Monday, December 22, 2014

Moving is Bitter-Sweet

Change is hard. Putting your words out there is hard and scary.  This space has been a place of therapy and healing for me.  It's been a place where I've been able to process in a (mostly) uncensored manner.  It's been like my favorite pair of jeans.  You know, the ones that are worn and mostly threadbare but still the most comfortable ones you've got.

It's been time to move out of this space for a while and I've been avoiding it.  I've continued writing here all the while my new blog sat designed and ready yet empty.


That's how it's felt to move out of this space into the new one that God is leading me into.  I have known most of my life that I was made to craft words.  The crafting of words, this thing called being a writer, is intimidating.  So I've pushed it aside.  I've denied the tug because I haven't wanted to be defined by writing--or any other title for that matter, other than Follower of Jesus.  

I feel unqualified to enter into this process and new space.  It is requiring me to be more vulnerable to more people than I personally care to be.  What I'm learning though is that the writing isn't the end goal. The writing is the means to which I have been called.

People write for so many different reasons.  Some are writers to write.  They are compelled to write because it is what is wired into their souls.  There is a component of that for me, for sure, but as I seek the Lord on this journey I hear Him saying,

Build bridges.

Building bridges, friends, is what has been wired into my DNA.  Building bridges between Jesus and people.  Building bridges between God's Word and the hearts of his people.  Building bridges between the resource and the need.  Building bridges between people in order to increase our efforts for the Kingdom as well as our sense of community within that purpose.

I dream that this new journey at this new dot com will be a bridge for you.  

May it link you closer to the Father's heart.  

May it draw out passion in you that you have not before known was there; passion for your purpose and the call God has placed on your life.  

May it be a resource for friends who are interested in adoption, who need a recipe, or who are looking for a good read.  

May the words you find in this new Home bridge you to be mobilized to love better, to live more generously, and to follow our Savior with abandon.  

I pray this new place brings laughter and humor into your world.

Thank you for journeying alongside me for these years and I look so forward to new adventures together ahead of us!  I always love to hear from you, so please comment and share your heart back to me.

See you in the new digs at 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sanctuary Inside the 4-Foot Privacy Fence

I walked barefoot in the grass today.  It's the beginning of November, most of the leaves have fallen, but a few remain.  The sun is brilliant, the breeze gentle, and this east-coast beach-blooded barefoot girl needs to feel the cool of the grass beneath my feet.

I kick off my shoes and walk feeling the cool (but not yet cold) soft ground and the occasional pricker under each step and stride.  I chase a shaggy blonde headed, giggling two year old.  I catch him and we laugh and fall over giggling.  All the while we play, we simultaneously cheer on the cutest long-legged 4th grade booster-thon runner that is my own second born who is running to earn the blessed financial donations promised by her sister (10 cents per lap), her parents, and grandparents as payment for her efforts.  I watch her stride.  I watch her walk a lap hand-in-hand with two friends.  I catch her eye every time she comes around and she lights up with a smile.

My soul lifts.  It's needed to.

In the past weeks my symptoms have worsened.  Not from some terrible disease, but rather symptoms of with-drawl from a lack of time outdoors away from the noise of all things man-made. The signs have been easy to see and diagnose.

It began with an inexplicable ache that persisted and worsened every time I glimpsed the mountains or any place west from where I live.  Then grew more serious into a condition where finding and holding onto a single thought has felt like holding a water weenie or looking for a diamond in a pond of muddy water.  Impossible.  I deeply sensed a need for a cure when one of the final symptoms appeared: irrational emotion; this need to cry at any and every turn-- with no explanation, and no ability to turn off the faucet of tears.

I have longed for a taste of the outdoors.  My soul knows my Savior most deeply in the smell of fall's sweet fragrance, in the it's song of the rustling leaves, in feel of the sun on my skin, and the grass beneath my feet.

I have pined for solitude and found none.  The call of the Creation outside my four walls has alluded me in the midst of a life that is full of schedules and toddler naps.  It has been drowned out by each mess in every corner of my house that has screamed out, Attend to me now!  I am most important.

Somehow today, the cry for outside was louder.

I found myself laid back on a picnic blanket on the grass while the world's cutest (and most incredibly demanding) 2-year old Schedule Director naps upstairs in his bed.

My heart was longing for the mountains, but right where I was joy and settled as I lay on the grass inside my backyard with the 4-foot privacy fence.  A gentle constant breeze cooled my skin in the sun.

Today this is my sanctuary.  Today this is where God and I chat and grow deeper in love and friendship with one another.

Sanctuary, it seems, is where you find it.  It is not the ideal place you get to go to for retreat.

Sanctuary is the proverbial cleft in the rock that God has carved out for us for THAT day because a trip into the mountains is not always on the list of possibilities for that day.

Today, Sanctuary is cool grass under my bare feet.

Today Sanctuary is the observation of the ladybug that God has sent as if through His creation He kisses the back of my hand with each step she journeys across it.

Today it is the breeze He blows gently causing the Aspen leaves to tremble against one another saying Shhhh...shhhhhh...shhhhh... to me.

All this, this sanctuary taking place inside the 4-foot privacy fence in my backyard.

Normally, I abhor fences but today I don't mind.  Before I wandered outside, I prayed, Father, what do you want me to do with this part of my day?

As I sit, I hear Him say,


What space is He calling you to be away with Him in today?  Where in the dailyness of your routine has He placed a Sanctuary near you so that you can catch your breath and just breathe for a moment?  I'm asking, because I believe He puts Sanctuary into our every day if we will but look for Him to lead us to it.

You've always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all, 
a lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest. 
Psalm 61:3-4 (MSG)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

When Neighbors are Friends

I have a two-year old and a pre-teen and it's pretty much exactly the same thing.

This was what I told my friend the other day as we stood outside in the crisp fall air warmed by the glorious sunshine.  Our toddlers were fighting playing with each other.  Most days they're on the verge of either being best friends or each other's nemesis.

She swayed back and forth rocking her two-month old as we stood in the driveway and laughed about the joys and the challenges of motherhood.  The sleepless nights, the hormone-induced fights, the tantrums, and the beauty and the struggle in the mundane.

The driveways of our homes have become safe haven for us; it is where we gather and our kids play, we talk, commiserate, laugh, give advice, and even shed tears together.  We've even been seen pulling out a table in the driveway for an impromptu pizza party.

In the past year, I have been so thankful for the friendship of each of the women that live in the houses on either side of me.  Never would I have guessed that we would become such a refuge and a resource for one another.

Truthfully, we are less a resource for our south neighbors, than they are to us. We have been seen passing a solid wood, heavy dining room table over the fence on a dark night. Why? Well, it's a long story, but we had sold our dining set and needed to have a table for just 2 days and so my sweet generous friend said, Why don't you use ours?

We had no idea it was quite that substantial of a table.  It took four of us to maneuver the table out of their sliding glass door, heave it over the fence, and then wriggle it through our sliding glass door.  All while our back neighbors (who live very very very close to us) looked on at the freaks passing furniture over a fence.

But this is how we are.   We have found friendship in opening our doors to one another; in opening our hearts to one another.

The neighbor to my north is a new neighbor, but long-time friend.  That's right, my friend bought the house next door.  How sweet is that?!  Let me tell you... So Sweet!

We have watched our babies grow into young girls.  She has prayed with me more times than I can even remember.

Just this morning, after dropping off my pre-teen was struggling to assert her voice and independence and therefore causing much wreckage in the process-- I texted my north neighbor through tears.

Are you home?  Are you busy? I said.

I'm home. Trying to plow through some work.  What's up?

Oh I was just going to see if I could come over and pray with you.  We had a really rough morning.  But I just got Max settled with a show and I need to get dressed and go to the plow on.

I clicked send. No one wants to be needy or a burden.  I was trying to put a brave face on and not interrupt her work. I knew she was busy.

Before I knew it there was a knock on my door and there she stood on my porch, coffee cup in hand, arms out-stretched to just wrap me in a hug that said, I've got time.  What do you need?  I'm here.

Squeezing her tight, through tears I recounted our morning and how difficult it had been.  She listened.  We sat for the next hour at my kitchen table talking, listening, she spoke light and life into my morning, and then she prayed over my family-- over me.

As I wrap up this day that began in bitter tears and ended with lots of smiles, deep conversation, and prayer over my three; I am grateful beyond measure for the two women that call the houses to my left and to my right "home."

What about you?  What has your experience been living in your home next to neighbors?  Do you know your immediate neighbors?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Undone Amidst the Mundane

These past few weeks I have felt as if I have been living in this state of UNDONE in the Lord's presence.

It's not just in my quiet time in the morning.  Truthfully, it's mostly not in my quiet time, but right smack in the middle of breakfast, and then the drive to school, and then the drive home, and then while playing playdough with my little man, and then at lunch, and then when the text comes from my man to say "I love you," and then I'm undone.... and then undone again...and there are tears.  Tears over-- over-- I don't even know what--  other than the sheer glory of His Presence invading my space; my everyday mundane space.

He just rolls over me at nearly every moment of the day with the realization of His goodness and mercy in the midst of my mundane.  He is wrecking and has wrecked every plan I've ever made.  His plans for my days are bringing about the most inconvenient glorious living I've ever experienced.  His wrecking ball comes in and beautifies everything around me right now-- even the mundane places; even the hard places.

It looks like this...

Just moments ago I strolled down the sidewalk with my little man riding alongside on his pedal-less bike.  All of a sudden, this rush of love and goodness of God washed over me and right then the little bike rider tired out and said, "Hold you, Mama?" with arms outstretched for me to pick him up.  (He's two and only refers to himself as in the third person).  My heart nearly melts right on the ground. It's not because he's an angel-- in fact-- let's face it, he's solidly TWO!  Need I say more?!  

He eats cheese right off the block when he can't wait any longer for mom to come help shred it for him.  Lord, help me!

This morning, on the ride to school with my three buckled in behind me, I was quietly undone.

Here are these three siblings with no shared biological DNA laughing and giggling with one another. God knit them together in three other women's wombs, and then chose to give them all the same last name.

Undone.  How could He be so good?

The other night I volunteered with my oldest at her Middle School Fall Social activity.  I thought my heart was going to suffocate as I watched her navigate interacting with her friends, then come and hang with me, then again with her friends-- all new friends at a new school.  And when they didn't look for her when she was with me, the mama bear in me wanted to go ask them if they'd include her.  NOT COOL MOM!  My inner voice of reason screamed.  I listened...this time.

She stood by me co-hosting the s'mores table.  

My little big girl, still full of so much innocence, wanted to be by her Mama.  I'm not yet totally uncool.  Oh Jesus, may I never be totally uncool...I don't know if I could handle that.  She  preferred my company at that moment to the company of her new friends.  I struggled to hold back the tears at the thought.

In retrospect, it's possible she may have had ulterior motives that may have had something to do with more s'mores for her.... I'm going to pretend it was less about the chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow goodness and more about time with Mom.  Yeah.  That's what I'm going with.  


My second-born, my tender-hearted, fashion-savvy, funny girl rides in the car with me on her way to school.  We're just riding along when  I tell her I love her.  She says she loves me more.  I tell her I love her the mostest.  She doubles that.  Quickly we are laughing and competing for the way to say I love you more than you could possibly ever love me.  I catch a glimpse of her giant smile in the rear-view mirror.

Undone.  I'm undone.

He reminds me that in His grace and mercy (both to my man and I and to our children) He has rescued them by placing them into our arms and our hearts.  He reminds me that I haven't always remembered (and still often forget) the privilege it is to be a Mama.  To be THEIR Mama.

He reminds me that we have three precious ones we sponsor through Compassion International who are in hard places, navigating life as they swim upstream against the current of generational poverty and hopelessness.

He whispers, "Because I have given them to you to sponsor, they have a hope that will never cease. They have the hope of salvation.  Their eternity is or will be secure, and their tummies will not be hungry.  Because I have entrusted them to you to sponsor, they will be protected from so much evil they see and others experience all around them."


I don't always think this way, but it has become a trend over the past month.  I am thankful to be undone by His grace and goodness.

Yet, at 4:00 p.m. in the middle of dinner prep when everything and everyone in my house is combusting,  I'm praying to remember these moments and the tenderness of each, in order than I might demonstrate grace to my littlest disciples who are watching me so closely that it terrifies me.

Where are you finding yourself UNDONE as His presence invades your mundane?  Is He wrecking your plans?  Are you allowing Him to do whatever He wills in and through you?  What is that looking like?  I'm dying to know, dear reader.  And those that read here will be encouraged, challenged, and given fresh wind in their sail as they read your answers.  So please don't leave without leaving an answer in the comments section to at least one of the above questions. We need your voice on this too.

I am thankful you continue to join me on this journey and never take for granted that you choose to spend a few moments letting my words enter your world.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pep Talk Time

Because sometimes you need a pep talk.  You just do.  And that was my plan last night.  My plan was to show up at Worship and the Word and give a pep talk to  those who came.

Just one week ago I was together with 50+ women in the mountains.  I was leading our time together.  The theme was In the Now and In the Not Yet...Be Brave.  I preached on being brave in both the now and the not yet.  I did my best to lead bravely.  I watched as my sisters and friends led and taught bravely.  And yet, anyone who could see behind the curtain of my heart -- my team, my dear friends, my cabin mates-- saw that I wasn't feeling brave.  In fact, it appeared that I was coming apart at the seams under the weight of what God was asking me to lead women to know and experience of His Spirit.

On our last night together I sat in my cabin, computer open, thoughts rushing like a river yet my thoughts were fruitless.  One by one, sister by sister that was lodging in my cabin, came in.  They listened, weighed in, encouraged, then they did something that shifted everything.  They circled around me, laid their hands on me, and prayed.  I wept.  It was this holy moment and we all recognized we were on holy ground together.  My mind got quiet and my spirit became still.  And through the prayers and friendship of my sisters, the Holy Spirit began to blow fresh wind in my sail.  Not in big gusts so as to set me sailing on my course, but in a soft gentle breeze causing me to move gently forward on His course.

And then we got our pjs on, crawled into bed, and slept.  The sun rose and I had hoped to wake with renewed courage and joy.  Instead I awoke with a dull headache and this verse that I had preached the day before echoing in my head:

Nothing like the Holy Spirit preaching back to you, that thing you just preached!  -- This, however, seems to be my lot right now-- to teach something only to have Him teach it right back to me.--
I awoke with this verse and the headache, and then God did that last morning, what He had promised He would do.  He showed up in power, just as He had promised He would.

Fast forward one week and one day as I prepare to lead our monthly Worship &the Word gathering where a small number of women consistently gather together once a month.  I had planned a sort of pep talk, thinking, These ladies have just weathered a week after coming off of a mountain top experience.  They are in need of a pep talk right about now to impart some courage.  

Turns out, I was the one that got pep-talked.  Driving over to the office I was tired.  I hated leaving my family this particular Sunday evening.  My family had been stretched and it was looking like it wasn't going to let up anytime soon and I was feeling weary and missing just being with my little tribe.  As I drove I prayed, 

Jesus, I need to know this is worth it.  This monthly gathering isn't growing in numbers-- and I realize that numbers are not the sole or even the best measure of growth-- but we've consistently been this tiny little group.  Why?  Do women not need this?  And if they don't need it, then why are You and I still doing this together?  Can I stop doing this each month?  Jesus, I need to know that the cost to all involved in teaching and leading and all our families is worth it for your Kingdom.  Are lives being transformed as a result of what we do here month in and month out?  I need to know that this is a valuable investment of my time and my leaders time.  I don't ever want to just do things because it's on the schedule to do them.  I'm trying to determine what are my best this a best Yes choice?

I wasn't trying to be whiny, I was simply needing to know that we weren't just feeding the well-fed to get fatter spiritually.  I have believed for over a year that we would grow to a gathering of women each month that would out-grow our space.  Every month we set up way more than enough tables and chairs-- prophetically, I suppose.  :)

So I showed up and so did nearly 12 other sisters that are so dear to my heart.  I began by putting the question before them:  I need to know.  I need you to be honest.  Is this time together transforming your life?  Yes or No.  If it is, tell me how.

One by one they began to share.  Bit by bit, the Holy Spirit spoke and affirmed the He was not finished with this work and that I was to continue and not quit.  Truth is, I kind of was hoping they would say it wasn't transforming their lives and that I'd be off-the-hook.  We could stop meeting monthly, God could lead them into various small groups, and I could move on with my life-- Ok, so maybe that sounds dramatic, but it's where I was at let's just be honest; sometimes quitting is just so much easier than staying the course.

The conversation wrapped up and then I proceeded to play this video by Kid President (love this kid):

I know what you're thinking, Didn't you watch and prepare to show this video and know the content?  Yes.  Yes I did.

The teaching that followed this came from Christine Caine's talk that she gave at the If:Gathering last year-- also incredibly pep-talky.

By the end of the evening, it appeared that God had called the small group of these ladies together to witness me getting pep talked.  And you know, sometimes being Brave in the Now looks like a bunch of those you are leading watching you get pep-talked while you're trying to pep-talk them.

Are you in need of a pep talk today?  What are some areas that you've been called to where you are just flat out weary?  What are you wanting to quit?  Is God releasing you from that season or is He asking you to persevere for the sake of souls in need of what you're leading/doing?

Please comment below -- I'd love to hear from you and it's a chance for you all to encourage one another!  If you've read this, please leave your comment so I know you've been here!  :)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Brave in the Thrift Store...

Tonight I'm going to keep it short...and brief...and short... and I might cheat by linking to an older post.  The truth is, I am rising before the sun tomorrow morning (yes-- tomorrow, as in Saturday-- as in "National Sleep-in Day")  along with several powerhouse women who are leading strong in their areas of giftedness.  My Refresh 2014 team and I will gather together at 5:15 a.m. tomorrow morning.  All of this is a Brave blog for another day that has nothing to do at all with today's blog.  Other than the fact that it has to do with this idea of keeping this entry brief, short, and maybe cheating a little....

So here's the brave in the now for today.

Sometimes the bravest thing in my month is heading to the thrift store with a specific list of items I'm hunting for along with my two-year old busy boy in-tow.  Now anyone who knows Thrift Store Shopping (I prefer to call it Boutique shopping--where else can you find a billion brands in various sizes in one place?!) knows that it takes a certain level of hunting skill, matched with determination, and a significant quantity of time.  An aversion to spending more than $5-10 on any one item is also an asset in this kind of shopping experience.  Throw in a vocal, confident, always-in-motion 2 year old and you had better get some courage up before exiting the car to enter the store.

I typically go to the Thrift stores in search of a few specific items and today was no exception.  My list included:
For Max: Pajamas, sweatshirts, and possibly boots and snow pants
For the girls: Jeans, fleece lined jeans, leggings, and possibly winter boots
For me: a pair of riding boots, possibly a new sports bra, and maybe a new top

Today Max had a list of his own that included a bus.  This was something that he became obsessed with throughout our entire 2.5 hours in the store and there was no bus in sight on the toy shelf.  There wasn't even anything that closely resembled a bus!  We have some interesting adventures this little man and I...feel free to click over to A Fish Hook and a Full Moon to read of yet another (much more exciting) trip to the Thrift Store.

My point is, it takes a bit of gumption to decide to take a two year old to the thrift store (a store that relies 100% on people bringing in their random junk) with a fairly specific list.  It takes even more bravery to take said-child into the fitting room after shopping for 2 hours so that I can try on my finds.  The fitting room experience always involves waiting for that one woman who just wanted the fitting room  that is for handicap people and/or moms with small children.  Waiting for that chic to come out is a given.

The thing is, even after getting into the more spacious fitting room, you're faced with the challenge of trying to contain the busy child.  The goal is never complete containment; that would be impossible. The goal is merely to maintain relatively safe boundaries that generally include, but are not limited to keeping them from crawling out the space between the floor and the door (nearly didn't succeed in this one today); ensuring they do not lay on or eat things off of the floor (failed today), and keeping them from playing with/opening the lock on the door (also in the fail category today-- fortunately I was fully clothed when the locks on the door became the object of interest aka. preferred escape route.

 You see, this taking Max with me to do a seemingly meaningless task, was my brave thing today.  Why?  Because I am committed to living a life where we are wise and frugal with our finances-- which, for us, means that nearly 95% of my clothing shopping is done at thrift shops with Max, the Torndao, in tow.  It was brave because it wasn't convenient-- it wasn't a convenient time of day, nor was it convenient to drive across town to the thrift store today.  But I knew that Max needed new Pajamas, I was looking for a few things myself.  And so, I headed out to the thrift store, trusting God had read my list of things I was looking for.
As it turns out He heard and answered me.  I'll let the pictures tell you the story:
I know it's hard to see, but in this pile are two pairs of jeans (one fleece lined), two baby boy sweathsirts, baby boy snow boots. 3 setns of pajamas, a pair of Jeggings for me,  practically new riding stiyle boots

Cowgirl jeans and a super cute sweatshirt fop for daddy 

These boots were the find of the entire trip.  I have been looking diligently for some fun type boots that I could potentially wear this winter for every day and look at what kind of boot were sitting there on that shelf.

All that to say that sometimes its in the seemingly small things in life that we need to be reminded of the greatest thing --Jesus and we need to take courage and be brave right there in the moment.  It would've cost me so much more if I had said No to Jesus on this one.  I couldn't believe how many things I was able to knock right off my list and then there was still a meetnng schedule to tell them that I am looking forward to the opportunity to meet both one day.

What small brave thing is God calling you out on?  Have you said yes?  If so, tell us about what that is looking like for you in this season.  2.)If you've said no or I'm not ready yet, Lord....why are you saying this? Are you a thrift store shopper?  What has been the best "find" you've found lately?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

But I'm not Brave

My oldest sunk down into the seat on the couch beside me.  Her shoulders slumped as she said, "Mom, I'm not brave."
I was ready to give her a litany of example as to where she had exemplified bravery when I stopped and simply ask, "What do you mean, honey?"
"I mean..." she began, "It's just that I'm always afraid to do brave things or to be brave."

Brave.  What does the word even mean? I was trying to think quick to come up with words to encourage her when I began to realize that her definition of brave was not a correct definition.  She said that she was always afraid to do brave things or to be brave, and yet, anytime she had been asked to step up in situations that would require courage, she almost never even hesitated.  And it made me wonder how are we defining this catchy word that hangs on our walls in word art print, or dangles around our necks in symbols like arrows or in word on a bracelet or necklace?  It seems that it is not a problem with our bravery, but rather a confusion as to what that actually even means.

While some definitions will say that being brave is to act in such a way that shows courage without a trace of fear,  I prefer the following two definitions:

1.) brave- to take/act in courage in the face of fear
2.) bravea fighting spirit

At any given time, our courage is bound to fail us and it is here where we get our fighting spirit-- in the courage failure.  
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
When our brave fails is where His Spirit in us operates best in great displays of courage.  So might I lay this premise before you-- Where there is fear and trepidation is where God's power is best displayed in manifest bravery through us.

What brave thing has He been calling you to step out in and you feel fearful?   Has there been a time where you felt afraid and jumped in anyway only to find a brave fighting spirit rising up inside of  you?

Just this past weekend I was in that place with 50 of my friends and sisters-in-Christ.  We'll save those stories for another day, but suffice to say, He calls us out beyond our comfort zone so that when we are brave, we know that we know that we know it's because we have this fighting Spirit living inside of us.

And so I looked my oldest in the eye and I said, "Being brave is not about not being afraid of something.  Being brave means you're afraid of something, but then you do it anyway..."