Monday, December 30, 2013


I did it!!!

I finished reading through the Bible in a year!

Actually I finished it a couple of weeks ago.  Then I got sick.  Now I am finally ALL BETTER! 


And I couldn't wait to get back into the Word.  So a couple of days ago I opened up my Bible... and just stared at.  

I wasn't sure where I was supposed to turn.  What should I read? Do I start over?  Do I try the flip and point method?  What am I supposed to read next?  Well for whatever reason I settled on James.  My youngest child is named James (although we call him JT) and it seemed like as good a place as any to start.  

Instead of reading the 5-7 chapters a day I had been reading I wanted to just focus on a few verses at a time so I read chapter 1:1-4.  That's it.  And I have been thinking of those 4 verses ever since.  

Scholars estimate the book of James was written around AD 50 for the purpose of  encouraging Jewish Christians in their faith.  Many Christians during this time were being persecuted and as a result fled Jerusalem, scattering throughout the surrounding lands.  

James attempts to encourage these Christians by telling them to "consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials."  These trials will help develop perseverance (one of my least favorite words).  This perseverance will help you become mature and complete in your faith.  Ugh, perseverance, the mere mention of the word causes me to shutter.  The thing about perseverance is you KNOW it's going to be hard.  Nothing that is easy has ever required perseverance.  By it's very definition to "persevere" means to be steadfast despite difficulty.  There is no doubt about it, perseverance is tough!  James isn't the only who uses that exact word to encourage Christians.  Paul uses it often too (Romans 5:3-4, 2 Cor. 12:12, 2 Thess 1:4).  So I am left wondering, why?  Why is perseverance so important and what does James know about it?

To begin with, I am guessing James know quite a bit about trials and perseverance   Scholars believe that this James is not Jesus disciple named James, rather, THIS James was Jesus 1/2 brother.  The oldest son of Mary and Joseph.  This James grew up with Jesus, he knew him his whole life.  

Perhaps it is because of the Christmas season, but I have found myself wondering this week what that would have been like for James, to grow up with Jesus.  Of course Mary and Joseph knew from conception how very very special Jesus was, but do you think they told their other children?  Or did they simply raise Jesus just like they did their other kids, with the same chores and responsibilities?  Did they tell the other kids about his birth?  How it came about and  who all was there?  Mary pondered these things in her heart, yes, but did she ever share the story with her other children?  Did they ever tell the other kids who Jesus REAL father was?  We know Jesus had several other brothers and sisters (Matthew 13:55), and we know that initially in his ministry his brothers did not believe in him, they didn't understand who he was or what he was doing (John 7:2-5).  So my guess is Mary and Joseph never told them.  I don't know definitively, it's just my guess.  But I think all James saw, initially, was his big brother.  Not God himself.

And I imagine that it made it really, really difficult... trying even... when Jesus first began his ministry.  I imagine that James, even more than the disciples, faced ridicule and persecution.  Let's admit it, we have all had times when our family has embarrassed us.  But claiming to be God's son?  That has to take the cake!  The people from Jesus home town were not accepting of him, we know this from Matthew 13 and Luke 4.  Jesus was able to shake off the ridicule, he WAS the Son of God and he knew it!  He KNEW he would be rejected and it never bothered him, but how do you think it was for his family?  For his brothers?  For James, the younger brother who looked up to him, who wanted to be just like his older brother?  Don't you think it took some perseverance to get through those time?  

I have never been truly persecuted for my faith.  I have never been in any danger or had my life threatened.  But I have been left out.  I have been teased.  I know people who have judged me as less because I put God before the rest of the world.  I have been embarrassed of and by my faith before, especially in my younger days.  And it has taken perseverance (I still REALLY don't like that word) to get where I am today.  To be mature and confident in my faith.  To know the people who judge me as less are wrong, and to love them anyway. 

Do I like the idea of perseverance?  No, not at all.  But I think both James and Paul were right.  Growth is hard.  Maturity is difficult.  And they both require perseverance.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

I Am Not a Fake

Have you ever felt like a fake?  

Have you ever felt like perhaps you have every one fooled now, but sooner or later they are going to figure out that you aren't who or what you claim to be?

I have felt that way a few times in my life.

I felt that way the first time I held my newborn daughter in my hands.  The doctor smiled down at me and said "She's all your's mommy!"  And I felt like a fake.  I was no mommy.  Yes I had just pushed out a 7 pound baby but that did NOT make me a mother!  I had NO IDEA what I was doing and I was pretty sure someone was going to figure that out pretty darn quick!  Honestly I had to sign more papers to adopt our dog than I did to take home a baby.  But slowly, with LOTS of mistakes and a couple more kids (while still managing to keep the first one alive), I started to feel like a parent, not just a fake.

And then a couple years ago a friend of mine with younger kids came to me with a question, she said something along the lines of me having this parenting thing all figure out, and I felt once again like a big huge fake!  Is that really what she thinks?  That I have this figured out?  Do I act like I have this all figured out?  Because let me tell you, I don't!

My kids fight with each other.  They fight with me.  They have horrible table manners.  They don't clean up after themselves.  And when I am fed up with it all, I yell.  I make idle threats, I stomp my feet.  I too often am a complete failure at this parenting thing.  We took them to an indoor pool yesterday for "family time" and I sat in a chair at the side of the pool reading while my husband and kids had family time!  I don't have this parenting thing all figured out!  And if I have ever led you to believe that I do then I am a fake.

The next time I felt like a fake I was sitting in a small church basement in the inner city.  That morning at church my pastor had asked me if I thought I had teaching gifts.  Let me preface this with the fact that I was on my way to teach his children!  I felt like the only appropriate answer, seeing how I was TEACHING HIS CHILDREN would be to say, yes, of course!  So he told me to come to the church that evening.  What I didn't realize is that he was asking if I had adult teaching gifts, like preaching.  Did I want to preach?  Oh, well, that's different.  I felt like a fake just being there.

But I am nothing if not stubborn so I stuck it out.  There were 5 of us our Pastor had recruited to be part of a teaching team, to take the pressure of constant preaching off of him, none of us had any type of seminary or preaching experience, and we often joked that the disciples were not seminary trained either, but they seemed to do okay.  Still, the first time I got up to speak in front of a congregation I felt like a fake.  I was pretty sure most of the  people in the congregation knew more about the Bible than me.  Who was I to teach them anything?  I was nothing but a fake.

That was years ago.  These days I actually do have some seminary training, but I still believe it isn't absolutely necessary in order to be a Bible Teacher.  I still look at the disciples and all they did just from following Jesus and living as he did.  I truly believe anyone can do amazing things when they obey the words of Jesus and live like he did.

This year I had an extra special Christmas present in my inbox.  An opportunity to write on a regular basis for another blog.  I am overjoyed.  This is what I have wanted, what I have prayed for since I started writing years ago!  I couldn't have been more excited!  And then they asked for my background.  And once again, I felt like a great big fake.  

I don't have a background, at least not a writing one.  My background is this blog.  My background is journals upon journals of pouring my heart out to God.  My background is one children's book no one ever published and a magazine article that was accepted but never printed due to the magazine shutting down.  I felt like a fake.

The good news is God will use anyone, even a fake like me, to further his kingdom, to spread his love.  He doesn't discriminate based on age, sex, or educational level.  He loves us all the same, and uses each one of us in the way HE has gifted us.  This may or may not have to do with our training, education, or skill that happens to bring home a paycheck.  God will give us all the skills we need to do what he has set out for us to do.  And when you are doing what it is God wants you to do, you are not being fake.  You are being more real, more truly you, more truly the person God put on this Earth for you to be, than at any other time!

You my friend, are not a fake.  And it turns out, neither am I.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Merry Christmas!!!

It is 8:42 on Christmas morning.  In my house the presents have all been opened (we were up REALLY early).  The kids are off playing with all their new treasures, Erik is making the frosting for Jesus birthday cake.  A silly tradition but one small way we try to remember exactly what we are celebrating today.  

Life is good.

It was my intention this past week to write more consistently, to spend the week prior to the birth of our savior reflecting on the real reason for the season.  It was not my intention to spend the last 6 days sick.  But alas, our plans are not always God's plan.  Instead of writing I spent this past week juggling exhaustion, aches, pains, coughs and fevers with Christmas cookie baking, games, and family time.  I have 3 dozen cookies that never got frosted.  A wonderful brother who took my kids sledding when I desperately needed a nap. And a mom who took care of all the cooking!

This Christmas, more than any other, when I just couldn't do all the extra's, was a wonderful reminder of just what Christmas is all about.  As I carved out time and energy for only what truly mattered.  Family.  Christ.

It wasn't about Christmas cookies, pottery, the perfect present.  It was about time spent together.  It was about love, hope, peace.

It is with all that in mind that I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Stop Counting

I have a really really bad habit of counting.

I count the number of people who read my blog.  I count the number of people in an audience when I speak.  I count compliments.  I count criticism.  I count just about everything.  

The truly ironic thing is I don't like counting.  An accountant I will NEVER be (I know you're not supposed to say never but really, I will NEVER BE AN ACCOUNTANT!)  

And yet I count.

Every day.

Silly things. 

Things that I know really don't matter.

Is my worth as a Christian, as a child of God, reflected in the number of people I reach?  Of course NOT!!!  I KNOW THIS!  I do.  But still I count.

It struck me this week, how little God cares about numbers.  I sat on the floor in my living room during quite time one day and just stared at the beautiful nativity my mom hand painted for me (I know she is very skilled!).   And then  it hit me.  Numbers really don't matter.  

We don't know exactly how many people were there by the manger the night Christ was born.  There was Mary, and Joseph of course, an unknown number of shepherds (my nativity has four) and angels (only one in my set).  And some wise men, although Bible never really says how many Christmas hymns have somehow assigned the number three.  But really, the wise men didn't come until years later.  So the night of his birth, the night our savior came to Earth, the one night that you think God would have called a huge audience, he didn't.  Why not?

Because God has never been concerned with numbers.  Just with our heart.

A few years ago I had the great privilege of hearing Pasty Claimont Speak at a Women of Faith conference (incidentally, she was speaking to thousands- but that's not my point!).  She is a  woman of God who for years battled debilitating depression and suffered from agoraphobia, not leaving her house for years.  Once she found Christ and started the process of healing she was so excited to do big things.  I have this quote from her written in my journal, " I told God I would do anything for him and he told me to make the bed!  I wanted to do something big and he wanted me to make the bed!"  

Some days I feel like that.  I want to do so much, impact so many, shout from the roof tops, but God doesn't care about that.  He cares about my heart.  About whether I am managing what he has already given my well.  And too often I don't.  My bed, right now is not made (good thing he was telling Patsy that and not me!) My kids are watching TV rather than having me play with them.  There are still gifts  to be wrapped, cookies to be baked and clothes to be packed, and a house that desperately needs to be cleaned and we leave in 5 hours!  Clearly something is not going to get done.  

I think somewhere along the way I may have missed or changed my point, but I think this is what I am trying to say.  God doesn't care what the numbers are.  He has never once, NOT ONCE, compared you to anyone else.  He doesn't need you to stand in front of an audience, write a best seller, or change the state of the world.  But he does want a transformed heart in you.  He wants you to do well the tasks he has given you to do, even the teeny tiny ones.  

So if you are like me, stop.  

Stop counting.

And just do.

Do it not for the audience, but out of love for the one who sent his Son as a little baby, that HE, not you, HE might change the state of the world.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lesson From God #2145

There are so many things that we as parents are supposed to teach our children.

Yes their teachers take the brunt of the academic teaching, PRAISE THE LORD!  But we all know how many hours we spend teaching our kindergarteners how to read, our fourth graders their multiplication facts and state capitals, and our fifth graders long division and how to write an essay. 

On top of the academic skills, we must teach our children how to ride a bike, tie their shoes, play fair and what proper hygiene looks like (on a side note my kids have not yet mastered this one!).  We are to teach them life skills like cleaning up their own messes (something my kids are doing RIGHT NOW as a matter of fact!) and helping others.  

If you are a Christian we have the added responsibility of teaching them about Christ, how to talk to Him, how to read the Bible, to memorize scripture and be humble.   We are to teach them what the big God story is and what their part in it might be.  Deuteronomy 6:7 says we are to impress God's law upon our children to talk about Him when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we get up and when we lie down.

Frankly, it is all a bit overwhelming.  

It seems like every moment of every day could/should/would be filled with intentional teaching of all the MANY things we are charged with passing on to those in our care.  So yesterday I sat down with my children and intentionally taught them…nothing.

Nothing.  Not one thing.  

We all snuggled together on the sofa and watched TV, mindless TV no less.  Nothing was learned, no significant memory was made, no deep conversation was had.  We simply enjoyed each other's company.  It wasn't a silly time, a serious time, or even a necessarily fun time.  It was just time, spent together.  And at the end of the day one of my little munchkins said to me, "Thanks mom, it was fun just hanging out."

Huh, who knew?

Once a week I really try to spend some time with God in silence.  This is something that  does not come naturally or easily for me.  The idea is in these moments, I am not talking TO Him, not asking for anything, just sitting with him, waiting for him to speak.  And I am quiet.  So I can hear Him.  Because let me be frank, I am a loud person, some times it is hard to hear others speak when I am moving my mouth.  So once a weak I sit and I listen so I can hear what it is God has to teach me.  Ironically today he taught me…nothing.

No profound inspiration was revealed.  There was no light bulb or big AHA! moment.  We just hung out, God and I.  And you know what?  It was fun, just hanging out with God. 
I think I expected him to teach me something each and every time I was ready to listen, but I realize know that isn't what it is about.  It's just about time, with Him.  Being there in case there is something He wants to teach me, but also understanding that won't always be the case.  Sometimes God just wants to hang out.

Huh, who knew? 

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Perfect Gift

'Tis the season.

We are all making our lists and checking them twice.

The stores are crowded with people searching for the perfect gift.

My list seems to be never ending.  Every time I think I am making progress I remember someone else who deserves some kind of gift or token of my of appreciation.

Yesterday, my church held their annual Walk to the Manger Service.  It is a beautiful, awe-inspiring rendition of the nativity story.  One that brings tears to my eyes each and every time I see it (even when I see it twice in one day)!  At the end of the service each person in the congregation is invited to come up and lay a gift at the feet of Jesus.  You get to walk right up to the manger, complete with a real live infant, and present a gift - from you to Jesus.  The gifts that are collected are given to a ministry that makes sure children whose parents are in prison, still get gifts on Christmas morning.  

This year I couldn't help but wonder as I looked at the precious baby portraying Jesus, what I would give if this really was Jesus?  If he was here today, what would I give him?  Would I go with something practical, perhaps a new podium for his speaking engagements?  Would I choose something sentimental, something just Jesus and I would understand?  Or would I go for a prank gift?  Come on, you know God has a sense of humor!

The thing is, Christ is here today.  And there is something he wants, and each one of us, already has the perfect gift to give him.  You see the Bible tells us that all of us, everyone, has been given a spiritual gift, and this gift is the kind that is meant to be re-gifted!  Think of it as a "must return" policy.  To fully enjoy this gift you have already been given, you must use it to serve others.  You receive it, and then you have to give it away.  Give it right back to God.  

Perhaps you are thinking the "spiritual gift fairy" (by the way that fairy's name is actually The Holy Spirit) passed you by.  But alas, he has not.  Scripture tells us a lot about spiritual gifts

1.  EVERY Christian has at least one spiritual gift.  (I Cor. 12:7)  It might not always feel like it but you are a loved and fully gifted child of God.  He has bestowed upon you all his love and the gift or gifts that he has specifically picked out just for you.  You have one, I promise.  YOu just have to find it!

2.  NO Christian has EVERY spiritual gift.  (I Cor. 12:28-30)  That woman you think can do it all, she can't.  Most likely there are gifts you have that she does not!  Perhaps it is the case that she has more than her fair share, but I promise you she does not have them all!

3.  We do not get to choose our spiritual gifts, God chooses them.  (1Cor. 12:7-11)  I would LOVE to be a singer.  I adore music, am continually moved by music, and feel incredibly close to God through music. But alas, I can not sing a note!  I am NOT gifted musically, AT ALL!!!  Had it been up to me I would be, but God chose something different for me.  So when you cringe at that lady in the back of the church belting out the music horribly off key, smile, it's probably me!

4.  There is no one gift that every Christian has.  (1 Cor. 12: 29-30)  We are all gifted differently, there is no gift more important than any other gift and no gift that runs  through all of us.  We are unique.  We are all different.  Same is boring.  God adores diversity.

5.  Believers will have to account to God for how they used their spiritual gifts. (1 Peter 4:10)  There is no way around this one.  You do have a gift, you really do.  And some day you will have to answer to God for the way you used that gift.

6.  Spiritual gifts used without love never accomplish God's purpose.  (1 Cor. 13:1-3)  These gifts must ALWAYS be used with love.  Without love even the kindest gesture, the sweetest song, or wisest words are worth nothing.  All that you are, and all that you have has come from love.  The love God has for you.  Everything that you do therefore, must come out of this love and reflect this love.

The perfect gift is something you already possess.

All Christ wants this Christmas is YOU…using the gifts He has given you…to further his kingdom.  That is the perfect gift!

Friday, December 6, 2013



JT is anxiously waiting for his brother and sister to get home from school.

Erik is waiting for the landscape people to call him back.

I am waiting for my parents to arrive.

It seems like we are all waiting, for one thing or another.

Kids all over the city are waiting for it to snow, for Christmas break to arrive and Santa to come.

Parents are waiting for packages to arrive, checks to clear the bank and schedules to lesson.

Friends I dearly love are waiting to say their final good byes to a loved one.  

Soon to be mommy's are waiting to meet their babies.

Everyone is waiting.

At this time of the year, more than any other, I can feel the tension in the air.  I feel the anticipation, and I love it!  

It is in the waiting that I find joy, perhaps not always happiness, but always joy.  There is a difference.

You may not find happiness in waiting in lines, waiting for traffic, or waiting for things to go on sale.  You may not find happiness in waiting for the kids to go to bed so you can do all the things that need to be done that their little eyes shouldn't see.  But you just might find joy.

There is joy in knowing you are doing something special for someone you love.  There is joy  when you find the perfect gift.  There is joy when you stay up late to make a special memory for your child.  There is joy when you give grace to a stranger in a store who certainly didn't deserve it and may not even recognize.  There is joy.  

There is joy in the eyes of your heavenly father each and every time he sees you do one of these seemingly endless things we do during the Holidays.  

So many people argue that Christmas today is too commercialized, to secular, and I don't disagree.  But remember, God does calls his people to celebrate.  He called the Israelites to hold festivals that often lasted for days if not weeks, to celebrate, to all congregate at one place and have a big old party!  And I bet it was crowded, and traffic was horrible (SO glad the car I was stuck behind today wasn't a donkey with bad gas!).  I bet there were times during those festivals that tempers were quick, schedules were busy and people just wanted quiet.  But God wanted them to celebrate!  He commanded them to celebrate, not just for a day, but for days on end.  And there was joy.

Imagine, just imagine how much those young little children of Israel must have anticipated those festivals, counting down the days till they would leave.  Just waiting.  How the moms and dads must have had SO MUCH to do to prepare to travel (BY FOOT) to  where the festival was being held.  Think about how the families they were traveling to see, distant relatives, they only saw during the festivals, must have waited so anxiously for them to come.  Just waiting.

The Israelites spent centuries just waiting.  Waiting for a messiah, a savior, someone who would rescue them and set them free.  And come he did, though not in the way they thought he would.  

We are promised in the scriptures that this messiah, this savior will come again, and so we find ourselves once again waiting.  

Just waiting.

Sometimes I am struck by how little has changed in the last 2000 years.  

Monday, December 2, 2013


This just might be the longest I have gone without a new post since I started blogging over a year ago.  

I would love to tell you that I have returned full of wisdom and inspiration, but alas, I have not.

The past couple weeks have been more about survival then deep reflection.  We have had a truckload of unexpected things come up and each day has been a challenge to accomplish only what must be done for that particular day.

Some the these unexpected events I probably should have foreseen, anticipated and planned for.  Perhaps they would not have left me reeling if I had only been more organized and more intentional with my time and our money (oh that 20/20 hindsight). But some of these unexpected things were just that, unexpected.  Sometimes there is just no way of knowing where God is taking you.

In the past 2 weeks Erik and I have had over $1000 in unexpected car repairs (praise God for savings).  We have both had friends separately come to us with heartaches that required us to drop everything and just sit with them and listen, rework our schedule to make time for follow up visits.  We have been called on to make a last minute trip to Minnesota instead of my hometown for Thanksgiving to sit by Erik's 93 year old grandma while her health continued to decline.  We had the unexpected expense of 16 hour car rides, 3 nights in a hotel and 4 days of a family of 5 eating out (praise God for end of the year bonuses).  We had an unexpected "accident" of an iPod touch (my son's most treasured possession) falling 13 floors in an elevator shaft.  And the unexpected expense of a new iPod touch being added to the Christmas list! There have been unexpected sick days, unexpected programs I forgot to put on the calendar, and unexpected fun that made all the rest of this bearable.

I know I shouldn't complain, life is full of the unexpected.  

Over 2000 years ago, something else very unexpected happened.  Salvation came.  In the form of a baby, born in an unexpected place at an unexpected time.  It wasn't convenient.  Not for Mary when she found out she was expecting a baby no one would believe was conceived by God himself.  Not for Joseph when Mary came to tell him about the baby.  And it wasn't convenient for either of them to travel in final weeks of her pregnancy to a town that wasn't expecting them.  They were unexpected visitors and  no one was prepared to receive them.  

But that didn't stop Christ from coming. 

 God's plan is often unexpected.  It was unexpected 2000 years ago, and that is still often unexpected today.  I imagine when Christ comes again it will be equally unexpected.  Will you be ready to receive him?  Because honestly, whether you are ready or not, it won't stop him from coming.  He won't wait for you to be ready.  We are assured that he will come and win he does, he will come unexpectedly.  

There is much in life that is unexpected, that we simply can't be ready for.  But not Christ, we can be ready for him.  The question is are you?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I love the color pink!

I love Christmas time!

I love the KU Jayhawks!

I love my husband!

I love each of my three kids for the amazing individuals that they are!

I love Jesus.

But love is not just a word or a list of things we enjoy, desire or believe in.  Love is an action.

Love is a verb.  It is patient, kind, selfless...

Love requires doing.  It is not passive.  it is not stagnate.  It is not easy.

I love the color pink.  I wear it, a lot.  And people are able to see by my actions that I love the color pink.

I love Christmas time.  So I embrace it and I celebrate it.  I am already playing Christmas music, I will decorate this weekend.  Christmas time is not always an easy time, it takes a lot of work, and is often frustrating.  I get over scheduled and stressed out.  I run out of time, money and patience.  But I still love it.  And because I love Christmas, and more importantly what it represents, I do these things, like decorating, buying gifts, and listening to Christmas music.  And you can tell by my actions that I love Christmas.

I love the Jayhawks.  I schedule in the time to watch their games, I cheer them on.  This often means sacrificing something else I want to do, or taking time away from something I could be doing.  But I love the Jayhawks, so I give them my time, I follow their season, wear their colors.  You can tell by my actions that I love the Jayhawks

I love my husband.  He is everything I ever hoped for in a husband and then some.  But loving him requires action on my part.  It  requires sacrifice, selflessness, and at times submission (one of my least favorite words). It requires patience, and not keeping a record of who last unloaded the dishwasher, folded the laundry or made dinner.  It means setting aside my anger, giving him the benefit of the doubt, and being kind to him, even when my feelings are hurt.  Loving him requires me to trust that he loves me too and will do all that he can to support and protect our family.  It means setting aside my to do list to help him with his.  It means setting aside my desires and listening to his.  It means letting go of control sometimes and letting him make the decision.   And hopefully, people can tell by my actions that I love my husband.

I love each of my three children.  Not just because they are my children but because I really, really like who they are, and who they are becoming.  But this love requires action.  For me, it required me giving up my career so I could be the mom they needed me to be.   It requires more patience than I have in my own selfish human form. It requires holding my temper when they push my buttons and speaking to them kindly.  It requires that I keep no record of the wrong they do, but actively forgive them each and every time.  People can see by my actions that I love my children.

I love Jesus.  But this love must be more than words.  It needs to be an action.  People should be able to see by my actions that I love Jesus.  The question is can they?  Am I patient and  kind?  Am I one who doesn't envy or boast, who isn't proud?  Am I selfless, slow to anger, do I hate evil and rejoice in truth?  Because this is what love looks like.  

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue…" (because that isn't really love at all) "but with actions and in truth" 1 John 3:18.  Because love is an action.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Holidays

Thanksgiving is next week!

The holidays are officially upon us.  

And I couldn't be more excited.  

Yes fall is my favorite time of the year, but that just might be because it is the pre-party, so to speak, for the holidays.  

And yes, I am fully aware there are 2 separate holidays, and Thanksgiving no longer gets it's due, but I just cannot contain my excitement for Christmas this year!  My kids roll their eyes and are a smidge too vocal when they see Christmas decorations out in stores before thanksgiving.  But I love it!  Especially this year! 

I just can't wait to get out my Christmas decorations. To turn on my christmas music.  And It's not because I have my Christmas shopping done early, I don't even know what I am going to get most people.  It has nothing to do with the gifts, or honestly even the decorations.  But for some reason I have this overwhelming excitement for this season this year.  I can't even put into words exactly what I am excited for, I just am. 

It reminds me of the excitement I had when I was waiting for my first child.  I wasn't so naive that I thought it would be as awesome and wonderful as I was hoping it would be.  I knew the birth would be hard.  I knew there would be sleepless nights, and sacrifice, and that sometimes, many times, the reality of parenthood would fall far short of my expectations.  But that didn't stop me from being excited beyond words to meet my child. 

I think, for me, Christmas is very similar.  Once again I find myself anticipating a birth, one that took place over 2000 years ago, but still my excitement is the result of an infant child.  
Once again, I know the reality of Christmas day often falls far below my expectations, but that doesn't keep me from being excited beyond words for it!

Just like the birth of each of my children was a celebration of family, our growing family, christmas is a celebration of that same family, and our bigger families.  Our extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Our church family.  Our family of friends and neighbors.  Yes Christmas comes with an overwhelming list of parties, cookies, and commitments, but behind each one of those commitments is a "family" of people who love you and are loved by you.  That is something worth celebrating.  

This holiday season, instead of rolling your eyes, complaining about your list, or stressing out about getting it all in, embrace it.  Embrace the chaos, it's only for a season.  Enjoy the expectation of it all and let yourself get excited.  Just like the birth of a child, we eagerly look forward to the birth of our savior, that is something to be excited about. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Foolish and the Wise

"The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools."
Ecclesiastes 9:17

Let's face it, we all know people who are wise and we all know people who are foolish.

We also, at one point or another, will all listen to, take advise from, follow, or "heed" the words of others.  

The question is, whose words are we heeding?  Who is it that we are listening to?  Are they wise or are they foolish?

There are a lot of voices we get to choose from in this day and age.  Television, radio, social media, news media, ALL have a LOT of opinions that they willing and eager to share.  

Opinions about how to live, what to think and who to vote for.  Opinions about who is right and what is wrong.  Opinions about what your priorities should be and how you should spend your time, energy and money.  Opinions about how to be a good spouse, a loving parent, and a decent citizen.

Some of the voices and words around us are quiet and gentle, but most more like shouts.  They are loud, decisive, judgmental and harsh.

This morning I found myself in the 9th and 10th chapters of Ecclesiastes, a book some believe was written by the ever wise King Solomon.  And although we don't know definitively whether or not he wrote the book, the author (whomever he was) had a lot to say about the foolish and the wise, especially in chapter 10.  

"…a little folly outweighs wisdom" (it takes just a little folly, one act of foolishness to outweigh, counteract, or cancel out the wise choices we have made)

"…the fool lacks sense and shows everyone how stupid he is" (do you really need me to explain that one?)

"…fools are put in many high positions" (just because someone is in a position of authority or on television or radio, does NOT make them wise.  Sometimes it is just the opposite!)

"…words from a wise man's mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips" (there is a humbleness in the wise that you will not find in the foolish.  And likewise there is a pride in the foolish that you will not find in the wise.)

In this day and age, in our culture and in our society, MANY of the voices we hear are the "shouts of a ruler of fools", and the truly wise words, the quiet ones, get lost in these shouts.  

But it is the quiet words of the wise, the ones we too often miss that we need to heed.  Those are the words we should be listening to, that is the advice we need to follow.  

So where do we turn to hear these quiet words of the wise?  Today I found some in the 9th and 10th chapters of Ecclesiastes.  But you can find them in any of the 66 books in the Bible.  Take a look, the words are quiet, they don't yell or shout, you have to want to hear them, but wiser words you will never find.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Preschoolers, Middle Schoolers and the Elderly

In September of 1999 I found myself in a preschool room for the first time since I myself was a preschooler.  I was completing a required rotation before I would receive my master's degree that December.  

As I walked into the preschool room filled with children with special needs and a handful of typically developing peer models,  I remember thinking, "How hard could this be?"

Then one of those typically developing peer models walked up to me and said, "I can spin in circles until I throw up!  Wanna see?"

Um…no… I did NOT want to see.  

Clearly this was going to be more difficult than I thought.

Though my intention throughout graduate school had been to work with adult rehabilitation patients in a hospital setting, I quickly fell in love with these beautiful little preschoolers and spent the next 5 years working with them, right up until the point I had my own preschoolers. 

I spent a total of 10 years with preschoolers, teaching others and raising my own.  I can't tell you how many people through the years have told me that it is an age they could never work with, but I happen to love them!

I still get my preschool fix every wednesday when I help with the preschool choir at church. I have an absolute blast with these little balls of love!

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at a retirement center and then a few days after that at an assisted living center.  This too is an age group many people through the years have told me they could never work with.  But I loved my time with them.  I loved sitting with them, hearing their stories, where they come from and the things they have done!  I loved sharing with them the things I have learned and encouraging them to keep on growing.  I had a blast with these older balls of love!

A week after speaking at the assisted living center I found myself speaking to the middle school kids at church.  (apparently when you are in seminary you get all the speaking engagements no one else wants!)  Yet another group that I have heard people say over and over again they could NEVER work with!  I have to be honest here, this group kind of intimidates me too.  

But here is what I have learned…from preschoolers…middle schoolers… and the elderly.  I am thinking if it is true for these 3 very different groups, it must be true for just about everyone.

They just want to matter.

It made no difference if the person I was with was a preschooler, a young teen, or elderly.  They just wanted me to look them in the eye, listen to what they had to say, and smile at them.  They wanted to know I cared about them, about what they were thinking and that I enjoyed being with them.  

It is a fact of the human condition that we desire to be loved, listened to and enjoyed, regardless of our age.  The next time God is tugging at you to serve in some way and you find yourself saying, well, that's not really the age group for me, I challenge you to reconsider.  Regardless of the age group, all they really need is for you too look them in the eye, listen to what they have to say, and enjoy being with them. 

That is all any of us need.

Friday, November 8, 2013



Is there anyone of us who at one time or another has not felt the pain of being left out.


There are some people who can brush off the pain pretty easy.  Who embrace the idea of being a loner and are proud to be different.

Then there are those of us, most of us, I think, who feel the pain of being left out, unaccepted, and it crushes them.

I used to be in the latter category.  I grew up in a tiny little town, really too little to have an "in" crowd and an "out" crowd, yet more often than I would have liked, I still found myself feeling like I somehow ended up on the outside of cool.  

I have grown up since then, I could argue I am much more mature now.  But somehow these feelings of inadequacy, of being unaccepted still linger.  And though I am able to logically walk through the emotions and talk myself out of them, I would be lying if I said I never felt them.

The Bible tells us that it is going to happen, that it SHOULD happen.  We should be different enough that we get left out of some things.  I tell myself this over and over again, and I TRULY believe it, but that doesn't always stop that first stab of pain when I, or my children, are left out of something.  

My kids aren't growing up in a small town.  They live in the city, in a big school in a big school district.  There are clearly "in" crowds and "out" crowds.  I can honestly and sincerely tell you, I could care less if my children are in the "in" crowd.  I desire for them to be in the "nice" crowd, (if there is such a thing) but I could care less about "popularity".  But I do want them to be accepted.  I don't want them to feel left out, to feel like they don't measure up, or that they are unwanted in any way.  

The thing is, they will.  At some point in their life they will feel like they don't fit in, they will feel unaccepted.

And they should.  

And I need to let them.  

That is really, REALLY hard for this momma.

But I desire nothing more than for them to be children of God, for them to embrace Romans 12:2  "Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…"

The patterns of this world, the patterns we are so desperate to fit into, have never been what God desired for us.  Not 2000 years ago and not today.  I want my children to be transformed, for their minds to be renewed, to be set on Christ, not the patterns of this world.  That means they WILL be left out of some things.  And I have to be okay with that!  And not pass my own feelings of inadequacy on to them!

There are only 2 places in this world my children will ever be FULLY accepted -  here in their home, in the arms of their earthly mother and father;  and second,  in the eyes of their Heavenly Father!  THIS is where they will find acceptance.  THIS is where I want their identity to rest.  

God, Erik and I will love them for who they are, no matter what.  We will love the amazing things they do, and we will love them through their mistakes.  We will love them when they are silly, goofy, ridiculous, say odd things, do odd things.  We will never leave them out, call them uncool, or plan a party with out them.  We will celebrate them in their successes - big or small, and cry with them in their disappointments.  We will never leave them or forsake them.

THIS is acceptance.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Psalm 131

I have confessed before that I sometimes struggle with the Psalms. 

I deeply desire to fully recognize their beauty, to get carried away in them.  But sometimes it is hard for me to relate.

I don't have a lot of enemies (I hope).  But the one I do have (Satan), he's pretty awful.  

I don't spend much time hiding out in caves, although some days stuck at my desk might feel like that!

Today I read a few of the Psalms and I must say Psalm 131 spoke to my heart, this is one I could fully relate to.  Here is my modern day version of Psalm 131

"My heart is not proud, O Lord 
my eyes are not haughty"

(how could they be when my house looks like this… utter chaos)

"I do not concern myself with great matters 
or things too wonderful for me"

(no, I don't even read the paper any more…who has the time?
this is our Sunday paper…still outside…today is Wednesday!)

"But I have stilled and quieted my soul"

(I have stopped!  Taken a break from the Chaos, 
and found a place of quiet)

"like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me"

Like a child with her mother 
I have found comfort and contentment
deep in my soul

"O Israel. put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore."
Psalm 131

Monday, November 4, 2013


Patience may be a virtue, but it has never been one of my virtues.  

I have a hard time waiting...waiting at a traffic light, waiting for my kids to be ready to leave the house, waiting for a special event can be excruciatingly painful for me.  So can waiting for God sometimes.

There have been times in my life when I been forced to  point out to my creator just how patient I have been (in case he missed it!).  A not-so-gentle encouragement for him to move on from the lesson in patience to something more fulfilling (in my eyes!).  Now THAT is patience.  

I had the opportunity to recently to write a guest blog for a Christian Women's Blog.  It posts today and is all about my battle with patience.  I would love for you to check it out!

Here is the link!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Convicted (Haggai 1:6)

I am diligently making my way through reading the entire Bible in a year. Something I have never done before and something I will not do again while I am in seminary.  There is only so much reading a girl can do!

But I have to admit, over and over again I have been moved, inspired, convicted and taught by passages of the Bible I probably would not have read had I not taken on this challenge. 

Today I found myself in the book of Haggai.  A book, I admit, I have not read often before.  But today, it spoke to me with a power I will not soon forget. 

Haggai 1:6 "You have planted much, but harvested little.  You eat, but never have enough.  You drink, but never have your fill.  You put on clothes, but are not warm.  You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."

Umm, ouch.  

That hit a little to close to home.

"You have planted much but harvested little..."  Yeah, that's probably me.  This is something that God has really been working on in me lately.  Where is your fruit?  I keep asking myself.  Am I making a difference?  I am investing in people who need to be invested in or am I investing in people who are already rich?  Am I helping to bring in the harvest or preaching to the choir?  Am I doing God's work or my own?  Somehow I don't think I am going to like my answers to some of these questions.

"You eat, but never have enough...."  I don't know what it means to go hungry.  Even in Haiti, we Americans had far more to eat than the orphans (don't get me wrong, they were fed well, but the BEST they had to offer, was saved for the Americans).  What does that tell you about our culture?  About what other countries think of and know about us?

 I am rarely thirsty, and have let's be honest, I have way too many clothes (you won't get me to repeat that).  I have more than I need, too much!  I am fat (metaphorically) , over hydrated and have more clothes than I can wear in a month.  

"You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."  My husband has been blessed with a well paying job.   Please don't think I am being prideful.  We have had our share of hard times.  He has been laid off twice, once for 15 months straight, and the other time when I was staying at home with the kids and we had no other source of income.  We know what it is like to count every single penny (and end up a few short at the end).  We have had savings, lost our savings, and had to start saving again.  But that is not the current season of our life.  Lately, I swear my purse has a hole in it and the money is just falling out.  But that is a sign that I am not being intentional with it.  I am not being a good steward with what God has provided.  And that needs to change.

Today I read a passage I had only read one, maybe two, other times in my life.  And I am so thankful I did.  I am newly convicted of where I am in life, and where God wants me to be.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

20 Years From Now

Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?  

It’s a common question.  It is asked in job interviews and performance reviews.  It is asked by financial advisor, head hunters and maybe even real estate agents.  There are have been 3 distinct times in my life that I have been asked this question and the answer literally changed the trajectory of my life.

The first time was when I was in college, maybe my first or second year, and my college advisor asked me the question where do you want to be in 5-10 years?  That was easy, I wanted to be out of college, have a job and be earning a living!!  "Yes but what do you see yourself doing?", my advisor pushed.  Well, that question wasn’t so easy.  It is hard at the age of 18 to decide what you want to be for the rest of your life.  But slowly we carved out an answer, and I selected the classes that were needed for my major.  I managed to get a couple of undergraduate degrees, make my way into graduate school and earn a master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology.   Seven and a half years after that conversation I was working in a job I loved and earning a living.  But that may not have happened if my advisor hadn’t asked the question.

The second time I was asked that question I was expecting my second child, Nate, just a short 18 months after having Isabella.  I was a little overwhelmed with everything, Erik had just returned to work maybe 6 months prior after being laid off for 15 months. I was working as a Speech Language Pathologist for the Kansas City KS school district.  We had a one year old baby and another on the way.  I was trying to decide whether I should return to work after our second child was born or stay at home.  Could we balanc the high cost of day care with my meager salary, we were still at the penny pinching stage of life and money was beyond tight.  A dear friend asked me, “what do you picture your life like 5 years from now?”  That was easy, I pictured myself walking my kids to school each day, being there when they got home, volunteering at their school, and being there when my kids needed me.  “You can’t do that if you are working full time.” was my friend reply.  She was right, the next day I turned in my resignation and have been a stay at home mom ever since.  Loving ALMOST  every minute of it.  That may not have happened if my friend hadn’t asked the question.

The third time was just a few years ago, and I was the one asking the question.  This time it wasn’t about work, or money, or any of the traditional life plans.  This time, the question was far more important.  I asked myself where do you want to be spiritually 5 years from now? 10 years? even 20 years?

The picture I saw in mind was me as a older, yet still amazingly stylish woman (hehehe), who knew the Bible by heart.  Someone who had scripture carved onto her heart and on the tip of her tongue.  A wise woman who knew what God had to say and had his words constantly running through her mind.  It was a beautiful picture.  The only problem was I didn’t really know any scripture by heart.  There was no way I could be this wise old woman, if I didn’t start learning God’s word.  So I got out my Bible, I grabbed some index cards and I went to work.   And the simple task of memorizing scripture has forever changed my life.  

I worked on memorizing scripture, while I washed the dishes at night, while I waited in the car for my kids endless activities, while I cleaned the house, even while I lay in bed at night, any chance I got.  And slowly it started to penetrate, not only my incredibly thick head, but my very soul.  His words, his spirit started to filter into all parts of my day.  My attitude changed, the words I used changed, my desires changed.  I was finally starting to become the woman God has always wanted me to be.  And no, I am not there yet, but God is so very, very slowly using his word to change me.  And it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t asked the question.

So I ask you, where do you want to be spiritually 5 years from now? 10 years from now?  Even 20 years from now?

And how are you going to get there?