Saturday, March 17, 2018

20 years y'all!

Twenty years ago today this man planned an elaborate proposal that ended with him down on one knee on our favorite beach in Seattle asking me to be his wife. I was 19 years old and he was 21. We were so young and in love and the future was bright and boundless. We were married that same year in August where we vowed to love one another until death parted us. We said the traditional vows with stardust and optimism and a tinge of naivety; believing completely that our love was strong enough to hold the world at bay and allow us to live in our happy love bubble forever. He sang to me, I held his gaze with pride; he sang verse 2 first so when first 2 came around he just adlibbed and we laughed and I snuck in a kiss early!

Life has thrown curve balls at us. We have struggles just like everyone else. We misunderstand each other, we don’t always assume the best in one another, we can be impatient and selfish, we allow little things to pile up until we stub our toe on the pile of offenses, we accuse and get defensive and we get lonely. Sometimes we feel lonely when we’re inches away from one another.

In those moments it’s easy to think, “This isn’t what I signed up for”. 

I know that’s an easy thought because I’ve had it. I didn’t sign up to feel this. I didn’t sign up to deal with this. This isn’t what I expected. This isn’t what I planned and this isn’t what I thought we’d look like together.

You see, in dating we put our best face on, our steadiest foot forward and we can’t get enough of one another. There’s nothing too trivial, nothing too boring, nothing too inconsequential. We want to know it all. We want to experience it all. We want to bask in each other’s presence.  But be married a few months and that fades. The intoxication of love fades.  But that doesn’t mean the love has faded. 

It just means the stardust has settled a little.

And this is where the real love gets to act. No one stays together 20 years on happy feelings and heart racing, “Oh my gosh he just looked at me” kinds of emotions. No one stays together because life is easy breezy. People stay together for 20 years because they choose to. It’s a commitment. 

Walking through marriage is a commitment that has a foundation that communicates, “No matter what storms come, what hellish nightmare, what ruthless thoughts; my feet will walk one step at a time with yours.” 

It’s a determination; a declaration. “I won’t run. I won’t turn around and walk away. I will look you in the eyes and vow as I did before that I’m here. I won't bail when it's tough. You’re stuck with me. I’m stuck with you. We’re maybe stuck in it together for a while but that’s ok. There’s no one else I’d rather be stuck with.”

Over the last 20 years love has changed. The highs of infatuation have long worn off. We see each other clearly and fully. I know his quirks, his habits, his struggles, his demons and he see’s mine. We see each other’s humanity and embrace it anyway. 

Love looks like listening when we’d rather do our own thing. 
Love looks like going to the grocery store so the other one doesn’t have to. 
Love looks like being the first one out of bed to turn up the heat or pour the coffee or wake the kids. Love looks like that 5 minute back rub that you’d rather receive than give. 
Love looks like making the bed and clearing the table. 
Love looks like overlooking that snide comment and that eye roll (mine). 
Love sounds like I’m sorry and I forgive you. Love sounds like, “Good morning beautiful”. 
Love feels like the embrace at the end of the day that lets us settle in one another’s arms because it’s where we belong. 
Love feels like holding hands in the car. 
Love is his shoulder to cry on when I’ve had a bad day or gotten some hard news or when I’m just at the end of my rope. 
Love overlooks the mascara left on his favorite shirt after he’s held me while I cried. 
Love anchors us; always brings us back and holds us within reach.

I had no idea how hard marriage would be. I had no idea the kinds of fights we’d have or the way that we’d hurt one another. I also had no idea how powerful the words I’m sorry or I forgive you were.  

A humble heart, a broken and contrite spirit – it’s what God asks of us to have true communion with HIM. Truthfully, it’s what we need to have true communion with one another as well. 

A heartfelt apology wipes the slate clean. It has the power to shift the tenor in a room like no other.  It still amazes me how I can be so angry in one moment but when he comes to me with humility and seeks forgiveness and allows pride to fall away my heart that was hardened, thaws and softens immediately.

So, my love; thank you for getting down on one knee 20 years ago. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for seeing things in me that I didn’t know I had. Thank you for believing in me. But most of all thank you for steadily walking with me, day in and day out. We’ve come a long way baby and I’m so excited for the next 20. Not because they’ll be full of sunshine and roses but because I know no matter what we’ll walk them together.

Monday, February 13, 2017


Our church, as a whole, is studying the book of Genesis. It's being preached from the pulpit, taught in children's ministry, and talked about to the youth.  All the life groups in the church are also walking through the study together in their groups. I admit, there was a part of me that rolled my eyes when it came time to start. I didn't see what the big deal was. Why was it so important that we put so much emphasis on all studying the same thing at the same time?

I mentioned this to a friend and his position on it was that God can and will use any study, any venue, and anyone. I sat on that for a day or two and realized that if I kept a skeptics heart attitude toward this study that I would miss the moment. I would miss the opportunity to have my eyes opened to something new. I would miss the opportunity to learn. I would miss the opportunity for a blessing and I would miss the opportunity to be used.

So, now I am leading our life group through this study! How's that for a 180? :)  God's grinning from ear to ear, if you ask me.

So, Genesis.  It's a book that I've read many times. Countless Bible stories from my childhood come from this book. The story of creation alone - at the onset of sitting down to read it - left me wondering what I could POSSIBLY learn or see differently than the 345 times I'd read it before.

*Side note... at this point, if my youngest son, Josiah, had heard me say I'd read the creation story 345 times he would have hollered out in a 4th grade sing songy voice, "HYPERBOLE!".   Okay, you got me buddy. I did probably grossly exaggerate how many times I've read it. But, it has been a lot! :)

The thing is though... when we ask God for open eyes and open hearts He is faithful to deliver. I believe that He holds all kinds of wonder and amazement at just the tips of our "understanding" ... waiting for us to just ask for it. I think He finds immense JOY in watching us open the "gift" of a new perspective, a new idea, a new understanding. It's like Christmas morning perhaps. We love to see the anticipation of watching a loved one open a gift that we KNOW they will love.

I'll share one. God created the heavens and the earth. He created light on day 1. There was day and night.  Yup, okay...nothing new there... I read on .... day 2, day 3, day 4.

WAIT?! What.... day 4 God created the lights in the sky ... the sun for the day, the moon and stars for the night.

I stop reading and abruptly flip the pages back...

And then it hit me. Something I had never noticed before.

There was light from day 1 but God didn't create the light that WE know until day 4. So for 3 days - God put into place a light that sustained during his working and creating.  And then when night came.. that light dissipated, turned off, faded away? (My husband and I joked...was it like a light switch? A dimmer?)

What could that light have been? I'm also reading in 1 John right now... and that very day I read... God is the LIGHT of the WORLD. Perhaps the mere presence of God lit up the world.

It's not earth shattering. I didn't solve a theological debate or find a life altering application that day.  But I was excited by the wonder of God.  He is a God of order and a God of creativity. He's a God that created plant life before the sun. It doesn't make any human sense to us. How could there be plant life sustained without the sun? God. How could there be light without a sun and a moon? God.  How could He speak creation into existence. God.

Do I really need a better explanation than that? It's fun to imagine what could have been or what might have been but fundamentally, at the end of the day my answer is GOD...not logic, not science, not a theory.

It's just God. He's indescribable and His works are far more than I can fathom. And you know what? I'm good with that.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Friday night, Eric and I trucked back to Lowes for the 3rd time. We were walking in with the intentions to buy a new washer and dryer!  We looked and hunted and talked to the sales guy (the son of a friend... so sweetly strange to interact with him as a young man and our appliance sales guy!).

We found one that we hadn't seen online. It met all our criteria AND was on sale.  The dryer that accompanied it was also on sale and for even cheaper!! 

With the financial gift we'd been given (read the last post if you're lost) we only paid out of pocket for the dryer we bought!! The washer was totally covered!

God is so good. We continue to be encouraged by His faithfulness. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

My washing machine died last weekend. No really. It’s dead. Kaput. A-goner.

We bought our first washer and dryer (used from a buddy of my brother in law) when we were pregnant with Noah. That was 15 ½ years ago. We’ve still been using the same washer since then. Eric’s had to fix a couple things on it from time to time, but for the most part it’s been a reliable washer. The matching dryer died years ago and was replaced but even THAT dryer isn’t really drying well these days.

We knew our washer’s death was imminent. The sounds that were coming from it during the spin cycle were pretty indicative that the end was nearing.

New washers … well, let’s just say they are a whole new kind of machine. Treading into Lowes to look at machines feels like you’re in over your head; looking at these washers with a gajillion settings and see through top lids and massive drums without agitators. I’m telling you… they are nothin’ like my old machine.

We saw a machine Saturday (when we weren’t in the market to buy b/c we hoped the red-neck fix my hubby was trying was going to work…). It’s cost made us gulp but gave us an idea for the future… we hoped long off into the future…

Cue Saturday night when my washer officially breathed her last (with a sopping load of wash sloshing within her ta’boot).  The washer we’d glanced at earlier that day was on sale for a couple more hours. But I couldn’t pull the trigger on an expense like that without touching it and seeing it in person.

Sunday we went back to Lowes. This time we looked with purpose. But left empty handed to do some more research and read reviews.
Monday we went back and I had a plan. I knew what I wanted. But when we talked to the sales guy (someone we know and trust) he told us that that particular brand does tend to “come back more often than the others”. 

Enter doubt and frustration… and my furrowed brow and look of despair.

We leave. Empty handed and in our truck with nothing to bring home.

By now, I’m exhausted. It’s been a rough weekend without a washer, parenting has been hard, I’m still wrestling from time to time with my Dad’s diagnosis and my natural bent to worry about him, and I just want something to be easy. 

We get home and I’m working on dinner while Eric returns a phone call to our pastor. He walks out of our room and stands there looking at me while I stand over the stove. He proceeds to tell me that someone (an anonymous someone) has left a “monetary gift” for us with our pastor and that we need to go over and pick it up tonight. He tells us that someone must have known we had some kind of need.

Only God.
Of course, we’d told some people that our washer broke, that we were on the hunt for a new one etc. But only God moves in the hearts of his people to decide to prompt someone to give gifts of this size to another  family.  We are continually humbled and blessed and blown away by the generosity of others and to see how God continues to supply for our every need. 
All the sudden the washers that weren’t on sale and the washer that got returned too often didn’t seem important. My focus was no longer on what I was lacking. Instead my focus became more on what God had done. In the midst of my panic, he was moving on my behalf and setting up provisions in advance for me.

With this gift – we are thankful. With this gift, we want to steward it to the best of our ability. Once I have my new washer – there won’t be any way that I will be able to do laundry and not feel the love of God and the love of our anonymous giver. The body of Christ, at work, lacks for nothing. 

So tonight, I’m grateful and blessed.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

What about when BOLD prayers seem unanswered?


The key board have been silent for the past week or so.

My heart and soul, not so much. 

God gave me a gift in the word “bold” for the year. I’m choosing to look at it as a gift because I know every good thing comes from the Father of Heavenly Lights. While I don’t understand all his “gifts” I can still choose to believe and to trust that they are for a good – even when that good seems invisible to me.

Our family has been anticipating a diagnosis. My Dad has been keeping an eye on some symptoms that he’s been experiencing. It’s been on my heart for months.  As the day approached for his doctor appointment I began to pray. Because God is breathing into me a spirit of boldness this year, I chose to stand on the promise that HE never takes me somewhere He isn’t already present.  So, I boldly prayed that my Daddy would get to the doctor appointment and that the doctor would find nothing wrong with him; that his symptoms would be simply natural aging symptoms, that the things that bothered him would be gone, and that IF there was something wrong it would be healed in HIS MIGHTY name. I prayed BOLD. I believed BOLD. I hoped BOLD. I counted on BOLD.

And then the phone rang.

And a diagnosis came. Parkinson’s Disease.

My heart stuttered. What?! How can this be? How could this happen? I prayed. I prayed BOLD like you asked of me. I renounced sickness, I prayed healing, I praised you in advance for the healing you would do in his body because I was THAT sure you could bring it to pass.

And yet, the diagnosis came. Parkinson’s Disease.

That was one week ago today.  God and I, we have gone a few rounds. It’s comforting to know He can handle my hurt, my sadness, my questions, my doubt, my wondering what He’s up to. 

My heart, when overcome with the unknowns fears the future; fears tomorrow; fears what’s to come around the corner that I can’t see. And yet, wasn’t my first thing of the year to purpose ‘embracing the unknown’. 

God put that phrase on my heart.

He knew.
He knew that I’d wrestle with the unknown.
He knew that there would be things in my future – in the future of those that I love – that would require a blind faith – in every unknown … to remember that in every unknown situation HE is what IS KNOWN.
The unknown need not be nearly so scary because He’s already there. There’s a certain comfort that comes with looking at the future – as scary as it looks some days – and knowing that His comfort, His love, His embrace, His provision, His company, His healing… it’s all there, waiting in anticipation for me… and for you…

Tonight, I led worship at Celebrate Recovery. (This was the event that I blogged about earlier). I was anxious going in because the “I like order and control” self was having to “go with the flow”. I wasn’t 100% sure who my band was going to be. I was walking into a new service, and leading from a venue I had never even stepped foot on before.

And then there was the underlying tension in my spirit… that tug of choosing to believe God is good even when prayers are not answered the way I’d like.
The pull of wanting God to use me and the gifts and talents He’s instilled in me – and yet wanting to hide and put on the mask that there isn’t anything simmering under my skin, deep in my soul.  I didn’t plan what I was going to say. Every time I tried it felt fake, forced, rehearsed. Instead, I picked a Psalm to read and prayed BOLDLY that God would place His words in my mouth and that I would be a vessel for Him tonight.

I can’t tell you exactly what I said. What I do remember is sharing that it had been a hard week and that we had received a diagnosis – that even though we expected it, it felt like a sucker punch. I admitted praying BOLD prayers and feeling like God hadn’t heard me when the diagnosis still came. I had hoped to not get emotional up front, on a stage in front of strangers, but tears did come. How could they not?

What I didn’t expect was the way it felt to share my heart. Bearing my heart was not only cathartic, it was filling. Releasing those feelings and thoughts left room for His spirit to come rushing in…like a wind, like a flood filling up those spaces where doubt and hurt and anger had dared to take up lodging.  It’s no wonder scripture tells us to bear one another’s burdens and to confess our sins to one another.

I love that, tonight, in a place of tender (albeit emotional) boldness, God answered.

My Dad isn’t healed but my heart is on its way there. 



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

This year I purpose to...

Bold. Brave Out Loud Decisions. That’s what my word, bold, means for me this year. It means voicing things for accountability. It means voicing things to give them validity and life. It means stepping outside my comfort zone. It means growing ….


~ EMBRACE:  the unknown
                I haven’t a blessed clue what tomorrow will bring and that is okay. God is in control. That is enough for me. I will rest knowing he has it under control.

~ ENGAGE:  daily and deliberately
                I will be deliberate in my interactions. I will put forth a daily effort to not just be physically present but to be emotionally present as well. It will be an investment that compounds indefinitely.

~BE:  the spouse you’d want and the friend you’d want
                I will focus on my actions and not on the perceived failings of those around me. I will act and speak and love in a way that I would want to be loved in return. This likely looks like sacrifice.

~ BELIEVE: God’s truth about who I am.
                I am a daughter of the Most High King. That makes me royalty. I am a co-heir with Christ. That means Jesus is my brother. That means his inheritance is MY inheritance. That leaves me speechless.

~ BREAK:  negative self-talk
                I must be on guard. In order to break the negative self-talk I must be able to identify the voice of truth. Breaking negative self-talk walks closely with believing God’s truth about who I am. I must replace the negative thoughts with God honoring and sound thoughts.

~ Daily:  abide in His presence
                I want to learn to abide better. I’m a busy girl and busy girls like to get things done. Abiding is intentional and has an element (at least to me) of rest involved. It’s a surrendering.

~DO:  act on the “urges” of the Holy Spirit
                I want to listen closer and blindly obey.  I believe obedience is less about the outcome and more about the action of follow through. It builds an ear for listening and it breaks down self-centered walls. Obedience in the little things builds faith and character and its excellent practice for when God calls me to have faith and to obey the big “asks”.

~ LET GO: of the past
                My future is secure in His promises. That’s where I want my eyes set.

~ LEARN:  be moldable and teachable
                I want my heart and will to be in the hands of the potter. I want to be clay in His hands.

~ LIVE:  bold
                Brave Out Loud Decisions – enough said!

~GIVE:  out of lack and out of abundance
                Whether I feel there’s enough or not (money, time, energy, love, desire, patience….)
I still want to give.

~ GROW:  in the WORD
                I want to be wowed by the word of God this year. I want to learn and soak in new truths and new stories. I want to turn the pages and be thirsty for more.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

The journey begins

It's just days in to this new bold year of mine. Funny, how once you start to focus and meditate on something how it seems to just show up, everywhere. Kind of like that car you bought, thinking it was so original and unrepresented on the streets. Until you buy it, and somehow you now see them every third block. It's a funny phenomenon ... I'm pretty sure it has it's own name but that's beside the point. 

The point is... I acted timid, insecure, safe.

There, I admitted it.

The sad part, is I knew I was doing it, too. It wasn't some accidental, absent minded, I'm too flakey to realize I'm stepping away from my new declaration of bold.  What I knew was I wanted a safety net, some experience first, a chance to "check it out".

And all the spirit could whisper to me was, "This is your time to step forward. This is your time to trust me. This is your time to put into action that which you've spoken. This is your time...step bold."


(insert internal dialogue)
"Your plans are good for me, right Lord?

"You're not going to leave me hanging to dry, right?"
I'm always with you.

"What if I look like an idiot or fail?"
So what if you do?

The thing is, I know God has plans for me. I know He has the desire to orchestrate things in my life for His glory, for my good, for the good of His body. I know I have a part to play, a place to belong, and that I am to be instrumental in the Kingdom.  The human fleshy part of me says, "But at what cost?" because I get caught up in how much time it might take, how much sacrifice it might demand, how much will it affect my family, how will it make me look, and the insecurities of "I can't". 

But, I admit, on the heels of those fleshy thoughts comes another. "How can I not? How can I live, knowing that God has a plan for me and choose to ignore, choose to turn away from it, choose to pretend I don't see the signs?  Is there anything that I could attain on my own that would make ignoring the Spirit of God in my soul worth it?  I say, NO! Emphatically I say NO."

And yet....

A request is made of me to lead worship in a "new to me" venue. I hesitate. "Sure I'd love to help, but I don't want to lead by myself the first time. I want to feel it out."

It looks like surprise on his face when I tell him. He assures me that it will be easy, that the stage is big but its forgiving, and that no one there will be looking down on me ... they are just a bunch of broken people choosing to meet together.

Insert the Spirit's little pep talk to me above... This is your time....

Today, I pushed accept on the scheduling request sent to me. Everyone requested to play in the band has either not confirmed or is unable. So far, it's just me. It's okay. It's a couple weeks out and there's time to fill the spaces.

God has a plan. He has a purpose. He has a promise. What's better is he has a plan, purpose and promise FOR ME.