Thursday, December 29, 2011


I'm learning. A lot lately. A lot about becoming a big girl. And it feels good.

Maybe you're like me and you rush around from moment to moment, I wonder if you are but I know the answer because we all find ourselves chained to thoughts 5 minutes ahead of us, never realizing when we're actually living them. I can think and think for weeks about Christmas and our trip to Ohio, and before we have even boarded a plane to go will feel sad and distraught at the thought of saying goodbye to our loved ones again and how I'm going to lift a 70 pound Christmas tree to the crawl space when I get home. I'm realizing, when I live in the future, I miss God in the present.

I'm reading a book called One Thousand Gifts, and the idea is that we have been given gifts each moment, each day, no matter how trivial they seem and we can choose to receive with thankfulness the carefully wrapped gifts of comfy socks, and birds chirping, or throw the entire package in the trash. I'm learning to live in right now, the only moment I've been given grace enough for and to slow down long enough to experience God's grace right now, where it's offered to me.

"On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgment and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur." -Evelyn Underhill

So I'm trying, to stop in the moments, and realize. To slow down and look around. To take in 360 degrees of my life one moment at a time. And today, I caught a glimpse of the gift.

It was wrapped in the package of my little daughter. Falling asleep in my arms long enough for me to witness road maps on her eyelids, and to trace the ski slope that swoops down her nose. When the little girl ceased from singing and hitting, dancing and dress-up long enough for me to sing to her, brush her hair from her sleepy face and whisper to her how fast she's growing up.
I realize that just (what likely seemed like) yesterday a mother held my same sleeping self, and traced my young face with the same panicked desire to stop time long enough to absorb a moment. And there, in that chair, holding my bundle of 3-year-old, slipping my finger into her hand and listening to her slow breath, picturing someday in the near future how she'll be too old, and too smart to let me steal those moments, I received gift upon gift of the moment as the clock moved from 2:16 to 2:15.

I know the next moment after I shut the door would quickly start the sand falling through hourglass life I lead again, but I had a moment to realize what I have, to appreciate, and to thank God. You see, I can spend so much time seeing what I lack, that I fail to realize how full my hands are. So much time wasted with thoughts of calories and checklists, split ends and menus that I blur right past a God with outstretched hands, leaving tire tracks over gift upon gift. Voskamp writes in her book: "Do we truly stumble so blind that we must be affronted with blinding magnificence for our blurry soul-sight to recognize grandeur? The very same surging magnificence that cascades over our every day here. Who has time or eyes to notice?"

Today, thank God, I did.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Where to look

It seems like lately everywhere I look is a metaphor for being stuck. I'm driving the other day and a bird is flying suspended in one place in mid-air. The wind was blowing so hard against him that he looked like he couldn't move forward at all.


Then last night John and I are in an appointment and the clock was stopped, but not know where the second hand just ticks in place again and again and never moves forward.


And that's how I've felt in my life lately, just stuck. In the same old stuff, only with a worse attitude. Stuck in the same patterns, and cycles. Cause let's face it, sometimes life's junk is super sticky.

So I'm on my run this morning, and the winds are terrible. I came home and looked up the weather and it said 15-20 mph winds, and there I am running in them. And I feel just like that bird when the wind is at my face, s t u c k. Running my butt off and going no where. Well here I come on the trail and round a corner and just as the song comes on my Pandora with the words about looking to the cross I see a field of little crosses (literally) with the sun rising behind them. We live by a nursery, so they apparently use these devices to grow something on in the spring, but here they are, plain as can be-crosses with the sun rising behind them. I stop, dumbfounded at the reality of the timing and stare...and then take a picture (see above) so I can tell people and remember. And continue on my run.

As I continue to run it dawns on me that I've never seen them before and I loop back on the trail to scope out why. When I get closer to the crosses it dawns on me that on the exact opposite side of the trail is a snake. The people that live there have a decoy snake in their garden to ward off bunnies, or whatever, and it looks real. Seriously scares me. Everytime I come around this bend in the trail I'm so focused on the snake, and how much it freaks me out that I never even noticed the other side. And that's when I start thinking about my life.

You see, I always have a choice where I look. To the cross, or to the snake. It's inevitable, as long as I'm alive on this earth they will both be there, but I have the choice to look at one and turn from the other. I have a choice to look away from the shame, guilt, temptation and condemnation. And look toward the hope, victory, triumph and truth. To look away from the defeat, and toward the promise. To look away from the temporary and look toward the eternal. As a believer in that cross, it's power is completely available to me. The power that my sin is dead, the power that my Savior is available and able. The power that turned away pointed fingers and instead opened arms. But there is also one who seeks to destroy me. To take me feet right out from under me, and I feel the struggle. But the struggle is not mine, it's for one stronger than me. And it will end well.

So today, despite the 20 mph winds, and the snake, and the stuck, I will run. Looking to the cross. With the wind in my face, and the snake right next to me, I will look. To the triumph. To the empty cross, that means a Savior is in heaven sitting, work completed. To the victory, that is mine. And I won't turn back.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrew 12:1-3

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tempted to despair....

Dear Readers,

I know most of you and this is a letter written individually to you and you alone.

You who are overwhelmed by the prospect of raising children who love the Lord, when the road seems long...
You who battle an illness too great to overcome in your own strength...
You who are weary of struggling the same ways with the same things....
You who fear the future....
You who dread the present....
and to me.

We must not allow ourselves to weary. There is a promise that is as much ours to grab as a glass of water on a table right in front of us. That promise says that to us, who do not become weary doing good in the name of Christ, we will be rewarded. We will reap.
Do not allow yourself to become defeated in the thoughts that tempt you to despair.
Do not allow yourself to believe that you are downcast, put off, less-than or not enough.
Do not allow yourself to settle for being a slave when you have the right....the be called daughter or son.
Do not settle for the mundane, with your children, your job, your life, your marriage, your battles, when you were called to the epoch climax. The ultimate victory. The triumphant procession when the walls of Jericho tumble and fall...crashing down into heaps at the feet of those who merely followed.

You are more than a conquerer and it's about time we started acting like it. We need a backbone. We need some truth. We need a sword in one hand and a shield in the other, cause you better believe that those things that seek to tear you down have got theirs.

Talk to yourself. Remind yoruself of the victory that awaits you. Remind yourself of the prize you run for. Remind yourself of the harvest...then do all you can to fling your seeds of faith all over the place you are standing.

And after you do, be still and wait. You may not see the seedlings at first...or ever. You may never know the depth of the roots those trees delve to, or the heights of their leaves....but a harvest is assured. And it will be glorious.

Oswald Chambers said, "Tenacity is more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off. Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered...Remain spiritually tenacious."

Refuse to believe your hero will be conquered. Because he never has been...not even by death...

Your fellow Soldier

*Read Psalm 125, Galatians 6:8-10, Ephesians 6:10-18

Monday, June 06, 2011

Nessa's Story

Sometimes life can seem really hopeless. It swirls and rises over your head till you can't seem to remember why you're swimming in the first place. Then--every now and then you're thrown a little life raft (or told to learn to It might seem like nothing first. Might even confuse us, but soon enough we'll understand it's a little paper airplane from a God who sees us, and loves us, and becomes a treasure.

I realize this post will put me in direct danger of being labeled a "cat lady"...but I think the story is strong and beautiful enough to take that I proceed, fully acknowledging the risk I face. A few weeks ago, John mentions that there are kittens at work. They've been abandoned by their mother, and they are tiny and helpless. But they are black (and John prefers black cats last on his list). Also, he mentions, "I don't want a cat right now." Fine...I haven't seen the kittens so my heart is not officially broken, and we move on. Until last weekend. It's Memorial Day weekend, and we are buzzing through our family time just fine when a friend randomly and at the last minute asks John to come meet him at work to let him in (he's forgotten his code or something). So John goes, in the rain and tries a door (a door that always works) that doesn't work. Aside from the quick observation that this is a little strange, the guys go to another door and it opens right away. Then they hear a tiny noise from under the shed.

This is the point when John remembers the litter of kittens, and how for the weekend the majority of them had been coaxed out of hiding to go to someone's house and be cared for, out of the rain and cold. All of them...but one. One stayed behind...either too afraid to come out and be taken away...or aware of a bigger command. John goes over and leans down and out runs this tiny, scared, wet little kitten who quickly climbs up his leg, into his heart, and then immediately after that into our homes before we could say, "Bob's your uncle."

After a call from John explaining, "I'm bringing her home", he walks in the door holding said baby cat and a plate of diced hot dogs which he tried to feed her (note: kittens do not eat hot dog circles). He also has tears in his eyes, and so do I. It's hard to explain what happens then, as we begin exchanging shock over the details and wondering why everything happened the way it did. Because at this point it seems perfectly clear to us that God wants this little addition in our home, and at the same time ridiculous that God would want a kitten in our home. It seems both clear that this is no accident, and weird that it would be anything less.

(This is John with the hot dog circles, picture courtesy of our 2 year-old.)

Then I started thinking about the parallels. Here was a kitten, alone, weak, unable to do anything for itself, and God set her in a family where she is wanted and rejoiced over.
"God sets the lonely in families"- Psalm 68:6

Here is one that could have been overlooked and forgotten by the world, that could have been left behind, but was--instead--saved.
"Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death."- Psalm 68:20

Here is one who was impossibly weak. With nothing to do for herself, nothing to add to her condition. She could not get food, build shelter, nothing. Just sit...and wait to be rescued.
"God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." - 1 Corinthians 1:27
"He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death."- Psalm 72:13

And slowly, the more we think of it, the more we understand these little messages wrapped up in the life of this little ball of fur. We are not unlike her. We face our struggles, many seem insurmountable. John has been struggling particularly with some health issues that have seemed overwhelming for about two years now, and I am facing the craziest month (possibly in my life). And in the midst of this hardship, comes our little message from God to remind us, we are weak, but he is strong. We are helpless, he will provide. He sees us, even when we feel forgotten and left behind, and we will receive whatever we need from Him.

Her name is Nessa (with variations of "Ness Ness", "Nessie" and "Nessa-doodle" from various family members). It means "miracle" in Hebrew. Because to us, that's exactly what all of this is.

It's a miracle that the God of the universe looks down on all creation, and takes the time to remind his children that he loves them, and they can trust him. But that's exactly the kind of God I know.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


As I type, I am sitting on my mom's front porch in Ohio. There are huge stretches of green rolling hills, birds chirping and fluttering around like I'm Snow White herself, hummingbirds buzzing around and pausing (but not really pausing) to refill their sugar supply, and the smell of peonies form a giant bouquet (I can never spell that word right the first time) twirling around my head. As I lift my head to stare out at the long ribbon of white fence that lines the country road her house perches aside, I think there may be no place on earth I feel more peaceful than right here.

That's the thing about Ohio for me, that most people can't seem to understand. To me, it has so much depth, so much sentimentality, that I love it, like no place I've known. It's weird how a place can do that really. Weird how just the sight of the city posing before me as we drive in from the airport on that stretch of highway in Kentucky, makes me feel both like I'm finally there and I've been punched in the stomach. Weird how the curve of road that goes in front of the city and leads to where we lived when we were first married makes me ache for those days. And totally weird how things like driving down a windy road with hills at dusk, windows down, music loud, and a canopy of green all around me catapults me right back to age 18 (which, admittedly was not that long ago...though it is getting further).

This is the place I fell in love, with Jesus, and my husband, figured out who I was, grew up, rebelled, learned to drive, walk, dance and spell. And it holds more memories for me than a high school yearbook. Admittedly, it is beautiful. There is a history here (especially along the river) that supercedes any of my own and tells stories of slaves escaping to freedom, and settlers learning how to live. And I love that part, the part that is laced through everything from the architecture to the trees. And speaking of the trees, there is air here that is so thick with the smell of green, that makes me claim (on poor authority) that this must be exactly the way Ireland looks and smells.

But of course all of that just bolsters the ache in my heart that remembers the early days of falling in love, and twists to know what my life would be like if it were in the cards for me to live here.
And I do wonder that....all. the. time.

This is how I feel, and then I think of God.

C.S. Lewis said this:
"These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. "
He describes how all those longings, those sentimental feelings of days gone by, are really just our homesickness for heaven, for nearness to the God we were created to love and be with, and that if we were to actually go back, relive, or have those things that create that heartsick homesick feeling, we would find they really don't satisfy the way we imagined them to.

So when I think about those days, or this place, and feel that ache, I know it is not the reality of what I'm longing for, that it could never really satisfy is only a shadow.

As I type, the lightning bugs are starting to light up the trees like late May's Christmas lights, the peonies still smell amazing, and there is a quiet all around that makes me feel like I'm submerged underwater. Tomorrow I will get on a plane, and end up in Colorado.
Where it is another kind of beautiful.
And while I'd really want to live here, the irony of the fact that someday I will think of Colorado with similar fondness and ache is not lost on me. That's the thing about this homesick is always elusive. It will always evade us until that day when we are at home, with our Father...
...right where we belong, until then, I'll wait.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


There's a song I love. I listen to it when I run and often start crying, sometimes I run with my hand lifted up in the air like a moron. It just stirs something in my heart so intense, and I recently realized why.

It's' called Amos Story by Aaron Ivey, you an watch it here, and it's a beautiful song, and video. You should stop reading this...and go watch that, then come back here.

Okay, finished? Here's why it's beautiful to me. It's the song of this father, who is nations and oceans away from his son, separated. He is far off, and the father longs to bring him near. It's an adoption story, and it's so glorious because I too, am adopted.
"But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship." Galatians 4:4-5

I am adopted by God. Over and over the Bible says it. So when I hear these lyrics:
"I’ll find a way to get you here
If it takes my fleeting breath"

My heart rejoices, not because he can't or didn't...but because he did. It took every breath, he gave the last breath all to bring the world near.

"Lightyears away I hope you know
There is somebody searching
For the way to get you here"

He waited...years, thousands of years to be more specific to come to earth ,not to live and gain earthly treasures, but to die and gain a heavenly prize. He found the way, to get us there. And he took it. I get this picture in my mind of Jesus, watching next to the Father, waiting eagerly and anxiously, with bated breath to rush forward and grab us again, to bring us near.

He loves us so so so. Not because we are worthy or exceptional, but because he is love.

"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children." Romans 8:14-16

Are you getting this?

We were adopted. Not bought on Easter Sunday all those years ago to be slaves, living in constant fear of death, bought back to be sons and daughters.
I was bought to live as a daughter. You were bought, to live as a child of God.

And as we wait here, we are not only waiting. We owe a debt to the world to tell them of the same adoption call on their lives. Would it be kind, fair, or just for an orphan to be lovingly snatched from an orphanage to live with a father who loved so intensely and so perfectly, and not feel some sense of loss for those who were left behind. Would it be loving for the same orphan (now an adopted daughter) to hear her now Father look at her and say, "Go! Tell the other orphans, I want them too! Bring them here." and instead sit where she is in comfort, refusing to share--relegating her life to some self-indulgent, entitled existence.

No, we long for heaven, we groan waiting for it. But we press on, thinking of that same eternity to show others the adoption.

"So dream, dream, dream my child
Hear the whisperings of hope"

I will dream. I will dream huge dreams that tell others of this love. I will dream dreams that do not limit the power of a mighty God working through the life of his now daughter. I will dream and hear the whisperings of hope for those who are still orphans. And I will surrender my time, resources, and every breath, to point others back to my Father.

It's Easter. It's adoption. It's ours.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Not Conviction

I almost titled this post Conviction, because I've recently been totally convicted about something that I'm pursuing...then I looked up the's what it said:
Conviction: a fixed or firm belief

I'm not sure I could in good conscience use that I'm not too convinced that I live like this is a firm belief in my life, yet.

So there's this really awful little feature that I just discovered on my blog and that is the "stats" feature. This is where you can track how many people look at your blog, how many have looked at which post, how many from other websites, which's (as I mentioned) terrible.

But I'm obsessed.

I check it...a.....lot.

And I'm vowing to stop. Completely--to not even look (I'm cringing as I type) because it puts all the focus on me, and my endeavors. If I start looking there, I'm not really writing for the right reasons (to bring glory to God, and what he's teaching me)...I'm writing to try and get more peeks at my posts.

I'm reading the book Radical by David Platt, and he spends a lot of time talking about what we do in our own strength, and how (long story short) it's a waste of our life. There's this thought he shares:

"This, after all, is the goal of the American dream: to make much of ourselves. But here the gospel and the American dream are clearly and ultimately antithetical to each other. While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God."

So there's this stuff going into my brain...reminding me that the why is always more important than the what. Then there's this whole other stream of thoughts also going on that I am learning, and that is...I love to write. I love to act. I love to be in large groups of women, and love to make them laugh.

Now originally, I thought these two things were opposing forces. One was selfish, me wanting to pursue my dreams and my goals, and my desires to get attention, and the other was a crucifying of myself and a dying to myself, and living miserably, but in a way that exalts God.

I'm realizing that the to work in perfect tandem with each other. That they are both possibly from God. That it is good for me to love to write, be funny, and act. Those are blessings when they are done to make much of the gospel.

I'm sure the rest of you have realized this, but it's been beautiful for me to wake up to (honestly, I can feel a weight coming off my chest even writing this post).
And I'm ecstatic about living this adventure he has. One that will be marked with suffering and hardship (I am sure) but that holds the potential to make much of a God who is ultimately satisfying to all who find him.

I want to live in that kind of way. Surrendering everything I have, gifts, resources, time, and breath and steps and energy. All for the glory of God. I want every post to make much of him, every choice in how I spend my time to make much of him.

Think of how big I can dream if I'm relying on the power of an infinite God. Think of how much God will be able to do now that I'm trying (moment by moment) to get out of the way.


Think of how small it is to only live to make much of ourselves. To live day in and out pursuing the goal of making wonderful grandiose praises for my own little kingdom that will last sixty some more years at most.

That's the beauty of living for the gospel--one day I will not be remembered, but my God will still be known, better to give my life up pointing others toward him.

Live like we're dying...cause we are.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time I was talking to a woman about being transparent.
Once upon a time I told her about how it needed to happen in our church walls....needed to be breathed out. Needed to break the porcelain molds that hold us in, and needed to shatter the "churchy-ness" that American Christianity perpetuates.

Once upon a time...she asked me why.

This woman I trust....I respect, this wonderfully wise, calm, yoda-esque woman.
And then began my journey....cause I just wasn't sure why all of the sudden.

Thankfully she took the time to help me understand why.

And here was her advice....go right to that place where I feel most anxious. The thing that makes me clamor and stress. I could list a variety of them, her advice was to go to the thing that pops first in my mind, I'd know what it was.

For me it was when I send an email (especially on a vulnerable subject) or put myself out there somehow and then hear nothing. You know when you were younger and you used to get called to talk to the principal....that feeling of impending doom? That feeling that comes up when your mom used to say "We need to talk?" You must've been a better kid than me.

It might sound silly but it sends me into a panic. She then encouraged me to follow that rabbit trail all the way to the end...asking myself all the hard questions that come with that fear.

Here's what it looked like for me:
What if I don't hear anything? What if they think I'm an idiot? What if they're judging me? What if I was too harsh? What if I shouldn't have said anything? What if they don't like me? What if they don't talk to me anymore? What if I've lost my good standing in their eyes?

There were many more "what ifs", and each one fired off a sensor in my mind that made me terrified.
This woman's advice to me was that if you follow it long enough you'll understand what you're believing about yourself that is not true.

For me it was this:
I am believing that if others don't like/accept/appreciate/affirm means I am not worth much.

And that's obviously a lie.

It starts with being transparent with ourselves. With our God.
"God. I am scared. I am scared I might be right about myself. Scared they might be right about me. Scared of what will happen if I'm not accepted."

That beginning thought to transparency, agreement to tell the truth about where we are, honesty with ourselves and God puts us in the best position to hear truth.
Truth about ourselves. Our worth. Mainly our God--because hearing the truth about ourselves and our worth are really just stories about what he's done to declare wonderful things about who we are in him.

I'm trying to learn to start there. So I can finish well with him.

Reckless Abandon: A story about Stephanie

Skipping the small stuff, getting to the point.

Stephanie used to be a self-proclaimed lesbian.

Now, you can read her amazing, Christ-celebratory story here.. But that's not as much what I'm writing about.

I'm writing about the way she lives now.
She lives bravely.

Bravely aware of her identity in Christ. Bravely surrendered to the Savior who laid claim on her life. Bravely humble about what he's done for her.

Stephanie is not afraid of sharing her story, what she's been through and even the really really vulnerable parts of her story, because she recognizes there is nothing she could gain from coming across as having it together. Nothing significant she could hold onto from not telling people. But there is glory in dying to herself. There is a beautiful abandon that comes from not trying to make a name for ourself, not trying to sustain an image that isn't ours to claim in the first place.

Steph has shared her story with multitudes of people. She boasts of her lowly place because she recognizes there is nothing to be lost for her. She cannot lose her standing, she cannot lose her worth or value. It is secure. And she can live recklessly for the gospel (and does) because she's not holding on to those attempts.

When I asked her if I could share her story, she not only responded with an immediate "yes" but also allowed me to share as much of her sin as I wanted....amazing how surrendered this girl is.
She also shared with me two verses that are so liberating:

"And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." Revelation 12:10-11

"But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24

Thanks Steffers. For being open. For being a little more out there than some might be comfortable with. For living a brave life for the gospel.

The way you live showed me how to not count my life as precious to myself.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Fake it till...

Consider yourself warned...

You'd think, for an actress, I'd be better at pretending. Pretending to like people, pretending to be in a good mood, pretending to have it together.
But I'm not.
In fact, one of the hardest things for me is being something I'm not.
Mainly because I'm selfish...I recognize that. But I'm thinking some of it is good.

Here's the thing. Our culture is centered around being fake. Fake boobs, fake hair color, fake teeth, botox, spanx, makeup. All to make us look better than we are. You'd think with all the recent hype about using "real sugar" vs. high fructose corn syrup, and blah blah blah, we'd be trending in a different direction. We're not.

And all that stuff is fine, to a degree....

But there's one place I can't stand it. One place I'm learning to be completely authentic, because it's what I want from others.

See, no one benefits from another female relationship where we have it together. The person faking it doesn't benefit, the person observing the fake-ness doesn't. It's destructive.

And I won't stand for it.
At least not in my own life.
I'm learning a lot about authenticity...about transparency. What it looks like--what it doesn't look like. And why it's significant.
Here's what I'm list form.

What it isn't:
1. Saying whatever you think. This is different. This is called pride. While I am also terribly guilty of's a different evil. This one says "My opinion is there, I'll tell it to you, you deal with it, I don't care if it hurts your feelings."
2. Airing of grievances. It's not a license to say everything that bothers you about someone. (See number one). I am also guilty of this.
3. Confession. There's this bad tendency when it comes to being authentic. It can lean a different direction. One that is more religious than resting in the gospel. When my goal is to confess something so I don't feel bad about it anymore, it's wrong. It's penance--dare I say- it's sin. I am also guilty of this.

What it is:
1. Vulnerability.
2. A rejection of self-protection.
3. The ability to rest in an identity that is given us in Christ, that is not founded on a facade we fabricate.
4. The acceptance of being right where we are, exactly who we are, and relinquishing the desire to cover-up, get our act together, or appear to be something we're not.
5. A chance to be real before others, and be accepted for being that way. Not mocked, belittled, condescended or gossiped about.

Why it's crucial (I deleted the word "important"):
1. We are all flawed, each one of us. And as long as we're encouraged to cover that up and pretend we have it together--we're just propagating the pride that keeps us from God. Once we realize we can be loved and accepted with others right where we are, we'll recognize we can be the same way with God. (Obviously God does not love or accept our sin, but he sees our Savior's record when he looks at us)
2. A need to cover-up, pretend, be fake, just facilitates comparing, cattiness, and gossip. As long as "someone else looks worse than me" then I don't have to be afraid of being found out. Is this making sense? When I throw someone else under the bus, then I'm not afraid of the bus hitting me. If I'm not trying to "self-protect" everyone is allowed and encouraged to be jsut as screwed up as they are right now, because I'm just as screwed up as I am.
3. It rests in the gospel. Self-protection...pretending....faking it...does not.
Faking it rests in the image of myself I've crafted. The one where I don't look so bad. Being authentic, vulnerable, transparent, rests in Christ. When I understand that "we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope" (Tim Keller) I am able to rest, and be real.
4. I don't need one more person in my life who has it together.

At this point I was going to wax eloquent a disclaimer about how it is never acceptable to be complacent with sin, and "let it all hang out"....but I'm not even going to do that. If you think that's where I am, and I need to explain myself, you should go back and read any of my previous posts.

In the weeks to come, I'll be sharing stories. Stories of what this has looked like in my life (most if not all of them will make me look terrible, which I'm okay with). I'm learning too much about relationships to not share. I'm learning how to be a Christian. I'm learning how to be a real woman, in a real world, saved by a real Savior. I'm learning that it's good to tell the truth, especially when it makes you look bad. I'm learning what it looks like to rest in the gospel. I'm learning how to fail gracefully, what's important, and what I want my daughter to learn.

Mainly I'm learning how little I've learned.

But I will say this, the more I learn how to be okay with messing up, and okay with others doing the same...
the more free I am.
And that's just the way I want to live.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


The other day we were walking out of the restaurant part of Cracker Barrel and Ellie was probably 10 steps ahead of me (running out), an old man (maybe 90? definitely over 80) was walking in super slowly--like it was hard for him to walk. On her way out Ellie ran right up to him and grabbed his hand, like she'd known him her whole life. He looked down at her and squeezed her hand and they had the weirdest little interchange with no words.

I felt in an instant like I was out of the loop. Like my two year old and that man knew something that I had no idea about. It was so bizarre. All the tables around them stopped what they were doing and watched. We all paused and the world stood still while we witnessed a moment that none of us seemed to understand and then Ellie let go and ran off. A moment that felt pregnant with importance, but was completely nonchalant for the two involved.

I can't stop thinking about this. Maybe because I couldn't fit it into a place in my brain, because I just couldn't understand or explain away why it happened. And I couldn't attach a nice little story to it. It simply stood alone, punctuated my mundane day with a moment that inspired me for reasons I don't know. But I wonder if trying to explain it, trying to figure it out dumbs down the significance of it--washes away some of the mystery that makes it remarkable and beautiful.

And so I've decided I can be okay with not knowing, with never knowing.

I can let God be God, and have the secret things for himself. He can know. I won't.
In the meantime, I get to witness things that I can't explain.
And the song I'm listening to says:

"Sometimes things aren't always what they seem, words fall short in times like these."

(credits to Sandra with "Imperfect Melodies" for making the beautiful soundtrack to my blog,to Lynds for taking beautiful pictures, and to Courtney, for her good advice)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fig Leaves

How much time do you spend crafting an identity you want to hide behind? You know, working on being skinny, funny, pretty, crafty, wise, spiritual? (those are mine) How much effort is given to those things? How much effort given to hiding? I'm taking a cue from my new favorite blogger Courtney and including tons of pictures that I illegally snag off the internet (she has rights to hers).

How much time to hiding behind an identity that is fabricated to make you look like you're not as messed up as you are? Like Eve hiding behind the hand-sewn fig-leaves in the garden, wondering who would see.

John and I were talking last night, about how much I've been struggling lately since I've been sick, and I'm not able to get out of bed early, read my Bible and exercise. It came down to me saying this very bluntly (please don't email me about eating disorders or I will egg your car):
"I have to be skinny"
....and him poignantly asking:
"Why do you have to be skinny?"

This completely disarmed me. I was ill prepared to answer such a direct question and all the things I could think I wanted to say to defend myself ("Because it's healthier", "So I'll feel good about myself", "So I can be more confident") Really boiled down to nothing and sounded so fake...cause I knew the truth.
I laid in bed, thinking about the real answer, and this blog post and struggled to sleep.

The real answer is (it's hard to be this transparent)...I want people to worship me.

Let me follow that up with the fact that I sat here and stared at the computer screen wondering if I really had the audacity to type what I felt in my heart. Wondering if I could somehow soften the blow of that truth by saying something like "think I'm great" instead of using the word "worship"...but I just couldn't do it justice.

I am guilty of the same sin that caused Lucifer to fall like lightning from heaven. And it's dreadful.

Now before you all start telling me how much I beat myself up, or downplaying what I just said let me also say that I am completely aware of the fact that my Savior died for that, it is finished, and I am forgiven.

But let me explain what I'm learning about this.
We are all in desperate need of being real. Putting it on the line. I don't mean in a sort of "I'm going to expose what I want you to see enough so it looks like I'm really honest but I'm really just using even that to craft my own image" kind of real. I'm talking about, "this makes me uncomfortable" kind of real.

A woman I really look up to just did something that I know makes her feel utterly exposed, and then made the comment to me about how that is her place of faith, because if we're not there, learning how to be comfortable in the place we're least comfortable, we are hiding.

God has recently been sparing me from hiding by stripping away the things I want to hide behind.
Well-behaved kids? Good luck forcing that one.
Spiritual bible verse wisdom? Not until I can read my Bible again.
Great muscles? How about you sleep in until 8am.
Good mothering? Well we watched 3 hours of television yesterday.

It's all this glorious thing, that was originally making me so miserable, but I'm learning now to find great rest in.

"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." John 12:46
We can bring our entire selves, completely real and exposed to the light. We can stand unashamed once more, in all our awful glory, with every truth we are ashamed to admit, because we have been granted a new identity.
We can be comfortable when we are anything but comfortable because we don't find our rest in what we do, or how we look, but in our Savior.

"The LORD sets prisoners free" Psalm 146:7
We have no reason to hide, no cause to find something to cover us...we are covered!
Behind every awful moment of being exposed is a chance to find rest in the gospel.
On the other side of every colossal "failure" is a God waiting with open arms to hold the daughter he already knew was a screw up.
And on the outside of every comfort zone, is a liberty that would never have been realized had we not ventured out.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

What he sees

The above picture was drawn by my son. He is 4 and a half.
Tonight I'm looking at the picture and talking it over with my husband. How sweet it was that he wanted to draw a picture of me, how sweet that he wrote me a note. How (if you could see the rest of the picture) he drew himself with hair sticking up and his sister with pigtails. Then it dawned on me what I'm wearing in the picture. Look at it. There is a dress, floor-length, with those little sweepy things that Cinderella has on her gown, and circley puffy sleeves (I'm getting really technical with my fashion lingo here). He drew me in a princess dress. We started discussing it, and all the pictures my son draws of me, and I realized...he always draws me in a princess dress.
Mind you, I never have ever walked around the house wearing a princess dress (a wedding dress? yes...once, but princess dress? never). I walk around the house wearing jeans, or sweats, or a bathrobe...not a ball gown. Still, when my son is asked to draw a picture of me...I am a princess (a princess with no arms usually, but a princess nonetheless).
It started me thinking about God. And how this is true of our relationship with him as well. If God were to draw my picture, what would he draw? A prideful woman, who constantly demands her own way? A gossip? Maybe the incredible hulk (thinking of my propensity for anger)? No, none of those things. I'm convinced that if God were to sit down and draw a picture of me (I'd have arms) and would also look like a princess. Not because I am worthy. Not because I am smart enough, funny enough, skinny enough, patient enough, or deserving enough. But because I am his. A daughter of the king. Because his Son died for me and now, because of the righteousness that was won on my behalf, I am near, and rejoiced over.

I am a princess.

And I don't know about you, but someone thinking I'm a princess, makes me a lot more likely to act like one.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


Exposed. Ever heard of that word? Let me help you with the definition, it involves things like "depriving of shelter", "making known" and "causing to be visible". Okay, we've got a working definition, now you can delve into my life.
I'll warn you, most of my posts have a neat little bow on the end when I'm finished. A happy ending to leave us all feeling a little closure. This one is hurting a little too much to have such closure....but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Three weeks ago we get a report from one of our children's teachers in Sunday school about how he had a hard time listening, had to be taken out of the room etc. (this is all coming through my sweet husband filter, who remembers few if any details about such things). So we write it off, talk to little man about obeying and go on with it, when a week later another teacher says the same thing. Mid-week I take him to BSF and find out the same thing happened and finally, today after dropping him off and one of the overseeing teachers came up to me to "talk" about how he's doing I began to crumble. She asks if anything is going on at home, like a move, or a death (really?....or a terrorist plot, or a hostage situation?) and I kindly ask her for suggestions and get some great feedback (which she had great ideas for both.) I then (after responding quite diplomatically I must say) walk outside, call my man and begin to u n r a v e l.

There was a lot of talking, and a lot of crying (both done by me) about how hard I'm trying, how much of myself I'm giving, how I don't know what else I could sacrifice, or pray about, or work through or who else I could possibly get advice from or what other tool I could implement (ultimate run on sentence.) And I say something to the effect of "I keep sowing all that I have, and I feel like I should be reaping something different with this little boy, I just don't know what I'm doing wrong," to which my husband replies something to the effect of "it's not necessarily you." Of course I didn't believe him (though desperately wanted to) and go inside.

We start talking in the lesson about God, and how he won't share his glory and how he won't tolerate us believing in idols, and yet again I start being able to see how kind he is to me. Here's a verse:

"See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
How can I let myself be defamed?
I will not yield my glory to another." Isaiah 48:10-11

Okay, I have this nasty little habit. It's pride. My problem is I want to build a tiny little kingdom for myself. I set myself up, to make my name great with all sorts of great attributes like being funny, pretty, skinny, and (duh) having perfectly behaved little pawns to show the world what a great mom I am. (brutally honest here folks). When this little man starts getting in the way of me building said kingdom, I start to panic. I start to pray harder "God. Please help him to start obeying" (and those are good prayers, and I might even use good spiritual words like "win his heart")...but what I'm really wanting is for God to make him obey so I can check my box, have my little ego boost and move on. Not so God is glorified.

It is in this place, of feeling exposed, of feeling completely incapable of doing anything other than humbly seeking God, asking his teachers for advice and prayers, and consistently being a mom the only way I know how that I write. God is growing me in my motives. He is growing (as a friend called it) a really thick layer of gospel skin on my outside. Reminding me that I don't find my identity in how my son behaves (or doesn't for that matter) but in Christ alone. He is showing me that I cannot punch in the proper sequence of mothering activities (which would look something like: Bible, prayer, scripture, discipline, love, self control and chocolate in my head) and pop out a nice little marketable product of a child. He is showing me that I can rest in a place of complete uncertainty in how my kids behave and how I appear to others, because I'm not resting in those things at all, but in a sure foundation on the rock eternal. He is showing me that I cannot have the goal of producing good well-behaved children who always say "please" and "thank you" and never have dirty fingernails, because it's not only impossible, but also just serves to boost my ego and flesh, and doesn't really point them to a Savior.

So in the thick of all of this, I wait. Feeling completely naked and ridiculous, but also learning to be okay with being so because I trust in the robes of righteousness that are provided for me. I guess a great deal of mothering is being Fathered, and remembering that He is the one in control and leading. I'm sure this will serve me well when our son is 18 and comes home with a motorcycle and a girlfriend named Candy, and I know learning how to fall after I've built myself up is a great deal of life. I just hope in the future I don't let myself get so high that it hurts too bad.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

He stoops

So this morning, I was supposed to go off to Bible study, and enjoy 2 hours of kid-free adult discussion about things that aren't Dora the Explorer and Disney and then follow it by a fellowship at a friend's house with my kids where she was making lunch for the entire group (read:free lunch and nice people). Well, Ellie- in an obvious maneuver to ruin my life- has had a runny nose for 3 days and despite my hopes that I would wake to a miraculous healing (how "New Testament" of me) it dawned on me 20 minutes before we left that she was still snotty and likely contagious. And compelled more by what other people would think of me than genuine concern for others (I'm not proud of it, I just rrrrrrreally wanted to go) I decided I had to stay home.

But I'm so mature that I handled it perfectly and went about our normal daily routine without a hitch...well, that's what I'd like to be telling you right now...but I'd be breaking a commandment if I said that (and frankly, you wouldn't have a very exciting post to read). Nope, I threw a temper tantrum. You might wonder what an adult temper tantrum looks like and I would submit to you that it's not all too different from a child's tantrum. I cried, I pouted, I complained to my husband so he'd feel bad about how hard my life as a mom is, and then I told God he was mean (in so many words, I'd never say it that plainly).

I announce to the kids that we're going for a drive (in my head carefully calculating where our "drive" should be to coincidentally pass by the local drive-thru coffee spot, and off we go. We were in the car about 3 minutes, listening to "Adventures in Odyssey" which is a christian radio program of stories for kids when I realized (sigh) God was going to teach me something. The story was all about trusting God. About a little boy who had been wanting to audition for the chamber choir, and had been praying about it, when a series of events that were unjust and out of his control led to him not being able to. The moral of the story was that we must trust God even when our circumstances seem like they're going the opposite way we'd been asking or wanting. Because to trust him only conditionally when we get the right things, or to trust him to provide exactly what we ask him for, isn't really trust at all. (I know, you guys already knew this, you're smart).

We go about the morning, and actually had a lot of fun kicking around target and playing tag in the clothing racks (yeah...that was us...sorry), and I'm starting to think to myself "this is fun, I'm actually enjoying my kids even though I was so mad." Then on the way home we're driving and the cars in front of me start to slow down. I don't know why they slow down (Linc said a dog ran across the road, but he also thinks he's invisible when playing hide and seek) and I happen to look up to see what I initially thought was a hawk. Upon closer look I shout "Linc, that's a bald eagle!!!" I couldn't believe it! I stared to the point of wrecking into the car in front of me, all the while shouting "I can't believe it!" (I stopped myself before "what does it mean?" but almost had a full on double rainbow moment). While we're driving away I'm telling Linc how amazing that was, how I've never ever seen a bald eagle just flying overhead, and by the time he starts wondering why the eagle was bald, it dawns on me:
"...but those who trust in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31

And in that moment, I realize, I can trust him. It doesn't have to look like I think it should. He is able to give me the strength to run and not grow weary when I trust him. He is more than I dared hope in sufficiency, grace and love, and he pursues me. He loves me when I'm stupid, when I'm mad, when I'm foolish and stubborn. He loves me when I'm pouty, rebellious and angry. He loves me enough to tell me so, even though I could never earn it. And he is interested in my life. It's enough when you experience something like that to soften even the hardest of hearts, and melt even the most stubborn walls.

Now, maybe this is coincidence, by chance it all happened in some cosmic scale dice toss. Maybe it's science, and all the protonuclematrons in the universe lined up to zap the eagle over my car at that exact moment. Maybe it's...buddah, or a reincarnate mind reader who is currently in his eagle life stage and new I needed to see one. But it's not.

It's God.

It's a real and living God interacting with a daughter that he loves enough to pursue. It's a God looking down from the heavens where he sits enthroned, seeing his tiny speck of a daughter in Fort Collins Colorado throwing a temper tantrum. And then choosing to not only put on a story on her radio at the exact moment that she needed to hear about trusting in his plans, but then also making a bald eagle fly over her car and causing her to look up and notice, and then reminding her of the song she had to memorize for a video shoot 3 years earlier with Isaiah 40:31 in it. (and no matter how common eagles are--in 28 years of living the only place I've ever seen one is a zoo).

Who can do that but God? Who would do that but God?

Cynics will scoff. Scientists will explain. Atheists will ignore. But I can tell you this much, there were 3 people in that car today, that had a very real experience with the God of the entire creation and all time, stooping to give his pouty, sinful little daughter a kiss on the cheek and a reminder of his love. And that's enough for me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hamburger in my pocket...

Well most of my posts are about something profound I learned from God. One of those "smack you in the head" moments that you can't help but talk about.

Tonight's events unfolded a little less dramatically, but God is still teaching me through it, let me fill you in...
I went to Walmart and was unloading my kids from the car when a bewildered looking woman walks up and ambiguously stands by me...not looking directly at me or addressing me, just standing there holding fake flowers in her hand and looking confusedly off in the distance. After looking at her a moment, wondering if she was going to pull out a gun on me (I watch a lot of Bruce Willis movies) I said "are you alright?". She proceeded to ask me if I wanted to buy some fake flowers so she could have money to buy her daughter diapers etc. I said I wouldn't give her money, but I was happy to buy her some diapers etc. She obliged and off we While we were standing in line I started hearing this voice in my head reminding me that I have the truth of the gospel and I needed to share it with her....I'm thinking " Walmart?". I start feeling really anxious as the line is super crowded and there is no way I want to freak people out by saying (whisper voice) "Jesus". I look over in the line next to me and a friend from church is buying some groceries. A few minutes later I look further in the line and there is another woman from church in line and it dawns on me..."I'm not alone...Christ himself is here with me."

After some pathetic attempts at talking to her about Jesus (I'm not even going to feign eloquence or bravery), and some blank stares that returned I realized this was a closed door. I asked her how I could pray for her, gave her my email address, and told her about our church, which could help if she needed anything in the future. After many pleas from her for money to pay for the cabin she was staying in for the night (???) and an explanation that her brother was waiting in the car she left with not only diapers but (per her request) diapers, wipes, formula, a pacifier and a bottle, and I left with the receipt and the sneaking suspicion that I was being ripped off.

Then I came home and heard from three friends who shared stories with me that encouraged my pants off. The first was from the friend I saw in line. I wrote her and told her how her being there encouraged me and she said she was encouraged to know God had plans for her in light of her day. Apparently she had a day where nothing went according to her plans and it was nice to know that God could use her to accomplish his plans and that his plans were even better than hers. What a reminder to me (one who so often thinks I have amazing plans that God need only to listen to) that he is the creator of heaven and earth and has plans for me that will knock my socks off if only I'll show up to the game and stop trying to lead.

The second story was a friend who loved me enough to share a verse with me: ‎

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you."
—Luke 6:27-31. NIV

This was so good for me to remember, that it's not up to me to guard my money shrewdly but to give freely. Letting God be the judge. It was a breath of fresh air to remember that giving of my time, and my money, and my sanity (remember? Walmart?) was not in vain because he ASKS us to do that whenever it's required of us. And as a mother, it's great demand.

The third story was from another sweet friend who told me of a time when she bought someone begging for food a hamburger and he shoved it in his pocket. She wisely pointed out what a friend had shared with her, that God keeps giving good gifts to us no matter how many times we've taken advantage. It was so refreshing to me to think of myself as the same as this woman. Here I am...hamburgers in my pockets running around this life.

It reminded me of a scenario with Lincoln this morning while I was trying to teach him (for the 1,000th time) what the number 8 looks like. He always forgets the number eight...alllllllllllllways. And my impatient self gets so fed up with it. Finally today, after making up some rhyme about how it looks like a snowman and him forgetting again (tally: 1,001) I was telling him "Linc why can't you remember this?" when I looked over at my bookshelf at all the wonderful Christian books we have. Books about parenting, and marriage, and faith, and the gospel, and sharing, and truth and anger....all things I read, learned once, and quickly forgot. Here I am belittling my sweet son for not learning lessons, when I myself am in constant need of about humbling.

I was so humbled to picture myself, hamburger in my pocket taking for granted the amazing tremendous gifts and truths God has given me, and he constantly blessing me over and over. And it is that generosity that I pray will motivate me to constantly give of myself to whomever may need, be it my 4-year-old when we pass the number 7, or the homeless druggie in the parking lot. We all have hamburgers in our pockets. I pray for the grace to remember them, and the hunger to remind us they're in there.