Thursday, December 29, 2016

Let them lead me

Things feel very challenging right now. In the midst of boxes stacked high in our small apartment, and heartbreaking goodbyes and sad lasts in our last days here, I am craving normalcy and praying for peace.

I have always sucked at transitions.

I held Cooper for about an hour last night as he fought against heavy eyelids and sleep. He snuggled close and pulled my arm tighter against his body, looking up at my face and whispering "hi mama" as he touched my chin with his sticky little fingers that smelled of sweet peanut butter.

I closed my eyes, pretending to be asleep in hopes that it would encourage him to close his eyes too. He chattered and giggled to himself, saying "bat bad guy" over and over again laughing quietly. When I peaked at him a few times, he was staring at his hands raised up toward the ceiling, waving them around and turning them over, finally bringing them down to cover his nose and mouth and giggling some more. Then he turned his head and touched my chin again... "My mom.... My mom..... My mom" he whispered firmly over and over again as if he scolding someone invisible.

As he laid there as close as he could get to my side, I realized that in the midst of the chaos of boxes and cleaning and questions and uncertainty and sorrow... there is peace and rest here too. There is so much comfort just being still in the presence of my good, good Father. His hand sustains us all.

"why are you cast down low, o my soul?
why are you cast down low and in turmoil?
hope in God, for I shall again praise him,
hope in God, for He is my salvation...

send out your light and your truth
let them lead me"
-Sandra McCracken

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Watch and pray

Though Chris finished all of his ordination exams and was ordained about a year ago, I still struggle to call myself a pastor's wife.

It has been a good, hard year.

Last fall in the months leading up to his ordination, I felt so much fear and worry over this life of ministry. I was very preoccupied with whether I had both the capacity and competency to do full time ministry. Honestly, I actually had a panic attack that Sunday during church in the hours before Chris took his vows.

In all the anxiety surrounding the ordination service, I had forgotten where to go... where to look. My head had been bent so low that all I could see were the things I wasn't good at and where my feet might stumble.

Lift up your head, oh my soul.

Lift up your eyes,
I lift them up to You.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord.

This Lord? The one who was in the beginning, the one who made the Heavens and the Earth is the
same one who sits in the dark places with me, the one I trust with my deepest wounds, and I have learned that I can trust him with this too.

Though fear and worry still struggle against the truth, He has taught me to sit with Him, the Lord of all things... He has shown me that I have security in His love, that it is right and good to strip away the layers I tacked on thinking I needed my own carefully placed metal armor. He has shown me tenderness and mercy in ways I never knew I needed. He has taken my roots deep into solid ground, to the place where hope abides and heals.

I am His child. I am made in His image and I am beloved, just as I am. My worth and value are never in question with Him.

He has set the sun and the moon, and He has set me as well.

These are the truest things about me, whether or not I am a pastor's wife. They are yours too.

I do not want to keep my head bent so low... there is so much beauty and hope and life to see when we lift up our eyes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Come and be loved

Have you ever thought that we view others as mirrors? 

I can't remember exactly where I heard this (and I know I'm paraphrasing and plagiarizing this) but it has been rolling around in my head for months. 

What if we stopped viewing ourselves in relation to what someone else looks like? What if we stopped measuring ourselves against the person in front of us, and stopped imagining how our images lined up with theirs, as if theirs was the standard.... or worse, as if our image was the standard... 

What if when we looked at the person staring back at us, we just appreciated them for the unique and wonderfully made human being they are? 

I don't want to be a mirror that calls others to look and compare themselves or judge themselves against my standard. I have no standard. I have no standard because I did not receive a standard to achieve when I ran to my Father and climbed up into his lap. 

I received so much gentleness, so much kindness and grace when I deserved none of it. My hard heart... my bitter, angry, unrepentant heart did not in turn recieve bitterness and hardness. I received a gentle hand... 

an invitation to sit and cry, to be comforted and accepted and loved.

We are called not to fit a standard... but in our uniqueness together... as broken and imperfect as we may be, we are called to reflect the gentleness, the kindness, the acceptance and the comfort of a Father who longs for us to draw near to Him. 

This is His church. We are His people.

And the closer we draw near to Him... the further we shrink back from the things that tempt us away from our Father... we are transformed by his infinite love for us. How could we not? It is irresistible. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016


There is a lie that masks itself as truth, putting on church clothes and behaving nicely in the row in front of us. It sounds like wisdom, this lie, penetrating deep into our hearts.  

It was a battle, a feat to get out the door to church that morning. Everything in you screamed to stay home, to stay where it was safe under the covers, but you went anyway. Late, of course, you snuck in the back hoping no one notices the mess you know you are. 
Your heart is longing for the acceptance, for the peace that comes with security. 

You are not as good as you should be, a quiet whisper brushes past you. 

Our clothes may be neat, our homes may be tidy, but our minds hold a mess of doubts and questions. Am I accepted? Am I safe? Is there something I still have to do, what can I do?? 

You are not as good as you should be reverberates inside your head until it makes its way to your heart, taking hold of you. 

But we must not believe it. We must fight against it... This lie. 

But fighting does not look like working. There is no good work you can do to gain the security and acceptance we long to have. There is no work you must do before you can rest. That is not our fight to win. 

Fighting looks a whole lot like resting. 

Because it is. 
Fighting... faith... It is a resting. 

We rest in the unchanging, never stopping, always and forever love. We rest, lavishly soaking up the security and love of our Father. 

And in our resting, we gather up our friends to come with us. 
Come and rest, we confidently say. You are more loved than you ever dared to dream. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hope, 7 years later

It started the day we found out Owen had died. It came from friends, a few family members and my doctor. 

It will be better in time. You'll have more babies. It gets easier. You're still young, you can have more. Time heals all wounds. 

What those words offered me was hopeless. Time does not heal. Grief's burden does not get easier to carry. Having a child that lives will in no way replace Owen or take my grief away. Maybe I will never deliver a living child and being young certainly does not guarantee a body that is able to carry a child to term.

I found no hope in their words, all except one.

Jesus loves you. He loves you... my pastor boldly proclaimed to me at Owen's funeral.

16 months later by God's grace, I am able to say, boldly and without shame... 
Yes. Yes, He does. And in these three beautiful words we have great hope.

I cannot hope in time, for in time more suffering may come. I cannot place my hope in having living children. I cannot hope for a reprieve from suffering on this earth, because I will always be disappointed. If I place my hope in something that is passing, something easily shaken, then when it fails- where will I turn?

But if we place our hope in the Lord, we will never be disappointed because He is unchanging.

And we will have great hope.
Hope that we will never be abandoned. Hope that when everything else is gone, He will never forsake us. Hope that when I leave this earthly home, I have a Heavenly home waiting for me.

Hope that one day, all things will be made right. 

It has been 7 years since I wrote these painful, beautiful words. At this point in my life, I had no idea if I would ever know what it was like to hold my living children, to raise them and watch them grow up. I had no idea I would be given three babies to hold in my arms. I had no idea. 

But I knew hope. I knew hope, because I knew Jesus. I clung to him like he was a lifeline amidst waves that threatened to drown me. 

Do you want to know the truth? 

I have days that feel scary, and hopelessness presses in. Waves push against me, threatening to overwhelm me. I still struggle with questions of why, Lord? and prayers that sound more like bargaining... please Lord, no, please help...

But even in struggling.... my hope is still unchanging, unshakeable. My hope is Jesus, who is secure. 

In a world full of insecurity and brokenness, in a body that struggles and fights within itself, I cling to my Jesus, to be nearer and nearer to Him, to know Him better. 
He is still my hope. And oh, how beautiful, how precious it is. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

this hearts desire

my eyes prick with the sheer beauty
of this ordinary life.
the squeals and smells,
the sweetest of smiles,
the passing glance as they run by
feet plodding underneath with imprecise precision;
so sure of where they're headed...
to adventure,
to Joy indescribable,
to the exciting unknown;
full of beauty, sorrow, pain and loss
full of hope
with a heart securely loved. 

Monday, January 25, 2016


I've been writing here for seven years, and have written so much of my heart about grief and struggling and hope and waiting and all that comes with it. I sometimes feel like I am becoming a broken record. 

But I realized recently that I still need to hear the same things over and over, that I still am learning the same things over and over again. 

You're free and that's all I'm trying to say. If you weren't free then Jesus wouldn't be who he says he is.

never want anyone to feel like there is no freedom to ask God 'why?' or to go to the Father with our questions. We have such great freedom to unashamedly go to our Father in Heaven and sit in his lap and cry our eyes out asking 'why?' There is so much freedom to struggle over and over again with the same things for the rest of our lives. 
He loves us. He cares. He is much much more patient and kind than we can imagine.

When Jesus comes back and makes all things right, there may not be a single question on our lips. It may not matter at all why. And the whys may be a part of God's secret things that we can never know.

But... but that doesn't mean that at some point in our lives those questions aren't important to us. Those burning questions of why, the messy struggling in this broken world can pull us into a deeper relationship with God. They can cause us to run to Him and fall into His lap, a sacred place.

The burning we feel from the questions can start to fade, in time. But it is not by someone telling us not to ask, just to 'let go and let God'. It is not after someone tells us that the why is not for us to know. There is great freedom to ask why... to ask anything. It's true, we may never get an answer. We may never feel a peace about the why.

And if there is no answer, no peace about the whys.... in the end, we're still sitting in His lap, talking to our Father and we can find peace and rest in who He is

I remember the first time I ran to the Lord after Owen's death. It was just over a year later... it was raw and in broken sobs, collapsed on my husband's shoulder. I cried out, begging for reassurance that the Lord had not abandoned me. I had lost another baby, our third, and I was desperate for answers. 

Eight years later, I have found no peace in the why of Owen's short life, in the loss of our babies. I still don't understand. I still ask why sometimes. I still cry my eyes out and struggle with the reality of their absence. 

But I do have peace. There is rest. 

My tears soak through, then stubbornly dry and then fall again... and I look down and realize I've never left His lap. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Balance and a tight rope walk

Sky gray
Snow blown about by the freezing wind.
Coffee warm in my hands,
Growing cool as I linger over thoughts of quiet,
Daydreams of naps,
covers drawn over my head. 

I have spent this past year longing for balance. Balance of time, energy, homeschooling... you name it. Having three children in 4.5 short years was definitely not the plan... I spent a couple of heartbreaking years wondering if we would ever have living children.

These three little boogers are amazing, precious and oh, the love... this mama love is incredible. 

But I need to back up... You must know that having a second child (and then a third) rocked me to my core. Three years ago, I kissed my husband and two year old goodbye as they bounded out the door for a daddy date. I crawled back in bed, pulled the covers over me and snuggled down to write and think. The night before we had finally gotten 'the CALL'. The call where your case worker congratulates you and your husband on being chosen by a birthmom and you fall on the floor crying and laughing. 
It was a great night. 
The next morning as I relished in daydreams and happy anticipation, my phone rang and our caseworker's number popped up again (aptly named in my phone 'BABY'). Dread filled me as I felt it could only be bad news. I never expected her to say that our birthmom had gone into labor the night before and that she had a healthy baby girl. We thought we had four to six weeks to prepare! I paced our apartment as our caseworker explained that though she was early, the baby girl was healthy and would be ready to leave the hospital tomorrow.... and would we be able and willing to bring her home then? 
Yes. YES! You can only imagine our response. 
Almost exactly three years ago, we drove fifteen minutes down the highway to meet our baby girl for the first time and bring her home. 

Being Ruby's mom is one of my greatest and challenging roles. It is a privilege and an honor. My love for her is far more complex and beautiful and deep than I could have imagined that snowy January day three years ago when we first learned of her precious life. 

I know comparing children is always a recipe for disaster, and I honestly never intentionally did that... but, you see... I had certain expectations ... as well as a self righteous, grace-less perspective on parenting.

Hannah was a laid back, "easy" baby. By the time she was 10 months old, she was sleeping soundly 12 hours each night. She napped three hours in the afternoon for years. Hannah Mae was not prone to tantrums or power struggles as a toddler (but has so.many.tantrums at five!!). I had so much of my identity wrapped up in my ability to be a "good mom" and in the fact that my kid was "easy". 

I really did think there was a formula to being a good mom and that I had cracked the code to having a tantrum-less, easily correctable and laid back good sleeper. 

Ever since Ruby was a very small baby, she has struggled with sleep. At almost three years old, I don't think she has slept through the night yet. She is high spirited and easily frustrated. She has always known exactly what she wants to do or say, and not being to do or communicate that will cause a screaming fit on the floor. My tried and true techniques just did not work. 

And oh, the mess of anger, guilt, failure and resentment that caused in my heart. Ruby is just a normal kid with normal kid behavior, but my heart elevated her behavior and her lack of response to my formula to dangerous heights because I had staked my identity on whether or not my kids were "good" and if they were, then that meant I was a "good mom".
Being what I had defined as a good mom was my highest aspiration. Of course, I didn't really know that was what I was doing in my heart, but it is now painfully and shamefully obvious as the past year and a half, I have become more irritable, less patient, more angry, and less gracious to my kids. Especially less gracious to my oldest daughter as I realize that I have boxed her into the role of the "laid back one" who doesn't have tantrums... except she does have tantrums now and struggles with emotional regulation (just like her mom). I have been walking a tight rope with my kids, focusing on behavior instead of their own individual hearts. 

Please don't hear me say my love for my kids depends on their behavior. It is not that all. 
The heart of the matter actually is much much more about my heart than their behavior. 

These past three years of parenting two (and now three) differently built children and I have been longing for more... more balance, more order, more time, more sleep.
(I really don't thing that those are bad things to desire... seriously, especially the sleep! Oh especially the sleep.) 
I have felt a growing ache in my heart recently that maybe what I have actually been craving was more grace, more mercy, more freedom... more Jesus. 

What if in seeking so desperately for balance in this chaotic life, we find that the balance is a man... and his name is Jesus. 

My prayers these past few months have been full of contrition and brokenness, and of hope...
I long to provide my kids a safe place. A place to be themselves, to mess up and to struggle. A place to be loved as they are. A place to see grace over and over and over again. A place to experience Jesus.