Movements are an interesting thing. In our society recently, the #metoo movement has taken off like wildfire. Survivors coming out of the woodwork to share their stories in trepidation, only to find closure and peace in the arms and solidarity of family, friends and other like-warriors who have come out bruised and battle-scarred on the other side of telling their stories, the fiercest of survivors.

Movements are empowering. They grant freedom from fear, they provide a safe place to share your story, and they allow many individuals to turn from a place of paralyzing shame and guilt to a healing space of community and renaissance of life.

Shame and Guilt are strange, though, aren’t they? Two emotions, like a pair of playground bullies, the bigger and stronger we think they are, the more they lock us down, forcing us to take their punches, absorb their blows, and believe the lies they whisper to our broken innermost parts. Shame and Guilt tell us, in their sneering, snarling, angry, hatred voices of villainy, to “keep your secrets in…don’t tell anyone you’re struggling…you are the ONLY one who is facing this giant…what will THEY think of you…who do you want them to think you are?…if you share this, they will never look at you the same again…” and yet, movements are empowering.

Among Christians, I think we struggle so greatly with this issue. The issue of sharing what is truly wrong. We plaster our social media with glimpses of an incredible, yet unrealistically attainable 24/7 life, and then we try to force ourselves and those around us to fall into the misaligned belief that this is the standard to attain, when let’s be honest…none of us are attaining it ourselves. I think if we were really going to have an impact, our movement would look something like this.


Meaning, you struggle with this too? and it’s ok? and we can be real and share this and grow together in healing and freedom? YES…

I have a Mess…#YOUTOO?! YES…

youtoo2What does my truth look like? Here’s a taste of my truth. The honest to goodness, hope no one ever actually sees this, crumbling facade of truth.

I’m scared to death. Literally, every day. Every morning, I rise early, bury my fears in coffee, shroud my uncertainty in positivity, and send my kids out the door to be the best versions of themselves they can possibly be – my tiny human world changers – and yet on the inside, when the coffee fades and the pep disperses, fear creeps in. Anxiety is my playground bully and she’s been hanging out with Shame and Guilt like a clique of mean girls who only wear pink on Wednesdays. Her voice whispers to my soul, louder and darker and deeper, seeking to drown out the beauty around me.

She asks me, in her seething valley girl tones (because how else would an enemy whisper?!)  “How will you fail them today? Which of your many juggling balls will you drop? Which of your best laid plans will fail? How will you let your sweet husband down?”

Of course, rather than share this story and my #YOUTOO moment with others who can either raise me up or walk through it together with me, I listen to that ill-gotten advice of my Anxiety bully and allow myself to implode. Rather than allow the rubble of my struggle to touch anyone else, I retreat deeper into my fears and by closing off, I cause others to explode regardless.

The Anxiety monster becomes so great, that it can overpower me, raising it’s ugly head and causing physical distress – migraines and short-temperedness and just wanting to disengage entirely. Sorrows find themselves drowned in the aforementioned social media escape, only to meet the 4th playground bully, Comparison.

It was in the midst of one of these messy seasons, that I experienced a true #YOUTOO moment. I began sharing my story with friends and ladies at church. I began seeking out specifically in my devotional time about anxiety, and was gifted with an incredible visual.

“For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear, I will help you…” – Isaiah 41:13

Oh friends…the comfort this visual gives me. Much like I do with my 4 year old daughter, after a bad dream. I crouch by her bedside, reminding her that I am here, I love her, I will fight for her…Reminding her what is truth and what is a lie from the enemy to her heart.

Our Father does the same for us, slowing me down,  unclenching my fingers wrapped so tightly together in worry around my job, my house for sale, my kids, my husband, my future and he takes my hand in His. His voice is quiet, but loving and strong. He leads me, little by little, asking me to trust…and in His tenderness and quiet strength, shutting up my anxiety. He brings me peace.

Sweet peace.

Friends, how can we keep healing like that to ourselves?

It is when we allow ourselves to share all of the Glorious Mess of our #YOUTOO stories, that the narrative can change. In the midst of telling our #YOUTOO story, we remember who we are and the entire game changes…

We let go and lift up our house, our job, our health and weight, our “enoughness”, our future, our comparisons, our insecurities, our anxieties and entitlements, our futures.

We find joy, peace, patience, authenticity, identity, strength, renewal, hope, endurance and health.


So, my #YOUTOO Story? Trade your worry for worship and watch your Father make the mountain of Anxiety bow to Him.

What is your #YOUTOO story? Don’t hide in shame and guilt any longer. Share your story and watch God take hold of this movement in your life.


A Girl, a Wizard, a Lion and a Word

As a new year dawns, I always like to take some time for reflection. Reflecting on what God has shown me in the last year, how He has grown me over the last 365, more times than not a pouty, willful, kicking and screaming petulant child. Yet, I am always surprised by His patience, His grace and the sweet whispers of His voice in my life, even watching my internal tantrums… again.

That’s right – this composed, professional, {mostly, sometimes, kinda} polished adult on the outside…nothing more than whiny little kid on the inside. Now you know the truth…judge away. 🙂

I know this has become kind of trendy, but I love the practice of choosing a word to pray over each year…a word that God has laid on your heart that you hold on to, through times of good, bad and in-between.

For me, last year, the word was BRAVE. Walking through life during and after the passing of my father – it fell on me to be nothing less. In families we each have our roles that we naturally gravitate towards. My father was a leader, in many ways, and after his passing, among our friends and family, I feel like there was a lot of that mantle I had to {figuratively} take on, if not actually take on just by my personality. Conversations and advice that would bounce to him, came bouncing my way and I guess you could say we were a lot alike, because I could see the same comfort he had brought others now coming from me. There were a lot of decisions and interactions and things that I had to face, regardless of my overwhelming desire to throw on my softest pair of jammies and run headlong under the covers, zoning out on Netflix and Gilmore Girls. {and thankful for a husband who allowed me that release many times!} I wasn’t the only one hurting – I had children to consider who had just lost their Papa, a mother to consider who had just lost her 40 year love, family who were just exhausted from months of carrying each other. The role of True North fell unwittingly on my shoulders. Day by day, it was holding that word tight that reminded me God was walking me through.

Brave was my 2017. Walking roads I didn’t know how to walk, using strength I didn’t know I had, making decisions that were ridiculously hard to make. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m entering into a year completely blind and I have no idea what direction it will take. So, because of Brave in 2017, I now claim COURAGE in 2018. Because courage only comes after walking in bravery. 

For many of us, when we hear the word Courage, our minds are instantly zapped to a girl, bedecked in a gingham blue dress with fabulous shoeswizard-oz, traveling a road she had no idea how to travel, with companions of tin, straw and fur – each believing the were missing something, and yet, learning along their journey that the very component they thought they were missing was inside of them all along. The Tin Man’s compassion proved he had a heart, the Scarecrow needed no diploma to actually prove he had a brain, and as for our friend Lion – His courage awaited him all along. He simply had to be BRAVE enough to use it. He could only tap into his courage after being brave enough to take the first step.

As I look at 2018, I feel like, for the first time, I’m walking into a year blindly. What I mean by that is, no one can tell the future, but I usually have an idea as a year starts, how a few things will play out. As a family, we have lots of “balls in the air”. We are juggling a lot of things – personally, professionally, emotionally – and I have no idea where many of them will land. What I do know is that, as I am being called to step out in Courage this year, I could not have done so without learning the lessons of being BRAVE in last year. I take each step, rooting deeper in my faith, and knowing that, while I might not like the direction each step takes {see tantrum references above!}, I do know that each step prayerfully shapes our family for the next.

When I live my life with my eyes wide open in that view, I can handle a little bit of fog on my own yellow brick road.

Call Me Elsa…


The come and go, the ebb and flow, the lessons learned, the hellos welcomed and the goodbyes said…the catch and the release of life. IMG_2413

And for a girl who loves a full calendar, who lives by her planner and controls her world with the power of a post-it note, just “letting things go…” is not what I would call my strongest suit.

I’ve been rolling this blog post around for months…thinking, would it be more impactful as a video? What would be best? Then, the more I thought on it, and felt bad each week for not writing it, the more I realized God was writing it in me. So, dear friends and readers, my apologies for the silence, but we were doing some editing in here…

We are in a season of life where a lot is being thrown at us…unexpected expectations, unanticipated costs, unintended confusion…and we had to make some difficult family choices to prioritize and balance things out. We’ve had to give our “best yes” and our “honest no” to activities and people that we truly love, if only out of self-preservation.I feel like if I stepped back and watched myself, I would see someone struggling to pull all the things towards her in a futile effort as other things just escaped…I am constantly trying to hold and manage all.the.things…

It struck me profoundly one day, as I sat in our church’s worship service. I have, what I would call, a protective posture of worship. I keep my burdens on lockdown, like I would hold weights in my hands. There is a moment for me, in every service, that I have to intentionally let go. The music begins, the emotions swell and I lift my voice…but not my hands…not right away. I can’t allow myself that freedom just yet… because there is too much I am still holding onto…to much I’ve brought with me…too much I am still carrying in my own hands. I have to physically and mentally walk through a list, as my voice walks through each note of the songs… Each item in my hand, a burden on my heart…

The job I have to do…

The house I have to sell…

The children we are raising…

The husband I am loving…

The hopes and dreams I have for them all…

The wonder of what God is asking of my life…

The money that is never there when I want it, but somehow is “just enough” when I need it…

The pain of loss I still bear…

I visualized each item being put into my hand and realized, until I intentionally accept the freedom that comes with letting them go and laying my hopes and fears at the foot of the cross, I am CLUTCHING my hands to myself during worship. My posture of worship is starts as one of protection and self-preservation until I let it go..Freedom is free, and freedom is found, but to be free, you have to let things go. You have to take each item in your anxiety filled grasp and turn it over to God. IMG_2412

I find myself praying over each fear, each item by name and laying it down. Finally unburdened I can lift my hands up…because I have finally emptied them of everything I’ve been carrying.

In the midst of the crazy, we have been gifted the beautiful freedom of slowing down. We have been offered a season of rest, and even though I arrived kicking and screaming, not wanting to give up control, my heart is finding more corners of life to trust, rest, heal and restore. And, like a good cup of coffee, we sip slowly and savor. We take more time for snuggles and laughs. We savor the richness of the season we are in, embracing the freedom of rest when we allow ourselves the vulnerability to relinquish control. There is no shame in the surrender.

If you are visual, like me, I want to challenge you to try this activity this week, in your personal or corporate worship setting. Take a list of everything that burdens your heart. Everything you are clutching and holding close. Imagine you are picking up each item and putting it into your hand. Look at how tightly you are clutching them. Sit in the weight of that moment. Then, pray over each item by name. Finally, lift each item up as you lift your now empty hands.

Freedom isn’t easy. Freedom is usually won after a long-fought battle…often multiple battles. It’s the intentional act of facing the battle and standing your ground, leaning into the struggle and anxiety, that will win you the freedom. Only this time, the battle is won for you.

Just let it go…


Secrets, Mama, Secrets?

As a working mom, I have to admit it. The struggle of Working Mom Guilt is real. Some days, I put on my big girl shoes and conquer it, being the stern voice of reason and upholding family law side by side with my husband, parental gavels in hand. Most days, though, I sigh and, to the chagrin of my husband, feel myself crumbling around the corners. Bedtime, you guys, is my weakness.

Bedtime, in our home, is a long standing tradition of stories, songs, silliness and prayers. It is quiet snuggles, belly tickles and “Harry Potter” (or, if you are my 4 year old, “Harry Powder”). It is endless recitations of BJ Novak’s “The Book with No Pictures” and belly laughs when the grown up reader feigns realization that the book is just one giant prank on them! It is poetry and Captain Hook voices, as we once again gather around Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” to giggle our way through some silly poems about life, love and the pursuit of pancakes. In our home, and for this working mama, Bedtime is the one time of day where I have my children’s undivided attention and they know they have mine.

Each of our kiddos has their own tradition. For my son, it’s Ninja Kisses, where even after bedtime, Daddy sneaks back in “Ninja Style” for one last bedtime kiss, while my son giggles from the top bunk. He asks for one every night.

For my daughter, as is everything with this girl, she has paved her own path. My sweet girl and I are in a very special and sacred season of life right now. She sees me as not only Mommy, but also bestest girlfriend and coolest galpal in the history of ever! {Disclaimer: You guys, this season is a magical unicorn to me…I have no idea how long I’ll get this season for, but I’ll take it!}

As I tuck her in each night and she pulls me close for hugs and kisses, she grabs a handful of my hair to play with, turns my cheek close to hers  and says “Secrets, Mama? Secrets?” Based on how her day has gone, I almost always already know what her secrets will be. “I love Mama, and Daddy, and Bubba, and Mita and Chocolate!! Don’t Tell! Don’t Tell!” Then she turns and asks me, “What’s your secret, Mama?”, to which I typically respond ” I love coffee, and chocolate, and sleeping in! Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell!!”

I was reflecting on these special moments the other day and just praying one of those “Mama’s heart” kind of prayers – please, Father…Please let this girl always tell me her secrets. Please let her always keep her treasured feelings close with me and desire to keep me in her confidence. Today it’s who she loves and chocolate. In the days to come, I know her secrets may hold so much more than that. Please let her confidence in me and my advice to her be the words that help her grow in grace and knowledge of who you are!”

In that reflection, I was also reminded of how much our Father loves to hear our secrets. How much He must love it when we sit in the quiet with Him, when we draw ourselves nearer to Him and we whisper the precious depths of our hearts. Even as He knows them already, how much it must warm His heart that we still choose to draw Him close, look upon His face, and release our secrets to Him. How much more does He love it when we ask Him to share the secrets of His heart – What our Father holds closely – with us? How we crave not only for Him to know our secrets, but intimately seek out His? As cherished as these moments are between my daughter and I — how must he feel when I choose to share the same kind of moment with Him?

da192f9f481b89c8e2f6de403009cc6fMaybe you’re in a season of life with the Father where you share “secrets” all the time. Maybe it’s been a while since you allowed Him access to those dark corners of your heart, even though He knows you at your innermost anyway. Sometimes I find that sharing my secrets with my Heavenly Father, even when they are dark, dirty, or filled with the hurt and rage of just not understanding, allows me to see life more clearly. It means I’m not carrying this mess alone. It means there is a best friend to walk there beside me – on the days when it’s coffee and chocolate, and on the days when I’m scared.

What secrets have you put on lockdown? What have you been holding back sharing from the One who knows you most? Take a moment today, find your quiet space, and share some secrets with your Father. Seek His heart and listen to His voice share with you His own. Abide, rest and share the Mess.


What Meets Us On the Other Side of Grief

As a teenager and young adult I loved the theater…like, obsessively loved theater.

Besides being in a number of productions, I would often fall head over heels in love with a soundtrack, singing each song by heart, long before ever seeing the show. My roommates and I would embrace our inner Elphabas and belt out “Defying Gravity” from Wicked before my hands ever clasped that precious Playbill in nervous anticipation of the stage show. I would transform into Eponine and a Nubian queen while singing the entirety of the Les Mis and Aida soundtracks while driving to and from college for home visits. Even now, you can find me throwing down some Hamilton with a fervor that might make Lin-Manuel Miranda consider me for his next Angelica…or Peggy…I mean, whatever works.

I have always loved losing myself in a character; falling so deeply into being them that I could live another life, even just for a few hours. Not that my own life was so terrible that I needed an escape, but it was just fun to forget for a bit. As an adult, the ability to escape and be “someone else” has proved to be pretty valuable. I have adapted the mastery of the mask in situations where I just have to push the emotions down and get through, either for the sake of my own sanity or someone else. When I have learned that the consequences of giving into one emotion might unhinge the piece as an entirety, I transform for the greater good to get the job done.

While I love the art of the character, and the relief of the escape in hiding behind my “mask”, especially when pushing through a hard professional day, the same skill may be to my own detriment personally…Because in moments when it matters, the facade is not as strong as I have lead you to believe. Sometimes, much like the stage and backdrops of a theater production, we are only designed to hold up for so long, before we need to be struck down and rebuilt again. Our curtains fade, our paint becomes worn, our costumes threadbare and patched.

My Dad loved the theater. I think I inherited my love of it from him. As a little girl, I remember his dancing me around the house, singing to me songs from South Pacific and the Fantastiks; his deep baritone voice making each character come to life before my eyes. As I’m continuing on my journey of discovery and rebuilding my heart after the passing of my dad, I’m learning several critical lessons.

Sometimes when we feel things so deeply, so powerfully, so profoundly, we turn ourselves off. We run in fear and throw on the mask of the character that is way more fun to be…the person that is doing great, instead of the one that is still tending to the raw, real pain of heartbreak. We close ourselves off emotionally rather than letting ourselves experience the full weight of the emotion. We lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that if we shut it off, if we “just get through it”, we will be ok. We know that if we give the emotion it’s full weight, it’s full range of feeling, to be completely and holistically felt at it’s depths without limits -without any restraint- the weight of it may crush us completely. We would implode to rubble, completely wrecked.

We know what our person looks like now – how to define it, manage it, protect it. We have no idea what vulnerable, new creation of ourselves awaits us on the other side of our personal hell. Instead of leaning into the concept of a new creation, we continue bearing the weight of an emotion unfulfilled -lying to ourselves that “No matter how much this hurts, it’s got to be better than what awaits us on the other side of this pain and grief”.

The other character has become exhausting. It’s getting harder and harder to put on. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about “being ok again…getting back to normal…getting back to me” in this whole messy process. And then it hit me…I am never going to get back to me again. That person is gone, forever changed in the aftermath of this experience. I haven’t shown the new person around much yet, because frankly, I’m afraid of her. As a student of theater, I loved learning each new character – what makes them tick. What little nuances would they say or do? I don’t understand this new character of ME yet. I’m still learning her vulnerabilities and her strengths…still learning what she is capable of.

What I am learning is, the more I allow myself to lean into everything I am feeling right now, what awaits me on the other side of grief is Grace. On the other side of Pain is Jesus. The new me is arising, like the phoenix through the fire…like beauty through the ashes, I am being made new, shaped and refined of stronger material than before. The less I portray the Me that is ok and the more I lean into the Me that is messy, the more I give God a chance to shape and heal my heart. I am open to relationships, conversations, and allowing myself moments of grace to both feel sad about what is no longer, but celebrate everything that was.

Vulnerability is scary…it’s certainly messy and it is no place I enjoy being. But, if I am going to continue healing through this Season of the Broken Crazy, I am going to have to be the hardest character I have ever been…I am going to have to be the authentic ME. I am going to have to allow myself to lean into these emotions I am feeling and discover the Grace that awaits me on the other side of grief.


An Honest Conversation About “How I’m Doing…”

I hate bad things. As one who is not good with dealing with negativity or confrontation, it’s pretty funny to watch me watch a movie or read a book. My husband will often make fun of me when the “bad things” happen in a movie we are watching – I cover my face with a blanket…I get up to get a snack…I suddenly have to go to the bathroom… I am not good at handling the bad things… the feelings of fear, worry and anxiety are so heavily embattled in the desire for good to win, even in fictional form.

As for myself, I have written and re-written this chapter of my life over and over again. Wishing I could change it. Wishing it was different. Wishing it was a different ending and that the “bad stuff” never happened…but it did… and I have had to deal with it…

I’ve spent the last 2 months processing some of the hardest, deepest, “bad stuff” i have ever had to process in my life…stuff I couldn’t just get up and get away from…stuff I have had to face head on, in a way that still leaves my head spinning.

A year ago, my dad was in an accident. He fought like a warrior to stay alive, to stay with us and to have some semblance of normal. I’m sorry to say that, on March 17th, he lost his battle.  It was, without a doubt, the single most vulnerable, most fragile and most messy chapter of my life’s story. 20160730_131951 - Copy

I remember the months we prayed so hard for healing. I remember the 2 steps forward he would take, only to be beaten down by ten steps backward. I remember the basic struggle for human normalcy on a regular basis – his entire independence lost in one accident. I remember his final days, spent by his bedside in anguish, watching him suffer and struggle and fight until the end. My dad was nothing if not a fighter.

I remember the night he passed as though an out of body experience, a dream I couldn’t escape from – so hard, so tragic and yet my soul begged to soak in every last moment with him. I remember him waking up in a panic, his mind gone but his eyes searching for loved ones to reassure him we were there. I remember holding his hand and singing to him the same song I sing to my children every night to put him to sleep, hoping it would bring him peace and comfort. If he no longer knew my name, maybe he would know my voice. He should…he was the first who taught it to sing.

I remember the drive home at 4 am after he passed. I had kept my radio on the local Christian station, desperately seeking some solace and comfort in the hope I had always known my entire life… and yet as I drove, hope could not break forth. As I pulled onto my {thankfully} empty exit, the song “Thy Will Be Done” came on the radio… and with a fury, the carefully constructed fortress of protection around my heart came crashing down. The facade of strength I had used to get my family through the last year crumbled around me… Tears of hot rage and anger came pouring down my face as I sat at that exit and screamed at my God.

Like a child, I raged against him, seething with every ounce of anger and confusion I felt, screaming and spiritually pounding my fists in his chest. The words spewed out of my soul before I could stop them…”Your WILL? YOUR WILL? If THIS is your will, I don’t want ANY of it. NOT ANYMORE. Your will was to remove a husband from his wife? a devoted Grandfather, who loved NOTHING more than being a grandfather, away from MY children who DESPERATELY loved him and needed him? You took a man who faithfully served you and and loved you his WHOLE life and you let him suffer and die this agonizing death. THIS IS YOUR WILL?! I….DONT…WANT… IT!”

I pulled into my driveway, still shaking with a mixture of rage and fear. Rage at the loss of my father. Fear of having to tell my 8 year old and my 3 year old that their beloved Papa was gone and he was never going to hug them again. I sat in the driveway of my house, while the arms of my heavenly Father wrapped around me, giving me the strength to walk through the front door.

In the days to come, the biggest question I received was “How are you doing?” and to be honest, I think I lied to a few of you…my apologies, but it was all I could do to get through the day. I should have shared my authentic heart with you, but for the protection of my heart, I couldn’t be that vulnerable. I wasn’t ready yet… I am now.

I am not OK. My heart is not OK. God and I are not OK.

It’s not that I’ve lost my faith or my belief in Him. I haven’t. I know who God is. I know what he is capable of. I know with all my heart and without a doubt that his Son came to die for me and save my soul. I know all of those core concepts.

I feel like I am in an argument  with my best friend and He has let me down.  I feel like there is a wall up between Him and I and we have to keep working at it from both sides to get it to come down.

Church has not been easy for me lately. If you know me, you know that singing and worshiping are how I connect with God. Music and lyrics and the spiritual connection of it all are some of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Leading worship and the expression of that experience has led me to some of the deepest connections I have felt with the Father.

Yet over the last two months, I opened my mouth to sing and nothing came out. I could feel a physical weight on my heart and body when I tried to sing. “You’re a good, good father?” I can’t sing that. “You’re the God of Miracles?” I must have missed that miraculous healing of my dad…the one that I prayed so hard for… All I could manage was to sit, and close my eyes, tears rolling down my face, and listen to the worship around me, my sweet husband giving me time, love and tissues, as I endured this process each week.

In the Sundays after Papa’s passing, I have literally dragged myself out the door, because I know that the last place I wanted to be was the one place I needed to be. I KNOW I’m in the wrong. I know God has a plan for this entire situation… but in my vulnerability and in my heart, I cannot see it. And I do not dare lift my voice to Him with praise that is not authentically in my heart. And I think He is OK with that… My God knows me better than that and I will not be fake with Him.

…and what does HE do? …He waits, ever so patiently, week after week. His Spirit, working away at my heart, whispering to my soul, reminding me of His love. Reminding me that, even though I have been “sucker punched by our fallen, Genesis 3 world” {to borrow a phrase from our pastor} He is still there, waiting for me in the quiet. He waits for me to forgive Him for breaking a promise that He never made to me…but one that my human heart holds Him fully responsible for.

I sang in church today for the first time in months. I don’t know how…but when we got to worship today, the weight on my chest was gone. It was as if his Spirit was just waiting for me to be ready…and so, with tears rolling, as they have for the weeks and weeks before, I finally let my walls crumble again and let Him back in. My voice trembled, small at first. My vocal chords hurt with a fire from lack of use…but the more I leaned into it, the more the pain faded and I could lose myself in worship again.

I looked out the window of my church on this gorgeous spring day, and I could almost picture my Papa smiling at me, leaning on his cane and saying “Welcome back baby girl. I knew you would find your way.”

So, how am I doing? My pain is not gone. My heart is not ok. But by leaning into it day by day, and remembering who I belong to, I will not be allowed to walk this chapter alone. I am holding my Father’s hand and I am finding my way again.


The Lucky Ones

As I listen to the hum of my dishwasher,  and looking out over the dinner I made and the laundry I washed,  I find myself sarcastically giggling and saying “happy international women’s day to me “.

I continue to laugh as I’m elbows deep in the sink full of soapy water thinking this wasn’t really how the world intended for me to spend “international women’s day”.

At that moment, however, I’m struck by another thought. No one has forced me to do these dishes. No one has forced me to make this dinner. And as much as I would love to be kicking back with my feet up, I kind of have this God-given desire to take care of these silly little buggers, {read as my adorable children,  and my sweet, goofy husband.}

I mean, let’s take this a step further. No one is forcing me to clean my house {except maybe some Pinterest-guilt}, no one is telling me what job I’m going to have or what clothes I’m going to wear. No one is telling me who I will or will not sleep with. No one is threatening me. No one is making me scared for my life. No one is making me feel inferior or like a possession,  because I choose not to allow them to do so.

And then it hits me, on today the “international women’s day” that I’m one of the lucky ones. I get to choose where I work, if I work, what I wear to my job. I have a husband who is not my lord and master, but my partner and helpmate, who I choose to allow the privilege of being the leader of our household,  because I was given the choice to believe in that doctrine and faith. No person forced my faith, my love, or my dreams upon me.

I realize that I am one of the lucky ones, because I do get to choose to be strong, and beautiful, and independent. I get to choose to raise my daughter believing and knowing in her heart that she can be anything she wants to be, and she can do and achieve anything she wants to achieve in this life.

I am one  of the lucky ones because I have the chance to raise my son to be a young man who honors and respects women. He gets to be the kind of young man who understands what love is, and understands how to treasure his spouse or his girlfriend. I am lucky because I was given the choice in who I fell in love with. And he gets to see his father and I walk through our marriage, in all its mess and all its beauty every single day.

So on today, international women’s day, I have never been more thankful for the privilege and freedom of “choices”…And for our sisters, both in our community and in our world, whose choices have been taken from them, hidden from them, or denied them altogether, the rest of us have a responsibility to lift them up, empower them, pray for them, give them voice and help them reach their dreams and goals.



Lessons In Loving Refugees

The year…1989. The movie…The Little Mermaid.

I remember all so clearly. We had just gone to see my very first movie in the theaters…ever! Still floating out of the theater on a cloud of romance and buttered popcorn, our family had stopped at McDonald’s to grab some dinner before heading home.

As I munched on  a cheeseburger and reminisced about mermaids, singing crabs, and styling my hair with a fork Dinglehopper, I noticed a couple of interesting guys come into the restaurant. I still remember to this day – they were the height of late 80’s fashion – giant combat boots, trench coats, chains everywhere, and the piece de resistance! Huge bright green mohawks pointing out in all directions. My parents looked at the punk guys and looked at my impressionable sister and I and told us in no uncertain terms “Don’t you ever bring boys like that home!” At the moment, I couldn’t tell if they were scared, joking or serious or a little bit of both, but I swore with all my 6 year old heart I would never do such a thing. My older sister, on the other hand, made no such promises.

Fast forward about 7 years..onto another pivotal moment…

As my sister entered her rocky teen years, she lived life by one creed – if there is a rule, you break it. And so, there should have been no surprise when, one evening, 2 of the strangest looking guys you would ever meet showed up at our house.

By then, fashion had evolved slightly from 80’s punk to 90’s goth. And so my parents, still dressed in their business best from long days at the office, found themselves face to face with my sister, standing proud in her defiance and Doc Maartens, next to a couple of guys dressed head to toe in trench coats, combat boots, flannel around their waist, guy-liner and one even had hair that ponytailed down his back…and she was stating that they were her friends…

My keen little sister mind jumped to action! OOOOOH! This was it! The moment she HAD brought “boys like THAT home..” I geared up from my front row seat on the couch to watch my father, a la Phil Banks, throw them out on their rears… to my 13 year old dismay, that didn’t happen. What did happen, however, has been one of the most impactful, shaping lessons to me as an adult, mother and friend.

I watched my parents exchange brief looks of apprehension, and then what my mother did next rocked me to my core. She got out two extra plates and filled them with meatloaf and au gratin potatoes. She sat them down at our table, smiled at them, and welcomed them to dinner. And in that moment, my parents created a culture of acceptance in our home, bonded with respect.

This was the culture that shaped my teenage years. Through pork chops and stuffing, through roast and potatoes, through hot dogs on a grill…one by one, my parents welcomed these “refugees” into our home. They made our home into a place of belonging.   Sometimes it was just dinner. Then dinner became days. Then days became nights, because a night on our couch was better than what was waiting for them at home.

I know that there had to be moments where my parents were nervous and scared. Especially in those moments where you had teenage boys sleeping in the living room down the hall from your impressionable daughters, hoping that you had earned enough of their respect to trust them. In spite of their fears and what if’s, by adding a plate they were living a calling.

By creating a home that was a place of belonging, they opened the doors to so much more than hungry teenagers – they opened the doors to discipleship, to coaching, to listening, to loving, to shaping, to guiding.

I feel like I have to bring you back to one central character in this story – that kid in the trenchcoat and guyliner with a ponytail? This man now lives as an adopted son to my parents. This guy spends holidays with our family, his children consider my parents grandparents. This “boy that you should never bring home” has spent several days at my father’s bedside as his health declines towards passing away. He takes the calls in the middle of the night from my mom and walks with us through this storm.

It’s been 15 years since we have seen many of those “refugees” and friends that flooded our home. And yet, with the news of my father’s rapidly declining health, who has been on the phone with my family? Who has sent messages of love, prayers and drove hours to hug him one last time? Our “refugees” remember  their way home.

For my parents, loving people has been their legacy – sometimes even to their own detriment. But if you have to have a legacy, let it be one of love.

I know there is a lot swirling in our news and social media about borders, walls, refugees and what to do.  When we stop looking at refugees as enemies and start looking at them as relationships, you live a legacy of love and not fear. You create a lasting impact, in spite of your apprehension. Your bravery allows others to walk in courage, and make the tough choices, one hungry heart at a time.

I don’t know the answer for every situation. But I do know where my extra plates are.



All the Lessons That We Like

Teaching children to pray is not for the faint of heart. If your littles are like mine, creating a cadence of prayer in their lives, especially at bedtime, is less of a spiritual experience and more of an elaborate exercise in stalling the impending doom of bedtime.

With my son, who always tended to be more logical, he grasped onto the idea of an almighty creator as one who could protect him – from bad guys, from bad behavior, from bad dreams, from bad choices, from bad friends…God, to my son, was his own personal bouncer – a strong guy there to have his back and bust a few kneecaps if needed. {I blame you, superhero shows…} As he grows and matures, his prayer relationship has become richer and deeper and has evolved beyond himself and to others in the world around him.

My sweet girl, on the other hand…at the age of 3, she still loves to dance the dance of the Bedtime Prayer Tango…a back and forth series of steps that first consists of talking about everyone she would like to pray for {in between asking for more stories, drinks and protesting she isn’t sleepy} and then finally getting around to having the prayer itself.

I often picture God, in all his glory, making a bowl of popcorn and sitting in for a spell when Kenzie Kate gets ready to pray, because it can be especially entertaining. Her prayers mark the circumference of whatever pops in her head – from the day’s adventures to that very moment, to sweet memories she is still holding onto in her little way.

She always prays for her Mita first, then on to Daddy, Bubba, Mommy, Papa, {giggles} Daddy again, Mommy again…Meemaw, Grandpa, Mimi, Gruncle Dave, {more giggles} Mickey, Minnie, Elsa, Anna, Goofy, Pluto, Elena, Kyon {we may have a small Disney obsession in our house} …then we become thankful for body parts…hair, noses, eyes, bellies, chins…{more giggles} BOOTIES and TOOTS!…

As I try, with every ounce of steely parenting reserve I have left, not to giggle with her and to keep her focused on this precious moment between her and her Heavenly Father, I do my best not to stifle her, because these are the sweet moments in which she is learning the art of just speaking her heart to God…and that is a lifetime behavior I never want to squash, just to wrap up our bedtime routine sooner.

But, wrap it up we eventually do, {after we have thanked God for the Snowpeople and strawberries, of course} And at the end of each prayer, Kenzie ends it the same way…

“…and we thank you God for all the lessons that we like…”

I have to smile every time I hear this in her prayers. Even though I know as we are teaching her to “thank God for all the lessons He teaches us…” that this is how her little mind is processing this phrase. I have to smile because, I wonder if even as adults, this is how we pray to God.

Thank you for all the lessons we like…but that other one, Lord…that one really sucked…That one where today was rotten – like a scene right out of Office Space…That one where nothing went right…That one where I lost my job and I still don’t understand why…that one where someone else got the promotion…the one where I had health issues…the one where someone I love struggles with mental or physical illness…that one where the person I voted for didn’t win…that one where I felt you calling me in a direction I didn’t want to go, but I did…That one that left my family feeling broken and lost and confused…that one where there was so much pain and suffering…That one where I couldn’t see why you would ask such a thing of me…

Those, Father, are NOT the lessons that we like. Those are not the lessons that we thank you for… only the lessons that we like…do you hear my prayer? Just wanted to be clear here…{*taps microphone*} Is this thing on?? ONLY THE LESSONS WE LIKE

But then, we know, as any good parent, He can’t only allow us to experience the lessons we like.

lesson2In those moments of my life, where I have felt God walking me through a lesson I did not like – the one where my marriage struggled, the one where my job was uncertain, the one where I could not see the future beyond the rubble in my life…those have been my moments of renewal…of refinement. Those are the moments He has placed me in the fire – molded, shaped and contoured me – rinsed me off and started again….and in some instances, it felt like the fire season went on forever… {I’m looking at you 2012 and 2016…}

And I learned in the midst of those messes, that had I stayed who I was, sitting in the mire and staring down at all the mess around me, I would never move forward, never stand up – brush myself off, wash off the ashes, polish the roughened and hardened edges until they gleamed brightly again. I would never become new.

And while I don’t believe that God, in His love for us, wants horrible things to happen to us, I think he allows them because it causes us to remember we are only human and need the hand of a Creator – polishing, refining, firing, remaking, unmaking.

I had the chance to hear Nichole Nordeman speak this fall at a Belong Tour, and she played a song that flows into this message and fills every painful crack for me. Read through the lyrics and think about the lessons and the mess you have walked through and may be walking through right now…

“The Unmaking”{ Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQkHD15J7HI  } 

“This is where the walls gave way
This is demolition day
All the debris and all this dust
What is left of what once was
Sorting through what goes and what should stay

Every stone I laid for you
As if you had asked me to
Monument to holy things
Empty talk and circling
Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

What happens now?
When all I’ve made is torn down
What happens next?
When all of you is all that’s left

This is the unmaking
Beauty and the breaking
Had to lose myself to find out who you are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking
This is the unmaking

The longer and the tighter that we move
Only makes it harder to let go
Love will not stay locked inside
A steeple or a tower high
Only when we’re broken are we whole

What happens now?
When all I’ve made is torn down
What happens next?
When all of you is all that’s left

This is the unmaking
Beauty and the breaking
Had to lose myself to find out who you are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking
This is the unmaking

I’ll gather the same stones where
Everything came crashing down
I’ll build you an altar there
On the same ground
Because what stood before
Was never yours

This is the unmaking
Beauty and the breaking
Had to lose myself to find out who you are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking
This is the unmaking
Oh this is the unmaking
Had to lose myself
To find out who you are”


Sometimes we have to pray the dangerous prayers and thank God for all the lessons that He teaches us, instead of just all the lessons that we like, because it is in those moments of Unmaking that we become better, faster, stronger, more capable, steadfast, more deeply rooted in our faith, and able to turn and see the insanely winding path He has allowed our lives to take has a purpose. 

In the midst of the mire, we face the mess…we stare down at it in all it’s {insert chosen profanity here if needed 🙂 } mucky mess, surrounding us – sucking us in. Some days, we want to do nothing more than give into it; allowing the pain to sink us further and further into itself. He wants us to look up for our rescue, our unmaking and our renewal.

lesson1Sweet friends, we cannot be rescued if we just keep looking down at ourselves and our own power. We have to look up to see his hands waiting to hold us.We have to look forward to keep taking steps to trudge out of the rubble that surrounds us. Even if the steps are baby ones. We share the victory of renewal with our Father…who teaches us all the lessons we like and so much more.

Sometimes, through the lessons we don’t like,  we have to first lose ourselves to truly find out who He is and who we are capable of being.

Wear your tragedies… your “lessons” not as shackles that weigh you down, but as the armor of victory from the battles you have overcome.




Dance Like Everybody’s Watching

When I grow up, I want to be my kids…

No, seriously, I do…

If you have ever had the distinct joy of going to the movies with my family, or just purely being in the same theater, you will understand why…

I think when we pile up our kids in the car and say “Let’s go see a movie”, their pure, exuberant joy doesn’t come from soda and popcorn {although that’s a plus}, it doesn’t come from huge comfy chairs or Twizzlers, or even the movie itself. It comes from when the movie is over and the credits start rolling. I know instantly, within seconds of that fun music starting, that two sets of warm, excited brown eyes will turn to me…two sets of smiles with their Daddy’s deep set dimples, two wiggly little bodies will ask me…

“Mama, can we go dance???”

My kids are FEARLESS, you guys… they have zero issues with,  at the end of a movie, running down to the front area just below the screen, in front of hundreds of people and shaking and dancing for all they are worth. And for them, it’s not just about the dance – it’s about how many instant friends can be made in the process. The more strangers turned buddies who come down and dance with them, the more successful their little after movie dance party can be.

And it’s not just their smooth moves I’m jealous of.

fearlessMy kids LOVE people – unashamedly, unhindered, sometimes recklessly, FEARLESSLY just love other people. My daughter may never know a stranger in her life. If she meets you, she WILL hug you -guaranteed.

My son came home from school last week with a behavior mark in his agenda. When we asked him what had happened he said “there was a new kid in our class and I wanted him to feel welcome and not alone or scared, so I just kept talking to him all day and I guess it was too much?”…My son got in trouble for being a friend, loving and welcoming with reckless abandon for any consequence.

Granted, as parents we did lead into the conversation of classroom rules, talking when you are supposed to and obeying your teacher, but when my husband and I left to discuss his punishment in private, my husband shrugged his shoulders at me and said “How on earth do I punish him for being a friend and showing so much kindness to another? I don’t know that I want to ever put out that kind of a fire.” {In the end, we just made him clean his room…it was a win-win for all! Muahaha!}

I have to wonder – when did we stop being fearless? When did we become afraid of the What if? What if I try to pray more? What if I try to be healthier? What if I prayed the really big, miraculous “I don’t care” kind of prayers. What if we remembered that God is the God of Miracles and we offer ourselves up in faith? What if what I actually told God I wanted in life actually happens? What if I actually do live out what He wants for me?

As I think about this year and about what God is asking of me, sometimes I don’t feel so fearless. Sometimes I feel small, scared, intimdated, insufficient for the task at hand. I hear the whispers of the enemy creep around my heart, reminding me how much I am not enough – how much I have failed at this before…whether it was my fitness goals, my relationship goals, my spiritual goals, or my professional goals. I’m reminded of year after year {thanks a lot, Timehop} where I have kicked off a year strong, only to be reminded I’m in the same places I started 365 days later. And why is that?

…Because I let the fear win… but I don’t want to be that girl anymore.

As a speaker, facilitator and writer, I follow a lot of blogs and articles… I keep seeing this similar theme pop up – “What is your word for 2017”. At first, I blew it off, like, “pssh…yeah, that’s super cute and trendy and all, but God’s not just going to miraculously GIVE me some word for this year…”…but then, as it usually happens between me and God, He gives a good chuckle, rolls up his sleeves and begins working in my life….and so for the first few weeks of this year, I have literally been met with this ONE single, solitary word in every challenge on my personal horizon this year. For every goal I desire to hit, every quietly whispered passionate dream, every prayer request on my heart for my family and I, … this one word is His response…


Recently, I’ve been reading {and falling in love with} the book “Looking for Lovely” by Annie F. Downs. I came across this empowering quote –

God made you to be BRAVE… Just as God made you uniquely, your call to courage is unique as well. But believe me, it is a call. You are called to be BRAVE {Ok, God – I see what you did there…nicely done, again!} You are called to face whatever dragons come into your life and scale the mountains that show up in your view….and you must walk it bravely…You have to be brave to believe you are made on purpose…Am I enough? Yes, God made you on purpose...”

In this moment as I read {and re-read and underlined and starred} this section, it hit me – I am not Brave, because I fear my mess. I fear that my mess and my failures are what make me not enough…and I realized…I am afraid of everything, because I get in my own way. In reality – it is my unique struggles and “dragons” that make my life and my calling unique. It’s the battle of fighting those dragons that has the potential to bring myself closer to my goals and quite possibly, others closer to Christ as they are with me in my battles.

I have to I stop overthinking and I start just DO-ing. Start heading confidently in the direction of my passions and dreams, start seeking God’s will in my life through prayer, scripture and community with Him and others He has placed in my life – I can do these things. Step by {incredibly shaky} step. I am enough and I have been made on purpose – Messes and all. Mistakes and all. Lessons and ALL.

” …But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work…” – 2 Chronicles 15:7

” …they were continually devoting themselves – to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…” – Acts 2:42

And this is how I will be BRAVE this year. I will be strong, I will not lose courage. grunge image of a field I will share my mess with others and continually devote myself to learning and growing and achieving. I will lean into fellowship, even when it gets messy and I will use the roots of my community to hold me accountable to the things that I want for myself this year and to keep myself open to the things God has in store for me.
I will work to be fearless, and as my children have taught me, I will dance like everyone is watching…because you never know when your mess will be your strength.

What is your word for this season brave3
in your life? How can you lean into that word today?