Stretching in the Gap

Stretching in the Gap

It was a rare moment; I had the house all to myself.

I was on my knees, feeling overwhelmed, praying to God for each of my three daughters by name.

Who can weather these times?  How can I effectively parent my children so they grow to fear God, love others and be the gift they are?  I lay my tear strung questions and bleeding heart before the Lord.

In the midst of my overwhelming emotions and questions, I sensed the Lord urging me on: “keep stretching in the gap”.

I’m Right on Time and You’re Speaking My Language {And That Makes it Hard to Love You}

I’m Right on Time and You’re Speaking My Language {And That Makes it Hard to Love You}

It was hard to go overseas; it was a sacrifice. But now that we have been home six months, I want to let you in on a little secret: I think doing missions during my day- to-day life in my own city and my own culture is even harder. It definitely is not easier.

Mommy Missions

Mommy Missions

I don’t rub shoulders with too many unbelievers.

But God showed me that just because this was true, didn’t mean that I was somehow in the wrong place, had built my life in a way contrary to His will, or couldn’t be used to impact a hurting world in need of Him.

He laid on my heart that for each person who rings me up at the grocery store or Hobby Lobby, I can offer something in return: I can offer to pray for him or her.

And that’s it. Or is it?

Uncomfortable: A Story About an Introvert in Youth Ministry

Uncomfortable: A Story About an Introvert in Youth Ministry

But that’s kind of the beautiful thing about following God. He puts you in places where you’re 100% uncomfortable and out of place to show the greatness of who He is. Did I want to be in a job where I’d be forced to stand and share in front of people every week? No. Does God seem even more awesome because I’m allowing Him to work through my weakness? Yes.

Uniquely Equipped

Uniquely Equipped

What if families were intended for more? What if our families were meant to be a subset of the church, with open doors meant to serve and care for those in need? To be honest I'm not entirely comfortable with these questions, these thoughts. I am a definite introvert, and my home and family are my safe places.

But then I look into those giggling brown eyes, and I see the answers. I see that the Lord intended big, restorative things for family. Families are meant to bring healing and redemption. Family exists, just like the rest of creation, to point others to El Roi, the God who sees, to echo the redemption and restoration of the cross.

I see this every time that beautiful, now two-year-old boy smiles easily into the face of someone he doesn't know or confidently waves goodbye to us knowing we'll be back. I see that by offering nothing more than our family, and Christ within us, this boy was given a chance, a new beginning.

Seeing Glory in the Grind

Seeing Glory in the Grind

The big picture is this: we are raising the next generation. Mommas, we are raising the next generation.

This is huge. And the days in which we live? It is an all-out battle for the minds of our children.

The world will offer confusion. We must teach truth.

The world will push for selfishness. We have to teach servanthood.

The world will tell them what they must do to be loved. Our children need to know they are loved by the One who paints the sunsets.

The Road I'm Taking

The Road I'm Taking

Eventually I moseyed down the path of realization that I was giving myself the “I'm Just Average” message. BAM! It was like being hit by a bus.

All those times I thought I was somehow being humble by not being passionate about things, or I believed I was being loving and kind by agreeing with someone to avoid conflict, it all just came down to me not having any self-confidence in who I was. The fear of failing at something crippled me. Not trying too hard was my mantra, and if something didn’t work out: “Well I didn’t really try my hardest, so I’m not too disappointed.”

Needy Neighbor

Needy Neighbor

I don’t want to be the Needy Neighbor. I don’t want to be the one who looks in the mirror and sees Haggard and Depression staring back on these cold winter days. I don’t want to be the neighbor who wakes up to only 27% battery power every morning.

It’s difficult to think about generosity and hospitality when we feel like we have so little left to give. It’s hard to remember that in our weakness God makes His power known.

I might cry out, “Lord, I have so little to offer!” And maybe He’ll reply, “Looks like five loaves and two fish to Me. I can work with that.”

Be a Church that Welcomes Other People's Kids

Be a Church that Welcomes Other People's Kids

While there is a difference in how deeply connected we feel to our own kids compared to others, there shouldn’t be a difference in how we welcome or commit to supporting all the children within our church’s walls.

Choosing to see my son and daughter’s faces on other children also teaches me deep sympathy. Knowing how much I love my children helps me realize how much “other people’s kids” are loved too, how much their parents wish for their child’s protection and wellbeing.

Don't Waste Your Life {an exhortation for the overachiever}

Don't Waste Your Life {an exhortation for the overachiever}

More than the busy of my calendar, what’s made me really fatigued is the unrest of my soul.

I have been working hard. I have always held the bar high for the condition of my home, what I feed my family, how my children dress and behave, and our education. 

But I have never felt that I measure up.

Always evaluating, always striving. Always squeezing in one more thing. Harping on myself for spending money on myself or our home, even though it wasn’t a poor financial choice. Wondering what more I can do for starving children, sex trafficking, natural disasters, the poor in our community. Feeling constantly guilty about something.

Never resting in His grace.

Christmas Is For The Mourning, Not Just The Merry

Christmas Is For The Mourning, Not Just The Merry

Christmas is not just an invitation to the broken hearted, beat down, depressed, and mourning to join in the fun that all the merry folk are having. Christmas is for them. Christmas is for those who mourn, who recognize their neediness. It is for those who see and say, “I am broken, and I am hurting, and I am a sinner. Save me.”

It Wasn’t #GivingTuesday; Is That Why He Didn’t Help Me?

It Wasn’t #GivingTuesday; Is That Why He Didn’t Help Me?

No, there isn’t anything wrong with Giving Tuesday, except that maybe it should be called, “Give Whatever Cash You Have Left After Black Friday and Cyber Monday” Tuesday. But days like Giving Tuesday, and the mindset that outreach is a single, isolated event that we do around Christmas, should sound off a few alarms at how seriously we take Christ’s commands to love our neighbors all life long.

Get a Free Download from My Book!

Get a Free Download from My Book!

So, I want to do us all a huge favor and take a break from talking about that one thing that happened this week. Instead, let’s talk about the second most taboo subject for anyone to mention pre-Thanksgiving. And that is: Christmas.

{Why yes, you are more than welcome to reach through your screen and backhand me with your pumpkin spiced latte if you so wish.} But I promise this post about Christmas comes with a Christmas gift as well – A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM MY BOOK!

The Political Gospel {and other things I won’t fall for this election season}

The Political Gospel {and other things I won’t fall for this election season}

1. I will never fall for the Political Gospel.

The Political Gospel is the idea that checking a box next to an imperfect person's name on a ballot will be their ticket to either Heaven or Hell. It's the statement that says, "You can't call yourself a Christian if you vote for that candidate." While our political views indeed stem from our faith, the only thing that can save us is to cast our vote with the one perfect Man who ever walked this earth. {John 3:16}

A Conversation About Race Over Chicken Tacos

A Conversation About Race Over Chicken Tacos

Our stories – mine and Candacee’s – are different too. She grieves her father. I grieve our baby girl. And as we sit next to each other, as we share about who we’ve lost, our two-hour conversation starts to make the slightest bit of sense.

Because, listening.

The best way to support those who grieve is to listen, to give them space to feel, to hurt, to bleed without rushing to find a bandage or insisting it’s already all better.

Maybe the brokenness of our city is meant to be grieved too. Maybe mourning with my African American brothers and sisters who mourn is at least turning my head in the right direction. Maybe when tragedy happens I need to push aside my assumptions, my comments and labels, and just dwell for a second: “That was somebody’s daddy. Somebody’s son.”

Because then the tears will surely come.

Life Would Be Easier if We Didn’t Have to Live It {And Other Lies Depression Tells}

Life Would Be Easier if We Didn’t Have to Live It {And Other Lies Depression Tells}

But mostly, I felt ashamed.

I was supposed to be happy.

I mean, I was happy sitting in the hospital room, holding our precious newborn baby boy. I hadn’t felt that happy in a really long time. But in the six weeks since he was born my hormones came crashing down, I had no motivation to do the things I usually liked doing, and there was a huge knot of anxiety on my chest when I faced packing up our apartment into boxes. All I could get myself to do was sit on the couch and stare at the empty boxes, frantically rocking our colicky baby and trying to handle a strong-willed toddler.

A rainbow baby was supposed to be the wonderful conclusion to a really tough couple of years. But now here I was, filling out a quiz that would tell me I don’t get to decide when the hard stuff in life is over.

Why We Gave Up Most of Our TV Time {and why it has been awesome}

Why We Gave Up Most of Our TV Time {and why it has been awesome}

Turning on the TV after our kids went to sleep became such a habit that I was starting to put pressure on myself to watch television for at least a half hour before bed every night. As in, "Well, I'm exhausted, and I really should go to bed, but of course I can't until I watch an old rerun of this TV show I have seen seventeen times."

What in the actual what?!

I don’t even know where this unnecessary pressure was coming from, but I don’t want to feel that way anymore. I don’t want something meant for entertainment to become a priority in my life, to take away time from things I enjoy working on and wish to accomplish. To take away from my actual priorities.

Here Goes Nothing {the new title, the gorgeous cover, and the opportunity to join my launch team!}

Here Goes Nothing {the new title, the gorgeous cover, and the opportunity to join my launch team!}

I lied to you. I told you my book was going to be called Gentle Whispers, but that is false, so I apologize.

When I first introduced the title eight months ago, I mentioned that the book is kind of like a Midwestern casserole: it covers a lot of different topics. For that reason, Thomas Nelson and I weren’t sure if the main ingredient of the book was potato or beef or vegetables.

You see, in the book I prayed each day for thirty days: 

God, help me to maintain the joy of being Wife and Mommy amid the daily grind. To see the world through Your eyes. To live intentionally. To build relationships and share Christ’s love with our neighbors. To learn what it really means to give. To collide motherhood with mission.

And when you pray prayers like that, you receive a casserole variety of answers.

Grace for Those a Step Ahead or a Step Behind

Grace for Those a Step Ahead or a Step Behind

The other day I had a great conversation with my sister-in-law, the moral of our discussion being this: People often have a hard time giving grace to the people one step behind them.

And I am so, so, so guilty of this too:

You think you’re “tired” because you had to wake up at 6 am this morning? Try having kids.

You think life is “hard” because you had to study for an exam? Try having kids.

You think you’re “busy” because you have basketball practice and homework tonight? Try having kids.