Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Do not drift away

"We must pay close attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." Hebrews 2:1

Precious Emmy and Boone,
I am sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by cereal boxes not yet in the recycling bin, folded laundry blanketing the living room and a sweet ray of sunshine warming these cold fingers. And I am filled with gratitude and joy. God has met with me this morning. He is sweet to do that. What is man that He should care for us? It is so humbling to know that the Creator God, the God who set ALL THINGS in motion, desires to have MY heart. He is jealous for my affections. He wants my mind to be set on Him. Because He knows NOTHING will satisfy me and give me joy like His unfathomable glory.

My sweet babies, this world is so loud. It's ridiculously easy to forget what is real and what is truth and what is life giving. Hebrews tells us to pay close attention to God's truth so we don't get swept away in the current of deception and evil and death. Does that sound a bit dramatic? It's not. "The thief comes only to STEAL and KILL and DESTROY; I have come that they may have LIFE, and have it to the full." John 10:10 That is not a taciturn statement. Nor shall our response be taciturn.

I am praying for you both this morning. I am so humbled by what God has called me to do next year. I am worried God sent the memo to the wrong gal. Teach my kids? At home? Be a kindergarten teacher? What? Don't you know me at all Lord? I'm pretty sure I'm not cut out for this job. No cute, organized, gentle, patient woman anywhere near this house. You both have tasted the bitterness of my sin many times: the bitterness of my anger, lack of self control, laziness.

And yet I'm your mama. And I love you so much it hurts. All. The. Time. Sometimes I have to walk myself off the ledge of panic and anxiety because my fear says you will be taken away by some horrible accident. I have to run into the arms of my sweet Jesus and let him remind me that he is real. And he cares. And he loves you both more than I do. In those times, in this moment, he reminds me we are more than conquerors in him. He reminds me his grace is sufficient. He blesses me with a peace that surpasses ALL understanding and a joy that is palpable. So, did he pick the wrong person for this mama job? Undeniably! Is he who he says he is? Absolutely. We have nothing to fear as we move into this unknown place of homeschooling and private school. As long as we all remember we are not enough, and He is more than enough, I think we're going to be ok.

And Daddy and I will start putting away money for your future counseling.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Little Man and a Little Island

Is this not one of the cutest faces you have ever seen? Two weeks ago Joel and I embarked on our ten year wedding anniversary trip. We chose to vacation in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Picture a beautiful beach, a laid back island culture, numerous nationalities in one hotel and that begins to set the scene for our wonderful vacation. Before we left for the Dominican, we discovered that a school we had heard many things about via our church and friends who had lived and served there firsthand was a mere 30 miles from our hotel. We took a side trip to Colegio Makarios (which means "blessed" in Greek) and are forever changed. I cannot wait to see where God takes us in terms of a desire for the people of the Dominican Republic to taste and see and know God. In the meantime we are praying for that little man (his name is Juan Carlos) who is a kindergartener at the Mak school. His home life is horrific and we have heard he is in pretty desperate need of a family who loves him and will care for him. Stories like his are far too common in the Dominican because of the high level of poverty and lack of education.

Won't you pray with us? We will pray big things like restoration for families and hope for the hopeless. We will rest on the truth that God is redeeming his people for his glory. No amount of brokenness or loss or terror changes that. He is so good. Amen.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Why Do We Have "Quiet Time" With God?

The manna of one day was corrupt when the next day came. I must every day have fresh grace from heaven, and I obtain it only in direct waiting upon God Himself. Begin each day by tarrying before God, and letting Him touch you. Take time to meet God. To this end, let your first act in your devotion be a setting yourself still before God. In prayer, or worship, everything depends upon God taking chief place. I must bow quietly before Him in humble faith and adoration, speaking thus within my heart: "God is. God is near. God is love, longing to communicate Himself to me. God the Almighty One, Who worketh all in all, is even now waiting to work in me, and make Himself known." Take time, til you know God is very near. - Andrew Murray

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I had a mini break-down on Mother's Day. I'm pretty sure I had a mild panic attack. I could not get the funk out of my head, tears were waiting for just the right moment to make their way down my cheeks, and the exhaustion I felt was overwhelming. I told Joel he needed to take the kids to church without me and then I got back in bed. And slept. For three hours. When everyone got back from church I made my way downstairs to eat lunch. During the course of the meal, Emmy informed me that she had given me the title "Queen of Headaches" at which I put down my fork and walked back upstairs for a good old cry and self-pity session. I felt like an absolute failure. I felt lonely. I felt sad. I felt like a waste of bones and skin and breath. Not fun.
Luckily I am blessed to have some amazing friends, one of which called me after reading a desperate text I sent her in response to one she had sent earlier. She listened to me cry and blubber on about my fears and sadness. Then she read Isaiah aloud to me and prayed.
God is so good to get us out of the pit of despair. I had slipped in and wanted to sit in the muck and stale darkness because it felt too exhausting to battle my may out. Thank goodness we have a God who fights for us. Thank goodness for dear friends who will take the time to remind you of truth and gently point you to Jesus. I decided to believe that the power that lives inside me is greater than the power of the enemy. I decided to get up and have courage to face the day. I decided to reach out to some folks and offer love despite feeling empty. In response to that obedience (yep, I admitted I did something right. I obeyed) God filled me with energy and joy and patience and breath. I felt a peace that surpasses understanding. Really. Not making it up.
The other day I was reading Isaiah 26 and sensed God calling me to really digest verses 3 and 4. "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is fixed on you. Trust in the Lord forever, for God is an everlasting rock." I texted this verse to my Young Life girls. I prayed it over myself and my family. A day later I open a book Joel is reading just to see what it's about and on the front page there is my verse. I felt known and loved in that minute. I truly sensed God's presence. He speaks. He is real. He is faithful.
Depression is an ever-looming monster I battle to keep at bay daily. I cannot imagine battling this without the Lord. Praise God that He holds me fast and protects me from myself. It is far too easy to fix my mind on the negative and become discouraged in a world that feels frantic. God is sweet to provide a way out. I pray you would never let me go Lord. Remind me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

For Emmy and Boone

Dear Emmy and Boone,

You are both asleep in your rooms right now. I just left the grocery store empty handed after realizing we had no money to buy the groceries piled in our cart at Costco. On the way home I screamed at you both for some minor disobedience. Now I sit here battling the urge to feel sorry for myself and let discouragement ruin this gift of a day. You will have these days. You will wonder why God ever chose such a wretch to be His. You'll wonder if the power of the Holy Spirit actually dwells in your heart. I hope. I hope you will wrestle with these things because this will be a picture of how you desire to be like Christ and still have to put up with the enemy before Christ comes back.

My blog began as a sort of love letter to you both. I want to continue to share my journey with you so that when the time comes and I am no longer by your side, you will have a bit of my journey on hand. Why? So you can be encouraged as you cling tightly to Jesus. I pray you would come to know Him as I have. I pray you would agree that Jesus is Lord and nothing else in this world will ever satisfy your soul the way He CAN. I love you both.

I just read this blog post from our friends who are living in Africa right now. It encouraged my heart.
Exerpt from Jeremy and Christina Gabrysch's blog:
"How are you doing spiritually?” Have you ever been asked this question? I have. In fact, I probably have asked other Christians this question. But as I study the Gospel more and more, I see that it’s just not about how or what I am doing. It’s about what Christ has done. The problem with this question is that it forces me to come up with some laundry list of spiritual disciplines or ministry activities to justify myself. And the Gospel reality is that we are utterly unable to justify ourselves. Only Christ through his active obedience and death on the Cross can do that.

Tullian Tchividjian puts it this way: “To focus on how I am doing, more than on what Christ has done, is Christian narcissism (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) – the poison of self-absorption which undermines the power of the gospel in our lives. Martin Luther noted that "the sin underneath all our sins is the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and that we must take matters into our own hands.””

Now, I know that the well-meaning question I opened with isn’t aimed to undermine the gospel. I believe it is asked to provide some accountability or perhaps to be compassionate if things “aren’t going well.” And perhaps to celebrate if things are going well. But that’s my point. What are we celebrating? That I am racking up the spiritual disciplines and/or ministry activities? Or in the other case, what are we bemoaning? That I am failing to achieve that which Christ has already achieved for me? (By the way, this brings up accountability groups. Don’t get me started on those…)

The Gospel takes us outside of ourselves. It’s not about us. It’s not about a moral improvement program that cleans up the outside. It’s about what Thomas Chalmers called “the expulsive power of a superior affection.” We must focus on all that Christ has already done, and the riches and the right standing that we possess in Him!

The next time someone asks me this question, I will answer like this: “You know what? I’m actually doing pretty bad spiritually. I daily have to die to sin and remove myself from the throne of my own life. I daily have to fall on the good grace of God in Christ just to make it through the day. Thank God for the Gospel! It’s the only hope I have.”

Or maybe I’ll just say I’m doing fine, thanks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Picture This

This past weekend I had the honor of taking photos for a friend's wedding. Initially, Joel had wanted to hire an old friend who is a real photographer but because it was such late notice he was already working (the couple had just gotten engaged on Monday and planned the ceremony for that Saturday!) We knew they needed someone there to chronicle such a special day and were left with the only viable alternative - me. I do not claim to know the first thing about professional photography, but I do enjoy taking pictures and feel I have somewhat of an eye for what looks good in a picture. I also have several friends with really nice cameras who are very sweet to let me practice. My good friend Christal loaned me her Canon SLR and armed with that and my limited knowledge of how to use that technical camera (thank you Ali and Cary) I set out Saturday morning. 
When I first showed up at the location I quickly realized I had forgotten how to use the manual setting and the basics of Aperture and all that other technical jargon. I had a mild panic attack as I blanked and was afraid I didn't even know how to take one picture. Then I remembered that little button at the front of the camera, you know the one you push to make the shutter click. Then I also remembered the provided automatic settings. Whew. So I slowly climbed out of the truck, praying I wouldn't screw up this precious couple's photos.
I took 945 pictures.
It was so much fun!
I had even more fun when I got home and played around with the editing tools on Picasa. Who knew photography could be so addicting? Aside from the fact that it was an absolute honor to do this for two very deserving people, the whole photography process was really exciting and served as a truly fulfilling artistic outlet. 
So here's my take away: One, I wanted to make sure I got this down on computer screen so I don't forget such a neat day. And two, I was reminded of how important it is to do things like this that inspire my creative side in the midst of being a stay at home mom. Even as I write this I have just had to deal with two fighting preschoolers and a major poop in the pants potty accident. It is easy to lose perspective and feel like you are living in a very small fishbowl. I love my two babies. Immensely. Would give my life for them. I know how blessed I am to have a faithful and giving husband and a home to live in and food to put on the table. But there are days when I feel like my brain cells are being sucked out of my head and depression is just lurking outside the front door of my heart. I am continually tempted to ask incredulously, "Is this as good as it gets?" like a spoiled child. I become restless and bitter, thinking I have somehow missed the boat for the "real" life I had planned back in college.
I truly believe God gives us opportunities to taste the goodness of His gifts so that we don't lose valuable perspective in the middle of the journey. As silly as it may sound to anyone else, God loved on me in a big way by letting me take part in this little wedding. I felt a sense of the bigger picture and had a chance to get out of the vacuum of my little world. I also tasted the sweetness of a thankful heart, which is good medicine for the soul.
These are some of my favorite shots. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Blue Crush Dream

If you know me at all, you might be aware of the fact that I am mildly obsessed with a dorky surfer-girl movie called Blue Crush. The first time I saw it I just knew I would one day be an amazing surfer. I could feel the saltwater running through my veins. This past weekend, I got the chance to reach for my Blue Crush dream.

While on vacation in North Carolina with two of my dear pals Alison and Cary, we took a little side trip to the beach. Cary surprised us with surfing lessons! Alison said she'd take pictures because she would rather have her fingernails pulled out than have to be in saltwater for an extended period of time.

So Cary and I got suited up and met the coolest surf instructor named Jo.
Don't we look like two legit surfer gals?

We started off learning the basics. I could feel my inner surfer girl just itching to burst out.We checked the line up. Yup, I know the lingo.

One of several iconic photos to follow. (Isn't Alison a great photographer?!)
 Then we headed out.

Looking for some sweet waves.
Right off the bat Jo told me to go for a wave I was in perfect position for. I started paddling and rode that bad boy all the way to shore. On my stomach. Oh, you meant try to actually surf? I got caught up in the pure joy of the moment and was perfectly fine to just boogie board.
Cary, on the other hand, was not. This girl was not messing around. She wanted to stand up some kind of awful. The learning curve is a bit high though and she did ingest a bit of saltwater.

What happened?

Cary's first time to get up on the board. Do you see the absolute elation on her face?!

Don't I look cool and serene out there waiting for a wave? Well, that wasn't quite the case. You see, it was about this time 20 minutes into our lesson that I started to realize my dream was about to end. Every time the sea would move under my board, my stomach would lurch and my throat would tingle. My head started pounding and I felt like the breakfast bar I had eaten was about to become fish food. I was SEA SICK! I have had this problem since I was little. Car rides, carny rides, air plane rides- they have all wreaked havoc on my inner ear for years. Whenever I fly, I always check for that little bag in the front pocket because I know I will probably need it during landing. My tolerance for boat rides out on choppy water is nil. I get greener than a tree frog and feel as miserable as a drunk monkey.
So I sat on my board, torn by my desire to conquer the board and my lurching insides. I hung my head low and sadly admitted to Jo and Cary that I was a lightweight and needed to get out of the water before I lost my cookies. As I paddled back in dejected and sick, I gave it one last go.

And that's as close as I got to being Kate Bosworth. Lame.

But Cary was a natural! She had so much fun and I think it was more fun to watch her and cheer her on with Ali than actually being in the water. She was cracking us up being such a ham for the camera. I don't think she came off her surfing high all day.

Jo offered to come with us on a surfing trip to Costa Rica with all of our families some day and teach the whole fam-damly. Wouldn't that be a blast? I would just need to be sure to bring a small truckload of anti-nausea medicine. I will keep the dream alive. Thank you Cary for such a fun experience and many thanks Alison for being there to get it all on film.