew Arnold said, “If there ever comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known.” When women set aside the need for comparison, leave insecurities and judgement at home, and come together with the humble and mutual understanding that we need each other, we all thrive.

I only say this because I have been graciously allowed to experience it first-hand. When I moved (yet again) two years ago, I was starved for community. A group of women from my church had just started to meet together once a month in my new neighborhood.  Despite my quirky social inadequacies, they invited me to join them. We have met every month for two years. We put the kids to bed, and head to the hostess’ home just as we are; some in sweats, some in make-up and earrings, but all weary stay-at-home mamas ready to unwind. We eat dessert and drink coffee and laugh until our cheeks hurt. We cry with each other and take intentional time to share and listen. We offer each other grace. Grace for the messy houses, the moments of rage, and the places we feel we’ve failed. We come together purely and simply for the benefit of our souls. We are doing nothing more profound than willingly sharing life, but in doing so, life begins to sing instead of drone on. We have seen miracle babies born, children fostered and adopted, marriages revived, illness healed, and joy restored. And all because someone decided she wanted time to laugh with her friends and eat cake.

So, lonely mama, it’s time. It’s time to walk up to that other lonely mama and ask her if she wants to be your friend. Grab her hand, run, dig yourselves deep into awkward, intimate and healing conversation and chase those little boys (or girls) of yours with the joy that comes from living as you were created to be: in community.  Your family will thank you- and so will your soul.



But Why: a discussion on sexual purity and the church

A few nights ago, the 4-year-old asked me how God makes people. Not Adam and Eve, but like real live humans, like her, she explained. *Gulp* After a hurried prayer I gave what I hope was a good dose of truth mixed with a gentle, “wait.” I rambled for a while about God having special secret surprises that only grown-ups get to know, and somewhere in there mentioned both beer and cells shaped like tadpoles. (If you need to feel better about your own parenting, you can read the entire conversation by clicking here.)

I used to think I was going to be the coolest mom when it came to “the talk.” Like, it wouldn’t even phase me when it came up because I’d be so chill and informed. And yet, when my first baby starting checking out her own body, I totally panicked and choked when she realized she had a “down there” and I couldn’t even think of what to call it.

So here we are at four, starting what is the first (of what I honestly hope are many) of these “talks.” My dad, a strong silent type, would always turn down the radio in the car and clear his throat before having any sort of serious talk, and I imagine my own little “tells” will make my girls feel the same little *gulp* I always felt. But regardless of how uncomfortable and foolish we all feel I want to keep having them, because whether or not I’m involved, my children will learn about sex. And when they do, it will be a confusing mishmash of information and twisted ideals. I want them to have a trusted source to bring it all home to. I want them to face it with a healthy amount of natural anticipation, while still holding it as something with purpose and holy design. I want them to step beyond the fear of moral obligation and walk with a deepened understanding of why God would place boundaries on something so natural and, let’s be honest, fun.

A few years back, my Facebook feed was flooded every couple days with various back-and-forth blog posts on the merit or the devastation of “waiting for marriage.” Testimony after testimony came out from people who grew up in religion and walked fearfully in almost “sacramental abstinence.” They would explain how their years of stifling sexual desire, even to the point of pretending it didn’t exist, had hindered and often been detrimental to their marriage. And in some ways, these articles were bringing up a good point. As the “capital C” Church, we have done a poor job preparing our young people for the beauty of sexual relationship. We have pounded into their heads: “NO. NO. NO.” (Picture Mean Girls’, Coach Carr: “At your age, you’re going to have a lot of urges. You’re going to want to take off your clothes and touch each other. But if you do touch each other, you will get chlamydia… and DIE.”) It seems, in some extremes, that we expect them to go from nuns to exhibitionists in a 24-hour period.  That the day before the wedding they are pleasing God by banishing every inkling of the existence of sex, and then overnight must please God by giving themselves wholly to their spouse.

Ok, I realize I may be exaggerating a bit, but I have had many conversations with girls in various youth groups, who feel this way. Terrified of their own desires, knowing what it is they’re not supposed to do, but outside of fear of wrongdoing, not understanding the why or the purpose of it all. Now, stay with me here, I am not about to give you a laundry list of moral metaphors and STDs. But I feel we have missed a great need among our young people by not digging into God’s plan for sexuality.

The Bible is full of “types”- stories, images or designs that are meant to symbolize and/or point to God’s ultimate plan for redemption and relationship with his people. The design of marriage and human sexuality is one of these types. Ephesians 5:22-32 describes how marriage is to be modeled after Jesus’ relationship to the church. The man and the woman are in exclusive, covenant relationship. Loving each other through self-sacrifice and mutual submission. But this is not the only time in scripture where the idea of marriage, and even sexual purity can be paralleled to the Gospel narrative.

I first realized this a few years back under the teaching of Jim and Drenda Killion. In one discussion, Jim walked us through the Oneness theme found throughout scripture. Here’s a brief outline (with my own observations thrown in!):

  • Genesis 1-2 God makes man and woman in His likeness- they are an image of his oneness, and are walking in unity with Him and each other. They, with God, are mirroring the fellowship unity enjoyed by the Trinity.
  • Genesis 3-11 describes how our oneness with God, as perfect image-bearers, was broken as sin was violently given reign. Our perfect unity with God was severed and we took on an “otherness” that separated us from God-who made us to be like Himself.
  • Genesis 12 through Malachi ushers in the time of Covenant community for Israel. The Law is given and God’s people live under its unyielding weight. The Law acts as a spotlight on humanity’s separation from God. Their “otherness” is juxtaposed by their inability to reach the oneness they were created to enjoy. The Law reveals their need for redemption and stirs a longing in their dead hearts for unified relationship with their Creator.
  • As we travel on into the New Testament, Jesus arrives and brings with Him the realization of what had nibbled deep down in our guts for centuries: a way to get back into perfect, shameless relationship with the God we were made for. He is the perfect image-bearer, and not only shows us how to walk in oneness, but is one with God. And now we eagerly await (Hebrews 9:28) the consummation of this re-unifying redemption: Christ’s return as described in Revelation 21.

So, here we are, back at my first uncomfortable sex talk with my daughter… What does any of the above have to do with how I want her to view her own sexuality? Well…everything.

In Genesis 1-2, Adam and Eve are created, man and woman. Separate beings, but made wholly one with each other and God. They live in shameless submission to each other and to God. Together, a perfect image of who God is and what his ultimate design for human relationship is. Genesis 3-11 shows us how far we have fallen from image-bearers, and the extensive laws placed on sexual morality (see Leviticus and Deuteronomy) reveal to us how far we have ventured from the shameless unity we were created to enjoy. The exclusivity God commands in covenant marriage and sexual purity  prepares us for the exclusivity of His salvation plan in Jesus.

Look around, sexual desire is either steeped in shame, in which we feel we need to hide it or stifle it, or we wave it around as proof of identity and purpose. And yet, marriage, sex, and the intimacy of husband and wife was intended to have kingdom purpose. It was designed to teach us something about God’s relationship with his people. It is far more than a stringent list of dos and don’ts, but a gift graciously given so that we might further look forward to Christ’s return. We must stop telling our youth, “NO NO NO” and start encouraging them to celebrate the gentle “wait.” We should wonder that God has placed in our physical bodies a desire for intimacy and unity that stirs in us, and should remind us of our longing for His return and our oneness to be restored.

Bottom line? God wants to redeem our sexuality. Whether it is unrealistic expectations, apathy, fear, lust, sex outside of marriage, an affair, same sex attraction, pornography… the list goes on. He wants to set you free. My pastor, JR Vassar said it best, “Freedom is not being able to do whatever you want to do, freedom is being able to do what you were created to do.” You were created to enjoy the unity and fun of sex within the security, purity and exclusivity of covenant marriage- so that your heart may be stirred and reminded that you were created for the intimate, vulnerable unity of exclusive relationship with Jesus.


photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Addendum: On special secret surprises and tadpoles

Tonight I had what I hope will be the first of many “the talks” with my oldest child. Here’s how awkwardly it went:

Daughter: Mom, maybe instead of listening to the radio while I go to sleep you could tell me how God makes people.

Me: *gulp* What do you mean?

Daughter: What does “what do you mean?” mean?

Me: Do you want to know about how God made Adam and Eve or how God made you?

Daughter: Like how God made me and all people.

Me: *crap! Hurried prayer for wisdom* Well, when a mommy and a daddy are married, God takes  a part of the mommy and a part of the daddy and puts them together in the mommy’s tummy. Then those pieces grow and get bigger and stronger and make a baby. Then when the baby gets big and strong enough she can be born.

Daughter: That’s so cool!

Me: *nailed it!* Right!?!

Daughter: But how does God put the pieces together?

Me: *more hurried prayers* Well…some things are super secret surprises that God only shares when people become mommies and daddies.

Daughter: But I want to know the secret now.

Me: *rambling about how she can drink juice because it’s good for little girls’ bodies but she can’t drink beer (it’s ok if you’re judging my parenting right now!) because it’s only made for grown-up bodies.* “Some things that God tells us have to wait for when we have grown up brains because little kid brains aren’t ready for it.”

We go back and forth about how she is not a little kid but also not a grown up

Daughter: So what are the parts that God puts together?

Me: *frantically deciding how much I want her Sunday school teacher to hear later* “Well, mommies have lots of tiny eggs inside of them and daddies have tiny cells in them that look like tadpoles (I know—but I didn’t want to lie!). God puts them together and they grow into a baby.”

You: Oh. *falls asleep*

Me: *exhale*



We used to be cool…

I watched him, church tee and boxer clad, carrying our flailing four-year-old up the stairs. Our eyes met for a second and I saw a flash of his past life: designer jeans, guitar and perfect hair. And I thought, “Man, we used to be so cool.”

Now, in all honesty, I was never really cool. But “cool” is relative when “freedom” is concerned. So many times my husband and I pause, drinking in our reality with an edge of incredulity. Recently we went on one of my guy’s “Let’s get out of the house. This will be fun family time,” notions (something I love about him). Twenty minutes in he looks at me and says, over the screaming baby, “This is not fun.”

I mean, sure, as parents we still stay up until 4am and wake up at 7am for the day. We binge-watch TV (I have seen EVERY episode of Daniel Tiger, ad nauseam.) We crank tunes and cruise for hours in our car (drowning out tantrums and extending naps). But things change. Drum cases become tables for Fruit-Loops and morning cartoons. Old band t-shirts no longer carry the stink of screaming, sweaty crowds and spilled energy drinks, but spit-up and snot streaks. Your calls to your girlfriends will now involve horror stories of infants discovering diaper tabs during nap time instead of bad first dates.

My “cool” days are over. My ability to relate to a younger generation without inadvertently throwing in booger references is long gone. And my desire to wear anything but black yoga pants in public is a dream of the past (I might add a necklace or some eye shadow if it’s date night). However, I am not grieving my loss of “cool”, but find myself celebrating it. I wouldn’t trade the giggles of slipping out of church after my newborn has wrecked my shirt with her “poo-splosion”. I wouldn’t go back to a time where tiny feet and sweaty heads weren’t pressed against my face in wee morning hours. I could never trade the wrinkles, rolls and stretch marks for the trim, unmarred body of my younger self. With each white hair I will celebrate that in my new-found lameness I am learning to love. To love desperately and selflessly, to release my need for put-togetherness for the sake of joy. I am learning to laugh genuinely and loudly at my short-comings and celebrate tiny victories. My freedom today looks wildly different from the care-free days of my youth. In it I am finding that digging down deep into the temporary messiness of grace is to live in reckless abandon to eternity. My youth twinkles in the eyes of my children as they dance and twirl, and I will join them as if it is still in me, so that they will see that cool is relative, but joy is everlasting.

And when it is all said and done, whether they are moms or missionaries, CEO’s or burger-flippers, I will measure my success in their ability to love deeply. I will run this race of exhaustion and endless laundry with gusto in hopes that they will see that “cool” is fleeting, but that in the Lord all things are awesome.

So if you are a new parent, and find yourself mourning who you once were, I leave you with the wise words of one Daniel Tiger: “It’s ok to feel sad sometimes. Little by little, you’ll feel better again.” And you will. This parenting thing is actually pretty rad…once you get past all the poo.



And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow for 84 years. She did not depart from the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38


Mom, waiting is HARD!”

I hear this nearly daily. And every time I think, “You bet your buns it is!” But waiting is an essential life lesson. We are taught from a very young age that waiting is necessary. But why? And maybe more pressing is, HOW? How do we wait in the mind-numbing silence that often comes with trials, while still believing a God who promises to have our best in mind?

The Psalmist preaches to himself over and over again to wait for the Lord, to take courage and wait. We are promised strength and blessing to those who wait, and to be upheld- never to be put to shame. But how do you get there? The end result sounds excellent, but the journey is treacherous, full of dark unknowns and whispered redirects. Waiting is painful. Waiting is straight-up hard.

The prophetess, Anna, who appears momentarily in Luke 2 gives us a beautiful glimpse of the “how”. She was married as a young virgin (most likely 14), widowed by 21, and though some versions say she lived that way until she was 84 years old, others says she lived that way for 84 years. Regardless… the math comes out the same…she was OLD (like awe-strikingly old!). Not only was she “advanced in years” she spent the large majority of those years living as a widow in the temple.

She was there day and night, worshiping, fasting, praying. Only to walk in at the exact moment that Simeon was handing the tiny baby Jesus back to his mother, declaring that because of him the depths of hearts will be revealed. Coincidence? NEVER! She had been eagerly waiting for that moment. Barren, widowed and aged, this woman had spent her lifetime pleading with God for just that very moment. So what can we glean from this tiny snippet of her story?

  1. Strategically place yourself in the presence of the King

Anna did not allow her newly widowed status to bury her in shame, self-pity or isolation. As a woman with no family and no children, she was put in a tough spot when she lost her husband. She drew nearer to the only one who could raise her station – the King who created her. And she remained there, knowing His promises, she waited for him to make good on them. Decades she waited. I imagine after Israel had already faced nearly 400 years of Godly silence, the last 84 that she spent discussing it with (or probably it felt like “at”) God were brutal. And yet, she did not run or push him away, but rather strategically placed herself right in his path, so when he moved (because she KNEW he would!) she wouldn’t miss it.

  1. Cultivate disciplines that create humility

As we wait, we have a distinct opportunity to place ourselves face-down before a mighty God, knowing full well he will one day lift our heads. Anna spent her every moment praying, worshiping, and fasting. She cultivated disciplines that bred humility. She so sought after God that she knew instantly when he showed up on the scene, because her heart was acutely tuned to his will. And the beauty of it was, her humility and zealous desire for intimacy and rescue was rewarded. She was one of the first people to look into the face of the Living God.

  1. Be comfortable in silence

Sometimes God is silent. Anna lived in the smack dab of a society built around a God who had not audibly spoken in 4 centuries. But there is something to be said of a relationship where silence does not build discomfort. Intimacy does not always look like vibrant conversation or interaction, but is often a dwelling in each other’s presence without concern. To sit in the throne-room, aware of His presence, but content in His silence should be the ambition of a waiting heart.

  1. Build a “waiting” community

Notice her first response is to turn and share the news with “all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” She had surrounded herself with others who were eagerly awaiting the same thing- to see God move on behalf of his people. Her heart burst with gratitude and she shared the mighty thing God had done with those who were waiting to hear it.
In your waiting, do not be shy about asking for prayer. Gather in people to walk alongside you and wade through the silence and the tears. Allow them to weep with you, and then when God moves, and he will (though maybe not in the way you imagined, or the time-frame you desire), you can celebrate and worship and eat cake (food is love people) together over all God has done! What a gift to offer up to those around you!

  1. Eagerly wait, don’t anxiously assume

It is so easy to get through the waiting period and as the initial amazement wears off, to feel that little stirring of anxiety. Thanksgiving for the new, wide open pasture is often dampened by the fear that the next attack is waiting just in the shadows.
We must be careful to eagerly wait on Jesus’ victory without anxiously anticipating the next trial. Held side by side, the comparison is laughable. Enjoy the moments of rest and peace that come after a long battle, and eagerly await all that he will do in bringing you through whatever comes next.





and if not…

I struggle with anxiety. And whether or not you did before, if you’re a mother, you probably do now. It seems that along with the standard-issue black yoga pant, new mommy-dom also comes with a healthy dose of anxiety and guilt. I am writing this sitting on the floor of my bathroom peripherally watching the top of my child’s head as it bobs up and down over the side of the tub. And I jump at every odd noise or lack thereof, sure she’s somehow managed to submerge her oversized head under the 1/9 of an inch of water she’s sitting in. See… the mommy-hood, it’s chock full of thugs!

I recently went on this long journey with God through a pile of doubt around his goodness. It has been months since I last posted on the topic because I needed all of that time to process what I have been learning.  And while I cannot promise to do it much justice, I want to continue the conversation, because it is highly relevant and vital, as women and as the Church, to understand the goodness of God.

So back to that anxiety cocktail… if we cannot both comprehend (on some level) and accept the sovereignty and goodness of God we will never be able to peel our eyes away from those monsters under our bed.

A few months ago I had the distinct privilege of hearing Burk Parsons speak on suffering. I fidgeted excitedly in my seat, my pen racing to gather all the wisdom I could possibly drink in. I then turned to the woman next to me and in a super-mature, ministry-wife manner, gave her the “mind blown!” signal. I am like a child at Christmas when Jesus reveals new things to me, and this one was like waking up to see a shiny new bike! All of my questions answered with a neat tidy bow—ok not tidy- because let’s face it, this is not a tidy topic.

God’s goodness and sovereignty are not mutually exclusive— especially in the face of our suffering. Parsons reminded us that when we consider the place of evil in the world, we have to remember that God also has other attributes along with goodness. He is holy, for example, and just, a righteous judge.

I have often thought of the world created “good” and assume that means it was made perfect— and evil is something that has taken our perfection and devolved us into something lesser. Like a black stain on a once starkly white canvas. And yet, Parsons explained, the Bible clearly tells us that the world was not created perfect- it was good, but it allowed for sin to exist, thereby not perfect. The reality is, when sin entered the world by Adam’s choosing- all of creation became enemy territory to the Righteous God of the universe. The sin of Adam, the one God gave to be ruler over the earth, handed creation’s throne to the one who hated God.

Evil became king. And now… are you ready to have your face melted?!?…now, that same Creator God- still in control despite our perceptions- has been restraining evil. Did you catch that? He is restraining evil. It sure doesn’t feel like it most days, especially during the 5 o’clock news (or flipping through Facebook for that matter). But, if God had allowed our full potential of evil to be realized we would have killed each other off years ago.

Mind. Blown.

So the question then is no longer why do we have war, famine, death, child pornography…etc, etc…? It is, why has God not lifted his hand and allowed us to cannibalize each other as our nature so desires? More so, why did this God release his restraint on evil for one single moment in time, allowing the fullness of sin and its natural ramifications to be unleashed on himself instead of on me?

So here I sit, watching those sweet green/brown eyes peek at me over the tub and I am awash in gratitude. Not because I am pious or especially good at loving God. But because I am not, and he still allows me to wake up and bathe my children. He still allows me to walk through the fire and watch as my feet hit flame and whispers, “You see terror where there is no terror. I. Am. God.”Psalm 53:5

And as I dry off her tiny hands and kiss her damp apple cheeks I will breathe in her fragility and remember that this God, the one who tells the oceans where to begin and end, made the Leviathan to frolic. Surely he can handle the tiny people he’s given me to love. His sovereignty gave him the right to choose who receives the due punishment, and his goodness means he took it onto his shoulders. He will continue to act in the same accord toward me. Though his mysteries and valleys of fire may send shivers down my spine, they are nothing compared to the flow of wrath that he dammed with his own body so that I might swim in the living waters. And I am confident I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living…and when I don’t, he is still good.


Helpful Links:
Read PART 1 of “and if not…” to follow my journey.
Listen to Burk Parsons talk on evil and suffering here



fifty-three eleven

When I picture Jesus on the cross I feel the weight of his love bear down on my chest, so heavy I physically sense the buckling of knees. The sorrow over sins is present with this picture, but when I see him in my mind’s eye, it’s joy I feel—a deep, almost painful joy. It radiates through my bones, and keeps them from idleness. I am the blind healed, the woman restored, the mute given voice, the prisoner set free, and I am powerless to the driving force that is grace. It always seems so strange to me, reading the gospels, when he tells the healed to keep to themselves. Because surely he knows, they too are driven by this same impetus that sets feet to motion and mouths to loud, endless words of praise. He too was moved to the wild dancing, the bubbling up from your depths- jump to your feet agalliao- rejoicing. So when I close my eyes and am at his feet and see them, beaten and destroyed for my deep joy- my body aches for movement. The very marrow of my being catches flame and I begin the slow mournful sway of the bereaved. And as I mourn that mirror of broken body, I am startled by one, jarring sound. In his final moment he is the beautiful-soled messenger, crying out to all “It is finished!” Three words that brought life bursting into a barren land. Three words that say to my shaking joints, “Strengthen those weak hands, make firm your feeble knees, He has come to win you back!” He lifts my head and binds my wounds, and in those three words my sackcloth becomes a garment of praise, my ash-filled hair is washed clean with oils of gladness, and takes on a new glistening crown. My weary feet become oaks of righteousness, planted firmly for his glory- whose limbs will forever sway and dance with the reckless abandon of a prisoner set free. And I cannot help but believe, that as he hung there, eyes closed in agony, that he foresaw this coming freedom, soaked in the songs of the redeemed and was satisfied to invite us into the joy set before him.
“Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:11


Rest, not just another 4 letter word

I am tired.

Bone weary, wake up planning my nap, “I now understand what boot camp must feel like,” (the military version, not the squats-in-the-park type… though I will avoid both like the plague) TIRED.

I started this year praying to find joy in my children, praying for REST. And as often happens, that spiraled into my own spiritual boot camp of sorts. Months of sick babies punctuated by houseguests, job changes, and our first surgery have drawn me down to the basest of survival modes. All of this tacked on to the end of several years of desert wandering, has left me in an endlessly restless state.

Days mesh into a glob of tantrums and coffee and wondering when I last showered. I look at the clock to realize the hubs will be home in 20 minutes and my appearance (and odor) is unchanged from the moment he kissed my groggy face goodbye eight-ish hours earlier. The idea of rest lazily oscillates around in the fog of my mind- sometimes stirring obsessive longing, sometimes guilt (like when you see that stack of dishes that didn’t get done AGAIN—what did you do all day?) And in this, it becomes just another four letter word- because how on earth am I to keep up with that Proverbs 31 broad AND rest. Unpossible (see, brain so broke it makes up words.)

Yet, the Bible talks about rest… A LOT. Like, commands it. Sets a day aside for it. Sets weeks and months and years aside for it, and requires even the land to be given rest. And Ms. Proverbs Three One- she’s not exempt. So how on earth do we walk in obedience in the area of rest, when all of life with its expectations and tiny, non-sleeping people, seem to be single-mindedly preying on it?

The beauty of scripture is that every story, command, and seemingly insignificant tittle, is a lovely glimpse of the broader meta-narrative of redemption. In the beginning God creates, it is good, there is rest. The world goes to chaos, Noah builds an ark, storms come, the ark rests, God promises future rest from his wrath. (PS Noah’s name comes from the Hebrew verb meaning “to rest”—mind. blown.) The Israelites are told to order their lives around a calendar punctuated by rest. Jesus calls people to his rest out of weariness and heavy burdens. A final rest is promised to all who believe. “Rest is the goal and culmination of the original creation, so it is also the goal and culmination of God’s work of re-creation.”**

Psalm 23 bids us to sit beside quiet waters, lie down in green pastures and enjoy restoration of soul. Psalm 46 tells us to be still and experience him. He has not only commanded, but has given you permission to lay down those burdens and be pampered in your enjoyment of him. While rest in the temporal may just sound like a really good nap, rest in the Infinite is an arrival into the Promised Land. Seasons of restlessness make us feel inadequate, lost, and empty. But rest in the Almighty makes us whole.

So, mama, stop striving for the appearance of togetherness, let go of the weariness of soul, stop trying to keep up and be enough.



Because true rest, the kind that our deep gut-cry longs for, comes only in the presence of the King. Each time rest is mentioned in the Bible it is a calling into the throne room. Anything more or less than that will never satisfy. But the beauty of it is, God rested from his work, so that in him you can rest from yours and enter confidently into his green pastures.

Now your job is to lie down, sit beside, drink in, do the seemingly unpossible… slow down. It means you have to say no to something to say yes to Him. Time is not rushing past you, it is flowing toward you- in gift form- receive, enjoy, and savor.

So stumble your sweat pants laden self into the throne room of the Beloved and let him lavish you with the rest your weary bones need. (Even if it requires you to hide in your pantry next to the half empty sleeve of Oreos and cup of coffee you’ve been looking for since last week.)


**Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch. "Rest, Peace"






Nearly 7 years ago, my husband and I packed our belongings for the third time since we’d been married and set off for an adventure. We left behind all of our immediate family, a thriving college ministry, and some of the most intriguing, exciting, Jesus-loving people we will ever know. To say it was painful is an understatement. But, we had full confidence that God was calling us into full-time ministry on staff at a church 9 hours away. So our little family of two (plus a fat dog called Rupert and horrible cat, Gus Thompkins) set out on our own.

Five years, and one beautiful daughter, later we sat amidst piles of boxes, totally defeated. Our life in ministry had been more than difficult. As many do, we went in with a fire in our bellies and walked out with less than a spark. I remember walking into the garage to find my not quite 2-year-old sitting among the stacks of boxes. She hung her head and said in her sweet little baby voice, “I’m sad.” My heart breaks every time I replay the moment, because truly, she was feeling the heaviness that we all carried, and her little heart could take it no more than mine. We, as a family were broken.

Months later we settled into a new home, a new city and a new position of ministry. I tried to let the hope bubble up, but had nothing left. Though I had loved Jesus for many years, my faith, and all that I thought I knew, was rocked to its core. I was standing on a precipice, and felt that one slight breeze would send me hurtling headlong into complete rebellion against the God I felt I no longer knew. Little did I know, that breeze would be a powerful headwind and would come swiftly and painfully.

I reeled when it hit. That final thread in the tapestry of my faith and foundation had been yanked and I unraveled. I remember standing in the bathroom with my husband saying, “If this is what God looks like, if this is what he calls his leaders to be like. If this is what ministry is, I don’t want anything to do with it anymore.” I felt that the pain I had carried, and watched my husband and now my child endure was far beyond the loving Father God that I thought I knew so well. I went into deep mourning. When you are engrained with the truth that there is a God who loves you desperately, to attempt to step out into the world without him is more painful a loss than can be described.

I found out I was pregnant with our second child, and my mourning took a back seat, but only for a moment. As I prepared to face labor and birth I found my pain and grief was still very close to the surface. I began to cry out to the silent white walls that my relationship with Jesus felt like. I could almost feel my heart’s plea bouncing off of them and hitting me in the face, like standing in a closed racquetball room. I remember saying to the void, “I know we are not really anything right now, but I have never done anything without You. I can’t do this without You. Please don’t make me do it alone.”

I continued to call out to Jesus, though the tension I felt toward Him was thick, I knew one thing- I needed Him. So I clung in the way a child clings to her mother’s neck during a tantrum- kicking and stiff, but unwilling to be put out.

When we finally headed to the hospital,  I had already been in labor for 22 hours, and had not progressed AT ALL. I was exhausted and beyond myself. My doctor graciously gave me two hours to stay and be monitored. I faced the pains of those 24 hours of labor with my eyes closed. I could do nothing during that waiting period but cry to Jesus. Each wave of pain brought with it, “Please, Jesus,” reverberating through my very bones. I could think of nothing else.

My body was where my heart had been for months: weary and weak from the struggle and pain of labor. But there was no way out but forward, and no strength left of my own. So I called out to Him.

My friend had given me verses that she had used when having her daughter only months before. Each promised Jesus’ strength in place of my own, each ran through my head like a broken record. The nurse returned, and my body had progressed amazingly- Jesus had done the unlikely on my behalf! I could be admitted (AND have an epidural, praise the Lord!)

When the time came, I found myself (eyes still closed) still tapped of any stores of strength- and yet facing a tremendous mission. Between each contraction I laid my head back, and felt Jesus’ peace washing over me. The words of Isaiah and David resting on my heart. And with each push I was fully aware of His power, higher and greater than my own, able to bring life, able to take the pain and the heartbreak and replace it with peace and wholeness. And as we neared the end, or should I say the beginning, I heard for the first time the music my husband had started in the background. The familiar voice rang out, “You make me brave! You make me brave! You call me out beyond the shore onto the waves.”

I knew in that moment that the God Who Sees had done as he always does; been in patient, persistent, unwarranted pursuit of me. He was wooing me back to him, and in my devastation he was welling up new life in my bones. A new fire that would be tested and fanned over the next several months until it burned away the scales and revealed to me who I really was from the beginning: a Daughter of the King.

I opened my eyes for the first time in 32 hours, and looked directly into the wide eyes of my own, newly born daughter: Aulani Varee “The King’s Messenger.”

So why tell this story? Why not just tell my birth story (for the very few that enjoy reading the details!)? Why admit that I gave up on God?

The reasons are endless, but the reality is this: we will all be hurt by others, and more than likely, we will be hurt by at least one Christian, or someone we link to a church. We will all watch from our holy hills as preacher after preacher falls into scandal and ends up on the 5 o’clock, and many of us will feel righteous indignation as we run the other way. It’s not enough to just say, “The church is full of broken people.” Which is very very true. We were hurdling headlong toward hell before Jesus scooped us up.

My mama always says, “Hurting people hurt people.” Let us, as The Church recognize that our actions hold great weight in the life and death of those around us. And then let us pick up the mirror of the Word and be changed by what we see. Let us not continue in our hurt, but allow the true nurturing heart of Jesus teach us to live and accept our radically healed state. And then let it teach us to wrap truth bandages around the wounds of those who step through these hallowed doors.

Did you know that when a branch is grafted into a healthy living tree, the receiving tree will grow new vascular tissue and begin feeding the new branch? I long to see The Church move forward, full to the brim with grafted branches, fed and nourished by the strength of the whole. But I have to do my part in being a healthy member of the Whole, and that means being vulnerable where it matters- in the presence of the King.

The other, and most poignant, reason for writing this is that nothing I experience or enjoy at the hand of Jesus is by my own merit or strength. I have been chased by a skilled marksman. I have been hunted and caught up and I have struggled: hard. But the thing is, once you have known the genuine goodness of God, there is not a thing in this life that will fill that void if you try to forget it. His love, His never ending, never giving up, fight-till-you-call-uncle, passionate love is ultimately irresistible. Not because He is forceful, but because He is patient. His persistence is gentle, consistent force to be reckoned with, and He always wins.

If you have been placing the pain-filled mask of your own church/ministry/human related projections over the true face of Jesus, it’s time to let Him show you what He is really about- let Him call you by what you really are: Son. Daughter. Then let Him reintroduce you to those you will call Brother. Sister. I promise you won’t be disappointed. And then come see me, we can ugly cry together as we revel in our new names.


Letters to my girls: on being a woman

My sweet girls,

I am blessed to be a mom of daughters. I have learned to wonder and glory rather than wallow in the mysteries of womanhood because of you.

You are women. Created stunningly and purposefully to be just that. While womanhood will translate in a kaleidoscope of ways from each of you and from every woman you know, it boils down to this: you are women, created and endowed by the Creator with His beauty. Image bearers of God’s nurturing, life-giving, gentle stability.

Do not be harsh to yourself. If it would hurt coming from some other source, do not be the one to say it about yourself. As my mama always says, “Don’t talk about my baby that way!” So if it would cause harm coming out of someone else’s mouth, it is causing harm floating around in your head. You are beautiful not because of some physical attribute you have been blessed with, but because it is the depth of who you are. God’s life in you, spilling out into those around you is where your beauty lies. It is what makes the world captivated by you when you walk into a room, and it is what will make you ageless. You are smart, not because of your achievements or grades, but because the Spirit living in you has all knowledge and understanding- which you can tap into any time you ask!

Rejoice in your body. It will forever be changing, but each time it does it will be a reflection of God’s redemption plan. Women’s bodies have the unique ability to bring life into the world. To be the very vessel where new life is created. We see over and over again in God’s story that the old life has to pass away through the shedding of blood, and through this, God brings new life. As miserable (and gross) as it may seem now, your body gives you a miraculous reminder of this every month. And when and if you do have children, biologically or adopted, your body  and your heart will bear the scars of this process. Every time you see stretch marks, grey hairs, extra pounds, or sleep circles think on the scars that were borne for you, so that you too, might have new life and be called an heiress of the Most High God. And then, someday, your body will stop doing all of these things. The monthly reminder will end, and the ability to bear children will come to a close. Though it may seem horribly sad now, it too is a picture of God’s purpose. For there is coming a time when the need for new life and bloodshed will end, and we will enter into a glorious rest. Though it seems a loss to leave all the sweetness (though mixed with excruciating pain) this earth has to offer behind. It is nothing compared to the glorious end Jesus has prepared for those who love him. Your body is a picture of the Gospel, do not diminish it by believing it to be anything less.

As a woman you will grow up hearing more and more about your rights. Indeed, history is rich with heroic stories of women fighting to be liberated from bondage that holds them back from fullness of potential and purpose. These stories are empowering, and many of them should be! However, know this: your ultimate oppressor has no human face, no standing institution or government, it is the father of lies, who looks to snuff out your power as a woman. He will tell you that you are worthless. He will tell you that you are a failure. He will tell you that you must put emotion and empathy aside in order to be successful in a man’s world. He will tell you that you are frail. He will fill your head so fully with tiny, seemingly harmless lies that embed themselves into the very tapestry of who you are. He will send others to tell you no, when God says yes. He will heap upon you guilt, fear, and self-loathing. He will tell you, you must fight for your right to choose, to control your body, because you are the only one who will. He will tell you life is not valuable, that sexiness is both shameful and significant. He will tell you that sex is less than an extravagant gift from God, and he will try to use it in various ways to make you feel tarnished. He will shackle you to busyness, to comparison, to unspoken competition with other women. He will say you are alone. He will hand you a mental vault so that you may collect all of the false evidence he puts in your path, confirming the lies he has woven. He will tell you there is no hope, that you are broken and beyond repair. And if given the chance, he will destroy you.

And yet, God, in his all-consuming mercy, has heaped upon you truth. Glorious, liberating truest-truth. He says you are worth more to him than all of creation- and oh, how he cares for even the birds! He says that in Him you are more than a conqueror! He says that gentleness makes you great! He says that he is your strength! He says that you will know truth and it will set you free! He says that in Jesus all of his promises are Yes!  He says he has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind. He says in Him, there is no disapproval or disappointment, that you are His child. He says not only is your body His masterpiece, but that He has made it His dwelling place, and He fights for what is His- and God does not lose. He says it is by His hand, His breath that life is given. He says that your desire for Him is what makes you attractive and praiseworthy. He says sex is a gift for your enjoyment, and holds the relationship between a man and his wife in such high regard that He has made it the very reflection of his own relationship with His people! He will call you to be Mary, to sit restfully at His feet as He soothes your weary heart and mind. He will repair your broken relationships, and teach you to be vulnerable to new ones if you allow Him. He will never leave you! He holds the key to the past, present and future, and will gently and carefully unlock that vault and replace all of it’s contents with treasures from His Word. He says He is your hope! He says He is your healer, and as He is the one who created you, there is nothing broken that cannot be fixed by Him. And if given the chance, He will bring you to life.

My Loves, I long for you to be confident, to walk through life with an ever-present wake of kindness and awe. I long for you to know your worth, and to live full, adventuresome lives. But above all, I long for you a deep-down, fire-in-your-bones love for Jesus. It is only in Him that your understanding of womanhood will be fully realized, and your own identity for that matter. And only in Him that you will be a woman liberated.

Love and kisses,









It’s ok to stop hiding

Being a mom is tough. Some days it down-right stinks. A few nights ago my husband came back to our bed after mercifully fielding yet another EF-5 tantrum from our 4 year old (at one point she was naked and screaming while jumping on her bed…). He patted the blankets in the dark and finally asked, “Where are you?” “Hiding,” I mumbled from my fetal position in the corner of the bed, buried like a mouse under a mountain of fluff. After laying there listening to her frenzy and his calm voice trying to bring her back to some semblance of reason (did I mention he’s amazing?), I turned off the baby monitor and dug deep into my covers. I did what I have always done when overwhelmed, I hid.

I just got done watching “Inside Out” for what I am sure will be one of a thousand viewings. (If you are unfamiliar with the movie, it is an animation about what goes on inside the heads of people, showing 5 characters representing joy, sadness, disgust, anger, and fear.) I noticed that the mom’s primary emotion, the one that calls most of the shots is sadness. It seems the writers may be onto something fairly revealing about motherhood.

Eve was told there would be pain in bringing children up in this broken world. The violence of sin transformed the beauty of motherhood far beyond just painful childbirth. Loving my child means I break daily. I sacrifice my comfort daily. I vacillate between consuming joy and devastating worry. And I understand more than ever, the depth that is Jesus’ love for me.

When my first child was born, my heart felt full. It didn’t matter that I would have to wake again in 45 minutes, there were nights I would stay up just to watch her chest rise and fall a few more times. But my admiration for her was matched by the growing hostility I felt toward my husband. I would lay awake listening to him snore, and be screaming silently in my head, and fantasizing about physically harming him. I thought little of it, because my anger felt so justified at the time- I mean, he got to sleep!

After confiding in a friend who encouraged me to tell my doctor, I made an appointment. I mentioned my thoughts casually to the nurse and hoped it wouldn’t come up again. But my doctor came in and immediately exclaimed, “Elizabeth, is this you!?” I looked down at the chart, the nurse had written in quotes, “I want to punch my husband.”

The doctor told me that postpartum depression can manifest itself in many ways, including hostility toward a spouse. He encouraged me to start an anti-depressant. I went home that night and tried to explain to my husband our situation (talk about an awkward chat). Because I was breastfeeding we were both hesitant about taking an anti-depressant, and my sweet husband said he could handle my anger. So we decided to forego the medication.

A few weeks passed and what I thought were just normal mommy worries for my daughter’s well-being evolved into haunting visions of her being harmed, first by things outside of my control, and then later by my own hand. I couldn’t walk up a set of stairs, or pick up sharp objects when she was near me. I began to hear a voice tell me to hurt her.

One night, I stood over her bed, having finished nursing her and laid her down. The visions and voices screamed through me, and I ran from my room, unable to tell anymore what was reality and what was the chaos in my own mind. Every ounce of me loved my daughter. Never had I felt so selflessly in love, and yet that same body that had protected and nourished her life for 9 months had gone to war with itself. I fled my room, ran to the far end of my house and sobbed. I couldn’t even be in the same room as my child.

I went back to my doctor, sat in his chair clinging to my 3-month old baby, and cried uncontrollably. I couldn’t even get the words out. I had convinced myself that if I told anyone what I was going through, that they would take my child.

I started anti-depressants that same day, and within weeks was again enjoying motherhood. Though, even now there is healing to be done.

Bringing children into this world is miraculous and worth the hype for sure. But it’s ok, mama, to admit if some days are less than enjoyable. It’s ok, mama, to admit it if some of what got you to that sweet warm breath on your neck as you rock and hum and marvel, was in fact traumatizing.  And it’s more than ok, even vital, for you to ask for help when you need it. You have not failed.

Give yourself the grace to accept help. And the grace to hide under the blankets and cry. But while you’re under there, give yourself the gift of a conversation with your own Creator. In his arms we are pressed but not crushed, troubled but not driven to despair. If anyone is going to understand the heartache of bearing children, it will be the God who bore the pain of the whole world so you could be his child. You are not alone. You are held, and you are brave.

I have always been very open about my experience with severe postpartum depression. When I got through it, I felt God speak over me, telling me that if I kept silent I would be overcome with shame. Studies show that up to 19% of women will experience postpartum depression on some level- that is almost 1-in-5. While my experience is unique- and admittedly severe, it can manifest itself in a multitude of ways. American Pregnancy Association has a great list of symptoms, and is a good place to start. If you are struggling,  tell someone, there is no shame in it, and ultimately is the best choice for both you and your child. There is hope and healing!





and if not…(part 2.5 Choose Joy)

I am on a journey to answer this question: if God allows crippling pain into the lives of those he loves, or who love him, if his protection does not look like we hope it would, is he still good? Below is part 2.5 of my journey— a continuation of Linda’s story, click here to read the first part of her story  part 2.

How does a mother who is walking alongside her child as he battles cancer say so emphatically: “Yes, He [God] is a good father!”?

Linda tells micah surg 12me that in the beginning she was in a very dark place, running the gamut of emotions. “You experience sadness and confusion, and I really was like, I’m over this faith thing, and over this relationship that’s a joke. If God is really about this type of life for me, then I am really out…”

“After having this terrible season of doubt, of anger and hatred, the Holy Spirit just started saying, ‘OK fine, if you want to be done with God, every person is allowed to feel that way. So be done with God. But if you don’t believe in God, if you don’t trust God, then what do you believe, what do you think? So I started thinking ‘What do I know?’ So even though I may be very mad right now, and may be forever, I do believemicah surg 1 the Bible is true. It is an absolute truth. So I felt the holy spirit say,’ Okay, so if you believe the Bible is true, what does the Bible say?’ So I started researching that. Faith is so great when life is easy. And knowing truth is so good. But experiencing truth is something different.”
“I just started looking up scripture. Ok, God says he’s so great, let’s prove it. So I started with the promises of God. Every time I would read a promise of God I would write it down. I was searching, searching, searching; what is truth? You know the Bible says he will never leave you, he will never turn against you.”


“Some of the verses that were really poignant in my life at that time were Isaiah 43:1-3, when it talks about when you pass through the waters I will be with you, when you go through the fire it will not burn you, when you go through the rivers they will not overcome you. And it talks about how Christ doesn’t allow you to be overwhelmed in whatever the situation is. Those became the verses that I went to all the time on the days I felt overwhelmed with a newborn and a sick child.”

hair pray
“It was such a sweet time because, you know when you’re at the bottom you really can only go up from there, especially spiritually. I had really felt like I was at the bottom before that. I was so grateful to be coming up out of that darkness, in spite of all that was going on… Of course there have been ups and downs, days where I am angry with God, and days where I am happy with God; days where I can find joy, and days where there is none for me to find.”

“I don’t think if we were to ask Job, ‘Hey, do you feel like God’s protecting you?’ He might have said yes, but what does that look like? Is God protecting me from my children dying? No. Or my wife, or my servants, dying? I think that we subconsciously all have this idea that, ‘My children are going to live beyond my days, I will die before them, and you know yes, there’s going to be hard times…but ultimately I’m going to graduate college, get married, have kids, …’ But the reality is, that’s nsmileot what we’re promised. We all know that’s not promised, we all know that at any point anything could change, but the truth is, in my experience, we really don’t believe that… You really have to go back and say, ‘What is true?’ Part of the reason I love Isaiah 43 is because it does not say, ‘ IF you go through the waters, I will be with you. It says, ‘WHEN’. It’s almost like saying ‘You’re going to go through the water,
but when you do, I’ll be with you in the water. Or WHEN you go through fire, I will prevent the burning. WHEN you go through a river, I will not let it overcome you…”

“I think protection isn’t something we understand. It doesn’t mean our child is going to live. It doesn’t mean we’re going to have the house, or the money, or the whatever. It just doesn’t mean that to me. But I do know that God, no matter what, will always be there.”

“I think it’s figuring out that no matter what, God’s goodness is always the same. What we have gone through has been really hard, and very devastating. But people go through a lot worse than what we’ve been through and I can only imagine what they think of God’s goodness. That’s what we have to remember, that in spite of our circumstances, God never changes. We may not feel like God is being good to us, but goodness isn’t a feeling it’s an attribute of Christ. So if I believe what the Word says, and the Word says that God is good, then I don’t doubt that, I don’t question that.”
batmanWhat I learned growing up was that your relationship with Jesus was lovely, and kind, and fun and happy. You know, read your Bible every day, pray every day, life is good. But that isn’t what my relationship with Christ is like. I think that the good thing about a deep relationship with Christ, for me at least, is that I don’t mind getting angry with God and expressing that, because God can handle me… That’s given me some freedom in Christ, and I feel safe to do that…”

“I want him [Micah] to siblings allhave fun. I want him to live life. We are not going to live in a prison here because he’s sick, because he may be sick forever…I never lived my life like today’s the last day… Knowing that your child’s going to die is horrible, and it’s like a gift because you do snuggle a little longer every day, with all of them….”
mommy“As crazy as it may seem, I still have hope for him that he’ll live. Because he could… But since he probably won’t, I think I want for him what everyone wants for their kids. We all want our children to know Christ in whatever capacity they’re able to, at whatever age they are. I want him to love people; I want all of my kids to love others. Serve others, want to serve others. For some people that takes a lifetime to figure out, but I really feel like Micah is there already. He really does love people…he really would do anything for anybody. I just think that’s amazing…”

family2“I have seen some really ugly stuff happen to children, and I think if I didn’t believe that the Bible was totally true, I would struggle a lot with believing that there is a God that loves me, and is ultimately good even though my circumstance is not good. I think part of believing these things is believing that the world doesn’t revolve around me and my circumstance, but it’s bigger than that. God has plans for everyone, not just me and my child. There have been many days, where I have thought, is God really good? If this is my circumstance, does that mean God isn’t good?” Linda says that these are the times where she has to look at what she knows to be true and ultimately choose joy, not based on circumstance, but on her belief that God is unchanging and ultimately good.

Linda and Maurice will most likely never return to an international mission field. But she says her mission field is with the families they have met through Micah’s treatments. “I think as much as I really wish it was someone else,” Linda explains, “God puts people in this position, or allows these things. We have met so many people, Christian, non-Christian, Atheist, you name it. We get to learn about them, to love them. And maybe we never ever share the love of Christ with them [verbally], that’s ok, because we love them, we love their children, we will be there for them no matter what happens. That’s what will be remembered.” She knows the Holy Spirit will take it from there.

Micah will continue to undergo treatment and the Ahern family would love your prayer support as they continue to walk this road, tucked closely into the side of a Good, Good Father God.

A huge thank you to Linda Ahern for sharing her brave, abiding heart with me.

Part 3 and if not…dance anyway

To learn what started my digging into God’s goodness— part 1
















and if not…(part 2 Choose Joy)

I have been on this journey, wrestling with the question of God’s goodness in light of seemingly senseless tragedy. In my mind, if God is truly a good Father then that leads to his being a protecting Father. But I look around, and people, Godly people, are facing tremendously hard things: abuse, infertility, poverty, unemployment, children dying, cancer… the list is endless. So, if God allows crippling pain into the lives of those he loves, or who love him, if his protection does not look like we hope it would, is he still good?

I find myself standing around the kitchen island of a woman I have talked to only a handful of times. She’s cutting an apple for the two giggling girls at our sides. My baby bounces on my hip. My throat catches as I ask the question I came here to ask, “So is He [God] a good Father?” I am hoping she doesn’t hear the emotion in my voice as the question squeaks out. Her answer catches me off guard, not because of the words she says, but because she is so emphatic, confident, and quick to respond. “Yes! I think so!” She continues, “The Bible says God loves our children more than we could ever understand, and this is of course why we aren’t supposed to hold onto our children, we are supposed to give them to Christ.”

In 2009 Linda Ahern and her husband Maurice sold nearly everything they had and moved overseas with their three young children; Grace, then 8, Nolan 2, and Micah 7 months. Not expecting to ever return to the States, the family settled into their new life ministering on a college campus. “It was a unique time in that city because the message of Christ was just starting to really grow and thrive. We were actually seeing more persecution of local believers and it was causing the church to grow. So we were actually in a really busy time of ministry.”

After 5 months they took a winter vacation outside of the country. While there, their youngest son, Micah came out of a hot bath with a strange line down his face, one side sweating and flushed the other remaining normal. It was weird, but they soon forgot about it as they returned to their new busy ministry. “Then summer came and it started happening more and more. He would go outside and come in with this line down his face.” This started happening multiple times a day. The family traveled again outside of the country and took Micah to a doctor, who ordered an MRI.

“[Micah] was 15 months at that time…the Doctor meets with us and introduces himself as an oncologist…He says, ‘There’s a massive tumor on your son’s chest and it is pressing on the nerve in his neck that causes sweating and flushing. I believe this is neuroblastoma, but we won’t know until it’s taken out.”

The surgeon recommended they have the tumor removed within 5 days. Getting the treatment he needed in the third-world country they now called home was not an option. So only 10 months after their initial move, the Ahern family, again, sold all of their belongings and moved back to the United States.

At the time Linda was 6 months pregnant with their fourth child, Eden Kate.

Within a week they were back in the States meeting with doctors and surgeons, and Micah underwent his first invasive surgery to remove the tumor. The doctors were able to tell them immediately that he did, indeed have Stage 1 neuroblastoma.

“Stage 1 neuroblastoma has a 97-98% chance of survival…” Linda says, “But I knew better. I just didn’t feel right about what they were saying…they declared him stage 1 and said we could move back [overseas] if we wanted.” They chose to stay in the U.S. and 6 weeks after his initial surgery, Linda’s motherly discernment was proven right. New disease was found in Micah’s lymph nodes and again required surgery.

In the meantime, the family still had not found a house or jobs, and now they had to schedule a major surgery for one of their children around the birth of another. “After all that and having to cancel a surgery because I was giving birth, and we couldn’t find jobs, and our son was sick over and over again, I just started having strong feelings of hatred toward God, like, if this is the kind of God that you are, then I’m out.”

They ended up moving back to Texas shortly afterward, back to the same jobs and neighborhood they had left a year earlier. Micah was officially in remission and had only a 3% chance of relapse, so the now family of 6 went back to life as normal for a few years.

One Friday evening in 2013, Micah, then 3 ½, refused to get off the couch, complaining of leg pain. The doctors did not seem alarmed as his chance for relapse was so low. But again, Linda felt there was something more going on and insisted on more tests. She had the hospital take a urine sample, but after a few days everything seemed to return to normal.

The doctor called the following week. “In comes a big room full of people,” Linda describes, “That’s how you know they’re going to tell you something that’s going to matter.” The oncologist tells them his urine counts were in the 100’s when they should be 10.

Micah had relapsed.

“He had new tumors all over, it was in his bone marrow, it was truly just everywhere.”

They spent the next 13 days in the hospital. During that time they put in a mediport, had his first round of chemo, and a tumor was removed from the exact spot as the original tumor that was removed a few years earlier. “Then we started full-time treatment. That was in March 2013. He started with 5 rounds of chemo, then a stem-cell transplant. We went down to MD Anderson and had 20 days of radiation. Then came home and found out that he had more disease.” At that point, the Ahern’s knew Micah’s chance of survival was only 10%.

Micah underwent a full year of chemo, and yet his scans kept coming back the same or worse. In March of 2015, nearly 5 years after his initial diagnosis, they found another large tumor in his chest. “This tumor was taking up his entire right chest. His lung was not even functioning on that side, and he was riding his bike that day, like nothing was wrong…” Linda says they were preparing to leave for a much needed vacation when the doctor had them run a few more scans. She told them that they were no longer treating Micah in hopes of curing him, but encouraged them to continue on to improve his quality of life and give him as many days as possible. The oncologist insisted they cancel their vacation, “If you take him to Colorado, you will bring him back in a wheelchair. He will be paralyzed in a week.'”

Micah needed radiation treatment immediately. Typically the prep for radiation takes weeks with tests and insurance procedures, but they started emergency radiation 45 minutes later.

In the last few months before I spoke with Linda, Micah has received multiple rounds of both chemo and radiation. In October of this year his scans came back again with more disease.

I look around their home. So much life is lived here. Even as we were arriving Linda was busy hanging artwork, made by her youngest, on their walls. I notice poster board with Bible lessons, fruits of the spirit and the armor of God, hanging low enough for children to manage, to learn from.

But how does a mother who is walking alongside her child as he battles cancer answer so emphatically:  “Yes, He [God] is a good father!”?

micah strong

Above: Super Hero Micah

Click HERE for the continuation of Linda’s story

click HERE  to read Part 1 “and if not…He is still good” and find out more about my journey into God’s goodness.


and if not, He is still good (Part 1)

God’s protection is in his promise of glory

I watcriverhed my dearest friend reliving the conversation she had with Jesus days before. Even through Skype, I could see that familiar love-struck, far away look she gets when she talks about her One love. I know the look well because we have shared it for years. As we swung in hammocks and mused at who He might be, marveled under blankets as stars fell in a black sky, or watched silent ripples dance down the river as we both grieved and rejoiced over what we were learning about Jesus. From the day I met her, she reminded me of that river, teeming with life and giggling with anticipation of the adventure ahead – seeming to wander but all of its parts headed in one, determined direction .

Yet, in the last few years her eyes have changed. The puppy love of fresh Jesus-relationship has been replaced with a deep, abiding, hope-filled sadness. In them I see the remnants of healed scars left by the most painful and powerful of loves. She has walked with Jesus for as long as I can remember, and now walks with the limp of one who has wrestled and been blessed.

Her love for Christ has driven her to the depths of human pain. She walks the streets of a red light district, building relationships with women in bondage. She has breathed in the stench and emptiness of abject poverty. She has seen those caught in the sex trade, and watched a young man die. She hasn’t opened up to me about every detail of what she has seen, but she doesn’t need to. I can see it. I can feel it. We have wept together over the burden she carries on behalf of those she is called to love. And though she has seen the reality of human suffering, she still holds fast to the fact of a good God.

I feel my heart ache as she tells me about sitting on the pier, telling her Love that she does not trust in his protection. She has seen too much. I ache because, though I haven’t seen what she has, my heart stifles the same fear. I am brought back to my own doubts. In my mind, if God is a good Father then that leads necessarily to His being a protecting Father. If I, like God, had the ability to protect my children from pain, from being hurt by others or their own choices, I absolutely would. Without question. Is that not what a good parent would do?

I snap back to the screen, she is describing to me Jesus hanging on the cross. His own Father dumping the entirety of his wrath onto the shoulders of his innocent son. And again, I feel the nibble of doubt that I have tucked into my soul’s depth: that’s not what a good daddy would do. But she doesn’t stop there. She says, “And then I felt him say to me, ‘Is He still on the cross?'” The answer is no. No, he was led through the most intense suffering, the most devastating rejection that any human has endured – carrying the just and full punishment of a Holy God alone. Alone. But he was not defeated by it. He passed through the waters, but they did not overcome him. The passing through was necessary, but the overcoming was merciful and glorious. She says, “So God’s protection is in his promise of glory.”

Jump ahead to a few days ago. I have wrestled, chewed on, and tossed around this conversation for months now. I am again bringing it before God. I think of my friend and my own beautiful daughters, and the prayer that has become a mantra escapes my lips, “Lord, let them love you the way she does.” But this time the prayer brings to mind a new question. “You know what she has endured to love me the way she does. Would you allow your daughters to face that same pain if it meant they could love me that way, too?” Suddenly, the puzzle pieces I have collected over the last few months begin to snap into place. All that God has been showing me about his sovereignty and his goodness leads to this question. And my answer reveals a turning point. “Yes.” I breathe. Yes because I hope nothing more for my children than to have Jesus. Yes because I know now that his protection is more than giving us comfortable circumstances, happy hearts, and cushy moments of worship. Yes because he is still good. Yes because his protection is in his promise of glory– “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”

Over the next several weeks, I will be unpacking this journey the best that I can. As Christians, as mothers, as humans living in a relationally broken world– we will pass through the waters, we will wrestle, but we get to choose: do we walk away with the limp of one who is blessed, or do we just walk away?

Click HERE for and if not… (part 2 choose joy)



One of the purposes of this blog is to provide a platform for women to share their stories. To give a voice to the deep mysteries of God’s re-ordering redemption in our chaos, our pain, our questions.
Today, I have the incredible privilege of doing just that. Here is the story of Hope.

*Note: Specific names and locations have been altered or omitted to protect the privacy of those involved.

“I think I actually have to go back to my relationship with my parents. Having a dad that was a father and not a daddy. I guess I was always trying to please him and not getting much in return, no emotional attachments. What does a girl do when that happens? She searches for someone to love her.”

Abi sits on my well worn couch, clutching the tissue she had grabbed before sitting down. She has an easy laugh that comes as goes as my child tumbles around at our feet.

She grew up in a strict Catholic home. Her father often called her “stupid” for bringing home B’s, and when she was late for curfew he called her “whore”.

“[I viewed God as] more of a judging [God]. Because the relationship that you have with God, your first idea of who God is, is transferred from who you thought your dad was. So if you didnt have a good relationship with your dad, it’s hard to imagine what it could be to have a loving and forgiving heavenly father.”

When Abi turned 16 she was allowed to start dating. She was careful with her relationships, protecting her sexual purity. After she graduated from high school she began dating someone who was a year older than her, and as she prepared for college she started to “break loose” from the control her father had had on her.

“We [her boyfriend and herself] went camping with a group of people. There was liquor there, and we drank beer and went off  by ourselves. We started going too far, and I said ‘no’. But it was too late.

I went home and didn’t think anything of it until, it must have been a month later, I woke up in the middle of the night and threw up, and my mom knew instantly.”

Abi, then 17, was pregnant.

“So here I am pregnant, I’m going through all of these thoughts: ‘I’m going to college, I need to go to college. My parents are paying for college.’  My mom informs me that if my dad knew then I would be disowned and would be on my own. I would not go to college. So the option that was there was an abortion. But because my mom couldn’t tell my dad, she couldn’t go with me.”

The closest abortion clinic was a two hour drive outside of town. Abi had a work friend drive her.

“I felt a lot of guilt. It wasnt something that I had planned or tried to do. I did try to hurt myself, to no avail…I tried to hurt the baby. As far as going and having the abortion, it wasnt anything remarkable. I checked in to the doctor’s office, they put you under enough to not know what’s going on. I didn’t feel anything, you wake up and you go home. Because it was out of town…there were a select few that found out or knew…Come to find out, I wasn’t the only one that ended up having an abortion. So in a way I kind of felt like I wasn’t alone, but it wasn’t something that we could talk about.”

Her eyes brim with tears as she describes the shame she carried for years. At 25 she came to know Jesus, “I think it changed almost instantly when I became a Christian because I understood that he knew everything about me beforehand. So that was one of the first things I wanted to get rid of.”

“It’s something that I might carry my whole life. Right now I don’t ever see it not triggering at some point.” Abi went through a recovery program with a woman she calls a fellow “abortion survivor” at her church. Many crisis pregnancy centers offer this type of program, and volunteers who are survivors must go through it as part of the application. Part of this healing process is naming your child.

“In this class I took I named her Hope,” she says, explaining that in her hardest moments she has often clung to words as a way to get through. “Hope is one of my words. So I named her Hope.” In her home she has a statue her sister gave to her, on it is a balloon with the child’s name, she says it serves as a reminder.

She says there is still some pain when she thinks about her experience, “I dont know that it’s shame, just sadness I guess, for the sin itself.” I ask her what she believes God thinks of her now. Tears fall freely again, but this time less out of pain, and more thankfulness. “I’m his child. I’m his daughter, and he loves me.”

As she continues to walk out her healing, she considers what it will take to help women who are carrying similar burdens. “I believe it’s not about picketing, it’s not about standing against abortion. It’s coming alongside these girls. If I had had someone who had come alongside of me and said ‘Hey, I will be here for you, it’s going to be ok, and God still loves you,’ it would have been different. I really wish the focus would change…in a way the picketing and all that seems to me to be shaming…”

Abi is taking brave steps of obedience in working toward doing just that. “You can think you have done everything to rid yourself of all of it, but God says it’s a process, it’s going to take time. It’s all in his timing, who he brings into my path to work it all out.”

Millions of women deal with the heartache of abortion every day. Though it can be a lonely place, they are not alone, “If they’ve had an abortion it’s not the end, there’s forgiveness through Jesus. Or, if they’re thinking about it, [I would like] to walk alongside of them, to help them change their minds,” she says.

“We are to serve God by using our pain, to give other people the hope that we have. It feels good to take little steps of obedience. It makes me stronger, it allows me to be real with people…God wants us to have relationships, but you can’t have relationships and not be real with people. I don’t want to not be real,” she says, bouncing my chubby baby on her knee. She sets her down and heads to the kitchen to find her Bible.

She opens to Psalm 121, “There’s a lot of repetition of the words ‘watches’ and ‘keep,'” she explains, “Meaning he’s our keeper, our guard, always watching over us. And in the footnotes it’s talking about how we should have unfaltering trust in the Lord because he’s our unfailing protection. So that releases the fear. The fear of exposing myself to people.”

Abi now has three nearly grown children of her own. She says one day when she meets Hope she would like to tell her, “I guess I’m happy that she got to spend all that time with Jesus. She had a real precious time with Jesus and I am glad he pursued me so that I can be with her.”

Her next step of obedience…finishing that volunteer application for her local crisis pregnancy center, and sharing her pain in hopes of healing others.

If you or someone you know are dealing with shame or pain from a past abortion, or are facing the hard choice of having one, please feel free to contact me at trylocusts@gmail.com. I would love to help you get connected to loving people who will walk through this with you. You are not alone.


Bind my wandering heart

“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children…”

As I continue to wade into the sometimes peaceful, sometimes roaring, river that is motherhood, I am often struck by the sorrow that mixes with the joy of loving my children. I have watched my daughter grow, learn to walk, to speak, to throw a ball (and food, and toys, and iPhones…). Most recently I am watching her test the waters of friendship, stretching her social muscles and opening up her precious little heart to the affections of people outside of her family. And I am terrified.

I have reveled in the sweetness of her vulnerability. From the time I saw her tiny heartbeat, to the moment I first gathered her sweet, fragile body into my arms, I have celebrated her newness. Innocence carries with it such a beautiful strength, and from the moment I learned of her existence I knew I would give my life to protect it.

Adam and Eve lived in Eden, in perfect existence with the Creator. They were whole in every way. Given freedom to explore, to grow, to experience all of the life that God had so thoughtfully designed for them. And then it happened, the seed was planted in their mind that God was withholding something from them; something that kept them from wholeness.

In my own little dark, rebellious heart I have wondered why God wouldn’t want them to have all of the information. Why would he want to keep them in ignorance, not knowing both good and evil? Ignorance is a disability after all, right? Knowledge is power. Why would God not want to empower his children? And then it happened, I watched my own child as she learned some painful reality of the world, and I could almost feel the chisel press in as her innocence began to chip away.

I cannot remember what exactly it was, it was miniscule. Yet, as I watched her process this new information, I could see a bit of sadness welling up inside of her. And it hit me. Was it necessary to her wholeness to know the deep dark secrets of this broken earth?

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not going to be locking my child away in a closet to protect her from outside influence (trust me, I have tried to find a legal and humane justification for this, it doesn’t exist). To enable her to walk safely through this life, we will have those “hard” talks, I will truthfully answer those awkward questions, and I will regularly explain to her that, no body safety is not about wolves wearing seatbelts when driving cars (her little brain is a wild mess of weird some days!).

But while these things, for her safety, will have to be learned over time, are they essential to her wholeness? Was Eve less of who she was meant to be without the “knowledge” she got from that wretched fruit? I would argue that she was more. The lie was that we would be like God. BUT WE WERE ALREADY LIKE HIM. Distrust broke that relationship and sent all of creation spiraling into chaos, losing all but a flavor of what it once was.

Innocence is valuable. It is so easily and, sadly, quickly stripped away. But when it is intact it allows for such freedom to be nearer to the truth we were created for. Aren’t we called to live in faith like a child? One that is fearless. Trust that does not question God’s unchanging love, that is not tainted by the belief that what hurts us deepest is a mere reflection or even a direct result of a vengeful, dictator god.

My breath catches in my chest as I think of God taking those steps through the garden. Knowing full well that his children were hiding from him in shame, full of fear of HIM. How his heart must have shattered, knowing that they would now have to live in broken relationship with everything that was good.

We so often refer to what he says in response to them as “curses.” Yet, in reality, he was sharing with them what their new lives had to look like now that all of creation’s perfect connectivity had collapsed. Eve is not punished by physically painful childbirth, though many of our translations state it this way. Hebrew scholar, Katherine Bushnell says a better translation would be “A snare hath increased your sorrow and your sighing. In pain you shall bring forth children.” She further explains that the word “pain” is more than just the physical pains of labor:
The root from which it is taken, along with its derivatives, signify physical, mental, and spiritual anguish ranging from sorrow to bitterness or despair, to feeling disgust, trouble, turmoil, indignation, even terror. It is used less of physical pain than of mental pain.” (Read more)

We, Eve, now experience what God experienced as he stood before his children: the anguish of heart that comes from an unnecessary loss of innocence- that leads to an equally unnecessary loss of relationship. We bear our children knowing that they will not only struggle against us, but with God- not able to recognize love in all of its healing fullness. I see flashes of it rear up in the deep pools of my 4 year old’s eyes: indignation, an inability to see my love for what it is and an unwillingness to accept all that is good without wondering if there is better. And my heart shatters.

This world is harsh, and I long to protect her. To wrap her up and sing love over her until she has so soaked it in that she can know nothing else. Then, as always, I am standing before a mirror. My own desires for my child reflected back on me from the heart of my Father. And yet, I rebel. 

We cannot lock our children up (but we’ve all been tempted.) We must let them walk in the same free-will that we have been granted. We can cry with them, and teach them where to run for healing. But, we first have to know the answer for ourselves. We must be willing to release our own pain into the depths of his healing love in order to come out so saturated that we cannot help but bathe our children in it. Parenting is painful, just like he promised. The good news is, he also promised that it was only for a season, and through him we get to watch our children (and our relationship with them) restored!


Third Place

“Reject radical individualism.”

Is that not the most countercultural statement? My space, my time, my body, my choice, my rights, my success. We live in a world where the individual is supreme. And yet, this is the challenge our pastor threw at us a few weeks ago.

A little over a year ago, my then family of 3, set off on yet, another big adventure. We packed up all of our belongings, and with a 2 year old in tow and an unfortunately disproportionate, chubby little dog, we moved. Our home sold in 6 days, full-price, cash offer! (Can you say woah, God!?). We were elated…until we realized… we are now homeless…with a 2 year old…and a fat dog.

So we began the search… house after house after house. My husband was living with a friend in our new city, while my child and I (and pudge dog) were living 3 hours away with family. And then, it happened… our realtor sent us a walkthrough video of my dream home. I watched it and my heart soared. My husband wasn’t quite as convinced, however. But, after several more houses (and a lot of nagging…er, I mean encouragement), he finally saw things my way. We sent the offer and received the news. They were signing a contract…with someone else…submitted only three hours earlier. I broke. I mean ugly cry, pajamas, under the covers, Oreo binging, broke.

Instability and chaos is not something I handle well, and not having a place or space of my own was too far out of my comfort zone with a 2 year-old who was all the beautiful things 2 year-olds are known to be.

I wept and begged and sighed and grumped at God for the next week. (I didn’t say I was mature about this.) And he, as he always does, brought (read: dragged) me to a place of open-handedness. I let it go. (Sorry, mamas, I know that phrase is a new curse word after the latest Disney phenom.)

I gave up my need for THIS home, and began to let him give me a vision for what he wanted for OUR home. I began to pray for a “Third Place” home. A place where people could escape from their normal routine, a place of sanctuary. After weeks of being uprooted and being graciously welcomed into the homes of others (remember, with raving 2-year-old and rotund pet) I had developed a sensitivity to the need for sanctuary from chaos. Just as I had been blessed to partake in, I wanted to have a home that was a place for people to rest during unstable, insecure, and hectic times. A safe place where they could feel refreshed and loved. I wanted a home with an open door, open fridge policy.

The realtor called 10 days later. The buyers had backed out! The house would be ours! I have danced wildly a lot in my life, but this dance party was especially exuberant!

Skip ahead 6 months. My prayers for a home of rest seemed to be coming true, my new friends joked that we ran “Hotel Ferreira” because of the constant flow of visitors we seemed to have. Many people commented on how peaceful and refreshed they felt spending time there, and I marveled at what God was doing.

And then two lines showed up on that little plastic stick… and exhaustion sat on my chest like an elephant. My stomach churned for months and the orderliness of my house along with it. My gift of sanctuary resembled the aftermath of an F5 and all I could do was look at it.

For some study-able reason my husband and I love to make poor choices when we are going through difficult times. So about this time we adopted a dog … who greatly resembles a polar bear in both size and quantity of fur. Chummy- the most loving, snuggly, gentle, smelly, and fur-shedding dog you’ll ever meet. So now to the destruction that was my home, we added fur… mounds and mounds of fur.

I went from reveling in the gifts of God’s dream for my home to wallowing in the shame of the chaos around me. I stopped letting people in. My open door policy came with an asterisk. *I will open my door to you enough for you to see my face but not my floors. If I do happen to invite you in, it will only be after I have ignored my children for a minimum of 36 hours in fruitless attempts to make my life look “put together.”

My obsession with my chaos became crippling to the dream God had given me. My ministry during this season as a stay-at-home-mom was directly tethered to my home, and I had cut the rope. My radical individualism was a kind of pride, but in a different way. It told me, your chaos is worse than anyone else’s and it buried me in shame.

And then Jesus happened, as he always does. He began to remind me that he is in the business of bringing chaos to order. From beginning to end His purpose for us has been to bring what is out-of-sorts back to right. We see it in creation, when he calls the chaos of nothingness into the perfection of the universe. We see it on the cross when he took the brokenness of that creation and provided a way for us to be made whole again. We see it from the failings of Adam to the Triumph of Jesus, he is bringing what is chaos back to order. And you know how we get there? Through confession. We bring our crazy, sin-splattered, wrecked lives freely before a spotless Jesus and he makes us whole, he puts us back to right.

In church when our pastor told us to open our homes and drop our individualism, my husband leaned over and said, “We’re going to have to die to Chummy hair.” My chaos cannot hinder my ministry, it must be handed to Jesus so he can do what he does best. But let me be clear, the order he brought was not to the cleanliness of my home (seriously, come by, roll in the fur and count some diapers.) No, the order he brought was to my willingness to let him rearrange my priorities and where I placed my confidence. I desired for my home to be a “Third Place,” but in order for that to happen I had to die to my prideful humiliation and share the gift God had given me to share, in all of it’s real-life glory.

He also gave me new perspective. When God reorders our brokenness, he doesn’t sweep the memory of it under the rug, rather, he upcycles it into something beautiful with purpose. And while my shame over a messy house might seem small in comparison, there is NOTHING too broken for God. I look forward to embracing my “chaos”  and watching the lives and ministry God orders around it.



So I got to spend some time. All alone. In my car. Listening to NPR… and no one was yelling from the backseat, “I don’t like news!”

It was glorious.

I got to hear a couple of Ted Talks, and they are what inspire this post.

So, here it goes.

First, rewilding… I am not talking about the anarchist movement, the sexual intimacy counseling, or the idea that we should shed domestication and live nude in the woods (though, if you drop by my home without notice, you may think we have started the latter.) Rather, rewilding, as a conservation initiative. The idea is that by introducing key, and very powerful species back into an environment we can restore connections within the ecosystem that have been broken- bringing it back to its intended and flourishing state.(George Monbiot explains this in his talk– super cool stuff.)

Stick with me, this is will make sense! I hope.

Ok, so then I heard Abha Dawesar’s Ted Talk “How do our Screens Distort Our Sense of Time?” She talks about how our sense of time, and even our identities have melded with the digital world. How our stories as humans need both the long flow of time (our lifespan), and the small moments that contain our direct experiences. Because of our activity in the digital world, our moments have shrunk. Past, present and future have all blended into this abstract universe she calls the “digital now”, which serves one purpose: to distract us and carry us off into the land of anywhere and anything else. “Travel can be liberating, but when it is incessant we become permanent exiles without repose.” And she’s right.

I have a confession. I spend the majority of my waking hours in very, VERY close proximity to my children (can I just pee alone?! Just once?). But there are days; tired, bored, restless days, when I go to bed and think, “Have I connected with my children today? Have I connected with anyone?” Sure I fed, wiped, dressed, bathed, held, and generally kept them alive. But did I make memories, did I invest anything in them? And then I think on the moments I brushed them aside, or told them “In a minute”, so I could have just a few more minutes on Facebook, the one place where I feel like I am actually “connecting”.

I’m going to stop here and say- this is NOT a “Mama, get off Facebook,” judgmental rant. Sometimes we need a mind-numbing break- and that’s ok. Do you, mama!

But, what I am saying is this: I have spent entire days being present but not present in my own ecosystem.

I have a friend who talks about how there is always a “nucleus person” in the family. The one who kind of keeps things running, keeps the peace when things crumble. After hearing these two Ted Talks I realize that the days when I check out, that I am removing the keystone species, the nucleus, from my children’s sweet, fragile ecosystem. It’s one thing for my family to survive, it’s another for them to flourish.

Dawesar says that we owe the present our full attention. “Attention is time,” and “love is attention.” Who and what I spend my attention on is where my love is.

Rewilding is about reinserting oneself (ie the “keystone species”) back into the present, not just for your benefit but for all that interconnects. Allowing all within your realm of influence, your little ecosystem if you will, to reconnect and thrive. Broken relationships are a norm of our society- but we can change that, by being present- in the now. The real now.

Allow me to switch veins here.
As I discuss the concept of “rewilding” in the sense of re-introducing a key component to repair disconnect, I am hit with an even greater truth:
We live in a world where broken relationships are the norm, right? Name one family that does not have some sort of rift between parents and children, siblings, spouses… Now think about your own relationships. Are they broken? Is your life somehow dysfunctional? Like you’re not connecting in all the ways you need to in order to really thrive, to really feel alive? Are you on a hunt for healing, feeling fragile and alone?

The reason is: you were made for more. When God created man and woman he made us to live in completeness and in connection with him. We chose to reject his presence in our world, inviting in the very disconnect and brokenness our relationships suffer every day. I will address this specifically more in another post. But I want to leave you with this: there is a keystone that is missing. His name is Jesus, and he is the remedy for all of that disconnect. He doesn’t want to condemn or punish you, he simply wants to put your world back to right, to save and reorder all the chaos you may be facing so that you can again have completeness with him. Please, if you need this, feel free to contact me, I would love to talk more!


I should be a supermodel.

I think we should create some universal mommy-solidarity hand signal. Like something we can flash when we walk past that mom dragging her screaming child out of the zoo parking lot because he decided to have an F5 melt-down before even reaching the gate. You know she’s thinking, “I packed all this crap, made peanut butter, and managed to get dressed enough to go in public…WE ARE GOING TO HAVE FUN D*** IT!” All while wishing she could be anywhere else as long as it involves a locked door and a glass of wine. She gives you that miserable forced smile of a mother trying not to end up and the news…if only there were a way to let her know she’s in good company. A simple fist raise would suffice, but probably not as mommy-life appropriate as a finger up the nose, or a quick smell of the pits. Regardless, we need a signal.

Today, as I walked my own two children out of the pre-school parking lot, I heard a tiny voice whine…”But I want youuuuuuuu to carry me!” I look back to see a frazzled Sherpa of a mama carrying bags, nap mats, and an infant car seat (which if you haven’t carried one, suddenly turns your tiny, sweet babe into the dead weight of a grown man). As she begins to climb the staircase she turns to look at me (as I am franticly trying to determine which hand signal would be most encouraging) and says, “I should be a super model by now.” And I new exactly what she meant… you would think being a human pack mule for tiny children and their unbelievable amount of baggage would be the ultimate workout routine. But alas, the majority of us are still sporting our mom bods around in our Lulu Lemons. [Just an aside: you know we wear those because we feel the amount of lifting, squatting, and awkward bending we do counts as our daily workout]. But here’s the real reason we aren’t super models: because food and feelings are besties.

Come on, you know you’ve done it. In the middle of a tantrum, what place is better than the pantry to hide from a screaming toddler? And what better to keep you from voicing all of your thoughts—which are obviously laced with patience and Godly wisdom— than shoveling Oreos into your face while crying? I swear, my daughter, who can’t hear me tell her 10 times to find her shoes, can hear a candy wrapper through several closed doors. The girl literally smells my breath to see what I’ve eaten! So yes, I eat my feelings in private. Sometimes just grasping at a moment of sanity so I too, do not end up on the news.

Talking to moms I feel I can safely say we all have our “super model” areas. Especially, I think, in our time spent with Jesus. I have heard nearly every woman I know say that she longs to spend more time reading her Bible, praying, and just spending time with God. We say it with shame, with longing, and with all of our failings (that we feel would be fixed if we could be self-motivated enough to get up earlier or spend naptimes being more spiritually productive). I find myself grasping for every small glimpse of His presence throughout my day. Any moment I can gobble up that keeps me moving forward through the muck of chores, diapers, and occasional loneliness.

A wise, experienced mother once gave me such grace in this area. She reminded me that rejoicing over my children, watching them grow in Jesus and teaching and studying with them is an acceptable way to be obedient to that need. And to be ok with stealing those small moments in lieu of the long drink I am longing for. She reminded me that one day I will have plenty of time for that list of books and studies I want to read, plenty of time to lead classes and speak. My Jesus time for this season is spent in the Storybook Bible and sweet gasps as Goliath steps on the scene. It is in the wide eyes of a child learning the bigness of God as they watch a sunset, and the clasps of little hands and voices saying, “Jesus keep the monsters away.” My whispered prayers over tiny feverish heads and scraped knees are still sweet in my Savior’s ears. The small moments I steal with my Father now will build on each other and pave the way to usher my children into his presence. I am a Sherpa mom in both backpacks and spiritual adventure- and so are you. And Jesus has I heart for us:

“He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.” Isaiah 40:11

So here is my un-manicured raised fist of solidarity. You’ve got this mama! And when you don’t He is gentle and full of grace- leading you and carrying your babies!


This is my right.

I’m about to turn 30. It feels big, like the real end of childhood, which I realize is especially strange considering I have two children of my own. And I would love to sit here and reminisce on how much amazing life has happened in these thirty years, but I keep coming back to one thing in particular: I am alive because Jesus redeems even murderers.

My parents had me very young, and were married even younger. They both grew up in their own difficult worlds; the kind that often defines the lives of their inhabitants for generations.  By the age of 20 they were welcoming their first child. The doctor who delivered me, had, by his own admission, killed countless babies at all stages of prenatal development. He was, in fact, part of the first movement of “legal” abortions in the States.  However, by the time I came into the picture he had given his heart to Jesus and his hands to giving life. I was born with the umbilical cord around my neck and these newly redeemed hands released me into life.

This story is fairly unremarkable except for one thing: He saved me because I was wanted. I was born into the same circumstances as many of those who had come before me- young parents, abusive cycle, poverty- but I had someone dreaming of my future and knowing I could have and be more. Babies that were and are currently being aborted do not have that privilege.

In Dr. Hill’s testimony he describes seeing the “product of conception” that they were regularly discarding:

“It was easy for us to do the first trimester abortion because we were using the same procedure that you use if you remove the placental tissue after a woman has a miscarriage. The vacuum machine is used, and the vacuum tubing empties all of the products of conception into a tidy little cheesecloth sack. We then sent those sacks down to pathology. In my second year of residency I spent two months on a pathology rotation, which is an interesting thing, and I had to come face-to-face with the contents of those sacks. We were studying the embryology of the ovary. I personally had to search through the jumbled-up mass of tissue. The jumbled-up mass of tissue was easily identifiable as the torn and shredded body of a tiny human being.”

We are at yet another crossroads in our country regarding abortion. Through the videos released by The Center for Medical Progress we have come face-to-face, as Dr. Hill did, with the reality of what it looks like for a child to be torn from its mother’s body.

I dreamt last night that I was taking out my contacts, and when I did they were actually opaque scales floating there in the liquid. We wear these blinders over our eyes because we cannot stomach the truth, or because it is too barbaric for us to believe. In a sermon last week by J.R. Vasser  he compared our self-imposed blindness to those living in German towns near WWII concentration camps. There are testimonies of townspeople smelling burning flesh and seeing tufts of hair and bone fragments falling from the sky (facinghistory.org). Looking back, we cannot help but place judgement on them for choosing to be bystanders in the most atrocious taking of human life the world has ever seen.

The newest count done by researchers in 2013 shows that somewhere between 15-20 million people were killed senselessly during the holocaust- 1.1 million of those lives are thought to be children. Many of these deaths were by gas chamber. Now consider this, by the year 2015 we will have stood by and allowed approximately 58,800,000 children be slaughtered in much the same way. Their bodies torn apart and then used (or sold) for research, toxins introduced to their system via the inhalation or “breathing” of amniotic fluid.

So as the church, what can we do? Picket, vote, line the streets and your social media with the horrific, but real images of dead babies? Possibly. But I think that’s too easy. Mother Theresa said it better than I ever could, “We are fighting abortion by adoption — by care of the mother and adoption for her baby.”

The cure for abortion is not winning the battle of rhetoric, or the forced opening of the opposition’s eyes. It is fought and won in the only way Jesus taught us to do battle: irrational love. It will be eradicated when we show mothers that they are surrounded by those who will walk with them and help  to raise their children should they choose to keep them. When churches change the stigma placed on unwed mothers, and embrace them with grace, we will win this war.

Abortion and the need for foster care could be completely eliminated if adoptions are made priority and our churches support those families looking to adopt. Texas boasts nearly 17 of the top 100 largest churches in the US, eight of which are found in the DFW area. If we could fund one family from each church in the state to adopt we could quickly make a dent in the amount of babies lost in this country, and we could definitely give homes to the over 31,000 children in foster care.

Whatever label you place on your belief system, political or otherwise. I challenge you to look at these videos with their tiny, but fully formed legs, arms and even eyeballs, being offered for cold hard cash and honestly tell yourself “This is my right.” And Christ-followers, I beg you, be rightfully outraged, and then take real, life-altering, life-giving action. Here are some ideas to get you moving:

-Volunteer at or donate to your local pregnancy center: here are links to a few in the Mid-Cities area

-Pray about fostering or adopting
-Write a letter to an abortion provider about their worth and about Jesus’ love via this site:http://abortionworker.com/
-Pray about being a respite family for foster parents
-Pray for those affected by abortion in some way- and show grace to those who are.

Support life with love.

Home Church

Dear church elders,

I wanted to make you aware of some odd interactions I experienced during today’s worship gathering. It began when I saw a small group of people milling about and invited them to join us in worship. They immediately ran out of the doors of the worship area not to be seen for the entirety of the worship set. I thought nothing of it, enjoying the quiet contemplative moment.

However, as soon as the sermon began they began trickling back in. One continually leaned into my ear asking me when snack-time was. I can only assume she meant our celebration of the Lord’s Supper and I tried to explain to her that we are foregoing that practice due to current circumstances, but she persisted, incessantly requesting we practice this sacred right. Another brought with her a large backpack which she proceeded to pull handfuls of candy out of. Again, not unusual, but the wrappers on the candy must have been made of some mystical material created to announce the very presence of said candy to the universe. Needless to say, the sound was distracting.

The member with the backpack left the service suddenly and the member asking for communion then proceeded to steal the candy out of the other member’s backpack. I was shocked at her behavior but had no time to react because the backpack-toting member returned in a full-on panic. Her hair was twisted up with some sort of craft materials. She insisted I help her untangle the mess, and as a sister in Christ, I obliged. It took nearly 10 minutes to extract the–what I can only describe as “danger floofs” – from her hair. In the meantime, the candy thief returned and began to rub her sermon notes on my face. I believe she was taunting me with her superior knowledge of the scripture and her ability to listen to, what I am sure was a very moving sermon, despite the constant distraction.

After removing the craft items from the hair of my fellow congregant, she insisted on sitting on my lap. So shocked by the spectacle, I had no other option but to allow her to sit. These two members seemed to have no regard for the current social-distancing recommendations and continued to vie for a seat in my lap, my shoulders, and once, directly atop my head. They also made multiple attempts to drink from my personal water bottle, write in my journal (with the pen I held in my own personal hand), and made remarks that I can only describe as “toilet humor”.  The congregant in my lap even asked me to hold her feet as she hung upside down! And while petty, they refused to let me drink my coffee, which knowing our pastor’s affinity for good coffee, may be the most offensive part of this whole ordeal.

Toward the end of service, they again left me alone. One became so overcome by the Spirit she began writhing and wailing in the corner. As I turned my attention to the sermon, another unseen congregant began playing a harmonica loudly and without much talent. I could hardly hear over the clamor.

Now I realize these struggles are nothing compared to fire and lions, but I felt a pressing need to share the situation with you all. I don’t know if there is anything you can do in regard to church discipline, but hope you will keep an eye out for this unruly behavior. And please, pray for my safety, as I believe this group may be following me around. Everywhere I go lately, they are there, I cannot escape them!

With gratitude,


featured image by Ferenc Horvath on Unsplash

Woman Undone: Fear, Freedom, and Fred

“Fear of Man:” AKA Christian-ese for caring what people think of you. We all have felt it, the shame of embarrassment, the dissection of past conversations, the avoiding people you know in public because you are having a seriously bad hair day… oh, that’s just me?

OK, well then, superior human, move along…

To the rest of you, who like me, suffer under the tyranny of our inner critic, let’s sit a minute and chat (screen to face obviously, we don’t want to get too uncomfortably closeJ).

I have been seeing a counselor…and she’s great (more on that another day)! She directed me to a book by Edward T. Welch called When People are Big and God is Small. I highly recommend it, you can find it here!

Fear of man is such an epidemic that Welch spends the first half of the book just addressing the issue. Fear causes us to make decisions without wisdom or reason. It causes our emotions to drive us in relationship, and our needs (or unmet needs) make or break our commitments. We see ourselves (according to Welch) as “empty cups” needing to be filled.

Jeremiah 17 says it this way, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength (OUCH!), whose heart turns away from the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5, ESV [notes mine]) I am guilty of this on so many levels. When I think I am strong, able to handle everything on my own, too prideful to accept help…I am a person who trusts in people (myself included). When I crumble under the weight and steep in shame over my mistakes and failures, there I am again, looking to humans for my worth. When I decide to try a DIY haircut I found on YouTube and spent three whole days hiding in my house (want to see a picture of the outcome? Click here) you guessed it, me again, face down before the glory of man.

I am a woman undone…no amount of “having it together” will ever change that. My diaper bag will forever be a glorified Hefty bag, my hair will remind others of Fred Armisen, and my children will probably go to college with PopTarts on their faces and stickers in their unkempt hair. It is a scientific fact that as a mother I will, on at least one occasion, extend for a handshake and quickly withdraw because, well…slobber, boogers, poop… (the list here is tailored to the life-stage, the shame however, is universal.)

So what’s a mess of a woman to do?

Fall face-down of course. Who wouldn’t? In the glorious shiny face of Pinterest-organized closets and Insta-stories of Bible studies over homemade breakfast, one must only take a momentary glance in the mirror (or sniff under the arm) to know they are entirely unworthy.

Here we are, cheeks deep in fear of man.

We are cursed! It says it right there: Jeremiah, screaming it in the streets! We find our identity and strength in people; in their pristine made-up lives, and we are like shrubbery—in the dessert, no less! We are parched and empty, clinging to anything to fill us up and make us comfortable in our own skin.

Woman of God, WHAT IS YOUR TRUTH!?

Turn back to Jesus, the one who took on your skin, wrapped it around holy deity, and showed you that worth is found only when you look up and not in. Our gospel truth as the rescued is Romans 8:28 (he is working all things for GOOD!), not Jeremiah 13:6 (He is like a shrub in the dessert, and shall not see any good.)

Dear friends, our heart is indeed sick! It whispers lies to us, telling us that to be like God we must accomplish like humans. WHAT??!! It tells us God’s favor comes in the form of money, friends, a brag-worthy career, a family that functions and fires on all cylinders, a marriage that is solid, and a body that looks like a 19-year-old with the wisdom of a 70-something. We must simultaneously be witty and demure, gentle and feisty, motherly and yet emotionally reserved. Our nails must be neat, our homes comfortable (but not “lived in”), our tears must be well-timed, and our “mess” modeled after an Anthropologie catalog.

Our hearts are out of their minds.

We are left with one choice: be undone before the glory of man, or be undone before the rightful holiness of God.

I have come to realize that my undone-ness is solely based on the glory of the people around me. I fall apart when I place myself side-by-side with them, but fail to recognize the God who is infinitely superior.

BLESSED is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust (security of future) is the Lord (Jeremiah 17). Isaiah found himself utterly undone in the presence of Holy God. He saw the radiance and purity of God and was immediately turned to mush over his depraved state.

So I write this to say: you are actually a mess!

Thank you, and goodnight.


No, sersiously. It’s ok, me too, we are totally broken by the sin that has taken up residence within us. It locks us in pitch black, isolating dungeons of shame. It separates us from all that is Holy and Good (only God). Our mess does indeed ruin us.

But that is not all there is!

Let yourself be undone, just not before mans’ glory (because we all know that’s a shiny lie). Be undone before the Lord who is holy and worthy, whose heart toward you is mercy. He looks at you in all of your disaster and shame and loves you. He is the only hope for rescue.

The one who trusts in the Lord is a tree with roots growing deep into living waters, her leaves are green even in drought, her fruit is evident and plentiful because it comes not from her own merit and effort but is produced by the Spirit of Life that takes up residence within her. She will not fail, she will not be put to shame, the Lord is for her.



Featured image  by Edu Lauton on Unsplash



Loving in Full Circles

Vacuuming for what is legitimately the jabillionth time, my thoughts hummed along with the motor. While I don’t enjoy chores, there is something satisfying about them. As I watched the day’s chaos and fun disappear, revealing a blank slate for more of the same, I finally figured out why: doing things around my home is a way I am showing love to my family.

Now before you start to think, “Here we go, another lady telling me why I should love cleaning my house…” Stop!

You should know better by now, and if you don’t, let me send you some pics of my house! It is just that this simple realization lead to an even more convicting one: I hide in busyness around the house because it’s an easy way to show love to my family.

There it is, my confession: I prefer to show my family love through service because it comes easily to me, and because I don’t have to enter into the mess of relationship to do so. Humans are like water, we will always take the path of least resistance.

I am no exception.

My cooking and cleaning meets a need (or several), but cannot be “my way” of loving. It can only be one way I show my people love. They need to have a clean (ish) home and be well fed, but they also need affection, communication with someone who is genuinely interested, boundaries, fun… If I resign myself to “this is just how I love,” then I miss out on the joy that comes from seeing how they need to be loved.

As I watched rain forming circles in our kiddie pool one summer day, I was captivated. They radiated and ran into each other, all interlocking: the chaos becoming a living breathing cosmos. I was reminded of the day my oldest daughter did something kind and proclaimed, “Mom, I’m fillin’ your bucket!”

I want to love them in full circles. To fill their buckets with drops that make ripples, not arrows that hit only their mark. To love them in a way that stretches me outside of myself and into their world. My way of loving is not THE way. I want to love them in a well-rounded, meet you where you are, hike from peak to valley and back kind of love. Full, overarching, unmistakable loooooovvvveeee.



Featured image by Tomasz Sroka on Unsplash

Moms With Grit: Elizabeth {Glory and Waiting}

Grit is developed over time. The long-suffering of lifelong barrenness had produced in Elizabeth a peculiar holiness (Luke 1:6, ESV). What was considered a curse on her womanhood and indeed her personhood revealed a depth of purpose that can only be seen by one who presses into, rather than away from, the harsh weathering of suffering.

Elizabeth, Oath of God: an old woman, well beyond child-bearing years. She was a daughter of Aaron, born from priests and married to a priest. Not only familiar with all God required for holiness, but had a front-row seat her entire life to the inner workings of temple life. Her and her husband are acclaimed in their righteousness before God and man.

Have you ever felt a period of silence from the Lord? How about 400 years? God had been so visible and vocal amongst Israel, and then–nothing. God left them with a promise; “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” [Malachi 4:5-6, ESV].

Breathing in the scent of incense, chosen, seemingly at random, Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, fulfills his priestly duties. As quickly as it had come upon them, the silence is broken, and the angel speaks the same words over a fearful Zechariah.

This old couple will have a child after all of this time. They will raise him up under an oath and he will prepare hearts for promise fulfillment. Zechariah, blameless before God, utters doubt and is reminded that silence does not ever mean God is idle. Voiceless man walks away from Holy conversation, and goes home to a confused, but Godly wife.

To hear life changing news is one thing, but to have it written is another. I imagine her reading those words over and over, tracing each precious etch with wrinkled and calloused hands. God has spoken. He has foretold a child, your child. Our child. Did she sense even then as her curse lifted with the life of this baby, that he was paving the way for a world set free? Did she feel in her aged womb the stretching and heaviness of life ready to be unleashed?

Her husband returns home from worship and she is left to wonder at all that God has called her to. Elizabeth draws herself into seclusion. Many great theological minds have speculated at Elizabeth’s reasoning behind her seclusion. Was she protecting her pregnancy, possibly having faced many miscarriages and not wanting to endure another? Was she afraid to tell people too soon? Or was she considering the most impactful and timely way to reveal such a mighty act of God?

A daughter of Aaron, Elizabeth would have been very knowledgeable of the ways of the priesthood. Seclusion was not something she would have done out of fear or doubt, but as a rhythm of holiness. In my understanding of the priesthood, seclusion was used in two ways: for those unclean to separate from society in pursuit of healing, cleansing, repentance–to return to the community whole and clean; and for newly dedicated priests to spend a short time separated before starting their service.

Elizabeth would see her isolation through the lens of God’s calling. “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people” [Luke 1:25, ESV]. You see, she had spent a lifetime in the depths. She was considered blameless before God, but the whispers of her barrenness haunted her. Failure shadowed her even as her strength of character shone with righteousness. Now God has removed her shame! Human instinct (maybe I speak only for myself) would be to rub it in her accusers faces, take her newly formed bump and show those young women how wrong they were about her.

Instead she hides herself. Strong’s Lexicon defines it: “to conceal on all sides or entirely, to hide, seclude” [Strong’s G4032]. Elizabeth tucks herself fully into the One whose glory she seeks. She recognizes that he has not only rescued her and blessed her, but her seclusion from society never separated her from the love of the God who has seen her all of her days. Her grit is a beacon for Israel, a light that says, “All glory be to God! Whose silence made us seek and whose promise was never far off even in our darkness.”

Mary’s arrival brings Elizabeth’s isolation to an end. This moment is almost too much for my heart to relay. John quickens in Elizabeth’s belly and she knows God’s perfect plan (God’s spirit quickens within her even as her preborn son does!) To have been Mary, meeting Elizabeth with news that was so absurd and mysterious, probably grasping for the right words to share a secret so great. To walk into the room of this godly older woman and to share such an intimate moment!

THE SILENCE IS BROKEN! Darkness is lifted!!!

Elizabeth, aged, pregnant, woman of grit and glory rises to meet the woman carrying the joy of the world. Elizabeth is a woman undone, not before man, but before a holy God. Grit for this mother-to-be lies in her ability to wait; and when the waiting is over, to glory only in the God who has graciously kept her waiting.

Featured image by Cristian Newman on Unsplash