blog background

Saturday, January 21, 2017


It has been a long time.....

For lots of reasons, I am moving to a new format that is simpler. I am hoping to write more often, but you know how it goes. :)  You can now find me at 

And sorry Mom, there will be lots less pictures. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015


WARNING: As Jen Hatmaker says, I feel BIG FEELINGS. And when I feel my big feelings, I feel the need to release them or I will implode. 

I wake up gloomy sometimes. I wake up, and for whatever reason, I'm in a downcast mood I can't shake. Sometimes it lasts a day, but more often it lasts a few days. There are lots of contributing factors here and some of the ones I regularly deal with are weather and dreams. When the sun has been gone for a stretch of time, I find my spirits take a dive. Whenever these times come, I get quiet, a bit withdrawn, my mind usually a thousand miles away from whatever my hands are busy doing, which means the pasta gets overcooked or the dirty diaper gets set on the shelf in the closet rather than in the trash. 
The gloom started creeping in yesterday, an unease that I couldn't put my finger on. I woke up this morning to find that unease building into anxiety, which leads to casualties. A sharp remark, a shorter fuse, a detached posture. And then the frustration that comes when I know I'm in the wrong, when my head says you're being irrational and yet I can't make the words "I'm sorry" or "it's my fault" come out of my mouth. 

So that was the state of things this morning as I opened the computer to send a quick email. I see a news headline about an 11 year old boy who saved his little sister's life by pushing her out of the way of an oncoming car. (Thinking what a wonderful thing! what an uplifting story! show your soul some good... I clicked on the link.) But as I read about this sweet brave boy who did in fact save his 7 year old sister's life while they waited at the bus stop, by sacrificing his own, I came undone. An eleven year old, dead. A sister, forever guilt. A mother, grateful and broken: one child saved, one child gone. And a 57 year old woman now facing a 25 year jail sentence for running over and killing a child and fleeing the scene. 

Through tears I look to the right where there are listed the other "most popular" headlines:

11 year old boy kills 8 year old neighbor...because she wouldn't let him see her puppy. 
Mother and baby found dead in Hollywood, toddler found several hours later
Corpse in a fence mistaken for Halloween scene
5 year old found dead in the freezer of her parent's house

I won't go on. So many stories. So much sin. Sin everywhere. Sin in me, sin out there. And I thought to myself, in a barely there whisper: how can I possibly make it through unscathed? And of course the answer I hear as I'm asking but already knowing is you can't. We can't. We cannot get through this life unravaged by sin, our own or others. I looked into the faces of my beautiful girls an hour later in the rear view mirror, and my heart breaks open. Their innocence (in terms of their lack of knowledge) in contrast to the horrors on the news stand leveled me. I cannot protect them from sin and its destruction. They will come away with scars. 

I can't. So I do the only thing left to do in a world that's falling down. I put my hope in the One who put sin to death by his own death. I look to him who knew no sin, yet became sin for sinners. There is no destruction that cannot be made right. That blows my mind. Look at the headlines- they will ALL be made right. There is no tear that cannot be wiped away. There is nothing that cannot be made new. Including me. Including you. Including whatever pain you carry around with you. I don't know how it works. I don't know how it will feel to not be broken. 

When the gloom sets in, I become very clearheaded about a couple things, and I'm thankful for it:

Sin is evil. I walk around all the time making justification for it, minimizing it, letting it slide. When the gloom comes, I see sin for what it is. And I hate it. 

God, in his holiness, is beautiful. He is glorious and pure and magnificent for having nothing to do with evil. For being all good, with no stain anywhere. 

I am not home. I read these headlines and begin to get panicky. But this place, this is not home. This is not permanent. This is passing away. 

Come, Lord Jesus!

(Also during this time Lecrae's Fallin' Down came on. I joined him with gusto.)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Surprise in the Sky

We recently moved. (That is a story in and of itself!) We moved from a highly sought after neighborhood, and though our house was nothing extreme, it had a lot of luxuries in it. The neighborhood had rolling hills, tree lined streets, spread out houses. Our enormous backyard was also tree lined and we enjoyed privacy that's hard to come by in the city. Conveniently located, we were not far from anywhere we needed to go. It was convenient, it was beautiful, it was great for us. We moved there when I was six months pregnant with Sophia and we were dreamers in parent life.

The neighborhood and the house we moved to was extremely different. As a newer community, the houses are very close together, there are few trees, and the trees that are here are young. Our small back yard has no trees, and we can hear and sometimes see into our neighbors' back yards, as we assume they can into ours. In fact, there is so very little privacy, I have had to work hard at breaking some old habits. Being outside the city, we have to be intentional to plan outings and time them right so they make sense for us. It takes 20 minutes to drive to school. Our house is almost twice the size of our last house, giving us room to spread out. Everything has a place. But what it offers in space, it lacks in luxury. The house is a workhorse. It is practical, it is efficient, it is not glamorous, (though we find it quite beautiful at times.) We moved into it as a family of five in the thick of parenting in reality with three kids 4 and under. You can probably already see how well suited the house is for our needs.

On our last night at the old house, Andy and I climbed onto the roof to look at stars, feel a breeze, and remember the good times we had in that house. We were excited to move and looked forward to having lots of neighbors, having a playroom where all the toys could remain, neatly organized in a closet. Though our neighborhood had rolling hills that offered a challenging workout, it was not the best for teaching kids to scooter or bicycle, especially with the lack of side walks. But two things stood out as being the most missed. Berkley. Sweet Berkley. There were memories of him all over that house. We would turn a corner and expect to see him lying in his spot. Some days that brought a smile and some days that brought tears. We were not ready to move on. It felt like we were leaving him behind. There was nothing to be done about that. The second thing was the trees. These 50 year old trees that bloomed in spring and flowered, shaded our yard in the heat of summer, turned color for a week in the fall :) and brought beauty to the whole neighborhood. They would be missed. We were leaving Beauty behind. And we felt here too, that there was nothing that could be done about it.

But 36 hours later we woke up for the first time in our new house and my jaw dropped as my heart leapt in my chest. Because the first thing I saw that morning was the sunrise and it could take your breath away. You can't see the sunrise or the sunset when you are surrounded by enormous trees. In fact, since moving in almost three months ago, I have seen the sun rise and the sun set each day. It comes up outside my bedroom window and you can sit on the back porch and watch it ascend, and I see it go down out the playroom windows or standing on the driveway and the sky is spread out before me like the vast open space that it is, and I breathe in the fresh air, and feel the wind on my skin, and soak in the Beauty.

In the eighty or so sunrises and sunsets we have watched God is whispering to me that his plans are good. That he knows me inside and out and will meet every need, in his own way, when I least expect it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The two worlds of social media: the dark side

I'm rethinking my role on social media, and if you missed it, here's why. I have seen two sides of the coin, with one as equally terrifying as the other is beautiful. Let me start with the scary side...

When I use Instagram, a few things happen:

- If there's any sort of issue between me and another person, it is perpetuated and intensified in my heart. A slow hardening happens with each perfect picture I see of them.

- If I'm struggling to get through the day well and then see pics of other mamas rocking it, I tell myself I'm a failure after I compare myself to them.

- By "liking" (or not liking) everyone's comments and pictures, I effectively place myself as judge over whatever they're willing to put out there.

- And once I do that, I assume they are doing the same to all the pictures I post. So I seek affirmation in the likes and find disappointment when something I put isn't liked.

And this doesn't just last as long as I'm looking at pictures. It goes on far beyond when I put my phone down. If I've had a good day and posted a cute pic of the kids doing something awesome, and it gets a bunch of likes, and maybe even a few comments about what a great mom I am...well there's a bit more bounce in my step. I'm a bit quicker to judge someone else. It's a bit easier to go to sleep at night. And why? Because a whole bunch of people affirmed me. I won their approval for today. But let me ask you something. Why can't the day do that? Because I've noticed that if I have a great day, and enjoy the kids doing their awesome thing and keep it to myself, I don't feel as good about it. I've been trained to need the affirmation of others. Which is a terrible thing, especially when we consider what God says in Matthew: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

So this is what I hear when I read that: "Thus, when you paint with the girls, enjoy it and laugh and be satisfied. When she writes her name like the big girl she is, celebrate and praise her and store it up in your heart. When you discipline with calm love and firm grace, take joy in being like Me. When she nestles into you and wants to snuggle, close your eyes and breathe her in and thank Me, and let that be enough.

When I need the approval of others, I'm saying those things aren't enough. I need the praise of those things...that's what I really want. And that is tragic.

And y'all, that's a good day! That's what happens when I'm rocking it! What about those days that I call Andy at 4:00 with a note of hysteria in my voice as I ask, "Are you almost home?!" The days when nothing went as I had hoped, when I got nothing done that I set out to do, the days where the girls aren't sweet, but literally are making me crazy and I'm a few ticks away from imploding. On those days I open Instagram already feeling like I'm one big walking mistake only to find it confirmed in the glories of all those who have outshined me.

When other people become my standard, I have gone off course: "For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Chirst Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness..." (Romans 3:22-25)

At a family baby shower for Penny Mae, I was given the book You Are Special by Max Lucado. It teaches children to care about what God thinks of them rather than what other people think. It was written in 1997, before the dawn of social media and we adults found ourselves in need of similar advice. As I was reading it to her the other day, I saw so clearly how we are all acting like Wemmicks: "The Wemmicks were small wooden people. All of the wooden people were carved by a woodworker named Eli. His workshop sat on a hill overlooking their village. Each Wemmick was different. Some had big noses, others had large eyes. Some were tall and others were short. Some wore hats, others wore coats. But all were made by the same carver and all lived in the village. And all day, every day, the Wemmicks did the same thing: They gave each other stickers. Each Wemmick had a box of golden star stickers and a box of gray dot stickers. Up and down the streets all over the city, people spent their days sticking stars or dots on one another...Some Wemmicks had stars all over them! Every time they got a star it made them feel so good! It made them want to do something else and get another star."

I'll assume you can see the correlation. And I'm not alone. More and more research is showing that viewing pictures on social media, liking, and reading comments all contribute to isolation and feelings of loneliness and depression. Instagram especially has been shown to perpetuate constant comparison as we see the vast difference between our ideal (portrayed) self and the actual one.

Instead, we should say along with Paul, "So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future- all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God." (1 Corinthians 3:21-4:5)

Imagine with me what could happen if we silenced the approval (or disapproval) of man by not putting our stuff out there to be judged. Where would we turn? It's my hope that we could find the time to turn to grace instead. Can you imagine it? If we could lay our heads on the pillow after a great day and thank the Lord for it and know it was a gift of grace. Or at the end of a bad day we could lay all our mistakes before the throne and thank God for paying for them and know there is grace enough to cover them all. And to not have any idea how anyone else's day was to compare ours to. But to just know what is ours to know, to do what is ours to do, to live the life that is ours to live.

{A book I found very helpful in having a correct view of yourself is Tim Keller's The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, which I got for free on Kindle. And this article, though not written from a biblical perspective, was good at explaining the affect of social media on our self perception.}

Monday, March 16, 2015


I'm a bit shocked myself at what I'm about to write, because I didn't see it coming. Or maybe I did. Or maybe I thought I did. Yes, that's it. Because a few weeks ago I started a bible study with the ladies in home group and the first assignment was to fast from something. I truly didn't feel the need, but thought I should do it anyway- I am the leader of our bible study group, so if I don't do it, how can I expect anyone else to? I only picked Instagram because I wasn't sure what else to do. In my 2015 goal setting I was limiting media anyway, so this just seemed like I could tack it on. It was just going to be for a week. Or so I thought...

My week came and went, and I was surprised to find how good it felt to let go of my phone. Despite the weather that kept us indoors and going stir crazy. Despite the exceptional amount of preschool-aged drama going on in our house. It was easy and it felt good and I liked it and that surprised me. When the week was over I thought I might keep this going. But first let's just take a catch up. And what I discovered in the next 30 minutes floored me. And it wasn't the pictures I found- snow pics, as anticipated. I'll let you in on my little secret: I have a vicious heart. And that wasn't the shocker either. What floored me was that Instagram had slowly become food for my vicious heart.

You might be thinking, like my husband, How could Instagram do that? But it's not Instagram that does it. It's me that does it. It goes something like this: I see a picture of a sweet friend's little and read the story of him catching his poop before he drops it in the toilet, and I think She is so patient. I bet she handled that like a champ. I would have exploded at my kids. She's such a better mom than me. Or here's another: I see a beautiful family picture and someone's comment: "I just love your family! You guys are the best!" and because there's a small rift I think Well I disagree. I think...

And here's why that's such a big deal: "Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him...what comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." Mark 7.18, 20-23

Do you see it happening? Every time I browse pictures, I feed that heart that has evil thoughts, murder, coveting, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness in wait. I put down my phone and acknowledged for the first time the seriousness of my sin with Instagram. What I thought was an unnecessary fast, God used to show me a very necessary change. But here's the hard part- getting rid of Instagram doesn't fix it. It's not what goes in from the outside that defiles. My heart is wicked with or without Instagram. Now, looking at Instagram that way fed a heart that was already vicious. But not looking at Instagram doesn't take the viciousness away. It will just find another avenue out. But shouldn't we try everything we can to limit the avenues?

So here's the dilemma...Do I take Instagram away so that I'm not feeding the beast? Or do I change the way I look at Instagram? In speaking of lust, the Scriptures say, "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell." (Matthew 5:29) An eye is good and can be used for good. It shows God's beautiful creation, allows you to read the Word, communicates meaning, and helps you get around and do things. Here, the eye itself isn't at fault, but it gets cut out nonetheless because it is the avenue by which the person indulges in wickedness.

Instagram can be good and can be used for good, if I will let it. I'm going into more detail about this in my next post. I don't have it all figured out, but I am starting to form a plan. I am going to change the way I use Instagram and I want to share it with you as I go, because maybe you're like me and when you put your phone down there's lingering envy or discontent or disappointment. But if after it all Instagram still causes me to sin, it gets cut. No questions asked.

Either way, I confess and repent of the wickedness that lingers, and pray that God would eradicate it from me, I will repent, pray, and train my heart to love by editing my inner monologue with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This will be much harder than deleting Instagram and thinking Now that that's taken care of. This will take concentrated effort, humility, and persistence. But in the end it will be worth it, not for getting to keep Instagram, but for getting a heart that rejoices with others, gives grace, honors, and loves out of habit.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

2015 Goals!

I loved finally getting to this step! After reviewing what worked, what didn't, what I want to say YES to, what I'm going to say NO to, what my radical thing is going to be, highlighting, crossing things out, finding themes, and praying, praying, praying, I wrote out these goals. Answering why and seeing many of these things commanded in Scripture adds a lot of motivation to work at them. They are good goals because they have really good reasons behind them, and that's the heart of why I want to do them. SO, here they are:

1. Rest my soul. Whether that's being outside, going on a friend date, praying and being in God's Word, writing, etc. Set aside time to be still, to be alone, to rest. 
Why? Because I thrive in all the areas God has put me in when I do it. Because when I don't, I do things from a heart of duty rather than love. I shift to auto-pilot.
There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Hebrews 4:9-10

2. Spend time intentionally and wisely. Specifically, nap time and evenings with Andy after the kids are in bed. Planning on Sunday night helps my time with the kids during the day to be super intentional. 
Why? Time can never be given back or done differently. Wasting it comes from a lazy and entitled heart. 
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

3. Invest eternally in people outside my home. The friends God has given me, the people in my home group, the neighbors God has put around me, etc. Be for them, be a slave to them. Encourage, support, build up. 
Why? It is my reason for being where I am- God has placed specific people around me and He has plans for how I am to serve them.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

4. Say YES and try new things. With the Lord, this means laying down my yes to whatever he calls me to do, even in new situations, in the uncomfortable. With my family, this means saying yes as often as I can. Just do! Done is better than perfect. Plan new adventures once a month throughout the year. 
Why? For pure joy. To follow where God wills. To love my people well and be a servant to them.
Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-28 

5. Have a grateful and content heart. Learn to be happy in the day to day. This will include media free weekends, not complaining, preaching the gospel to myself in order to change to a true perspective. 
Why? It puts my hope fully on God and not the things the world has to offer. 
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

6. Be present and happy with my family. Limit the phone, plan fun, and just do. Smile a lot. :)
Why? I love them and this shows it best. This is love they can feel. 
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

7. Root your emotions. Do not let them be swayed by circumstance. Have a perspective built on my unchanging God, specifically in the daily details of life. 
Why? It is truly believing the gospel. And because I am moody and it negatively affects those around me. 
According to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 

8. Posses a tender heart. Specifically to God, Andy, and the girls. 
Why? With God, so the Holy Spirit can lead and teach me. With my family, so I can be gentle, without a biting tongue, because it loves well. 
All of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing...let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. 1 Peter 3:8-9; 11-12

I am sitting outside in the sun as I type this, breathing in fresh air, with a cool breeze on my face, enjoying 75 degree weather in February. God is good. These goals are good, and they are for my good. I could argue they would be good for anyone, but they are specific to my weaknesses and who I want to become in the strength of the Lord. These are the areas that He has revealed need the most changing. I anticipate that they will not be easily won. I expect a fight from the enemy. Imagine the damage he would endure if all of these goals came true. If my soul was healthy and strong from being rested, and I was busy at work for the Kingdom, not letting hours or even minutes slide by, investing in the souls of people, laying my yes down to follow God wherever he leads, lacking nothing, without distraction, loving my family with fervor and tenderness, and standing on a foundation of stone rather than shifting sand. That is a person who is dangerous to the devil. That is the person I pray God makes of me. 

{I wrote these goals as I am working through Make it Happen, after reading Interrupted, and before going to IF:Local, where these goals were affirmed, specifically by the teaching of Christine Caine, Ann Voskamp, and Jen Hatmaker.}

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

the big picture

I am still working through Lara Casey's 2015 Goal Setting and am loving how it has made me stop to dream (and plan) a really intentional year. I don't want to cruise through this year on auto-pilot and miss out on all that God has for me. Going "big picture" has been hard for me, because I'm so type A and just want the details of what to do. But thinking and thinking until a vision for the year began to form was really good for me. But first, here's a little bit of where I'm coming from:

When looking back over 2014, I felt like a passive agent, just living the life that got dealt to me that year. And in some ways, that's true and good- we are not in control. We are called to faithfully live the life that God has for us. But somewhere along the line, faithfully living slowly warped into living life like it was one big task to complete. Everything was a chore physically: giving baths, doing laundry, playing on the floor with my kids, going to the park, vacuuming. But then when my body healed, those day to day things still felt like chores, which is fine if you're doing laundry, and not fine if you're doing school with your daughter.

I don't think that's the kind of life Jesus was talking about when he said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep...If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." So if Jesus, my Good Shepherd, came and died so that I may have life abundantly, then that life needs to look different than doing chores. (And can I be really honest and say that there's a way to do dishes and laundry and vacuuming and even cleaning the toilet that doesn't feel at all like a chore?)

So that's where I'm coming from. Because I'm still going to vacuum, do school, dishes, play on the floor, clean toilets, etc. But how I do them is what needs to change. Thank you God for not being satisfied with a completed to do list. Thank you for wanting my whole heart! Because duty gets the job done, but love does it right.

What is the big picture? If I were to live out my most purposeful year in 2015, what would that look like?  It would look simple and happy. It would be me being present and content in the here and now; taking joy in what is and not looking to what might be; serving rather than being served; being FOR others in a tangible way that pushes comparison out the door. It is self-forgetfulness. It is marked by peace.

When I'm 80, I want... to have watched my children and grandchildren chase hard after the Lord, letting Him take them where He wills. To have been someone who was wholly there, even in the little moments, in the mundane, investing in eternity.

Define your radical. This year, my radical act is to not complain. Not from my mouth. Not from my heart. Not looking to how things could be better. Having a grateful and content heart with what I have and where I am, even in difficulty.

Will you help me? My lack of a filter gives way to complaining easily. It goes like this:
Anyone: Hey, how have you been?
Me: Uh...ok. Blah blah blah blah blah...(I somehow don't have the instinct to say "fine" or "good." I just give the real truth and follow it up with too much detail.) And those details can easily become a list of complaints. So if you happen to be the "anyone" in the above scenario, and you hear a string of complaints (or even just one) come out of my mouth, would you gently encourage me to change perspective? Would you remind me of the blessing?

One of the reasons I have loved going through this via a blog is that it's out there. I feel like once I write it out and post it, there is no going back. It is set in stone and there are people who are going to read it and (please) hold me to it. Because it's what God wants, so it's what I want too.