Friday, March 28, 2014

Mighty in the Chaos

Today I'm joining hundreds of other writers to write for five minutes flat about one word. No hyper-editting. No backtracking. Loving and encouraging your fellow writers. Won't you join us over here?

Today's word: mighty

Nothing makes this mama of two boys feel more inadequate than when five o' clock rolls around, I'm trying to make dinner while the kids are fighting in the next room, and I'm wondering why on earth I didn't order a pizza for dinner. I think how calm and peaceful of a person I was less than an hour ago, and somehow all of that collectedness flew out the window as soon as my five-year-old jumped into the car at the bus stop and immediately began antagonizing his younger brother.

Why did I think I was qualified to raise these children who send me over the edge of my sanity faster than the blink of an eye? Where was this temper than rages within me when I was in my twenties? As I stand here and try to dodge grease splattering from the skillet while at the same time trying not to trip over my toddler who refuses to stay out of the kitchen for more than thirty seconds.

In those nano-moments between the yelling and the tattling and the tripping over small feet, I say the only name that can make me mighty when I am weak. When I am failing.


It's all I have time to say but it's all I need. He gives me the grace that I so desperately lack. He fills in the spaces when I wonder if I'll make it until bedtime. He is my mighty warrior in the battlefield of my life filled with calls of "mama" when all I want to do is lay my head down on the pillow. 

And even though order is not restored I somehow manage to get food on the plates while the kids are still alive.

He's my power in the midst of the chaos.

Monday, March 24, 2014

When the Answer Doesn't Come

As I lifted my dear family up in prayer one day in late September, my words seem to reverberate off the ceiling and back down to me. I couldn't remember how long I'd been praying for him. Days, months, years, decades? Was I crazy to continue petitioning God for an answer that may never come? Was I truly interceding on behalf of this person or was I simply wishing for an ending that was impossible?

As these questions and doubts circled through my brain I remembered the words of Pastor Cymbala in his study, "When God's People Pray." He jokingly said the hardest part of the wait during any test or trial is the last thirty minutes. We want to give up. We don't see a result and think persistence is futile, but sometimes the response is just one prayer away.

Our finite mind's wait for an answer may seem never-ending, but our infinite God's work has only begun. Tweet this!

So, with my limited understanding of God's thoughts and ways, I continue to look upward. I pray because there have been times when I had no doubt that He had reached down and touched His hand on my life. Sometimes the answer is almost immediate.

About a year after moving to the area where we currently live, I went through a period when I felt extremely alone. We weren't making new friends the way I thought we would. We were trying, but failing, to connect with our community, and I felt incredibly discouraged. I cried out to God one day and asked Him to show me he was there with me, to relieve this feeling of loneliness from my heart.

Within a half hour, I received an unexpected knock at my door. It was my neighbor and friend who I was beginning to know, and she stopping by to drop off some hand me down clothes for my boys. And to give me a hug. Although she'd never hugged me before, that day, when I needed an act of love so badly, she did. Coincidence? I don't think so. God used a neighbor to show me He was there, and all I had to do was ask. 

Since that day, we've found a church home, formed new friendships, and are volunteering in numerous ways in our church and in the community. He has answered me in ways I never imagined. So regardless of whether the answer to my intercessory prayer is minutes away, years away, or in another lifetime, I will continue to call out in the name of Jesus. 

If you're struggling through a difficult time right now and wondering whether God hears your cries for help, know that He does. Keep calling on Him. You could be a prayer away from an answer that will change your life.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Undiluted Joy

Today I'm joining hundreds of other writers to write for five minutes flat about one word. No hyper-editting. No backtracking. Loving and encouraging your fellow writers. Won't you join us over here?

Today's word: joy


When I was fifteen years old, I met a boy who challenged everything I ever knew about joy. I was on a mission trip to a town living in extreme poverty just south of the Mexico border. This kid who was no more than twelve years old was confined to a wheelchair. Living in a home that was no more than a shack. Dirt floors, no doors or windows, hardly enough shelter to protect his family from the elements.

And he was filled with pure, unadulterated joy. It was contagious. The Light of Christ shined through him so brightly, so potently that you were drawn to him. I wanted to taste this happiness he had that was not dependent on any material thing this earth had to offer.

Joy in it's most tangible, undiluted form has nothing to do with the car we drive, the size of the house we own, or the clothes in our closet and everything to do with a God who made himself flesh and turned our world upside down when he said, "The last shall be first."

And the beautiful thing about this God, my God…the CHRIST is that when we ask for more of Him, he will never disappoint. You want to know the best part? Once he fills us, our focus is not inward, but outward. He will pour until your heart is overflowing, and you will have no choice but to spread the love that is hurting within you to touch every person you meet. 

Just one person. And the ripple effect begins.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Bravo from One Mom to Another


Today I am using my blog to do something I've never done before: to promote another blogger's book. Lisa-Jo Baker is the creator of one of my favorite websites, and has just authored her first memoir, which will be released April 1. 

Although I've only read the first three chapters, I can already tell this is going to be an awesome piece. What I love about Lisa-Jo is that her writing is in no way pretentious or self-important. She has an uncanny way of cheering mothers on while at the same time being completely, inextricably real. While taking in first part of the book, I laughed, cried, and nodded my head in agreement, sometimes all within the same page.

If you are looking for a book about how to be the perfect parent, or a step-by-step guide to raising godly children who obey all the rules, then this book is not for you. But if you are looking for writing that is authentic and genuine, which will remind you of the glories of motherhood without trying to blanket the trials and tears, join me and the hundreds of others who have already pre-ordered their copy of this spring-summer read.

You can pre-order yours right here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

When You Face Rejection

As I perused the publisher's rejection letter, I felt like I was in middle school gym class all over again, waiting for one of the team captains to call my name. The words "unable to place" and "good luck" stood out in crisp contrast to the white of the page. Although this wasn't the first time, nor would it be the last, I felt the need to crawl back into bed even though it was 3:30 in the afternoon.

One of my first writing teachers had prepared me for this. He once told me he'd considered using all of the rejection letters he'd received over the years as wallpaper for his office. His writing space. A twisted sort of motivation to keeping trying, and to submit only his best work.

As much as we try to prepare ourselves for rejection, it always stings. We make ourselves vulnerable, wrapping the essence of ourselves in words and then bravely put them on display for the entire world to see. And sometimes the world simply doesn't have the have the same connection with the words that we do.

We call out to God in prayer, asking him to bless our pursuits while telling ourselves that we really do desire his will and his timing, but when we receive the dreaded answer that we must wait, we hang our heads in despair. We don't like it. We tap our feet with restless uncertainty, trying our best to tame the fire that burns within us. Wondering how we can possibly handle another decline, another "no." But when He finally answers, we realize that his plan far exceeded anything our wildest dreams could've set in motion.

Our culture fervently screams "now is best," but God calls us to yield and rest.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mirror of An Inward State

As move through the Lent season, today I am partnering with my sisters over at She Reads Truth to take a look at a penitential Psalm from David, Psalm 38.  

She Shares Truth

Have you ever experienced a season in life when everything is going is wonderfully and you give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done? You think to yourself, "God must be really pleased with me right now. He is blessing me for all of my accomplishments."

Sisters, I have been there. But this is a very dangerous road. It leads, sometimes quite deceitfully, to legalism. Anything magnificent that we do in this life is because the Spirit reaches through us toward an aching world. It is not of ourselves.

David's Psalm-his petition to God to forgive him for his depraved, sinful state- is like holding up a mirror to the depths of our hearts. We are not worthy. Not a single one of us. None of us are entitled to the grace and mercy God freely gives to those who repent and believe on his name, but because of who He is, because of the very essence of his character and his being, he gives it to us.

David does not ask that he not be punished. He simply asks God to discipline with mercy and not anger. As a father reprimands a child, so God will often let us experience a season of difficulty or consequence to draw us closer to Him. To let us be painfully aware of our need for Him.

As we approach Him, let us be like David. He drowns out the mindless talk of everyone else who is around him saying, "But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; And I am like a mute man who does not open his mouth." (Psalm 38:13 NLT) Instead of trying to defend his reputation or plead his case, he leaves it in the Lord's hands. The safest place to rest.

When we acknowledge our sin and lay it down before God, not trying to hide or excuse it or manipulate Him into overlooking it, we find peace. We can find sweet respite in the assurance that our Savior is just, forgiving, and compassionate. 

There in his firm grasp is where our sin, our utter blackness, meets Hope. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

When Doubt Rears Its Shadow

photo courtesy of

What if self doubt didn't have the final say? I wondered as my fingers hovered over the mouse board, dancing with the idea of attending my first writer's conference. My husband and usual sounding board was away on a business trip, so I sat there for ten minutes having an inner monologue. Finally, I took the leap.

I clicked the register button. Phew! It's done. Feelings of excitement mixed with nervousness washed over me, and I rode on the high of that combination until the following weekend.

Immediately after opening my eyes and springing forward into Daylight Savings, the uncertainty seeped in. Did I honestly say that I want to meet with a publisher? I've never written a book proposal before. I have no list of accolades to add to a query or to present at this meeting. I don't have 20k + Twitter followers. Who am I to think these people would choose me out of the hundreds looking for a book deal?

At that moment, I felt like Gideon could have been my brother. God had given me confirmation before. I was brainstorming ideas for a book, had a "light bulb" moment, and prayed asking for validation of the road He wanted me to take. He provided. And here I was asking for further proof. Another push.

My devotion that afternoon led me to these verses from Job 42. "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted." As the tears welled in my eyes, I thanked God yet again for his mercy. His patience with me, even when my faith is as tiny as a mustard seed.

I know my future meeting with a publisher may end with a rejection letter. And quite possibly another may follow. But I also know this: I would rather try and fail than spend my life wondering what could have been possible if I went for it. If I went after that dream.

God placed it deep within my heart so many years ago. It's been molded and etched and pressed upon until I finally realized.

It's all for Him.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Are You Willing?

It's Friday. Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing. One word. No hyper-editing. No getting in your own way. Just writing, flat out. The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you. Won't you join us?


The question was starkly clear. I tried to dilute it with conditions. Ifs, ands, buts. However hard I tried to evade giving an answer, I knew it was pointless. Are you willing? I kept hearing the question pulsating over and over in my head. Are you willing to put your trust in Me?

As I thought about all of the times in my past when He was faithful, my confidence grew. I remembered His promises. That it is impossible for Him to fail. Impossible for him to go against his word.

With my entire body trembling, I put one foot over the boat, then the other. Perhaps that was the easy part, because I realized once both feet were on the water that a thousand distractions were begging me to take my eyes off Him. The wind, the waves, the darkness. But the more focused my gaze became, the less my doubts threatened to overtake me. I continued to move forward.

Sometimes the water and the waves overtake me. I divert my eyes for a moment. That's all it takes. But he never lets me stay beneath the surface. With steady hands, he lifts me up. Time and time again.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Never Enough Time?

There is a phrase I often hear come out of the mouths of moms. "I wish there were more hours in the day." Or, "I wish I had more time…" I've muttered something similar more times than I can count, and often find myself looking at the clock wondering where the day has gone. Sometimes I am delighted at the fact that it is almost eight-o-clock, because I know that the kids will soon be in bed and I'll get a few minutes to unwind and talk to my husband before laying my exhausted head on the pillow. Other times I wonder how I'm going to get everything I need to get done before eventually passing out.

Time. It is a precious commodity. And yet so often we feel as though we waste it or wonder where it all went. As a stay-at-home mom, time is the resource I have the most difficult time managing. Or am I just being too hard on myself? Over the course of the past several years since having children, I've pondered this question and there are a few things I've learned.

Make a to-do list if it helps you, but don't let it define you. Often I get half way through my day and feel as though I've accomplished nothing, when in fact I've gotten a lot done. I've made my kids' breakfast, helped them get dressed, packed my oldest son's lunch, started a load of laundry, and so on, but somehow I think I should have done more. Having a list, even if simply for the sake of checking things off, can give me a visual picture of everything I've achieved. However, if I beat myself up because I haven't finished all the items listed at the end of the day, I need a reminder that raising kids requires grace, both for myself and my children. Spending a few extra minutes to help my child understand his homework is more important than the dirty dishes in the sink.

Making memories is more valuable than having a spotless house. I am a tad OCD when it comes to clutter. But having kids has loosened me up and made me realize that my kids need a space to have their toys strewn everywhere without me interfering with their fun. And when my son asks me to play Legos with him? That is more important than the clothes which need to be folded. These days are limited, and there will come a time when he's not asking me to play with him anymore. Legos may not be my favorite pastime, but I can do a pretty mean Lego Batman voice and make my son giggle until my heart swells.

There are moments in your day you don't want to rush. Time with God. Time with you kids. Time with people who matter. There was a recent quote from a blog I follow that really stuck with me. God doesn't ever say, "Hurry up and come to me." He doesn't speak to me when I'm rushed or constantly looking at the clock. He speaks to me when I'm quiet. When I'm still. In the same way, my son often needs a few minutes to collect his thoughts and tell me what he needs to say. If my attitude is rushed and anxious, I will not hear it. And if I don't listen to my son at five, he's less likely to talk to me at ten or twelve or sixteen.

I also relish the hours I spend with my husband, extended family, and friends as well, and never want them to feel as though the time I spend with them is unimportant. If needed, I schedule it. I am intentional about clearing a space when, even if my kids are with me, I can enjoy their company without worrying about the need to do something or be somewhere else.

A busy life does not equal a fulfilled life. The older my children get, the more packed our schedule becomes. Between church and school activities and sports and extra curricular interests, the calendar is often filled before the month even begins. However, I've learned that we need at least a day here and there to simply do nothing. Sometimes "nothing" may mean watching movies all day with my family. Or playing at the park. But the schedule is clear for whatever we decide to do on that given day. I've met families who barely have time to breathe before their next dinner or outing or event. And they are not happy. They are exhausted.

As I look back on the years I've spent on this earth, the glimpses that stand out the most are the ones where I was loving the people I've been blessed to have in my life, and loving them well. Responsibilities and deadlines will never cease in this lifetime, but I don't want to forget to make memories that pass beyond the present. God, help me to remember the things that last. To look ahead.

To embrace the eternal.

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Constant Struggle

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

Today's word: choose


Each day, we are given a new beginning. A new mercy, a hope that rises over the horizon with a constant rhythm. We have the ability to choose. To immediately turn to the demands of our day- the emails, the text messages, and the endless list of chores, or to take a moment, and let our souls feel gratitude. Send up a prayer. Bask ourselves in our Father's truth. Equip ourselves for the circumstances of our day.

Hundreds of choices inundate us and we progress through our day. Will I let my emotions dictate how I respond to a snarky remark? Will I let my hormones prevent me from showing my husband how much I appreciate him? Let my patience crumble at the twentieth repeat of the same question from my five-year-old? Each point an opportunity. To show grace or indulge my own nature.

He loves us enough to give us these choices. He gave Himself so that we might have the ultimate choice to follow the Light or stay in the dark. Embracing life or death. 

It is so simple, and yet a constant struggle. Lord, my skin tingles with the knowledge of your thoughts toward me. My desire is to abide in you. May I forever be your humble servant. May I choose Jesus. Each day. Every day.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Doing "A New Thing" When You're Proud and Scared

I want to share a little secret with you, my readers. My friends who I receive so much encouragement from day in and day out. I've stated before that one of the main reasons I waited so long to start a blog was fear. And this is painfully true. But it was also pride. You see, I had this notion in my head that blogging was a cliche thing for an aspiring writer to do. That it cheapened it somehow. Because let's face it. Anyone can start a blog. In much the same way photography has become a saturated market, you don't have to have a degree in Journalism or be a college professor or have any list of credentials behind your name to have a website on the big, endless world of social media. It seemed the predictable, stereotypical next step after becoming a stay-at-home mom. And those of you who know me know I loathe stereotypes.

Another deterrent was that I knew if I started a blog, it would not be a typical mom or family blog. Although I love reading friends' posts sharing their kids latest antics and funny stories, I knew that if I wrote something for the internet it would be deeply personal, vulnerable and real. Because I think women have a deep seeded desire, both in mothering and day to day life, to know they are not alone. I wanted it to be a ministry of sorts. And as I stated before, that terrified me.

After resisting what I sensed was God's urging for several months, he spoke to me through a friend who I'd shared some of my writing with. Her advice? Start a blog.

You know what I've discovered? God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. I am no better than anyone else, but He chose to love me. His plans are bigger than my own. Far exceeding anything I could hope or imagine. And when I bare myself, when I lay out my heart and words for everyone to see, whether it be with scrutiny or judgement or gentleness and kindness, He gives me grace. He opens my eyes to places I never knew existed.

Although this blog is still a baby, in the eight short months since I put my tiny stamp on the internet I've become aware of an entire community I never knew existed. They have loved me without ever having met me or seen me and put aside all sense of entitlement for the sake of support and motivation. Because that's what encouragement does. It abandons all sense of worthiness or self pride for the sake of another living, breathing, God-created soul.

Through this site, my writing has gone places I may never go. I am amazed. It has skipped over continents, time zones and seasons and given an uplifting start to someone else's day. And that, dear readers, is my desire. To shine a little light into someone else's world, whatever they may be going through at that particular time in their life.

In the blogging world, I know I've barely touched the tip of the iceberg. There is so much to learn and so little time at this point in my life to absorb it. But I know that if I entrust it to God's hands, my writing will continue to take me places I've never dreamed possible.

Writing is meant to be shared. Your story is meant to be shared. Never underestimate the power of it.

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19

Friday, February 21, 2014

Small Glimpses of His Glory

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

Today's word: small


It is a lie that so many mothers feel victim to believing. That our efforts are small. Our work, our day to day life, the difference we make in the bigger picture of this world we call home. Our wiping of baby bottoms, drying up tears, cleaning messes and preparing lunches. Does anyone notice? Is what we're doing making an impact?

Somewhere, in the moments between getting my son on the bus and chasing my two-year-old away from another dog bowl mess, I find a piece of quiet. And it is in those cleansing moments that I sense the Spirit speaking to me in that still voice. So gentle, so patient. Never rushed. Never weary. 

It all matters. I am shaping tiny souls for Him, through Him. With his grace.

It matters because of the Love I hold deep within me, that I pray everyday radiates through the clay that God is shaping day by day, hour by hour. Sometimes in ways I don't understand just yet. Other times with revelation I didn't know possible. 

But each step toward Him, toward my ultimate destination is one of glory. His glory. Not my own. He keeps me from knowing the full extent to which I reflect Him at times to keep me humble. 

May His essence radiate from me more fully each day. May the small light that is my life  shine more and more.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Toward the Light

Darkness. It is a setting which existed even before the formation of the earth. Before there was light to oppose it, to shine into it. Before the two entities were separate, there was only dark. 

It only takes the tiniest bit of light to penetrate the dark. A candle, a flashlight. A kind word or an unexpected smile. But sometimes, we simply cannot see it. Our vision is obscured by negative thoughts, the seemingly futile circumstances surrounding us, and self condemnation. Our glass isn't just half empty. It is bone dry.

For over a year after having my first child by means of an emergency c-section and losing my grandmother the following day, I lived in the dark. Although I'd battled a cycle of depression for most of my life, the events surrounding the birth of my son sent me into a pit so deep I thought I would never clamber out of it. I had a loving husband who treated me with the utmost respect and a beautiful child who was healthy and the most flawless thing I'd ever done, but none of it could permeate the desolation that followed me everywhere. We lived in a gorgeous area of Northern Utah surrounded by majestic mountains and vistas through every window of our home, but I felt as though I was living in a black hole.

Mental illness is not a subject which many people like to discuss. Some people shirk around it, try to make jokes and belittle the matter, and others simply ignore it. But it is real. It affects people in various ways and the symptoms are vast, but a chemical imbalance in the brain is not a condition you can simply snap out of or escape by just trying harder. No amount of busyness could improve my mood, and when caring for a newborn, there is plenty to do. 

At my six week check-up, I told my doctor about my emotional state and was prescribed an anti-depressant. Although I have heard of many success stories from people who take one regularly, it did not work for me. My state of depression progressed to nearly suicidal. I couldn't sleep, I barely wanted to eat, and was dismally attempting to care for an infant in my zombie-like state. 

A year after my six-week check-up I had a regular OBGYN visit and my doctor noticed I was still suffering from PPD. He prescribed another pill, which gave similar results, and at that point I decided to see a therapist. For me, making the decision to talk to someone I didn't know about my emotional and mental state was more scary that taking a medication which altered my brain. I was terrified. There was pain which I had buried so deep for so long that I was convinced that if it was brought to the surface I would crumple right there on the sofa in the patient room. But admitting you need help is not a sign of weakness. It shows strength. A faith in something you may not be able to see just yet.

I would be lying if I said it was easy. There were some fervent tears shed on that couch, but I can honestly say that seeking professional help was one of the first steps I took toward seeing the light again. I was able to cope with issues I kept hidden for most of my adult life and receive objective advice and perspective from someone who was not involved. Other steps forward were finding a supportive group of moms and reaching out to the community around me, becoming involved in our church and serving others. Each of these actions opened my eyes to the big, bright world around me. But the biggest step was surrendering all of my burdens to a God who is greater than my fears, anxiety, or self-loathing. He is a God of peace, love, and mercy.

For several years, I never shared this experience with anyone except for my closest friends and family. Now, I share with anyone who asks. I want people who feel as though the light will forever elude them to know there is hope. Even when you don't see the light, it is still there.

I believe in a God who often uses medication and science to heal, but this method clearly didn't work for me. Sometimes the most difficult step toward healing is admitting you need help. Saying no, I'm not fine, and being okay with that. The worst reaction you can have to depression or mental illness is to ignore it. Restoration begins with admission that there is a problem.

Acknowledging the dark is the first step toward seeing the light.

"'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” John  8:12

Friday, February 14, 2014

It Lies Beneath

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

Today's word: garden


It is that time of year when I have to remind myself that the garden is still there. Beneath the many inches of snow and cold, there is the root of the rose. A daffodil here, a bleeding heart there. Though I can't see them, though they remain dormant for a season, they will return. The warm air and the longer days are so near I can almost see the fireflies flitting through the air.

So it is in life. A time and a season for everything. Sometimes I feel as though God is so close I could almost reach out and touch him, and other days he seems silent. But he is always there, always within my reach. I need only call on his Name. He will never leave.

Oh God, help me to remember when life is dark, you are the ever present light. There is no darkness in you. Even when I can't see the light, sometimes, after penetrating deeper, I see it lies beneath.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

To My Valentine

To the man I married:

You are kind and compassionate. You put others needs above your own, and have an innate sense of knowing when someone needs help but is afraid or too proud to ask.

You are a hard working man of integrity.  When no one else is dependable, you are the person who rises up and completes the task without expecting anything in return.

You make me laugh when no one else can.  When I take life too seriously and feel like I've lost the ability to smile or be silly, you remind me why laughter is so important.

You put your family before work. I know that when I'm too sick to get out of bed or something unexpected happens, you will be there.

You're an amazing father. You're not afraid to be completely goofy and childlike with our kids, and they smother you the minute you walk in the door.

You believe in me even when I don't believe in myself. You encourage me to pursue my God given dreams and use the talents and gifts He gave me. When I am negative and critical of myself, you remind me that with God I can move mountains.

You put God at the center of our marriage. You know that without the Creator of all things, including marriage, as our focus, we will always fall short. But with Him all things are possible.

My love, you are all these things and so much more. I thank God for bringing us together and look forward to all He has in store for us in the years to come. On Valentine's Day and every day, I love you for the incredible man you are.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Just Write

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

Today's word: write


I write because it brings me peace. An irreplaceable peace. When my thoughts are pounding against the crevasses of my brain too fast for me to keep up, writing slows me down. It makes sense of the senseless. It makes me sit down, even if only for five minutes in the craziness of motherhood. And breathe.

My heart beats faster with each syllable, and the joy is complete when I read the others' stories. Their thoughts. Their heart. I discover I am not alone.

Sometimes the words come fast and steady, like a waterfall after the spring thaw. Other days it's like pushing through a dense fog. Searching for the right string of syllables, not knowing it's right there within my reach. Sometimes the silence is overwhelming.

I keep moving forward. I write my way through the unknown until my vision is cleared.

And I realize are messengers of our story. Because it is not ours, but God's. To open up a window and let the light that is your life shine for all to see...that's pure love.

We were not made to live in the dark.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When to Let Them Struggle

My five-year-old and I snuggled on the couch a few nights ago as I sat listening to him read his bedtime story. I was so gratified. So filled with pride. But more than that, he was proud of himself. We've been reading one page a night for several weeks now and have almost reached the end. He sounds out each syllable and puts it together as I smile cheer him on and think to myself how big my boy has gotten. I close my eyes and think how far Chris and I have come on this journey called parenthood, with all it's ups, downs, twists and turns.

Looking back on that evening I realize it's a beautiful illustration of a lesson I'm learning. Day by day, moment by moment. I have to let my kids be free to fail. To struggle. To learn things for themselves. To see me fail and no it's okay. For weeks, when we presented Jaden with a new book he wasn't familiar with he'd say, "I can't read that. It's to hard." We'd push and encourage him to try, until we eventually caved and either picked another book or read the more difficult one to him ourselves.

But what do these actions teach our son? When something is difficult to walk away? To never try anything you're afraid might be too hard? No, this is not the kind of message I want to send to our kids. So finally one night, we sat and we made it through one page. And then another and another. One step at a time. 

To see the look of sheer joy and fulfillment on my son's face afterwards was more reward than I could ever need.

I know not every battle will be as simple as making my child read a book. There will be times when I need to step in and fight for him, and situations he's not equipped to handle yet. But there will also be times when I have to let him grapple. To fall to brush himself off, and to get back up again. Sometimes only to fall again. Because these trials are part of growing up. Of learning to stand on your own.

Watching my sons struggle is one of the hardest parts of being a mother, because  my maternal instinct begs me to swoop in, do the hard stuff for them, and make everything better. But if I'm constantly doing all the difficult things for my children, they will likely grow up thinking they can't do anything for themselves.

I want to raise boys who are confident in their God-given abilities, not boys who are afraid to try.

God, give me the wisdom to know when I need to put on my lioness suit, sweep in and save the day, and when I need to back off. Help me to raise children who are not afraid of failure, because failure is part of growth. May they become strong men of faith, sharing your love without fear of timidity. Amen.

"'See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in Heaven." Matthew 18:10

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Forever a Superhero

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

Today's word: Hero


He will forever be remembered as a superhero. A six-year-old boy whose life was cut far too short, but today his classmates smile as they tell stories of laughter, speed, and integrity. The fastest kid on the playground, the one who never broke a promise, the boy who always raised his hand.

They wear shirts in every color with emblems of characters who light up the cinema with their daredevil tactics and their tenacity for rescue. To defeat the bad guy. To save the day.

But as that final balloon is released into the the clear winter sky we are reminded that this boy was no work of fiction. He was real. And the collective sense of loss too palpable.

He will forever be remembered as a superhero, but to his Father, he's a son who has come home.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hope in the Unseen

This past week has been one of the most emotionally draining I've experienced in a while. I wrote in one of my posts from last week that I'd been experiencing an inner turmoil of sorts, like I was waiting for something to happen. And something has. Nothing that I ever would have hoped for or imagined, but the unthinkable. The tragic.

You see, I serve as Co-Coordinator of our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, which is an amazing ministry of women who support and love one another during all of the ups and downs of motherhood. We introduce women who may not know Jesus to a Creator who loves them unconditionally in a non-threatening, neutral environment where many simply need conversation with another adult and time to recharge. Many women who've never stepped foot in church or simply stopped going are drawn to it as a result of MOPS.

Last Friday, I was informed early that morning by our Coordinator that one of my friends and very active members of our group had experienced what I can only comprehend as the worst kind of loss. Her son had died.

I had woken up several times the previous night and unable to fall back asleep, had prayed. Although I didn't know what requests to bring before God or what was making me so restless, I felt the unspeakable need to pray. When I awoke the next morning and checked our MOPS Facebook page, I discovered why. The mom had posted that her son was in the hospital, had coded and was on a ventilator. So again, I came before God, not sure what the status of the situation was. Until about fifteen minutes later.

When I volunteered to become a MOPS leader, I knew that difficult times would arise. It never fails. I began my leadership experience in Utah about a year after giving birth to my first son. But I never dreamed anything like this would happen. My immediate response, which was the repeated sentiment of the leadership team, was that we did not feel equipped to respond. We had no words. We were grief stricken, spent much of the morning in prayer and tears, and any condolences we could offer felt trite and hollow.

As I sought wisdom from the Lord through prayer and spoke with family, our Pastor, and a friend who had also lost a child, I heard the same reply repeated over and over. Be there. That's it. There is nothing you can say that will do much to ease the pain. Just be there. So that's what we did and will continue to do throughout this process.

Over the course of the week, as acquaintances have responded with questions, comments and support, I've experienced emotions ranging from sadness to anger to grief, and I cannot, I will not presume to know what the family is going through. I've been made painfully aware that there is indeed a difference between curiosity and concern, and that while some people will try to mask one as the other, it doesn't take much guessing to see where the heart really is. Concern says, "What can I do to help?" Curiosity says, "What happened? What are all the details?"

One question which we all ask, and one I know the mother has already grappled with, is, "Why?" Why would God allow this to happen? And that I simply cannot answer. My heart feels as though a weight has been placed on top of it, and glimpses of my children running and playing over the past few days remind me how blessed I truly am.

What I do know as that God is good even when life isn't. And although that may sound cliched or simple, if I had faith only when life's circumstances were joyful, well my faith wouldn't really be worthwhile or helpful. If I trust God only when life is easy, where will I go when life is hard? Although I've never experienced loss of this magnitude, I've gone other places when existence is painful. Places that further added to my pain.

Jesus is my hope because nothing else makes any sense when everything crumbles. If I had all the answers, it wouldn't be called faith.

A few days after all of this happended I received my quarterly MOPS magazine. Wow, what a blessing that was. Filled with great articles and encouragement. I was near tears, reading an article entitled, "Don't Lose Heart: The Unseen Truth" when I found just the verse I needed to hold onto in the coming weeks. It has become my mantra.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

The only words that have brought any peace to my heart are His words.

Although I cannot see Laken, I know his Heavenly Father sees him. The Creator who made him and loves him with a love so deep and wide I cannot fathom it. Although I don't always see the good in the ashes laying all around me, I trust that the Spirit will bind and mend and heal in a way which only He can.

If there has been a light in the midst of the dark this week, it has been my MOPS group. Any differences have been put aside to focus on what is important, and wow, what is important has become starkly clear. There is an unspoken unity among us. We share the same heart and purpose, and I've been honored to work alongside such a compassionate group of Godly women. 

I know that our entire team is devastated by the events of last week. We grope along, trying to find the best ways to comfort this wonderful mom who has just had her heart broken. Sometimes, we just have to take the next step in faith, even when we don't feel as though we have the equipment. When we don't think we have what it takes. Those are the moments when the Spirit steps in, he takes our hand, and reaches through us.

Toward those who need us the most.

We place our hope in the unseen.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Last Visit

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

Today's word: visit


Today a sweet little boy's visit on earth came to a close and he reached his eternal home, his Father wrapped his loving arms around him and took away every hurt, every fear and pain. Today two beloved parents, along with their three kids, made a trip home from the hospital with one less passenger in their vehicle. And as her friends try to process, try to grasp something tangible in this bottomless loss, we are continually stuck with the truth that words cannot do much at a time when the grief is so deep.

We lift up our hands and we question but the why is just a vapor in the dry air of winter right now, not finding any place to land or comfort to ask.

We reach out, we love, through our actions and our presence. We lift up her name and the names of each of her family in prayer, trusting our Sovereign Lord to do what only he can.

Words are weak. God is strong. He is more than capable.

Jesus, help us.


I ask anyone who reads this to please say a prayer for a dear friend and her family who are hurting right now. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Restless in the Wait

My mom is on a purge cycle that has lasted for the past few, oh I don't know, years? She likes to go through their attic and mail me her findings from my school years. Most of the things she sends me I look at, think, "Why?" and throw in the trash. Moving as much as we have over the past six years does that to you. However, several months ago I made my trip to the mailbox and discovered this little treasure, which I wrote circa 1992.

So I was 13 years old. And apparently unimpressed with the church service which was taking place while I scrawled it out on the back of their bulletin.

I chuckled off and on for the better part of the afternoon after receiving this poem, which my mom had saved all these years.

It made me think about church, faith, and even after decades have passed, the boredom can still seep in if I allow it. My spiritual life can become as dead as the leaves lying under the six inches of snow in our back yard if I am not constantly stimulating that muscle, that need, that ever thirsty, never satisfied taste for living water.

Sometimes I feel as though I'm waiting for that next "big" thing to happen. That next milestone or move or valley or opportunity. I become restless, searching for the next door or window, only to find it isn't there. But the great cost in living this way, in feeling this constant internal turmoil is that I miss the grand moments that are happening right there in front of me. Tiny miracles. A sunrise over a fresh blanket of snow. A new word or phrase from my two-year-old. A question from my oldest son which needs a well thought out answer instead of being brushed off.

Cuddling with my little ones on the couch and chasing them around the play hut as they play hide and seek? That's important. Making sure my son understands his homework? It matters.

Today, after being stuck in the house for the better part of three days between sickness, snow days and school cancellations, we went to Chick-fil-a for lunch. Although it was blistering cold out, the sun was shining the the fresh snow, the sky was a clear blue, and a beautiful day for a drive. On the way home, Jaden requested to ride on the "bumpy road." An unpaved, dirt road which is haphazardly placed between our road and one which runs parallel to ours. My kids love it. So as we're bouncing around, putting all of our SUV's four-wheel drive capability to the test, I let myself soak it the joy of this little fragment.

In this life, we will never fully "arrive." We aren't satisfied because we are eternal beings, our souls ever aching, always hungering for our Father and home is in Heaven. That next "like," next hit, next trip or pair of shoes or event? It will come and pass, but we'll still be craving more. In the same way, as followers of Jesus, our journey to become more like him never ends. There's always another step, another leap, another leg of the race. He is the only One that can truly satisfy, but that the same time we must constantly refill our cup until we reach our everlasting destiny.

There are seasons when we need to act, to move, and moments when we simply need to be still. To listen. To wait. Oh God, do I loathe waiting. Ironically, one of my favorite verses in Scripture is Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God." Perhaps because so often I cling to those words, knowing they will quiet my spirit, even if just for a little while.

God, give me the wisdom to know the difference. To not look down at my pedometer and see that I've taken twenty steps when you prompted me to take one. Help me not to become spiritually vapid during the stillness but ever anticipating, ever hungry, ever yearning for You.

As I wait on God, I am comforted by these words from Sidewalk Prophets. I hope for anyone else out there who is feeling restless, they give you peace as well.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Outside of Yourself

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

Today's word: Encouragement


I wasn't expecting the knock on the door that afternoon in mid-September when the Utah leaves were just beginning to turn the vibrant shades of orange and red. I almost didn't answer it. But when I peeked out, there was my new friend standing there, goodies in hand for the new mom, her own two kids standing on either side of her.

The new mom. That was me. And although I wasn't sure what day it was and couldn't remember the last time I actually slept and was feeling pretty embarrassed by the fact that I was still in my p.j.s at that hour, I let her in. My deep seeded need for human contact, adult contact, any type of contact, really, was so loud it ached.

Although I tried to make excuses why I needed to stay at home, to clean or do dishes or something, she got me out of the house. In to the bright sunlight and the brisk fall breeze. And as I began to walk, I felt better. Exhausted, but alive.

It takes a special kind of person to see outside themselves, even for just a moment, and take off the blinders of everyday life. To not worry about everything in any given day of the week and to reach out, to see what's in the peripheral, to see the woman right beside them who is lonely, weak, and in need of encouragement.

I thank God that on that September day, my dear friend extended her hand during my time of need.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sharing it All

I lost count of the number of unfinished books I have sitting on the shelves and in the library tab of my Nook. Oh, I've finished plenty at some point or another. But it's crazy to think of how many I've opened, excited by the smell of the newness of it or the title glowing on the tablet, only to put it down several weeks later and leave untouched for months or even years. There are so many aspects of life where this habit is easy to fall into. Our health. Our fitness. Our finances. Our relationship with God. We think that our in our inertia, something will change despite our lack of effort and unwillingness to act. 

I'll quit smoking after I have one more cigarette. I'll start my new exercise regimen right after I eat this donut and watch Grey's Anatomy. I'll talk to my kids about Jesus as soon as I read this article about how to talk to my kids about Jesus.

That last one? Me. Guilty. It's not that I don't share. But I sometimes I hesitate or stumble over my words. It's awkward when I feel as though it should be easy.

You see, and I'm going to be completely honest here, when it comes to sharing the Gospel with my kids, I often struggle. I overcomplicate it. I confuse even myself. There may be some moms out there who have it all figured out and impart the greatest news of all eternity to their children with grace and ease, but me? I'm not one of them. Maybe it's because to me, telling my kids about my Savior is one of the most important things I could ever do, and I don't want to mess it up. And seeing my kids follow Jesus is my life's greatest desire. 

Let me just interject here and say I know it is not up to me. That it will be the act of faith my children take and the grace of God that saves them. Not me, certainly not me. But do I believe I play an oh so important role? Absolutely.

One fact I've learned about kids: Kids are simple. They haven't taken philosophy 101 and will not bombard you with questions about why God allows bad things to happen to "good" people. Kids, at least at my boys' ages, believe because you believe. And while I know it will not always be this uncomplicated, at this stage in their lives I need to embrace where they are.

Having discovered that, I found a series of books that Chris and I began reading several months ago with Jaden which he absolutely loves: The Hermie the Caterpillar books by Max Lucado. I discovered Lucado's adult writings a few years ago and have grown leaps and bounds in my walk with Jesus as a result of them, but I recently found that he also has books for children. The Hermie series does an amazing job of explaining prayer, forgiveness, and growing into the unique person God created you to be. When we first started going through these books with Jaden, he wanted to read them every night.

I also found a great children's devotion, which is a little above Gabe's level but is perfect for Jaden: Five Minute Devotions for Children by Pamela Kennedy. It is filled with beautiful watercolor pictures and draws parallels between various animals and the way God cares for  each of us.

Another hard lesson I've learned: comparing my kid's spiritual walk to other kids, or whatever I perceive theirs to be will not only drive me nuts, but will not accomplish anything. When I see another mom post on Facebook that her four-year-old just accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior I think, "That's wonderful. Beautiful." I really, honestly do. But I also wonder, "Am I missing something here? Is there something I should be doing that I'm not?" 

Then I remember, that with all the moms and dads God could have chosen to parent our two amazing boys, he chose us. He chose us for a reason. 

Our kids are as special and unique as the fingerprints their messy hands leave all over the house. They, through their own act of free will, will make the decision to follow Jesus in their own time. I believe it. I trust it to be so.

Lastly, if we earnestly seek God's help in our parenting, He will give it. He will give it abundantly. If we need encouragement and reassurance, He will give it freely. A few weeks ago I was beating myself up about all of the aforementioned things, and my boys left for a couple of days with the grandparents to give Mom and Dad some much needed alone time. When they returned, we were refreshed, missed them terribly, and after showering them with hugs and kisses sat down to dinner with family, which included two of their cousins. One of them suddenly says excitedly, "Can we say the grace?! Can we say the grace?!" And then I realized my little Jaden was saying the dinner prayer with them while he was away. And they were joyous about it. It was just what I needed at that moment in time to say, "Keep going. You've got this." It was huge.

With any aspect of my life, if I want to see growth I have to act. I have to be intentional. And my kids? Well, if I'm not talking about Jesus then chances are they aren't going to be either. I can take them to church, AWANA, Sunday school and the like and all of those activities are time well spent. But the people my kids look to at this oh so important, fleeting stage in life for the answers, the lessons, the grace and the discipline are their parents.

God has carried me this far, and I know He will be just and faithful to guide my steps on the journey ahead. I cannot do it on my own, but with His strength lifting me up, all things are possible. Things beyond my wildest imagination.

"Come to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3