Life Outside the Boat

A little light on a dark day…

The headlines are screaming and everyone’s got an opinion and a comment and a side.  I’m not much different.  I have thoughts and feelings and I’m confused and angry and scared and mostly sad.  But in the midst of the scrolling rhetoric, I want to set those aside and shine a little light, bring a smile, a bit of celebration.  So…

Today will be remembered for many things, but for me it will always be the anniversary of my sweet friend’s birth.  So here is my gift to her.  While she has everything she needs and let’s face it, she certainly doesn’t need another mug or book or picture frame from me, I thought I’d get her something I have plenty of…words.  Words to honor someone who loves radically and quietly.

While most are out there hashtagging fillintheblanklivesmatter, she is living what matters.  My friend who moved mountains to welcome her Haitian son into her home.  I watched as she spent countless hours and dollars and tears filing paper work, calling embassies driving him to and from school once he was here.  This friend who encourages and lifts and trains and loves her people well.  This friend who models everyday (ok, most days) what “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:4) looks like.

So yes, I mourn today so much violence and division and senseless loss of life, but also I celebrate, because there is light in the midst of the dark.  Light that will always…ALWAYS overcome the dark.  And my dear friend is just one example.

Happy Birthday, friend.  So many roads we have walked together.  And so many more to come.  I am forever thankful that I determined almost 10 years ago that I wanted to be your friend and that I finally wore you down… ❤



To Parents of Littles: “Hang On”

“Believe it or not, you actually start to genuinely like them!!??  Hang on, trust me.  🙂 “


I copied this from a text I sent recently to a parent of both a toddler and a newborn.  I remember, at that stage, people used to say to me things like, “enjoy this, you’re going to miss this time with your babies” and “this is the happiest time in your life!”.

And I wanted to punch them in the face.

I have found, that while well-meaning, they. were. wrong.




Ok, yes, babies are cute and sweet and I miss my cuddly baby boys sometimes…



Oh, but how I love today…

I love homeschooling in the hammock.

Read-aloud books with only pictures painted in your mind.

Bike races down the driveway instead of chasing toddlers from room to room.

My very own warm plate of food that no one else eats off of.

There is a season for everything.

But this one, this is my favorite…so far.

So, to the parent who is in the throes of meltdowns and tantrums (theirs AND yours), mess and clutter, middle of the night prayers and pleas into the darkness, “I love you’s” whispered into tiny, uncomprehending ears and slimy hugs and kisses…

DSCF0425From a Mama who is about 10 whole seconds ahead of you, remember:

  •  Apologize often and sincerely after those tantrums and meltdowns…because one day, they will too.
  • Hold their hand.  Let them help you pick up the mess…because one day, they will too.
  • Pray over them.  With them.  For them…because one day, they will too.
  • Lavish the “I love you’s” and the hugs and kisses…because one day, they will too.

Tonight at bedtime, you will wrestle and struggle and try to force them to sit still long enough for you read them a bible story because…dang it…you are trying to fulfill your “spiritual parenting duty”.

But one day you will go to your kid’s bedside (that he got into all by himself…and stayed there!! – praise God from whom all blessing flow!!) to say goodnight and bless him and he will be reading the bible.  The actual bible…choosing the entire New Testament as his summer reading incentive instead of the list of picture books from the library.  And you will cry mammoth tears and wonder where this half infant baby/half lanky teenager came from…


Every season is hard and exhausting in its own way.  I’m sorry, you are tired, and hungry, and maybe a little softer around the middle, and struggling to make ends meet, and… well, just burnt out.

But hang on.

Savor this sweet time with your babies, but know that in a moment you will blink, and they will be one day closer to becoming your friend.

So hang on…

I will too.  ❤

cropped gator

Rogue Feelings

“It doesn’t matter what I feel, doesn’t matter what I see – my hope will always be Your promises to me!”

Tonight this morning,  I sit here in my chair with this song on repeat.  The last few weeks have been full of rogue feelings.  Sick, angry, anxious, hurt, nauseous, shaken… I have found myself in an unrecognizable place.  A place of feeling far from God.  Sure, there have been times and seasons where I have been distracted, or rebellious, or complacent.  But this one has been different.  I can’t explain it, it’s almost as if I have been walking around in a coma.  But I will say it again – to myself, more than to you…

“It doesn’t matter what I feel, doesn’t matter what I see – my hope will always be Your promises to me.”

stakeIf I’m being totally honest, I just can’t seem to get a handle lately on my thoughts, my feelings, my heart.  And I don’t think I’m alone.  I’ve been following Jesus for a long time, but sometimes we have to re-plant that stake in the ground that says “no matter what, God, Your character is not in question with me”.  I may feel differently, I may not understand and I may waver, but You. never. will.


Through these weeks of confusion, hurt, anger, insecurity, exhaustion – there is hope.  Hope that steadies.  Hope that holds when my boat is rocking and the waves are crashing.  Hope that anchors.


“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

Hebrews 6:19

Do you need to remind yourself today that His presence is enough?  Put this one on repeat with me.  Remember, it doesn’t matter what you feel or what you see….HOPE.

One Voice: “Be Still”

“The Lord Himself will fight for you, you need only be still.”

Exodus 14:14

We are inundated with voices.  Voices everywhere that shout and clamor and accuse and threaten.  Voices that remind us – never let us forget what…where…who we aren’t.  Voices that wake us – keep us from sleep.  That incite fear, drive wedges, ruin relationships, derail destinies.

But there is One voice that is still and small and gentle.  One voice that tells us who we are – and more importantly who HE IS.  One voice that makes right all that is wrong.

The headlines are ransacked with shootings and bombings and earthquakes and human trafficking and famine and sickness and we are tempted to bury our heads and close our doors and our hearts to the hurting.  Because we think it is just too much for us to bear.  And it is.

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”

Psalm 68:19

There has always only ever been two choices in life.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;  I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 10:10

“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.”

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Two choices:  Life and death.  Blessing and curse.  Stillness and Panic.  Choosing life, gives us access to His voice.  One choice – a daily choice – has the power to drown out all those voices: the fear, the insecurity, the accusations.  One voice that calls us to “Be still and know that I am God.”  (Ps 46:10).   One voice that commands the wind and waves, “Peace, be still.”  (Mark 4:39).

After Moses said to the Israelites, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”  he heard that One voice say, “Why are you crying out to me?  Tell the Israelites to move.”   Stillness is not passive.  Stillness is intentional.  Stillness in the presence of the Most High readies for motion.

So today, let’s take time and be still.   Let’s choose life over death, blessing over curse, stillness over panic.  Let’s “listen to His voice” over all the others.







The Cure for an Ordinary Life

Do you ever wonder what life would be like if our hardest battles never existed?  If I’m being completely honest, I do.  More than I care to admit.  There are days that I long for the comfort of another time, the ease of another season, a reprieve from this divine restlessness.

But would I go back?  Would I surrender all that I have and all that I am now for all that I was?

Would I go back to a time when my biggest concern was affording the nicer knobs for my kitchen cabinets.  A time when my biggest insecurities were whether or not my husband liked the dress I bought for his work party, if my in-laws approved of me, or if my girlfriends noticed my new matching throw pillows.  Back to a time when no lives were on the line, no one’s eternity was at stake….or was it??

In One Thousand Giftsone of my favorite wordsmiths, Ann Voskamp reminds us that, “In an endless cycle of grace, He gives us gifts to serve the world.”

Every moment is a gift designed for eternal purpose. We must use what we’ve been given, or we waste it.   So, no, I wouldn’t go back – Oh, sure, there will be moments when I long for life to be less heavy.  But the thing is, life is heavy.  The weight of everyday can be crushing…or it can be transforming.  The weight of this world can tie us down, or it can be just what we need to learn to soar…and just maybe, to give flight to another.

Because, friends, lives are on the line and eternities are at stake.  Our pastor recently shared a quote by Dave Davidson,

“If you found a cure for cancer, wouldn’t it be inconceivable to hide it from the rest of mankind?  How much more inconceivable to keep silent the cure from eternal death?”  And we know the cure.  The cure for a world, a people being crushed by the weight of their days, their responsibilities, their circumstances, their sin.  If we know Him, we are the cure.

Now this is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  John 17:3 NIV

This is the cure for an ordinary life; knowing Him. No, we can’t go back.  There’s no one there to go back to.  Who we were is gone.

2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (NLT)  At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view.  How differently we know him now!  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun.  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.  And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him.

This is it, this is our task, our purpose, our mission.  We are ambassadors of reconciliation.  It doesn’t matter where we’ve been or what in our past had seduced us into a life of anything but taking up our cross.  Whether it’s complacency, lust, bitterness, addiction, comfort…  The past will always knock,  but because we know Him, we know the cure…and we can’t keep silent

The Proof of Character

“Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for those forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey His commands.”  Deuteronomy 8:2 NLT

I read a book a couple of years ago by Jimmy Evans that I think just may be his best book ever.  In “Ten Steps Toward Christ” Jimmy says:

“We must get used to doing things that we don’t completely understand and aren’t comfortable with if we are going to be faithful followers of Christ.”

The Lord has asked people to do some pretty off the wall things.  He asked Abraham to kill Isaac when he was supposed to be the father of many nations.  He asked Noah to build a boat when there was no water in sight.  He told Moses and Aaron to talk to a rock to get water.  He asked a rich man to give away everything he owned to the poor.  He told Peter to step out onto the open water.  He wiped spit and mud on a blind man’s eyes and told him to go wash it off in the river.

I’m not sure why it would ever be a surprise when God asks us to do things that don’t seem to make sense.

Like getting baptized again after 20 years…

“But God surely you don’t mean in front of the whole church?”

“But how will I explain it?”

“What will ‘they’ think?”

His answer…

“Remember how I, the Lord your God led you through the wilderness…humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey my commands. ”

Is there something the Lord is asking of you today that doesn’t seem to make sense?

How will you respond?



“Peace I leave with you”…hard, hard peace.

Oh my friends.  I have been putting this post off for far too long.  I have been wanting to share but couldn’t find words or thoughts or courage.  I still can’t really.

I want to introduce you to my friend, Kara Tippets.  Ok, she isn’t really my real friend, but it’s how I think of her.  I haven’t ever actually met her, but oh, how I love her.  I love her grace and her faith and her nearness to Jesus.

Kara’s story is one of profound grace and sorrow and faith.  I cannot even begin to tell you, but she can:

I first learned of her story back in October when my dear friend Ann Voskamp (also not my actual, real-life friend) first posted a letter Kara had written then read via youtube to Brittany Maynard, the young woman facing stage IV brain cancer who chose to end her life.  Brittany shared her story and it quickly went viral.  I had been so heartbreakingly intrigued by Brittany’s story that I was without words.

How does one find words?

But Kara did.

And she does, through every step of her hard journey, Kara finds words to lift.  Words to encourage. Words to teach big love in the midst of big sorrow.  Her words heal – not bones and organs and diseases.  Kara’s words heal souls.  Mine especially.  In my own battle with sickness, I have seen what it means to want to do so much more than a body will allow.  Although the disease in my story is different and that test result painted the word “chronic” instead of “terminal”, Kara’s words – her story has been a salve for my aching soul.

Every morning, I rush to her site to see what wisdom she has for us – for me.  Because when someone knows Jesus, really knows Him, you can see it on their face.  Hear it in their words.  And you can’t help but want to be near them.  Just like Zacchaeus when he merely saw Jesus face to face, his entire legacy changed.  The same is when I read Kara’s words.  My heart changes.  I see my story in a different light.  I am reminded that days are long, but years are short.

sacrifice-family-kiss sacrifice-kiss-received Kara kitchen Kara Kara hospital

Kara’s days are fading now.  In her latest posts, she shares that the fight is over, treatment has halted, Hospice has been called.  Just a few days ago, she wrote:

So, there it is.  My little body has grown tired of battle and treatment is no longer helping. But what I see, what I know, what I have is Jesus. He has still given me breath, and with it I pray I would live well and fade well. By degrees doing both, living and dying, as I have moments left to live. I get to draw my people close, kiss them and tenderly speak love over their lives.  I get to pray into eternity my hopes and fears for the moments of my loves. I get to laugh and cry and wonder over heaven. I do not feel like I have the courage for this journey, but I have Jesus- and He will provide it. He has given me so much to be grateful for, and that gratitude, that wondering over His love will cover us all. And it will carry us- carry us in ways we cannot comprehend. It will be a new living and trusting for many in my community. Loving with a great big open hand to my story being the good story- even when it feels so broken.”

Friends, this is peace – the hardest kind.  I am so thankful that I have found this testimony of peace. Please join with me and pray for this family, these people.  I feel a bit of their sorrow.  Not out of sympathy – although, I feel that.  But because Kara has become a friend in motherhood, a mentor in loving through hard seasons, and an inspiration to trust the One who knows through all the unknowns.  We sometimes never get to see the why of things this side of eternity.  But I think…this time, we can get a little glimmer of all the ways God has used a broken story to bring healing and strength and peace.  Hard, hard peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

To read the whole story, you can buy her book, The Hardest Peace.

Kara book

Thank you Kara.  I will forever be grateful that I found you.  I can easily imagine we could have been girlfriends chatting over lattes about babies and Jesus and marriage and favorite books and hard decisions and mistakes and grace and forgiveness and life.  I can’t imagine your sorrow but I have dared to imagine your coming joy!  I will pray hard, long after you are gone for your people.  And one day, we will sit together, this whole community of saints at the feet of Jesus and all will be healed, all will be well and all will be right.

Until then….


*All photos found either on Kara’s blog, Mundane Faithfulness or on her Facebook page.

Speak Life – Letters from Home

Speak life – to everyone.

Call out the traits I have placed in my children. Make known what I have shown you about others.

Let no criticism come from your lips.

Even if you think they know, remind people of the good they are reflecting from me.

Be a faith-affirmer – call out all that is admirable from the tiniest detail to the greatest accomplishment.  Tell my children that I love them, tell them they are mine and that their goodness comes from Me.  I don’t want my people to be timid, I wish for them to be bold.  Lift them out of condemnation.

Speak Life.  Speak Life.  Speak Life.

Listen intently, hear my words, make known what I reveal to you.  Leave it to someone else to correct – Your job is to praise.

In your weakness I am strong.  Where you lack, I am abounding.  Where you judge, I have compassion.

Speak Life.

Call out truth.  Call out talent.  Call out righteousness.  Call out wisdom.  Call out strength.

Speak Life.

Affirm the callings of my children.  Be a light in the dark. Speak joy in the midst of despair.

Call forth buried gifts.

Speak Life.

Righteousness Matters

I first heard this phrase in a bible study by the bible scholar, who calls herself “not a bible scholar”, Beth Moore.  When she said the words “Make no Mistake, Righteousness Matters”, it lodged itself into my heart.

Like an iceberg into the titanic, this truth sliced right through the hull of my soul and leaked out rebellion I had been holding on to for far too long.  It’s funny that sometimes we can be holding onto something and never realize it…that was so me…except exactly opposite.  I was fully aware that there were still some habits and desires that I hadn’t quite let go of.  God refines us and teaches us, but apparently I am a slow learner…

I often reasoned with God – or myself – or whichever would agree with me…that my sin wasn’t, in fact, sin.  That I could be a leader, I could disciple others, I could be “godly” and still “have fun”.  I wasn’t breaking a commandment.  Or was I? (Exodus 20:3)

If I were to explain what my hangups were, some of you may gasp and go all religious on me and shake your heads and your fingers.  Some of you may say, “What??  I do that all the time, it is no big deal and it surely isn’t sin!”.  But the sin for me was not the activity so much as the rebellion.  That bit of my old self that I wanted to hang onto ever so tightly, you know…just for fun.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

Outwardly, it looked as though I was “living right”.  But inwardly, I knew there were these things.  These convictions that I kept trying to convince myself were just  “guilty pleasures”.  And yes, that is exactly what they were.

But guess what, Righteousness Matters.  Why?

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16

In a world, a culture that says “obey your thirst” (Sprite), “just do it” (Nike), “What is Your Fantasy?” (Victoria’s Secret).  It’s no wonder our convictions become immune to godlessness.  But friends, the world is watching.

Ever wonder why Christians are so closely scrutinized in the media?  Why pastors who have an affair or and arrogant attitude get ostracized?  Or godly politicians (yes, they exist) who mess up get raked across the coals when their secular counterparts can do the same thing and…nothing?  When we claim to be a child of the only true and faithful God, the only being ever truly trustworthy, shouldn’t we at least resemble Him?  Jesus was sinless.  So should we be.  Is it possible?  No. Is it something still worth striving for…absolutely.  Because to know Him, is to love Him.  And to love Him, is to obey Him.  Not out of some religious duty or legalistic code.  But out of complete and utter heart surrender to the one who gave it all.  Because he loves, so should we.

“For Christ’s love compels us…

 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”  2 Corinthians 5:14-15

There is a whole world of people watching.  Watching and waiting for us to mess up.  For us to slip up.  For us to give up.  An enemy that wants more than anything to snuff out that light from our lamp on a hill.  So shine, shine bright…and know that even when we fall, we can come boldly to the throne of grace.

 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”   Hebrews 4:16

The world is watching.  And maybe, just maybe after seeing us, time and again, choose compassion over condemnation, holiness over hate, the sacred over the secular   – they will see those good works and what?  “Glorify our Father who is in Heaven.”  And ultimately, isn’t that why we are here?  To know Him and make Him known?

So friends, let’s shine.  Because Righteousness Matters.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity…”  Ephesians 5:15-16

Lord, teach me.


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